The Laughable Egoism of Being “Elected” by God

In today’s New York Times there’s a huge article about Mark Driscoll, head of the Mars Hill mega-church in Seattle.

Mr. Driscoll is a Calvinist. This means he believes that, before they were even born, some people were preordained by God to go to heaven—and that everyone else, when they die, gets shot directly to hell. You’re born either one of  God’s “elect” (cue Napoleon Dynamite’s voice: “Lucky!”), or you’re not. Period. And there’s nothing you can do to change your status in that regard.

I’m sure Mr. Driscoll is certain that he is one of those pre-chosen by God to end up in heaven.

In fact, how much do you want to bet that every single member of Mars Hill Seattle—that every Calvinist in the world—is absolutely, 100% positive that they are among the “elect”?

Gosh, I guess Daddy likes them best of all.

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  • Oh this should be fun.

  • Something tells me that your Calvinist brothers and sisters in Christ won't find this all that entertaining…

  • I actually agree with the concept of election. But I cast my net a bit wider with my guess of who God chose to redeem…

  • Hey, John! Good to hear from you again! And you're right, they won't. Maybe I was too cavalier/dismissive. But, honestly: Have you ever met a Calvinist who DIDN'T think they were among the elect?

    Red: Everything, of course, hinges on your word, "guess." Guess: cool enough. KNOW: not so much with the cool.

  • I would say that NYT missed the mark on Calvinism, just as Newsweek missed the mark on what the Bible says about homosexuality.

    The Bible clearly speaks of election. Israel was elect and told to destroy other nations around them in the Old Testament. Paul and Peter consistently speak of the elect in Christ.

    NYT misunderstood Driscoll and made him out to be some sort of egotist. If they wanted to do a piece on Calvinism, they should have examined some others, like John Piper, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler. The list could go on.

    NYT missed the mark and I think you've missed it this time, too, John.

  • Calvinism makes God sound capricious and arbitrary. Why is it that simply accepting the gift of God’s grace offered through Christ is somehow considered a work? I’ve never understood this.

    As has been said John, I reccomend that you buckle-down for a crap-storm of epic proportions. Calvinists don’t like being challenged.

  • What'd I get wrong, Chris?

  • Jessica

    I thought that the belief was that a person could only be "saved" if God chose to intervene for them. That's a little different then being able to nothing to receive God's grace. I could be wrong though. BTW. I live in Seattle and around here he is also known as the "swearing pastor."

  • Graffight

    One of the toughest things to deal with as a christian is the absolute sovereignty of God. It’s a weird thing to think about when one says that we have Free will, but at the same time God already knows who’s going to heaven or hell. In my personal opinion it’s not so much that God “chooses” per se’ who will go to heaven, but that he already knows what we will choose…God uses all people whether they are Christian or not for his glory, so if you are not christian God uses you differently than he uses the Christian…It’s still up to us to decide. as for goofy mc what’s his face…it’s so funny to me how some Christians decide to put themselves on this pedestool (probably not spelled correctly) of ultra righteousness and feel the need to judge others…you were right in your last post, Christians need to stop doing this…it makes us look stupid.

  • Graffight

    what is also funny to me is that he responded in some other blog instead of responding to your blog directly…

  • John,

    With all due respect, I DO think you were a bit too cavalier / dismissive with this post. The last line (“Gosh, I guess Daddy likes them best of all.”) bothered me quite a bit… it just doesn’t capture an attitude I see in Calvinist Christians.

    Maybe I misunderstand the theology, but it does not appear to me that Calvinists dismiss the universality of God’s love, but rather, place an emphasis on God’s sovereignty in salvation. I know… if God is truly love, it just doesn’t make sense how he could elect some for salvation and leave others for damnation… it sounds like a “Daddy loves me most” kind of thing. But on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense how God can be wholly sovereign, in control of all, yet leave salvation wholly up to us… that sure sounds a lot like “God doesn’t know everything after all” kind of thing. Neither of those concepts work, if you ask me.

    So… IMHO, it all boils down to this… how God meshes free-will and election is simply too complex a thing for we humans to fully understand. They seem to be diametrically opposed concepts, clearly in tension, yet somehow BOTH are part of how God works salvation.

    Which is TOTALLY cool, if you ask me.

  • John,

    For one thing, you did spell Mark's name wrong. 😉

    On another, it appears you're taking everything you know about Driscoll from the NYT article.

    The NYT article got it wrong by focusing on the negativity surrounding Driscoll. I listen to Driscoll on a regular basis. He is encouraging to me in my faith, as is Piper, and the ministry of Sovereign Grace. Calvinism is all about grace and God's sovereignty. It's not about elitism and egotism.

    John, I think you're jumping to conclusions about Driscoll. Why don't you look up what he actually says about election? The same with John Piper, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, or even Josh Harris. Then maybe draw your conclusion from there, rather than paint with a broad brush that Calvinists are egotists.

  • Chris: Thanks for noting the misspelling of Mark's name! I changed it.

    Please do feel free to tell me what Driscoll believes about election. Seriously. I did assume that the NYT article was right when it said he was a Calvinist who believes in the doctrine of preordination. If Driscoll doesn't believe that before the world was made God had already preordained some people to make it into heaven and others to not, then there's no question but that I've been as wrong as wrong gets.

  • I'm not saying that he doesn't believe that, but to label him as an egotist without actually hearing his explanation of it, is to me, intellectual dishonesty. I'm not trying to be mean, it's just that's my opinion of it. Unless you think that all Calvinists are egotists. The label is often applied to those who don't understand the doctrine of election. Yes, Driscoll believes that, but one cannot get the full picture of who Driscoll is from a secular media news article, especially the New York Times. It's as bad as the recent article in Newsweek about the Bible and homosexuality.

  • So I do not have a lot of thought on Calvinism or Marc Driscoll, mainly because I have not listened to much of his sermons. I have listened to John Piper and I can not find much to argue with there. I did a look up for info on Calvinism and found this site:
    I do not see "egoism" coming from several professing Calvinists (namely John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler and definitely not John MacArthur) that I have taken the time to listen too. Sorry John but I am going to have to agree with Chris and say that you should take the time to listen to more Calvinists, than just NYT, before making statements like this post.

  • OK, so Mark does believe that some people are predestined by God to upon their death enter heaven, and others are predestined by God to go to hell. We agree that he believes that–that the NYT was right about that.

    Do you think Mark Driscoll believes that he is one of those whom God preordained for heaven?

  • I'm pretty sure he believes that too. Why wouldn't he?

  • So Mark Driscoll, then, goes through his life, every day, knowing that he is among those who have been specially destined, by God, before the world began, to go to heaven after he dies. He's among the elect. He's been specially chosen. Millions of other people, around the world right now, are destined for hell, but not Mark Driscoll. He's unique. He's been delivered. God saw fit to lift up Mark Driscoll, to admit him into the Special Club for which only a select few are chosen.

    Are you seriously questioning that understanding that you're among God's specially chosen elect necessarily makes you an egoist? Do you actually imagine there's some way to feel that way about yourself and remain, in any sense of the word as we commonly use it, humble?

    Dude. C'mon.

  • John: Yes. God new before time who was going to be in heaven and who would be in hell and Jesus told us that (Matthew 7:13)"many there be which go in thereat".

    I have to believe that I am among those that he knew would choose salvation or why would I follow Christ. Is that egotistic of me to say? Sadly I look around me and know that the majority of people around me are going to hell, but my sadness does not change the knowledge of God. I would prefer that everyone that I think deserves heaven should get to go, but it is there choice to make and God knew their choice before time was created.

    This is one of those things I feel we will not be able to comprehend until we are in His presence in heaven,like why did God put the tree of knowledge in the garden if he already knew Adam and Eve would eat of it and bring sin into the world. But we can not call someone egotistic for stating a Biblical truth, God knew who was going to heaven and who was going to hell before we make the choice (it's part of the whole omni thing).

  • Gee, Mcoville, what a surprise, to learn that you're sure YOU'RE among God's special elect.

    And what a surprise, that you look around you, and are sure whom among those you see are and aren't going to hell.

    We CAN call an egoist someone who thinks they've been specially chosen by God. I can. I am. And you prove my point with everything you say. You're as arrogant as arrogant gets. And you've got that special smugness that is an absolutely unavoidable side effect of knowing God likes you better than most everyone else.

  • John,

    It seems that you're taking this a little personal. How can one know they are among the elect? By their fruits, according to Jesus. It's actually humbling to know that one has been chosen by God, not egotistical.

  • Gee, what a surprise. Someone else who thinks they were predestined by God to go to heaven.

    Is there anyone out there who thinks God preordained them to go to hell??

    No? Gee. What a surprise.

  • John: Your being a bit judgmental aren't you?

    I never said I am sure whom among those I see are and aren't going to hell. What I did say was that Jesus said that most people are going to choose hell or following Him. How is that egotistic?

    It is humbling to know that even a wretched sinner like me was shown grace by Jesus and he welcomed me in to heaven. He knew that I would eventually choose Him over me and He knew that before time, that is very humbling and I take no credit for my salvation. But to add to your original post, I did have to choose Him and accept his gift of salvation, but that is not a work that is an action in response to grace.

    Last thing to clarify, when you said "We CAN call an egoist someone who thinks they’ve been specially chosen by God. I can. I am.", where you calling yourself an "egoist"?

  • I'm done here, boys. It's been fun.

  • Greg

    It's strange to have a discussion about election without considering what the Bible has to say about the subject.

    John, by your definition of egotism, Jesus, Peter and Paul would all be guilty.

    “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:63-65 ESV)

    “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

  • Greg: So you believe in the doctrine of preordination, then?

    And if you do, then do you believe that YOU are one of those with whom God elected to share heaven?

  • Greg

    I believe the doctrine of election is biblical, as evidenced by the words of Jesus, Peter, and Paul above.

    Before I answer personal questions about my faith (which is, after all, between me and God), I think we should establish whether you believe what the Bible says about election.

    John, do you believe the words of Jesus, Peter, and Paul?


  • Greg

    I see how it goes—quote Scripture and receive a sarcastic reply. I'll move along before boring you further.

  • Laura


    If you want to hear what Mark Driscoll really thinks about calvinism and predestination and that whole theological can of worms, I would recommend listening to his sermon titled "unlimited limited atonement."

    I found the NYT article very interesting, as does my husband, who listens to Mark Driscoll's podcast every week. While I do think there is some truth to the article, a lot of what was written was taken out of context. I noted that there was actually very little fact presented about Driscoll being a calvinist besides that he looks to Martin Luther as a role model.

  • Greg: And before you answered my very simple question. Gee. What a surprise.

  • Greg

    …ad infinitum/nauseum…

  • It's yours to end. Why are you so reluctant to tell us what you believe about your relationship to God?

  • hmm, I believe that people are preordained to go to heaven. That was why Jesus died on the cross- so we'd all go to heaven. Right?

    But I also believe that just because something is foretold, (which is how I am taking the word preordained)doesnt mean that it cant be changed. Just because I was supposed to go to heaven doesnt mean I am. In fact, I very firmly believe I'm going to hell. And i'm okay with that.

    but if I'm wrong in my analogy I'm sure someone will tell me.

  • It may because of your description of me as "You’re as arrogant as arrogant gets." when all I did was post my thought on this theology, and then when I questioned you, you cut it off with no response.

    I respect your right to not answer any question you choose not to but you can't get down on someone else for doing the same.

  • Let him fight his own fights, mc.

  • Greg

    I'm not reluctant, I just realize that you'd rather make the argument about me than about God's Word. You have your own reasons for this, I am sure.

  • Greg: Tell you what. Let's compromise. You tell me whether you believe that you are amongst those preordained by God to go to heaven, and I won't say a word to you about it afterwards; I promise you I'll make virtually no comment on your claim, either way. None. I'll end our exchange. That way you can be confident that I won't follow your honest answer to that honest question with any argument for or against you, either way.

    C'mon, friend. I'm sorry I've been so harsh on you. But be honest with us: Are you one of the lucky elect bound for heaven, or one of the poor unfortunates destined for hell?

  • I'm somewhere in the middle. Can't claim Arminianism or Calvinism proper. I believe there are elements of choice (ours) and sovereignty (God's) involved. My husband says it's a copout to say "both," but I really do think it is both at once. I don't know if it's "preordained" or more like "foreknew" (ie God knew who would & wouldn't accept him as opposed to picking), but I don't think we get to completely understand the whole thing in this life either.

    A couple thoughts that I think are important:

    –IF it's a matter of being chosen, we have no way of knowing who is and isn't. So there's NO room for any sort of bragging, smugness, or dismissiveness to anybody. Only gratefulness for what Jesus did and hope for others.

    –I very staunchly believe that anyone who wants God, gets him. With passages like John 3:16 I don't think there's "Gosh I'd really like to follow God but I'm not chosen. Darn, that sucks."

    –I'm all for missions & stuff. God uses people to tell other people about him. But knowing he's sovereign releases us from panicking if they don't want to hear about him, or don't respond with "yes, person on the streetcorner, I'd like to accept Jesus now." Frees us up to love others without ulterior motives, and all that.

    As for Driscoll himself I'm not super-familiar with him, but to me as a person he seems a bit on the egotistical side, no matter what he's talking about. I think that has as much to do with the tone of the article as anything else.

  • Greg

    John, I appreciate your apology. Today is the first time I've ever posted a comment on your blog and I have no desire to defend myself against ad hominem arguments.

    My honest answer to your question is that I believe all who are saved because of Christ's blood are part of his elect. As one who believes Jesus died for my sins, I include myself in this category. The apostle John wrote, "whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not have the Son does not have life" (1 John 5:12). Immediately after this, he continues, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13 ESV).

    By inspiring John to write these words, I conclude that God wanted His children to have confidence in their saved status. This does not mean that they should lord it over others or be proud. It is one thing to be confident, it is quite another to be arrogant. Anyone who lacks humility in the face of what God has given him in Christ fails to understand the magnitude of what he has claimed to receive. Put another way, if a beggar receives food, he should not criticize other beggars who are still starving, he should share his food with them.

    John, thanks for hearing me out. I would still appreciate your thoughts on the Scriptures I've quoted.

  • You said, "I believe all who are saved because of Christ’s blood are part of his elect. As one who believes Jesus died for my sins, I include myself in this category." If I hear this right, then, what you're saying is that you believe that everyone who believes in Christ is, by virtue of that fact and that fact alone, is automatically counted amongst those preordained by God to go to heaven. In short, virtually everyone who believes in Christ goes to heaven. Which means there are no Christians who don't make it into heaven.

    Um. Well, that's … as standard a Protestant belief as you can get. It's not like any definition of preordination or predestination I've ever heard of, but it sure works for me. Coolio.

  • Well, I'll tell you. What I feel I've met in you is someone who believes in exactly what I thought they did. You do what all Calvinists do, which is split Christians into two kinds: those whom they believe are the REAL Christians, and those whom they believe are not—those who, as you put it, only "give lip service to Jesus." That means that you personally are comfortable judging who is saved, and who is not. And that means that I'm stuck right back where I began. Because claiming knowledge of who is and isn't REALLY Christian is as clear a testimony to arrogance as can possibly exist. You judge who is and isn't worthy of the name of Christ. Dangerous slope to go sliding on, friend. If there's ONE thing I think it's wise to leave to God alone, it's determining who is and isn't saved.

  • Greg

    John, you are putting words in my mouth. Go back and read what I wrote. I did not judge anyone. I did not claim to know the status of even one person's standing with God. Jesus is the judge, as he said himself in Matthew 7:19-23 which I quoted. Your argument is with him, not with me.

  • So you don't know who is and isn't saved. Cool; I thought you said you did. But you don't know. So that means you also don't know for sure if you personally are going to heaven or hell. You HOPE you're going to heaven, of course. But since only God can judge, only he knows your ultimate fate. You don't. Do I have that right now? I'm not being mean; I'm really asking you. Do you claim to know whether you personally are among God's elect?

    Well, wait: we know your answer to that. You believe you are.

    So–and again, I'm just trying to understand–you believe that you have the ability to know that it is God's will that you end up in heaven. You have that discernment relative to your own fate. But you do NOT have it relative to anyone else's, because, as you say, "Jesus is the judge." You know you're saved; you know others aren't; but you don't know who belongs in which group. But you DO know that not everyone who THINKS they're saved is; you're certain that a large number of people who THINK they're saved Christians are not.

    You KNOW you're going to heaven; you can't know who else is. And knowing that you are doesn't in any way improve or enhance your ability to tell if others are. So when you say, "many people give lip service to Jesus but in reality live as if they don’t really believe him," that's not a judgement call on your part. You're just .. saying.

    Hey, listen. You've been a good sport. Unless you write back and say, "Hey! You're right! Inherent in my conviction that I'm among the elect MUST come an attending conviction that I can tell who ELSE is among the elect! I divide people into those who are saved and those who aren't! How can that NOT end up an excerise in sheer, arrogant egoism?!", then I think it's safe to say we're going to be stuck on this merry-go-round. So let's let this drop, 'eh? I appreciate your engagement and patience; you've been great. Thanks again. Maybe on the other side of death we'll get a chance to revisit this great topic. Well. Assuming I make it where we all know YOU'RE ending up. As I said in my original post (and done, in my head, as Napolean Dynamite puts it): Lucky!!

  • Greg

    When I say "many people give lip service to Jesus but in reality live as if they don’t really believe him", I'm paraphrasing Jesus' words from Matthew 7:19-23. Why do you steadfastly criticize me for this while ignoring his words altogether?

    You seem to be mad at me for simply repeating what Jesus said. Again, your argument is not with me (or with the straw men you keep creating), but with Jesus.

  • I have no problem in the world with Jesus claiming to know who is and isn't saved. I have trouble with anyone who isn't God claiming to know the same thing.

  • Greg

    So do you agree that I can know I am saved (1 John 5:12-13) and that some who claim to be Christian will not be saved (Matthew 7:19-23)?

    If we find agreement here, why did you write just a few posts ago that I was doing "what all Calvinists do" by splitting Christians into "two kinds", and why did you imply that I was exercising "sheer, arrogant egoism"?

    Do you care to retract either of those statements?

  • You know, somehow ending this exchange hasn't quite worked out. As I say, friend, I greatly appreciate the quality of this conversation. But I'm gonna end it now. Thanks again. Best to you.

  • My house, Greg: My rules. First you tell me whether or not you think you personally have been elected by God to share heaven with him. Then I’ll tell you whether or not you bore me to tears.

  • Aaron

    John, why won't you deal with any of the texts Greg posted? What gives?

  • I don't "deal with" the texts Greg offered as support for his theological positions because any child knows that you can use just about any selection from the Bible as support for just about any position you can dream of. I don't even almost read those texts the way he does, and I don't care to waste my time stepping into that mess. Greg believes what he believes. I'm not about to change that. Good enough.

  • Greg

    John, I believe everyone who depends upon Christ as their righteousness (by faith) will be saved, and this faith is a gift of God. Nobody is argued into trusting Christ for their salvation, it is something the Holy Spirit convicts a person of when they are born again. God—not man—initiates the process.

    I think the problem is that many people give lip service to Jesus but in reality live as if they don’t really believe him. Are all of these people really saved, merely by claiming to be believers? Jesus argues that the answer to this question is “No”.

    “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:19-23 ESV)

    The former Catholic priest Brennan Manning echoed this sentiment, saying, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

    John, maybe we still don’t see eye to eye in our theology, but at least now you’ve met one Calvinist who doesn’t fit the stereotype reflected in your comment to Chris: “We CAN call an egoist someone who thinks they’ve been specially chosen by God.”

    I hope you can see that believing God is the Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2) leaves me with nothing left to be proud about, but everything to be grateful for.

  • Wow John, I can't sit on the sidelines for this one anymore, even under your threat of banning me from your post. So here we go…

    You stated that "any child knows that you can use just about any selection from the Bible as support for just about any position you can dream of." All though this is true it does not negate the truth of the Bible. If we look at a verse in context, and knowing that the Bible never contradicts itself, we can discern what it means by comparing it to other verses in the Bible (this is called HERMENEUTICS). Any time you start a discussion into theological matters you should always include scripture as it is the ultimate authority on the matter, Sola Scriptura. And if you "don’t even almost read those texts the way he does," then explain how you do read them and maybe we can come to a consensus on it's true meaning and then have the same opinion on this matter.

    You seam to continually hide behind the old "child playground rules", "it's my ball and I'm going home with it because you'r not being nice", very mature. You may continue to grow your knowledge of theology if you admit you may be wrong once in a while and learn from other Christian brothers and sisters that, in my opinion, have been nothing but nice to you in answering your questions.

    There is nothing wrong with a Christian, wither it is Greg, Mark Driscoll or myself, to state that they KNOW they are saved and going to heaven when their time here is done, Jesus told us so and "if it were not so, T would have told you,.."(John 14:2). We are lucky enough as Christians to have the living word of God, written in book form, to assure us of our salvation. But there are those that only God knows there true hearts that in the end times will say "Lord, Lord" and He will turn them away for being heretics (Luke 13:27). This is why I stated in a previous post that I would welcome any Christian brother or sister to tell me if they found fault in my theology or doctrine so I could go to the Bible in prayer and make sure I have it right.

    So John, if you feel you are comfortable with your style of religion but are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Bible as being the word of God, so be it. But do not say someone else is egotistic for believing the words of Jesus and stating their assurance of salvation as a fact. I will pray that you do not take this as an attack but as the thoughts of a Christian brother that loves you and wants to help you on the journey to grow in righteousness as we are called to do, Ephesians 4:13-16.

    I say these things to you in love and in Jesus who is the risen Christ.

  • Dan Harrell

    I always too late to get in the "good" discussions. I am happy to say that I have no clue where I'll end up, and that someday I'm going to see a lot of surprised expressions when heaven is full of all kinds of people that arrived with God's approval, not mine.

    In fact, I'm hoping that perhaps God will grade on the curve. I'm positive that Peter, Paul, Moses and several million others are far more holy than I will ever be, because I struggle every day with my nature.

    I'm willing to bet that Greg and mcovile have had some doubts in their lives about their final destination. Let's attribute Jihads and the crusades to those who seem to be fully convinced they had a pipeline to God and that they would end up in heaven, with or without 77 virgins.

    For the rest of us humans, I'm thinking God's basket is much bigger than I can every imagine.

  • FreetoBe

    I'm thinking all we have is a heavenly hope, since Jesus is the final authority. Keeps us humble.

  • Just because God knows you are going to do something before you do it doesn’t mean you aren’t free to do what you want.

    Calvinism is just a word to express one view of this concept.

  • PhilBarnEs

    John, one thing that I think you are missing is the fact that the elect did nothing to be accepted by God.

    I believe that I am among the elect and the Holy Spirit testifies this along with my Spirit (it's called assurance). However, I did nothing special to make God accept me, it was out of his Sovereign love that he allowed my heart to be softened to his gospel.

    Also, paint this picture in your head:

    It's not that the average human is crowded around the pearly gates of heaven begging on his knees to get in. He is, however, running as fast as he can away from the pearly gates and without God's love to intervene, he will continue to run.

    Furthermore, it is not our responsibility to determine who is the elect or who is going to be the elect. We can, however have confidence that we are going to heaven based on Rom. 10:13.

    Lastly, I believe that we can remain humble in our attitude while at the same time holding this view. Humility is a matter of the heart and if we are giving God the glory for our salvation, this takes all of "us" off of our justification. Read Wayne Grudems Bible Doctrine book. The chapter on Election.

  • Phil: I am familiar with the the concept of the "elect," and know what you're saying here; it's not a terribly subtle dynamic. You were chosen by God; you're going to heaven. And I think that's wonderful for you.

    All I'm saying is … I'd like to meet the person who believes in the Calvinistic doctrine of pre-election who doesn't think that they personally are among those God has predestined for heaven. You never, EVER meet a Calvinist who goes, "Yeah, God predestined everyone for either heaven or hell. Sadly—even though I believe in Christ, even though I struggle to live according to His precepts—I'm pretty sure I'm going to hell."

  • I love these old posts. Way more Heat than Light. Lots of testosterone too. Confusing philosophical questions with spiritual ones. Thanks to Natalie, she said it all.

  • All "spiritual" questions are philosophical questions.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    John, don't YOU believe that YOU are saved? If you believed that what you believe doesn't save you, why do you care to inform others on those beliefs then?

    I think when you wrote, "There’s nothing you can do to change your status in that regard"—although that does sum up the beliefs of some people—it’s an over-simplification. One's ultimate fate will be what it will be. The future doesn't really "change" any more than the past. God transcends time. Yet that status is informed by decisions we make, which God’s already aware of, even as we are not—but not that those decisions are free exactly: You wouldn't have been "free" to choose Christ had you never heard of Him; you wouldn't have "free-willed" your way to heaven if the Holy Spirit hadn't've thrown you into a supply closet, onto your knees. I hope and believe that I will be saved, but God only knows. As for others, I would hope that they might be saved as well, but if such is not their fate, is God unjust? Not at all, says Paul. So never you mind: God knows what we're doing—that is, what he's doing with us.

    There's really no conflict between predestination and free will—like matter or light as both ethereal wave and a collection of particles, or the sound of music as a collection of notes or a vibrational waveform. What is foreknown to God can appear to us as mere contingency, due to our lack of omniscience; what is chosen by us may be compelled, thanks to our lack of omnipotence; where the hearts are that are hardened unto hell—not that this was unloving towards them, because "they" is not really a thing existing in the sense that we often think of it being—we cannot seek out for our lack of omnipresence. What other omni's shall I include? Omnidirectional? No, that one's just too hard to explain for us humans.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    God *is* capricious and arbitrary; He made you, didn't he? Didn't have to though. Moreover, he made penguins, for Pete's sake :). Oh… so now we're gonna complain about how God didn't elect the penguin race unto salvation!? If not for his (seemingly capricious) sovereign choice, why the Israelites and not the Iroquois? Free will? Sure, somehow the Israelites freely willed to retain a perfect antediluvian record, and the Iroquois all just chose to forget about it, yet retain their knowledge of the Great Spirit, though I guess just none of them had nearly such a strong will to love Him as Abraham, so they all made sure to listen only to prophets preaching lies, which–again, of their own free will–none of the Israelite prophets ever did. All this a purely coincidental outcome of each individual's independent choices, which makes about as much sense as saying that we could beat a grandmaster at chess by executing arbitrary choices at every move of the game (even after taking into account the ever-present limitations inherent & explicit in the known rules).

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Oh… I should make it clear that I took "capricious" in the sense of choosy, whimsical, uncertain, but NOT inconstant, since–if anything–Calvinism asserts God, and His will, to be entirely constant, eternally unchanging, and wholly unchangeable.

  • Levi Brinkerhoff

    This viewpoint is actually quite common, yet, i would like to humbly point out one thing that is off in it. If we say that "God elected me because He knew my choice before the foundation of the world", then we make ourselves out to be the initiator of our relationship with God. To look at the whole context of Scripture would show that this is not so.

    I do not call myself calvinist or reformed. I'm actually a minister in calvary chapel, which, Mark Driscoll wrongly claimed is an Arminist church. If anyone is familiar with the Calvary Chapel statement of faith, then you will know that we believe in the balance between God's election and man's responsibility.

    How does this work? God IS totally sovereign. He elects. If it weren't for His election, then ALL men would remain in their sin and hatred toward God. Of course, probably the greatest section of scripture concerning the doctrine of Election is Romans chapters 9-11. Here we see the election of Israel. (which is, in a sense, a different understanding of election. God elected israel, as a nation, to be His chosen nation. This does not necessarily speak of salvation. Of course, some of those from Israel were/are saved. Take Abraham for example.) In this section of scripture, we come across a difficult and common misunderstood phrase. "Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated (not accepted)." 1: What was the basis of God's love (acceptance) of Jacob and hatred (rejection) of Esau? Works? No. God made that choice before they were born. 2: What is God speaking about? Salvation? No, not here. But, He is speaking of Jacob as in the sense of Israel, God's chosen nation. Just because Esau and his heirs were rejected from being God's chosen people, does that mean that Esau was banned from salvation? No.

    Back to the point, we are not elected for our works, or because God knew our choice. Without His election, our choice would always be to rebel against Him. On the other hand, does God send people to hell? (Limited atonement) No. I don't want to make this comment too long, i'm sorry if it already is. Read those chapters in Romans. In short, if you are elected, it is by God's sovereign grace. If you are not, it is because you chose to go to hell.

  • Levi Brinkerhoff

    If i may add one more paragraph to clarify the last sentence…

    Romans 9:22-23 says this: "[What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,". Notice two very subtle details. 1: The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. (Fitted implies that they made themselves that way.) These are the ones that are going to hell. They chose it themselves. 2: The vessels of mercy. God chose them.

    Hope that maybe clarifies my thought.

  • DR

    Wow. This is amazing.

  • DR

    This is such a trap set up by people like Mark. “Do you believe the Bible, John? If so, the next words out of your mouth will be what I believe the Bible to say, otherwise you are not someone who actually believes what the Bible says. But let me ask this like it’s a genuine question so I don’t look like I’m trying to trap you into having a discussion based on my own terms.”

    It’s so insidious and manipulative, I’m surprised we’ve allowed people to get away with this for so long.

  • DR

    (greg. Not Mark).

  • Don Rappe

    Natalie said:”Just because God knows you are going to do something before you do it doesn’t mean you aren’t free to do what you want.

    Calvinism is just a word to express one view of this concept.”

    The first part of Natalie’s statement may be taken as an expression of physical determinism. I regard this as a philosophical idea, but, not a spiritual one. The second part, about human freedom, is a spiritual matter. It has to do with God’s gift of spirit to us.

    Not all philosophical questions are spiritual ones.

  • Well, the Calvinists that I know all say that no one who isn’t part of the elect can really understand the idea, and isn’t given the grace and love to accept Jesus.

    So, not only are they God’s chosen special ones, they’re smarter and nicer than everyone else, too.

  • You’re right, I haven’t met anyone who is willing to say that either, though a former Calvinist Presbyterian minister was willing to say: “Yeah, God predestined everyone for either heaven or hell. Sadly—even though I believe in Christ, even though I struggle to live according to His precepts – who can really know for sure?”

  • Well, no.

    There are, in fact, Calvinists who state that free will does not exist. Nice try, though …

    Google the phrase “free-will heresy” and see what happens.

  • Joshua Jones

    You have absolutely no concept of Biblical Election.

  • Bones

    God didn’t choose Israel either. All of those stories are nationalistic revisionism.

  • Joshua Jones

    ELection in mentioned in the New Testament over 30 Times,..You must deal with it.

  • Bones

    No, I must not.

    Israel reinterpreted it’s history placing itself as the ‘chosen’ people.

    Of course the self-righteous believe they are the ‘chosen’ ones ‘elected’ by God. You can do anything when you are the ‘chosen’ ones.

    eg ISIS, Old Testament Israel, Medieval Catholics, John Calvin, Jim Jones, Westboro Baptist.

    It’s the hallmarks of a dangerous cult.

  • Try 23, at least in the KJV, and the word usage varies with each passage, depending on text, also who the passage is speaking about. Sometimes it refers to God, or Jesus, sometimes to a particular group of people, and several times a particular individual.

    This link provides all the references.

    To attempt to make the word proof of divine predestination, just doesn’t add up in regards to scripture.

    Can you deal with that?

  • True. The wacko church I grew up in adhered to that theology. They and only they were the truly chosen of god, none outside that group remotely qualified. As the church membership never rose over 145,000, and that they firmly believed in “preaching the gospel to the world” it means two things.

    1. They sucked at proselytizing
    2. If they were right, then humanity was pretty well screwed. They weren’t, which is also true of other groups that believe such a convoluted theory.

  • Joshua Jones

    Yeah, I can deal with that,..Here is election

    “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— ”

    ” In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,..”

    *Upon further examination of your profile, I believe quoting scripture verbatim will be wasted on you, as you neither believe the sufficient of scripture nor the inerrantacy.
    The doctine of Election rightly understood is a most humbling doctrine, people weren’t chosen because they were better than others (Romans9) but rather it was in “accordance with his pleasure and will”(V11) Whoever comes to Jesus may be in this number, I am not God HE alone knows the end from the beginning.

  • Bones

    It was an early belief that Christians usurped Jews as the ‘ ‘chosen’ people as they were people of the new covenant. Which is where that language comes from. The idea that Paul had any more of an understanding of election and predestination than the guy down the street is arguable.

    In reality there was no covenant with Israel. No exodus. No Abrahamic covenant. Much of the Old Testament is revisionist nation building which we still have the effects from as seen in the Middle East.

    Just face it. If you are born a Muslim in Pakistan or a Hindu in India or gay or with chromosomal abnormalities then there’s not much chance you’re going to be elected. Different story of course if you are born in the Bible Belt where you’re almost certainly going to be one of the Elect.

    Of course Calvin himself is most definitely not part of the Elect.

  • The doctrine of predestination is highly problematic, and not original to Christianity.

    Problem one. Those who believe in the theory, always place themselves as one who was chosen, every single time, without exception.

    Problem #2. These same people decide who and who isn’t chosen. They claim that anyone who doesn’t belief certain things, and that they speak for God in this regards, but have zero proof of the matter, nor can they really know the mind of beliefs of the divine, as even different sanctions of adherents to predestination theory, disagree sharply with the meaning and intent of several passages of scripture.

    Problem 3# Its prideful. not humble. for the reasons of reason 1 and 2, attempting to give an excuse to dismiss, degrade or demean the beliefs of others, or their standing with The Divine.

  • I think you captured the very essence of Biblical Election the moment you upvoted your own comment.

  • BarbaraR

    Oooh BURN.

  • Anthony

    That is actually a false assertion of what Calvinists believe. If someone claims to be a Calvinist, but rejects the idea that men have free will then they really aren’t a Calvinist but something different all together. We believe that man still has free will, but that mans will is totally depraved. The implication is that when an unregenerate person exercises their free will, it will always freely chose to sin and reject God. Mans will is still free, just not free to choose between righteousness and sin. It is only free to choose between one sin or another because the depraved will only wants to choose sin. Just because the options are limited doesn’t mean a person isn’t exercising their free will. To put it another way, Clavinists believe the unregenerate still have a free will, but a free will that is only oriented towards sin. The only cure is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to change the disposition of the heart, resulting in faith Christ. So it’s not really free will that Calvinists reject, it’s the unbiblical idea of moral neutrality or “an island of righteousness” within the soul we reject.

    See Romans 3:10-18.

  • Anthony

    Answer 1) On what basis do you claim the doctrines of election or predestination to be a theory? So what if they think themselves to be part of what they believe? Would you expect anything else? I see nothing about this that disqualifies it as being true.

    Answer 2) Proponents of Calvinism don’t decide who is in or out, God does that. We simply convey the message. If we can’t know the mind of “the divine” then how can you? And if you can’t know then on what basis are you able to accurately judge what God has or hasn’t done? That seems to be a self-defeating argument.

    Answer 3) Aren’t you dismissing the belief someone has of “the divine” by discrediting Calvinism and therefore doing the very thing you condemn?

    I would encourage you to think of this scenario:

    A kickball coach comes up to a group of 50 kids on the playground. He says he’s choosing some of them to play on his team. He picks you, even though you’re severely unqualified, undeserving even. You didn’t want to be on the playground to begin with because all the kids are mean. Nonetheless, you step forward. He then tells you he has chosen you because it pleases him most to pick you and thought he could make you into a good pitcher. Feeling humbled and excited you share this reality with your friends, but to your disappointment they don’t share your enthusiasm. Some are angry because they’re kickball all-stars who played on another team. Some are confused because they don’t know why he would ever pick someone like you, so they turn on you out of jealousy. So I would ask you this: are you sure you were chosen by the coach even though everyone says it’s impossible or may be upset? Are you able to accurately tell them you were chosen and why? Are you able to see who was chosen and who wasn’t? Are you humbled by the gracious act of the coach?

    This is what Gods Word portrays when it speaks of election and predestination.

    1 Corinthians 1:18-31

  • Bones

    1) Every conservative nutter in every religion believes they are the Chosen Ones. Israel claimed to be the Chosen Ones. Christians believed they replaced Israel who ‘cast away’ the Messiah (which is the whole point of Paul’s verses on election and predestination). Muslims believed they replaced Christians. Calvinists believed they replaced everybody. It’s predominately a sign of cultic behaviour eg JWs, Mormons, Jim Jones, Westboro Baptist. It’s a need certain people have to distinguish themselves from others (the unbelievers/heretics).
    2) Claiming to know the mind of the Divine is tantamount to idolatry. I don’t think Paul had any more special divine revelation than anyone alive today has. He relied on his Greco/Pharisaic worldview to philosophise Christianity. Heck even the Apostles didn’t ‘get’ Jesus’s mission even after He rose again claiming that only Jews could be saved. Hence the tension between the Twelve and Paul.
    3) Calvinism (and it’s 16th C originator) discredits itself. It fears others. It fears scholarship. It fears critical study.
    It’s a left over relic from a bygone age.

  • Bones

    You do not understand what ‘election’ means.

    It simply means, according to Paul, that Israel has been usurped as the Chosen Ones.

    Tom Wright explains further:

    “The point of ‘election’ was not to choose or call a people who would somehow mysteriously escape either the grim entail of Adam’s sin or the results it brought in its train. It was not – as in some low-grade proposals! – about God simply choosing a people to be his close friends. The point was to choose and call a people through whom the sin of humankind, and its results for the whole creation, might be brought to the point where they could at last be defeated, condemned, overcome. “

  • Anthony

    1) There are essentially four groups of people regarding the elect: a) those who are unsaved and sure they are unsaved; b) those who are saved and are sure they are saved (Calvinists); c) those who are saved and are not sure they are saved (Calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, etc); d) and finally (the trickiest group) those who are not saved but are sure they are saved (Mormons, JWs, Unitarians, etc.). To claim that every Calvinist is sure they are elect is false. There are in fact people who believe Calvinist doctrine but aren’t really sure, for various reasons, whether they are elect or not. Also, your claim that Calvinists believe they replaced everybody is false and holds no merit. Any Calvinist that has even a basic understanding of the doctrine of election or the Bible should tell you that you don’t have to be a Calvinist to be numbered among Gods elect. As for what you regard as cultic tendencies, again, Calvinist doctrine isn’t teaching anything remotely close to a concept of a “latter day” Christian. It sees an unbroken continuity of faith and believers from Genesis to present day. We admit there have been periods of obscurity, but never a total loss of believers or knowledge of the true faith. Mormons, JWs, and Muslims however, claim there was a period of time where there was no true faith or body of believers until their own supposed new revelation. Thus they have to “reissue” what they regard as true doctrine because it’s utterly unknowable since all previous true revelation has been supposedly lost forever. This presents a problem with Gods ability to sustain and grow his church in any consistent manner and causes all kinds of crazy confusion. It seems to me that for any group to declare that true faith was totally lost in the entire world for any amount time, as an effort to bolster their claim to truth, is really just a work of Satan to deceive people. Nothing but sowing tares in among the wheat, as predicted by Christ. Fortunately, this is not what Calvinism teaches. Likewise, to claim Calvinism developed from a need to distinguish itself from unbelievers and heretics is again a false accusation that can’t be supported. As previously stated above, Calvinism doesn’t teach you have to believe in election to be saved. I also want to add that what Paul wrote in Romans 8:27-39 on election was meant to be a comforting doctrine. We can’t undo what God has done concerning our salvation.
    2) Claiming to know what God thinks about something is not idolatry. If a person is wrong about what God has revealed, it may very well lead to idolatry, but isn’t idolatry in and of itself. Of course, if your particular source of revelation is actually true and you believe it, then that’s just faithfulness to Gods word. The sticking point is which proposed source of revelation is true (if any), and which interpretation from said source is correct. As far as the supposed tension between Paul and the 12, let’s not forget what was recorded in Acts 10 & 11 with Peter and the conversion of Cornelius and their receiving of the Holy Spirit. Especially note their conclusion in Acts 11:18. Paul and the 12 weren’t teaching competing ideologies. I may be wrong, but it appears to me that you don’t hold to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. Assuming that is the case, it’s not surprising that you would have such a low view of Pauls authority in the early church and his teaching on election and predestination.
    3) Finally, you are mistaken if you happen to think that John Calvin invented what is today most famously known as Calvinism. Luther write more on election and predestination than Calvin ever did. They both freely admitted that they received their thoughts on the subject from Augustine, who took his cue from what Paul taught. That said, it’s not a recent development as you claim, it’s fundamentally a doctrine with strong OT and NT roots. Also, at the Synod of Dort, there were 5 main thrusts of Jacobus Arminius’ teaching that they clearly and logically refuted, thus the so called “5 points of Calvinism”. Might we also consider Harvard, Yale and Princeton were colleges founded by Calvinists, not just to train students in theology, but other branches of learning as well. That doesn’t sound very fearful or lacking in scholarship. Christians with Calvinist beliefs have typically held to worshipping God with the mind, to suggest anything less goes against historical fact.

  • Bones

    “The implication is that when an unregenerate person exercises their free will, it will always freely chose to sin and reject God.”

    Apart from being demonstrably false, that is not free will.

    Using that logic, God obviously doesn’t want all people to be saved.

    Which makes me wonder as to what sort of a god that is.

  • Anthony

    I disagree. There’s absolutely no way you could objectively and logically prove your assertion.

    The following link may help.

    As for Gods decisions on who he saves and who he chooses to punish for their sin, that’s really his prerogative isn’t it? There’s nothing that says God must save everyone or be an equal opportunity Redeemer to still be gracious and merciful. I believe the Bible teaches that God reserves the right to be execute divine justice when he wants just as much as his grace and mercy. What kind of God does the Bible reveal? A sovereign and holy God.

  • Bones

    “I disagree. There’s absolutely no way you could objectively and logically prove your assertion.”

    I said it was demonstrable and it is.

    One only needs to look at atheists who do far more than Christians do in organisations such as MSF to know that is false. Not every act of free will is based on sin or rejection of God.

    And yes, if God ‘chooses’ those who He saves then he obviously doesn’t ‘choose’ those who aren’t saved.

    He could just choose everyone but He doesn’t.

    Using that logic, God obviously doesn’t want all people to be saved.

    You have to be one of the lucky ones.

    Makes me wonder what sort of a god that is…..

    That is the logic of your theology….

    “What kind of God does the Bible reveal?”

    A conflicted God….

  • LadySunami

    Conservative Christians sure seem to think we atheists think about God a lot… Personally I don’t get up every morning trying to think of ways to piss off deities. Seems like a waste of time.

    I guess I do sometimes think about what pisses off various deities, but that’s either because I’m thinking about what other people believe or I’m thinking about fiction. (My D&D group is very good at annoying fictional evil deities. Lamashtu in particular hates our guts.)

  • Snooterpoot

    Sorry, I just don’t believe in a god who would create human beings only to subject them to eternal torment if they don’t follow the rules written by ancient, fallible men. A god like that is sadistic and merciless, and is undeserving of worship.

    If that’s the type of god you need, that’s fine. Just don’t expect me to agree with you.

  • Anthony

    I think your points actually touch on some important aspects of the biblical doctrine of election.

    In response to your example of atheist involvement in charity organizations, one has to ask what standard of good are we to judge by? Biblically speaking, the standard of good we are to judge is God. He is the ultimate, objective, standard of good because his character never changes and he himself is good (Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 107:1, 119:68 & 145:9). Jesus taught that the standard of good we are to judge by is Gods goodness in the account of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-23). Jesus, quoting from the prophet Isaiah, also taught that the Pharisees were sinning by honoring God with our lips yet having hearts that were far from him (Matthew 15:1-9). He also declared them to be white washed tombs – beautiful on the outside, but dead on the inside. Outwardly appearing righteous but inwardly full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28). Paul echoed this train of thought when he declared all his works to be as filthy rags apart from knowing Christ (Philippians 3:3-11). Likewise Paul, through he inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us this clue by using a general principle to understand specific point – whatever is not done in faith is sin (Romans 14:23). It’s easy to see that God cares very much about the internal motivations when judging a deed to be good or sinful. So all that is to say that looking at external actions alone are not enough to determine goodness, as they can only be judged by subjective means. That method leaves out the internal motivation, which is an integral part of determining goodness. As such, any unregenerate person is this disqualified from being able to do any good works in the ultimate sense.

    As far as Gods sovereign choice in salvation, I agree with you. God does not choose everyone to be saved. That’s not to say he doesn’t want them to be. As a rough analogy, do you think Bill Gates wants everyone to be wealthy? I would think he would say yes. Does he reserve the right choose to graciously give his money to someone in order to make them wealthy? Yes. Is he conflicted in any way? No. So it is with God.

    Paul anticipates mans objection to Gods sovereignty in creation and election as part his discourse in Romans 9:9-23 and answers accordingly – “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?” 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?” The real question is do we as Gods creatures respect and recognize Gods sovereignty over us and his choice to do with us as he pleases?

    I would also like to point out that while God could in fact choose to save everybody, what is the flip side of that? He could have chosen to execute his divine justice and wrath on everyone and be perfectly just in doing so. I’m content to be grateful that in his patience and forbearance he graciously even chose to save anyone.

  • Anthony

    Snooterpoot, I don’t believe in a god like that either. Fortunately that’s not what the Bible teaches about God. However, God will surely condemn men to eternal punishment for sinning against him by failing not to do what his perfect law requires or by doing what his perfect law does not require Romans chapters 1 through 3 are a great resource to see Gods just condemnation against mankind. Fortunately, there is a way out of this through faith in Christ and his perfect righteousness and atoning work on the cross. One of the beautiful things about the God of the Bible is that, unlike the false god of Islam, he doesn’t violate his own sense of justice when he forgives sin. All that is made possible through Jesus (Romans 3:21-26).

  • Snooterpoot

    Snooterpoot, I don’t believe in a god like that either. Fortunately that’s not what the Bible teaches about God. However, God will surely condemn men to eternal punishment for sinning against him by failing not to do what his perfect law requires or by doing what his perfect law does not require.

    Anthony, you contradicted yourself. First, you say that you don’t believe in the merciless, sadistic god that I described, then you say that God will condemn men to eternal punishment for sinning against him by failing to do “for what his perfect law requires, or by doing what his perfect law does not require.”

    My point was, and is, that a god who would create human beings only to subject them to eternal torment is a god that does not deserved to be worshiped.

    Do you believe that the rules set down in the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus, are applicable today? Is that God’s perfect law?

    Is the Bible a rule book, or is it a resource to show us how to live as a follower of Jesus? I believe the two are incompatible. I see too many Christians who use the Bible as a rule book to bash other people with who they think are not worthy of God’s love because, well, they break the rules.

    I think Allah is just another name for God, and Islam is not what you believe it to be.

  • Anthony

    I realize I’ve committed an error in my previous post. Instead of saying, “failing not to do what his perfect law requires or by doing what his perfect law does not require” I should have said, “failing not to do what his perfect law requires or by doing what his perfect law prohibits.” Basically that there are sins of commission and sins of omission. Sorry if that has added any confusion.

    One of the points of my previous post was responding to your claim that God punishes people in hell for breaking the rules of men, which I don’t believe that he does in an ultimate sense. He ultimately punishes people for breaking his law. There is a significant difference between those two statements. Likewise, God is not punishing people for something they didn’t want to do (sin) nor has he created humans, placed fresh evil in their hearts and punished them. That said, any view of God which robs him of his divine justice and strips him of his holiness is to really hold a view of God not worthy of worship.

    As far as the ceremonial, dietary, sacrificial laws go, they were and are still perfect. Fortunately, they are no longer applicable to anyone today since they were all there to serve the purpose of pointing to Christ, who fulfilled the law. As far as Gods moral law, which predates the previously mentioned laws, those are still in play. Even a cursory reading of the NT should reveal that. The Bible never declares that the moral law is no longer applicable, no matter how much people try to twist, distort and misinterpret Scripture. God did save us for good works after all (Ephesians 2:10). We are now free in Christ to live in accordance with Gods moral law without the burden of thinking it somehow earns us good standing with the Lawgiver, or that failure will result in eternal punishment. That debt has been paid by Christ. So to paint a picture of the Bible as either a rule book or a way to follow Jesus is really a presentation of a false dichotomy.

    Sin is no less than cosmic treason against the holy God of the universe. And frankly to think that any person is deserving of Gods love is to drastically downplay the seriousness of sin, Gods holiness, his justice and even his grace and mercy. That view can only be held by a devastatingly inadequate understanding of Gods character. The only thing we are truly deserving of is Gods wrath for our sin. Anything we get from him other than that is an incredible act of sheer tolerance and patience on Gods part, the pinnacle of which is Gods love and mercy shown to us by Christ’s death on the cross (Romans 5:8).

    To think that Allah and the God of the Bible are one and the same could inly be due to a woeful misunderstanding of who the Bible declares to be God, who Islam declares to be God, or both. The Biblical teaching on the deity of Christ and the Trinity should be enough to convince someone of that truth. Likewise, basic character attributes between the two deities are described in vastly different ways making them fundamentally incompatible with each other.

  • Andy

    Nailed it!

  • Andy

    Classic Lamashtu, always hatin’ on us…

  • Andy

    Cosmically ironic.

  • Bones

    “I agree with you. God does not choose everyone to be saved. That’s not to say he doesn’t want them to be.”

    I think I see the flaw in that sentence.

    We’re talking about God – not Bill Gates.

    I’d like to see everyone saved and I hope God’s more merciful than me.

    “As such, any unregenerate person is this disqualified from being able to do any good works in the ultimate sense.”

    Wrong. Of course it’s fine to say that in the comfort of your western room while atheists are out bringing succour to the worst of humanity.

    Here’s news – there’s good works and bad works. Even atheists can tell the difference and don’t need a God to tell which is which.

    You might want to check out what Jesus said about the centurion. You know the pagan that offers sacrifices to Caesar – cos you know that’s what centurions do.

    What is it with Calvinists and the potter and the clay stuff?

    God makes people for dishonourable use? What sort of a God is that?

    Hey, i’ll make Hitler just to dishonour Me and everyone. Hey, I’ll make you billions Muslims just for laughs and after dinner fireworks on judgement day

    People have argued with God and won, according to the Bible.

    I’m the clay which God made with a sense of justice, mercy and critical thinking.

    “I would also like to point out that while God could in fact choose to save everybody, what is the flip side of that? He could have chosen to execute his divine justice and wrath on everyone and be perfectly just in doing so.”

    Well yeah – sure.

    Like He could have just killed Adam and Eve for eating from the tree.

    Which would make god a dangerous deranged tyrannical megalomaniac not like Jesus of Nazareth.

    This god is a figment of your imagination.

    That’s the funny thing about Calvinists.

    Your logic is totally illogical.

  • Bones

    It’s a hideous theology that thinks a person’s very existence embodies rejection of God.

    That belief is quite evil.

  • Bones

    So Lamashtu is more badass than Jesus.

  • Bones

    “As far as the ceremonial, dietary, sacrificial laws go, they were and are still perfect. Fortunately, they are no longer applicable to anyone today since they were all there to serve the purpose of pointing to Christ, who fulfilled the law. ”

    Perfect, hey.

    So perfect that Jesus broke them.

    So perfect that Jesus didn’t stone the woman caught in adultery.

    So perfect that no one wants to follow them because they are outdated and immoral.

    Nah. They’re not perfect and they’re not from God. They are tribal and priestly laws which were compiled during the Exile.

    “The Biblical teaching on the deity of Christ and the Trinity should be enough to convince someone of that truth. ”

    Jesus didn’t ask people for their view on soteriology, Christology or theology. In fact he didn’t chastise the Samaritans nor the pagan centurion nor the Syro-Phoenician woman nor the thief on the cross.

    The thief on the cross merely recognised Jesus as a good man.

    Some people think that Jesus believed their theology.

    He didn’t.

  • Snooterpoot

    …That said, any view of God which robs him of his divine justice and strips him of his holiness is to really hold a view of God not worthy of worship.

    How does my belief in a merciful, compassionate God strip him of his holiness? I don’t understand that at all.

    …As far as the ceremonial, dietary, sacrificial laws go, they were and are still perfect. Fortunately, they are no longer applicable to anyone today since they were all there to serve the purpose of pointing to Christ, who fulfilled the law. As far as Gods moral law, which predates the previously mentioned laws, those are still in play. Even a cursory reading of the NT should reveal that.

    How convenient! Why does only the part of Levitical law apply? I don’t recall Jesus having said that the law is fulfilled except for anything.

    This is where a lot of Evangelicals get into conflict with me. They are excepting the part of Levitical law that really doesn’t apply to them, but using the “moral” laws as a basis and cover for bashing people who are homosexual.

    I think that if a Christian is going to dig up Levitical law and say that only part of it still applies that person is not conforming with Jesus’s declaration that all of the law and the prophets rested on his commandments to love God and to love one another. It seems to me that people like you follow Paul more than you follow Christ, since Paul’s writing is in direct conflict with what Jesus had to say .

    It is beyond insulting that you question the validity of my faith. How dare you! God sees into my heart. No human being is capable of doing that. I suppose you think that Christian denominations that have different theologies are not True Christians™. If so, you won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last, but I wonder how you’ll explain that when we are accounting for our lives on this planet and God asks why people judged other Christians instead of loving them as Jesus commanded.

    I think you are wrong about Islam, and about the many names people use for God, but I don’t see any point in discussing that with you.

    I’m finished with our conversation. May God shower you with blessings.

  • Anthony

    “I think I see the flaw in that sentence.”

    There isn’t one. It’s not illogical to say that God can want something in one sense, but not want the same thing in another sense. My statement complies with the Law of Non-Contradiction.

    “We’re talking about God – not Bill Gates.

    I’d like to see everyone saved and I hope God’s more merciful than me.”

    Like I said, it was a rough analogy. The intent was to illustrate my point above about the Law of Non-Contradiction. As such, who gets saved is God’s prerogative, not mans wishes.

    “Here’s news – there’s good works and bad works. Even atheists can tell the difference and don’t need a God
    to tell which is which.”

    I completely agree, there are good works and bad works. Neither one of us get to set the standard. Don’t you think it be easier for me if I were able to? But to do so would dishonor God and disobey his word. Likewise, you can’t objectively decide what qualifies as a good work if it’s not based on God and his righteous standard. You have to include internal motivation and external action.

    Who knows, maybe one day everyone will decide that what Hitler did was a good work because it’s what society says is good. That’s what you get when you don’t have an objective standard of God’s word and his character to determine what’s good or evil.

    “You might want to check out what Jesus said about the centurion. You know the pagan that offers sacrifices to Caesar – cos you know that’s what centurions do.”

    And? Just because he believed Jesus could heal him doesn’t mean the Centurion did anything good in the ultimate sense. He could very well have desired for his servant to be healed for purely selfish reasons, thus disqualifying his action from being good by God’s view. From a human standpoint, it was good, but since God judges the heart that is a whole different ball game (1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10).

    “What is it with Calvinists and the potter and the clay stuff?

    God makes people for dishonorable use? What sort of a God is that?”

    A sovereign God. Just because people don’t like it doesn’t make it untrue. God is not morally responsible for the evil actions of people like Hitler (or you and I) just because he created us with the knowledge that we would sin. That’s where having free will really comes back to bite us and the atonement of Christ is necessary to be delivered from the wrath of God’s justice (Romans 5:9). Don’t you think that God would require us to believe what he says even if we don’t like it? A god which only asks we believe nice and pleasant realities really isn’t God.

    “Like He could have just killed Adam and Eve for eating from the tree.

    Which would make god a dangerous deranged tyrannical megalomaniac not like Jesus of Nazareth.”

    No, it would simply mean that God decided to deliver justice instead of grace and mercy. You’re assuming he’s
    obligated to always and every time dole out grace and mercy. He’s not, nor does the Bible ever teach that. To suggest such a thing cheapens the grace and mercy
    we do have!

  • Anthony

    Where’s the logical, objective proof of your claims?

    Of course he did keep all the OT laws, condemned the Pharisees for adding laws to keep (which he rejected), and in the case of the woman in adultery he actually agreed with their judgement that she ought to be stoned to death. In this case, he opted to give forgiveness. Quite the display of his prerogative as the God-man.

    I guess all those questions he asked about what people thought don’t qualify (“who do people say that I am”)? Naturally he was only asking in order to teach them a lesson on what they should be believing and doing, either at that moment or at a later time.

    You have a lot of unfounded assumptions wrapped up in your arguments which again, cannot be logically and objectively proven.

  • Anthony

    Your belief in a compassionate and merciful God is not what strips him of his holiness and I never said that. But to strip him of his sovereign right to execute divine justice as he sees fit does violate his integrity and shows a low view of God’s holiness.

    About the Levitical law, I never said that it applies. In fact, none of it applies. The moral law is totally separate from the Levitical law. It predated the Levitical law all the way back to Genesis and is carried through in the new testament. Each of the 10 commandments were repeated in the new covenant aside from the command to worship on Saturday. To suggest the moral law doesn’t apply is to slip into antinomian heresy.

    As far as convenience goes, following God’s moral law really isn’t all that convenient for me. I have to go against the grain of society sometimes, but I do it because I desire to dutifully and lovingly obey my Lord Jesus.

    As far as Christ’s view of the greatest commandment, he was sharing what he viewed as the two greatest, not the two only laws. Also, he quoted them from the OT. He wasn’t making up something new, and the new covenant wasn’t even established yet when he said those things. Finally, you’ll never know how to love God or Jesus if you don’t follow his moral law or understand the principles behind any of the laws in the OT. Otherwise, anybody could come up with any sort of twisted idea of how to love God and other people. There are a lot of people doing what is right in their own eyes because they have rejected Christ as their king.

    If you think that Paul and Jesus are in conflict then I don’t think you really understand the Bible. It’s real easy to make the Bible say anything once you start to discredit and throw away portions of it. It’s also fair to say that to reject Paul and his apostolic authority as expressed in his writings is to ultimate reject the authority of Jesus himself. It’s much like when a foreign country rejects the US ambassador or what they have to say, they are in a sense rejecting the president and all his authority. I think that’s dangerous ground and is likely a sure sign of someone who isn’t really a Christian. I sincerely hope that doesn’t describe you, and if so, that you would repent and seek God’s forgiveness.

    You are completely right that I cannot see into your heart. But I can read what you write. Jesus did teach that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). You also falsely equate correcting someones bad theology as unloving. I suppose if that were true then Jesus was somehow unloving when he condemned the Pharisees and corrected their theology countless times. Isn’t it loving towards God and man to correct someone’s theology so that they can worship God more truly with their mind (Luke 10:27).

    As far as differing theologies, no I don’t think that if someone has a different theology than me then that necessarily means they aren’t saved. That would be ridiculous and I never said that nor implied that. However, I do believe if a persons theology is wrong regarding the gospel of Jesus as set forth in the Bible then they certainly are not Christian.

  • Snooterpoot

    Usually when Evangelical Christians talk about “moral” law, they are talking about sex.

    My moral law informs me that it is immoral to do harm to others, to deny liberty and human rights, to exploit the earth, to ignore the plight of the poor and suffering – I guess that goes back to that human rights thing – and to replace God with the almighty dollar.

    I don’t wave the Bible in people’s faces, or boast about how well versed I am in scripture, or point at people and tell them they are going to hell. That’s what I call talking the talk.

    I try, every day of my life, to love as Jesus loved. It’s really difficult, and I often fail, but I do try. That’s what I call walking the walk.

    Words are meaningless without living in a manner to back them up. I think that there are too many Christians who worship the Bible instead of worshiping god. I don’t think God’s word is characters on a page; I think Jesus is God’s word.

  • Anthony

    I never brought up sex, you did. Although I will say Gods moral law does speak pretty clearly on that topic.

    I think you may have stated the problem quite succinctly – it’s your moral law. What about Gods? It seems that it’s not so much the idea of living by moral laws you have a problem with, but living by moral laws which God has revealed to us in Scripture and has commanded all believers to submit to (John 14:15-24).

    While I think we could agree that to flippantly and offensively bash people with the Bible is wrong, I can’t escape the fact that the gospel and Biblical truth is simply offense to a lost and dying world. There’s a natural offense built in and some people will be offended and bothered by it no matter what. That’s really part of the Holy Spirit convicting the world of righteousness and judgement. Why else would Jesus say that the world would hate Christians like it hated him? One of my responsibilities as a Christian is to proclaim Gods truth while striving not to add any offense to it (God knows I always need improvement).

    I can’t help but wonder, you seem to imply that you don’t want to confront anyone with Gods truth in the Bible, but it seems like you don’t mind confronting me with your own moral law that may or may not be right or true. Why is that?

    I also happen to agree with you that words are meaningless if not backed up by love. Paul expressed that quite eloquently in 1 Corinthians 13. But I can’t forget that Jesus taught to also worship with my mind. It wasn’t strength OR heart OR mind. They’re all necessary. Sincerity and love is wonderful and vital, but if I sincerely love the wrong things or love in the wrong way that has disastrous consequences. All my love, affection and devotion for Christ must be accurately and thoroughly informed by Biblical truth if I really want to follow Jesus. That means I have to believe in and carefully explain to others those things God has revealed in his word. Even if they are unpleasant, unpopular, unintuitive (not meaning irrational), or counter-cultural so that they too can follow Christ and love God.

    Might I also add that Jesus himself quoted Scripture and used it regularly to teach and correct others, why not us if we are to love as he loved? Doesn’t love for what God has said in his word count?

  • Bones

    Unfounded assumptions hey?

    What should Jesus have done when touched by the bleeding woman according to God’s Law?

    What should Jesus have done to the woman caught in adultery according to God’s Law?

    Jesus said all foods are clean as opposed to God’s Law.

    Jesus disagrees with God’s Law re divorce.

    I just can’t imagine Jesus cutting the throats of gay people or someone for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

    But yeah maybe those accounts weren’t written down.

    “who do people say that I am”

    And Jesus didn’t rebuke any of the answers.

    This anal need to have correct belief is a human need, nothing to do with God.

    I think you’re the one with assumptions founded on contradictions, cherry picking verses and a lack of logic.

    Of course believing the Bible as the word of God is an unfounded assumption.

  • Bones

    “There isn’t one. It’s not illogical to say that God can want something in one sense, but not want the same thing in another sense. My statement complies with the Law of Non-Contradiction.”


    You’ve now contradicted your belief in a sovereign God as well as the Bible.

    God desires all to be saved but can’t/won’t do anything about it.

    “As such, who gets saved is God’s prerogative, not mans wishes.”

    Then God is irrelevant except to the saved.

    “Neither one of us get to set the standard. ”

    This standard you talk of is of course the Bible which by modern standards is immoral. And claiming it as an objective standard is a subjective standard. That is it is subjective to your belief.


    The point is Jesus wasn’t bat crazy about people’s belief systems like you are.

    “A sovereign God.”

    No. We are all created in the image of God in whom we live and move and have our being.

    “That’s where having free will really comes back to bite us and the atonement of Christ is necessary to be delivered from the wrath of God’s justice (Romans 5:9). ”

    I don’t hold to free will. A Muslim growing up in Pakistan has next to no chance of even having a choice about the Gospel.

    “Don’t you think that God would require us to believe what he says even if we don’t like it? ”

    The assumption of course is that God said it. Much of it he clearly didn’t.

    “No, it would simply mean that God decided to deliver justice instead of grace and mercy.”

    Then your god is not Jesus nor the father of the prodigal son. Your god would flog the son mercilessly depending upon his mood.

    Apart from which your whole understanding of the Bible and its books are seriously flawed.

  • Bones

    It’s not the Bible that’s offensive but your beliefs about it.

    Most of us understand that the Old Testament Laws weren’t from God but the laws of priests and tribes of ancient Israel which are patently immoral but relevant to their day.

    I mean they didn’t understand what a woman’s period was about so they just thought it was being unclean.

    That’s not a comment from God but an understanding of the time.

    God had nothing to do with it unless He doesn’t know about feminine hygiene.

    But to say God did say that women on their period are unclean then, yes, that is offensive.

  • Bones

    Most people don’t have a problem with Jesus.

    It’s Christians they have a problem with.

  • Bones

    A new study in England has found that:

    “The most reliable way to become an evangelical Christian, the survey found, is to be born into a family of them. Only 7% of the evangelicals surveyed had been converted in the past 11 years.”

    Seems you have to be born one of the Elect.

  • LadySunami

    There is really no choice but to “throw away” portions of it, as not all portions of it agree. I mean you have read the Bible, right? Surely you noticed that not every author was in agreement about how certain events unfolded or what God expects from his people.

  • LadySunami

    I think Snooterpoot’s problem is individuals like yourself who insist that the moral laws devised by ancient Hebrews actually came from God himself. You can’t have a real, honest discussion about morality when one side keeps insisting their morals come directly from God and thus are not to be questioned.

  • Anthony

    Well of course I’ve read the Bible. I just disagree with you that it contains any contradictions in it. That idea is a relatively modern invention of liberal scholars to discredit the Bibles truth claims. It’s real easy to avoid submitting to what the Bible says when you convinced it’s full of contradictions. There are plenty of resources out there which address these so called contradictions and in my time of study, while I may have at times been stumped, there has always been a sufficient explanation when using proper hermeneutics and studying in context.

  • Anthony

    I never said the morals declared in the Bible can’t be questioned. I think that when confronted with something in the Bible that at first seems a little off, careful thought and study should be put into solving the problem. I happen to believe that all the so called moral problems in the Bible can be sufficiently resolved without compromising the integrity of the Bible, the truthfulness of Scripture or Gods character.

    I also find it astonishing that people balk when confronted with the view that Christians should adhere to the fundamental tenets of orthodox doctrine and morality that have been fairly consistently believed by faithful believers for several millennia, yet don’t mind demanding people to accept or believe a relative view of morality that society may very well change and declare immoral 30 years from now.

  • Anthony

    Bones, most of your arguments merely amount to the same type of ploy Satan used to plunge man into sinful rebellion in the garden of Eden…”has God really said?” A basic lets throw mud and see what sticks mentality. As such, there really can be no consensus between us on election or anything of significant value as long as you make wild and ridiculous claims in order to feel better about rejecting the Bible as the inerrant and infallible record of Gods word. All your claims are easily refuted if you search for the answers, which at this point leads me to conclude my discussion with you since that task is too laborious and time consuming to do on this thread. I truly hope that one day God will open your eyes and you find joy and comfort in the truth of Gods word.

  • Snooterpoot

    I grew up being indoctrinated into the Southern Baptist Church. I know what I am talking about because I lived it.

    I never heard a sermon that chastised Christians for failing to follow Christ’s teachings about taking care of “the least of these,” or about being good stewards of the earth, or doing harm to others. Listen to today’s Evangelical theologians. They rail against abortion (sex, not the sanctity of life bullscat), homosexuality (sex), same-sex marriage (sex), the decline of morals that began in the 1960s (sex). That’s where their outrage lies, and that is how they define morality.

    Deny it if you want to, but the truth is there for all to see.

    Do you know from whom we hear the most outrage about social safety nets (lazy bums), women failing to “keep our legs together (sex)” so they don’t have to feed our brats, expelling immigrants who simply came to America to escape violence and poverty, “scum” expecting to be treated equally by police officers and by the legal system, and more? I’ll give you a hint. It isn’t liberals.

    So, Anthony, don’t try to pass off bullscat excuses for some Christians’ refusal to at least try to follow Jesus’s example. My bullscat detector is strong and sensitive.

    We are finished with this conversation.

  • LadySunami

    Yeah… It’s not a modern liberal invention, it’s something anyone can see just by reading the text. It just was never considered to be an issue until Biblical “literalism” became a thing.

    For contradictions related to events it starts right off in Genesis 1 & 2, with the first version saying plants were made on day 3 and humans on day 6, while the second version specifies “no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up” when the first man was formed out of dust. There is really no way for both those things to be true. There is also the mess that is the whole Noah’s ark story with, among other things, God shutting them in the ark multiple times and the coverage of the earth by flood waters lasting for entirely different periods of time. There is also the weirdness of Abraham and Isaac living through the exact same “wife confusion” story ending with them making the exact same treaty with the exact same man. These are only in Genesis mind you.

    For theological contradictions the first that come to my mind are whether or not God tempts people, whether or not God changes his mind, and whether one receives salvation by works, faith, or both. There’s also some theological weirdness with multiple gods existing vs. just the one, the single afterlife of Sheol turning into the duel afterlifes of Heaven and Hell, and “the adversary” going from being God’s agent, who tests people’s faith on God’s behalf, to a rogue angel that acts against God to bring about evil.

  • LadySunami

    I’m sorry, but they cannot be resolved. There is no way to resolve the morality of genocide, treating women like property and the enslavement of foreigners.*

    *With male Hebrew slaves you can argue it was basically indentured servitude, but not so with foreign slaves or enslaved women.

  • Bones

    It’s called critical thinking.

    “Bible as the inerrant and infallible record of Gods word”

    You see that’s just wrong.

    I hope one day you read something that doesn’t come from your Calvinist masters, like some honest study on the bible and how and why the books were compiled.

  • Bones

    What does the objective standard say about slavery?

    Well it clearly supports it.

    You have to be totally dishonest to say it doesn’t.

    What does the objective standard say about genocide?

    You can do it, if God is on your side.

    What does the objective standard say about treatment of prisoners of war?

    You can execute and enslave who you want.


    Your objective standard is wrong.

    Though ISIS likes it.

    Who knows maybe in 30 years time slavery, genocide and execution of POWs will be commonplace – just like in the Bible.

    Here’s an objective standard which most of the world, believing or not, use – don’t hurt people.

    You don’t need to have a Bible to tell you that.

    “I happen to believe that all the so called moral problems in the Bible can be sufficiently resolved without compromising the integrity of the Bible, the truthfulness of Scripture or Gods character.”

    Been there, done that.

    Of course you do.

    Muslims believe the Koran is perfect and tie themselves in knots proving it.

    So do Mormons.

    And Hindus.

    Even fellow evangelicals Tom Wright bag your Calvinistic nonsense and he’s the most eminent NT scholar in the Evangelical world.

    Your very convincing arguments wash away when brought into the light of modern scholarship.

  • Bones

    God can do what He wants and if that means committing genocide or treating women like garbage then that’s ok. And if god didn’t know why women bled and simply pronounced them unclean and in need of a sin offering, that’s ok too. God can do what He wants. Because he’s God.

    That’s how that argument goes.

    Now why don’t you believe in that god?

  • Bones

    Yeah modern scholarship will tell you that Genesis has at least four groups contributing to it’s composition which includes TWO creation accounts.

    It’s also a fairly recent book written in the 6th to 5th century BCE with the rest of the Torah..

    Anthony doesn’t want to know that because that would threaten his whole view of the Bible.

  • LadySunami

    Yup. I learned about the different authors in my undergraduate theology course (I went to a Catholic college). Even without said detailed knowledge though, the editing job is pretty obvious… Especially in the ark story. I tried figuring out the time scale they were going for in the “final edit” but it is pretty much impossible. I don’t know how anyone could honestly look at it and say, “There is only one version of this story right here.”

  • LadySunami

    All your claims are easily refuted if you search for the answers,

    Afraid not. Bones’ claims are supported by the evidence one finds when searching for answers. Your claims, not so much.