Dear John (An Open Letter To John Calvin)

jean-calvin

 

Dear John,

Ok, first off I know, “Dear John” letters are usually written between former lovers and we were never even friends. But, John, I tried. I really, really did.

I’ve heard for so long that my frustrations with Calvinism were really due to your Neo-Calvinist followers giving you a bad name. That made sense to me. After all, I couldn’t believe that some of the rephrensible and callous things being said and taught today would be derived directly from someone of your theological prowess. So, I wanted to give you a chance at redemption in my eyes.

Since you’ve been, um, not present in the body for the past 450 years, I thought the best way to get acquainted with the real Calvin would be to read the work you are most famous for. I’m talking, of course, about your Institutes of the Christian Religion.

In my effort to get to know you better I spent my last semester at Yale in a class devoted entirely to the reading and discussion of your epic work. I admit we didn’t make it through every single chapter (forgive us John, but the book is nearly 1,000 pages long and we needed time to discuss what we read each week), but we did make it through almost all of it (we mostly skipped a few chapter at the end about church polity). And even with those handful of overlooked chapters, I’m still willing to bet we made it through more of the Institutes than many of your followers today have read. (I say this as a Wesleyan, who has read far far too little of what Wesley actually wrote.)

I have to admit, John, you’re a brilliant guy and a great writer. Your passion and honesty were obvious from page one and at times refreshing given the way we so often dance around what we really think in the church today. I really admire your conviction and willingness to say what you believe to be true even if it wasn’t the popular thing to say. Without a doubt, you had some great things to say and, at times, I even found myself close to shouting “Amen!” Like the time you called out those who want to believe in the absurd notion that God can predestine some to heaven while not necessarily also predestining everyone else to hell, “This they do so ignorantly and childishly since there could be no election without its opposite reprobation.” (3.23.1)

Ok, maybe, that amen wasn’t exactly for the reason you would like, but still, it counts for something, right?

Anyway, class is now over, our reading of your monumental achievement complete, and I’ve had some time to process everything you said.

So, can I be totally honest with you, John?

You crushed my hope for reconciliation.

I found your theology to be every bit as appalling – and maybe even more so – than your followers.

To be blunt, as a Christian, I don’t recognize your God and I have no clue what the good news is in the Institutes. That some people are saved no matter what? I guess that’s good for them. But you’re clear that God also creates people for eternal damnation,

By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, other to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death. (3.21.5)

And you also say that God tricks some of those same people He dooms to hell into thinking He loves them by “instilling into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption” simply so he “better convince them.” (3.2.11) John, what kind of perverse and manipulative God would do that?

But it gets worse.

Much worse.

For, according to you, God ordains every single horrific act of evil that has or ever will occur.

As you explain over,

Scripture, moreover, the better to show that every thing done in the world is according to his decree, declares that the things which seem most fortuitous are subject to him. For what seems more attributable to chance than the branch which falls from a tree, and kills the passing traveler? But the Lord sees very differently, and declares that he delivered him into the hand of the slayer. (1.16.6)

And over,

As all contingencies whatsoever depend on it, therefore, neither thefts, nor adulteries, nor murders, are perpetrated without an interposition of the divine will. (1.17.1)

And over,

Let us suppose, for example, that a merchant, after entering a forest in company with trust-worthy individuals, imprudently strays from his companions and wanders bewildered till he falls into a den of robbers and is murdered. His death was not only foreseen by the eye of God, but had been fixed by his decree. (1.16.9)

And over again, God is behind every act of evil that ever takes places,

I concede more – that thieves and murderers, and other evil-doers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute the judgments which he has resolved to inflict. (1.17.5)

In other words, if a child is raped, a family murdered in their sleep, or an entire population of people sent off to the gas chambers, that wasn’t just the act of evil men. It was the will of God.

And, of course, God doesn’t just have it out for us in this life; God has it out for some people for eternity too because as you say, “Those whom the Lord favors not with the direction of his Spirit, he, by a righteous judgment, consigns to the agency of Satan.” (2.4.1)

You say all of this wrath is due to our depravity. Ignoring Paul’s words affirming the complete opposite, you say “wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and vengeance of God” (3.11.2) And as if to drive your point home at just how much God hates us, you claim that it’s not just adults that God despises, but infants too because they “cannot but be odious and abominable to God.” (2.1.8) John, you go to great lengths to establish the total depravity of man, and I agree that we are indeed sinful people. But in the end, based on your own argument, the one looking the most depraved is God. For it is God, not humanity, who ordains evil and institutes eternal torture regardless of act or decision.

Yes, John, you’re right. All of these quotes and points are lacking in their immediate context, but they’re not random thoughts. They are, as you demonstrate so well, the logical conclusions of your theology of divine sovereignty and, therefore, at the very heart of what you believe about God. Worse, this isn’t a case of you overstating without thinking through the conclusions. You’re clear that this sort of God who ordains genocide, murder, rape, children abuse, and every other conceivable horrendous act is the God you worship.

Not surprisingly, you say that we should fear this God, not just honor and revere Him, but actually be terrified of Him. (3.2.26) I suppose on that point we are in at least partial agreement. If this is a God who arbitrarily ordains the death of children and the torment of people before they’re even born, then of course we should fear this God.

Which is why, John, I’ve got to be brutally honest with you.

I think your God is a monster.

I don’t say that casually or based on a handful of random one liners. I say it based on the foundation of your theological project and your insistence on a God who both ordains evil and creates people simply to torment them for eternity. John, this is not the God I find in the Bible, nor is it a God I think is worthy of worship. It’s a God who can only be feared for His arbitrary, callous, and evil ways, and pitied for his enslavement to wrath.

To me, John, your God looks nothing like Jesus of Nazareth. And, for me, that’s a big problem.

Now, John, it wouldn’t be a good breakup letter if I wasn’t clear about why I don’t like you like that anymore (or I guess ever did). I’m know a lot of those reasons are obvious already, but in the spirit of your Institutes, I don’t want to leave any room for doubt as to why we need to go our separate ways.

First, John, as awed as I am by your intellect, you’re way way way too overcommitted to your theological system. I know your methodology and meticulousness are derivative of  your training as a lawyer, and while those can be great qualities in a person, in your Institutes your utter devotion to your theological system creates an unbelievable callousness that is totally foreign to the Jesus I meet in the gospels. Experience, reason, compassion, and even huge chunks of scripture are sacrificed on the altar of your theological system. Relationships require compassion, humility, and at a times a bit of flexibility. John, we’ve all got some work to do in those areas, but that’s especially true for you.

You also have a tendency to talk out of both sides of your mouth. This isn’t good for a relationship because it means I can never really trust what you’re saying. F0r instance, in order to acknowledge the obvious reality of freewill while defending your hardcore understanding of divine sovereignty, you try to create a make believe difference between compulsion and necessity, as if just because we necessarily have to act in a certain way because God has ordained it so, we’re not actually compelled to do that. (2.3.5) John, that makes no sense. Likewise, you argue that even though everything is determined by God long before we even exist, we’re still responsible for out actions. (1.17.5)

Look, I get it, you’ve got a system to maintain and you need to make sense of sin and guilt. But, John, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either we freely choose to sin and are therefore responsible or God causes us by divine decree to sin and, therefore, God is ultimately responsible. Which leads us to the worst doublespeak of all in your book. You make is clear that God ordains evil, but isn’t the author of it. John, buddy, as you heard throughout your lifetime, if God is the source of and the one who ordains evil acts, then God is the author of evil. Which means your God isn’t really as loving and good as you would have us believe. In fact, your God is pretty stinking evil.

Which is why, John, it’s hard not to conclude that Calvinism is a sustained exercise in the defense against the obvious. By which I mean you’re constantly on the defense against the obvious conclusions of your claims. To your credit you offer up an exhaustive defense. It just runs counter to basic logic. There’s just no way around the fact that you’ve simultaneously created a God who is the author of evil while rendering the Christian life irrelevant because if our eternal fate is already sealed, there is absolutely no point in bothering to live in any particular way.

Also, John, and I’m not trying to be mean here, but your use of scripture is just awful. I know, I know, I know. Who am I to criticize the great John Calvin’s exegesis? But buddy you cherry pick scripture like it’s your spiritual gift. You completely ignore the context of the verses you pick. And, with only a few exceptions, either ignore or dismiss out of hand any and all passages that contradict your position. But, John, I’m not sure that’s even the worst part of it for me.

As a fellow Christian I know this might be a little hard to hear, but you deal surprisingly little with what Jesus himself actually had to say. Sure, you talk about his role in salvation plenty, but when it comes to supporting your various claims, you seem to quote everybody but Jesus. In fact, I’m pretty sure you quoted the entire book of Romans. And yet the words of Jesus himself were few and far between. Knowing your bravado, I’m sure this wasn’t the case but it was almost as if you intentionally ignored him because some of the things he said threw a huge wrench your system that could bring the whole thing crashing down on itself, like that pesky John 3:16-17 loving the whole world and not just the elect nonsense or that stuff in Matthew 25 or James 2 where salvation by faith alone seems to be an unwelcome guest.

But, John, I think the ultimate problem between you and me is the starting point in your grand theological endeavor. For you, everything begins and ends with the glory of God. I wholeheartedly agree that giving glory to God is an important thing. But John, I don’t know what Bible you’re reading if you think that receiving glory is God’s primary interest in and purpose for mankind. If anything, the Bible is a sustained account of God’s disinterest in glory. It’s the story of a God who desires above all to be in a loving relationship with His people and God’s willingness to do anything to make that happen, including abandoning all sense of glory even to that point of death on a cross.

But perhaps the most ironic point in your emphasis on glory is that in your attempt to glorify God you destroy that very glory through your understanding of divine sovereignty and election. For if God ordains murder, rape, and abuse, while creating some people – maybe most people – for eternal torment, then that God is not worthy of glory. Period.

Now, I know your followers today will tell me I’m “misreading” you and don’t understand what you’re “really” trying to say. I heard a lot of that this semester as we tried to reconcile the words on the page with their practical implications. But this letter isn’t about the 450 years of interpretation and reinterpretation that have followed in your wake. I’m responding to the words you yourself wrote. And, for me, what you wrote was far too often abhorrent.

And can I tell you something else, John? I don’t think your followers today are nearly as comfortable with your theology as you are. At least, not a lot of them. Don’t get me wrong. You’re on an incredibly high pedestal for them, but time and time again I see them jumping through hoops and doing mental gymnastics to avoid or at least soften the very clear claims you’re making. And I see others rejecting out of hand some of the things you said, while trying to hold on to the rest.

But I get that. We all want to defend our heroes. The bigger issue I have, John, is that you have a tendency (cause I’ll be the first to admit they’re not all like this) to create incredibly arrogant and sometimes hateful followers who are just as cold, calculating, and callous in their theology and selective in their use of scripture as you are. Just like you, too many of your prominent followers today denounce their critics as heretics while praising God for a whole host of evil things that happen in the world from earthquakes and tornadoes to the marginalization, oppression, and destruction of people made in the image of God.

John, I don’t know how to say it any other way – you’ve got a bad habit of making disciples that aren’t very christlike in their love, mercy, compassion, and grace towards others.

Now, I know if you were still around to respond, you would probably tell me like you did so many of your opponents, that I’m a “virulent dog” (3.23.2) or maybe a satellite of Satan (3.17.1) because in my “rebellious spirit” (3.21.4) I have the audacity to question your understanding of God, God’s sovereignty, and election which I should never do (3.21.1-2) because by doing so I “assail the justice of God.” (3.21.7)

Maybe you’re right.

Maybe I am an agent of Satan lost in my own heresy and sin and I just don’t realize it.

But John, I don’t think I am. Like the millions of Christians that came before you and billions that have come after, I believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love, and offers redemption to all.

Which is why, John, it’s not going to work out between the two of us.

Maybe when I see you in heaven and we both see things a bit clearer, we can try this relationship thing again.

But for now, I think you would agree, we need to go our separate ways.

It’s what’s best for the both of us.

 

Grace and Peace,

Zack Hunt

 

 

244 Comments
  • Ed_Cyzewski
    May 13, 2014

    If you don’t add “Satellite of Satan” to your bio, I’m never reading your blog again.

    And also, this was pretty much what I got out of Reformed theology in my school, so this post helps confirm why I ended up becoming a Wesleyan Vineyard guy.

    • Logan Miles
      May 13, 2014

      Satellite of Satan, That’s an awesome name for a band if I say so myself.

    • Luke Geraty
      May 13, 2014

      Good thing you are friends with a Calvinist Vineyard guy or I’d have to punch you. 🙂

      reading one of your books to get the first review up dude!

    • KentonS
      May 14, 2014

      LOL!

      I as *so* close to changing my religious affiliation on Facebook to “Satelte of Satan.”

  • Bart Massey
    May 13, 2014

    Clever premise, nicely written article. Thanks for sharing!

  • Greg
    May 13, 2014

    Calvin and his theology which I once vigorously defended while in seminary, along with several other issues found within the Reformed movement, and the issues I had with many people who espouse and promote these views, are the reasons why I left Calvinism and the Reformed movement about 5 years ago. It was the best move I ever made in my spiritual journey in faith in Christ. While I do believe the Bible makes the case for some of Calvin’s theology, I find it much more difficult to reconcile with scripture than I do with classic Arminianism. However, I am at a season in my own life where I refrain from labels and boxes of theology altogether. I’ve moved away from theology being my primary focus and instead (at the risk of sounding self righteous) focusing on what it means to just simply live and walk in the Spirit each day.

    Nevertheless, good post my friend. I would recommend Roger Olsen’s book “Against Calvinism” to add to this wonderful post of yours. Cheers.

  • Ben Howard
    May 13, 2014

    Hey Zack, I really appreciated the time and energy you put into this post. I’ve never been a big fan of Calvin, but I think it’s cool that you went into the class looking to like him (even if you confirmed that you didn’t).

    Also, apologies for my Twitter rant that ensued from your line “I think your God is a monster.” I thought that was harsh (thus the rant).

    • ZackHunt
      May 14, 2014

      Dude, no apologies necessary. Obviously we’re not going to agree on Calvin’s God being a monster, but please know that I wasn’t trying to take a cheap/generic shot at him. I did come to the Institutes with an open mind, genuinely hoping to like what I found. But the description of God I discovered there is something I can only describe as monstrous.

      • Roger Johnson
        May 17, 2014

        Zack, I really don’t want to engage in this entire debate. However, I have to say that I found your post very encouraging for me. I have conducted similar research into Calvinism. I have read Calvin’s Institutes and have come away with exactly the same conclusion you have, the god of Calvinism is a monster. There have been many times when I have questioned my conclusion. I mean how can Piper honestly enjoy this god, much less write a compelling book on how to enjoy this god? I can find nothing enjoyable about this god. Well written. Thanks.

      • Mark
        January 25, 2016

        I confess, I fully agree with your “Monstrous” description Zack, and enjoyed your article. I’m a 50-Point Anti-Calvinist personally (and agree with literally all 50 points), and can fully attest that Calvin’s god is not my God.

  • T. C. Moore
    May 13, 2014

    Thank you so much for writing this!

  • Jon
    May 13, 2014

    Fantastic article Zach. A clever and entertaining read while hammering truth Well done.

  • davpettengill
    May 13, 2014

    Awesome article! You hit at the heart of why I am not a Calvinist.

    • D Lowrey
      May 13, 2014

      As someone who has left the Baptist tradition and is now traveling down the Anabaptist road…could never understand how many Calvinists can throw away much of the Bible and refuse to understand what Jesus said. For instance…Jesus plainly said in Matthew 25:31-46 what is going to happen. With this being the case…why would someone who believes Calvin is right even bother trying to help others?

      • Sue Ellen Hull
        May 18, 2014

        Calvinism, taken to its logical conclusions, leaves one with no reason to live at all.

        • Mark
          January 12, 2016

          That is the biggest problem with Calvinism. Point 45 of Anti-Calvinism states that should Calvinism be true, then it is best to commit Suicide now. Because according to Calvinism, your eternal fate is already predetermined regardless of what you do. Additionally, everyone else’s fates are already set in stone likewise, meaning there is nobody you can assist, help, guide, etc… Meaning, the logical conclusion is that since you can achieve nothing while on this world, and since Heaven and Hell is not a destination you can change, why delay the inevitable in a world you can do nothing about? Consequently, the best action one can take as a true Calvinist is Suicide to get to Heaven sooner rather than suffer in this world that you cannot change, effect, nor choose anything about it. Granted, doing this make get you to Hell sooner instead, but once again, that outcome wouldn’t change anyway, so what’s the point? In the end, Calvinism logically demands Suicide…

          A possible alternative would be conversion to Atheism. If you cannot bring yourself to commit Suicide, then something within you craves to find a reason for living… However, that reason cannot be found through Calvinism, and since Calvinism is unfortunately associated to Christianity, it subsequently becomes logical to anti-convert in order to find some other reason for existing in this world since Calvinism advocates Suicide. In short… This is why Atheists hate Christianity to begin with, because the logic of doctrines such as this one are utterly self-destructive!

        • Mark
          January 12, 2016

          That is the biggest problem with Calvinism. Point 45 of Anti-Calvinism states that should Calvinism be true, then it is best to commit Suicide now. Because according to Calvinism, your eternal fate is already predetermined regardless of what you do. Additionally, everyone else’s fates are already set in stone likewise, meaning there is nobody you can assist, help, guide, etc… Meaning, the logical conclusion is that since you can achieve nothing while on this world, and since Heaven and Hell is not a destination you can change, why delay the inevitable in a world you can do nothing about? Consequently, the best action one can take as a true Calvinist is Suicide to get to Heaven sooner rather than suffer in this world that you cannot change, effect, nor choose anything about it. Granted, doing this make get you to Hell sooner instead, but once again, that outcome wouldn’t change anyway, so what’s the point? In the end, Calvinism logically demands Suicide…

          A possible alternative would be conversion to Atheism. If you cannot bring yourself to commit Suicide, then something within you craves to find a reason for living… However, that reason cannot be found through Calvinism, and since Calvinism is unfortunately associated to Christianity, it subsequently becomes logical to anti-convert in order to find some other reason for existing in this world since Calvinism advocates Suicide. In short… This is why Atheists hate Christianity to begin with, because the logic of doctrines such as this one are utterly self-destructive!

  • Kari
    May 13, 2014

    Love this. Even if you are a satellite of Satan.

  • Nish
    May 13, 2014

    You have the smarts.

  • Naomi Wilson
    May 13, 2014

    As a recovering Calvinist who has found a home in Wesleyanism, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post.

  • Ryan Robinson
    May 13, 2014

    Yep. I’ve only read probably 20% of Institutes. Of that, the one big compliment I can give was his defence of the Trinity – I’m sure you could still say a lot of it was purely proof-texting, but I did find it the best defence I’ve read.

    The part that did shock me, though, and maybe I shouldn’t have, was when he directly said something to the effect of “God hates most humans.” The softening I’ve heard from most in the Reformed tradition are more like “God loves everybody, but it’s a special kind of extra love for the elect” or “God loves everybody, but for the sake of his glory he has to predestine some to Hell” (how that works I don’t know). But he wasn’t soft about it. God hates you if you aren’t elect. That one completely stopped me in my tracks as I read.

    I am thankful that the majority of the older Reformed denominations are significantly softened from Calvin so that while I don’t agree with some things they are, at least I can respect that God a little. It is mostly the neo-Reformed camp that really wants to reclaim the extremes of the theological system. Those people definitely scare me and I have no qualms saying their god is a monster.

  • Roland Taylor
    May 13, 2014

    Well done. I’m not a Wesleyan, Calvinist, or any other “istian”. Just a Christian…

    But I am glad you wrote this. It highlights the problems I have with the doctrine of demons that is Calvinism. I hope and pray that its adherents will some day see the light, and in dropping their pride, humble themselves before the true God and serve Him in Spirit and in Truth.

    • Mark
      February 19, 2016

      Perhaps one of the most straight-to-the-point and honest statements I’ve read of all the comments here. I most certainly hope for the same and that people will turn away from their “demonic” god, and instead humble themselves enough to acknowledge the true God. I too am merely a Christian, additional titling isn’t necessary.–Though, I will admit, I wished some doctrines didn’t likewise claim to be Christian, because it gives Christ a bad rep. Most religious titles merely identify divisions of select (and usually irrelevant) beliefs… But there then some wolves in sheep clothing slip into the mix, calling themselves “Christian”, yet proposing beliefs so destructive and so against Christ that they end up doing more harm to God’s Kingdom than any nonbeliever could ever hope to achieve.–This is the category Calvinism falls into……

  • John Ayala
    May 13, 2014

    Great post! I have thought of all of these objections myself but the point you made about Calvin starting at God’s glory I had never actually thought about.
    Also, I have just been starting to understand that God’s justice (and righteousness) is not retributive. His justice (and righteousness) IS His mercy and reconciliation. It’s all over the OT prophets, not to mention Jesus and the NT. 🙂

    Thanks!

  • Matt
    May 13, 2014

    I may not agree with Calvin on several points, but at least he backs up what he says with Scripture. You barely make mention of them and cherry pick yourself. How is your method of forming doctrine any different than his, then? When you interpret Scripture in only the way that seems reasonable to you, you make a god in your own image. It may tickle our ears, but it dumbs who God is down to one who’s ways are just about the same as ours, rather than One who’s ways are far higher. As much as I hate to admit it, there are far more passages that agree with Calvin than you. Pretending those verses don’t exist either means you cherry pick which verses make God as reasonable and intelligent as you, not God, but a god or you just ignore those verses and hope they go away. Read the verses Calvin stands on and then humbly admit that you don’t know. Pretending you know for sure is arrogance.

    • Tim
      May 13, 2014

      Spoken like a true Calvinist/ Reformed.

      Taking scripture out of context and to illogical extremes does not qualify as “backing up what one says with scripture”. Any theology that does not begin and end with the person and work of Jesus and his representation of the Father is bound to have serious problems, and I guarantee such a Jesus-centered hermeneutic will not agree with Calvin.

      Jesus himself warned the Religious elite that they were looking in the wrong place (scriptures) to find eternal life. “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!

      • Matt
        May 13, 2014

        I thought I made it clear that I am not a Calvinists. I’ve never read a single work by him or any of his proponents and don’t have plans to. I read the Word and indeed it does all point to Christ. I am constanly amazed at finding pictures of Christ at every nuanced turn. Be careful about only accepting the logical. You have to “become a fool,” and often accept the illogical to know the Christ that Scripture points to. Much of what Calvinists believe (from my limited understanding) demonstrate God’s extreme and unfathomable grace far more completely than other veiws. Your god must be very small indeed if he is completely logical to tiny human brains.
        It seems like you are using the “all Scripture points to me” as am excuse to exclude any verses or books in the Bible that don’t conform to your limited human veiw of who Christ ought to be. A slippery slope for sure, the fastest way to worship self in the name of Jesus.

        • Eric Boersma
          May 14, 2014

          It seems like you are using the “all Scripture points to me” as am excuse to exclude any verses or books in the Bible that don’t conform to your limited human veiw of who Christ ought to be.

          Far better to use verses and books in the Bible to say things that literally contradicted the life of Jesus and what he actually did and said, right?

          • Matt
            May 14, 2014

            My God is big enough to perfectly preserve His Word. There is no contradiction between the words of Christ and verses about predestination. We read the very words of God in awe, understanding that we will never fit them into tidy little boxes that sound reasonable to a human point of view. We should be very concerned if we think we can make complete sense of it all. How small would God be in that case? If your goal is to make the Bible fit your world view, you are missing the point and you will never find God or His salvation. In that context all we’ll find is a god of our own making that exists only in our minds. Instead, our purpose is to sit in the wonder of it all asking the Creator of everything to reveal Himself to us. 1 Corinthians 8:2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. 3 But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.

          • Eric Boersma
            May 15, 2014

            There is no contradiction between the words of Christ and verses about predestination.

            In your interpretation. I’m going to repeat that a lot, because it seems to be something that you’ve missed wholesale. Your interpretation of the Bible is based off of…your interpretation.

            We read the very words of God in awe, understanding that we will never fit them into tidy little boxes that sound reasonable to a human point of view.

            Yet, you’re doing that with predestination.

            If your goal is to make the Bible fit your world view, you are missing the point and you will never find God or His salvation.

            Yet, you’re doing that with predestination.

            In that context all we’ll find is a god of our own making that exists only in our minds.

            Yet, you’re…hopefully getting the point, here.

          • Matt
            May 15, 2014

            You keep defining me as a Calvinist eventhough I have said several times I’m not. If you can’t read my words without putting me in a box, how do you expect to read the Word objectively? By saying Jesus’ words don’t contadict verses about predestination, I am making an observation to help bring some humility to the conversation ?I’ve seen several people imply Jesus contradicts predestination, but no verses to clearly support it). We can’t delete verses we don’t agree with, rather we accept that God is far bigger than we are. I don’t have the answer to the age old free will / predestination debate and I’m content with that position. By God’s grace I love and depend completely on the power of Christ, the source of all righteousness and strength. The above argument has no bearing on that faith, so why should I come to a firm conclution? All I prove by taking a strong stand is my own arrogance, which is exactly what Calvin and Zach have done. They are cut from the very same cloth. If we think we have all the answers, we should never expect Christ to take us aside and open our minds to understand the Scriptures – Luke 24:45. You seem to have all the answers, so good luck with that.

          • Eric Boersma
            May 15, 2014

            The above argument has no bearing on that faith, so why should I come to a firm conclution? All I prove by taking a strong stand is my own arrogance, which is exactly what Calvin and Zach have done. They are cut from the very same cloth.

            You seriously don’t see a difference between “God consciously wills billions of human beings into existence with full foreknowledge and intention of making them live short, brutal lives full of pain, anguish and despair, followed by an agonizing death and then eternal, conscious torment being burned alive forever and ever” and “If God does that, God’s a horrible monster”?

            You can roll bullshit off your tongue all day long about how “God’s ways are not our ways”, but if God’s ways are what Calvin says they are, God is the worst being that has ever existed. That’s not the God of either the Old Testament or the New Testament, it’s a God that someone reasoned themselves into in order to fulfill a need for theological purity — a theological purity that Jesus himself condemned in the Pharisees. That God is not reflected in the law, the prophets, nor the life of Christ.

            I realize that you’re getting your jollies by taking a stance that somehow both sides are just as bad, but that’s intellectually lazy, not something that Christians should aspire to. Believe in something.

          • Matt
            May 15, 2014

            You’ve decided that in order for God to be warm and cuddly ~in your mind~, one must delete a dozen or two verses from the Bible. Otherwise your god becomes a monster. You might as well delete another fifth or so of the OT when he prophesies and exacts His wrath if you want Him cute and squishy too. Like I said, good luck with that.
            I’ve decided it’s all true, just too difficult for a mere human to comprehend. David did the same, I’m with him. Psa 131:1 Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty.
            I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.
            I believe in the God of the Bible and Him incarnate as my savior. Simple.

          • Eric Boersma
            May 15, 2014

            I’m a Wesleyan; that means that two of the four parts of how I interpret the Bible involve my own reason and my own lived experience. I’m a more liberal Wesleyan as well; I believe that God continues to reveal Himself and His nature to us as history goes on. I recognize that this is the lens through which I view Christianity and the Bible, and I’m OK with that. It’s your continued insinuation that having an interpretation at all (ignoring that your interpretation is just that) somehow means that one is betraying God that I don’t abide. Just because you choose to eschew thinking about how you interpret the Bible doesn’t mean that everyone should.

          • Matt
            May 16, 2014

            I can see that you rely on your own understanding. You have completely ignored every verse I have mentioned in deference to your experience and what you can easily fathom. I’m sorry to have to tell you, but your tradition is in direct conflict with Scripture.
            Pro 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. And Pro 3:7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Wesley and his traditions will not be with you in your time of need, nor will he be able to welcome you into heaven. Only Christ can do those things and much more. I suggest you pursue a relationship with Him instead of a religion. You’ll find far more answers and a far deeper peace with Christ than you will with Wesleyan traditions.

          • Karen
            May 16, 2014

            Matt, what you don’t seem to understand is that we all come to Scripture with our own intellectual filters and presuppositions which have to do with what we have been taught, our own experience, etc. The Bible is a book in which every verse has to be interpreted. Very early in Christian history when heretics like Marcion (who taught the God of the OT was evil and only embraced the NT, or parts of it) and the various Gnostic teachers started using the Christian Scriptures, but interpreting them wrongly, the famous early Christian apologist and defender of the faith, St. Irenaeus, refuting their erroneous doctrines recognized that appealing merely to the letter of the Scriptures wasn’t an adequate way to properly defend the truth. Instead he counseled believers to see if the teaching could be found not only in some verses of the Scriptures, but in those communities that received their initial teaching and commission from an Apostle of Jesus Christ, who were historically identifiable in the lists of their bishops going back to an Apostle. Interpretation and application of the Scriptures in the liturgy and creeds of these communities was still taking place in accordance with what had always been believed in all those communities and being understood in its proper apostolic sense. IOW, they recognized their Scriptures had a proper context and this was the Church in which they had been penned and received. The bottom line is that the verses that talk about God’s “predestination”, etc., in the Scriptures mean one thing to Calvin (and apparently you), but meant something very different than this to the early Christians and Church Fathers still connected (through sacraments, creeds and liturgy) to the churches of the Apostles, who charged them to continue to hold to the teachings (“traditions) they were taught, whether orally or in epistles (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

          • Matt
            May 16, 2014

            The problem with trusting in traditions, sacraments, creeds, liturgy, experience, and logic is that they are man made. If they agree with Scripture, fine. The problem is when they don’t, which seems to be more and more common. Your approach is a “gateway drug” to a christ based on man’s best or even worst definition. This page is full of comments calling God arrogant for requiring glory. So just toss out all those verses and major themes because intellect dictates. Toss out all of God’s judgments too since they don’t agree with your definition of your god, right? We are far, far, far too small to define who God is and what He can and can’t do, yet man’s experience and intellect do it everyday in the name of Wesley or whoever. Your approach also rules out the supernatural. By definition, a relationship between humans and a God far above must be miraculous in every aspect. God’s supernatural intervention is woven deeply into the fabric of the Bible right through. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, one shouldn’t expect to really understand a single shred of Biblical truth other than as one would a stodgy old history book. You are welcome to debate and define a god in your own image, found in small part in an old irrelevant history book. But don’t you want more than some comforting traditions and the satisfaction of know you are smarter than others? Don’t you want to know and experience God’s presence as David did? Psa 116:9 And so I walk in the L ord ’s presence as I live here on earth! There is so much joy, peace, heart change, revelation (completely in line with the Word) and more available with the God defined in the Word and not by men. Ask for it. I hope your intellect can stand aside long enough to find Him.

          • Karen
            May 16, 2014

            Um, Matt, you’re just proving my point here, and you’re jumping to so many far-flung false conclusions from what I have written it’s making my head spin. As you can see if you consider what 2 Thess. 2:15 teaches, there are “traditions” that are genuinely Christian and apostolic (in fact the Scriptures are a written expression of this “tradition” which was both written and oral according to this verse), and there are “traditions” of men (i.e., human philosophies–what I’m trying to get you to see is that you are actually employing human philosophy about how to approach the Scriptures in your posts here). The problem with not trusting Christ’s institution of apostleship, baptism, and the eucharist (recorded for us in the Scriptures) is that this is also not really trusting the Christ of the Scriptures either, but rather the “Christ” of our own individual interpretation. Christ, the Christian faith, the Bible’s teachings, have always been embodied in the Church (which is Christ’s Body, according to the Scriptures), and He promised to lead them into all the truth by sending His Spirit. The Scriptures themselves tell us what is the “pillar and ground’ of the truth. Go ahead and do a Bible search and see what the answer to that is (here’s a hint: it’s not a group of texts). The Bible has a proper context which the early Christians recognized.

            I absolutely believe in the supernatural–otherwise it is hard to explain how either the Church or the Scriptures could still exist. I also belong to a Christian tradition that has 2,000 years of experiential wisdom about how to discern truth from error and demonic manifestations from true manifestations from God. This is because we expect God to be living and active in our midst and not simply to have left us some instructions as text on a page. We have a steady, continuous 2,000 year supply of witnesses to the continuation of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in His Church, not infrequently in miraculous ways. I do not believe the naked text of the Scriptures is a “magic” book such that each individual who believes and says he is, is actually being led by the Holy Spirit in his understanding of their message (though, I absolutely agree the Holy Spirit’s illumination is essential to guide our understanding). Certainly not all “revelation” or miraculous manifestations are of God. Rather, it is as St. Vincent Lerins wrote in the 5th century, we must look to understand the Scriptures in the way they have been understood “everywhere, always, and by all” within the apostolic Christian Church (the Holy Spirit doesn’t disagree with Himself over time), and we should pay special attention to how those who lived the most exemplary, Christ-filled Christian lives (according to those who were eye-witnesses of this) have understood and interpreted the Scriptures. Those who genuinely understand the Scriptures aright are those who end up most resembling the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Gospels and in whose lives the fullness of the Spirit is made manifest.

          • Matt
            May 16, 2014

            2 Thes 2:15 is one verse that was more than likely written specifically about a face to face relationship. I’ll need a lot more specific scriptural references than that to toss scripture aside for some traditions and puny human intellect. I generally need at least 10 verses saying basically exactly the same thing before I feel it’s worth talking about.
            In general, traditions tend to obscure the Gospel and teach people to depend on them instead of Christ, regardless of the denomination or doctrine. I avoid them and run directly to the Bible. The symbolism, pictures of Christ, depth, and peace keeps me continually in awe year after year, decade after decade. Where would I find time for all that other noise from mere men?

          • Karen
            May 17, 2014

            Alas, you continue to prove the old adage, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

            Where you understand the Scriptures aright (and I’m sure there are many places you do), you are already reading them through the filter of the true Apostolic tradition you have been taught and received through other believers. Where you are not, you will not apparently have the opportunity to be corrected unless you are willing to listen to what the Spirit has been speaking to the Church down through the ages, and learn from the history of the Church. I wish you well.

          • Matt
            May 17, 2014

            I wish you well too, Karen, and Eric (from Friesland, I think) and Zack.

          • Michael Thompson
            February 11, 2015

            “The problem with trusting in traditions, sacraments, creeds, liturgy, experience, and logic is that they are man made.” Yes, and so is scripture!

      • Nanci
        June 18, 2015

        What Tim said! Especially the last paragraph!

    • ZackHunt
      May 14, 2014

      Well, for starters, I’m not interested in proof-texting. So, that’s not going to happen. But more importantly, this was a post about Calvin’s book and his theology in general, not an attempt to exegete every verse in the Institutes. Also, believe it or not, having read the Institutes I am actually pretty familiar with “the verses Calvin stands on.” Are you? By which I don’t mean, can you quote a bunch of random verses to me, but have you read his work and become familiar with the specific passages of scripture he uses (and doesn’t use) to construct his argument? Because if not, then we’re not really arguing about Calvin, we’re arguing about your view of scripture/God/theology, which wasn’t the point of this post.

      • Matt
        May 14, 2014

        Let’s just cut the small talk and go straight to the theme of what I have read in your blog and the nature of your comments in general. That is where the real disagreement lies. I can tell you read scripture through the filter of what makes sense to you, and thus, you read Calvin and others through the same filters. Calling God egotistic for what is clearly expressed numerous times in the Bible shows a complete lack of understanding of what Scripture is all about. Rather than reading the Bible and the works of the ancients through the lense of pop American humanistic thought, admit that your extremely limited (and tainted by sinful nature) human intellect is not enough to fathom the High and Lofty One and His ways. Then ask the Holy Spirit, who is the only purveyor of truth, to speak to you through His perfectly preserved Word. You certainly won’t become a Calvinist, however, you will at least be given a desire to see God and God alone glorified and you can finally read those glory to God verses, rather than exclude them. You complain that “we in America tend to remake Jesus in our own image,” yet you are the epitome of that very flaw.

        • Guest
          May 15, 2014

          “the High and Lofty One”…this must be a troll!

          • Matt
            May 15, 2014

            Isa 57:15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place
            with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

        • Carlos
          May 21, 2014

          “yet you are the epitome of that very flaw” Wow.. you lost me here… in all of your dissertation.. your spirit finds need of rebuke. Sir, you do not speak for the Spirit of the Lord, you need to go back into prayer.

        • reubster
          May 23, 2014

          Through the teaching of various people I respect, I was recently released from this kind of thinking. The heart of God, his being, his character and person, should be intelligible not counter logical.

          God came to earth in person, as a human being, specifically, literally, categorically, so that we could see him and know him. The more you read Hebrews 1 v1-4 the more astonishing it is.

          Our God is relational. He loves us. He is not looking to remain forever separate from our understanding. He’s looking to get closer and closer to us.

          He communicated his word to human beings, who wrote it down in their own language, with their own cultural viewpoint colouring their expression of the message, their selection of words.

          Yes, he is High and Lofty. But we really are supposed to be able to understand Him by looking at Jesus.

          Yes, I will get that wrong repeatedly for various reasons.

          Yes, I’m part sinful in nature (and part redeemed). But as Jesus promised, if I keep seeking Him I will find Him.

          • Matt
            May 23, 2014

            John 10:35 Jesus says “… you know that the Scriptures cannot be
            altered.”

            2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach
            us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.

            2 Peter 1:20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those
            prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

            We are to be “conformed to the image of his Son” according to Romans 8:29, not conform Him to our image.

            Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (it is our job to trust, not fully understand)

            2 Timothy 4:3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for
            teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

            2 Peter 3:3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will
            come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.

            Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

            Those verses may sound “mean spirited”, but I didn’t write them. There are many more that confirm that we are not in a position to define God by what we find reasonable and culturally appropriate. Jesus did and said many things that we wouldn’t consider loving, Yet He is the very definition of love and our sensibilities do not and can never define Him. Read 1 Cor 2. It’s better to be a fool trusting Christ than “wise” and doing what seem right in my own eyes.

            1 Cor 3:18 Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say,
            “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”
            20 And again,“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise;
            he knows they are worthless.”

          • Karen
            May 26, 2014

            Matt, those Scriptures don’t sound at all “mean-spirited” to me. It’s interesting to me that you think they might sound that way. Yet Calvin’s interpretation of Scripture undeniably creates an abhorrent image of God that is opposed to that revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, who said “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

            Who am I to believe? Jesus or Calvin? Because this is what it comes down to. Do I believe the apostolic NT typological interpretation of the OT narratives as pointing to Christ and only understood properly through Him (John 5:39; Luke 24:25-27)? Or, do I believe Calvin’s (and modern Fundamentalists’) overly literalistic interpretation and application of the OT anthropomorphic language about God’s “wrath”, “hatred”, “repentance”, etc., which flies in the face of so much of the Gospels’ straightforward and clear teaching?

          • Karen
            May 26, 2014

            I should add for clarification I absolutely believe what the Scripture means to communicate through this anthropomorphic language about God, but taking my cue from the apostolic witness to Jesus in the NT and the careful exposition and unified voice of the early Church Fathers’ following directly in the same apostolic tradition of interpretation, I know it does not mean what Calvin (and many modern fundamentalist readers) think it means.

          • Matt
            May 26, 2014

            You have come to an interesting conclusion. You believe that a literal interpretation of Scripture results in Calvinism. I would venture to guess that 90% of Christians who take a literal veiw of Scripture are not Calvinists. I recently read something saying only 30% would agree with him to one degree or another, but almost none completely.
            You also seem to know a great deal about what other people say about the Christian religion, but very little about what Jesus actually said and did. He confirmed the “wrath and judement” from the OT on more than one occasion. Have you read Matthew 25 lately? It is right there in red letters where you can’t miss it.
            But I suppose if you prefer to make a god and savior in your own image, you have to avoid the Word at all costs since so much of it destroys your version. You can do all the mental gymnastics you want and pretend to have a better way of “interpreting” what Jesus clearly said. (try that “your interpretation” phrase to get out of legal conrtact some day and see how far it gets you) Instead I hope you start reading the Word with the help of the Holy Spirit rather than through a thick fog of “traditions”. You might be surprised at the Jesus you find. He may not look so much like you, but one Whose ways are far higher than yours. You might find a God that won’t be fully understood for an eternity of revelation.

          • Mark
            February 12, 2016

            I find it particularly funny that you think (with the very first verse listed) that people are trying to “alter scripture” by denying Calvinism. As if your interpretation (and/or their interpretation) of Scripture without any shred of doubt cannot be faulted. Sorry to break it to ya, Scripture is indeed Inerrant, but you (and all humans who read Scripture) are most certainly NOT. You can claim Scripture is “Perfect” and unchanging all you want, that doesn’t promote your side… Because the exact same Bible that was used by Christians barely even 70 years ago to promote Slavery is also used now to abolish Slavery. What changed?–I can tell you wit wasn’t Scripture… What changed was people’s willful perspective of Scripture… By taking any verse necessary and distorting its meaning to fit with whichever understanding of God they deem to be most accurate. Or whichever interpretation they want to be correct… Calvinism is no exception! Many verses get read with completely different meanings when you are of the wrong frame of mind (and especially when you deny logic). The very first verse you used is quite possibly the best example of that, where you “Interpret” the verse as to say: “I am right because any alteration from my beliefs is alteration from the Scripture.”–I can promise you, that is not what that verse is saying, but that is how you used it. Factually, it does not fit within the context of this discussion at all, because nobody is trying to alter scripture, the problem is people are misinterpreting the scripture we have (including yourself especially). Misinterpretation and alteration are not one and the same thing, by the way…

        • Mark
          February 12, 2016

          One major flaw with that Matt, according to Calvinism, neither he nor anyone else can do what you just claimed. You are saying that his lens is filtered and that he should instead show “a desire to see God”, but by the same implementation that what he stated is faulted, then you are likewise countering your own statement by implying he is incapable of that in the first place? That makes no sense… Does he have the ability to affect his own belief structure and selectively desire God, or does he not… If he does not, then your response is literally pointless. You would have been better off telling God to do everything you just said. And if he does have that ability, then his words were valid, contrary to your own. Meaning, there are only two possible outcomes here… Either he is correct by possessing “Choice”, or you are wasted your time by not possessing “Choice”. Its a looze – looze for you unfortunately… Because either he is the determining factor of his beliefs, or God is, and if you claim he is wrong, then God is at fault… If you turn around and claim he is right, then you are at fault.

      • David Puleo
        May 23, 2014

        Grace and Peace to you brother Zack. I think this article was a great article and you made some great points in it. With that being said bro, there are some necessary questions that need to be asked. For instance arminians say that God knew who would choose him so he elected them. Okay I understand that but how did God know? Did he look down the corridors of time to see? If so where did the future come from? Does not God create the future? If God is all knowing, and never learns anything new then didn’t he know all before the earth was made? The next question is if God knew everything before the earth was made then all events in this life whether small or big are known by him and he allows them to happen for a purpose. If he is not in control of all events including overseeing evil acts of men then we have reason to fear that God himself has no idea whats going on. I think this is a vital point. Does our suffering and evil have a purpose? If not then why doesn’t God step in and stop it. ? My scripture references would be Job, Psalm 139 (in regard to his knowing of all things and our predetermined existence) Proverbs 4 ( God made the wicked for the day of trouble) Exodus 4:11 (god makes man deaf dumb blind) The crux of the issue is is all the evil and suffering void of purpose or does God have a purpose in it. / Thanks for your time bro love your writing.

        • Mark
          February 12, 2016

          0. You’re most faulting conclusion to your
          questioning David is when you said: “If he is not in control of all
          events, including overseeing evil acts of men, then we have reason to fear that
          God himself has no idea what going on.” Many of your questions are
          understandable, and something many Christians (as well as nonbelievers) have
          struggled to comprehend from time to time (ironically). However, you are
          illustrating the fallacy of: “Knowledge = Causation”.–This is not
          factually so. Nor is the reverse true either. It is true that
          Causation and Knowledge “CAN” coincide, but their ability to coexist
          does not factually imply that every instance of knowledge possesses a root
          cause, nor that every cause was rooted in knowledge.–This is even why we have
          words such as “Accident” (something that was caused unwantingly and
          usually unknowningly); likewise, there is plenty we know without having been
          the cause of that knowledge (math tends to be an ideal example). With that
          said, I’ll answer each of your questions…

          1. First, allow me to correct you in assuming that being Anti-Calvin automatically
          make you Pro-Arminian. These are often viewed as black and white extremes
          that a person must apply ONLY to one side or the other. However, you can
          be opposed the John Calvin’s theology without knowing anything about
          Arminianism. Similarly, you can be nonchristian without knowing anything
          about Atheism.–This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t necessarily apply to the
          definition of the words in question, but the simple point here is, being
          opposed the Calvinism does not default someone as an Arminian in
          contrast. It is, however, likely that people who are opposed to Calvinism
          will find themselves to more naturally agree with Arminianism, but in the grand
          scheme of this topic at hand, that is largely irrelevant.

          2. Your first stated question of how God knows is particularly interesting, and
          not something people inquire very often since it is part of the characteristic
          that goes hand-in-hand with not only the idea of a “high being” in
          general, but also with terms such as “Omnipotent” (among
          others). Even so, while this very first question already features your
          logical disconnect between Knowledge and Causation, the true mistake you are
          making here is more specifically looking at God in terms of a timeline.
          You are associating God with the same confines to Time as we ourselves are
          stuck in.–Whereas, that same rule does not apply to God who is outside of our
          time… Heck, that’s practically the definition of Eternity: “Outside of
          time”. To help you understand this, tell me… Have you ever watched
          a movie or read a book? For the purpose of simplicity, I am going to
          provide the story of Superman as an example (someone most everyone knows
          about). When reading a story, you are NOT connected to the timeline you
          are reading about. The story you witness is completely disconnected from
          your own (minus the time it takes you to actually read and comprehend
          it). Consequently, you can read about Superman’s birth, and then you can
          skip to Superman’s death. In doing so, you are partaking in the role of
          God to the story in question, because you can freely jump to any point in time
          within that story without effecting your own time nor without harming the story
          in and of itself. Subsequently, if Superman could somehow become aware of
          your presence, suggesting you were to read his entire story within an hour, you
          with be largely no different in age from the time he was born to the moment he
          dies. Meaning, from his perspective, you are simultaneously in EVERY part
          of his story at every point in his entire life! In terms of God, this
          means at this immediate moment, God is just as much experiencing the Joys of
          Creation (right now), experiencing the suffering of crucifixion (right now),
          experiencing the loss and victory of Revelation (right now), and experiencing
          the neutrality of you reading what I have written here (right now). God
          is not experiencing time as we do, He is just as much in tomorrow as He is in
          yesterday.–Not unlike turning a page in a book. So “How does God
          know?” The exact same way we know the entire story of
          Superman…Regardless which part of the story we start reading at. You
          are perceiving knowledge in terms of a timetable, which is inaccurate when
          referring to God would literally created Time itself. Meaning, the reason
          God knows all is because he has read the entire book, and knows every single
          detail of every single character and object within that book. Likewise,
          just as we grow to like or dislike certain characters within a story based on
          the choices we know they will make within their time confines, similarly, God
          grows to love or hate who we are or become within out stories. The only major difference between God and us
          reading a book is that God is able to interject into the story at any part of
          the story He wants. Unlike God, we are unable to interact with Superman
          while reading his story. Time is not linear to God, and you would be
          mistakened to associate God’s knowledge as being confined to what we perceive
          as Future or Past. Because God is at every point in time at the exact
          same time. He knows what will happen tomorrow because He is already in
          tomorrow. To him, experiencing the future might even be similar to how we
          experience the Past via Memory.

          3. Your second question inter-relates with the first question, God doesn’t
          “Look down the corridors of time”, He is already there…

          4. The same place the story originated from. We have proof of a
          “Creator” based on witnessing the Creation. God is the most
          logical cause to the start of what we know as “Time”, and God is just
          as much the cause for when the end of “Time” occurs (which is
          promised to come).–This goes hand-in-hand with the definition of what it means
          to be “Finite” rather than “Infinite” like God. Time
          was instigated by God, but that does not mean that every event and/or action
          taken by persons confined to “Time” is likewise caused by God.
          You can be a creator without being the cause of what the creation does. If
          the reverse logic were valid, then every time a gun kills someone, the fault
          goes to the person who invented the gun, rather than the person who used the
          gun. We use the time God gave us however which way we willfully select to
          do so, God is only the cause of Time, not the cause of those who use
          time. This is true for any creator of anything. Such as the creator
          of a computer, he is only the creator of the machine itself, not the cause of
          how it gets used (such as when it gets used for porn). There is a
          distinction to be made here between Creator and Creation, and the application
          and/or utilization of that Creation. As another example, God’s original
          intention for the creation of Humanity was to share a relationship with them,
          wherein they would cultivate God’s other works of art and “multiple”
          to provide God more persons to partake in a relationship with. While this
          was our Created purpose (as declared in Genesis), it is not what we chose to do
          with that Creation. Sin is defined as separation from God, which means,
          since God despises sin, the reverse to Sin would be His goal instead, to NOT be
          separated from God. Once again, God is not the cause for how others use
          His creations. God is only the cause of the initial creation
          itself. If we deny this, then anything not created by yourself is
          subsequently not your fault in how you use it… Ironically, according to
          Calvinism, this would include Sin itself.

          5. Yet another question attached to a previous fallacy already discussed.
          God created time, within that “Time”, God is in both the past,
          present, and future simultaneously, there is no such timeline distinction for
          God. We create the future in accordance to what we do with our given
          Time, God didn’t create the future, He created Time itself. Meaning He
          didn’t make the future, He is in the future, which also means He literally IS
          the future.

          6. Yeah!–A question that is more logically sound, and largely a true
          statement… Though your inquiry of it is faulty, the question itself is
          valid. Yes, God knew what would become of time even before creating
          it. Which means, in spite of knowing (and even experiencing
          simultaneously) death on a cross awaiting Him, and atrocities committed by His
          children all throughout Time, God still chose to create us… So the question
          you should have been asking (which you didn’t) is “Why?” Why would
          God create us knowing the pain He would be subsequently putting Himself through
          in doing so? This thought didn’t appear to even cross your mind…
          Because indeed, if God knew all the evils that would come forth from His
          creation, and if God is not the cause of those evils, then there must be
          something God desires so desperately that even at the cost of Sin, and even at
          the cost of Death, He was willing to go through with it. Something so
          completely important to God that He was willing to sacrifice EVEN His only
          Begotten Son for that same Creation that would also inflict upon God so much
          pain to begin with. If God created all while knowing all, then you have
          two possible outcomes… A. Calvinism is correct, but consequently, God is the
          root of all Evil by being the direct cause of all Sin! or B. God craves to be
          Loved and to Love so deeply that He is willing to sacrifice ANYTHING to achieve
          it… Including the existence of Sin, Control over His creation, and
          especially, His own life! Reiterated more times in the Bible than ANY
          other attribute spoken about God, GOD IS LOVE!!! No…That does not mean
          “God is Loving”–There is a difference. God embodies all that
          is Love, and love is only achievable by the ability to choose it. It is
          often said, if you want to know if someone loves you, let them go and see if
          they return to you. Love does not cage people, it does not force you to
          yield, it is achieved only when you have no part in that person’s choice to
          love you in return. The only way God can achieve this type of Love is to
          allow people to choose Him or reject Him… Just as Adam and Eve made their
          choice, and people continue to make their choice even until now. Subtract
          the ability to choose, and you will also subtract the existence of Love entirely!
          Love literally cannot exist without choice… and since God is Love, then if
          God exists, so must LOVE!

          7. While not a question, you mentioned: “He allows them to happen for a
          purpose.” Logically, I agree… Your dilemma is that you either do
          not acknowledge what that purpose is (aka: Love) or assume that purpose is
          strictly simply that God be in control and to prove His Sovereignty. Lack
          of better words, a Glory-Hungry god rather than a Love-Thirsting God.

          8. This is the question where you make your ultimate fallacy of concluding with
          the notion that Knowledge must somehow equate Causation, once again, this is
          false.–This is also indicative of the wrong frame of mind. Even more
          ironic is how you regard that as a “Vital” point. I have heard
          many Calvinists outright deny any notion of a “Responsive” God (in
          other words, a God who responds to us and our sins), and believe instead that
          He can only be an “Active” God (actively in charge of everything,
          including sin). Here is the dilemma with this thought-process. God
          can only be either the “Source” of Sin, or the “Answer” to
          Sin.–Logically, He cannot be both. A person cannot be both the source of
          a problem and the answer to that problem. Even if this were true, then that
          person (aka: God) would be their own worst enemy by having to combat every
          problem they themselves instigate. In other words, you must concede that
          God is either the “Cause” of all sin (aka: Calvinism), or the
          “Rectifier” of all sin (aka: Anti-Calvinism). You cannot have
          it both ways… If you don’t want a God who responds, then you result with a
          god who can ONLY cause instead. And even suggesting you could justify the
          existence of a God who is the root of every problem to begin with, what purpose
          is Prayer then? If God does not respond, then Prayer is both invalid and
          pointless… Because Prayer invokes the notion of God’s answer, but if God can
          only “Cause”, then in actuality, every prayer comes from God…
          Meaning, we literally cannot pray! Nor does praying achieve anything in
          the world of a nonresponsive God. You cannot have it both ways, does God
          cause Prayer, or does God answer Prayer?

          9. This notion is so silly that it is difficult to even find a proper way of
          illustrating it. “Why doesn’t God step in to stop it?”
          Firstly, God DOES!!!–Remember the story of the Flood, when things got so out
          of hand that God was forced to wipe out all of His creation with the except of
          only one who still loved Him? Care to tell my why an all-controlling God
          would ever need to destroy His own creation? Or are you going to tell me
          that God “Predestined” that literally the ENTIRE WORLD choose to hate
          God, only so that God could have an excuse to commit mass Genocide… Yeah,
          that totally sounds like I god I want to worship (sarcasm). In fact, would
          will the world get to a point where the predicted Revelation will occur if God
          is the sole cause of everything leading up to it? Does God simply take
          pleasure in genocide? Did God, perhaps, have a sudden urge to go on an
          “Unelect” hunting spree? Moreover, why would God
          “Predamn” literally the entire world (minus one person)? If he
          knew that creating those persons would force Him to flood the world, then why
          cause it? He could have, instead, “Elected” an entire world’s worth
          of people… But this is not factually what He did, what He does, nor what He
          will do when the End Times come upon us. If you need a verse, I recommend
          Jeremiah 3:33, which states: “He does not willingly bring affliction or grief
          to the sons of men.” Put more simply,
          God does not desire pain for anyone, much as it states in many other places in
          the Bible, God desires only good things for us, “plans to make us prosper”. Yet, even so, is forced to bestow tragedies
          from time to time. If this is true, then only two outcomes are possible
          once again… A. God possesses a duality (or double-will), where one side of
          Him craves sin, destruction, and pain, while the other side of Him craves
          repentance, righteousness, and love.–This would be the Calvinistic outcome. or
          B. God is forced to punish us for our transgressions just like how any parent
          is forced to spank and/or punish their children when they misbehave. Most
          parents (unless they are sadistic) do not enjoy nor desire to punish their
          kids, but know that they must because if the child never learns otherwise, they
          will continue to make terrible choices and ultimately harm both themselves and
          others! This is why your question(s) are so silly, because it is the
          exact same thought-process that results in the question of: “If God is so
          Good and Loving, why does Hell exist?”–Same reason, because the
          alternative would be no punishment for any transgressions against God, one
          another, and His creation. Hell exists not because God desires that
          anyone should ever go there, but rather, because for those who want nothing to
          do with God, it would be more cruel to force someone into Heaven than to send
          them to a place where there are no “Thou Shalt Nots”. Hell is
          the response to our disobedience. But disobedience is not even possible
          unless God “Allows” us to have the ability to disobey in the first
          place. Hence, God does not step in because if He did, that would be an
          infringement upon our Free Will. At best, God can kill us, but cannot
          force us to do ANYTHING against our will… Because if He did, that would be
          the exact opposite of Love, which God is incapable of since He literally IS
          Love. Meaning, God cannot oppose Himself by performing any deed that
          would defy Love. Killing us does not
          oppose our wills, stopping an action we take, or forcing a belief upon us would
          be in direct violation of what Love is. Subsequently, God cannot do
          anything to infringe upon our choices or else He would deny the very purpose He
          died for in the first place. Much as God
          does throughout the entire Bible, the only two things God can do is place
          ailments upon us (such as when God blinded Paul), or simply kill us when He
          knows that no miracle will ever convince us (much like with Pharaoh during the
          time of Moses). Paul even mentions in a passage in Romans that if God is
          willing to go so far as to forfeit even His own life for us, then there can be
          NOTHING smaller than God’s own Life He wouldn’t be willing to give to us.
          So unless you can claim Free Will is GREATER than the value of Christ, then
          factually, God will sacrifice control over us since that is of lesser value
          than Himself. You are correct in one specific way…

          10. Indeed, Why does evil exist if God is in 100% control? If truly
          nothing could happen without God being the direct cause of it, then Sin is 100%
          God’s fault, and we are blameless… Logically, we cannot be faulted for an
          unmade choice, and since your argument is that God is the source of all
          choices, then God is at fault for all choices also. If nothing else, this
          fact is undeniable… Our entire Justice System would be completely pointless
          of this logic did not hold true. In other words, deny God of being Sinful
          by being 100% in control, then you must also deny that when a person commits a
          crime, they too are not at fault in spite of being in control and the direct
          cause. As an example, if someone walked into your home and killed everyone
          you loved (except you), all they would need to say is: “God made me do
          it”, and he’d/she’d be acquitted as Innocent. Because only the
          person who possesses a choice is capable of receiving blame… If you remove
          the ability for someone to make a choice of their own, then by claiming God is
          the source of their choice, then that person becomes blameless and God becomes
          sinful. A person can only obtain blame by possessing the ability to do
          otherwise… If they lack this ability, then only the person in control (aka: God)
          can be blamed instead. Long story short, you asked the correct question,
          but NOT in the correct way, nor did you elaborate on it, and you resulted with
          a faulty conclusion which run counter-intuitive even to the most basic
          commonsense.–Hence…Very silly!

          11. To answer “the crux of the issue”, as you called it, the purpose
          to the permission of evil is to achieve genuine Love. A love that can
          only come from unrestricted volition to select God or deny God. As a
          result, God allowing sin to exist does indeed possess a purpose, but that
          purpose is not “Caused” by God. Once again, Knowledge and
          Causation are NOT one and the same thing. Knowing Sin would occur does
          not mean God wanted sin to occur, nor that God causes Sin. If God had
          prevented Adam and Eve from disobeying God, what would that have
          achieved? In fact, knowing Adam and Eve would disobey anyway, why did God
          bother to make a command of them in the first place if He was going to
          divinely-ordain that they break God’s own commandment? At that point God
          would have been better off not having commanded anything of Adam and Eve at
          all. In fact, God might have even been better of simply commanding Adam
          and Eve to eat only of the forbidden fruit.–Perhaps then they would have
          disobeyed even that. If God was going to “Predestine” Adam and
          Eve into Sinning, why tell them not to do something He was going to make them
          do anyway? This isn’t just ludicrous, it is absolutely Bonkers! At
          this point you would be talking about an EXTREMELY insane god who disobeys even
          his own self. The only way this can make any sense is if Adam and Eve
          were legitimately given the freedom to choose to obey or disobey God.
          Obviously, we know that they choose poorly, but the story makes absolutely no
          sense if God is the “Cause” of the problem, as opposed to the
          “Answer” to the problem. That is your choice to make David… I
          cannot force you to change your perspective or stance, but in the end, would
          you rather assume God is the cause of every single Sin you and everyone else makes
          all throughout history, or would you rather believe God is the answer to our
          ever-growing crimes? Whether you like it or not, you cannot have it both
          ways… Either God is 100% at fault for both the good and the bad (according to
          Calvinism), or God is 100% the answer to all things in life (according to
          Anti-Calvinism). The results peg God as either a creator of ONLY
          evildoers, or God as the rewarder of selected righteousness and placing your
          Love/Trust foremost in Him! Your call, but for me, the “Answer”
          is obvious (pun intended…).

        • Mark
          February 12, 2016

          I apologize for how disjointed my previous post was, I had copied and pasted it from a Word Document, where I typed it. I did not realize doing so would cause it to change format so drastically…

    • Mark
      January 2, 2016

      Matt, I notice in many of your responses that you treat scripture as superior to logic. I could retort with something like when Jesus directed us to be as wise and cunning as serpents, yet as innocent as children. But I’m not going to present any of those usual examples given your line of reasoning. I am a 35-Point Anti-Calvinist (7 to every 1 point of Calvinism). Among those 35 Points, I am going to inquire of you specifically Point 15. That being: “Why does Jesus exist?” Initially, this might seem like a silly question, but it is being posed under the assumption: “If Calvinism is true”. Here is why…

      If God was in full control from the start, promotes and causes Sin, is concerned more with Sovereignty than Love, and continues to be 100% dictating off all people’s eternal fate, then why did Jesus have to come and why did Jesus die? According to Calvin, people were Predestined and Predamned prior to Jesus, and people continue to be predestined and predamned after Jesus; therefore, what difference did Christ’s death make in a world God has already fully pre-decided? If you need a simpler way of stating the same question, according to Calvinism, would anything be different if Jesus had never existed whatsoever? If yes, then how so? If no, then Calvinism completely negates any necessity for Christ to achieve Salvation.

      (According to Calvin) God is the reason why anyone would be predamned in the first place, so what difference does it make for God to kill Himself on a cross when He is literally the intentional source of Sin! If God did not want Sin in His creation, He could have divinely ordained it. Equally, anybody God wanted to “Elect” would not have required Jesus to achieve. Do you really mean to tell me that (to you) Calvin makes enough sense (even in connection to Scripture) as to suggest God limited Himself to human form (a very un-Solvereign and un-Glorious state of being), suffered in nearly every way possible, and died for a reason He self-established at the dawn of Creation (people’s eternal destination)? That isn’t just ludicrous, that’s off-the-wall Bonkers!–But hey, you were commenting about how logic isn’t necessary and that it isn’t possible to understand, so I suppose that merely remains consistent with your claim. Because at that point, you are talking about an extremely insane god would would throw away the life of His only Begotten Son for a cause that is already established without the need of Jesus. In other words, He could achieve the same results without Jesus. We have a word for that… its called Massocism. I would call it suicide, except God cannot die, therefore, since His death achieves nothing and cannot change anything, He must simply love pain.

      We are no more or less predestined (or predamned) before Jesus VS after Jesus, so again I ask, “If Calvinism is true, why does Jesus exist?” If an answer cannot be procured for this question, then Calvinism is NOT Christianity, because reliance on Christ is necessary to be dubbed “Christian”, but if Christ makes no difference whether He lived, died, or existed whatsoever, then it is impossible to be a “Christ-Follower”.

      Even suggesting you could find an acceptable answer to this question, there are 34 other Points of Anti-Calvinism… I merely provided the one point that seemed most relevant to what has been said here.

      • Matt
        January 3, 2016

        God’s purpose in Christ is extremely simple.

        Ephesians 2:7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

        There will be a future age where those united with Christ are displayed as examples of God’s love and grace.
        Jesus said we should love our enemies and even be willing to die for them. He did that by saving His undeserving enemies through His death. No one standing before Him will be boasting about their god-like intelect or talking about their superior doctrine. They will be glorifying God alone for His unfathomable love and grace along with all other heavenly beings.

        Eph 3:10 — Eph 3:11God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
        Is 9:7b The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

        Whether you beleive it or not is entirely irrelevant. It is and will be regardless of your logic. Believing in a god entirely of your own making does not change who God is or what He says He’ll do. Betting your eternity on your own brilliance is a bad bet.

        • Mark
          January 3, 2016

          While I acknowledge your declaration to not be a Calvinist yourself, you claim, however, that Calvinism is both more logically founded and is agree with more times in scripture than not. Thus, my inquiry was provided under the insinuation that “If Calvinism were True”.–As such, I’m not talking about what the common Christian would understand as the purpose for Jesus, but rather, wanting to know the purpose of Jesus under the idea of Predestination and Predamnation.

          If you don’t understand what distinction I am making here… Then allow me to restate the question given the answer you have provided. Your response is that the purpose of Jesus is to be an example by which people should live by. Namely, that by Christ illustrating His love, we in turn can also love. — That is what I got out of your response (if I misinterpreted, please correct me). That answer, why I fully agree with it, does not answer the question. Because according to Calvin, even a persons ability to Love or Hate (which are not choices according to Calvin also) is also divinely ordained by God. Meaning, if people do not Love (regardless whether they know Jesus or not), that is up to God. As such, Jesus is still unnecessary to Calvinism whether He lived, died, or existed whatsoever. So again… Given the premise that all eternal fates are already “set-in-stone” (if it were), why does Jesus exist? Love is not a sufficient answer given that is divinely achievable without Jesus also. In order for Jesus to be relevant under the theology Calvin provided, He would need to be a requirement for Salvation in some form or another… Yet Calvin’s claim is that God is completely Sovereign, and in a world where you are Predestined or Predamned no differently before VS after Jesus, what difference does the existence of Jesus make?

          The verses you provide are great! But they do not answer the question, and instead even imply the opposite to what Calvinism claims. Reason being… Point 11 of Anti-Calvinism = In God’s Case, He Himself was willing to lower Himself to come live among us, suffer in nearly every way possible, and ultimately die for us. With a God who would be willing to Sacrifice even His own life for us, why would you (or anyone) be against the idea that He’d ever likewise be willing to sacrifice control over us? Paul also mentions this in Romans 8:32 “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”–Including Choice! Because Paul argues that since God would go so far for us as to not withhold even His own life for us, who was delivered for us “All” (his own words), why then would He withhold anything smaller than Himself from us? Unless you could advocate that Free Will is greater than God, then if God would give use His Begotten Son, there is nothing smaller than God that He wouldn’t be willing to likewise Sacrifice for us.–His most beloved Creation/Children. Love is best represented by Sacrifice, but Sacrifice is impossible if Choice is not in play. Subsequently, impose Predestination and/or Predamnation on the Bible to create your own god from verses that state no such thing, then Love becomes invalid, and also nonexistent according to Calvin. Neither God nor Human can “Love” is there is no alternative option.

          I fully agree with the verses you provided Matt, but unfortunately, it doesn’t answer the question an Love is irrelevant under the theology of John Calvin. <!–
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          • Matt
            January 3, 2016

            I don’t know the answer to your question Mark. You know far more about Calvin and his beliefs than I do. You could put what I know about him and his beliefs in a thimble. I read and believe the Bible. That is what I study. That is all I have quoted to defend what I believe and that is all I’ll quote because it’s all I need. I challenge you to spend your time in the Word looking for Christ rather than controversial doctrines in the writings of uninspired dead guys.
            The reason I got into this conversation was because of Zach Hunt and his constant yet subtle attempt to degrade Scripture so he can redefine God in his own image and turn the Gospel into a form of Unitarianism. Again his purposes are subtle, but clear. He is essentially telling us that the God of the OT and Jesus can not be related based on his logic and his definition of who God must be. However, instead of attacking the Bible outright, as cleaver as he is, he attacks Calvin. On the other hand, using logic, Calvin came to some disturbing conclusions, but, whether they are true or not, at least he stayed true to the Word.
            Zack’s logic leads us away from the Word and the Gospel as defined in the Word. He encourages us to feel truth and justice and there we’ll find God. For example, God is all about His glory. It’s all through Scripture, but that makes Zack feel uncomfortable, so he denies it via Calvin’s emphasis of it.
            Calvin’s logic leads us to difficulty for sure, but not at the expense of the Gospel and God’s Word.
            The problem is attempting to define and understand God using human logic. We will never be able to make a logical argument reconciling the God we see in the Bible and the god that makes perfect sense to us. We are puny humans.
            Faith is what is required. Faith that God is powerful enough to preserve His Word through the ages even through the hands of man. Faith that He is who He says He is even if it doesn’t make sense to us. And most of all, faith that when we face God, Christ is our only hope of salvation.
            The Numbers 16 God and the God in John 3:16 are one in the same whether you or Zack agree or not. Our prayer when we can’t reconcile is for more faith from God.

            You misunderstood me…. “Your response is that the purpose of Jesus is to be an example by
            which people should live by. Namely, that by Christ illustrating His
            love, we in turn can also love”
            Zack may call Jesus a mere “example.” That sounds like the verbiage of a “Christ follower.” In my view a Christ follower sees Christ as an example, maybe a type of savior as Zack does, but not the one and only Savior of the world. Zack doesn’t think our behavior warrants God’s wrath, so who really needs the Savior?
            Christ is not at all an example to live by. That is utterly impossible for us to do. Instead, as we trust in Him, we are saved from the wrath of God that we deserve as sinners and we are filled with His literal righteousness (not our own) that quashes our desire to sin, although not completely in this life. We are even rewarded for the very obedience that He supernaturally puts in our hearts to do. That is Good News!
            I can provide many verses for all of this if need be.

            PS A simple search for the word “sovereign” brought up 291 results (and there are many more examples without using the exact word) in which either God Himself or prophets were using it to describe Him.
            Here is one mention. God’s sovereignty didn’t turn out well for the Babylonians.

            Jeremiah 50:25 The Lord has opened his armory and brought out weapons to vent his fury. The terror that falls upon the Babylonians will be the work of the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

            You have a choice to believe in the God of the Bible which includes His wrath and sovereignty as well as His love and grace or you can believe in Zack’s god who makes perfect sense and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling… you just have to cut out or completely ignore large swaths of the Bible. Take your pick.

        • Mark
          January 3, 2016

          P.S.: I totally agree also that believing in a self-made god is destructive (to say the least), but that is exactly what makes Calvinism so problematic. Thus far, you appear to be under the impression that the Calvinistic god isn’t an interpretation by asserting that an opposing notion is by default an entity conjured by one’s own brilliance. Except that in my entire life, after reading the Bible through many many times, I never once even for a millisecond concluded with a perception of God that even comes within a centimeter of Calvin’s logic. Never once did I assume my Lord and Savior to be an entity of Sovereignty over Love… I’ve never encountered even one verse in the Bible that completely supports that logic and literally hundreds of verses that state: “God IS Love”.–Care to find me a verse that directly states: “God is Sovereignty” instead? The very first time that concept ever arose was when it was brought to me by a Calvinist. Meaning, if my opposition to the theology presented by Calvin defaults me into a position of believing in “a god entirely of your own making” (as you put it), then even before I ever understood God, Christ, Love, etc… I was apparently already doing that.–Which (according to Calvinism) would be God’s fault also. If a concept can only be found from humans and not from one’s unbiased (aka: New Believer) study of scripture, then who is truly following the self-made god?

          P.S.P.S.: If Calvinism were true, there would be nothing to bet your eternity on in the first place, it is already fixed in place no matter what you choose to believe. Thus, once again I am inclined to agree with you: “Whether you believe it or not is entirely irrelevant”… Because if Calvinism were true, you would be no less Predestined or Predamned by “your own brilliance”. Thus, quite literally, there are NO “bad bets” (if the Calvinistic god were the true God).

        • Mark
          January 4, 2016

          I cannot personally say I got that impression from Zach’s letter whatsoever. And I will not speak to Zach’s intentions since I can only speak for myself, but minimally I understand the reasoning through which you live by. You made so many different claims in your last response that I will answer them in the same order you present them rather than emphasizing any one point over another. Firstly, studying the Word for the Truth in all matters in life, especially for who God is, is exactly what I do. However, you’d be mistaken to assume or treat this “controversy” as irrelevant or unimportant. Of all beliefs in the world that call themselves “Christian”, I am absolutely convinced that Calvinism is the most problematic, which is why there are 35 Points of Anti-Calvinism.–And I believe all 35 of those points myself. Christians tend to shrug off the importance of the disagreement among one another, however, whenever any issue questions the nature of God and the standard of Morality, by default on must be flawed. The same Bible that was used by Americans to promote Slavery was also used to abolish Slavery… What changed? Obviously not the scripture, not God, not morality, and not any Truth value, thus the source of the issue stems from errant human interpretation of it all… Those misinterpretations enable even acclaimed “Christians” to openly commit great atrocities without the pesky Conscience getting in their way. Factually, either Slavery is right or wrong, it cannot be both, and the Bible (while speaking of Slavery at points in history) cannot advocate both for and against it simultaneously… Therefore, while Scripture is Inerrant, humans very much are not! Want to know the biggest problem with Calvinism of all?

          Point 32 of Anti-Calvinism: “The push for self-destruction!” Calvinism lacks any purpose for being promoted or for spreading the Gospel since all persons are already elected or unelected. As such, if the Calvinistic god were the true God, I would be dead!–Or I would become an Atheist… Want to know why? Point 32 goes out of its way to clarify that according to Calvin, I cannot save any person, they are
          already “Destined” for Heaven or Hell regardless of what I or anyone else does; additionally, even my own “Destination” is already predetermined and I have
          absolutely no free will to choose otherwise. Therefore, I would commit suicide to get to Heaven and/or Hell sooner since that outcome remains the same even if I kill myself. What point is there to delay the inevitable? God has already Predestined or Predamned me no matter what I do, and I cannot accomplish anything in a world that God has already predetermined every outcome to… So it is better that I simply go to my preset destination rather than pointlessly bide my time in a world entirely
          puppeted by God. Any completely “Sovereign” God that would require me in order to save any of His supposed “Predestined” is by default not all-powerful nor completely sovereign since He is reliant upon my existence to “Destine” someone else. So since all people are already Predestined or Predamned, and the entire point to the Calvinistic belief is that God is 100% in control and we have absolutely no control, then even killing myself would not change mine or anyone else’s “Final Destination”. This would also mean that even my own suicide would be God’s fault, not my own.—Because He is the “Supreme” puppet-master, and thereby is at fault for every single action I ever take.—Including what I have written here (if Calvinism is true)… Yes, Calvinists would have to claim that even what you are reading at this immediate moment is “Destined” by God, and subsequently from God.—I do not believe this myself, nor do I claim my words are God’s words, but if God truly did dictate all factions of this world, then there is literally nothing anyone can say or write that wouldn’t be God’s fault. Meaning, even putting God’s name in vain is God’s own doing. Once again returns to the fact that “All” sin would ultimately be God’s fault if Calvinism is true. In the end, if all this were true, then God Himself is the greatest disaster to humanity, not Sin!—It is literally impossible to justify a god like that… Either we are the cause of Sin, or God is the cause of sin. You cannot have it both ways, just as Slavery cannot be both right and wrong simultaneously. Either God is the cause of Sin (Predestination), or God is the answer to Sin (Free Will).–There is no middle ground to these concepts. Any belief system the concludes with the notion of suicide is extremely problematic. And the irony is, each an every Calvinist who tries to convert me to Calvinism not only commits Hypocrisy to Calvinism (since one’s beliefs are divinely selected by God alone and subsequently unchangeable by human means according to Calvin) but also concludes with advocating that I should commit Suicide due to the pointlessness of this existence via Calvin’s theology. The consequences of one’s beliefs are far more important than you appear to give it credit. When a Christian is wrong… It is significantly more important to correct them than it is to correct Atheists, because the moment you call yourself “Christian”, you become a “Light Unto the World” and subsequently a representation of God’s Love to those who otherwise do not know it. But when you depict God falsely to an unbeliever, you harm God’s Kingdom rather than promote it. It is far better to believe God does not exist than to mislead people with a false god! To this end, it is crucial to expose the fallacies of Calvinism to those who are otherwise lost to it.

          I apologize for the length of my response, I had not intended to say as much as I did in response to your first point, but it is perhaps the most problematic statement you made by implying the sins of others should simply be ignored and that we (as individuals) should concern ourselves with our own salvation instead by studying the Word. That is a selfish depiction of what we are supposed to do with the Gospel. Anyway, I’ll try to make the remainder of my responses shorter….

          I very much believe the God of the OT, God of the NT, and God of the AD are all one and the same, just as God is likewise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simultaneously. I do not define a difference between them apart from their method of interacting with people. While God Himself remains the same (much as it very blatantly stats in Malachi), and theme all throughout Scripture remains the same (namely that things go well when you listen to God and very poorly when you don’t, and the Love Letter element also), but God has approached each person all throughout history differently. Sometimes only through dreams, sometimes through physical objects (such as a burning bush), sometimes through other people (otherwise called prophets), sometimes in silence (such as the response to earnest prayers; Daniel’s story is a good example of that), sometimes in a very direct verbal relationship (Ezekiel is quite possibly the best example), sometimes through the presences of temples (the Tabernacle being a good example), and most famously, in the form of flesh&blood like ourselves through Jesus Christ. Even today, God still interacts with people differently. God’s method constantly appears to parallel with the need of the persons involved, especially based on each person’s distinct understanding of God (Jesus likewise used Parables for this reason). But throughout it all… While it is easy for many to get lost in Translation (sometimes even literally), a person’s level of Faith and capacity to understand God can be boiled down to two core questions: “1. What is God’s Greatest Attribute?” and “2. What is the definition of Love?” The first question identifies what type of god you believe in (such as how Calvin believes God’s greatest attribute is Sovereignty, and you have stated to believe Glory and Wrath are the most important characteristics of God)… Meanwhile I believe God’s greatest attribute is Love!–The most repeated word in the Bible (apart from “Sin”). Everything points to God’s Love, including His Wrath. God literally never takes any action without Love being His core drive. However, not everyone believes Love is as crucial to the God of the Bible, and when that is the case, you begin speaking of difference gods, not the same God, even if both factions still call themselves “Christian”. When asking what God’s “Greatest Attribute” is, that does not negate His other characteristics, it is simply the foundation upon which all of God’s other characteristics likewise result from. That is why this question is so crucial, because the answer starkly changes who you perceive God to be, which subsequently differentiates your Faith from other gods believed even by other Christians. I’m not going to bother discussing which god is the correct one since that’s not the present issue. The second question identifies to what extent you understand/know God! What I mean to say is, John makes it blatantly clear (mostly in 1 and 2 John) that those who fail to know Love will fail to know God.–Which is yet another clue to suggest Love is the foundational cornerstone of God’s attributes if Love is the basis on which to know God. This also means, any belief system that fails to define Love is faulty, and that any “Christian” that possesses a starkly different definition of Love from yourself will likewise possess a completely different understanding of who God is (for better or worse). Literally every controversial doctrinal problem (particularly among various so-called “Christan” sub-sects) can be boiled down to these simple two questions. The 3rd most important question would be who “Jesus” is to you, and if your “Faith” is likewise a “Relationship” rather than a “Religion”. Based on your responses… I know your answer to both question 1 and question 3, I don’t know you answer to question 2, however…since your answer to questions 1 and 3 are very different from my own, it stands to reason that your answer to question 2 would likely differ greatly.

          Next, you clearly have a very poor outlook on humans (even though God does not); stating thing such as: “We puny humans”. Do not mistaken my words here, I wont pretend to say we aren’t sinful or that we deserve glory, however, you seem to forget we are made in the image of God, and are His most prized creation so far as to DIE for us, knowing that… I personally have a lot of confidence in who I am! I still make mistakes, but I strive to follow in Christ’s example to the best of my ability so as to illustrate God’s love to others and spread His word to anyone I am able! You are mistakened if you believe being a “Christ-Follower” means you can literally become Christ or anything related to that. When people strive for perfection, only the mentally insane would ever assume they will achieve perfection. Nobody in their right mind ever assumes they can truly be perfect, but everybody does minimally try to be as close to perfect as possible, and the only way to truly do that is to reflect upon God’s righteousness and wisdom. In the very notion that you assume it is not even your purpose or duty to follow Christ, you deny His constant appeal to: “Come Follow Me”. But that is why I can know that your answer to question 3 differs from mine. I follow in Christ’s example by invoking Truth, providing logical examples (not unlike Christ’s use of Parables), and above all, teaching Love!–Just as Christ stated the two most important commands were… Love God, and Love Others (which is why question 2 is so important even when you do not believe Love is the answer to question 1).

        • Mark
          January 4, 2016

          By now, you can
          probably see that I’m not very good at short answers… Anyway, it is
          not unreasonable to understand God through human logic. This is not to
          say that people should attempt to create their own god with no basis
          from anything other than themselves, however, when information about God
          is presented, the best way to comprehend it is by correlating it to a
          humanly identifiable notion.–Without which, the Bible would be
          pointless to study as a whole. This is yet another example in how being a
          Christ-Follower can be relevant. Even Jesus taught through parables,
          rather than providing blatant absolute statements all the time. In
          order to bring His message down to a humanly conceivable level, He
          provided illustrative examples for conveying both who He is as well as
          for conveying what we should do (plus what is morally correct or not).
          If human comprehension of God were a completely pointless endeavor, then
          Jesus wasted His time ever discussing anything with anyone, and the
          Bible would not need to exist. Even the purpose of the Bible is to
          reveal for humanity the works and love of God throughout history. In
          short, Scripture exists so that we may know God better. But if, as you
          say, attempting to understand God is impossible for human logic, then
          Scripture is purposeless…Apart from being a history book I suppose.
          It is with Logic I can so confidently arrive at my Faith in God, knowing
          how nonsensical this world would be without a guiding force (not a
          dictating force). What is even more interesting to me is that you claim
          “We will never be able to make a logical argument reconciling the God
          we see in the Bible”, yet I always thought the answer was quite
          simple… Love! True, it is impossible to know the answers to
          everything, and even for me there are still parts of scripture I don’t
          understand and may never understand, and likewise God never makes
          completely perfect sense to me, just as I cannot completely rationalize
          the actions other people take also (such as Zach’s words), but not
          possessing the whole picture does not mean I am incapable of grasping a
          portion of it all (perhaps even a majority). One of the greatest
          ironies about the Bible is that no matter how many times you read it,
          you learn something new every single time!–Or you minimally reinforce
          and older piece of knowledge with additional reasoning. A quote I enjoy
          that was used in a show that I don’t actually care that much for had
          this exchange in one episode = The Villain: “You cannot defeat me
          because I am Perfect!” The Hero: “Then I have already won…” The
          Villain: “What?” The Hero: “The problem with Perfection is that means
          you are at the peak of your ability incapable of improving. Meanwhile, I
          acknowledge myself as imperfect, which means I’m still growing and
          still capable of learning. So even if you defeat me this time, I will
          return and get stronger and stronger until someday I will know your
          fighting method so well that I will be able to surpass you. Whereas,
          you will remain stuck in your ways. True I may never be able to defeat
          you without some form of injury to myself since you are Perfect, but I
          will never stop improving, yet you’ve admitted that you have stopped
          getting any better than you currently are. That is why my victory is
          assured, you doomed yourself by your own words.” — I agree with the
          overarching concept, though not to the extent that we could surpass
          perfection… Rather, the point being, since we are imperfect, we could
          get as close as even 99%, and still have more to learn and never reach
          perfection. Learning about God functions this way… My walk of Faith
          never stops growing and improving, and this is because even though I can
          never fully understand God, I never stop trying to learn more about
          Him. Meanwhile, you have stopped trying to learn by claiming you cannot
          gain any logical understanding of Him… As such, where your Faith is
          currently at is the level it will remain. Whereas, mine is an ever
          expanding Faith!–That might sound arrogant of me, but it is how
          confident I am. I use my human understanding to comprehend God since
          that is the only Brain capacity God has enabled me to use. Were it that
          I possessed some other form of knowledge, I would use it instead, but
          since my limit is human logic, it is the only means I can go through to
          achieve any form of belief and faith in God. If I deny my human logic,
          then I deny all necessity to attempt whatsoever to grasp Who God is…
          Put another way (using a parable/example), if your only tool was a
          hammer, certainly most problems in life are going to look like nails to
          you, but it is also the only method you can solve those problems of
          life. Refusing to use the hammer simply because the hammer is not the
          best tool for every situation would deny yourself of any action
          whatsoever since the hammer is your only option. Meaning, you either
          use the Hammer, or do absolutely nothing… Can the hammer fix every
          problem, of course not, but if you don’t even try, then you never know
          the limits of what your hammer can do. Human reasoning skills is the
          tool God provided humanity. As such, I will maximize my tool to
          optimize its efficiency to provide Glory to God and to consequently
          teach and promote others to do the same. Above all, when you
          acknowledge that people stem from God’s Image, then there is clearly a
          portion from humanity and creation as a whole that can reflect who God
          is. My personal favorite example is how everyone desires Love… If our
          deepest desire and inability to be “alone” (as stated in Genesis) is a
          reflection of God’s desires, then once again, the foundation of Who God
          is, and subsequently who we are, is completely formatted around the
          concept of Love. Where God desires Love so far as to be willing to
          create humanity in spite of the foreknowledge that Sin would result, and
          in spite of also knowing He would even have to suffer and die to
          achieve Love (John 3:16). But this can only be identified through human
          reasoning skills. Subtract human logic and this is neither
          identifiable nor even relevant to study or search for in the first
          place. Once again, I will say that is foolish to base one’s beliefs
          100% on human logic alone, but without human logic, Scripture cannot be
          comprehended… As such, the purpose of human logic is to advance the
          understanding of any existing Truth. If Human Logic truly were as
          irrelevant as you suggest, then why did you ever bother to post in the
          first place? The moment anyone involves themselves in any controversial
          issue, it is with the pretense of attempting to provide logic to the
          situation… Even when the logic presented is advise to not use logic.
          People generally do not respond to matters such as these with absolutely
          no intention of reasoning with people… Those who do will typically
          provide diversions to the topic matter instead.

          ^That was a lot
          longer than I intended again, sorry… But fortunately I don’t have too
          much more to say, only a couple side-comments for the most part.
          Firstly, you mentioned that trust in Him is all that is required to
          avoid the Wrath of God. Is that the only reason you believe? Simply to
          avoid Wrath and Damnation in Hell? That is the worst type of Faith to
          have, one governed by Fear rather than Love. Personally, I stopped
          caring about the results of this life or what happens after this life
          when I accepted Jesus into my heart. Previously I mentioned the top 3
          most important questions all Christians should answer, if I had to
          provide a 4th question, it would be: “What is your favorite Bible
          Verse?” Initially this might seem like a pointless question, but the
          answer to this question is the basis on how you live your life. Most
          people do not think about every Bible verse every day, instead, you
          remember a select few that have personal significance to your life and
          daily walk of Faith. For me, the answer is when Jesus commanded: “Be
          not of this world, only in it.” I’m ready for death at any moment, but
          so long as I live, I will do my best to serve Him, and many times that
          means attempting to correct His other declared followers. In fact, I
          often find myself at war with other Christians more often than with
          nonchristians… Because much as I mentioned before, it is far worse to
          be a False Christian than a True Atheist. This does not mean I force my
          position, but I will provide human logic as enabled by God who created
          me to showcase God’s Love in hopes of turning people away from dark and
          destructive paths like Calvinism. That choice to listen and change is
          entirely up to the person(s) who receive my words, I am not faulted for
          their choices, only for my own. Refusing to point out a sin would be my
          crime, refusing to correct a sin would be their crime. I am here to
          promote (as Jesus said it): “The Way, the Truth, and the Life/Light!”
          As such, when I became a Christian, increasingly the value of this world
          became increasingly less important to me, and the value of God’s
          Kingdom became increasingly more important to me. I do not follow
          Christ or believe in God out of fear for Hell, but rather, because I
          LOVE HIM!!! If He decides that I deserve Hell, then I leave that
          judgement call up to Him, but I trust in my Lord and Savior who declared
          “ALL” who believe in Jesus shall be saved… Thus, I have no reason to
          fear. Should God’s Wrath ever befall me, I would know it to be
          justified, but since I know God would rather DIE than to ever opt for
          anything that would hurt me, I am safe in my Faith in Christ! You
          emphasized God’s Wrath as though a relevant concept. Certainly it is a
          historical concept, and something that occurs even still today, but it
          is not the overarching message the Bible aims to relay, nor the Gospel
          Message anyone should ever receive. Hell shouldn’t be excluded, but it
          shouldn’t be emphasized either. I don’t say this to have people believe
          in a “Feel-Good god”, but rather that Christ took upon Himself pain and
          death so that we would not need to fear it ourselves, that is what
          should be emphasized instead. Consequently, even our understanding of
          the “Good News” differs between us. And yet, in spite of all these
          differences illuminated between two persons who both call themselves
          “Christian”, you seriously don’t find any importance in that issue?

          Finally,
          I wasn’t asking about verses in the Bible to speak of how Sovereign God
          is (among many other characteristics used to define God throughout the
          Bible), but rather, a verse that states “God is Sovereignty” as directly
          as it is stated so many times that “God is Love”. Each time any other
          characteristic of God is used, it gets used as an adjective to God.
          Whereas, when Love gets used, it is treated as a noun instead, stating
          that just as Water is H2O, God is Love. It could be reworded into a
          Question of: “What is God?” Answer: “God is Love!” The obvious
          follow-up question would be: “What is Love”… Hence questions 1 and 2
          from before. Note that it is extremely different to say “God is Love”
          VS “Love is God”.–To a degree, this could even be called the Logical
          Fallacy of circular reasoning. Thus, when I asked for a verse that
          states “God is” etc…, I wasn’t referring to verses where Sovereignty
          gets used to describe God, but rather, a verse where God is literally
          defined AS Sovereignty… just as He gets defined foremost as Love. The
          verse you provided is a great example, where Sovereignty was used as an
          Adjective of the Lord in order to emphasize what characteristic was
          being demonstrated in the circumstance/story at hand. — Jeremiah is my
          personal favorite book and story in the Bible, thus I can understand
          (through human logic) the reference being mentioned in that verse.
          However, verses such as that do not convey the same depth as “God is
          Love”; consequently, it does not support the idea that God would be
          Sovereign above Love (which is what John Calvin advocates). Don’t get
          me wrong, I am not denying that Sovereignty is a characteristic of God,
          just as Omnipresence and Omnipotence are likewise characteristics of
          God, but they are not His core attribute… The most important
          characteristic of all, which trumps the rest in priority! — AKA:
          Question 1 again…

          Finally, I do believe the God of the Bible,
          which indeed includes many characteristics such as Sovereignty and
          Wrath, but which of with stem from Love. Additionally, how Zach
          describes God doesn’t make “perfect” sense, nor did I ever get the
          impression he was attempting to create a “perfect” depiction of God.
          Nor did I get the impression that he was doing so only for “warm and
          fuzzy feelings”. Presenting logic for the purposes of understanding God
          is rarely for the purpose of obtaining positive feelings yourself,
          though self-creating a god in the extreme sense can minimally enable you
          to feel better about committing certain types of sins. One of my
          favorite examples is the Pro-Gun god that many Americans in-particular
          adore and worship, because it makes them feel better about the idea of
          taking human life rather than salvaging it.–But that’s a completely
          different debate that I’m not even going to touch here. The point
          simply being, indeed sometimes people can redefine God enough to create a
          perspective of Him that would even praise them for acts such as murder.
          Nobody commits sin without creating an excuse first so as to quell the
          opposition of their God-give Conscience. Once you can deny your
          conscience, only then can you commit a crime against God and even
          self-impose it as “Good”. However, this only applies to the creation of
          a perspective about God devoid of understanding from one or all of the 4
          questions I provided. Zach did not appear to do this (I might simply
          be oblivious to it)… Instead, what I read was the simple attempt to
          provide understand for terminating his relationship with most (if not
          all) concepts related to John Calvin. Meaning, it was the human attempt
          to provide “reasoning” against an atrocity witnessed within Calvinism.
          Human logic can be flawed, which is why people (such as yourself Matt)
          attempt to counter-reason any proposed concept, ultimately for the
          purpose of procuring and locating the Truth! Sometimes the answer to a
          dilemma is simply acknowledging you and the other person in question
          believe in different gods. From there… Identifying who is more likely
          to be correct can best be identified by how closely the beliefs in
          question represent Christ and His teachings… As well as if there is
          anything within one’s strand of beliefs that Christ could object to. In
          the case of Calvinism, much as you were unable to answer, there isn’t
          even a reason for Jesus to exist in the first place. A belief system
          where Jesus is unnecessary is automatically going to be minimally less
          “Christian” than a belief system where Christ is crucial for salvation.
          In short… It doesn’t matter is Calvin’s theology is sound or not if
          the relevance of Christ in his belief structure is completely void.
          Basically any other Christian belief will possess higher priority than
          Calvinism simply by advocating Christ’s importance. Simplified = You
          can be seemingly Scriptural correct as much as you want, but if the
          results of your claims negate value to Christ, then you become no better
          than the Pharasees during the time of Jesus, who knew Scripture
          extremely well, yet were still willfully blind to the Truth.
          Ironically, even Scripture teaches that knowledge of scripture alone is
          not enough… such as when Jesus said: “You have heard it
          said…”…etc… “But I say…”…etc… One of my favorite examples
          was when the religious leaders were trying to deny the existence of
          eternal life (ironically) due to how it was never explicitly stated in
          the writings of Moses (which were held as the most important scriptures
          prior to the NT). Yet Jesus harshly responded: “Ye do error! Did not
          God tell Moses ‘I am the father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’?” Such a
          simple truth in Scripture, yet even those who claimed to be experts of
          the manuscripts in question were completely ignorant of it.

          In
          the end, I truly have discovered that a persons answers to the 4
          Questions I provided are the cause of any problem/controversy! When
          Christians possess opposite answers to these questions, it is no
          surprised why nonchristians would become confused and even skeptical of
          involving themselves whatsoever what Christianity when even Christians
          cannot agree upon which god to follow.–Most specifically, which is the
          True God! And with that, I have run out of things to say in response to
          you… as such, I will restate all 4 questions (plus an additional 5th)
          and leave you with the advice to strongly consider you answer to each
          one. The results may still end up put us at ends by following different
          gods since I cannot force you to believe in my God of Love above all
          else, but at the least it identifies the source of this conflict.

          1. What is God’s Greatest Attribute? (Identifies what type of god you follow)
          2. What is the definition of Love? (Identifies your level of understanding about God)
          3. Who is Jesus to you? (Identifies what type of relationship you have with God)
          4. What is your favorite/theme Verse(s)? (Identifies what principles you live by)
          5.
          What do you believe is the greatest possible insult to God?–In other
          words, the Sin above all other Sins? (Identifies what you believe God
          would be most willing kill for and what would be most likely to summon
          His Wrath; this can also provide the reason for why Hell exists
          depending on your answer…)

          ^ Note that these are rhetorical
          questions (in that you do not have to respond or tell me your answers
          unless you truly want to). Because my goal in presenting them in the
          first place isn’t so that I may learn your answers, but rather, to give
          you something to think about and consider for identifying your exact
          position about God and your general belief structure. I find that it
          both answers doctrinal controversies, as well as provides excellent
          inner self-inspection. If you were patient enough to read this far
          Matt, thank you for your time and for the consideration. Unless you
          have any remaining questions, it likely will not be necessary to respond
          since I probably covered everything already and cannot even think of
          anything left to say, so have a blessed day!

          • Matt
            January 4, 2016

            I’ll answer your 5 questions, if I can
            find them again in all that text, however, I should address a deeper
            problem with your themes first. You seem to heavily rely on logic and your efforts to be a good Christian. I would encourage you to rely more on Christ and the work of the Spirit.

            Our relationship with God is entirely
            supernatural and therefore often goes against human logic. Human
            effort can only help us uphold a form of religion.

            1 Corinthians 3:18 Stop deceiving
            yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards,
            you need to become a fool to be truly wise.

            What is logically correct in the mind
            of man is foolishness to God and vise versa.

            Matt 16:15 Then he asked them, “But
            who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the
            Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “You are
            blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

            John 3:27 John replied, “No one can
            receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.

            Only God can reveal to us personally
            just who Christ is. Without that revelation, we can follow Christ as
            a good example, maybe even a type of savior, but we can’t truly
            believe in Him.

            John 4:24 For God is Spirit, so those
            who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

            John 6:63 The Spirit alone gives
            eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

            Worshiping Him because of a logical understanding of who He is using our own human effort is not nearly enough.

            Galatians 3:3 How foolish can you be?
            After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying
            to become perfect by your own human effort?

            From the beginning people have been trading a supernatural relationship with God for a set of logical beliefs lived out by human effort. That is not why Christ came.

            Philippians 3:3 For we who worship by
            the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,

            We depend on Christ for every aspect of
            our relationship with God. Only Christ can bring us spotless into
            God’s presence. Logic and effort will never give us the right to come before God.

            Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit
            produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience,
            kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
            There is no law against these things!

            I have heard many sermons appealing to
            my sense of logic, why it makes sense to be good, and exhorting me to strive to accomplish these attributes in my life. There is just one problem. They are not the fruits of logic and effort. They are the fruits of the Spirit of God at work in the life of those
            supernaturally united with Christ. By the way, temperance is a much better translation of the word “self-control.” Self-control
            implies it is a fruit of us, not the Spirit.

            1 Timothy 1:14 Oh, how generous and
            gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

            Even “our” faith is not from us,
            but an undeserved gift from our generous, gracious Lord. I’m sure you are also aware of the Lord being the Author and Perfecter of our faith. I read that for years and still thought I had to choose faith, logically understand, and perfect it by my own means and effort. Sad. What a relief to depend on God to give me faith and perfect it in me.

            Now to your questions…

            What is God’s Greatest Attribute?
            (Identifies what type of god you follow)

            Ephesians 2:7 So God can point to us in
            all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

            I would assume by this verse that the attributes God is emphasizing are His grace and kindness. Later in chapter three God is also displaying His wisdom. If God wants to point to and display these specific ones of all His attributes in all future ages to all His creation, I would imagine they are important.
            However, these probably overlap a lot with His love. In some future,
            future age He may emphasize some other attribute that we are
            completely unaware of in this age.

            What is the definition of Love?
            (Identifies your level of understanding about God)

            I’ll just go with the Greek definitions. You can look those up.

            Who is Jesus to you? (Identifies
            what type of relationship you have with God)

            It is irrelevant who He is to me.
            What’s important is who He is in the Bible. But, I believe the Bible
            clearly says He is proof and a display of God’s grace, kindness, and wisdom, among other attributes.

            What is your favorite/theme
            Verse(s)? (Identifies what principles you live by)

            John 3:30 He must become greater and
            greater, and I must become less and less.

            What do you believe is the
            greatest possible insult to God?

            Disobedience is the original sin, however, I think men spend most of their time in the second sin,
            trying to cover their shame by their own means as Adam and Eve did by covering themselves with fig leaves. We hide our shame from God, others, and ourselves in a huge variety of ways, success, money, fashion, doctrine, and human attempts at pure living and good works.
            Every time we try to cover our shame without Christ, it is an insult
            because we are rejecting Christ’s work. In Genesis, God sacrificed
            the animals, made the clothes, and even dressed Adam and Eve. That is our example of how God does the work of covering the shame of undeserving sinners. They never had to do anything or even repent of their sin. They just received God’s grace. That is Good News!

        • Mark
          January 6, 2016

          I encountered this by accident earlier today during my personal bible study. Someone brought to my attention 1 Peter 2:21, which is a fairly direct reference to how we are supposed to be Christ-Followers. It says: “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps.” Anyway, yet another something to reflect on.

          I do heavily rely on logic, that is true… Once again, it is the tool God has given me for the purpose of knowing Him, so to not use it would be an insult to my Creator. As for being a “Good Christian”, frankly, I couldn’t care less about that. The wages of a “Good Christian” is not identifiable by human standards, and dumbs the concept down to a series of ritualistic actions as opposed to a relationship with Christ. When I call myself Christian, I regard it as a state of being. Similarly, I am Human (if that helps). The only major difference is that while being human is not something I can select or deselect, Christianity is something I can choose. I suppose in that sense it might be closer to the idea of being wet. Generally speaking, when you are wet, you can just as easily become unwet (aka: dry) by simply removing yourself from the presence of water. Equally, I could just as easily become unchristian by removing myself from the presence of God (or at least attempting). I am partial to how C.S.Lewis described the change in context of the word “Christian”. He mentions how once upon a time, a “Gentleman” referred to a stature of a man; a title (not unlike a knight). During that time, being or not being a Gentleman was not distinguished by one’s actions, it was a state of being (perhaps more akin to the ideas of rich and poor in modern day). One could go through the process of removing their title and honor so as to not be a Gentleman anymore, but that would generally be an unnecessary choice. Indeed, there was a common demeanor among those who acquired such titles, but that stereotype of actions is not what affirms their title, it merely reflects the title. But over the decades, the term in question degraded as its use in society eventually became void. Nowadays, a “Gentleman” refers merely to one who acts as a stereotypical Gentleman would have. Effectively loozing its purpose as a word from being a noun to becoming a verb. The concept of a “Christian” has achieved the same status. The common person might as well say something akin to: “That is very Christian of you.”–In doing so, they are not declaring you to have any true affiliation with Christ, not that you even perhaps believe in any god whatsoever, but merely that your actions were stereotypical of what Christians do. I don’t apply to this definition, nor to I perceive Christianity in such a light. For me, being a Christ-Follower is not a daily routine, nor are there any actions that necessitate upon being performed to uphold my title as “Christian”. I am Christian merely by my Faith in Jesus. However, Faith (and the Holy Spirit) urges ones actions to reflect your Faith. This is not a necessity, it is a natural consequence to any Belief Structure. Every belief possesses consequential actions that spawn from possessing the single idea. This is why, although we are not the judge of who is saved and who is not, even Christ stated that a man who declares Himself right with the Lord, yet bears no fruit, is worthless to God’s Kingdom. As such, while Salvation is NOT achieved by works, ones actions do reflect ones Faith.–This is why a stereotype for what is considered a “Christian” action exists in the first place. I care nothing for whether someone regards me as a “Good Christian”, only that they might be able to witness Christs love through me. To that end, I will present Truth to all those in need of hearing it, even when that means attempting to correct fellow “Christians”.

          Entirely Supernatural?–Then what was Christ? I don’t deny there is a spiritual element, and I don’t deny that you cannot Logic through everything surrounding God, but for where Logic fails, Faith prevails. And where Fail fails, Logic prevails. These concepts are not truly contradictory, Logic follows necessarily by Faith, and so does the reverse. People apply Logic to Faith and Faith to Logic on a daily basis in fact… It could almost be called scientific, yet still beyond the grasp of science. As a simplified example, a common lesson taught to children is to look both ways when crossing a road.–Logically, this makes the road safe to cross, factually there are unseen elements that people can overlook upon their initial examination of the two directions of the road. Consequently, while observing the two directions of a road generally makes a road safe to cross, it does not guarantee save passage. There is always minimally 1% margin for unforeseen danger. Thus, when people choose to cross the road anyway, this action began with logic but concluded with faith!–Faith in the idea that you’d be able to cross safely. It is Faith due to the fact that it isn’t a guarantee. Anything anyone has 100% knowledge about is incompatible with Faith.–However, equally, anything that is 0% knowledge is also incomparable with Faith. If you have absolutely no logical reasoning for assuming the existence or conclusion of something, then it becomes “Blind Faith” to believe in it anyway. One of my favorite Atheistic examples is when people claim that believing in God is the same as being in a Unicorn. This is untrue… we have absolutely no reason for assuming a Unicorn could exist. We don’t have archaeological evidence, we don’t have sensual evidence, we don’t historical evidence, and we don’t even have any substances that point toward its existence. Yet with the God… We have the existence of the Bible, we have our own existence to answer for, we have all the previously listed evidences, and topped with the spiritual change that can be witnessed in someone’s love of Christ. These (and more) result with the logical assumption God exists, but not a guarantee (which is why atheists exist). So while Logic beings the process of being a Christ-Follower, Faith carries you the rest of the way. The way I have always personally envisioned Faith is to imagine a Staircase that you cannot see the end of. You can see the first few steps and nothing else. For the vary fact those few steps you can see exist, you have a choice to make. Either travel the stairs into the unknown (which frightens most people), or remain exactly where you are (comfortable in familiar surroundings). In other words, Faith works the same way for everyone, you either travel what few stairs you can see and make a leap of Faith about where it will lead you, or you deny the existence of anything beyond those first few steps of stairs due simply to being unable to see the whole picture. Two sides to the same coin… Either begin with logic to conclude with Faith, or deny Logic in order to avoid Faith.

          I don’t believe myself wise by worldly standards, I believe myself wise by God’s standards… Because in the same way Solomon came to God for wisdom, God is likewise my source of wisdom. I do not pretend to claim that anything I advocate comes solely from my own power, instead, my convinces (particularly as an Anti-Calvinist) result from my understanding of Scripture, which can be best determined by the 5 questions. God is not so strictly an illogical being as you seem to advocate. The verse you provide is a warning against creating ones own beliefs according to worldly standards as opposed to God’s standards. Hence, the easy way to avoid this is to stick to God’s standards for your beliefs so that your logic aligns with His! As for the verse you offered from Matthew, that is a perfect example of the implementation of Logic! Once again, it is logic that stems from an understand of God rather than of worldly sources, but nevertheless. Consider this Matt, why did Christ ask such a question to begin with? He surely knew the answer, and if Calvinism were true, then obviously God caused the results, so why did He ask? Jesus did this repeatedly!–Not just with John… During His earthly ministry, Christ rarely ever answered anyone with a direct Truth (especially about Himself), instead, He would often respond questions with questions. His reason?–And Apologist would not the answer since (much like Paul said to always be able to provide an “Apologia” for your Faith, which means “Reason”; aka: Logic), Christ was pushing people to use their God-given reasoning skills to procure answers for themselves. Jesus simply provided the correct questions that would ultimately lead them to finding the answer form themselves. In this way, not only did God literally help, but also, human logic was necessary. I particularly like the verse you gave in Matthew for that, it shows exactly the type of Logic I advocate and implement. Peter’s answer comes from both mental and spiritual deduction.–Of which God provides to All but most people do everything in their power to deny themselves of it. As for the verse you mentioned in John… Points to the same thing once again. Nobody can receive anything unless it comes from God, including your life and your mind. Logic is given by God also, all the more reason to use it, because denial of it would be denial of what God has given me. Were it that God did not want me to use Logic, He would not have given it to me to begin with, much as that verse from John says. The second verse you provided from John is in reference to Worship, a similar verse speaks of how it is good to go to God in the quiet, because what is done in secret between yourself and the Lord, God rewards. That is to say, one’s relationship with God is generally more genuine when the exchange does not possess an audience. The third verse you provide from John is a reinforcement of how nobody can “work” their way into Heaven, but rather, much as is reiterated time, time, and time again in the Bible, only Faith in Christ Jesus will provide patronage to eternal life. Unlike the other verses you have offered so far, this one is not in reference to human (rather, worldly) logic whatsoever. It speaks to the necessity of God/Jesus for Salvation.–Of which is a choice, but not a “work”.

          Wow… You are really on a kick for Anti-Logic. I have to wonder why you are using logic to promote your cause then? I don’t encounter too many people who throw Bible verses around as their primarily argument, and I don’t do that much myself because I have learned that if people are unable to comprehend the initial source material when discussing a topic, generally speaking they require being reasoned with in others forms. Much as Paul mentioned how ever without knowledge of God, His quantities in life can be clearly seen so that no man is without excuse. Paul is literally arguing that God can be found through reasoning alone; that not to say we shouldn’t study scripture, but simply that a person’s ignorance of Scripture is not a logically valid excuse for denying God.–I suppose the main reason I don’t like throwing verses at people is because I’m too lazy to go looking for the exact verse (such as the one I just mentioned). I’m pretty sure that verse comes from Romans, but I’m not going to use my time finding the exact verse, especially for someone like you who “Should” (key word) know what verses I am referring to. If have a need for me to give you specific verse, then I will go about doing that, but it rarely is meet without hostility. People prefer to be reasoned with, just as Jesus reasoned with people at a human level. The only times Jesus ever referenced known OT Scripture of that time was when He was being asked about it… In every other circumstance, He created His own message. Sometimes he did use messages from the OT, but not by they namesake. Christ is my example, not the here-say of other people. Fortunately, while I do not typically use that method myself, I have no problem with someone else throwing verses at me. I am particularly enjoying many of the verses you have provided since they advocate the exact type of logic I provide. I do find it strange how against your own reasoning skills you are, which is almost counter-intuitive, but I suppose that’s not the point. But since you are such a fan of this verse-throwing game, I’ll chime in just for a couple… Then I will return to answering what you have said.

        • Mark
          January 6, 2016

          I’m surprised you didn’t provide John 1:18 as one of your examples.
          While we indeed are unable to see divine nature, we can see its effects,
          which logically implies a divine cause. Substract this logic and the
          witnessing of God in any form becomes meaningless. I went ahead and
          looked up the verse I mentioned from before, which is Romans 1:20. Here
          is the principle: Sufficient evidence warrants a reasonable conclusion.
          That conclusion tends to invoke Faith, but is nevertheless founded
          foremost on logic. So without further ado…

          Acts 17:11 “They received the Word with all Eagerness, exampling the Scripture daily to see if these things were so.”

          –This is the logic I promote, using scripture to find reflections of God in life; a daily endeavor!

          Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though
          your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they
          are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

          –A direct command from God to use “Reason”… specifically, together (not ALONE).

          Isaiah 43:26 “Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right.

          –What would there be to prove if logic were as unnecessary and even “foolish” as you claim?

          Mark 11:29-33 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you
          answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
          “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” They
          began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He
          will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?'”But shall
          we say, ‘From men’?”–they were afraid of the people, for everyone
          considered John to have been a real prophet. Answering Jesus, they said,
          “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what
          authority I do these things.”

          –Once
          again, Jesus uses a question to promote thinking and reasoning from His
          audience… I guess His questions were “foolish” then since He invoked
          logic. Jesus literally ends by essentially saying: “Figure it out for
          yourselves.”

          John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

          –Good
          luck figuring that one out without Logic…John 1:14 makes a very
          similar claim. These verses emphasizes the rationality of God the Son.
          Jesus Christ is
          called the “Logic” of God. The English word “logic” is
          derived from the Greek logos used in this verse, and is translated as “The Word”. Logic is as eternal as

          God Himself because the Logos is God. In other words, much like one of
          the verses you provided mentions, all Logic comes from God and cannot
          be
          separated from Him Put yet another way, Logic is a
          characteristic of God! Moreover, because Christ is the Logos who “gives
          light to every man who comes into the world” (John 1:9), we are to
          understand that there comes a point at which man’s logic meets God’s
          logic since it is directly derived from His logic. True humanity can
          attempt to use logic against God or even without God, but it is only
          that that point verses like what you presented become true, wherein
          people are foolish to attempt to “become perfect by your own human
          effort” (as the verse you mentioned from Galatians). You’ll notice that
          nearly every verse you provided speaks ill of human logic WITHOUT
          God.–“by your own effort”.

          Now I’m going to provide you some “Logic” along with Scripture, to show how synonymous it is…

          Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”

          –This necessitates the validity of the most fundamental law of logic: the law
          of non-contradiction (A is not non-A).

          1 Corinthians 14:33 “God is not the author of confusion”

          –AKA: God
          is a rational being.

          Exodus
          4:11 says God gave us the ability to converse rationally with our
          Creator. It is not the laws of logic that are affected by the Fall, it
          is man’s
          ability to think logically that is so affected. The laws of logic are
          eternally fixed in the mind of God. They cannot be affected; they are
          eternally valid. Logic is fixed and universal; it is necessary and
          irreplaceable.
          This is why Atheists cannot account for the universal, self-existence,
          self-worth, and absolute morality. If you fail to submit
          presuppositionally to God self-attesting, authoritative word, then you
          shall be driven by the world instead of driven by God. It is easy to
          get carried away by human-made doctrines through the cunning
          of humanistic thought and craftiness alone, which is subject to error (Ephesians 4:13-14)…God’s
          veracity is the ultimate standard for our thoughts. (Romans 3:4) This is yet another problem with Calvinism.

          Bible says we should prove a doctrine before we let ourselves be
          convinced by it (Proverbs 14:15,1 John 4:1,Ephesians 5:8-11, Philippians
          1:9-10)

          While the Bible is the ultimate authority, it is not the only means by
          which God has revealed Himself to us. It is through God’s collective
          natural and special revelation that I know for certain my senses are
          reliable and can account for absolute, immaterial, universal laws of
          logic and reason. Christianity “Should” (again, key word) offer a cohesive worldview where we have an objective
          standard so when somebody tortures you, rapes you, kills you, etc… we can
          say, “No, that is wrong”. It’s not a personal preference, it’s
          logically wrong.

          As for a few other laws of logic in the Bible…

          Law of Identity–Exodus 3:14
          Law of Non-contradiction–Genesis 1:1
          Law of Excluded middle–Luke 11:23

          Lastly,
          lets not forget Luke 10:27 where Christ commands us to Love God with
          all our “Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind.”–Note that “Mind” is among
          the list. Paul is quite possibly the most direct source of telling use
          to always be able to provide an “Apologia” for all beliefs. Without a
          proper reasoning, how can you convey your Faith to anyone else.
          Granted, if Calvinism is true, there would be no need to convey one’s
          faith to anyone, nor to even worry about one’s own faith since everyone
          is already predetermined to love or hate God.

          Now that I
          have used up literally three hours of my time searching for a handful
          of verses, I’ll return to simply responding to the ones you provided…

          In
          response to your first verse from Galatians. Actually, that is exactly
          why Christ came, to give use a very tangible and logical representation
          of both God, Love, and how to Follow-suit! As for the verse you gave
          from Philippians, I’ve said that myself plenty enough times already…
          Yet another verse about how Salvation is affirmed by Faith rather than
          Works, you’re reading too much into it to believe it says anything
          beyond that. So moving on… I love your mentioning of the second verse
          you gave from Galatians, because I’ve been using that logic likewise,
          wherein a true Christian can be identified by his/her Fruits! Which,
          once again, is what makes Calvinism so problematic, its fruit yield is
          rotten. If you have heard many sermons on logic, that is because logic
          is the primary tool used to reach other people who likewise possess
          logic and nearly their only tool. True one’s yielding of fruit comes
          from the god in which you believe in. And when you believe in the true
          God of the Bible, your fruit is reflectively plentiful. However, while
          it may come from the Spirit of God, once again, Logic is among the
          characteristics of God. As such, by stemming from God, it is rooted in
          Logic also, whom is the source of Reasoning Skills to begin with.

          I
          often find it funny when people point to verses like Timothy for
          advocating something like what you are. In essence, you provide that
          verse for the purpose of showcasing that God filled him with Faith and
          Love. My immediate response is: “And you don’t believe He does that
          with everyone?” As the Bible mentions so many times that God comes to
          all (granted in different methods) and strives to save all. It is great
          that Paul would give thanks for His understandings, but for you to
          provide a verse like that in “logical” avocation against logic is to
          suggest that because God gave it to Him, it is only selectively to him.
          Too many other verses oppose that line of reasoning (which isn’t even
          in that verse you presented, it is merely why I assume you presented the
          verse). All of the verses you presented either help my case or are
          irrelevant to the topic at hand.

          Your answer to question 1.
          Not
          stated very directly (though that was mostly expected), but what I
          understood your answer to be was Grace. Admittedly, not the answer I
          expected from you given your previous comments. I also assume that the
          verse you referenced for this answer is among your favorite/theme verses
          since you took its terminology to hold greater authority over
          others.–Not a bad thing, just interesting… So since you supposedly
          follow a God of Grace, which does indeed overlap with Love some, how you
          identify God to be is not greatly different from my own (apart from a
          complete and utter denial of Logic as one of His other characteristics).

          Your answer to question 2.

          A
          good choice, though not a very tangibly understood answer. If a
          nonchristian had wanted to know this answer from you, it would be more
          complicated than needed. However, you are far from being the first
          person to do this, which is why I always inquire a secondary question to
          this one. The secondary question is not truly a different question, it
          is merely a rewording of the same question with for the purpose of
          gaining a most specific outcome. Namely: “If you could use only one
          word to describe Love, what would that be?” Not unlike what I did where
          I said Love = Sacrifice. That is because, like yourself, I believe the
          Greek terms are likely the most finite definitions, but the foundation
          of each and every one of them is Sacrifice. You can know this by asking
          yet another question: “How do you show Love?” It is easy to give a
          definition, but when your definition is as complicated as the Greek
          words, then the necessary follow-up question is how to illustrate and
          perform that love. At which point, in order to instruct someone in the
          ways of utilizing Love, there is a necessity to minimize it down to its
          root nature so that it can become tangibly understood to anyone. Keep
          in mind, I am not claiming your answer is bad… Quite the opposite
          actually, I started my search for the definition of Love through the use
          of the Greek terms likewise. And what I found that all four terms have
          in common is the idea of surrendering toward someone in some form or
          another.

          Your answer to question 3.

          This answer
          was disappointing, to say the least. You lack a relationship with
          Christ as you hold no relevance of how He is to you and your life. A
          very loveless depiction of Christianity. Once again, you are far from
          being the first person to answer this in such a way, but failure to
          grasp the importance of Christ to yourself is equal to the failure of
          knowing what impact His sacrifice had. Most often, this is referred to
          being a Christian in head-knowledge as opposed to heart-knowledge. In
          other words, you acknowledge only who He is in scripture, but not who He
          is in you. What is particularly ironic about this answer is that it
          means you possess logical insurance of Jesus with no empirical or
          empathetic feelings toward Him. With that type of understanding, I can
          definitely see why you would minimally think Calvinism possess some sort
          of logical/scriptural superiority since you are using your head rather
          than your heart to understand Christ.

          Your answer to question 4.

          Given
          your previous answers, this makes perfect sense (ironically). Viewing
          God as foremost and entity to place as far above humanity as possible,
          which means degrading the value of humanity to enable margin of
          greatness between God and us to become increasingly so. Now I
          understand why you put down human logic so much, because your logic
          necessitates belittling the logical capacity of humans so as to enable
          God further greatness by allowing the notion that He is too great to
          even be understood by us. A god such as that most certainly wouldn’t be
          as concerned about Love as opposed to Glory, and achieved through
          Grace, thus, your answers are logically consistent thus far.

          Your answer to question 5.Ironically,
          of all your answers, I’d have to say this one was my favorite. It is
          different from my answer, however, it is very agreeable. You have
          logically sourced what you believe is the greatest insult to God by
          pointing to the origin of Sin. That is a very valid notion. I reaching
          my answer through a different method. Rather than concerning myself
          with whether Sin spawned from, I targeted every verse throughout the
          Bible where God either killed people Himself (such as the Flood), or
          commanded people to kill. I noticed a pattern, literally every single
          time death came about directly from God (minus Ezekiel) was due to one
          of two causes. 1. God revealed Himself even more formally than we
          typically experience in modern day, yet the person(s) still denied God.
          2. The person(s) were so strongly opposed to anything related to God
          that they become a danger to God’s Creation itself (which includes other
          people). The best example of option 1 is in the book of Numbers where
          God literally killed thousands of people simply because they complained
          and failed to have Faith in God despite God miraculously bringing them
          out of Egypt.–In other words, despite having witnessed God perform some
          of the greatest miracles of all time, they still doubted God. Between
          the two options, I believe this one is the greater insult to God,
          because it is the only one in which God smites the person(s) himself.
          Meanwhile, with option two (best example being when Kings Saul and David
          were commanded to slay people) get killed by second-hand (rather than
          directly by God Himself). In short, when God’s own people deny Him
          without purpose, He kills them himself, but when it is not His people,
          usually He commissions other people to kill them in a more “humane” way
          (I suppose). The only exclusions to this rule is Sodom and Gomorrah,
          and I suspect this was done by God rather than by man simply because it
          would have been unreasonable to have barely a hand-full of people
          (presently in the city, and escaping) somehow kill off everyone of their
          own. Meanwhile, Saul and David had entire armies at their command. As
          such, due to being the only moments in the Bible where God opts to
          destroy life, I believe the greatest insult to God is to deny God when
          His has given you no reason to…And when He has directly revealed
          Himself to you. As an example, had Paul denied God after Christ came to
          him and blinded him, to deny that level of “Proof” of God’s existence
          would be the greatest insult to God. I suppose it is akin to the idea
          of how we (as humans) are not insulted much when people don’t remember
          us or don’t ever think or talk about us when we are not around.
          However, it is very insulting to be completely ignored and treated as if
          you do not even exist when you are standing directly in front of
          someone. I can find no time in the Bible where God didn’t kill someone
          for one of these two reasons.–Granted, there are plenty of times in the
          Bible where people died of their own stupidity and sometimes even
          blamed God for it. However, as a result, our conclusion is not that
          different. You concluded with the original sin, which is disobedience
          to God, and especially the second sin. Meanwhile, I conclude with
          denial of God as the greatest insult to Him. Denial of God and
          Disobedience to God are not greatly different.

          These answers have
          helped me understand the god you follow. It is not greatly different
          from mine, but is desperately lacking in the relational department. As
          such, My final advice to you is to use your heart at bit more often when
          reading scripture… rather than using only your head.–Ironic coming
          from someone who uses logic to reach people’s hearts in the first place.
          But take it or leave it…

        • Mark
          January 7, 2016

          I wasn’t planning on saying anything further, but I watched a movie today that brought a new question to light. There was a portion of the movie that caught my attention. A father tries to explain to his little daughter predestination (in a child-friendly sort of way since she was barely 5 to 6 years old, if even). He basically tells the girl: “Everyone’s fate is already fixed. God knows and determines what will become of everyone… You, mommy, daddy, etc…” — This is a summarized version of what he told the girl. Prior to this, the girl had been told (also by her father) that it was good to pray to God. So in response to her father’s explanation about essentially Calvinism, the girl asked a question I hadn’t even considered before. “Then why should we pray daddy? Are we hoping that God will change His mind about how things will happen?” The father had to step back for a moment…realizing her logical conclusion to his explanation, he had to come up with an answer that gave “reason” to Prayer in a world God is fully predetermines. So he responded: “That’s not why we pray honey. We pray to show God that we believe in Him.” So the girl again asked: “But if He already knows everything, shouldn’t He know we believe in Him already?” Father said: “We have to trust that no matter what happens, it is all a part of God’s plan,” — With this comment, he didn’t even answer the girl’s question. So then the girl asked, “So if I pray to God, will He show me what will happen also?” The father then replied with a laugh saying: “It doesn’t quite work like that…”–From there, he changed the subject entirely (to something that no longer discussed God). I found this exchange to be a curious one… Even a mere child can see how nonsensical Calvinistic thoughts are. Her question was a valid one, and one that should have been answered rather than shrugged away. I hadn’t considered it before, but it is true… What sense is there for prayer to a god who already has everything 100% in control. I particularly like how the girl comments: “Are we hoping that God will change His mind” by praying? According to Calvinism, every single outcome is ordained by God (including sin and death, of any sort). So when you pray to have something happen, why would you even bother? What will occur is in direct accordance to God’s commissioning (according to Calvinism), so would that make prayer pointless? Here is an example, if you were to pray that God open the heart of someone to seek Him, or that they find Jesus (etc…), if God has predamned the person you are praying for, are you hoping that by praying God would somehow be convinced to elect them instead? Or perhaps you occasionally pray for something a simple as “Safe Travels”. But once again, if God predestined your safe or unsafe voyage to begin with, what does your prayer change? Better yet, if your prayer truly does make a difference (or that is to say, if praying does successfully change God’s mind or elect VS unelect status), then could it also be said that we are in control rather than God throughout our prayers? I have no intention of belittling God with this inquiry, but the fact remains… If Calvinism is true, then it is necessary to claim that God already has every outcome predetermined, regardless what we otherwise pray for or about.–Which effectively makes prayer worthless since it achieves nothing and makes no change. In fact, even people’s endeavor to pointless pray would be caused by the Calvinistic god.–How demented is that? I could understand giving thanks to God according to Calvinism, since that is not a prayer where you are requesting anything from God. But the moment you ask anything of God, if God has already preordained that He would anyway (or even that He wouldn’t), the prayer becomes void.–Because unless you are to suggest that God’s actions would respond to our prayers, then God’s already predetermined results in life will remain unchanged. As such, I fully agree with the little girl in the example provided…Why would we pray to the Calvinistic god? The father’s response is particularly sad… “To prove we believe n God.”–Why? That’s like begging your manager to receive your paycheck from your work (which you rightfully earn) that you are already going to receive even without asking, thus, there was not point in asking. If you truly believe something is going to occur regardless of what you do, and that you will receive something regardless whether you request it or not, then why bother? You would be just as well off to pray for the inevitable…

          This was simply some of my thoughts in reflection of the movie I just finished watching. Which leaves behind the question of: “What is the value of Prayer to Calvinism?”–Personally, I don’t know the answer, because I never pray to God with a Calvinistic mindset. But for those who claim to believe God has already predestined all things, why do you pray for anything apart from gratitude? Prayers of thanks are the only ones that would makes sense when praying to the Calvinistic god. The biggest irony of all is that scene from the movie in question was presented with the idea that the father somehow did well in presenting Calvinism (without calling it that) to his little daughter and even followed-up that scene with a somewhat family celebratory scene as if some sort of victory had been achieved. Instead, what I got out of it was that the 5-year-old-ish girl theologically bested a grown man. How pathetic is that?–Loozing a Christian debate to a toddler… Granted, this isn’t the first time I have seen or heard of that happening, because children can often be more blatantly attuned to life truths more than adults who have allowed various customs and doctrines to skew their beliefs and understanding of life. This isn’t to say I would turn to a child for the purpose of knowing God or to learn/affirm the validity of my beliefs. However, children do tend to present these types of questions, questions that seem so obvious and touch the very core of a belief, yet we have to find excuses in order to answer, rather than perhaps simply saying: “You’re right…” Even the Bible speaks highly of possesses a child’s innocent perspective, while also maintaining a serpents level of wisdom. Rather than ignored as if unimportant, questions like this one presented by that little girl should have been examined very carefully and thoroughly.

          Anyway…. You don’t necessarily have to respond to this message, it was simply on my mind and felt like passing the “question” along.

          • Matt
            January 12, 2016

            1 — You should just go to the Word if you want to understand prayer. You don’t have to do mental gymnastics. The Bible makes it very clear.

            1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

            Logic won’t help us here, only the Spirit of God can reveal His will and, therefore, how we should pray. Jesus said He did and said only what He saw the Father doing, only God’s will. That is why we are so dependent on the Spirit, the mind of Christ, not logic.

            1 Corinthians 2:16 For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

            Logic is human and can only produce human thoughts. You will never find spiritual life from logic.

            John 3:6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.

            2 — If you imagine a time in “all future ages”, the time mentioned in Ephesians that we discussed earlier, it is really amazing. God will be pointing to those united with Christ as examples of His grace and kindness, the Church is the ultimate example of God’s grace. There is no better or more clear example now or in future ages. The work of Christ is the highest work of grace in all God’s creation. There will be incredible, unimaginable awe and indescribable, mind blowing glory given to God by the people there and all God’s other created beings. We will thank God like never before for His incredible grace toward us.

            Now, unfortunately, there are people today that believe (evidenced by their doctrines) that they will be doing something different at that moment. They believe as everyone else is praising God for His undeserved grace, they will be reminding Him that it was their superior logic and life choices that got them there. “Ehem, yes, your grace is amazing and all God, but remember, I did get here because I understood and others weren’t as smart as me,” they assume they’ll say based on their doctrine.

            Just considering the simple definition of grace alone, I don’t believe anyone will be there who depended on themselves for salvation, not their efforts or choices. No one will every be able to boast before God. We can only boast in Christ alone.

            1 Corinthians 1:30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

        • Mark
          January 14, 2016

          1 — I wasn’t asking for the biblical understanding of prayer, but rather, the Calvinistic understanding of it. These are not the same thing. Calvinism is a religion to its own that has created a stance on how scripture is to be interpreted by making claims such as how every single time the Bible says: “All”, what is really means is “Elect”.–This is an interpretative claim, not a factual one. Similarly, when I ask of the understanding of Prayer in accordance to Calvinism, I’m not asking for the factual use of Prayer as the Bible does define it, but rather, its application to the interpretative claim Calvinism provides. The girl’s question was valid, and unanswered… that was my simple point. And even John Calvin (to my recollection) never touched on this subject, which would imply he likewise has no answer. Meaning, regardless what the Bible says about prayer, Calvinism implies prayer is pointless…

          As for your verse from 1 John, I could respond with the verse where Jesus says He will answer anything asked in His name (granted, rarely the way we want it answered, nor when…), but presently that isn’t the point anyway, so I’ll let this fly.

          “you will never find Spiritual life through logic” — I did…

          2 — You must get alone very well with Atheists (Sarcasm implied). Seriously though, how many nonbelievers have you ever touched with your case of: “Logic doesn’t matter.” This is the EXACT reason Atheists are against Christianity in the first place, because they believe that one must throw away all logic, self-respect, and common-sense in order to become Christian, and you literally help their claims by stating exactly that. I’m kinda curious how you “reason” with nonbelievers… Because the moment you even attempt to share the Gospel with anyone, you are, by default, attempting to provide “reasoning” for joining God’s Kingdom and becoming part of Christ’s family. However, your entire debate is explicitly on how reasoning is void and even perhaps irrelevant altogether. So seriously…How do you evangelize? Do you go up to people and simply say: “Throw away all your human senses and logic, allow your mind to draw a complete blank, so that you may find God through the call of His Spirit (aka: the call of illogical and senselessness).” I’m sure anybody would jump at that offer (Sarcasm again)! But if you want to fight the Atheist’s battle for them, be my guest… Meanwhile I will touch hearts through the same methods Jesus did, by using humanly identifiable examples (aka: Parables) to “Reason” with those He preached and evangelized to. Who’s your example of illogic? You essentially advocate that God is entirely known through illogic alone, but what is your example or “role-model” (if it were) that you use as your basis… I guarantee it isn’t Christ since His entire life was rooted in Logical lessons and teachings. Heck, Christ even directly told His disciples about His coming betrayal, death, and resurrection, and they STILL didn’t get it.–But that doesn’t mean Christ didn’t use Logic to convey His message nonetheless. My only guess as to whom you are using as your illogical reference is God the Father rather than God the Son.–I make this assumption only because you have alluded to the fact (repeatedly) that God is not logical nor understandable (which, once again, is exactly why Atheists are in opposition to Him, and subsequently hurts your case to convert them).

          But I’ll leave this alone from here, because your simple struggles are simply two factors: A. Lack of relationship with Christ or comprehension of the function of a relationship with God whatsoever; and B. Lack of knowing God in accordance to your own claim that logic cannot be used to know Him (yet since Logic is the only tool God provided humanity for understanding Him, then if Logic is incomparable to God, then God is not identifiable to you or anyone else whatsoever)… These are the conclusions to your responses. If you don’t believe me, both of those problems can be clearly featured at the end of your very last response. You claimed that there are only two extremes to confronting God in Heaven, the first being pure Thanks to God, the oppose being pure self-glorification by suggesting one’s own strides were all that mattered. By making this claim in and of itself, you have COMPLETELY denied the purpose, existence, and function of what a “Relationship” is.

          Point 18 of Anti-Calvinism: The primary logic behind Calvinism is that God knows all, therefore He predestined everything. But this is a major logical disconnect. Knowledge does NOT automatically equate Causation! Knowing something will factually happen does not mean you have caused it to happen. Name any tragedy throughout history, if someone had foretold you that event would occur, did they cause the event to happen since they had knowledge of it? I can tell you nearly everything that happened in the Bible itself, but I also can affirm that I did NOT cause any of it. Even if we spoke of Fiction, I can tell you about how the last son of Krypton lands on Earth, gets raised by a humble elderly farming couple, becomes a journalist, prevents many crimes, and ultimately dies at the hands of a creature called Doomsday.—Having this knowledge, have I thereby caused any of this to occur? Am I the author of this story simply because I know the story?

          Of course, an easy retort is: “But I’m not God, its different for Him.” Very well, allow me to beg a different question then; if you knew for an absolute fact that if you married a particular man or woman they would cheat on you in the future and ultimately will never truly love you, would you still choose to marry that person? If even after this question you would respond with: “But that’s knowledge I could never have”, then stop trying to profess who God is whatsoever!—Because God is only relatable by human standards given that is the extent of our reasoning skills
          and logical capacity.–This is even why the Bible exists in the first place, because having a humanly written document about God is a humanly achievable means of relaying an understanding of our Lord and Savior and likewise comprehending it. Meaning, without logic, even the Bible would not need to exist. If you would deny questions that are humanly possible to conceive for illustrative purposes in understanding God, then you have no right to acclaim you know God at all, nor any right to claim He Predestines and Predamns if you fail to even understand the simple reasoning behind it. In fact, you cannot really claim to know anything about God if you would deny ALL forms of logic… And even suggesting this were possible, how could you possibly perform the “Great Commission” as directed by Christ if there is absolutely no humanly conceivable method for conveying who God is or the relevance of loving Him?

          Suggesting you answered the previous question honestly (rather than avoiding it as most Calvinists do to questions such as this; P.S.: not calling you a Calvinist, just noting what Calvinists typically do); no person in their sane mind would marry someone they know with absolute certainty would never love them back. This is no different for God; He knows our choices, He punishes or rewards based on those choices, but is not the cause of the choices themselves. Choosing to have a
          relationship with God is not unlike marriage; you give your life over to your spouse and willfully sacrifice anything for their best interest, including control over them. Knowing someone will accept or reject your love does not establish you as the reason why they made that choice. This is the biggest disconnect Calvinists make, failing to rectifying Knowledge with Causation without pegging them as being one and the same thing. Meaning, the Calvinistic god would have to be a complete and utter Idiot unless he “Elects” based on His knowledge of the love that person has or
          will have for him… But I suppose that would require a “Logical” God, which you clearly disagree with.

          Point 19 of Anti-Calvinism: If you still don’t believe me at this point, then consider this: “How many things did Jesus Cause as opposed to Answer?” Would you fault God for people’s blindness, illness, or for being crippled? If not, then the miracles Jesus performed were in response to Sin, not the cause of the problem. If, however, you would fault God for people’s ailments in the first place, then Jesus was merely undoing the imperfections He self-imposed on people in the first place. Or how about when accusations were presented to Jesus, whenever Jesus did respond, was Jesus the cause of those mistakened questions, or did He merely answer them? Or how about when his disciples committed an atrocity that Jesus either corrected or followed along with?—Would you claim that God instigated those human errors in judgment only to correct them in ways that many times the disciples still didn’t understand?

          Or did Jesus respond appropriately each time one of His followers failed to act in Love? Are you noticing a theme yet? If God were the cause of everything He knows and does, then each and every action and/or word taken against Jesus or every problem Jesus ever encountered was also caused BY Jesus (more specifically God the Father). Which means, if Jesus ever “Fixed” anything, He merely corrected things He invoked upon His creation in the first place… This would be like intentionally stabbing someone in the heart, killing them, and then reviving them to full health simply because you can, and for no other reason. Does correcting a wrong that was presented against you cease being a wrong simply
          because you can undo its effects? If not, then God is morally faulted for every single problem Jesus corrected or answered in the first place. If so, then any Sin can be excused as long as its consequences can be nullified.

          As such, according to Calvinism, either Jesus is literally just as much at fault for the problem existing in the first place as well as the answer to that problem, or (according to Anti-Calvinism) Jesus is ONLY the Answer to the problem caused by human free will. In short, Jesus is either the cause of every problem He encountered (including His own death) or Jesus was the resolution to every problem He encountered (once again including His death). As such, God either causes our afflictions, or heals our ailments. If Knowledge equated Causation, then Jesus achieved nothing by healing problems that He created and could have simply dictated that those problems have not existed in the first place. Whereas, if God can know without causing, then it is possible for Jesus to possess the answer to any problem without also being the initial creator of any problem (aka: Free Will). Only a Moron would place themselves in peril only for problems they self-imposed and could fix without any effort or pain involved.

          Point 20 of Anti-Calvinism: We have abstract understandings of Heaven and Hell, but no true knowledge.—Which is even why people fear death, because we fear the unknown. The same can be said about biblical “Election”, because even Calvinists admit that they do not know upon what credentials God Predestines or Predamns (accord to Point 2 of Calvinism).—Meaning, even Calvinists do not factually know what “Elect” means.Yet when the Bible speaks of election, it does so with the idea that God knows our choice, not that God causes our choice. Best example of this being Romans 8:29, which says: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Calvinists would point to verses such as this one and say: “See, it specifically states God predestines.”—In doing so, you ignore the very first statement: “For those God foreknew”! These are the key words to the verse in question!!!

          Matt, you are probably wondering at this point why I have mentioned all of this from Points 18 – 20 of Anti-Calvinism, and that is because… A relationship is a
          two-way road, NOT a one-way road! You have treated this matter as if either God is 100% the cause of Salvation, or Humans are 100% the cause of Salvation… Even stating so far as relying on human logic is a “bad bet”. But this is NOT how a Relationship functions (suggesting you even believe there is a relationship involved between us and God in the first place given your denial of any form of relationship to Christ). In order for ANY relationship to function (does not matter which kind), BOTH sides have to contribute. In a marriage, of only one side contributed EVERYTHING, and the other side contributed NOTHING, then that is a dysfunctional relationship, and doomed to fail! I do not disagree that God is the one who calls us to Him, but there is also a need for people to listen to that calling. The only way to deny this would be to claim God does not try to save everyone.–Which leaves behind the question: “Do you believe God calls everyone to Love (especially Him)?” In other words, do you believe God tries to save everyone? Or do you instead believe there are some God never extends His Grace to nor attempts in any way whatsoever to Save? If your answer is that God tries to reach the hearts of all people, then God factually CANNOT be the cause of people’s damnation, which means there is a human element involved. The only alternative being that God forces people to hate Him and to sin against Him. As a result, if God attempts to save everyone, and if (as the Bible states) Jesus died for “All” (not just the elect, which the Bible factually does NOT state), then the ONLY way anyone can go to Hell is of their own volition! THAT is what it means to be in a Relationship. God Loves you, He loves everyone, but not everyone chooses to Love God in return. An unrequited love will result in a nonexistent relationship…or a very broken one! So the flaw in your reasoning Matt is assuming that the answer is either ALL God or ALL Human… The answer is BOTH!!!!!! A relationship factually cannot function without contribution from both sides… This isn’t an opinion, it is the very nature of a “Relationship” itself (as well as the definition of the word in question).–This appears to be your biggest misunderstanding. If you are relying 100% on God to save you without you doing absolutely anything in return (aka: giving Him your heart), then your relationship with God is nonexistent. Subsequently, I will pray that you have a change of heart and accept Jesus into your heart, rather than accepting Him only as head-knowledge. So long as you deny yourself of any involvement in your relationship with God, you also deny yourself any response to His love. Meaning, even if you are not Calvinist, you might as well be on account of complete denial of possessing a relational choice.

          So returning to my previous question: if you foreknew without any doubt that someone would never love you no matter what you were to do for them throughout their entire life, would you still marry them?—Only an idiot would devote his/her life to someone they had 100% knowledge would never love them back. But lets flip the question around now: even if someone you loved did not presently love you, if you foreknew they would eventually come to love you, would you marry them then?—This is a far more reasonable question since this is actually a fairly common
          occurrence. If your response would be yes, it would make sense because you knew ahead of time that would be a relationship that at least could function. This is how it is for God also… He factually knows everyone’s choice, and just as you would not commit to marrying someone who would never love you, God does not commit to anyone He knows would never choose Him. Therefore, His “Predestines” (or “Elects”, if you prefer) are those who God “Foreknew” would choose to love Him. It is this simple, Calvinists fail to reconcile Knowledge with Causation, and in doing so, verses like Romans 8:29 are read with a completely different meaning in mind.—Even though Truth does not change and the Scripture does not change, yet the perspective of Scripture is a choice…And frequently we insert into the Bible the “truths” we want to be there, rather than simply accepting what is plainly written—“For those God foreknew”.

          This is why last time, I concluded with the advice to try using your heart (especially in conjunction with Scripture) more often… Because at present, your comments lead me to assume Christ does not reside there for you. — This is not a fact since I do not have the power nor right to judge anyone else’s eternal status, but it merely what I personally received from your comments. Sure you know much of scripture… but you don’t know plenty of Christ, especially in ANY relational sense. And as a Christian, that is a problem… Especially when your arguments again Logic promote Atheistic causes. Logic is not so incompatible with God as you seem to believe. I became Christian (as in, I chose to LOVE Christ in my heart and throughout my life) BECAUSE it made the most sense. But you are claiming I am wrong for coming to God through reason.–Which indirectly declares it is wrong for me to be Christian… When that is your message, it is difficult to agree. I understand where you are coming from due to your answers to the 5 questions, but understanding your beliefs and agreeing with them are very different. So long as you deny God of Logic, we ultimately will subsequently follow different gods, not the same Lord and Savior. It is impossible for us both to be correct when one “Christian” claims God is Logical and the other “Christian” claims God is Illogical. Factually one or the other must be flawed when the claims oppose one another to this extreme. And finding the answer to which one is at least more likely to be correct is as simply as looking to Christ’s example. Did Christ’s life reflect Logic or Illogic? That’s up to you to decide “Who” Christ is to you, but to me, I can only find logic in Christ’s teachings… Even Atheists agree to Christ’s teachings for the exact same reason… Yet deny God for the reason you advocate (lack of logic). You’re call… I’ve provided you the both the evidence and the problem, your turn to decide on a conclusion and remedy.–I cannot force your choice, you must engage into a relationship with Christ of your own free will.

          • Matt
            January 14, 2016

            1 — As I’ve mentioned, I can’t speak for Calvinists, so I gave you a biblical answer about how to talk to people about prayer.

            2 — It is not helpful to claim I believe something I clearly don’t. Wild assumptions will help you win your argument, but you are arguing with yourself. You’ve done it with several of my points through our conversation. Here is one example, I didn’t say God is illogical. I said human logic cannot help us understand the Gospel. You mentioned the disciples not understanding what Christ was saying. Jesus explains that and tells us just how Peter was able to understand.

            Matt 16:17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

            Acts 4:Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

            Jesus saves us by His supernatural power, the same power the Father used to reveal who Jesus was to Peter. By that power we can understand God and His way of salvation. Logic is a different name. Logic is not mentioned as a way to be saved. In fact, you rely on a word so much, yet it isn’t in the Bible. We find God referring to Himself and prophets calling Him many names, High and Lofty One, Gracious, Loving, Father, to name a few. Where is He referred to as logic or reason (more accurately, human logic since that is what you are actually crediting with your salvation)? Can you find it in the Word? If it is not there, why do you depend on it so? You seem to rely on it far more than you do Scripture, since you have completely ignored nearly every verse I have mentioned.

            As a side note, I also don’t think it is healthy to say we believe in different Gods just because we don’t share the same doctrinal views. We both believe in the one and only God as clearly defined in His Word. We aren’t adding or subtracting from that, we just disagree on a few doctrinal issues. There are some who redefine God taking away from what Scripture clearly says for their own purposes. Only in that case would I say someone believes in a god of their own making.

            You would be far better served to end your hatred and study of a doctrinal point of view. It is a distraction. Forget it even exists and just read the Word for what it is. Believe (yes, Jesus said, believe**) just what it says and nothing more or less. In eternity there won’t be Calvinists or Free-willers. There will only be those who are united with Christ. Forget the rest and focus on that.

            One more Spirit verse that I hope you will actually read.

            John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

            Without the Holy Spirit doing His clearly defined job in our lives, we are just chasing our tails.

            ** John 6:29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

          • Matt
            January 14, 2016

            1 — As I’ve mentioned, I can’t speak for Calvinists, so I gave you a biblical answer about how to talk to people about prayer.

            2 — It is not helpful to claim I believe something I clearly don’t. Wild assumptions will help you win your argument, but you are arguing with yourself. You’ve done it with several of my points through our conversation. Here is one example, I didn’t say God is illogical. I said human logic cannot help us understand the Gospel. You mentioned the disciples not understanding what Christ was saying. Jesus explains that and tells us just how Peter was able to understand.

            Matt 16:17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

            Acts 4:Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

            Jesus saves us by His supernatural power, the same power the Father used to reveal who Jesus was to Peter. By that power we can understand God and His way of salvation. Logic is a different name. Logic is not mentioned as a way to be saved. In fact, you rely on a word so much, yet it isn’t in the Bible. We find God referring to Himself and prophets calling Him many names, High and Lofty One, Gracious, Loving, Father, to name a few. Where is He referred to as logic or reason (more accurately, human logic since that is what you are actually crediting with your salvation)? Can you find it in the Word? If it is not there, why do you depend on it so? You seem to rely on it far more than you do Scripture, since you have completely ignored nearly every verse I have mentioned.

            As a side note, I also don’t think it is healthy to say we believe in different Gods just because we don’t share the same doctrinal views. We both believe in the one and only God as clearly defined in His Word. We aren’t adding or subtracting from that, we just disagree on a few doctrinal issues. There are some who redefine God taking away from what Scripture clearly says for their own purposes. Only in that case would I say someone believes in a god of their own making.

            You would be far better served to end your hatred and study of a doctrinal point of view. It is a distraction. Forget it even exists and just read the Word for what it is. Believe (yes, Jesus said, believe**) just what it says and nothing more or less. In eternity there won’t be Calvinists or Free-willers. There will only be those who are united with Christ. Forget the rest and focus on that.

            One more Spirit verse that I hope you will actually read.

            John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

            Without the Holy Spirit doing His clearly defined job in our lives, we are just chasing our tails.

            ** John 6:29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

          • Mark
            February 10, 2016

            1–Don’t get me wrong, I like that you gave a Biblical answer, but the Biblical answer is not functional with the Calvinistic answer, to which you claimed was logical. Hence, I was inquiring the value of Christ under the pretense that Calvinism were true.

            2–If human logic cannot comprehend God, then to humanity, God is illogical.–That is the definition of the word in question. Also, I have made no wild assumption, I asked questions based on your responses. As an example, claiming that God is in opposition to human logic is no different than to claim God is illogical (at least from our perspective). He may very well have logic, but it is (according to you) not conceivable.–That isn’t a “wild assumption” it is the logical conclusion to your own words. Additionally, I have no need to “win” this argument since the answer was discovered already. In fact, it was because your dilemma and answer had already been acknowledged and answered that I didn’t respond again until now, because I haven’t revisited this site again until today (since the last time I posted). I kinda figured we were already done… If I made any “wild assumptions”, that might have been the only one. P.S.: The disciples didn’t understand because they were in the wrong frame of mind… They were still expecting a king-like ruler, whom would destroy all enemies.–Not someone who could be killed… Quite possibly, in their mind, the idea of God being able to die would have been so inconceivable that it likely broke them when they heard, saw, and witnessed it happen. Similar to people in modern day choosing to believe something (such as Calvinism), regardless what evidence counters it, and subsequently failing to understand the Truth even when it is directly told to them or stares them in the face, because we get caught up in our own ways. When you think in the physical realm, the spiritual one will elude you.–And that is the simple reason the disciples (among others) failed to grasp the situation. Jesus provided the direct truth, they merely failed to consider that Truth in the way He told it as opposed to their own assumptions as to how “God should be” in their own minds.–Which is ironic given that Jesus frequently defied their expectations… You would think they’d learn eventually! 😛

            3–Every single response you mentioned after word still denies yourself and God/Jesus of having any relational value. Claiming God does all the work and we do none. Granted, what else can be expected from an anti-logical belief.–Which begs the question of why I’m bothering to respond; describing logic to the illogical is futile. Perhaps I’m responding just to see if you’ll persist to keep this going, and to see if by so miracle you present me something new. I suppose that means morbid curiosity is to blame. On second thought, I think I truly will call it quits here… Because your response has proven you ignored my response by claiming the word “Logic” is not in the Bible. Unfortunately, there is nothing more i can gain from someone at that level of ignorance. I’ll explain it once more in a simplified sort of way, and if you miss it this time, it will be your own loss (the same way the disciples missed the Truth when it was told to them simply because they were stuck in their own beliefs of how things should be). The word “Logos” (in the original manuscripts) can be translated in two different ways… It can mean “Word” or “Logic”, and ultimately is more of a fusion of the two concepts. Meaning, nearly every time the word “Word” appears in the Bible, “Logic” does too.–Especially when in reference to God/Christ as being “The Word”. The only reason “Word” gets used rather than “Logic” is because it is a more finite and powerful depiction, but ultimately means the exact same thing. So, care to count how many times “Logos” (or “Word”) appears in the Bible? Additionally, the word “Logic” does appear even on its own, I gave you verses previously where the word “Logic” (instead of “Word”) is used.–And no, if you were too lazy to acknowledge them when I gave you those verses the first time around, then don’t expect me to waste my time giving them to you again. The very fact you believe “Logic” is not even in the Bible shows how far astray you have gone… I truly do pity you. I have honestly never encountered someone more anti-“Word” than you in my entire life. That’s not the worst Belief Structure I’ve encountered, but it is “literally” the most illogical (lacking logic).–This is particularly ironic since you literally asked: “Can you find it in the Word.” Wow, if that had been a snake, you’d already be dead for how blatantly in your face it is. To answer your question asked right after word, it is there, and that is WHY I depend on it so… Because God created me this way with this level of capacity for comprehension, and to His glory, I will use my understanding to get as close to Him as possible and help others see the light likewise. I am not saved by my logic alone, it only plays a factor. As I mentioned, loving Christ is a relationship (not unlike a marriage), I do my part, and God has already done His part by dying on my behalf (as well as the whole world) and providing me (and everyone) His mercy and grace. There is nobody who does not receive God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace… Meaning, only those who deny that gift are damned. I selected to give my heart to God because I found it to be the most logical choice I could possibly make given the overabundant evidence in His favor! There is more than enough reasons to believe in God, it merely becomes a matter of whether you truly want to or if you’d rather go your own way. Most people prefer their own way because it feels less restricting (as people naturally aspire toward disobedience).–But disobedience is still ultimately a choice. Unlike Calvinism, where you can never truly know for sure if you are Elect or not (since that is 100% God’s doing), I am saved by my choice to accept God’s Love for me. My salvation does not come of my power alone, it comes from accepting and acknowledging God’s sacrifice for me and to me.–The same gift He offers EVERYONE!!!

            P.S.: I haven’t ignored the verses you have given, most of them simply either do not require commendation or benefit what I am saying anyway. Meaning, every verse you have given is either neutral or beneficial to my cause. Harping on that fact would be insulting, hence, I have explicitly provided my feedback (along with some of verses also) to be kind to the childish belief. Much as a Grown man would not retort seriously with a Toddler, it is cruel for me to spit back at you the exact same verses you are using toward me. Needless to say, I’ve been a good sport to “Say nothing when you don’t have anything positive to say.” I’ve been a lot more critical in this particular response only because you not only ignored my answers, my verses, my questions, and even my overarching point, but you’ve also gone so far as to make this a circular debate by repeating the same dysfunctional excuses. My advice to you still stands from before, you should use your heart more often, because clearly you have WAY too much head knowledge and almost no relationship. Head knowledge can be a good thing, but without the heart is a waste and will never reach anyone else for God’s Kingdom. Contrary to your accusations, Scripture is my source! The only difference is you interpret scripture so differently that you ignore words that are factually in the Bible (such as Logic, a simple internet search could have told you that) and you assume to be so confidently correct that comparatively, I might as well not even be reading the Bible at all. Your claim suggests we possess different scriptures… Which wouldn’t be too far off given how we obviously possess different belief structures. I never once have made that accusation of you, that you were not using Scripture… Only that you haven’t invested your heart in it, only your head. Yet you go so far as to imply that simply because you assume yourself right, I must thereby be trusting some “Other” force apart from the “Word”. That isn’t just selfrighteous, it is unchrist-like. True Jesus did rebuke people at times… But the ones he always insulted the most were those who were more convinced by their own understanding than what literally stood before them… Such as the Pharisees.

            4–When you redefine God, you are factually following a different god at that point, so no, it is neither unreasonable nor unhealthy to claim we believe in different entities… Especially since God’s greatest command of all is to Love ONLY Him and no other gods. Yet, you believe in a god of illogic (or unword), while I believe in a God of Logic (or The Word, if you prefer).–God cannot be both, just as He cannot be moral and immoral at the same time. Consequently, we do factually adhere to different gods. Even if you don’t like the idea of assuming your god is different from my God, if nothing else, you can minimally admit that our perspective of God is completely opposite.–That isn’t healthy, because that means one of us is mislead. We cannot both be correct when we advocate opposite attributes about God. Granted… You deny logic, so my attempt to help you logically understand how this isn’t the same God is once again futile on my part.

            5–I cannot simply ignore a problem I see. Your advice (for a change) is solid and understandable, but is (once again) not what Christ would do. When a doctrinal problem as severe and broken as Calvinism arises, which begins to literally destroy lives (i know people who have committed Suicide because of Calvinism… Because they believed their “predestination” was fixed in place and unchanged no matter what they did in life, so they ended their life to go to Heaven sooner), I cannot simply sit back and ignore mistaken understands in God, of Love, of our Purpose! “Go and spread the Good News to all the nations of all the world.”–This was the commission Christ left us, and one that applies even to fellow “Christians” when they have lost their way. How many times did Jesus have to save His disciples?–Had to remind His disciples?–Had to demonstrate for His disciples?–These are men and women who already believed in Him and followed Him, yet were still constantly getting lost: “And like the good shepherd”, God yearns to bring back every lost sheep that strays from the herd. If even the people closest to Jesus required constant reminders of who He is and what they were to do, then how much more do Christians need reminders today when Jesus is not physically with us? Even a single mislead Christian can harm God’s Kingdom more than a thousand Atheists could ever hope to achieve. The truest reason why most nonbelievers don’t want to follow God is because the witness the hypocrisy of so-called “Christians”. Because the moment we take upon ourselves the title of “Christian”, even though we are obviously not literally Christ, we become a symbol of Christ for those who otherwise don’t know anything else about Christ. When a Christian belief emerges that literally threatens the livelihood of other Christians, it is cause for concern! If you lack this concern, then you prove your priorities to be all the more not aligned with a relationship to God. If you truly Loved God, you would give up ANYTHING, such as promote Him and to benefit what He Loves… Which is other people. Are you willing to die right now? I am… I am that confident in my Lord and Savior! But God cherishes life enough to provide it to us, therefore we should do the same. Meanwhile, Calvinism denies the very worth of Christ Himself and logically conclude with the innecessity to invoke Jesus for the purposes of Salvation whatsoever! That is EXTREMELY problematic… Because that means there are people who call themselves “Christian” who are in actuality advocating AGAINST CHRIST!–And subsequently promoting a completely different god. If you don’t see any problem in this, then truthfully, I don’t even know what else to say… Because that level of lack of compassion for God is not something I can give you, teach you, nor logic my way through, it is something you must experience for yourself… Hence my advice to read scripture with your heart rather than your mind.–Take it or leave it, the choice is yours.

            5–I am inclined to agree with you that there might not be Calvinists in Heaven, but there most certainly will be Free Willers (or Anti-Calvinists), because that is who God created us to be. And while I do not factually know what Heaven is like, I do not believe God would change the core of our soul to invite us into Heaven. What is likely to change instead is a complete understanding of what is or is not aligned with God.–In other words, 100% knowledge of what is sin any why to avoid it. In this world, even if we have so much as 99% knowledge of “Right” VS “Wrong”, we have a reason to create as many excuses as necessary to choose sin. Whereas in Heaven, I suspect there would be no reason to even want SIn.–That doesn’t mean you couldn’t still do so (like Lucifer factually did while he was still in Heaven), but unlike this world, you wouldn’t have any reason to sin. If God removes Free Will from us even in Heaven, then what was the point of creating us or inviting us into Heaven in the first place? If He wanted robots, He could have achieved that from the very beginning… Instead, God allowed Adam and Eve to sin, God did not “Cause” this. It might even be possible that “The Garden” was somehow connected to Heaven since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, and obviously, we have know knowledge of where the Garden is on Earth, nor how to re-enter it.

            6–Simply to confirm your concern of your assumption that I am not reading the verses you provide. Yes, God sends the Spirit of Truth to help us comprehend the Truth, and more importantly, to gain the ability to effectively spread the Truth to others. As usual, I don’t see how this verse opposes anything I’ve ever said. And God wanting the work of “Belief” in Jesus Christ, if God were the sole cause of that, why not demand it rather than request it? Once again, promotes my side… So as I said before, your verses are either neutral or beneficial to all I have said.–Moreover, they are “logical”… Oh wait, you probably don’t want to see that, so never-mind.–We can call it “illogcal” for your sake and subsequently not even try to understand those verses. 😉 Indeed, we are saved by Belief, but Belief is an active CHOICE! Hmm… That verse makes it seem like there is something we must do in order to be saved; something we must actively choose to do. But that cannot possibly be… Because that’s much too logical for God. It cannot truly be so simple as “Believe and you shall be saved”. Truly there must be some other element involved beyond our understanding… Something that will negate the relevance and involvement of humans so that God is the only dictator of who is saved… But what could that possibly be? Belief can only be formed willingly. If Belief were an unwilled action, then even our argument here would be caused by God. Surely God doesn’t want this, so that cannot be correct… So what else is there? How do we believe in a way that is completely without logic and 100% God’s doing? Hmm… AH!–I’ve got it, lets propose that Free Will doesn’t exist at all, so that all Beliefs, no matter how utterly screwed up, are completely divine in origin! This way, we can assert that some are Predestined while others are Predamned since even a person’s beliefs come ONLY from God. Yes… Truly a work of illogic, if I do say so myself. Now we can tell the world of our findings against and outside of Word (aka: Logic). In fact, lets put a sign on Heaven’s door that says: “Abandon all Logic and Belief ye who enter here…” — Seriously though, how does this help your case? Don’t worry, its a rhetorical question since I don’t expect you to answer this any more than you answered my previous questions. My only point here was… This is how dangerous faulty-doctrine can be… It leads down a road that eventually turns people away from Christ rather than toward Him. This is why Logic is so immensely important, because it can be used to identify errors in previous and/or present judgement. Obviously God helps us also, but if you sit back waiting for God to gift-wrap all the answers for you, you’ll end life with no answers at all. Faith entails a RELATIONSHIP, where both you and God do your part! Up until now, this is what you appear to deny most, and is the biggest flaw in your reasoning. I understand that you assume the verses you are providing me somehow suggests that God does ALL the work and we do nothing in return. But in doing so, you are ignoring every other verse where God does ask for a response from us! Even the very last verse you provided (John 6:29) is an example where Jesus states that what God wants from us most is for us to believe in Him. But would reason would there be to say this if God is 100% the reason we believe in the first place? It is 100% POINTLESS for Jesus to state something that will happen whether we want it to or not. Among our jobs, Belief in God is one of the things God desires from us… But that can only be achieved of your own willingness. Unlike your refusal, accept God and all the evidence that points to Jesus. I acknowledge my worth and the value of the intellect (and Logic) God has given me, and will not insult my Creator as uncaring as yourself to suggest the knowledge He has so freely given me (and provided for ALL) isn’t sufficient for my Salvation. My trust in God is so deep that I have no reason to doubt my Salvation on account that I am a contributor to it! God did the hard part of suffering and dying, I do the easy part of believing and following. If you don’t like that, then I’d love to know how you believe you were saved (if you even think you are definitively saved)? Do you simply count yourself as “Lucky” for being someone God revealed just enough of Himself to that you would call yourself “Christian”? Or was there a point where you ever made an active choice to follow Him? And if you did make that choice, do you accredit literally 100% of that choice to God and negate any value of it from your own hand? You know, it is funny how quickly people will say we are responsible for our Sinful choices, yet the moment we make a choice that isn’t Sinful, suddenly we have absolutely no responsibly for that choice. Why are do people (particularly Christians) fault people for Wrong doings, yet not for Right doings? Do you truly believe that absolutely nothing good can come from out choices, and that subsequently any “Righteous” choice can only come from God and we play no part in it whatsoever? If this were true… Then God is Evil, because He creates people that are ONLY capable of performing Evil and can do absolutely nothing good unless God causes it. That type of god is the creator of ONLY evildoers…nothing more. If we lack responsibility for our good deeds, then we cannot be faulted for our evil deeds by the exact same logic. But once again, that would require “Logic”, which you are completely without… So this is where we end, I have nothing more to say. I suspect that even if you answer, my response to your answer will probably be found in previous comments I have made to you already. The short and sweet is: If you deny Logic, you also deny The Word!–LITERALLY!!! If you don’t believe me, look up “Logos”, the original word used in the Biblical manuscripts (suggesting you are as reliant on the “True” meaning of Scripture as you claim). So long as you continue to deny Logic, not only do you believe in a different god, but you adhere to a completely different interpretation of Scripture… An interpretation where you ignore even the existence of a Word. Reading only what you want to be there… That is the worst way to view scripture… You are so completely reliant on your perception of God that you have grown completely blind to what sits directly in front of you. Truly it is ironic that you are reading “The Logic”, and then claim there is none… I honestly have no idea how anyone can get more blind that that! I hope you “Choose” to open your eyes some day, and that God helps you achieve a more “logical” understanding. Until that day… The only people you are ever going to be able to convince to convert are Toddlers at best… Those who likewise lack logic. Which is sad because given your extensive knowledge, you truly could be a front-runner in God’s army if only you would simply accept Him into your heart. You could be one of the greatest tools in God’s belt; but instead, as you are presently, you are worthless to God’s Kingdom.

          • Matt
            February 10, 2016

            “If human logic cannot comprehend God, then to humanity, God is illogical.” Therein lies the problem with your argument (and pretty much all of your arguments and the reason you make such wild assumptions about my beliefs). I can’t comprehend calculus, so by your argument, calculus is illogical. No, it’s not illogical. We trust that greater math minds than ours have worked all that incomprehensible to us stuff out. We get in elevators and drive across bridges in full confidence that engineers comprehend calculus 1, 2, 3, and even 4. In the same way but in a far, far greater way, no human can comprehend God, yet He is completely logical and just in everything He does whether you or I understand or even agree with it or not. Even in eternity, we will still not full comprehend God. You seem so confident in your logic, yet you made such a blaring mistake and you base almost your whole theology on that mistake. The foundation of your logic theology is based on flawed logic. Now tell me, please, that you see that flaw, can you at least admit that? Maybe you shouldn’t depend on your human abilities so much and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the Truth instead.

            “The only people you are ever going to be able to convince to convert are Toddlers at best..” This is an interesting comment in light of the fact that Jesus says only the childlike can understand the Gospel. I take your words as a great compliment. Thank you. However, I know it is the Holy Spirit who is actually doing the convincing.
            Matthew 18:3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

            You are trying very hard to make your case for human logic because otherwise you can’t rectify the Word of God with your own doctrine. Human logic is the only way you can dismiss many of the verses that you don’t understand. You say to yourself, that verse can’t be right because it doesn’t line up with my human logic.I used to do the very same thing. Instead, like a toddler, you should just say, hmm this doesn’t make sense to me. I’ll just have to trust my all knowing God knows more than I do and move on. Rather than struggling with God’s Word and trying to cram it into only what your human logic can imagine, just believe it and move on with your life!

            Logos in Greek thought takes the definition you mention, however, in the Bible it means the very words / promises of God. He speaks and it happens just as He says. It does not mean all of His words and promises have to logical to humans and make sense to us. We are human and that is not possible.

            Psalm 33:9 For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

            Jesus is the Word of God or God’s promise of a Savior, God’s promise fulfilled.

            This link might help – https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3056&t=KJV

            The fist meaning is just “word” ie. what God said, the second is of human logic and the third is the very definition of Christ. Would you equate your human logic to Christ? I sure hope not. Thus the different meanings. Trying to equate Christ and your own human logic is just wishful thinking on your part.

          • Mark
            February 12, 2016

            False! You specifically may not understand Calculus, but even the fact that we possess an educational theory such as Calculus is proof that it is comprehendable by humanity. Something that isn’t understood by a single person does not make it illogical, claiming it cannot be understood by ANYBODY, that makes it humanistically speaking, illogical.–Which is your claim about God. But that requires basis logic to understand… That, once again, is NOT a wild assumption, you have reiterated it time, and time, and time again. Unlike Calculus, you are not claiming that some people can’t understand God, you are claiming that ALL people cannot know God on account of a complete defying of logic. So wow… Even your examples lack logic, truly I am impressed that you hate logic so far as to even avoid its usage within your own argument. That takes some hardcore hatred of one’s mental capacity to achieve an utter self-denial at that magnitude. Even the worst belief structures in the world are able to give at least one valid apologetic, but your comprehension is in such opposition to logic that you cannot even coherently think through minimally one useful example… No wonder you spit out random verses so often, because you literally have nothing beneficial to say yourself. Sad… I didn’t know you were that desperate, my apologies for overlooking your needs Matts. As such, from here on, when (and if) I respond, it will be at your level of understanding with illogic that even you can grasp. My true mistake was assuming you could be reasoned with… Fact of the matter is, you hate human logic so deeply that any attempt to show you any Truth about God and Scripture through the use of Logic is completely over your head. So since Logic cannot help you, then my remaining resource is illogic, especially since you so confidently believe you can understand the not-understandable. But I’m not very accustomed in reaching out to people through illogic… So you are going to have to wait a while as I practice and try to figure out how to lower myself to your comprehensive standard. I apologize in advance for the wait.

          • Matt
            February 13, 2016

            This is getting old. I never said I hated logic. I said that human logic is not enough. Scripture clearly states it. I’ve given you verses that you continually ignore which leads me to believe that your man-made theories trump the Word when it comes to discerning truth. That is a certain ticket to deception. I’ll give you more verses – 1 Corinthians 12:3
            So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

            We know who Christ is because of the Spirit, not human logic.

            For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:9

            Job 36:26 “Look, God is greater than we can understand.
            His years cannot be counted.

            If you are willing to show me where each of the many verses I’ve used are wrong or clearly contradicted in some way, I’d be glad to continue. However, since you completely ignore the Word, we really have no basis to continue this conversation. Rather than the Word, you seem to be basing your entire argument on a hatred of Clavinism and a fascination with your own superior ability to comprehend God. Good luck with that.

          • Mark
            February 14, 2016

            “We know who Christ is because of the Spirit, not human logic.” — So why did Christ spend so much time proving who He was? P.S.: That’s not what that passage advocates. If God is the only discernment for knowing Christ, then many of Christ’s actions are in vane, and much of the Bible doesn’t even need to exist.–Including huge chunks of the Gospels. The Bible exists to “prove” who God is, but you just claimed God does that alone, so there is no need for proof, there is no need for human knowledge, there is no need for one’s own interaction with God whatsoever.

            We’re done… I can agree with you in one simple way, this is getting old. You didn’t answer my questions, you didn’t grant me the same courtesy I extended to you when I changed my thinking to align with yours, you didn’t acknowledge the answers I have already given you to the many comments and verses you have provided (including verses that use the word “Logic” instead of “Word”), and you also still believe that through it all, I simply have a man-made belief with no scriptural backing. Indeed, we are done, you are far too blind and way too opposed to logic to teach the truth to. I would call you hopeless, except God excels at working through even the most dire and blind of people! Much like the Pharisees, you are stuck in your own ways more concerned about your sophistication than of the scriptures meaning. You spit out plenty of verses, but about 90% of them do not even apply to what we are talking about. And the ones that do, benefit what I’ve been saying from the start.

            I am aware you do not care, but you just “Logically” implied that every time Christ ever proved His divinity, it was completely pointless. Congratulations, you have successfully nullified the value of Christ! Are you proud of that fact? Oh wait, you lack the logical capacity to even see that fact… So never mind. Continue damning other people with your self-righteousness, while I instead teach people how they are able to Love God and one another of their own free will. You are presenting more harm to God’s Kingdom than thousands of nonbelievers combined could ever hope to do, because you have just denied the very core of Christ’s ministry (even though you don’t acknowledge that). Those more intelligent in terms of Logic will notice, and turn away from Christ BECAUSE OF YOU!–Not because of God.

            You have proven you have absolutely no respect for anything or anyone outside of your personal bubble of what you believe Scripture says. I have tried to grace you at your level of understand, but you are in such utter denial that there is absolutely nothing more I can do for you, nor probably anyone else for you either. I don’t know what happened that turned your heart so drastically away from the Lord while maintaining your Head Knowledge, but until you rekindle your relationship with God (if you ever had one to begin with), I morn your loss…

            I will humor you one last time, but after this, unless by some miracle you grasp onto a concept even as simple as humility, then this will be my final post. I will not post again unless you acknowledge any of the verses about Logic I gave you before, and answer my questions. Until then, humanistically speaking, you are a lost cause… So, your verses:

            1 Corinthians 12:3 — This goes without say, nobody could speak anything, nor would even be alive, unless for God. As I have said before, God is the source of Logic, Knowledge, Wisdom, and any form of mental capacity whatsoever. And God has promised throughout a variety of verses to grant His Grace to “ALL” persons so that “NONE” should perish. The same author (Paul) even states in Romans how no man has an excuse (a logical claim) because God’s invisible qualities can be clearly seen in Creation. Meaning, even without knowledge of Jesus Christ whatsoever, no man can be excused from not believing in God. Because logically speaking, the existence of the Creation begs the question of a Creator. Thus, as usual, Scripture is correct, nobody can say “Jesus is Lord”, except the Holy Spirit… Yet the Holy Spirit tugs on the consciences of ALL persons to repent and convert… Hence why all people are capable of declaring this, because (as usual) God is the source of our Logic, Knowledge, and Wisdom (among other things). This would be akin to saying: “Nobody can speak in tongs except for the Holy Spirit.” Once again, that is logically sound, but what words a person selects to utter when speaking in such is of their choosing. God is the one who bestows gifts, we are the ones who determine what we do with those gifts. If you need a practical example (which I’m sure you don’t because you would deny it anyway), the inventor of computers is not at fault for how the consumers of computers use it. The inventor is still ultimately the source, but not the cause. So unless there are people you honestly believe God intentionally goes out of His way to prevent them from knowing Himself and who Jesus Christ is, then that is knowledge available to all persons. That verse only speaks of the origin to our knowledge about Jesus, not the cause of how it gets applied. Similarly, God is the origin of my livelihood, but not the cause of how it gets applied. Don’t worry though, I am aware this is Logical, as such, it will not be comprehendable to you.

            Next, Isaiah 55:9 — Once again, this can almost go without say. Obviously, God knows what is best for us even when we don’t or even when we otherwise believe something else is best for us. Likewise, God is also more powerful than us, and subsequently able to do things in ways we are not. This is illustrated all throughout the Bible, even so far as to resurrect the Dead. However, it is illogical to conclude that because God knows all, humans know none. It is true that humans cannot know all, which is even why “Faith” is such an essential element, where Jesus even said: “You believe because you have seen, but blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” His logical implication here is simply that we don’t have complete or definitive knowledge of God, Christ, or most anything really. I cannot even technically prove that someone like George Washington ever existed with 100% certainty. I can logically conclude with 99.99% certainty, but our knowledge is factually incomplete by the simple fact we are not God. We didn’t create all we interact with, nor are we the initial cause of our knowledge to begin with. We are, however, the users of the knowledge and gifts bestowed upon us. We cannot comprehend the idea of Infinity.–Which is why there is a joke: “Can you count to Infinity” Because technically humans cannot. I’m sure God could since He literally is Infinity, but human knowledge is restricted explicitly to Finite concepts… Which is, once again, why Jesus taught in parables and came in a form humans could comprehend, because even the idea of “Spirit” is beyond a “Finite” understanding. The simple point here is that we can be confident in the Finite areas God has enabled us to be capable of knowing and understanding… But a persons capacity to truly grasp any notion relies on two elements: 1. The person’s willingness to accept the idea itself; 2. The method in which the information was delivered to that person. In the case of God, His method of delivery was the Bible, Parables, and Creation; and in the case of humans, it is the selective interpretation of that information available to us. I’ve stated this before, and I’ll say it again, I wont pretend to know factually what Heaven is like, I wont even pretend to know factually the full extent of what Election entails (unlike Calvinists), but I can know (thanks to Scripture) the value of one’s choice, the importance of love, and the process in which God saves us. It isn’t necessary to know every detail, and I have never once claimed to know everything, only that given the knowledge available to all persons, it is logical to conclude in a belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Which is why I turned to God, because it made the most sense! You, however, would have me turn away from God simply because of the parts about Him that don’t make sense. Meaning, you are looking at the Cup half empty, while I am looking at the cup half full. When I speak of Logic, I speak of the philosophical laws that utilize available resources to create the most probable theory for the purposes of creating a conclusion about how God’s Creation functions. In the end, Logic is always probability. True, there are Logic systems that necessitate a definitive answer (such as Math equations), but as you attested to earlier, merely because a Math equation exists does not mean all people will conclude with the same “logic-attempting” answer. Don’t get me wrong, just like a Math equation, there is only one correct answer in the same way that Jesus is the ONLY way to Salvation, but just because there is only one correct answer does not mean people cannot “logically” conclude with different answers. Those different answers (such as your belief structure has proven), will be wrong, but they nevertheless derive from the same resources (God) and the same question. Resulting in a wrong answer only damns you if your refuse to even consider the possibility that your answer is wrong and instead boast that you have found the answer no matter how much logical evidence is built against your conclusion. This is ultimately where you are faulted Matt, as well as why I stated you hate Logic (proven by your fruits). Because you are so determined to deny any form of human logic for reaching a proper answer that you insist your own answer is already correct and instead regard everyone else’s answer as incorrect without any alternative possibilities. I minimally acknowledge I could be incorrect (I have stated this before in other responses), but you have never once humbled yourself to that extent, and instead have declared (even still) that I’m denying scripture. Yet, the scriptures you have been providing are commonsense, they do not deny Free Will, nor Logic. They only state that our mental capacities are limited, it does not state our mental abilities are incorrect (as you’ve been claiming), only that God knows more than we do… and frankly: “DUH!!!”

            Job 36:26 — Same thing as the previous verse, merely stating that God is an “Infinite” being, while we are Finite. Once again, this does not declare we are incorrect with the limited knowledge we possess, only that we are, in fact, limited. I’ve never once denied that fact. I simply acknowledge that even with the limited knowledge that has been made available to us (by God), it is still sufficient to logically conclude with trusting in God. You don’t need all the answers in life to make a logical assessment of any given scenario. Heck, that’s what education attempts to teach kids… Problem-solving skills!–The ability to take limited information and make a logical conclusion with it. That same verse even provided the example of how “His years cannot be counted”… Yet another claim that God is “Infinite”; and the reason we cannot count His years is because we are incapable of counting to infinity. As I am forced to reiterate again, this does not prove anything for your claims. This verse (like the others) does not deny Logic, in fact, it is using Logic to infer the fact that our abilities are limited. If we denied this logic, we would be claiming either that God is Finite, or that humans are Infinite.–Both of which are logical fallacies given the verse in question. See, even understanding scripture requires logic, and since you deny it, you have provided scripture that details nothing for your position. I provided you a challenge that would have won you this argument if you could have simply answered it, but fact is, you couldn’t (or didn’t even try to), and that is because Logic is prudent for Scriptural interpretation… Just as reading any other book requires logic to coherently understand the order of the words used, the background of the author’s perspective and experiences, and empathy of ones own position in contrast.–There are more elements that go into reading anything than just this, but these are some core examples. I’m not a language specialist, in fact, it was my worst subject all throughout my educational career. But even so, I know enough that without logic, not even a single word can be comprehended. A true English teacher, writer, or specialist would be able to tell you more. That is even why we have resources such as Dictionaries to outline the logical rules of language.

            So unlike your willingness to adhere to my request, I have answered your request. The verses you have listed have no contradiction, but they also have no basis in our conversion as not a single one of them denies logic. They each merely state the obvious that God is more, knows more, and can do more than we can. Frankly, it would be hard to call Him “God” if there were not the case… which is why this is commonsense. I have not denied any scriptures you have ever provided, you simply don’t give any scriptures relevant to our discussion (which is why I have so rarely commented on them). You have this self-made interpretation that every single time the Bible states that God is “Greater” than us, you assume that means He cannot be understand whatsoever. This is faulty logic, and not self-evident in any verse you have ever given. God’s Greatness does not deny us of having any ability whatsoever; only that our abilities are inferior to His. Yet He enabled our inferior abilities to still possess just enough functionality to logically conclude with God’s existence. Famous Apologists (such as C.S.Lewis,–which is merely the first one that comes to mind) have literally written entire works on how it is logical to conclude that God exists, that Jesus is God, and that we need to repent. But once again, you would claim they are wrong and do not know God by their use of Logic and should instead completely deny Logic like you have.

          • Mark
            February 14, 2016

            You have confused “Greatness” with “Completely
            Alienated Entity”. As illustrated in Genesis (as well as in many other
            places in the Bible, but Genesis is the most direct example), the reason
            God created us in the first place was so that we could have a
            relationship with God.–Among other things, but this is the biggest
            reason. However, a relationship with anyone (God, family, friends,
            etc…) is not possible unless you reveal “Who” you are to them so that
            they can “know” you well enough to confidently declare love to you.
            This means, God (all throughout history) has done everything in His
            power to reveal Himself, both to those who called themselves “God’s
            People” as well as to those who were enemies of God (such as Abraham,
            the Pegan). Everything God has done all the way through the Bible, and
            even the reason the Bible itself exists, is so that we might know and
            understand God to the best of our limited abilities. God is constantly
            showing Himself through Scripture, through Creation, through people, and
            even through Logic! The existence of one’s reasoning skills imply the
            value God has for the use of “Apologia” (as Paul puts it). Scripture
            literally tells use to be able to give a “Reason” (Apologia) for your
            faith. But in your case, your reason is simply that you were lucky
            enough that God came to you since you have no ability of your own to
            know Him. In other words, your testimony is completely based on a whim!
            God doesn’t just want us to use Logic, He intended for us to use
            Logic! Most specifically, to use Logic with Him. If you still aren’t
            convinced how misplaced your scripture usage is, then I will provide you
            one (ONLY ONE) of the verses I previously gave you that you ignored and
            even directly said (after I gave it to you) that the word “Logic” is
            not in the Bible. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us logic together,
            sayth the Lord.” — Some translations use the word “Reason” instead of
            “Logic”, but same thing…

            And since you started with 1
            Corinthians, allow me to give you a couple of new passages about Logic
            and Reason that I hadn’t given you before from the same authors you
            provided. Only one chapter after your verse, 1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I
            was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason
            like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” —
            But you find the childish to be a “Complement” (as you declared it
            previously). Next, you provided a verse from Isaiah, I already provided
            another verse from Isaiah. So then you provided a verse from Job, so
            here is Job 32:11 “Behold, I waited for your words, I listened to your
            reasonings.”–There is obviously more to the story, and you are welcomed
            to read more into it if you wish. Indeed, I am apt to have better luck
            with Logic in finding and knowing God than I am without Logic like
            yourself. One final verse comes to mind; when Jesus said in John 9:12
            “If you were blind, you would not be faulted, but because you declare ‘I
            can see’, your sin remains.” I do not quote this verse for the proof of
            Logic, but rather, because it appears to be the mistake you are making.
            You are claiming you can see and are so sure you are right that those
            who oppose you are in denial of scripture so far as you are concerned,
            but this was the exact same mistake the Pharisees made. You are blind
            Matt. The Pharisees also believed they were right, and were so sure
            about it that they even crucified God! Do you truly wish to place all
            your faith in illogic while condemning those who use logic at the
            potential cost/risk of denying who God truly is? Apart from physical
            blindness, blindness is a willful thing, this is even why Jesus asked
            the Blind man if he believed. Because God can give him his physical
            eyes, but the eyes of his heart is something only he can decide to open
            or close. The moment you make the mistake of claiming to know all the
            answers and deny that anyone else could possibly understand Scripture
            (or even just a part of scripture) better than yourself, then you have
            admitted to self-made blindness by being more concerned with your own
            understanding of illogic than the meanings of the verses you have
            posted. Not a single verse you have ever posted denies logic Matt, it
            only promotes God’s superiority.–This is something I have never denied,
            but even the ability to identify superiority requires logic, to which
            you deny. Logic is not opposed to God, it is synonymous with God!

            Even
            I can find verses the come closer to denying Logic than you have Matt.
            For example, take 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 “For the word of the cross is
            foolishness to those who are perishing, but
            to the saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I
            will
            destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will
            set aside.’ Where then is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is
            the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the
            world?”
            — This verse is the closest thing to the denial of Logic, but that
            isn’t what is being spoken of here. Much like how in the 3rd Chapter of
            Romans, Paul is reminding us of our sinful and depraved state, here in 1
            Corinthians, he is reminding us that the only functional source of
            Logic is God! Paul’s message in this passage is a warning against those
            who believe themselves wise, smart, or clever by worldly standards. In
            other words, believing themselves to be logical only because the world
            would call them such. Whereas, I acknowledge (and have stated it many
            times already) that my Logic stems from God as a source, and I use it to
            understand God, not to oppose Him. It even directly states that God
            has made foolishness of the wisdom of the World, but not of His wisdom.
            Worldly wisdom is the choice to abide by earthly logic alone while
            attempting to exclude God. The belief in Darwinian Evolution is a prime
            example of this. As usual, this verse is not denying the validity or
            necessity of logic, only that when logic gets misused for worldly gain,
            God will destroy it and set it aside. This verse speaks explicitly of
            worldly logic alone with the complete exclusion of God.–Atheistic
            attempts to explain how and why we exist without God is the best
            example. It does not apply to persons who are using Logic (or
            reasoning) with God (rather than against God). Only when Logic is used
            to oppose God, that is when it becomes problematic. The beginning of
            the verse mentions this also… To those who are not saved, Logic in
            favor of Christ will appear foolish, but to those who have selected to
            believe in God with eyes open to His Logic, that mindset showcases the
            power of God. That is why the challenge I left you is to locate a Bible
            Verse that directly defies and/or denies Logic… In other words,
            mentions illogic! But by ignoring the challenge and the question, I can
            only assume you cannot. Even the verses that I am aware of that comes
            closest to denying Logic only denies the Logic used by worldly means
            alone. This is not unlike how Pleasure is NOT a bad thing, but worldly
            pleasures without moral reprieve IS a bad thing. God desires the best
            for us, and obviously Heaven is symbolized as pleasurable.
            Additionally, Christ was obviously against the pain He experienced by
            even crying beforehand. Pleasure is a Good thing, but it becomes a bad
            thing when your worldly pleasures deny and/or defy God’s treasures and
            commands. As a simplified example, Sex is a good thing, but not outside
            of marriage, not with a same-gender partner, not with multiple
            partners, and not with persons you aren’t already married to. Sex is a
            God ordained thing: “Be fruitful and multiple”, but when used in a
            worldly context alone, it becomes problematic. ANYTHING is this way…
            Even something as simple as consuming food and water, if not to the
            glory of God, is problematic. Logic is no different… When it is used
            the way God intended, which is for the purpose of knowing and
            understanding God to the best of our ability, then that is what the
            Bible promotes. What the Bible rebukes (much like the verse I just
            provided from 1 Corinthians) is when Logic gets used explicitly in
            worldly ways, often for the purpose of either skewing God into a
            completely different god or denying His existence altogether.–This (as
            usual) is what makes Calvinism so problematic.

            Granted, your
            belief structure is heavily problematic also. So long as you deny
            Logic, you deny your only instrument God made available to you for the
            purposes of knowing Him. True that instrument comes from God, but much
            as you prove, it can be used to deny God and/or His creation and/or His
            gifts. In your case, you have selected to use the reasoning skills God
            has gifted you with to exempt the usage and validity of those reasoning
            skills in and of themselves. In other words, you are using Logic to
            deny Logic, and all for the declared purpose of knowing God, which is
            completely contrary to the purpose our reasoning skills exist in the
            first place. You are attempting with all your might to reason your way
            out of not needing reason. And much as Jesus said: “You will know them
            by their fruits”, that is how I can know you hate Logic, even if only
            subconsciously… Because you perceive Logic to be contrary to God. As
            such, you have tried your best to deny Logic and to even avoid using
            Logic within your own arguments. I minimally complement you on your
            dedication to your conquest against Logic, but it is literally
            counter-intuitive, counterproductive, and all-around unnecessary. If
            you truly believe Logic is irrelevant for the purposes of learning about
            God/Jesus, then why have you posted here at all? In fact, why do you
            continue to post? By your own claims, only God can reveal Himself,
            meaning you are debating with people whom (according to your illogic)
            God has not revealed Himself, and you (according to your own claims)
            cannot effect nor change that fact. Wouldn’t that mean every single
            post you have ever made is a complete and utter waste of your time?
            Perhaps then you simply don’t have anything better to do with your
            God-given life since you would use it debating something you claim is
            unanswerable to begin with. If you truly believe Logic is so unusable
            for locating the Truth, then why are you still posting? In accordance
            to your own illogic, you literally have NO reason to say anything since
            nothing would change unless by God. That is how deep-rooted your stride
            against logic is, that when taken to its conclusion, you accomplish
            nothing, and yet, are amazingly satisfied with that fact. So much so
            that you appear to have no problem wasting away the life you have been
            given by throwing out verses at people that only God can convict of
            anyway. Perhaps you are hoping to simply be the agent by which God uses
            to convict people… But if that is the case, apart from being a
            selfish notion, then your actions begin to sound like Free Will since
            you would be implying that your words make a difference.

            Unlike
            you, the reason I reply is because I believe I can make a difference…
            Even if not with you, by having this correspondence, I am minimally
            gaining experience in how to better handle myself and convey God’s Love
            in the extremely off-change I ever encounter someone as blind as you
            again in the future. I am aware I didn’t do a great job at showing you
            Love in-particular (apart from my continued attempts to teach you God’s
            Truth), but that is also because I was dumbfounded to learn there are
            seriously persons who call themselves “Christian” who can be as blind
            (if not more) than the Pharisees who confronted and encountered Jesus
            face to face and yet still denied the obvious/simple Logic He presented
            them. I wasn’t joking when I stated previously that I had no idea you
            were in such desperate need. Fortunately for you, you can still repent.
            Its not too late to begin a real relationship with Christ, rather than
            relying strictly on a bunch of disjointed head-knowledge. I urge you,
            please give your heart over to Him, Matt, while you still have time. It
            amazes me how someone can know so much scripture and still have no clue
            what it says. I honestly had no idea people like you actually existed.
            Up until now, either people didn’t know enough scripture or were in
            denial of Christ in spite of scripture. But you… You believe yourself
            able to see Christ, and at least appear well versed, but you lack any
            heartfelt relational connection to God on account of a complete denial
            that you can learn more about God of your own will. As such, you sit
            back, read the Bible, and simply hope God gives you understanding,
            rather than attempting to understand anything for yourself. You insult
            the very reasoning skills God granted you by devoting so much of your
            life and time to countering it. I earnestly believe you could be a very
            powerful member in God’s army, but as you are presently, you are
            worthless to the Kingdom of God; because illogic cannot reach anyone…
            Not even God uses illogic to reach out to people. Every time God
            revealed Himself to people, it was always in a logically comprehendable
            way. That doesn’t mean people expected it, only that people could
            minimally comprehend it. This is why, when Moses requested God reveal
            Himself more fully (rather than just in humanistic methods), God could
            still only show His back. God always uses our level of understanding to
            reveal Himself. That, obviously, doesn’t mean God cannot defy science
            or physics (as proven many times throughout the Bible), and we obviously
            don’t understand how that works, but we can minimally understand the
            purpose and the results (especially when in hindsight).

            You have
            spent this entire time advocating a god who defies all forms of human
            comprehension, a god that cannot be met with Logic, and even a god that
            invalidates Christ’s actions and teaching methods (not the teachings
            themselves, only the teaching method). Your god of illogic is not the
            God of the Bible. And you are so completely blind to this fact that at
            every turn you have accused me of being anti-scripture for teaching you
            the Truth about our given reasoning skills. If you truly wish to
            continue defying all I have said, then tell me, why do you believe you
            possess reasoning skills?–If you even believe you possess any at all
            given how contradictory to them you’ve consistently been.

            As
            stated at the beginning of this response, and as I will reiterate now,
            if you fail to minimally show me enough respect to answer my questions
            and challenges (such as the one I just left a few sentences prior), then
            you will not be hearing from me again. This isn’t due to surrender,
            but rather, you have made it abundantly clear that at least at the
            present time, you have no interest in knowing Truth through any other
            method than your own illogic. As such, until you “do away with childish
            things”, we have nothing more to discuss, and I cannot help you if you
            are so opposed to being helped. So while I would have loved to bring
            you to the light, your are content with blindness… Meaning, there is
            nothing more I can personally give you. Hopefully I have minimally
            planted a seed in you that someone else can harvest. Until then, my
            advice still remains… Try reading scripture with your heart rather
            than your mind Matt.

          • Mark
            February 12, 2016

            You seem to believe that human abilities and Truth are mutually exclusive concepts. In that, Truth cannot be found by any human means… Perhaps even regardless of the level of Truth. Why then do you bother to read the Bible? Why do you bother with education? Why do you attempt to learn anything at all. Acquiring knowledge even as simple as “2+2=4” (which is a “Truth” statement) requires human comprehension. You are so dejected from the idea of God VS Humans that you have resulted with a belief structure that assumes absolutely everything you know, or can know, or will know, and even your level of understanding and your beliefs in and of themselves, all come strictly from God where you have done absolutely no work for yourself. You are correct, I have faith in “The Logic” (aka: God/Word), and I must believe God provided humanity “Reasoning Skills” for a purpose. You, however, see no purpose nor worth to our God-given mental capacity, which is insulting of God’s creation. I am very inexperienced at the use of illogic when partaking in a debate, but I will try my best to defy logic so far as to minimally grasp your fundamental understanding.

            Truly, you have no idea how much I cry for your position Matt… As I’ve said before and will say again, you could be such a powerful soldier in God’s army, yet you deny any “Reason” to promote truth in the first place. With your level of comprehension, you can neither help anyone, nor lead anyone toward truth and salvation. If you need a simplified example, you asked me if I noticed the flaw in my logic… Based on your illogical example, no, I fail to understand where I am faulted… But that is because I am attempting to understand you with logic rather than illogic. Gaging your mentality is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But if we suppose that you represent all that opposes any form of logic, thereby meaning what you promote is the antithesis of what you state, then in accordance to illogic, your argument (so far as I understand it) is that: “Since there exist things that select people cannot understand, yet are logical to other people, and if those same misunderstood concepts by some are still regarded as logical in and of themselves, then it is illogical to conclude that anything some fail to grasp is identical in value to what everyone fails to grasp. And in doing so, illogic dictates that God is unsound when people are sound, and God is sound when people are unsound. Thus, in accordance to your illogic, the position you uphold is the latter option wherein all humans represent illogic while God represents logic. Hence why you strive to represent illogic likewise. Since this conclusion stems from illogic, then the antithesis would represent logic (which is where our disconnect occurs). Since you are speaking in illogic and I am speaking in logic, we might as well be uttering different languages to one another. This is where our failure in communication occurs. So with the illogical results featured, I suppose we’ll continue to push the envelope of this belief/theory to its illogical end.

            So, logic dictates that we should reach out to those with similar comprehensive statures to convey truth using “Apologia” (as the Bible puts it) for the promotion of life (in all senses of the word). The reverse (as you declare it) would subsequently be, in accordance to illogic, we should reason only with minds lesser than our own since theirs is the kingdom of Heaven, which promotes death to the elderly. Illogic would even find this complementary. Whereas logic would find it insulting. Consequently, where logic would dictate the active strive to follow Christ’s commissioning, illogic dictates the innecessary to evangelize whatsoever since people select nothing of their own accord anyway… Making this conversation, as well as the world in full pointless.–Or at least, that is what logic would say, illogic would claim that denial of any self-worth and innecessity to do absolutely anything with one’s given life is the greatest blessing to behold. Making that voiding oneself of active involvement is, in actuality, the most actively involved you can be (according to illogic).

            P.S.: It is not the word of God I would be unable to rectify, it would be our existence and the existence of God as a whole that would make no sense if God is going to intentionally create all persons with reasoning skills, yet oppose that very created nature and gift by denying its worth. This would be akin to saying: “Since we exist, God must have a purpose for us.”–A logical statement… Meanwhile, your claim is: “Since we exist, we must admit there is no purpose for us.”–An illogical statement. Perhaps a better example is the famous statement: “I think, therefore I am.” But you would have us say: “I think, therefore I am not.” If God is proven by Creation, then what does human reasoning skills prove? According to illogic, that they should be completely denied and ignored in order to find Truth.–Which is also ironic since the claim is likewise that truth can only be provided by God, not obtained by humanity. Ultimately meaning, your claim is that we should deny our ability to reason for no conceivable purpose whatsoever. To deny logic only for the sake of denying logic. It is even more ironic that you believe human logic is used to deny verses you don’t understand. Logic is used for the purpose of comprehending, not for the reverse… So even your definition of Logic itself is illogical. Also, I don’t need Logic to “Rectify God’s Word with my doctrine”, I’m not having to rectify or dismiss anything… It is because of God’s Word that I resulted with the beliefs I have. A clear read-through of the Bible points heavily to the importance of not only our value to God, but also, in the ability to be “As wise as serpents, yet as innocent as children”. Logic is heavily promoted throughout the entire Bible… I don’t know any part of the Bible, God, or His creation that is truly illogical. I can honestly say there are parts of the Bible I don’t fully comprehend, but my failure to understand them is not on account of logic, nor do I use logic to somehow not understand, only that I acknowledge I am imperfect and cannot know all answers… But of what answers I do know, I can be confident in, because my ability to logic, understand, and comprehend was created by God, that is why I can trust in my “Human Logic”, because it stems from God who created me to possess Reasoning Skills. To deny those reasoning skills would be an insult to my creator… But to you, illogic dictates the reverse that denial of one’s created attributes and mental capacity is a complement to your creator. I have never once had to: “Say to myself that verse cannot be right”. I have had times where I’ve asked myself: “What does that mean?” But there is no need to compromise… Human Logic is 100% compatible with the Bible, but it can also be used to skew the Bible, because we are imperfect. You cannot hope to understand even just one verse from the Bible if you NEVER use logic. There are no verses in the Bible that can be understood without possessing a logical implication. Even the simple idea of: “We are sinful, therefore we need saving”–Even this is basic logic. Illogic would claim the reverse (as Calvinism does), by saying: “We are sinful, therefore we do not need saving because we were created for this purpose.” You are so utterly convinced that your beliefs are so inline with Scripture that anyone who opposes you is also opposing Scripture… That, once again, is illogical. You are a master of illogic, whereas I confess, I am a novice at the use if illogic. This response was my first attempt at using illogic.–I likely did not do a good job, especially compared to you where you are able to exempt logic from your responses completely. I could never hope to become that good with illogic. Even so, hopefully by my using your language this time around, perhaps my words will be at least slightly more understandable to you.

            Yet another irony: “He speaks and it happens”–That is a logical statement = “A –> B”. I guess I was mistakened, you don’t completely exclude logic from your responses, you just misuse logic during the rare times you implement it. By the way, you tried to “Logic” your way out of the word in question, plus, you are still ignoring the verses I gave from before that literally use the word “Logic” in the Bible. Additionally, God’s promises and words do make sense. We can choose to interpret them differently, but that doesn’t make the words are any less sensual. In fact, if His words didn’t make sense, then once again, why read the Bible… It is literally composed with His words, which are (according to you) nonsensical. For example, God says: “Day” in Genesis, but people can choose to interpret it to not mean day. God says He wants “All” saved and “None” perished, but people can choose to interpret it to not mean all or none. God says Logic, but people can choose to interpret it to not mean logic.

            Lastly, it is nice you provided a web source and actually went out of your way to learn more about Logos… I confess, I am impressed by that, granted, doing so lacks logic so perhaps that is normal for you. Also, calling Christ the Logic of God is NOT identical to claiming Human Logic is Christ. That was one very huge logical leap, but a minor illogical jump. Thus, in accordance to illogic, I suppose that makes sense. Funny how you still end on the note of assuming Logic and God (or most specifically Christ) are incomparable. God is Logic, and the source of all Logic, and the only reason why we are able to use Logic. All Logic derives from God, distortions of Logic (known as illogic), come only from humans and is not derived from God. He is a God of Logic and Order, not illogic and chaos. By representing the reverse, you are the one having to rectify stricture with your illogical doctrine. Yes, I do equate Logic to Christ, everything Christ did held Logical implications. Even so far as to be our logical role-model as a “Christian”.

            I will end with one more challenge to you, if you cannot answer this challenge, PLEASE do not bother to respond again… You might enjoy speaking in illogical riddles, but I far prefer using the gifts God gave me, rather than denying my Creator for the sake of one lost lamb. My challenge is this… You asked me to find a verse in the Bible where “Logic” is used, I was able to provide you with that (not my fault if you failed to acknowledge the verse when I gave it to you, because I’m still not going to yield to your ignorance and laziness by providing the verse again). Since “Logic” is factually in the Bible, and since you are so completely convinced that illogic is the way to go, then can you find me a verse where “illogic” is used?–Most specifically, in reference to God. I confess, I do not remember ever encountering the term “illogic” in the Bible, however, my memory can be flawed, so feel free to prove me wrong (if you can). But I sincerely doubt you will be able to find any such passage. For the simple fact “Logic” is in the Bible, yet you are in such great denial of Logic that you even deny it is in the Bible, then it is you who compromises scripture to uphold your present Belief Structure of Illogic! — I would ask “Why”, but I’m already aware that your answer would be illogical, and I don’t want to keep having to figure out the antithesis of your words to comprehend your level of understanding. It literally hurts to think in such circularity and belittling ways… Frankly, I don’t know how you are able to literally live in that type of mindset. But my inability to comprehend the full extents of illogic is most likely a good thing anyway. If you cannot answer this challenge, commenting any further is pointless both on your part and mine, so save us both the headache. Additionally, I was willing to lower myself to your standards, so if you really do wish to persist, then lets see if you can extend the same courtesy of raising yours to my logical level. Even if you are not good at it, just as I am not good at illogic, the minimal attempt to rise to the occasion would be commendable. Unfortunately, I don’t suspect you will because you have such disdain for logic that using it effectively might even be considered a sin by you.

            I suppose I only have one remaining question (on the off chance you know the answer)… When exactly did you begin your campaign against Logic? I’m relatively certain you were not born illogical, meaning, either somebody mentored you to get to where you are now, or at some point or another you were scared by Logic from a traumatic experience of some sort. Perhaps a back-history on a Debate Team where you lost every debate and consequently grew to believe Logic was the enemy? I’m honestly curious to hear you illogical testimony, where your revenge plot against Logic was harvested? Was it taught or ingrained into you? Or did you grow up in such a broken environment that you never experienced anything logical in the first place? Or was it Calvinism that ultimately brought your hatred of Logic to light? Truly I must know so that in the very rare chance I ever encounter anyone as completely illogical as you later in my life, I might have a better grasp on how to handle them next time. Care to help me out with that? Or is it perhaps something that grew so gradually into your belief structure that you do not truly know when, how, or why you are Anti-Logic? If you do not know the answer, I will not blame you for that, it will simply be disappointing on my end because I would have liked to discover the root cause for the purpose of potentially benefiting someone else in your position in the future. Alas, I end here………

  • Tim
    May 13, 2014

    To be fair, as bad as Calvin’s theology is; Arminius got some things just as wrong in the opposite direction (Like giving free will too much power). It’s unfortunate that most of Christianity falls into one of the two camps. Of course, now that more people are realizing the difficulties with both positions, we’re getting a (frequently) incoherent blend of the two I often refer to as “Calminianism”.

    • Fr. Bill
      May 14, 2014

      Oh, I wouldn’t say that “Most” of Christianity falls into one of those two camps. The largest Segment of Christianity on the planet is Catholic/Orthodox, both of which deny Calvin with no thought of Amrinius. Not all who affirm the freedom of the will is Arminian. That truth was around long before the great Protestant controversy. All the Church Fathers assert the freedom of the will (as a way we bear the image of God) long before Arminius was a funny feeling in his momma’s tummy. The Orthodox church condemned Calvinism without any reference to, or perhaps, even knowledge of the existence of, Arminius. The Council of Trent deals with the distinctives of Calvinism quite well on its own terms.
      That said, a well done post, and good information to combat those Calvinists who try to assert the more horrendous aspects of the doctrine on a misunderstanding of the theologian himself.

      • Westcoastlife
        May 14, 2014

        And don’t forget the Anabaptists who were around before Arminius yet are not Calvinists.

      • Tim
        May 14, 2014

        Sorry, should have said “American Christianity” which is dominated by Evangelicalism/ Fundamentalism. And I’m not arguing against free will, only the extremes to which I see it taken.

    • ZackHunt
      May 14, 2014

      You’re definitely right about that. Arminius/Wesley/everybody else gets things wrong too. Even though I believe God allows, not authors evil, I still think that position is highly problematic. Just curious though, (and I’m not being combative, honestly curious) what do you mean by “giving free will too much power?”

      • Tim
        May 16, 2014

        Sure; by that, I mean that the idea of our absolute freedom of will is defended at all costs; that our free will can (effectively, if you take the position to it’s logical conclusion) ultimately trump God’s will. But this idea flies in the face of several very clear scripture passages.

        • Karen
          May 17, 2014

          In the interests of moving this line of conversation along a little:

          It seems to me freedom of human will does have to mean I can trump God’s will (who wills “all to be saved”) at least for myself personally in some sense, or it’s meaningless to say God has created human beings in His image with personal freedom of the will (which in classical Christian understanding is one of the most basic criteria for what being created in the image of God means–who is Personal and, by classical Christian definition, completely free do do as He wills). I don’t believe human freedom means God’s loving will for the world as a whole can be trumped, but how all that works together to accommodate human abuse of free will is a mystery, which many Scriptures seem to indicate is not only possible, but will occur. If it weren’t possible for human beings to trump God’s will “that none perish, but that all come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved,” the punishment of hell (as “gehenna”) could not exist, except, perhaps for the demons. Would you then argue for universalism? (My understanding is that this is exactly what many of the early Calvinists in this country did, which ought, perhaps, to put our understanding of at least some of Calvin’s followers in a less harsh light.)

          • Mark
            February 19, 2016

            I plan on responding to Tim more directly, but I like to read all responses (for a full understanding) before providing feedback. I’ve read many of your comments Karen (not just here, but in a variety of places on this page). I haven’t felt any need to comment anything about your posts until now, and even prior to responding to Tim.

            First note, I am not in disagreement with you… Actually, the main reason I haven’t commented on so many of your responses is either because you covered your bases well enough that no additional information was necessary, or because there hasn’t been any sufficient disagreeable content. Even now, I am in agreement with you, however, I find it interesting how often people seem not to be about to understand what you even called the “Mystery” of God’s will VS Human will. To that end, I’ll answer that seemingly hidden (yet should be obvious) truth.

            Much of the Bible speaks of what God has done, still does, and will do still to come. This is because, in order for a relationship to exist between us and God, revealing Himself to us is a requirement. This is true in any relationship (regardless whether friendship, family, marital, etc…), you grow closer by the knowledge you obtain about that person. This is even why the Bible itself exists in the first place, as one (out of many) methods God uses to help us to know who He is. And while the Bible succeeds at providing much insight in a variety of different ways, including even human history, it also creates much controversy and confusion due to how many different ways the exact same scripture can be interpreted.

            Not unlike American Politics, where people appear to live under the mindset that ONLY two extremes can exist where there is neither a middle-ground nor any alternative, similarly the extremes of Calvinism and Arminianism were born under the exact same assumptions. The problem being, Calvinism claims Salvation is achieved 100% by God alone, while Arminianism claims Salvation is achieved 100% by Humans alone. Neither side is capable of being correct, because they both deny the definition of what it even means to be in a “Relationship” to begin with. No matter what type of relationship you refer to, if only one person does literally ALL the work while the other person does absolutely nothing… That relationship will either fail or be completely dysfunctional.–A lot of times, this is how Divorce tends to occur, when one spouse gives up any attempt whatsoever to rectify their relationship with the other person… It is rare that a Divorce is truly ever completely wanted by both people involved.

            The follow-up obvious question is, what does this mean in terms of God? Well, as the Bible clearly states… God’s will is indeed to save everyone and have none perish. How does God accomplish this will? By doing absolutely everything in His power to show us Love, to remove our burdens and deserved punishments, and to reveal Himself (in more ways than we can truly count).–Obviously, the best example of this is Jesus Himself! Without God’s will, we would neither have ever been born, nor would we continue to be alive presently. This is where God’s will shines, but where does our will come into play? The definition of Love!–Love does not cage people, nor does it force you to do anything… As it is famously said, if you want to know if someone loves you, let them goes and see if they come back to you. Put in simpler terms, Love if Sacrifice… The more you are willing to forfeit on someone else’s behalf, the more you prove to love them. God loves us so far as to be willing to die, so there is absolutely no reason why He would enslave us to His control if He regards our freedom to be worth the price of Suffering and Death. God has already done the hard part… Indeed, God’s will is to save all, and He proves this by literally every action He takes. Even during the times in the Bible God was forced to take life (such as the Flood), it was ultimately for the prosperity of those who are still in search of God’s Love and Righteousness. Above all else, God IS Love; and for this reason, every action He takes always ultimately stems back to Love…

            If you don’t understand what I am saying up until now, then allow me to propose this –> When you marry someone, suggesting they take charge of your finances, the cooking, the cleaning, and any other general management of your life for your benefit; do those activities your spouse performs change your ability to choose whether you will love him/her in return? True it might make it easier to love them when you can actively experience how they love you, but as can be proven in many modern day relationships, doing everything right doesn’t mean you will be treated right in return. The point here is, Human will isn’t overriding God’s will, nor is God’s will overriding Human will… Factually, God DID do something already, He has given up everything He possibly can (including His own life) for our benefit, all so that our choice is made as simple as possible by either saying “Yes” to God’s gift, or “No” to God’s gift. Here is the clincher; true human free will is needed to be able to provide an effective “Yes” or “No” response, however, if God had not provided the gift in the first place, then you would still be unsalvageable. This is how a relationship works, BOTH sides must contribute in order for a relationship to prosper and function. What so many people (such as yourself Karen) seem to constantly ignore is that God has already done His part in the relationship… Even by sustaining your life until now! It becomes so easy for people to see Free Will as such a Black&White concept, but in truth, neither Calvinism nor Arminianism are correct because the truest culprit for Salvation is BOTH God and the individual. According to Genesis, God literally created us for the purpose of possessing a relationship with Him. Sin came between us and God and our relationship was injured.–Not destroyed, merely fractured… Which is why Christ died so that our bond to God could be made whole once more! The only way ANYONE can be saved is if God is willing to send us to Heaven, AND if we are wanting to be there with God in Heaven. You cannot deny one for the other, it simply doesn’t work. God’s will is not override by human will, it is collaborated! God literally pored out His heart to us all, but also accepts the answer we give Him in return. Perhaps a better illustration would be the person who build up enough courage to ask you out on a date…Your only obligation becomes to say “Yes” or “No”. True, if you say “No”, you break God’s heart, but that doesn’t mean God will give up… He will try relentlessly to earn your Love… But in some cases, people force His hand toward destruction instead. God does ultimately allow us to be the determining factors as to whether or not we choose to be saved, but never forget that God’s will is such that God has already extended His hand out to to every single person.–Our will is the choice to reach back or ignore… God made His choice, so what will our choice be?

            The “Mystery” is actually quite simple, the very foundation of what a “Relationship” even is…That is also the answer. A relationship between us an God factually CANNOT exist unless both God and ourselves are actively involved.–Deny involvement of one party or the other, and the Relationship ceases to exist whatsoever. This is true in real life also. If you remove the husband or wife from a marriage (regardless by divorce or death), you factually no longer possess a relationship to speak of. The reason why Free Will is regarded as so important is simply because, that is the only part we have control over… We DON’T have control over God’s will, and we even don’t have any control over anyone else’s will, we can only ultimately decide what we ourselves will do with the life provided to us. Calvinism wants to remove any and all responsibility from humanity by claiming we have no choice; meanwhile, Arminianism wants to overthrow God by claiming we are the sole deciders of everything. In this respect, Arminianism is minimally closer to the truth than Calvinism, and is certainly less problematic than Calvinism, but you cannot exclude God from the equation. Removing God’s will would be the same as removing the boy/girl who built up the curious to ask you on a date. If there was no question, there can be no answer… What we do is important, and Free Will does exist, but our freedom does not change God’s will to do everything in His power to save us without infringing upon our Free Will. God cannot infringe upon our Free Will, or else He would be denying His very nature of “Love” itself. However, while God cannot infringe upon Free Will, as proven throughout the Bible, He can kill us if necessary. We never truly escape God’s will, because when we make the wrong choices, there are always repercussions instilled by God… Hence Hell!

    • Mark
      February 19, 2016

      Tim, I can very much say that a person can be opposed to Calvinism without knowing Arminianism. I have been a 50-Point Anti-Calvinism for several years already, but not until recently did I ever bother to research Arminianism. This is because, I actively encounter the problem of Calvinism frequently…Yet never once in my life has an Arminian bugged me. If any Christian I ever interacted with was Arminian, they never brought the subject up. I suspect this is because of the core belief difference in and of itself. Since Arminianism acknowledges the worth of human free will choice, they subsequently know that you cannot force anyone to believe anything. For this reason, Arminians do not speak of their beliefs often (if ever), and tend to focus much more on the Gospel (as Christ commanded). Meanwhile, I have encountered Calvinists who would even prefer that you be a Calvinist over being a Christian. In other words… I have literally experienced Calvinists attempt to convince nonbelievers that they are simply “unelect”. They have no clue how much more harm that presents to God’s Kingdom than even a million nonbelievers could ever achieve. What’s particularly ironic about this fact is that Arminians have every reason to boast about their cause since they believe (in accordance to Free Will) that a person can be “Convinced” to believe in a certain way by their choice… Yet Arminians don’t seem to do this (which features a type of confidence in their belief). Meanwhile, Calvinists literally have NO reason to boast about their cause since they claim all beliefs are 100% determined by God, meaning their advocation of Calvinism cannot achieve anything nor change anything… Yet Calvinists push with all their might to convince others of their claims. This is so backwards that it is even funny… If what Calvinism claims is true, Evangelism as a whole would be 100% unnecessary, so why is Calvinism such a problem when Arminians are barely even heard of?

      My parents often remind me that the person who feels the most need to defend their side, especially when they are not under attack and/or have no reason to respond, are the ones who are the most insecure in their beliefs. People who are confident in their faith don’t go around needing other people to believe as they do. True it is nice when people agree with you, but Calvinism is not treated as a topic of mere preference, it creates such a severe division that the resulting Belief Structures points to the conclusion of completely different gods! If Calvinists truly believed what they claim, Calvinism would be a silent belief structure… One that neither requires being spoken of, nor is even possible to be convinced of (according to Calvinism itself). For the sheer fact that it feels the need to possess a cult-like following, this is already the first sign of a flawed faith.–Where they go looking for even the smallest excuses possible to fuel confidence in their beliefs.

      As I mentioned, I am an Anti-Calvinist… And although I do not know much about Arminianism, of what little I do know about it, I can say I am against it also.–But between the two, Arminianism is minimally far less problematic. For additional information, I recommend referencing the response I gave Karen……

      • Tim
        February 19, 2016

        I’d agree that Calvinism is more problematic. All I was saying (I think… it was 2 years ago!) was that the other side has theological holes as well, even if they aren’t as gaping.

        • Mark
          February 23, 2016

          –To which I can agree with also (as I mentioned toward the end of my comment). I am an Anti-Calvinist, but I’m not in favor of Arminianism either. Both sides have their problems, but Calvinism’s problems are simply significantly more apparent! Sorry if I misread your initial response… 😉

  • Matt Parkins
    May 13, 2014

    Well written – good job!

  • pastordt
    May 13, 2014

    Great premise, sterling arguments. Thank you.

  • Jason75
    May 14, 2014

    Well written Zack. I’ve encountered a few of those ultra-Calvinist Calvinists myself. I’d probably have been less critical of Calvinism if my experience was limited to the more reasonable Calvinists I know.

    • Mark
      February 19, 2016

      I’m impressed you know any reasonable Calvinists at all! That’s a rare find…

  • J.R. Sorrow
    May 14, 2014

    Is it simply enough to be a follower of Christ without all the name tags some folks like to carry? I was never called to be a follower of Wesley or of Calvin or of Paul for that matter. All your great theology does nothing but muddy the water and it gets you no points in heaven. I don’t think someday the Lord is going to look you in the eye and say well done my good and faithful theologian.

    • Eric Boersma
      May 14, 2014

      Is it simply enough to be a follower of Christ without all the name tags some folks like to carry?

      The name tags are simply shorthand ways of classifying existing divides between people. Our theologies matter, in that they inform how we relate to people and God. A Calvinist sees God very differently from me (who is Wesleyan/Methodist). They see people very differently than I see them. Those name tags respect the fact that what Christianity means to someone who’s a Calvinist is very different from what Christianity means to me.

      • Carlos
        May 21, 2014

        Eric, while theologies matter names do not. Names are Id’s used to segregate believers into camps. They exist for ill motives… While I myself identify more with Classical Arminians, I make hard efforts reach across the isle in fellowship.

        • Eric Boersma
          May 21, 2014

          They exist for ill motives

          I disagree with this. I don’t think the names of differing theological camps exist for either good or bad purpose; they simply exist.

          I cannot be a Calvinist. The core of Calvinism, it’s very essence, is counterintuitive to what Christianity means to me. This doesn’t mean that I consider Calvinists to be non-Christians or lesser Christians or Christians any different from me. I purposefully and actively seek to recognize that Christianity is found in many, many forms, most of which are much different than the way that I choose to worship.

          That said, attempting to squash the differences between different Christian theologies is, in my experience, nothing but a recipe for pain. It seems to try to create the illusion that we all believe the same thing, and that’s obviously not true. Moreover, that’s OK. Giving names to our differences doesn’t cause division, it simply recognizes that those differences exist and lets us approach them intelligently.

          • Carlos
            May 22, 2014

            Eric I have to say I agree with most of your statements. However I believe my statement still stands true.. The theology matters not the name by which it chooses to go by. The value of our theology, the common thread whether arminian or calvinist is we are in Christ. We are family in brotherhood despite disagreeing on non foundational doctrines. So there is small value in saying i am a classical arminian for identification purposes, how is this any different than one claiming “I am of paul” and the other saying “I am of apollos” … ?

        • Mark
          January 25, 2016

          This is interesting because I can relate to both sides of this dilemma. Eric is underplaying the importance of Christian disagreements, and Carlos is overplaying it. I confess I lean much more toward what Carlos has said, but I believe the answer can be found in the fruits we bear. Christ once provided the example of a fig tree, and that even if given proper nourishment, if it will yield no fruit, then it is worthless and has no place in God’s Kingdom. In another place where this same parable was referenced, Christ said that God would go so far as to smite that tree for its failure. Those who do not call themselves “Christian” have remained seeds yet to be planted. But those who do call themselves “Christian” are already a tree that should create new seeds. When there is a failure to do this, then even if you are “Christian” by name, you are not “Christian” by function. Similarly, when there are 2 fruit trees and one of them does not provide fruit, then even if they both have the title of “Fruit Tree”, one of them is not a “Fruit Tree” minimally by its function. As such, the problem with Christian disagreements, as well as the importance of those disagreements boils down to the fruit it produces. Even if you are saved (which nobody has the right to judge), what value is your eternal bliss if you cause the damnation of many others in the process? The biggest reason why ANY atheist or non-believe wants no part in Christian, nor any affiliation with God/Jesus, is rarely due to God/Jesus Himself… Rather, it is almost always because of the Christians who fail to represent God/Jesus to them. In other words, most people do not deny God truly on account of evidence lack, but rather, on account of hypocritical “Christians”. The ones who claim how Salvation, God, Faith, etc should be, yet either advocate another belief that counteracts the Christian claim, or lives out a life that features no representation of Love. This is where issues such as Calvinism come in… I’ve known many nonbelievers to hate the idea of Christianity on account of Calvinist claims, yet I’ve never even encountered one person to say they don’t like the idea of Christianity on account of Arminianism. This isn’t to say that Arminians are correct while Calvinists are wrong, especially since I am neither Arminian nor Calvinist myself, but rather… When one belief possesses a directly identifiable negative outcome on God’s Kingdom, while the other is minimally neutral in effect, the fruits being offered must either be rotten or nonexistent. And that is indeed a problem… and one that shouldn’t whimsically be shrugged away simply because both sides of the issue call themselves “Christian”.

          When there are two opposite claims as to who God is, factually both cannot be correct. Eric, your response should be in regards to how people pursuit God, not what type of god they serve. For example, praying out-loud VS praying in silence, that’s specifically between the person and God. But when there is a claim as to who that God is in the first place, that is where Carlos’s response comes into play. And Carlos, theologies in the sense of the core Belief Structures people uphold is important, but not so far down as to how someone worships. Theology, in its core essence, is the study of God… Which is why theology matters, because when people have differing gods they believe in, even if they both call themselves “Christian”, the Gospel message will be skewed by one side or the other. As a result, the answer you are both looking for can best be found in the fruits a “Christian” Produces (or the lack there of).

    • ZackHunt
      May 14, 2014

      Like Eric said, name tags are unavoidable. I also find them helpful because they help us give each other a sense of what we believe because though we may all be followers of Christ, what that means looks different for each one of us. I would also add that I do believe that some day the Lord is going to say well done my good and faithful theologian, because all of us are theologians, all of us talk and think about God (usually in that order unfortunately), and theology isn’t just an intellectual debate something we put into practice (one way or another). In other words, deciding that loving others is something followers of Jesus should do and then doing that is a theological act.

  • Lotharson
    May 14, 2014

    This is truly a wonderful post which expresses what many people think silently.

    My first experiences with Calvinists were kind of traumatic. There is one thing I didn’t mention in the above link: I also read a German reformed pastor stating that Hitler was God’s tool for punishing the Jewish people for having rejecting His son (forgetting to mention they rejected Him because God Himself predetermined it).

    I (try to) love my Calvinists as fellow human beings, but I cannot view consistent ones as my fellow believers because they worship an evil demon they call God.

    They uphold their belief system by resorting to countless fallacies and absurdities, and if you expose their errors, they will inevitably quote:

    ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55.8)

    But there is a big irony here. Reading the verse in its immediate context shows it is all about reconciliation, that God invites all evildoers to give up their wicked ways and come back to Him. This verse seems rather to indicate that God is much more loving, much more forgiving than any man can be and even than any man could ever imagine to be.
    For reformed theologians, this verse means than God is probably more vicious than the worst criminal who has ever lived.

    They say that people deserve to be eternally tortured because they constantly commit misdeeds. But they almost never mention (at least in public) that:

    1) God predetermined the fall of Adam and Eve and cursed us with a sinful nature

    God predetermined every one of our evil actions

    The most crazy aspect is that God does all these things for SHOWING OFF His glory by pouring off his unquenchable wrath on those who were not elected before their birth .

    Consistent Calvinism is a horrendous blasphemy and a very sophisticated form of devil’s worship . I don’t seek communion with Calvinists, only confrontation but always in a spirit of love, reminding myself that they are valuable, wonderful creatures, their horrible ideas notwithstanding.

    Finally, you say that Calvinists misinterpret many Biblical verses. I agree that it’s the case, but for honesty’s sake we should recognize that the Bible itself also contains odious stuff, such as praying God to dash the children of one’s foes to the ground.
    The Bible (along books of C.S. Lewis, Ellen White, John Wesley…) contains the human experiences of people with God, perhaps even the reports of genuine miracles but a careful and intellectually honest study of its content and context forbids us to view it as the voice of the Almighty directly talking down to us.

    Unlike the opinion of militant atheists, you can find lots of wonderful things within its pages (when properly interpreted in their historical and cultural context) but unlike the convictions of Conservative Evangelicals, it also encompasses odious things.
    The basis of our theology cannot be a composite document speaking with conflicting voices but God’s perfect love and justice (as exemplified in Christ), which is necessarily far greater than that of the best (purely) human being having ever lived.

    So I’m really looking forward to reading your answers to the ideas I’ve promoted here. You’re truly a fascinating person and I’d love to interact with you in the future.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    • Karen
      May 17, 2014

      Lotharson, you might be interested in the classical Eastern Christian approach to understanding the meaning of the Scriptures (which is not literalistic in the sense many conservative Protestants understand its “inspiration”, but rather is through the lens of the Person of Jesus Christ). Fr. Stephen Freeman, an Eastern Orthodox priest (himself brought up a Southern Baptist, later Anglican priest, and finally convert to Eastern Orthodoxy) has a lot of good explanation of the Orthodox perspective at his site, “Glory to God for All Things.” He writes especially for the benefit of those, like him, raised in American Protestantism (especially the more Fundamentalist varieties). I recommend you search such terms as, “Scriptures” and God’s “wrath” at his site and read some of his posts. He also has a post on Calvinism, which gives the official response of the Eastern Orthodox bishops to the Calvinist ideas being taught by some of the Reformers at the time of the Reformation. That post is here:

      http://glory2godforallthings.com/2009/06/24/calvinism-as-heresy/

      The early Church Fathers invariably approached the material in the “imprecatory Psalms” in an allegorical or symbolic, not literal, sense–understanding the enemy’s “children” to be “dashed against a rock” those sinful inclinations and thoughts sewn in our own hearts by the devil and his demons, which when full grown lead to our complete alienation from God, which in biblical terms is “death.” According to the NT (which must inform our interpretation of the Old), God IS love, and we are commanded to love (as He does) even our (human) enemies.

      • Lotharson
        May 17, 2014

        Hello Karen. The problem is that it is not honest to interpret the imprecatory psalms in this way if the authors originally meant literally to kill the children of one’s foes.

        • Karen
          May 18, 2014

          Honest in what sense? I should perhaps clarify that if you understood my comment to infer that the Fathers didn’t allow that the Psalmist’s intent could be the more literal sense, that is not what I meant. Looking at the OT through the Person and teaching of Christ, however, the Fathers taught the Holy Spirit-inspired meaning and application of those Psalms (and many of the other narratives of the OT) was found at the level of the symbolic and spiritual, not necessarily the literal sense intended by the author. In the NT, the OT narratives are referred to as “shadow” and “type” and a revelation “in part” which could only be understood properly in light of the full Reality of Christ. The NT epistle to the Hebrews is particularly instructive in this apostolic Christian interpretation of the OT, and this is still the approach of the Eastern Orthodox Church to the OT today. The OT Scriptures are only “inspired” from an apostolic Christian perspective in the sense that they “testify of” Christ (John 5:39-40, Luke 24:25-27)–in the sense that the Church has received, understood, and interpreted them from the beginning. See also, my comment to Jon Russell above.

          Now, since it is these apostolic NT and early Christian expositors who first recognized and defined these historic writings collectively as “holy” and “inspired” Scripture and preserved them for future generations, oughtn’t we to consider their approach to interpretation in our discussions of the nature of the Scriptures’ “inspiration” and authority for Christians today? Shouldn’t we be asking what they understood the “inspired” sense of the Scriptures to be? They did not follow a “historical-critical” or “textual-critical” approach to understanding the “inspired sense” of the Scriptures. Rather, that is a thoroughly modern, post-Renaissance, post-Enlightenment rationalist mindset and approach to a collection of individual historical texts–a mindset in which we in the modern world are steeped today–but this is NOT the apostolic Christian mindset, which rather looks to the Person of Christ as the ultimate definition of the Truth and full context for understanding the “inspired” purpose and meaning of the OT. An apostolic Christian understands the Bible as “inspired” only as a single written witness to Christ, and not as a collection of books that can each be understood in its “inspired” sense apart from all the others (and especially apart from the NT). I hope this makes some sense.

          Sadly, the Reformers’ wrenching of the Scriptures from their natural context in the apostolic Church and attempt to make of them a kind of “paper Pope” in their eagerness to be rid of the excesses of Medieval Roman Catholic Papal domination, coupled with the seeds of Renaissance and Enlightenment philosophy that informed their thinking, has resulted in a distorted understanding of the nature of the Scriptures’ “inspiration” and a rationalistic approach to their interpretation which results in the kind of monstrous doctrine we see in much of Calvin’s teaching and in modern Fundamenallst-informed approaches to the meaning of the Bible (which, of course, any morally sensitive person would find repugnant).

          If you are interested to understand further, I recommend Fr. Stephen’s site. He’s a much more learned and thorough exegete of apostolic and patristic Christian thought than I am.

        • Karen
          May 19, 2014

          Hi again! I thought of a more succinct way to summarize my very long response to your statement here that “it is not honest” to interpret the imprecatory Psalms in a spiritual, rather than literal, way unless this was the author’s intent. In short, there is an assumption in your statement that the “author’s intent”, etc., is what reveals the “true” meaning of the text (for Christians), and thus the real spiritual (“inspired”) meaning of the text as well. (This also carries the assumption, that the historical and textual-critical method is the appropriate way to derive the “inspired” sense of the Christian Scriptures). I’m attempting to challenge those assumptions in the strongest possible terms, because I believe they reflect a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the Scriptures’ inspiration and truth (and how it may best be discerned) and lead to all kinds of devastatingly erroneous conclusions for modern Evangelicals, Liberals, Atheists and Fundamentalists alike.

          Based on the assumptions you seem to be making, Christ’s, His Apostles’, and the early Church Fathers’ use of most of the OT prophetic texts and narratives (e.g., Jonah in the belly of the whale for 3 days prophetically points to Christ’s three days in the tomb) is false and illegitimate, and yet the material in the Gospels followed by that in the NT epistles (where this hermeneutic comes from) is the most foundational revelation of all the texts in the Bible for Christians, and in light of which all other parts of the Bible need to be seen, or we cannot understand the sense in which Christ and His Apostles took the OT to be “God-breathed.”

  • EdwinCrozier
    May 14, 2014

    Just out of curiosity (or maybe not “just”) considering Galatians 1:6-9 and your above explanation that Calvin taught a different God and different gospel than we find from the apostles recorded in the New Testament, why do you expect to see Calvin in heaven?

    • Eric Boersma
      May 14, 2014

      why do you expect to see Calvin in heaven

      Not speaking for Zack, here, but it’s entirely possible that he believes in universal atonement for sins via Jesus’s sacrifice, or he believes that having the wrong theology isn’t necessarily indicative of not being a Christian.

      • EdwinCrozier
        May 14, 2014

        I’m sure those are both possibilities. That is why I included the reference to Galatians. I wasn’t just interested in what theological position allowed that statement, but also how that potential theological statement would correspond with what Paul wrote in Galatians.

        • Eric Boersma
          May 14, 2014

          how that potential theological statement would correspond with what Paul wrote in Galatians.

          As an (admittedly bad) Wesleyan, the simplest answer I can give is that most Wesleyans are probably going to look at that sequence of verses and if our interpretation doesn’t correspond with the life of Jesus (or in this particular case, something like Acts 10), we’re going to reject that interpretation and search for a better one which does correspond with the life of Jesus.

          For me, I can say that I don’t think that (a) getting into Heaven (or whatever the afterlife might look like, if there even is one) is contingent on being a Christian and (b) that being a Christian is contingent on falling within a particular theological window.

    • ZackHunt
      May 14, 2014

      Eric, already beat me to it, but I would say because I don’t think bad theology (in the sense of what you think) sends somebody to hell just like I don’t believe good theology (in the sense of what you think) gets anybody into heaven.

      • EdwinCrozier
        May 14, 2014

        I don’t believe good theology gets people into heaven either. But Galatians 1:6-9 does say people who teach a different gospel will be accursed, not blessed with heaven. Doesn’t that mean that whatever you think gets someone into heaven won’t do that for people who teach a false gospel? Your post sure sounds like you believe Calvin teaches a false gospel. BTW: I agree with you about that part of it.

  • Paul Frazier
    May 14, 2014

    I was truly impressed reading the Institutes at the end of the last century. And I was impressed whenever I read Augustine. But, as any honest Protestant will admit, there have been other writings since. Theology isn’t something Moses brought down off Sinai. No theologian has the last word about the Word of God who is Christ. We have a Confessional heritage in the Presbyterian Church and other than love of God and love of neighbor, ministry changes throughout the years and centuries. We don’t dismiss those writers of the past, we read them, discuss them, think about what they wrote, but that is not the end of theology or ministry. We interpret the Bible every time we have a Bible Study or preach a sermon. Thank you for being honest, thank you for your ministry. I don’t think the so-called Religious Right is doing a good job. They’ve become like the American Taliban. I’m tired of them misrepresenting the Faith and Lord I love and want to serve. So, let us love God and love our Neighbor, and God’s Kingdom will come.

  • Tim Marsh
    May 14, 2014

    Zack,

    To paraphrase the Most Interesting Man in the World, I don’t always read your blog, but when I do I am incredibly blessed.

    Thank you for this thoughtful and passionate engagement with Calvin’s institutes. I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion – Calvin’s ‘god’ is certainly not deserving of glory, and is perhaps a monster.

    Nevertheless, why does he have so many admirers and disciples, even today?

    Thanks,

    Tim

    • Westcoastlife
      May 14, 2014

      Why does Mohammed?

    • ParsonBoots
      May 14, 2014

      I hope you don’t leave here thinking that because you’ve read 5-6 brief quotes from a 1,000 page book that you have thoughtfully engaged with Calvin.

      • ZackHunt
        May 14, 2014

        5 or 6 brief quotes? Really? If you go back and count you’ll find (I believe) 20 citations. Does that account for every nuanced point in the Institutes? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean his core theology can’t be synthesized in a thoughtful and proportionally brief way. Besides, if length is going to be the measure of thoughtful engagement, then I would refer you to the words of my prof Miroslav Volf who referring to Karl Barth’s much longer Dogmatics quoted his prof Jurgen Moltmann who said “The truth cannot be that long.”

        • ParsonBoots
          May 14, 2014

          Zack, you obviously did a lot of reading and hard work. Though I am not Reformed, I have read the Institutes through once and used it for research other times. I know it can be tough sledding. You get lots of credit in my eyes for your effort! 🙂 I actually wasn’t responding to you, but to the previous comment. Sorry I didn’t make that clear. What I was trying to say and didn’t say well is that I hope that Tim doesn’t read your engagement with Calvin and the quotes you’ve provided and then assume that he himself has thoughtfully engaged with Calvin.

      • Mark
        February 23, 2016

        Parson, just so you are aware… A person can become Christian without having read the entire Bible (or any at all really); likewise, a person can choose to hate Christianity without knowing what the Bible says whatsoever. The reason for this is that Christians themselves reflect God’s Love through their words, actions, and general fruits. The same is true for most any other belief also. You can become a Calvinist without having read all of Calvin’s works, but you can also be opposed to Calvinism without knowing all of Calvin’s works also. There are two reasons for this… The first reason is that the validity of a belief can be reflected by its followers (meaning, even without knowing anything about John Calvin, if what modern-day Calvinists do are wrong, then people can assume John Calvin is wrong also). The second reason is because it only requires one fallacy within a belief structure to falsify it. This is why people go to such lengths to prove that the Bible is inerrant… Because if even just one verse in the Bible could be proven false, then the entire Bible can be questioned on its validity. The same is true for Calvinism… Even without knowing every single detail, if John Calvin presents even just one piece of False information, then it is also possible to question everything else he created and/or promotes.

        Allow me to provide a simplified example… Lets propose that someone explained to you the core essence of Christianity, and gave you ALL vital and correct information minus one major fact… That Jesus never actually claimed He was God (again, this is merely an example). Even if this person was correct about absolutely everything else he/she said in regards to Christianity, are the ultimately “Right” if there is even one false claim? This is basic Philosophy, all preliminary statements must be true in order to conclude with a “Truth” claim. Put more simply: “T + T = T”… Whereas, if one of the statements are false, then: “T + F = F”. This is why it only requires knowing even just one flaw about John Calvin’s assessment about “WHO” God is to effectively conclude with a belief that either aligns with Calvinism or is Anti-Calvinism.

        In contrast, if your logic were true, then nobody can rightfully call themselves a “Calvinist” until they have read literally 100% of ALL John Calvin’s works. Because if someone cannot be an Anti-Calvinist due to partial information, then Calvinism is likewise not possible with partial information. This claim would also imply someone cannot be a Christian until they have read the entire Bible at least once from front to back. What would be particularly funny if this were true is imagine if someone to begin reading the Bible, get all the way to the book of Revelation, and then dies before finishing the Bible… by your claim, they lack all information regarding the subject matter, therefore, they are not yet Christian… Subsequently, the ended up in Hell for not finishing their Bible readings in time.

        –Long story short, you don’t need to know every single detail about a belief structure to minimally conclude that it is either wrong or minimally problematic. I would even be willing to bet that 99% of all people who call themselves “Calvinists” have not read literally every single work by John Calvin. Most Calvinists come to believe purely out of hearsay… And most Christians begin this way also… Hence the Great Commission to spread the Good News! Upon receiving the Good News, you are prompted to make a decision, even if you haven’t read anything from the Bible yet… Because the core theme of the Gospels (and the Bible as a general whole) can be summed up in verbal communication. It doesn’t really require a genius level intellect to understand the notion that people sin, need repentance, and God died so that All could be saved and so that None should perish. Even Calvinism itself has been summarized into a 5-Point System where each point can be told within a single sentence worth! True you could learn more about it by reading more in-depth into the subject matter… But if you are in objection to one or more of the 5-Points from the get-go, there is little need to dive further since the answer will likely remain the same. Returning to my previous example, you don’t need to know the “reason” beyond why someone believes Jesus never called Himself God if you are in opposition to the initial claim to begin with. Hearing out the reason might help you understand why they think so, but it is likely not going to change your mind about how wrong that conclusion is. You don’t have to know all the facts to make an overall assessment of the limited information provided.–I wont deny that it is generally better to be more informed rather than less, but knowing absolutely every detail about any one concept is not truly necessary to make a baseline conclusion.

    • Mark
      February 22, 2016

      To answer your question Tim (since everyone has appeared to ignore it), Calvinism is among many beliefs that deny humans of Responsibility. All throughout history (and even in the Bible), people constantly try to find a way to blame someone else for their own mistakes and/or sins. Even Adam and Eve are a good example, where when God approached them to asked of what they had done, their immediate reaction was to blame someone else. In modern day, this would be the reaction of the Calvinist if god were to approach them to ask of what they have done; the Calvinist would respond: “You predestined me to do it Lord.” — This idea is appealing to people for two reasons… Firstly, people like the idea of giving absolute authority to God, which makes sense initially but goes so far as to deny other characteristics of God (such as Love) to achieve that outcome. Secondly, it makes God at fault for ALL Sin so that nobody has to be responsible for their own actions (since nobody has a “Choice” according to Calvinism). As a result, the reason why Calvinism has such a cult-like following is because it features an idea humans have loved ever since the very first sin was ever committed… The ability to pass blame on to someone else. Because if you lack the ability to choose anything, then you cannot be faulted for anything you do either. It is logically unacceptable to be “wrong” for an unmade choice… Equally it is logically unacceptable to be “right” for every made choice.

      People use this exact same logic to explain away other sins also. For example, the most common reason Homosexuality is excused by most people is by claiming that it is not a choice, that people were “created” to be that way.–If this were true, then Homosexuality would be God’s fault, not our fault. I am not claiming this is true, only showing that this excuse of avoiding responsibility for our own actions is used repeated to excuse a variety of difference sins. Ironically, people use the reverse logic when discussing the use of Guns, where the person who uses the gun is the one at fault, rather than the gun itself. Whereas, if God is the user and we were the gun, then God would be at fault instead. Our entire justice system is shaped around this logic… Because the entire reason we “Jail” people or give consequences to ANYONE’s crimes is under the assumption that the person “could have done otherwise.” For example, if someone chooses to commit murder, we brand them as a murderer under the assumption that they did not HAVE to commit murder, but selected to do so anyway. However, if (as Calvinism claims) they didn’t have a choice and that God pre-ordained their actions, then they could not do otherwise… And if they are incapable of doing otherwise, then they cannot be faulted for doing something they are forced to do.

      The Conclusion? People like Calvin’s ideas on account that it removes any responsibility to seek out Salvation for themselves, to learn about God of their own accord. They like the idea that God does ALL of the work so that they don’t have to do anything whatsoever to be “Elected”. Laziness for the win, right? Afterall, who wouldn’t love the idea of being “Elect” for no reason whatsoever, and that you will remain “Elect” no matter what you do in life! If you believed you’d go to Heaven no matter what, regardless of what you otherwise believe, then you’d be attracted to just how supremely easy it is to believe everyone is destined or damned no matter what, meaning you don’t have to do anything and can live out life however which way you want to… Because your “Elect” status wont change. The only major downside to this immensely selfish formula is that absolutely nobody can know for 100% certainty that they are among the “Elect”, regardless if they believe in God/Jesus or not. Reason being, their Salvation is not selected by their own choice to Love God, instead, it is determined ONLY by God… Meaning, they leave their eternal fates entirely on a gamble as to whether or not God will whimsically Predestine them or not. This is the only true downside to this belief structure… Otherwise, people love the idea of not having to be responsible for their salvation, for their sins, nor really for anything (as Calvinism promotes).

      Thus, to answer your question, the reason why Calvinism has so many admirers and disciples is because it is among many other beliefs that removes personal responsibilities from ourselves, an instead places the blame on God instead. This way, when something goes wrong, they can assume God divinely caused it, rather than being connected to its outcome whatsoever themselves. Besides… Why apologize for anything when you can simply say: “God made me do it!” 😉

  • Bonnie Kristian
    May 14, 2014

    THANK YOU for your comments on the glory of God. The idea that God’s primary purpose for interacting with humanity is to gain glory for himself never sat well with me, but explicit objections to this claim are rare indeed. I’ve long thought this theme wasn’t really evident in Scripture, and it’s good to know I’m not completely off base.

    • ParsonBoots
      May 14, 2014

      I’m not sure how anyone reads Scripture without coming to the conclusion that God’s primary aim is His own glory. I’m wondering what you believe His primary aim to be.

      • ZackHunt
        May 14, 2014

        And I’m not sure how you can read Philippians 2, the crucifixion, the incarnation, the ministry of Jesus, or the promise of Revelation and come to the conclusion that God’s primary aim is His own glory.

        If that were true (that God’s primary aim was God’s own glory), then God would be the supreme egomaniac.

        • ParsonBoots
          May 14, 2014

          – Philippians 2: Every knee will bow and every tongue confess “to the glory of God the Father” (This in the context of a passage about Jesus’ incarnation, ministry, death and resurrection.)
          – The crucifixion: John 12:23-28
          – The incarnation and ministry of Jesus: “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son…I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” John 17
          – The promise of Revelation: There are at least 15 references in Revelation to people and/or angels giving glory to God.
          – For good measure, He chose Israel and predestined us for the praise of His glorious grace. (Isaiah 49:3; Ephesians 1)

          I’m not sure how you can read Philippians 2, etc. and not come to the conclusion that God’s primary aim is His own glory.

          As for God being the supreme egomaniac if He demands glory, the truth is humans WILL glorify someone, be it God, ourselves or someone or something else. It would be evil of God not to command us to glorify the One person in the universe who is truly worthy of it. In commanding us to glorify Him, He is commanding us to do the thing that will bring us the greatest benefit.

          Out of curiosity, what would you say is the primary aim of God, if not His own glory?

          • Dean
            May 14, 2014

            ParsonBoots, I’ve always wondered about this fetish with God’s “glory” that Calvinists have. Do you think God needs more glory? I thought he didn’t “need” anything? Was God’s glory at its maximum before the creation of the universe, or is his glory something that ebbs and flows with time? Can we as human beings do anything to “diminish” God’s glory? If so, then why did he create us in the first place? In fact, why would God ever do anything that would cause his glory to ever be diminished in the first place? If we do have the capacity to diminish God’s glory then why do we exist at all? If we don’t have the capacity to diminish God’s glory, they why do you care so much about it? This whole concept that God exists to “maximize” his glory is incoherent and bizarre, if you could clarify for me exactly what that means and how it works I would be interested in hearing what you have to say. If God’s glory is the end all be all for Calvinists, then I guess I’m just expecting a more coherent framework and not a bullet point list of verses cherry picked from the Bible.

            I would argue that the primary aim of God is love, the kind of self-sacrificial love that brought us all into existence and that culminates with the Cross.

          • ParsonBoots
            May 14, 2014

            First of all, I would be very careful calling something “incoherent and bizarre” that is so prominent in Scripture. It is also the nature of a comment section to only be able to offer a few bible verses, but that does not mean they have been “cherry picked”, if by that you mean taken out of their context to say what they were never meant to say.
            If you are speaking of the glory of God ontologically, then of course His glory does not diminish. God is just as glorious now as He always has been. But if you are speaking of God’s command to glorify Him, then all it takes is a moment of browsing to realize Scripture is full of commands for us to glorify God. We were created for His glory and there is simply no way around. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says to do everything for the glory of God. You can call this a “fetish” all you like, but I’ll chose to call it obedience.
            You say the primary aim of God is love, yet you present that with no ‘coherent framework” and no Scriptural support. Yes, God is love and God loves us with a love that is unfathomable. But to say that God loves us does not negate that we were created to glorify Him. You are talking about two different things. You see, if you think God’s demand for His glory makes Him the supreme egomaniac, then you are still left with the same problem if you try to boil it down to love. God wrote a book full of commands and sums them all up with “love Me with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.” God demands love. If I love anything else supremely, I am an idolator. God does not look favorably on idolatry. Yet according to the author of this blog’s line of thinking, to demand glory, and along with it love, makes God self-centered. I disagree.

          • Dean
            May 14, 2014

            I didn’t say God’s glory per se was incoherent or bizarre, I think a theology with that as it’s foundation is. There are many things that are prominent in scripture, I just question whether you are appropriately preoccupied with the right thing. You didn’t answer any of my questions though, why are we even here? If we exist for God’s glory and are commanded to glorify him, but don’t always do that, then what does that mean? If God’s glory was maximal even before the universe existed, then what the heck are we doing here? I guess you have to point to mystery. 😉 I’m saying that’s incoherent. BTW, I can criticize a position without offering an alternative or defending my own. You chose to post a comment on God’s glory, I’m just asking you some questions.

            I don’t think the fact that God demands glory makes him self-centered or even egomaniacal at all. God demands glory for our sake, not his. God doesn’t need us to give him glory, he commands it because he loves us. So again, God’s glory is not the point, and he doesn’t want it as an ultimate end, he wants it because it will do us good as his creatures to glorify him by obeying his commands. I think that framework is more consistent with the Blbilcal narrative.

            Let me give you one example where Calvinism and its focus on God’s glory goes terribly wrong. What this kind of framework allows is the possibility that God created some human beings for the express purpose of eternal conscious torment so that his “glory” may be revealed to the Elect. In other word, in order that he might show the full spectrum of his character to the Elect so that they might fully understand his “glory”, billions of conscious being made in God’s image must suffer inconceivable pain for all of eternity. A holocaust on an epic scale as a “good thing” is precisely what you become willing to accept when you confuse God pursuing his glory as an ultimate good, in and of itself. Maybe you can accept that, and if you can, then God bless you. But I tend to think that the fact that so many prominent Calvinists believe their God is capable of this kind of atrocity is strong evidence that this theology is seriously defective, and so much so that it’s most ardent adherents have gotten so lost in the rabbit hole they can’t even see something this evil for what it is, they’ve just lost their moral compass entirely. As Austin Fischer describes, you get sucked up in the “black hole” of God’s “glory”.

      • Joe Garratt
        May 15, 2014

        It doesn’t ultimately seem to be the exclusive and often selfish glory that Calvinism portrays though?

  • Kevin Miller
    May 14, 2014

    Great piece, Zack!

  • Seth
    May 14, 2014

    6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

    “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
    26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”–Romans 9:6-26.

    I follow Jesus and His true, inerrant Holy Spirit breathed word. Honestly, I don’t know if I could say it any better than Paul does in Romans 9. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” We are called to loved the Lord our God with all our hearts and preach the Gospel. This is what matters. I consider myself Reformed, but not Calvinist, for that would mean that I follow a man and not the Saviour. C.H. Spurgeon has a great quote, “I fear that I’m not a very good Calvinist, because I pray that the Lord would save all the elect and elect some more.”

    • Mark
      May 14, 2014

      Don’t stop at Romans 9. Keep going until you get to Romans 11:32. Then you can add on the doxology in 11:33-36.

    • Scott
      May 16, 2014

      God rejected Esau before he was born, not arbitrarily, but because He had the foreknowledge that Esau would despise his birthright, while Jacob valued it. On the Pharaoh reference, the phrase “raised you up” can be legitimately interpreted as “kept you alive”. God could have judged Pharaoh long before, for enslaving His people in Goshen, who claimed to know the real God, but He kept him around for the purposes of demonstrating His power, and that His name would be known in all the earth (That’s about creating more knowledge of God, for more saving work to be done). And God will further harden those who have already hardened themselves to God. Pharaoh was already hard to God and His people before God hardened him. I don’t think most people who believe in free will would deny that God intervenes in our lives, but since He isn’t willing that any perish, He’s not hardening the hearts of any that He knew would have otherwise turned to Him in faith. He will use as pawns, for various purposes, those who He knows will never come to Him. And He will direct the footsteps of believers as well. But this doesn’t mean we don’t have the ability to accept or reject the knowledge of God, by our own God-given free will.

      God’s foreknowledge answers all of the Calvinist arguments.

      Answering back to Calvinists with Scripture isn’t the same as “answering back to God”.

      • Seth
        May 20, 2014

        I’m not sure if you realize this or not, but you have made quite contradictory statements. On one hand, you say that God chooses to use people as He wills, for honorable or dishonorable use. However, you also say that we are the ones who have the ability to accept or reject God. So which is it? I’m not denying that humans don’t have a response in salvation, but we are foreknown before the fact. Also, I understand God desires for all to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4, however, we also see in 2 Timothy 2:25 that “God may perhaps grant them repentance..” Because we also see in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” Also, God is of infinite wisdom, all knowing, and all seeing, wouldn’t it make Him not all knowing if he didn’t know who His children were? This is why we share the Gospel. We pray and preach the Gospel so that “God may perhaps grant them repentance.”

        • reubster
          May 21, 2014

          Seth – in Romans Paul is talking about the nations of Israel and Esau/Edom…not the individuals. This one fact completely resolves predestination for me. We join the nation of Israel by faith, as Paul says.

        • Mark
          March 10, 2016

          Seth, you clearly have no idea how a “Relationship” works, do you? The answer to your question is both! In a marriage, if one partner decided absolutely everything (including whether or not their spouse loves them or not), and the spouse is given no freedom to choose anything themselves, that is not a functional relationship… That would be called a dictatorship!–Which is NOT Love. Factually, in order for a relationship to exist, both sides must contribute. God contributed by creating us and dying for us; how we contribute is by deciding what we do with our given lives, and how we respond to God’s sacrifice. Put more simply, if God hadn’t created you and if He had given up nothing for you, then there would be no question to answer, nor any person to answer in the first place. Meaning, without God, there can be no salvation. But without our response, there can likewise be no salvation. Neglect one side for the other, and you end up denying any relationship we could ever have with God. A relationship CANNOT exist without the ability to contribute to it. If you don’t believe me… Read a Dictionary, it can define that fact for you just as easily…

          P.S.: The Bible largely speaks of what God does, it rarely mentions what we do. Moreover, even supposing your argument were valid and I was wrong, then why did Jesus die? According to your comment/response in question, Esau’s fate was predetermined before he was born… likewise Calvinism claims that all people are either predestined or predamned prior to birth. As such, what difference did it make for Christ to come and live among us ad ultimately die? If we’d go to Heaven or Hell regardless whether Jesus existed nor not… Then why do we need Jesus in order to reach the father? According to Calvinism, Christ wasn’t needed for Esau, so He shouldn’t be needed for us either. Our “Elected” state is based on God the Father, not God the Son… Making Christ’s existence completely POINTLESS!!!

          –Which, by the way, “Christianity” is defined by the necessity to believe in Christ in order to be Saved, but since Calvinism does not require this fact, nor does Calvinism even require Christ to exist whatsoever in order to be saved, then Calvinism is NOT Christianity according to the definition of the words in question. Put more simply, in order to be “Christian”, you have to believe God’s sacrifice holds value in terms of Salvation since He literally died so that “All would be saved and None would perish”–Quoted many times in the Bible… If you deny the value of Christ’s sacrifice for your salvation, then you are not Christian.

      • jake
        June 17, 2014

        God had a4 knowledge of what esau was going to do so he judged him based on a work then. even though the text clearly states it’s not based on works.

        • Terence Jones
          May 18, 2015

          Wrong, it is based on works and God’s righteous judgment of man’s deeds. Paul is saying that no matter if man wills God’s justice to be different or runs like Jonah from God, it will not change God’s will which is rooted in His immutable righteousness. God is the perfect judge who renders to each man according to his deeds produced by his heart which God knows intimately. There is no escaping God’s justice system, that is why it does not depend on the man who wills or runs.

        • Mark
          January 28, 2016

          You are correct Jake, it is not based on works… But works and choice are not the same thing. You can choose to love God and show absolutely nothing for it; likewise, you can choose to hate God and yet perform some of the most loving deeds in the world. This usually gets called a Hypocrite.–But even the very fact that a word such as “Hypocrite” exists proves that one’s actions and one’s choices or claims do not always align.

          In the case at hand, Esau was judged by the foreknowledge of his choice, not the foreknowledge of his works. As scripture states, we are saved by Faith, not by Works. Works do tend to naturally derive from Faith, but are not identical. Thus, your comment is mistakened to assume this was a matter of works, especially since the word: “Works” was never even in Scott’s comment. Don’t believe me?–Then I challenge you to find the word in question… In fact, if you can even find the word: “work”, I will applaud you (or consider you insane, depending on where you claim to see such a word).

    • Fred Gilham
      July 7, 2014

      I would think that the authoritative interpretation of Romans 9 would be…Paul’s.

      What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. (Romans 9:30-32)

      Therefore we must read Romans 9 as an apologia from the OT for 1) Salvation by grace through faith, and 2) Salvation of the gentiles.

      Oh, and don’t forget Romans 11:30-32:

      Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    • Henri
      June 23, 2016

      “17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” – You must be very careful with this passage. It revolves around a few concepts that have nothing to do with the Calvinist elect. It firstly revolves around the Lord’s choice of Israel as His nation and then all references to individuals are actually meant to indicate the nations they led or started. Pharaoh represents Egypt. I’m afraid Paul’s reference to Hosea is often also misread by Calvinists. If you take careful note, the passages beginning with “Those who were not my people…” actually goes against election because the elect chose to be disobedient and God turned to others. Calvinism’s election and predestination is based on clearly incorrect interpretation of Scripture.

  • C. Loewen
    May 14, 2014

    Thank you.

  • Tom Corcoran
    May 14, 2014

    Good post. I’ve tried to read through the Institutes several times but have never made it all the way through. Sometimes I get angry, sometimes just sleepy. Calvin and his followers can’t stand a messy Scripture that our puny minds can’t grasp. Every time I feel tempted to think I have some point of Scripture figured out I re-read Job 38-41 where God is not saying “I am God and get to do that I want” but that we can never come close to understanding Him. It reminds me that I need to go to Scripture to meet God, not figure Him out. Again, great post.

    • Aaron
      May 15, 2014

      Or Job 42:11: “And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him.”

      • Rich Stals
        June 18, 2014

        Or we could all just randomly quote de-contextualised passages of scripture to each other as if everyone who disagrees clearly doesn’t believe in the Bible.

  • Lotharson
    May 14, 2014

    I just re-blogged this and added my own comments. Some of you might be interested by the discussion which will (hopefully 🙂 ) start there.

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/fostering-communion-with-committed-calvinists/

  • Tom Eggebeen
    May 14, 2014

    One of the best critiques I’ve had the pleasure of reading … and parallels much of my own thought, though it took a good many years to work it out.

    I’m a graduate of a Christian Reformed high school in Grand Rapids, MI, Calvin College (of all places) in Grand Rapids, and Western Theo. Seminary in Holland, MI (I’m Dutch and reared in Calvinist Churches). I first read the Institutes in college – later in the ministry, I read them through at least 3 or 4 times and have taught at least 3 or 4 year-long adult classes on the Institutes. There’s no doubt that Calvin’s sermons and letters offer a more pastoral note than do the Institutes, but I’ll not take away anything you say … and I sometimes think that Calvin might be the first to agree with you, were he living today. He’d be appalled to know that’s he’s become an icon for some, the untouchable Calvin.

    I’ve decided that he deserves to be read, and his works can be mined for brilliant gems, but overall, he was too logical, and ended up speaking loudly of those things that should be reserved for whispers, things better left unsaid. Sadly, Calvin had no more mystery, except the mystery of the secret counsel of God, which Calvin had figured out anyway. “They shall be known by their fruits” – so Calvin is know by the excesses and cruelties of latter-day Calvinists who’d rather judge someone than care for them. Those who claim to be neo-Calvinists these days fall victim to all the anxieties of the Middle Ages, and commit the same theological errors of Calvin – essentially reading Jesus in the light of Paul, and sometimes entirely forgetting the gospels, rather than reading Paul in the light of Jesus and the gospels.

    Your point about “the glory of God” was eye-opening for me, so thank you on that point, which, I think, is pivotal. It isn’t about glory, or at least the Medieval version of it.

    Furthermore, I had to chuckle when you noted: Calvin quotes nearly all of Romans, and hardly references Jesus of the Gospels, which is a problem, as well, with the Apostle’s Creed. See N.T. Wright on this score.

    Now, I’m not a Wesleyan … hee hee … I still opt for something I heard in high school: “Salvation is too important to be left in the hands of humankind.” For me, however, I’m a universalist on this point – so, with Barth I suppose, I’m content to let salvation remain in the hands of God (the crucified hands), and that in Christ, the whole of creation is elected to new life. I like to say: God got us here, and God will see us through, the worst of it, to the best of it.

    When Calvin speaks of how difficult life can be, how little we know, how we “limp through life,” he’s comfortable with this in light of his understanding of a god who is utterly faithful to the saved. I can go with that, enlarged as it must be for me.

    Anyway, thanks for one of the best pieces I’ve read in a long, long, time.

    Look forward to hearing more from you.

    Tom

  • Tom Eggebeen
    May 14, 2014

    Let me add a positive note: during WW2, where Calvinism as strong, Jews did better, I think, in part, because Calvin offered a unified Bible – one covenant (Calvin’s work on Baptism is terrific). In countries where Old and New were divided, Jews were likely to fare poorly. I’m terribly critical of Calvin these days (see my earlier post), but his work on the Sacraments and his determination to keep Scripture together are hallmarks that deserve an honorable place in Christian thought.

  • Jim West
    May 14, 2014

    You should, in fairness, try to level criticism after reading more than just snippets of the Institutes. You don’t refer to any sermon, any tractate, any commentary, or any occasional piece. You’ve found a few things in ICR to disagree with, cherry picked them, paraded them, beat them, damned them, and ignored mountains of other materials that both clarify and expand. In short, you have mistreated Calvin and misrepresented him, creating nothing but a straw man to attack and set on fire.

    It’s fine to critique Calvin. Or anyone. But to be fair, such criticisms must be based on more than one or two works when that someone has written hundreds. Especially when the critic has written none.

    Remember, anyway, what Kierkegaard said: Critics are like Eunuchs- they know what’s supposed to happen, they just can’t manage to do it themselves.

    • Adam
      May 15, 2014

      Can you share with us on which points you feel the author has misrepresented, cherry-picked, and ignored mountains of other material? I’d genuinely like to know.

    • Karen
      May 17, 2014

      If I have understood Zack’s post correctly, he has not just read “snippets” of the Institutes, but most of the Institutes (and discussed it in a class), omitting only the last few chapters pertaining to church polity. I echo Adam’s question.

    • peteenns
      May 18, 2014

      Jim, can you point us to anything Calvin has written elsewhere that should change our perception of Calvin that Zach has written here, and if so, does that really balance or neutralize what ICR lays out with legendary systematic rigor? Nothing personal, and as you know, I’ve been around the Calvin block enough times to offer an opinion, but your point is a common one in Calvinist apologetics: “But Calvin has written so much and so your critique is superficial until you’ve read everything (and absorbed it as I have).” This is also how Warfield, Machen, Van Til, etc., etc. are protected from criticism. Ironically, all it takes for Calvinists to condemn others is finding an errant sentence here and there.

      • Rebecca
        May 19, 2014

        “Ironically, all it takes for Calvinists to condemn others is finding an errant sentence here and there.”

        Oh so very true.

      • Mark
        February 18, 2016

        Tagging onto what Pete said, the reason we believe and trust the Bible is under the notion that it is literally 100% inerrant. Granted, the Bible’s inerrancy does not mean ANYTHING for the reader, who is errant. In terms of “Truth”, when talking about a “Truth” statement logically (and as most any Philosophy would teach likewise), ALL components to the statement must be found true to qualify it as ‘Truth”. If even a single statement can be found false, the entire statement becomes false. There have literally be Calvinists who have said this about their own system: “If any of the 5-Points can be found true, then they must all be abided. But if any of the 5-Points can be found false, then it must be abandoned.”

        –I should note, I’m only pointing out what Logic and related personnel would say, I’m not as strict or damning as that. Because much as we can learn life lessons from fictional stories, it is possible to gain even an ounce of “Truth” from a Fake source. However, the problem becomes when that source is False more often than it is true. If an entire Belief Structure can be faulted in near innumerable ways, while perhaps finding barely even a couple true facts about it, then it is deniable for its sheer errancy! Proposing (as you claim Jim) that even so much as 25% of Calvin’s other words could be validated, would you have people ignore the other 75% of false information? And much like Pete mentioned, Calvinists search long and hard for even simply one errant sentence proposed by someone against Calvinism, and yet, finding a cause for which to deny Calvin barely even requires reading past the first page of most of his works. I wont pretend to claim I’ve read literally all of Calvin’s works, but of every single work of his that I ever have looked into, I have discovered unreconcilable fallacies even within the first couple of pages as he attempts to build a claim. I have never even been able to finish reading anything Calvin has produced because it is so completely riddled with problems. We are talking about a single man who developed a theory that people took and decided to run with it.–Literally identical to why Darwin’s Evolution is believed… People don’t care how flawed that it is, only if it can personally make sense to them.

        On a final note, I would wager to guess that about 99% of all persons who call themselves “Calvinists” have not read literally every single one of Calvin’s works from front to back. If a Calvinist can believe what they do without knowing all the extended details, then why are Anti-Calvinsts faulted for not knowing those exact same extended details… Yet able to conclude (with even minimal knowledge of the belief structure in question) that Calvin is wrong. Jim, your claim implies that the only way to be a Calvinist is to read ALL of Calvin’s works, otherwise, you are just as wrong to base your beliefs on only a couple of his works as those who oppose Calvinism. If you are going to stand by this logic, then if you haven’t read 100% of Calvin’s works presently, then you are faulted and not a true Calvinist presently…

    • Rich Stals
      June 18, 2014

      Crickets….?

  • Joel Kessler
    May 14, 2014

    As a recovering Calvinist, I thank you for this honest and open letter to John Calvin (but I do think John Calvin is an Arminian now, because he’s in heaven and God gave him some better theology)

  • Matt
    May 15, 2014

    Just get ready for “You see, the reason you don’t understand Calvin is because you are a closet Calvinist and just haven’t realized it yet”. That pretty much summarizes every argument a certain famous Calvinist makes against any logical point made against Calvinism. I also love the responses most Calvinists give to any question about certain scriptures that would seem to contradict Calvinism. “We have to do what everyone else does – read and follow them.” But how do you deal with the contradictions? “They aren’t contradictory if you know what they really say.” So it’s really your interpretation? “We don’t interpret… we just read and follow.” But a straight forward reading contradicts Calvinism. “Not if you know what they really say.” Okay, so what do they really say? “You can see that plainly for yourself.” I know, which is why I ask… oh, never mind…

    • reubster
      May 21, 2014

      that is really quite funny!

    • Will Gaughan
      June 17, 2014

      care to offer said passages?

      • Terence Jones
        May 18, 2015

        1 John 2:2
        2 Peter 2:1
        Isaiah 5:1-4
        Jeremiah 18:1-7

  • jon_russell
    May 15, 2014

    As a recovering Nazarene and someone who is slowly embracing reformed theology. It is not the works of Calvin that inspire me, but rather a complete view of scripture as “word for word” absolute truth, even if I don’t understand it and even if I don’t like it. I know many of my reformed brothers and sisters who live by the creed “what would john calvin do” (WWJCD)? They come off very strident and repel many non-reformed Christians. My hope is to place myself in submission to the word and think of others as better than myself in all things. That is the type of reformer I want to be.

    • Karen
      May 17, 2014

      “. . . a complete view of scripture as “word for word” absolute truth, . . .”

      This sounds perilously close to advocating a “magical” view of how Scripture contains and communicates spiritual truth that is analogous to how Muslims understand the Qu’ran. It has historically proved to be a prescription for mischief in terms of understanding in what way the words of Scripture are true, with the production of all sorts of terrible interpretations and applications of the Scriptures as well as a manifest lack of dogmatic and sacramental unity among those claiming to found their belief and practice “only” on the “word for word truth” and “inerrancy” of the letter of the Scriptures!

      In classical Christian and apostolic understanding, it is the overall message of the Scriptures as a whole as interpreted in light of the full revelation of their meaning/import in Jesus Christ that is “absolute truth.” Christ, and Christ alone, is the Word, and the Truth in this sense. The Scriptures are indeed holy and inspired (God-breathed), but as the early Church Fathers understood, their “inspiration” is in the hearing of them (i.e., their Holy Spirit-inspired interpretation through Christ within the Church), not in the letter or the naked text as such, which did not lead the Pharisees to Jesus, and the real message and import of which was not even understood by Christ’s disciples until He explained it to them after his Resurrection (Luke 24:25-27). You will look long and hard to derive the meaning found in most of the OT texts quoted in the NT (i.e, their apostolic interpretation and application to Jesus Christ) at the level of the literal word-for-word meaning in their own immediate context in the OT.

      • reubster
        May 23, 2014

        Very well put!

      • reubster
        May 23, 2014

        I’m afraid these days I have to stop listening whenever anyone mentions the absolute sacred truth of the literal words of Scripture, or words to that effect. All words are relative to the context of the writer and the reader. Jesus is the Word, scripture is not ‘sacred’. the reading of scripture is only infused with the life of the Word when we read with faith.

    • anthropic
      May 19, 2014

      Jon, I appreciate your stance of kindness towards both those who agree and those who do not. Too many Christians get caught up in anger and even hatred toward their brothers and sisters over points of doctrine that ultimately matter far less than the person & work of Jesus! (Age of the earth is one of them…)

      But as “word for word”, well, I’m sure you remember how Satan tempted Jesus by quoting scripture. It really does not simply “speak for itself”, it must be interpreted in context.

      And knowledge outside of scripture sometimes helps us understand it. For example, Christians believed for centuries that the earth did not move because of scriptures describing it as firm on its foundations. Nobody believes that now, not because the scripture changed, but because we know more about physics. Since a physical interpretation would mean the scripture was in error, it makes sense to see it as a metaphor.

    • Carlos
      May 21, 2014

      Jon, in all respect. You should strive to be a disciple, not a type of Christian. I understand the damage legalism has done.. be cautious in going from one extreme to another. There is a theological middle ground.. I encourage you to find it with no compromises.

  • Clark Sarge
    May 15, 2014

    If you think God has to “deserve” glory from us, than you reveal you have no idea what the word really means. I agree with Matt, you love the God you have created in your mind, so you obviously will hate the God of scripture.

    • Karen
      May 17, 2014

      Or, another possible explanation is that you have no idea what the Scripture means by the “glory” of God, and are yourself in servile fear of a “god” of your own imagining based on a completely anthropomorphic understanding (i.e., completely limited by your own unenlightened human logic) of what the Scriptures mean by the “wrath”, “judgment”, “glory”, etc., of God. Based on the scant information available in blog comments, I’m not offering any final judgment here, but just a possible alternative explanation.

      “The glory of God is a man fully alive.” (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, A.D. 185)

      St. Irenaeus was the spiritual grandchild of the Apostle John, and whose native language was Greek (reading the Greek of the Scriptures of his day). I have the impression from my reading that any conservative Christian scholar who respects the inspiration of the Scriptures and knows anything about Christian history would tend to agree St. Irenaeus knew a thing or two about what the Scriptures really mean.

    • Rich Stals
      June 18, 2014

      Clark – comments like this reveal that you confuse the Bible with your interpretation of the Bible. You didn’t engage in any part of the post, or comments. You simply write-off someone who disagrees with you as a hater of Scripture and God.

      Is it possible that the author of the post may have legitimate, well thought-out, well reasoned scriptural reasons for viewing this the way he does? The path to discovering this is dialogue not pronouncements of damnation.

  • John Travis Wilson
    May 15, 2014

    The tone of this is so unbelievably condescending, I’m not sure I want to write a response anymore. This is one of the most ungracious, cherry-picking posts I’ve ever read. I’m not a follower of Calvin, but the lack of exegetical dealings (Calvin is so committed to his system that he doesn’t deal well with Scripture?), the microwaved assumption that Calvin was sticking to a system—despite the several places where he says he cannot pretend to answer a thorny question that Scripture does not answer—and the smugness with which this is written makes me sick. There also seems to be the idea that the writer’s own theological system is the only right way to read Scripture, and the insistence that he can read Calvin’s heart and accuse him of not being truly concerned with God’s glory is appalling. Furthermore, there have been multiple other brilliant theologians who held the exact same views that aren’t even considered; but it’s that easy to say he gave the school of thought an honest look after reading most of one work discussing theological ideas that predate Calvin, and are dealt with later (Augustine, Luther, Edwards, Whitfield, Piper, Sproul, etc., etc., etc.). The writer provides a paltry half-handful of verses that apparently shut down the entirety of Reformed thought, without any due consideration of the difficulties and obstacles every theological system has (including his own!). There is no humility in this, and an abundance of overly harsh, reactionary criticism wrapped in the pretense of a good, hearty try. I’ve read the entire work (my copy is two volumes and has 1526 pages), and I am the first in line to disagree with not a few points. In order to deal properly with Calvin, you must first deal properly with the Scripture he turned to first and foremost. And to blame Calvin for followers who have been jerks? Really? So you should also blame Wesley, and Jesus for that matter. How is it Calvin’s fault that some of his followers are jerks? You know what? I’ve met some really jerky Calvinists, but I’ve also met some really jerky Wesleyans, some really jerky Lutherans, some really jerky Catholics. That’s not a knock against Wesley, Luther, or the Pope. It’s an observation that people are sinful. You didn’t need to tack on yet another insulting, condescending line. A friend forwarded this (who totally agrees with your anti-Calvinist views) and I approached it merrily, expecting a solid critique, colored with humility, grace, and respect. I don’t know you that well, but I really think you’re better than this, Zack. You may not agree with the theology, but I suggest you take care saying that the theology destroys God’s glory. What if you’re wrong? I don’t agree with Arminianism, or eternal conscious torment, but I’d be danged if I would ever say that God cannot be like that, because our concern should be to worship God as He truly is, whatever that looks like. You can disagree and say that you just don’t get it and you’d be surprised if God worked that way, but to assume that God can’t work the way Zack says He can’t is out of line. I’m sure I hold an incredible number of wrong views, but let’s check our hubris and learn in humility, grace, and love, and leave the sweeping declarations of who is right to God when we are all seated together before Him. I’m sure we’ll all have a good laugh—Calvin included—and we’ll all fall on our faces in praise of the One Who paid our debt irrespective of our theological leanings. Grace and Peace, Zack.

    • Mark
      January 25, 2016

      John, allow me to admit up-front that I am neither Arminian nor Calvin.–In their truest forms, both are extremes that deny a Relationship with God. I am, however, a 50-Point Anti-Calvinist (and I do believe all 50 points). The only reason I am not “Anti-Arminian” is because there are not pronounced points against it, and because I haven’t personally cared enough to researched it to the point of being able to make any such claim like I can about Calvinism. This is likely because Arminians do not go out of their way to expressly gain followers of their title rather than Christianity (if they do, I haven’t personally encountered such). Whereas with Calvinism, I have encountered plenty of people who would even be more concerned that you be a Calvinist even if not a Christian.–In other words, trying to get people to accept their unelect status in some cases. Calvinism is an active problem, and while Arminianism might have just as faulty theology, it isn’t activity plaguing Christianity like Calvinism is.

      With that stated, I could address many of the concerns you’ve raised, however… I cannot factually speak to the intentions Zack has/had upon writing what he did here. I can say I can agree and relate to his premise and conclusion, but in context with all you’ve had to say, that is neither here nor there. Instead, I will provide you what I have discovered is the core division among those whom call themselves “Christian”. There are 5 simple questions that can expressly answer and give testament to one’s entire Belief Structure regarding God.–This even works for Atheists. You can identify someones exact difference in understanding and general faith by their answers to these questions. –>

      1. What is God’s Greatest Attribute? (Identifies what type of god you follow)
      2. What is the definition of Love? (Identifies your level of understanding about God)
      3. Who is Jesus to you? (Identifies what type of relationship you have with God)
      4. What is your favorite/theme Verse(s) or Philosophy? (Identifies what principles you live by)
      5. What do you believe is the greatest possible insult to God?–In other
      words, the Sin above all other Sins? (Identifies what you believe God
      would be most willing kill for and what would be most likely to summon
      His Wrath; this can also provide the reason for why Hell exists
      depending on your answer…)

      When your answers to these questions differ too greatly with another so-called “Christian”, then two facts arise! The first fact is that both sides cannot be correct when stating completely opposite information about God.–As an example, God cannot be both for and against Slavery at the same time, yet there was once a period in time where Christians (particularly in the USA) would avidly state: “Separate yet Equal” was a divine thing; meanwhile most modern Christians use the exact same Bible to abolish Slavery. This factually means, either slavery is right or it is wrong, it CANNOT be both. The second fact that becomes apparent is that when the answers to these questions are too different from one another, it pegs the individuals as having different gods.–This is to say, as an example, obviously the Calvinistic god is NOT the same as the Arminian god. They can both call themselves “Christian”, but fact remains that they adhere to starkly different gods… As a result, it is never unreasonable to be appalled by the existence of that other god, especially when the greatest of all Commandments both in the Old and New Testament is to have no other gods and to Love the true God with all your Heart, Mind, Body, Soul, and Strength! For this reason, Calvinism is made to be such a problematic issue, because it advocates a different god.

      –This brings us up to one of the last things you stated. I will note that I have not addressed most of your concerns you mentioned, and my goal wasn’t to answer those concerns to begin with. Instead, my goal was to outline the core problem, as well as the 5 Questions that can illuminate the necessary follow-up answer to that problem. There is only one comment I will answer more directly than the questions I left behind. You said: “I’d be danged if I would ever say that God cannot be like that.” However, that is the expressed problem involved with Calvinism. Calvinism is a “Claim” as to who God is. As such, these are Calvin’s answers to the 5 Questions I provided:

      1. Sovereignty is God’s Greatest Attribute.–In other words, God possessing complete control trumps anything else about Him.
      2. The Definition of Love is unanswerable or nonexistent.–Not only did John Calvin never address the idea of God’s Love in the first place, but also, of all the Calvinists I have ever spoken with, not even ONE has ever been able to provide me any form of definition of Love. Instead, most Calvinists tend to reply something along the lines of “Love is not a humanly tangible concept”–AKA: “We don’t know…” — This isn’t my opinion, it is merely what I have directly been told by Calvinists and have yet to ever receive any other answer.
      3. Christ is God or Null!–A dictionary-esk answer is what is provided both by John Calvin as well as by every Calvinists I’ve ever know. Generally speaking, Calvinists would either claim this question is completely irrelevant, or would simply state who Jesus is rather than who He is specifically to them. Put more simply, the idea of a relationship with Christ/God is never spoken of… In fact, John Calvin’s works themselves almost never speak of Christ, only of God. Instead, if John Calvin’s claims about God were true, there would be no need for Jesus Christ in the first place.
      4. Romans Chapters 3, 6, 8, and 9.–These are the most consistently quoted verses both by John Calvin and most Calvinists. The book of Romans in general tends to be a Calvinist favorite.–Followed by Ephesians Chapters 1, 2, and 5.
      5. This answer is the most inconsistent among Calvinists, but the most common answer being our Sinful nature in and of itself.

      This is where the problem arises, when Christians like myself disagree with literally every answer provided by these 5 Questions, as well as disagree to all 5-Points of Calvinism. When my answers to these questions are so completely different from the Calvinistic answers, it becomes easy to view their god as “Monstrous” and all-around deplorable.–Reason being, at this point, we are talking about completely different gods. This is why, when you make a claim like: “I’d be danged if I would ever say that God cannot be like that”, you are suggesting that when someone has a completely different view of who God is, that your God is “compatible” with their god. Imagine saying that to a Muslim? Can God truly be like that? Are you really so willing to forgo your God for their god? The underlining problem you must realize is, we aren’t talking about the same God. The question Zack ultimately brings up is whether or not Calvin’s god is His God, and Zack concludes: “I believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love, and offers redemption to all.”–This is a starkly different claim of who God is than what Calvin offers. The rest of what Zack wrote, regardless of its validity, is merely what lead him to his conclusion that the Calvinistic god is NOT his God. Hence, we are not talking about the same God; and as a result, no…God cannot be like that or else you are referring to a different god. Even Christians can believe in different gods… which is why there are so many denominational titles to begin with.–Which also ends up being one of the biggest turn-offs to Christianity as a whole to nonbelievers, the various different claims of who (or even what) Jesus/God is.

      My recommendation: consider carefully what your answers to the 5 questions are, test your faith by contrasting those answers with others, and search for Truth rather than correctness. You can believe yourself completely right and still be completely wrong about God… And when Jesus said He is the only “Way, Truth, and Life/Light”, then that also means there can only be one true answer, regardless how right or wrong you believe yourself or anyone else to be. When someone else’s god can be found to be false, it is your Christian duty to expose that truth rather than allow the lost to remain blind.–So far as what I can tell, that is what Zack was doing… And what I am doing by responding to you. There are 50 reasons why Calvinism could be wrong, and only 5 reasons why Calvinism could be right… The odds are clearly in favor of Anti-Calvinism.–But that call in up to each individual person to make. When you make a claim about God, or when you encounter a claim about God, if it opposes another claim about God, only one can be found to be true, even if there are people who will agree to both. God cannot be both Love and not Love at the same time… Thus, when on Christian makes the reverse claim, your god is not the same as theirs, even if they uphold the same status of “Christian” as yourself.

      I
      believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love,
      and offers redemption to all. – See more at:
      http://zackhunt.net/2014/05/13/dear-john-an-open-letter-to-john-calvin/#sthash.4BSGmCzx.dpuf
      I
      believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love,
      and offers redemption to all. – See more at:
      http://zackhunt.net/2014/05/13/dear-john-an-open-letter-to-john-calvin/#sthash.4BSGmCzx.dpuf

    • Mark
      January 25, 2016

      John, allow me to admit up-front that I am neither Arminian nor Calvin.–In their truest forms, both are extremes that deny a Relationship with God. I am, however, a 50-Point Anti-Calvinist (and I do believe all 50 points). The only reason I am not “Anti-Arminian” is because there are not pronounced points against it, and because I haven’t personally cared enough to researched it to the point of being able to make any such claim like I can about Calvinism. This is likely because Arminians do not go out of their way to expressly gain followers of their title rather than Christianity (if they do, I haven’t personally encountered such). Whereas with Calvinism, I have encountered plenty of people who would even be more concerned that you be a Calvinist even if not a Christian.–In other words, trying to get people to accept their unelect status in some cases. Calvinism is an active problem, and while Arminianism might have just as faulty theology, it isn’t activity plaguing Christianity like Calvinism is.

      With that stated, I could address many of the concerns you’ve raised, however… I cannot factually speak to the intentions Zack has/had upon writing what he did here. I can say I can agree and relate to his premise and conclusion, but in context with all you’ve had to say, that is neither here nor there. Instead, I will provide you what I have discovered is the core division among those whom call themselves “Christian”. There are 5 simple questions that can expressly answer and give testament to one’s entire Belief Structure regarding God.–This even works for Atheists. You can identify someones exact difference in understanding and general faith by their answers to these questions. –>

      1. What is God’s Greatest Attribute? (Identifies what type of god you follow)
      2. What is the definition of Love? (Identifies your level of understanding about God)
      3. Who is Jesus to you? (Identifies what type of relationship you have with God)
      4. What is your favorite/theme Verse(s) or Philosophy? (Identifies what principles you live by)
      5. What do you believe is the greatest possible insult to God?–In other
      words, the Sin above all other Sins? (Identifies what you believe God
      would be most willing kill for and what would be most likely to summon
      His Wrath; this can also provide the reason for why Hell exists
      depending on your answer…)

      When your answers to these questions differ too greatly with another so-called “Christian”, then two facts arise! The first fact is that both sides cannot be correct when stating completely opposite information about God.–As an example, God cannot be both for and against Slavery at the same time, yet there was once a period in time where Christians (particularly in the USA) would avidly state: “Separate yet Equal” was a divine thing; meanwhile most modern Christians use the exact same Bible to abolish Slavery. This factually means, either slavery is right or it is wrong, it CANNOT be both. The second fact that becomes apparent is that when the answers to these questions are too different from one another, it pegs the individuals as having different gods.–This is to say, as an example, obviously the Calvinistic god is NOT the same as the Arminian god. They can both call themselves “Christian”, but fact remains that they adhere to starkly different gods… As a result, it is never unreasonable to be appalled by the existence of that other god, especially when the greatest of all Commandments both in the Old and New Testament is to have no other gods and to Love the true God with all your Heart, Mind, Body, Soul, and Strength! For this reason, Calvinism is made to be such a problematic issue, because it advocates a different god.

      –This brings us up to one of the last things you stated. I will note that I have not addressed most of your concerns you mentioned, and my goal wasn’t to answer those concerns to begin with. Instead, my goal was to outline the core problem, as well as the 5 Questions that can illuminate the necessary follow-up answer to that problem. There is only one comment I will answer more directly than the questions I left behind. You said: “I’d be danged if I would ever say that God cannot be like that.” However, that is the expressed problem involved with Calvinism. Calvinism is a “Claim” as to who God is. As such, these are Calvin’s answers to the 5 Questions I provided:

      1. Sovereignty is God’s Greatest Attribute.–In other words, God possessing complete control trumps anything else about Him.
      2. The Definition of Love is unanswerable or nonexistent.–Not only did John Calvin never address the idea of God’s Love in the first place, but also, of all the Calvinists I have ever spoken with, not even ONE has ever been able to provide me any form of definition of Love. Instead, most Calvinists tend to reply something along the lines of “Love is not a humanly tangible concept”–AKA: “We don’t know…” — This isn’t my opinion, it is merely what I have directly been told by Calvinists and have yet to ever receive any other answer.
      3. Christ is God or Null!–A dictionary-esk answer is what is provided both by John Calvin as well as by every Calvinists I’ve ever know. Generally speaking, Calvinists would either claim this question is completely irrelevant, or would simply state who Jesus is rather than who He is specifically to them. Put more simply, the idea of a relationship with Christ/God is never spoken of… In fact, John Calvin’s works themselves almost never speak of Christ, only of God. Instead, if John Calvin’s claims about God were true, there would be no need for Jesus Christ in the first place.
      4. Romans Chapters 3, 6, 8, and 9.–These are the most consistently quoted verses both by John Calvin and most Calvinists. The book of Romans in general tends to be a Calvinist favorite.–Followed by Ephesians Chapters 1, 2, and 5.
      5. This answer is the most inconsistent among Calvinists, but the most common answer being our Sinful nature in and of itself.

      This is where the problem arises, when Christians like myself disagree with literally every answer provided by these 5 Questions, as well as disagree to all 5-Points of Calvinism. When my answers to these questions are so completely different from the Calvinistic answers, it becomes easy to view their god as “Monstrous” and all-around deplorable.–Reason being, at this point, we are talking about completely different gods. This is why, when you make a claim like: “I’d be danged if I would ever say that God cannot be like that”, you are suggesting that when someone has a completely different view of who God is, that your God is “compatible” with their god. Imagine saying that to a Muslim? Can God truly be like that? Are you really so willing to forgo your God for their god? The underlining problem you must realize is, we aren’t talking about the same God. The question Zack ultimately brings up is whether or not Calvin’s god is His God, and Zack concludes: “I believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love, and offers redemption to all.”–This is a starkly different claim of who God is than what Calvin offers. The rest of what Zack wrote, regardless of its validity, is merely what lead him to his conclusion that the Calvinistic god is NOT his God. Hence, we are not talking about the same God; and as a result, no…God cannot be like that or else you are referring to a different god. Even Christians can believe in different gods… which is why there are so many denominational titles to begin with.–Which also ends up being one of the biggest turn-offs to Christianity as a whole to nonbelievers, the various different claims of who (or even what) Jesus/God is.

      My recommendation: consider carefully what your answers to the 5 questions are, test your faith by contrasting those answers with others, and search for Truth rather than correctness. You can believe yourself completely right and still be completely wrong about God… And when Jesus said He is the only “Way, Truth, and Life/Light”, then that also means there can only be one true answer, regardless how right or wrong you believe yourself or anyone else to be. When someone else’s god can be found to be false, it is your Christian duty to expose that truth rather than allow the lost to remain blind.–So far as what I can tell, that is what Zack was doing… And what I am doing by responding to you. There are 50 reasons why Calvinism could be wrong, and only 5 reasons why Calvinism could be right… The odds are clearly in favor of Anti-Calvinism.–But that call in up to each individual person to make. When you make a claim about God, or when you encounter a claim about God, if it opposes another claim about God, only one can be found to be true, even if there are people who will agree to both. God cannot be both Love and not Love at the same time… Thus, when on Christian makes the reverse claim, your god is not the same as theirs, even if they uphold the same status of “Christian” as yourself.

      I
      believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love,
      and offers redemption to all. – See more at:
      http://zackhunt.net/2014/05/13/dear-john-an-open-letter-to-john-calvin/#sthash.4BSGmCzx.dpuf
      I
      believe in a God who confronts sin with grace, defeats evil with love,
      and offers redemption to all. – See more at:
      http://zackhunt.net/2014/05/13/dear-john-an-open-letter-to-john-calvin/#sthash.4BSGmCzx.dpuf

  • Justin L. Marple
    May 16, 2014

    Zack, I have written a response available here: http://revmarple.com/index.php/gen-teachings/systematic-theology/900-dear-zack-an-open-letter-to-zack-hunt

  • Johan Woods
    May 16, 2014

    Great! I’m not the only one! 😉 I read those Institutes as well, even 2.5 times. I came to many of the same conclusions. Thanks for writing this, loved it; stand firm.

  • lmalone
    May 16, 2014

    “Which is why, John, it’s hard not to conclude that Calvinism is a sustained exercise in the defense against the obvious. By which I mean you’re constantly on the defense against the obvious conclusions of your claims. To your credit you offer up an exhaustive defense. It just runs counter to basic logic. There’s just no way around the fact that you’ve simultaneously created a God who is the author of evil while rendering the Christian life irrelevant because if our eternal fate is already sealed, there is absolutely no point in bothering to live in any particular way.”
    THIS. “A defense against the obvious”. Oh boy that could have saved me time. Living at ground zero, I am surrounded. And the entire debate is a circular dance down a black hole that ends in the declaration that I don’t believe God is Sovereign. Boy is that getting old. When in reality in Calvinism, God is not Sovereign over His own Sovereignty..
    How did you enjoy the part on “Reprobation”. That blew me away. So God wants you to “think” you are saved but you really aren’t. The bait and switch god.
    But seriously, All we have to do is read about his actual deeds in life to get the picture how this works out. His ruining of Castellio, writing to the Marquis long before Servetus came to Geneva that if he ever did, he would not leave alive.(premeditation!) His public punishments for things like falling asleep during one of his sermons, regulating the courses Genevans could serve at each meal, having his servants declare he could not tend to dying plague victims because the church needed him, and so on.
    The guy was a despotic thug

  • Argo
    May 17, 2014

    I dispute the claim that Calvin was “brilliant”. How can that possibly be a legitimate description of the abject rational larceny which IS Johnny’s mind?

    All of his conclusions lead to the DEATH of man as man’s greatest moral obligation.

  • Dan
    May 19, 2014

    Gutsy Hubris taking on one of the most celebrated “dead” theologians in history

  • Billy North
    May 19, 2014

    Speaking as someone who at one point was very committed to reformed theology; what is interesting I believe is that the attraction at the beginning is due to its rigorous intellectual engagement. The irony is that it is actually quite a very dogmatic narrow view based more on philosophical speculation then scripture. So you end up doing all of these intellectual gymnastics to defend metaphysical concepts of God and his character due to sovereignty and the implications of that with evil, free will, election, etc.

  • Harrison
    May 19, 2014

    My observations of Calvin were very similar, as have been my interactions with most Reformed Christians. Calvin’s God seems more like Zeus than Christ. He is characterized by power, but the pagans knew that a powerful God was not necessarily good. Also, Calvin’s treatment of his opponents (calling them a “satellites of Satan” stifles conversation and dehumanizes them, rather than seeing them as human beings made in the image of God. It comes off as manipulative and contrary to Charity.

  • Ann A. Jones
    May 20, 2014

    I never really thought about this a “real” issue until I had one of John Calvin’s devotees tell me that I was going to Hell. If I really was elect, I would know the errors of my ways and be a Calvinist. But I can’t and won’t accept that. I have hungered and thirsted for God all my life, done my best to follow the Word, etc. So, after all this, I die, get to the Judgment and find out I had it wrong?? This seems like the ultimate in cruelty to me and I can’t believe God would be that way. However, I have found many churches that act this out. You go and feel like a stranger, uninvited, ignored. You do your best, but at some point the truth becomes clear, when someone says, “My grandfather was the pastor here,” or “You weren’t here when we decided that.” Yes, there is some sort of unspoken rule to prevent people from getting it. I can’t believe that God works that way.

    • Ann A. Jones
      May 20, 2014

      Ed, we live near a Ref Sem and we figured out how it works! They let you in, you do all your classwork and do well. You pay the full price and don’t ask for anything extra. Then when graduation comes, you walk across the platform to receive your diploma, the president of the college says, “Oh, no, I’m sorry. You don’t get one. We decided before the day you started that you would not be getting a degree from us. No reason, we just decided. We’re real proud of how well you did, but we knew all along that it wouldn’t change anything.” I have had Calvinists tell me that I would pretty much have that happen when I get to Heaven. I’ll find out that there was something that I had nothing to do about and knew little about will be the reason I don’t get in. Wrong!

  • Ann A. Jones
    May 20, 2014

    Another thought from this dusty ol’ brain. The truth is that none of deserve salvation, and why some come to Jesus and some don’t is a very mysterious thing. I really believe that both sides are just trying their best to figure it out. I think that the most important thing we need to do is preach the Gospel, not use this to divide an already troubled fellowship. I wish that Calvinist preacher had never talked to me.

  • SJ
    May 20, 2014

    Fantastic. Is it more terrifying to know that the shorthand of this theology is what is preached everywhere, or the realization that some people have read and agree with this book that scares you more?

  • Joe
    May 21, 2014

    Zack, Any reason you let Calvin off the hook for the brutal murder of Servetus? Who as you know, Calvin ordered burned with green wood, so he suffered for three hours before he died.

    And this Calvin was an agent of God? Makes Stalin and Hitler look like nice guys compared to the God of “reformed theology”. Nothing reformed about it.
    Is it any wonder why educated people see conservative christians as kooks?

    Are you familiar with Austin Fischer of Purple Theology? Sounds like you two are in the same camp. Arminianism is a common stopping point on the way to a third way, a way that sees God as both all powerful and all loving.

    Consider Talbott’s three propositions, and let us know which one you disagree with.

    1. God is totally sovereign over human destinies.

    2. God is entirely loving and wills that all people be reconciled to Him in relationship.

    3. Most people will experience endless, conscious torment in hell

    • Karen
      May 21, 2014

      Joe, you seem to be a master of hyperbole. 🙂 Have you studied in any detail the magnitude of the suffering that Hitler and Stalin caused? I’m no fan of Calvin, but he’s not quite in that league despite his heresy and cruelty.

      I understand where you are going with Talbott’s propositions, and am sympathetic. A couple of the most beloved Saints in my own Christian tradition are St. Isaac the Syrian and St. Silouan the Athonite–for very good reasons. Talbott’s approach, however, is an inherently western, Scholastic approach to what is ultimately a mystery of personhood (both God’s and ours) that transcends categories of mathematical logic. Where freedom and self-determination are genuinely part of the very definition of personhood, there can be no dogmatic universalism, because within God’s sovereignty there is no room for coercion, and human beings are genuinely free. Of course, this also presupposes an understanding of the nature of hell’s torment that is Eastern (best articulated in St. Isaac’s writing), not that which predominates in Western Christendom.

      • Joe
        May 21, 2014

        Karen,

        Thanks for the back door compliment, but what did I say that you found hyperbolic? I did not say Calvin was on the same level as Stalin or Hitler – although there is no denying he was guilty of murder – but that the Calvinistic view of God makes God far worse than any monster on earth. Seems Zack’s title of his post alludes to the same idea.

        Rather, I think Jesus was the real master of hyperbole. The end of Matthew 25 is a prime example.

        Have you read much of Thomas Talbott? I know him personally.He has debated (in writing) John Piper. You can find the debate on Talbotts website. I would encourage you to read the transcript.

        At the end of the day, it is not about Universalism. Universalism is a foregone conclusion. Rather, the story is about why Jesus came. And about what we mean when we talk about “salvation”.

        I’d be interested to know where you are coming from with your idea of hell, east or west.

        And this statement: “because within God’s sovereignty there is no room for coercion, and human beings are genuinely free”. Could you unpack that for us?

        • Karen
          May 21, 2014

          Ah, I see I mistook your “hyperbolic” comparison to be between Calvin and Stalin/Hitler. My bad–I misread, and I do agree with your point now that I see what it was! 🙂

          I haven’t read Talbott, but just a little about some of his writings by another blogger who has discussed these topics at more length (here: http://afkimel.wordpress.com/?s=Talbott). I’m sure I’d enjoy reading the response to Piper. Thanks for the heads up.

          A little more on “hell” East vs. West here:
          http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/carlton/hell_a_modest_proposal

          And here (please pardon the strong polemical tone in the beginning against the theology of the “west”–it has a certain historical context and will certainly be seen as hyperbolic even by many Eastern Orthodox Christians): http://glory2godforallthings.com/the-river-of-fire-kalomiros/

          Good series on Isaac, the Syrian (and a hopeful, not dogmatic, Eastern Orthodox Christian universalism–a minority position for Eastern Christians as well) starts here:
          http://afkimel.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/st-isaac-the-syrian-preaching-the-astonishing-love-of-god/

          With regard to the issue of God’s sovereignty and human freedom, I’m Eastern Orthodox, and we don’t believe in Calvin’s divine monergism, nor Pelagius’ human monergism, but rather in the synergy between man and God as the means through which our personal salvation is appropriated (where, obviously, God’s energies are infinitely the greater and foundational, but the human energy no less necessary). By definition, God being love, and coercion of another’s will being contrary to God’s kind of love by orthodox Christian definition, we believe God’s sovereignty means His work within us “to will and to work for his good pleasure” stops short of coercion of a resistant human will (meaning simply we truly aren’t puppets of the Divine will).

          Salvation by EO definition is union with God in His love (which is impossible apart from a voluntary movement toward God on the part of the human being). Whether a resistant human will can last as long as the love of God is an open question, but dogmatically the Orthodox Church has insisted on the real possibility (not inevitability) of persistent resistance, with all the natural consequences this entails for how God’s eternal presence is experienced by the soul that continues to hate Him and HIs will. However, the very widely-beloved nature of the Orthodox Saints I mentioned in my first comment tells you a little about the spirit in which this dogmatic position is held by the most pious Orthodox Christians.

  • reubster
    May 21, 2014

    It’s such a relief to discover people who will say this out loud, coherently.

    I’m learning that Christians come with so much baggage, but God in his grace will use us for good anyway.

    • Mark
      February 22, 2016

      The sad part is, the baggage most Christians (and people in general) possess are self-inflicted.–And people hold onto it often times even more than they will hold onto God.

  • Prayson W Daniel
    May 22, 2014

    This letter could be addressed to Martin Luther, Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine and a host of other giants we happen to stand on their shoulders. I find it unfair that John Calvin is the mostly singled out on the doctrine of predestination. I have just re-read Aquinas’ Summa Theologica “On Predestination” and
    I would say nothing Calvin uttered that is not in Aquinas’.

    • Karen
      May 26, 2014

      From what I have read, this is a fair comment with regard to Aquinas at least. On the other hand, I believe it also shows how much St. Augustine in his own context has been conflated with his interpreters in much later times and different contexts. In addition to making unwarranted theological leaps from some of Augustine’s speculations (ones he would not have made himself), Luther, Aquinas and Calvin, unlike Augustine, were building from the assumptions and method of Medieval Scholasticism in their approach to the Scriptures.

      St. Augustine’s emphases on God’s sovereignty and predestination and on grace enabling free will, was in the context of his offering a polemic against Pelagius’ false teaching (that is to say it was not a coldly logical systematic theology in the vein of Calvin). Despite what are viewed in Eastern Orthodoxy as some theological errors in Augustine’s works (i.e., vis-a-vis the views of his counterparts in Greek-speaking Christedom, with whom he did not have opportunity to dialogue since he did not know Greek), Augustine was well within the early Catholic and Orthodox tradition in his overarching theological perspective. The others (along with the Jansenists) represent a departure from this earlier patristic orthodoxy.

    • Mark
      March 10, 2016

      Prayson, the primary reason why Calvinism is targeted most is because He has most directly impacted modern believers. That is to say, there is a greater number of Calvinists than Lutherans (as an example), and Calvinists often stir up more trouble than other denominations and/or olden persons. This is akin to the same argument many Homosexuals constantly inquire of modern Christians.–About why Homosexuality seems picketed more than other sins. The answer is simply because it is more directly effecting the surrounding people and culture than other sins presently are. It isn’t a matter that saying one is worse than the other, it is merely a matter of one is directly in your face, while the others keep a distance. The other problems still exist, but they are not as aggressive nor as destructive as Calvinism presently is. The moment Calvinism dies down and a new problem becomes more impacting, people are obviously going to shift their focus to that newer dilemma and largely ignore John Calvin at that point in the same way that all those other persons you mentioned are presently largely ignored by most.

      In a simplistic sense, the commonality of a problem directly effects the severity it is countered by people. Homosexuality is, once again, an ideal example of that. Because back before people pushed for its legalization, it was still a problem that occurred… But it was simply significantly more rare to encounter or hear about. As a result, its rarity caused its focus to be minimal by most people. Now that Homosexuality has become a mainstream problem, and arising from an increasing number of people, it is warranting more attention. It is that simple… Calvinists are simply the most well known users of any doctrinal statement regarding Predestination and Predamnation. As a result, it is the most heavily countered, even if (like you mentioned) other doctrines with similar problems do exist. The fact of the matter is, Calvinism is presently turning a great many more people away from Christianity than those others persons you mentioned are… For that reason, John Calvin is singled out most.

  • Mike
    May 27, 2014

    Wow….waaaaaay too long. Definitely skimmed, got the jist though.
    Too much taken or of context though to consider this to be anything of value.

    And the Bible straight up quotes God as saying He does in fact create calamity.

    The Bible tells us that God exists and that nothing exists or occurs that He does not ordain.  There are numerous verses that declare this truth…

    1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 1115:2-3, Daniel 4:35,  and Scripture repeatedly affirms the sovereignty of God over everything: 1 Timothy 6:15,  Exodus 4:11,  2 Kings 17:25, . 
    Specifically though, Proverbs 16:4 is what stands out most to me…

    ” The Lord has made everything for its purpose,  even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

    and Isaiah 45:7 – “I form light and create darkness,
    I make well-being and create calamity,
    I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

    Scripture is clear then…God is behind what we would classify as being good and what we would classify as evil or bad…He has ordained them both.

      What we have to understand though is, while God wills evil to exist, He NEVER commits evil.  Otherwise he would not be holy as scripture tells us He is.

    Can’t believe this letter has been shared so many times. Unfortunate.

    • muzjik
      June 17, 2015

      If you were too lazy to read the whole article, why bother to “refute” it with random verses? Nothing you said contradicts what Zack said, BTW.

  • Mallory Pickering
    June 1, 2014

    Thank you so much for writing this. It explains so thoroughly all I feel that’s wrong with Calvinism.

  • OldArkie
    June 17, 2014

    Very good thoughts, thank you for writing it. I hope its read by many, hopefully it will help some understand the dangers of this doctrine.

  • Chris
    June 17, 2014

    I understand the dislike for Calvinism. But I am baffled by your description of the “ultimate problem” that the Bible is not ultimately about the glory of God.

    You state, “But John, I don’t know what Bible you’re reading if you think that receiving glory is God’s primary interest in and purpose for mankind. If anything, the Bible is a sustained account of God’s disinterest in glory.”

    I have a strong disagreement with that last statement. I don’t want to get into an argument about interpretation, but surely you can’t suggest that the following verses represent a “sustained account of God’s disinterest in glory” even when in comes to God’s purposes for creating man.

    Isaiah 42:8
    Isaiah 43:6-7
    Isaiah 48:9-11

    Psalm 96:1-4
    Psalm 106:8

    Ezekiel 20:9, 14, 22, 44

    And even Jesus Himself stated his concern for his own glory in his prayer in John 17:1-5

    “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you… I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

    I certainly don’t deny that God desires a relationship with his people, but there is no way to say that God is in any way disinterested in his own glory.

    By the way, sorry to be so late to the party, but I just saw your post linked from SBC Today.

    • Mark
      March 9, 2016

      You totally missed the reason why God created us in the first place, didn’t you?

      We exist to have a relationship with God! True sin impedes our relational status with God, hence the need for repentance, but no relationship with anyone could ever exist without possessing acknowledge and understanding of that person. The Bible exists as a means of God revealing Himself to us.–Glory is merely a bonus to that fact, not the catch-all. God created us with love, for love, and to love… All of which in His image, which God calls His own self “Love” more that anything else. Meaning, everything stems back to Love, NOT Glory. Glory obviously becomes involved, but as an aftermath to Love; not the direct cause. We were not created for the purpose of Glory, we were created for the purpose of Love!–Most specifically, to love God!–Which is the definition of NOT sinning. Because sin is in opposition to God, which subsequently is in opposition to Love. Meaning, we were created to love, not to sin… Yet we sin, and God is not at fault for that since He created us for a different purpose, but we selected sin as opposed to God’s plan for us; which was to be in a deep relationship with Him. If you missed this fact when you read the Bible, reread it again, especially the first few chapters of Genesis. Adam and Eve were given only 3 commands: 1. Love God (aka: Don’t eat of the forbidden fruit); 2. Love each other (aka: Multiple); 3. Love Creation (aka: Cultivate). Among these three commands, we barely obey the 2nd and 3rd command, much less the first. You Love God by obeying God, you Love each other by cherishing one another, and you Love Creation by taking care of it and protecting it! We aren’t told how well Adam and Eve obeyed the second two commands, but they royally messed up the first one. Do you seriously think Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit was “Glorious” to God? If Calvinism is true, then what “Glory” does God receive from forcing Adam and Eve to disobey His own commands?–Seems like a very counter-intuitive thing for God to do since it told them one thing yet caused another. In fact, doesn’t that apply to the definition of a Hypocrite?–Saying one thing while doing another? P.S.: God was disinterested in His own glory enough to DIE!!! Lowered Himself so far as to be able to experience great sufferings. If anything, Christ was a very anti-glorious form.–So far as to even be ridiculed with a crown of thorns. It would seem God is far more concerned with Love…even to the extent of DEATH, rather than Glory. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t receive Glory along the way, or that Jesus wasn’t ultimately glorified when He arose from the dead, but the fact remains, God literally denied His own glory to become Christ in the first place. Glory is more-so a consequence of God’s Love, not the driving cause of God’s actions. If you missed how important our relationship is to God (even to warrant dying), then you have horribly misread your Bible. Go back and try again… This time, rather than inserting your own truths into the Bible, why not try withdrawing truths from the Bible… Usually has far more effective results when you do that instead.

  • thoff
    June 17, 2014

    Am I the only one concerned that he’s implicity suggesting John Calvin is not a Christian?

    • Alastair Wilson
      February 11, 2015

      Yes, because he says that he’ll see Calvin in heaven.

    • Mark
      February 22, 2016

      Thoff, two things… Firstly, the only claim Zack made is that he personally will be in Heaven someday. He did not claim John Calvin will not be in Heaven… Though it is also entirely possible Calvin wont be.

      Because secondly, not many people tend to realize that Calvinism is NOT Christianity… In fact, it is actually opposed to the definition of a “Christian”. A Christian is define by the need for Jesus to reach the father in Heaven (the most famous quote being: “Nobody can come to the Father except through Me”), and to subsequently follow in Christ’s example. However, Calvinism states that all persons are either Predestined or Predamned even prior to conception/birth. A favorite example Calvinists love to use is Jacob and Esau… However, that is also a perfect example of why Calvinism is NOT Christianity. Note that Jesus wasn’t needed for Esau to be predamned and Jacob to be predestined; because according to Calvinism, all people’s eternal fates were preset even at the dawn of Creation. This means, you are no less Predestined (or Predamned) before Jesus VS after Jesus… Also meaning, Christ’s life, death, and/or existence whatsoever is COMPLETELY pointless if Calvinism is true, because He effected absolutely nothing about your eternal fate. According to Calvinism, you are no more or less Predestined or Predamned whether you knew Jesus or not. This is why Calvinism is NOT Christianity, because it places ZERO emphasis on the relevance of Jesus since they claim God alone is the deciding factor of one’s Salvation. Which leaves the question: “Why did Jesus die?” If Jesus changes nothing about God’s already established Predestination and/or Predamnation, then what was the point to committing Suicide via Jesus Christ? The answer… Calvinism does not require Christ for salvation… Instead, you are Predestined or Predamned even before you are conceived in your mother’s womb and are incapable of changing this fact, regardless whether Jesus ever existed.–Yet the definition of a Christian is to believe Christ is our savior. Meaning, Calvinism is in direct opposition to Christianity!!!

      There is no purpose for Christ’s existence and no value in Christ’s sacrifice if we would have gotten to Heaven by Predestination anyway… Being “Christian” necessitates on a need for Christ; but Calvinism does not possess that need since God predetermines our eternal destinations. Meaning, so long as you believe you cannot choose (of your own volition) to believe in Christ and to love God, then it is entirely possible that every Calvinist will not enter Heaven by denying the relevance of God’s only Begotten Son! Can you reach Heaven without Jesus? If your answer is “No”, then Calvinism is flawed and cannot be true; but if your answer is “Yes”, then Calvinism is not Christian. In other words, you have two options: A. Calvinism is Wrong; or B. Calvinism is NOT Christianity. And you have no other choice (literally)!

      If you wish to deny this fact, you would require providing a reason for Christ’s existence in spite of our already preset eternal fates. What reason has God to die for people He already dictates into Heaven and Hell? Is the Calvinistic god simply a Masochist perhaps? Until Calvinism possesses a reason for Christ, it cannot apply to “Christianity”.–That isn’t an opinion, it is the definition of the word in question…

  • Mason Goodknight
    June 17, 2014

    Worst sin ever committed? Baby rape? No. Mass murder? No. Murder of Jesus? Yes. God’s plan man’s responsibility.

    “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”
    Acts 4:27-28

    Thank you Jesus for dying for me according to the Father’s foreordained plan. I thank You that You do all for the glory of God and the good of Your people.

    • Rich Stals
      June 18, 2014

      Hi Mason,

      As an Arminian, I would say that you are reading that text with your Calvinistic glasses on.

      Let’s start with what it does *not* say. It doesn’t say that God determined each and every action of Herod, Pilate and the rest of the cast of the crucifixion.

      What is does explicitly say is that Herod, Pilate etc. had gathered together to “do whatever God’s purpose determined before to be done’. So what was the “purpose determined”? It was the crucifixion. It doesn’t say that God had planned and decreed the evil actions of these men.

      An Arminian views this passage as saying that God purposed the death and resurrection of Christ before the foundation of the world, without having to decree the individual evil intent and acts of men to bring it about. A view in perfect harmony with this scripture.

      Many Calvinists (I do not include you in this) use this verse in discussion to mean that Arminians somehow ignore scriptures like these when we read the Bible. In fact people on both sides of the debate seem to consistently confuse the Bible with their interpretation of the Bible (like another somewhat prolific commenter on this post). Calvinists and Arminians generally both have high views of scripture and don’t ‘ignore’ parts of the Bible, we interpret them differently.

      • Chris
        June 18, 2014

        So… when you say, “So what was the ‘purpose determined?’ It was the crucifixion. It doesn’t say that God had planned and decreed the evil actions of these men.”

        You are saying that the crucifixion, the unjustified murder of the Son of God, was NOT an evil act on Herod or Pilate’s part?

        You are saying God ordained the crucifixion, but that the crucifixion itself was not en evil act as the breaking of the sixth commandment?

        I’m confused…

  • Will Gaughan
    June 17, 2014

    Lots of philosophical arguments but not a single example of exegesis.

    The institutes are among the greatest and most extensive exegetical works of reformed theology. Would it have been too much to simply pick one of Calvin’s exegetical views and contrast it with your superior grasp of Koine Syntax?

  • James White
    June 17, 2014

    I will be responding to this diatribe on The Dividing Line starting today, around 7pm EDT (after responding to a video in the first hour). I do not know if I will finish the response today or not, but we will at least get a good start. You can watch/listen to the program at aomin dot org.

  • James
    June 18, 2014

    What a mess…

    In
    other words, if a child is raped, a family murdered in their sleep, or
    an entire population of people sent off to the gas chambers, that wasn’t
    just the act of evil men. It was the will of God. – See more at:
    http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=12190#sthash.zbqO4mHz.dpuf
    Zack, you write, “In other words, if a child is raped, a family murdered in their
    sleep, or an entire population of people sent off to the gas chambers,
    that wasn’t just the act of evil men. It was the will of God.”

    From our perspective, these things are absolutely horrible… but we essentially have three choices here:
    1.
    God decreed these things and has a purpose in them that’s beyond our
    ability to know or understand… but we trust Him because in spite of
    how horrible these things hare we know He’s good, just and righteous,
    2. God doesn’t care enough to stop them and thus allows them, or
    3. God is utterly powerless to stop them.

    Let’s
    see… I’ll pick… #1. Seems you’re stuck with either 2 or 3… in
    which case, the ‘problem of evil’ is a real theological problem for you.
    In
    other words, if a child is raped, a family murdered in their sleep, or
    an entire population of people sent off to the gas chambers, that wasn’t
    just the act of evil men. It was the will of God. – See more at:
    http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=12190#sthash.zbqO4mHz.dpuf
    In
    other words, if a child is raped, a family murdered in their sleep, or
    an entire population of people sent off to the gas chambers, that wasn’t
    just the act of evil men. It was the will of God. – See more at:
    http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=12190#sthash.zbqO4mHz.dpuf

    • muzjik
      June 17, 2015

      #4 God is grieved by man’s evil deeds but has allowed (not decreed) the ravages of sin in the world so that people may freely respond the Christ’s call “If anyone is thirsty. let him come to Me and drink”, not by force or compulsion like some programmed robot who is “ordained” to love and obey.

    • Mark
      March 9, 2016

      Calvinism only has two possible outcomes, not three…

      Calvinism claims that God is the ONLY deciding factor of Salvation and that we can do absolutely nothing about it. Yet the Bible tells us that Jesus died so that “None” should perish and that “All” would be saved. This being the case, and holding Scripture to a higher standard and “Truth” value over John Calvin’s words, if Calvinism were the true god, then there is only two possible outcomes. =

      A. God lied and does not desire to save all and have none perish since He not only predamns some while predestining others, but also because God Himself would be the root cause behind everything He calls a “Sin”.
      B. God does desire all persons to be saved and none to perish, but is incapable of saving all persons and subsequently unintentionally predamns some and predestines others either because something is more powerful than God, or because God had a duality will (where one will says save, the other will says destroy).

      Meaning, literally the only two options available to Calvinism is an Evil god or an Incompetent god. And according to Calvinism itself, you literally have no choice but to accept one of these two options.

      As for the three choices you made available, you mentioned both of the Calvinistic possibilities in your option 1 and option 3; but your option 2 is a fallacy! The implication of your 2nd option is literally identical to when Atheists ask: “If God is so good, why does Hell exist?” You are claiming that because a consequence to Sin exists, therefore God must not care. Does that also mean that when a parent punishes their child for misbehaving, that means those parents do not love the child? Ironically, it is actually the reverse that is true! The punishments shows that the parents love the child enough to want to benefit that child’s future choices in life so as to not make the same mistakes over and over again. Meaning, when humans choose to sin, God only has two choices:

      1. Defy His Loving nature by oppressing our nature.–Because Love does not cage nor is it forceful.
      2. Use our mistakes to teach us how to improve ourselves through the consequences we experience.

      Between these two options, which one does the Bible advocate? Romans 5:3-4 “Rejoice in your sufferings, because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance creates strength, strength becomes character, character ignites hope, and hope leads you to God.” So why does bad things happen? Because if God were to stop us from making poor decisions, we’d never learn why we need God’s guidance to make the correct decisions. But this is only possible via option 2 (which promotes Free Will). Options 1 denies Free Will (as Calvinists prefer), but it also denies Love.

      So when you listed option 1 and option 3, you had the right idea… But if you regard option 2 as valid, then you would be required to also deny why Hell exists in the first place (as a consequence for making the ultimate wrong choice). If Hell exists because “God doesn’t care”, then you have an extremely problematic god… The type of god Atheists constantly complain about where they fail to understand why Sin, Hell, Pain, etc… exist if God is “Good”. They exist because God loves us so much that even at the cost of Death, He was willing to create us. If you don’t believe me, then allow me to end on this question: “Which do you believe is more loving? To force you into His presence where you avidly do not want to be, or to go to a place where there are no Thou Shalt Nots?” Many people look at Hell as a punishment… In actuality, it is the realization of people’s desire to live in a world without God. In other words, for those in the world who hate God’s moral restrictions, Hell is the ideal place for them because those restrictions will not exist there. Hell is as void of God as possible without completely ceasing to exist.–That is why it is also filled with suffering… Because nothing good can come from a world without God. But for those who desire that, such a world exists in the afterlife. But people will likely not enjoy it there as much as they believe they would while on this Earth. It is far more unloving to force someone into Heaven than to place them were they want to go. Nobody goes into Hell unwillingly, those who end up there do so as a result of wanting nothing to do with Christ, or failing to acknowledge Him.

      Between options A and B, much like how you choose your own option 1, most Calvinists prefer an Evil god over an Incompetent god.–Neither of these gods are the God of the Bible, but the are the only possible outcomes to Calvinism, as you yourself stated. Technically, if the three answers you provided were the only three options, then option 2 is the most accurate, despite being a fallacy. Because that than not stopping sins because God doesn’t care, God doesn’t stop sins because He cares! But since the “Not caring” part is the only flaw to that statement, it is subsequently the most biblically accurate among your list of available outcomes. Major difference between you and I, however, is that I acknowledge that punishment is proof of Love, whereas you see punishment as a show of a lack of love. Subsequently, if your parents, teachers, friends, etc… ever give you a negative consequence to your actions, that means they do not love you James (according to your own logic). Meaning, only people who treat you positively no matter how sinful you are, they are the ONLY ones in your life who love you.–Do you have anyone in your life who is like that? If not, then I regret to inform you, nobody loves you James…

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  • Chris Bodnovits
    June 26, 2014

    I was a Calvinist reprobate right up until I met Jesus. I truly believed I was an Esau. I praise God for the Pastor who led me out of all that, he truly had the love of Jesus coming out of his pores. Id never seen anything like it.

    • Mark
      February 22, 2016

      That is excellent to hear Chris! Indeed, not many people tend to realize that Calvinism is NOT Christianity… In fact, it is actually opposed to the definition of a “Christian”. A Christian is define by the need for Jesus to reach the father, and to subsequently follow in Christ’s example. However, Calvinism states that all persons are either Predestined or Predamned even prior to conception/birth. A favorite example Calvinists love to use is indeed Jacob and Esau… However, they are also a perfect example of why Calvinism is NOT Christianity. Note that Jesus wasn’t needed for Esau to be damned and Jacob to be saved; because according to Calvinism, all people’s eternal fates were preset even at the dawn of Creation. This means, you are no less Predestined (or Predamned) before Jesus VS after Jesus… Meaning, Christ’s life, death, or existence whatsoever is COMPLETELY pointless if Calvinism is true, because He effected absolutely nothing about your eternal fate. You would have been just as Predestined or Predamned whether you knew Jesus or not. This is why Calvinism is NOT Christianity, because it places ZERO emphasis on the relevance of Jesus since they claim God alone is the deciding factor of one’s Salvation. Which leaves the question: “Why did Jesus die?” Calvinism does not require Christ for salvation… yet the definition of a Christian is to believe Christ is our savior. Meaning, Calvinism is in direct opposition to Christianity!!!

      –This fact is one that most people never even notice……

  • Randal Potratz
    September 13, 2014

    I know I am late to comment, but just came across this. As someone who has come through a church diaspora because of this viewpoint, I can not agree more the article.

  • Miguel
    February 11, 2015

    It is not fair writing an open letter to someone who cannot answer back.

    It gives the impression that he couldn’t think of anything to say back to you. And you know he would have.

    • Mark
      March 9, 2016

      Not really, Zack gave examples of what John Calvin would have said in return, such as “Satellite of Satan”.–Which was in direct reference to the words John Calvin used even within his own works to describe those who fail to agree with him… Among many other related comments. John Calvin would not have had a logical retort, but rather a shunning response toward Zack. And likely much harsher in tone than Zack’s reasonably kind words toward John Calvin. Furthermore, why would Zack require him to respond when John Calvin has such an abundant group of followers who can lead that revolt against Zack instead? Even God often does not respond directly to us when we question or insult HIm; instead, God often answers our pleas through other people.

      This letter format is quite possibly the nicest way of rejecting Calvinism that Zack could offer. Because the core point wasn’t about being right or wrong, but rather, that John Calvin’s views were not right specifically to Zack.–Hence the personalized nature of the letter’s addressing of the issue. Meaning, John Calvin responding would not have likely changed Zack’s beliefs.

  • Dominique Gardner
    June 13, 2015

    I don’t have a problem with others doctrinal differences. I do believe there are “open-handed” and “closed-handed” issues when it comes to being a disciple of Christ. All men are flawed and fall short of the Glory of God. We should neither look to Wesley or Calvin as the final say in our understanding of Scripture. Yes, they are some of the heroes of the faith, and God has used them in mighty ways to do great things for His name. With that said, we should ultimately go to God, and rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us understand His Word.

    Zack, though I don’t agree with your stance, I respect that you have an opinion. These are important doctrinal issues that need to be discussed. I would ask though, what scriptures do you have to support your stance. I was very disappointed to fine very little scripture supporting the claims you have made against Calvin’s stance. I am not here to defend Calvin, I am here to defend the Glorious God that we serve and His infallible Word.

    I would encourage you to dig a little deeper into scripture to help support your stance. I have found the book of Isaiah very helpful in understanding God’s views of His own glory. Praying for you brother.

    • Mark
      March 9, 2016

      How about 1 John 2:2! It doesn’t take much scripture to see a problem with trying to alter terms such as “All” and “None”. Additionally, Scripture is not the only why God reveals Himself… And even the Bible speaks of the importance of possessing a proper “Apologia” (as Paul put it), which directly refers to logical reasoning for one’s beliefs. Calvinism lacks logic for even existing, much less being “Christian”. The core of this particular denominational issue is Love… Because as John likewise mentions in the Bible: “Fail to know Love, and you will fail to know God; for God is Love!” The entire point to Calvinism is that God must be Sovereign above all else, yet even Paul argues: “If God would so willingly surrender onto us even His own Begotten Son, then there is nothing lesser than Himself He would not also also give.” This means, the only way God would prevent the existence of Free Will is if you can claim: “Free Will is GREATER than God.” — This is a where the Logical Fallacy of Calvinism occurs… The assumption that nothing can override God, yet Jesus was killed! So while Calvinists try to attribute all blame (and power) to God, God forfeited His power to become human and die.–If He could do that, what else is God willing to forfeit for us? Control perhaps? You seriously mean to tell me that a God who would surrender even His own life to us is completely against allowing us to come to Him by our choice of Faith? If so… Then your god is suicidal!–Dying for absolutely no reason whatsoever since a person’s “Predestination” or “Predestination” would not change whether Jesus lived, died, or existed whatsoever. In fact, one of Calvinist’s favorite example is Esau and Jacob; Christ wasn’t needed then for God to “Elect” them before birth, so why is Christ needed now? If our eternal destination is decided before we even exist in this world, then Jesus dying changes NOTHING!!! Which is why Calvinism is NOT Christianity. Christianity necessitates on Christ being relevant for salvation!–But John Calvin barely even mentions Christ, and Calvinism excludes Christ entirely. Don’t believe me, then tell me which of the 5-Points of Calvinism mentions Jesus? Any belief that denies the relevance of Christ is not “Christian”. Calvinism falls into that category… By claiming Salvation is achieved by God the Father alone, there is no need for God the Son if God the Father predetermines all who go to Heaven and all who go to Hell. In fact, not even God the Holy Spirit is necessary since all actions all people take is ordained by God anyway. This is what you wish to place your trust in? The whimsical possibility that you’ve been elected (which you cannot even know, according to Calvinism)? That is a very destructive belief structure to uphold…

  • Erdman West
    January 3, 2016

    1-There is no “good God” there is only God and God is ALL INFINITE
    things. We decide what is good or bad but really things just ARE,
    therefore 2- God indeed is not only responsible for the good and the bad
    God IS the good and the bad. We have been on a dead end side track for
    2000 yrs and it is KILLING us. Buddhism has tried to convey this sense
    of all is one one is all since way B.C. but we desperately cling to the
    “entity” we have created and continuously wonder why “He” has failed us.
    Even the previous Pope lamented during a disaster why “God ” allowed
    such things. Simply because the “thing”/”God” to which he referred does
    not and never did, exist. This is NOT atheism. God is as real as you or
    me. In fact God IS you, me and infinite existence. Name one thing which
    is NOT GOD. Do you understand now?

    • Mark
      March 9, 2016

      I confess, your argument is intriguing. You are essentially claiming that since God created all things, then He “IS” everything that results from His Creation. So, anything I create in life is Me, rather than merely a creation of mine or a reflection of my abilities. Also meaning, when you look at Poop, or an Artwork, or even your Computer screen, you are looking at the person it came from, not the object itself. I admit, that’s one very strange belief in transitive properties. Where all things that come from someone else are that person. That also means I am Adam and Eve!–Because they likewise created me. And my children are me, rather than their own person. Heck, every human alive “IS” Adam (the first human), rather than their own individual. We are all just one conglomerate person. And ultimately, according to your logic, I am God! — I don’t believe this personally, but your argument implies that absolutely anything I say and do is divine, which makes me equal to God by being from God. For that matter, Zack is God also… So why is God arguing against Himself? There is no reason to imply Zack or anyone is wrong, because God cannot be wrong! This logic amazes me… How do you live knowing you and everything/everyone ARE God, rather than merely a creation from God? How do you explain that to a nonbeliever? Someone comes up to you and asks: “Who is God?” And you respond: “You are, I am, He is, She is, that chair over there is, your clothes are, every single person who have ever lived and still live is, everything you know is also…” Seriously think they’d understand or even give consideration to Christianity if both the nonbeliever and yourself possess equal divinity anyway? You’re more likely to confuse people than to spread the Gospel.

      P.S.: You are not god, my God is far greater than you! I will never worship you Erdman…

  • Erdman West
    January 3, 2016

    1-There is no “good God” there is only God and God is ALL INFINITE
    things. We decide what is good or bad but really things just ARE,
    therefore 2- God indeed is not only responsible for the good and the bad
    God IS the good and the bad. We have been on a dead end side track for
    2000 yrs and it is KILLING us. Buddhism has tried to convey this sense
    of all is one one is all since way B.C. but we desperately cling to the
    “entity” we have created and continuously wonder why “He” has failed us.
    Even the previous Pope lamented during a disaster why “God ” allowed
    such things. Simply because the “thing”/”God” to which he referred does
    not and never did, exist. This is NOT atheism. God is as real as you or
    me. In fact God IS you, me and infinite existence. Name one thing which
    is NOT GOD. Do you understand now?

  • Erdman West
    January 3, 2016

    NAME ONE THING WHICH IS NOT GOD!
    do you understand now?

    • Mark
      March 9, 2016

      Answer: You…

      Need I go on?

  • Erdman West
    January 3, 2016

    NAME ONE THING WHICH IS NOT GOD!
    do you understand now?

  • IrishEddieOHara
    January 3, 2016

    Infernus, Dark Lord of the Underworld, has much to say about John Calvin:

    http://edwardh317.wix.com/infernus-speaks#!great-theologians–/cqw4

  • Thorn
    January 6, 2016

    Zack,

    If you are going to argue repeatedly:

    “But in the end, based on your own argument, the one looking the most depraved is God. For it is God, not humanity, who ordains evil and institutes eternal torture regardless of act or decision.”

    I hate to break it to you, but Wesleyian theology still has God instituting and ordaining the torture and death of His own innocent Son. Even in the diminished aspect of sovereignty you wish to apply in order to reconcile your struggle with God ordaining evil is still bound by Christ’s own submission to God’s sovereign will (Luke 22: 41-44). Jesus surrenders to the God of the Old Testament, the God of justice, the God of Wrath. Who are you to do differently?

    It’s ironic to me that you would judge God evil for condemning his creation, but readily excuse the act of condemning his own Son. Why is that?

    Upon what grounds can you argue that God does not have authority, power, dominion, and sovereignty over his creation? Since you didn’t appeal to Scripture, your post comes across entirely as the emotional and irrational sin fallen struggle we all have when it comes to recognizing that God is in fact, actually GOD.

    Do you really think any creature of God has the authority to judge His actions? Where is that offered? (Once, frankly, the trial of Jesus and he was declared innocent…) Adam wasn’t offered Godship. In Christ, we aren’t offered Godship either. We are and forever will be dependent creatures. God is entirely independent of his creation. This means including judgement. (Look at the whole book of Job for even a blameless man who has no grounds from which to judge God for his “evil” acts against him). It has no bearing, and thus your conclusion that in the instance in which God allows, ordains, and institutes acts of evil he could be labeled depraved himself is a failure to recognize our position much less your own double standard of when God can condemn and when he can’t.

    God gives life. He alone is Creator. He thus has the right to take it, end it, mold it, save it, condemn it, demand obedience, etc. What he does with his creation has no moral bearing against himself. That’s why he’s called God.

    Before you counter, remember that the ideals of grace and mercy are entirely defined as they are because they do not hinge on being owed to us. The absence of them toward us by God would no less diminish his love, mercy, or gracious attributes. He owes his creation nothing. He didn’t need to send his Son, create, or extend anyone’s life. He would owe a perfect unfallen creation, nothing and he could end it tomorrow if he wanted still. It’s still, creation. It’s still subject.

    What is mankind offered in the garden? Everlasting life upon obedience. Their not offered Godship for obeying. God never set out to make other gods. He’s quite clear, he’s it and only wants to be it.

    We like to treat free will as if it’s the capability to usurp, control, rebuff, or manipulate God whether we mean to or not. The reality of free will is that it was never a will that was at any point in time greater than God. It’s just a choice. Thus it easily both applies to the responsibility of man to choose, the consequences there of, and yet it is incapable of overthrowing the God of the Bible. God’s sovereignty and authority over all things is so far greater than his creation including man that man’s will holds no sway. Man’s will has no more power over God to defeat God than a gnat can control a hurricane. The gnat can have all the will it wants, but it’s not capable.

    The problem with Wesley, Armenians, universalists, and others who struggle with God’s sovereignty vs evil is that it ultimately concludes with rendering God just another Zeus. Another false image, contingent upon man’s judgement and will. And from most on the latter ends of views always an emotional struggle more so than a recognition of the gospel.

    I get it, but I entirely prefer the God of the Bible who won’t lose, can’t lose, who demands obedience, doesn’t skirt justice and wrath from his own Son, who allowed evil (regardless of authorship) for the purpose of not only glorifying himself in his and for his Son, but to conquer death, disobedience, and sin, once and for all. Thus his people can be redeemed and united in Christ, despite man’s disobedience. It all culminates from Christ, for Christ. It’s all bound by Him, for Him. He who is above reproach, declared innocent even by man, and subjected himself to the God of wrath and justice.
    Realize God allows and let’s evil perpetuate in the least for the entire purpose of subjecting Jesus to it. Thank goodness God is sovereign. Because he is, evil is rendered temporal. Sin defeated. Christ is victorious.

    • Philip Mills
      January 6, 2016

      Trying to follow, are you saying that God can’t be evil so even if he does something that would be evil for us to do ie/murder or allows for evil things to occur, it doesn’t apply to him?

      • Thorn
        January 6, 2016

        I’m saying more so that man can’t even judge whether or not God is evil. It’s God who declares and judges man, not vice versa. Thus, even if Zack were right that the logical conclusion of Calvinism makes God “depraved”, he’d have no authority in which to levy that claim against God anyway, assuming it to be true as well. In essence a worst case, if God creates a world knowing they will all fall and suffer eternal torment (and no one is saved) because he’s decreed it so, whether or not that is “good” or “evil” is entirely at the discretion of God. The creation is always subject. It’s an effort in futility to attempt to ignore that God in the least allows evil (he creates Satan, places the tree, and gives Adam a choice), and in the least is responsible ultimately for it’s existence regardless of whether one wishes to assign direct blame or action by God in perpetuating it.

        That’s a what if, worst case to the “problem” of God directing evil to an extent.

        The reality is that the Bible never goes there though. God doesn’t predestined all to hell, though he could righteously and authoritatively do so without any condemnation if he wanted to. He’s God and entirely above reproach as we are fallen.

        So of course the concept of something like “murder” doesn’t apply to him in comparison with men. He has authority to take and give life as Creator. That’s not murder, regardless of the means in which he brings life to it’s temporal end on earth or even eternally.

        Remember, Jesus was murdered by the free will of man. He entirely understands not only the depth to which such things have been allowed, but he’s suffered all the same under them. He didn’t condemn God for the justice and wrath he faced, but surrendered to it. So where could ever be our position to declare God “depraved” or “evil” if He didn’t? Regardless of where the line is in which sovereignty and man’s responsibility is held in tension, God knows. The means and end are justified. And they’re justified regardless of our opinion.

        God can’t sin in the least because sin is a measure of the creation’s obedience according to God’s authority and decree. It’s a measure of man. The Trinity is always in obedience unto itself. To attempt to judge God a sinner, you’d have to have a greater authority and standard by which to subject him too. Through Jesus, God entirely displays that his measure is above reproach.

        • Philip Mills
          January 6, 2016

          The idea of God in complete control over everything but not causing or choosing/predestine the eternal torment of people seem to be at odds.

          I could follow if it was accepted that God creates and choose to torture his creation for eternity because he can and will do as he pleases.

          That picture of God appears at odds with how I read a great number of scriptures but it’s at least consistent. Evil cannot apply to him, a double standard of sorts. What ever he does he has a right to do because he’s God but if we were to do the same we are privy to the ideals of good and evil.

          I can follow that logic, reads unbiblical to me, but i can follow. As soon as you move from God causing and being wholly responsible (and by virtue a monster if he was a human doing these things but since he’s God it’s ok) I struggle to follow.

          • Thorn
            January 6, 2016

            Well the complexity of undiminished sovereignty verses man’s responsibility always feels at odds because we only see in part. We can trust that they are both true as the Bible declares without diminishing one or the other (as man’s . Paul doesn’t diminish either in Romans 9. He entirely addresses the entire conversation people have had for centuries since, we just don’t want to accept it. We don’t like being dependent creatures. But we get example after example from the garden to Joseph to Egypt Job to Jonah to Jesus to Paul.

            We don’t ever have to move from God be wholly responsible.

          • Philip Mills
            January 7, 2016

            I’m glad these ideas work for you and bring you towards God. In so many ways that’s the beauty of the Christian faith. The breadth of orthodox belief that allows for such divergent understandings of our God.

  • Shane Bird
    January 8, 2016

    Hey Zack, this is my first time reading one of your blogs and I have a question.

    “There’s just no way around the fact that you’ve simultaneously created a God who is the author of evil while rendering the Christian life irrelevant because if our eternal fate is already sealed, there is absolutely no point in bothering to live in any particular way.”

    I think that this quote from you sums up the core of the disagreements you have with Calvin. I’m wondering how do you think about God when you consider that he knew everything that we would do before creation and then established what was to be upon creation?

    Thanks

    • Philip Mills
      January 11, 2016

      Your question starts with an assumption. That the future is static and God knows it. There are a number of theological systems and ways of understanding God that don’t require that as a starting point. Many people struggle with the notion of free will and God’s awareness of the future so there are ideas and systems that allow for some of that tension to work together.

      To me your question implies no free will which gets right to the heart of the quote you used.

      • Shane Bird
        January 12, 2016

        1. I freely chose to eat an apple.
        2. God knows this in advance.

        I really don’t see any clear contradiction between these two statements. Knowledge doesn’t necessarily negate freedom.

        • Philip Mills
          January 12, 2016

          The core question philosophical question of how free a choice do we have when that choice is already set (knowledge of the future implies a rigidity to it), is wrestled with in a load of different ways. And while for you it may not appear to be at odds, it has been discussed and debated because of the contradiction it appears to create for others for 100s of years.

          Calvinism, as I understand it, does add a layer of not just God knowing but ordaining it to be so. That extra layer adds another layer of complexity onto who He is, with His causing people to murder, rape, etc.

          • Shane Bird
            January 13, 2016

            I think you explain the distinction between knowledge and a lack of freedom quite well in your second paragraph. I believe that God doesn’t force people to do things, like a Calvinist may believe, but simply knows what they would do. Then based upon that knowledge and God’s free act of creation does “ordain”, I’m using that word in a different sense then you did, the actual world.

          • Philip Mills
            January 13, 2016

            Sure, and there are those who would believe that while God could know he chooses not to, or knows all the possible futures but not which we will pick, or by perfect relational knowledge knows how we will respond, etc.

            Some are static futures some are all in flux and some are because we pick and some because God actively causes.

            I guess my point is that many Godly people don’t believe God knows the future or that his knowledge of the future is far more complicated than a static reality. All still Orthodox as best as I can tell.

          • Shane Bird
            January 17, 2016

            Alright, I understand that there are many different views about God’s knowledge of the future. My point is that you can hold a static future and free will together without contradiction which essentially rebuts many of the points of this post.

          • Philip Mills
            January 17, 2016

            I suppose it’s possible, but I’ve never read or heard a compelling argument. The two apear to me to mutually exclusive.

      • Shane Bird
        January 12, 2016

        1. I freely chose to eat an apple.
        2. God knows this in advance.

        I really don’t see any clear contradiction between these two statements. Knowledge doesn’t necessarily negate freedom.

    • Philip Mills
      January 11, 2016

      Your question starts with an assumption. That the future is static and God knows it. There are a number of theological systems and ways of understanding God that don’t require that as a starting point. Many people struggle with the notion of free will and God’s awareness of the future so there are ideas and systems that allow for some of that tension to work together.

      To me your question implies no free will which gets right to the heart of the quote you used.

  • kingjulian83
    January 14, 2016

    I have no problem with criticising a theological stance, but the overall tone of this article is just drenched in smug condescension.

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  • Uzil
    March 7, 2016

    If it is possible, I am not trying to start any major argument or controversy, but I would like to know something from any Calvinist willing to answer. According to Calvinism, all persons are given an electoral status even prior to birth, which cannot be altered regardless of what you believe, what you do, or how you live. And if this is true, what is the purpose of existing in this world if our destinations are already preset? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply go straight to Heaven or Hell since that outcome will not change? I don’t understand the reason for living in a middle-ground of sorts between Heaven and Hell if being here accomplishes nothing. Can anyone answer this for me? I honestly don’t understand the purpose of being alive on this Earth if Calvinism is true. Wouldn’t it be better to simply die now and go straight to Heaven or Hell rather than delaying the inevitable?

  • Craig Hudson
    June 26, 2016

    Perhaps Calvin and Wesley were both right and both wrong at the same time. God is Sovereign and men aren’t robots. God accomplishes His work and nothing will stop that..

  • Damon Hawes
    January 10, 2018

    Hey Zack, very well written article. As a Calvinist, I am often turned off by some of Calvin’s stricter (you may choose the term monstrous) descriptions of God. It is through my recognition of the historical setting and his intended audience that I am able to contextualize and come to more comfortable terms with the concepts I am reading when I read work from Calvin, especially the Institutes. I am curious as to whether or not, in your class, you engaged Calvin with consideration to the condition of the Church at that time/his intended audience and his setting in history?
    (P.S. I realize this post is years old by now, and I hate to bring up old issues, but on the off-chance you read this comment I would be delighted to continue the discussion!)
    (P.P.S Truth be told, I did not read the entire comment stream, so I’m unsure whether I’m asking about a previously settled concern, if I am please direct me to where you’ve addresses this aspect! Thank you)

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