A Sincere Question For My Calvinist Friends

A Sincere Question For My Calvinist Friends September 4, 2015

calvinism question

I spent my teenage years discovering God in a Reformed Baptist church, and I met many wonderful people there. During those years I also discovered a lot about God and solidified my decision to follow him, for which I’ll always be grateful. However, I also stumbled upon some stuff which was immediately problematic for me– most memorably, the doctrine of predestination.

I still remember that first sermon on predestination, the general idea that God himself predestines some people for heaven (called the “elect”), but not others. I’ve heard various Calvinists describe this differently. Calvin himself taught that God predestines some people for heaven and predestines other people for hell, but not everyone in my church explained it the way Calvin did. Some told me that God picks some and leaves options open for others, while some held true to Calvin and told me that God does in fact predestine some for hell. (Which, years later, I now believe is the only intellectually honest position to hold regarding predestination; if God picks some, he either directly or by default destines others to hell.) When I objected to such a notion I was told that we had no right to complain about the purpose God created us for (Romans 9:19-20), even if that was the purpose of being an object of his wrath for all of eternity (Romans 9:21-22).

I’ll be honest: not a single explanation of predestination ever sat right with me. When I expressed moral objections to God picking some people for heaven and some people for hell– before they were ever born– the go-to response I heard then (and a common one I hear now) is that God is God and I have no right to question how he runs things.

Regardless of which way one describes the concept of predestination, it all leads to some problematic questions and conclusions. In the end, no matter which way you cut it, God picks some people but doesn’t pick others. At worst (what John Calvin taught), he actually creates people for the sole purpose of sending them to hell.

20 years later, and even after spending four years at a Reformed-heavy seminary, I still don’t buy into predestination as taught by Calvin because of the questions it raises about God’s character (which I believe to be everything that is good and beautiful).

There are plenty of Christians who are also Calvinists– sincere, kind, and loving people. Yet, I just don’t understand how my Calvinist friends can side-step the moral problems with predestination. And this is what brings me to my sincere question for my Calvinist friends:

What if it’s the person you love most in the world?

What if you get to heaven and find out that your beautiful daughter, who you loved more than life itself, isn’t coming to join you?

What if you discover the spouse who was your best friend for 60 years wasn’t picked?

Or the parents who lovingly poured out their lives for you, who you looked forward to seeing. What if they’re not there?

And what if you find out the reason they aren’t there is simply because they didn’t get elected?

What if that beautiful child you raised and would have jumped in front of a bus for, was actually predestined by God to burn in hell for all of eternity, simply to demonstrate his holiness?


How would you feel about God in that moment? What would run through your mind when you came to the realization that you spent your whole life loving someone who was beautiful, wonderful, and who brought years of joy and laughter to your earthly life, was simply created as an object of God’s wrath and is now being tortured in hell?

How would you feel with the realization that they never had a choice and that they were predestined for hell before they were even born?

Does that really sit in your spirit well?

Would that change your view of God?

Would you think God was altogether beautiful, wonderful, and loving?

Would realizing your loved one was simply created to showcase the holiness of his wrath make you love God more?

Would your heart truly be free to worship him and love God completely?

Would you be able to honestly and truly gather around the throne and sing, Our God is an Awesome God? What about predestining your child to hell is an awesome character trait?

How could you worship God if this were true? I mean, I understand it would be possible to worship out of fear– but how could you worship this God out of sincere love for what he did?

I know how I answer those questions. If God created my beautiful children and predestined them to hell before they were ever born, I cannot in good conscience worship him or love him. Such a God would be nothing short of a monster.

Thankfully, I don’t believe that is true and don’t believe I’ll ever be confronted with that reality.

But I recognize that my Calvinist friends do. So my sincere question to those of you who believe in predestination is: what if it’s the person you love most in all the world who God picked for hell? Presupposing your theology is correct, do you really think you could worship that God?

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  • I never could go with Calvinism, precisely because of that predestination issue. It seemed to falsify Christianity if all was predestined.

    But then I also had similar problems with Exodus, where I read of God hardening Pharoah’s heart and then punishing him for having a hard heart. In retrospect, that was the first step in my eventual abandoning of religion.

  • Peter M

    What about Judas? is he saved? How come some people hear the word and believe; others could care less? Paul, Augustine and Calvin wrestled with this and got us no closer to an answer–sub specie aeternitatis

  • I’ve never believed in Calvinism precisely because of these issues. Still, the idea of my beloved friends going to hell – or anyone, really – was so horrific I decided that, if my Christianity was enough to “save” me, I would volunteer to go to hell in their place at whatever final judgement occurs. It seemed the only moral action, if hell (or annihilation) does exist. And although I’m growing more and more certain that God is not so monstrous as to pick and choose, I still have this plan in the back of my head. :/

  • Leanne Zeck

    John Piper said he would be sad if his son was predestined for hell but he would still praise God.
    I have never understood calvinism or seen how the God portrayed by Calvinism could be considered good. But then again, I probably was predestined to be Wesleyan in my theology.

  • You asked, “what if it’s the person you love most in all the world who God picked for hell? Presupposing your theology is correct, do you really think you could worship that God?”

    I understand you are seeking to make it personal so that Calvinists will apply their abstract doctrine to themselves. But keep in mind (as you no doubt already know) many Calvinists believe that an infant being born in a Calvinist family means that the infant, before time began, was included in the covenant of grace.

    But the real horror–from my view–isn’t that someone in my family, even our dear baby–was predestined to Hell but that billions of other babies (and kids, and caring parents, and elderly grandparents, etc.) were! How could I possibly sleep at night being aware of that horror though I know millions of Calvinist parents do, and get no angst or worry or sorrow over it:-(

    For over 50 years, Calvinists sought to convert me to their way of thinking. It started out with our youth leader when I was 17, and then later a national leader lecturing us that God has planned every rape and every murder! Whew…

    I tried to help Calvinists see what a terrible theology they devoutly believe in. I spoke repeatedly with Calvinists (and Augustinians, conservative Lutherans, etc.) listened to their highly complicated, brilliant explanations, and strongly disagreed,
    but all it got me was the final realization 3 years ago is that Christianity can’t be true since so many leaders
    (Augustine, Wyclif, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, Edwards, Spurgeon, Hodge, Whitfield, Piper, Sproul, etc.) for 1700 years have taught deterministic predestination.

    And several months ago, I discovered that even some Anabaptists teach Calvinistic predestination…

    I’m glad you are still reaching out with the Good News for all (though I don’t know how you can still believe in it since so many Christians leaders think it only applies to the few.)

  • Timothy Keller on his website says that Judas didn’t believe because he was predestined by God to do evil:-(

  • I desperately hope for his redemption.

  • I knew someone who believes that we will not be able to recognize anyone in heaven because otherwise we would be too sad about the people who aren’t there. I’ve never heard this from anyone else but it does seem like one way to try to reconcile our love for others with the idea that God might be willing to let them suffer for eternity.

  • Tim

    Calvinism’s mistake here stems directly from a misunderstanding of the purpose of “election”. The ‘elect’ are merely firstfruits of a much larger harvest. They are not the only fruit, not by a longshot.

  • Tim


  • Tim

    People inventing unbiblical stuff to explain a doctrine they hold should be a big clue that the doctrine is also unbiblical, no?

  • Yes.

  • lisa

    Daniel, I grew up and I am presently involved in a Reformed church. I could probably quiz every congregant about the “T.U.L.I.P” Calvinistic way of looking at things and thank God, most of them wouldn’t have a clue. Our church has been generational so I think the Calvinistic way of looking at things has been somewhat lost. Any way my point of this post is regardless of all these “Christian” leaders I am still a Christian because I don’t follow a word they say, I follow Christ. :)

  • MarkO

    Perhaps Calvin overstated the cause and if so and if you are right it still does not remove the pain of a loved going off into eternal separation from God. How does their choosing (fully independent of divine influence) to reject God make their being eternally departed from God any less painful? Ben, you have proposed a false dichotomy.

    The real problem is Hell. If you really want to remove the pain of a loved one’s rejection of God, then rejecting Calvin does not soften the pain. The only course of action is to reject Hell altogether – or as some Arminian believe – retain the notion of Purgatory (ie., Jerry Walls).

    But if God is holy (and he is) rejecting him has devastating consequences no matter how it plays before the end of all things. Calvin or not, the heart aches.

  • ?
    I don’t get the point of your gesture. Surely, the fact that a famous leader of modern Christianity stating that some humans are predestined to evil
    shows how horrific creedal Christianity is.

  • Most uses of predestination or election are corporate, and hide in English translation as if they apply to individuals, rather than individual groups or categories of people.

    Read this way, the elect, those predestined for Eternity with God, are those that will make up the body of Christ, the church, and who have responded to the gospel. This is demonstrated in the Gospel preaching of Paul in Acts, the same Paul who agonized over his compatriots in Rom9-11.

    It’s about which group you choose to be in, and where God has elected that group for, not about modern individualism.

  • Tim

    Sorry, I thought that you’d understand that the facepalm was directed at Keller’s statement. My bad.

  • Well, I’ve been in a Reformed church of some kind for at least two decades, now, and have been on both sides of this conversation.

    These days, I think Calvinism misinterprets the Romans passages on election by applying them to individual salvation, and I’m also an annihilationist, so that part’s gone as well.

    But if I were trying to argue for the traditional Calvinistic view, I would (as I have in the past) bring up Isaiah 10, where God explains that He will use Assyria to punish Israel and will then proceed to punish Assyria for what they did to Israel.

    In the middle of this, God explains why he will punish Assyria. It’s because the king in his heart thinks of Israel as conquest-fodder just like every other nation and will conquer them out of pride and arrogance. Assyria isn’t doing it to execute God’s will, nor are they being supernaturally constrained to do something they wouldn’t normally do.

    So, when we think about God’s predestination from the traditional standpoint, it’s a phenomenon where people make their own free choices and are held accountable for those choices – but somehow those choices are also what God plans to happen. This is something that is completely anomalous in our experience, because if we want to insure that something happens, we have to force it or at least directly cause it to happen.

    Similar logic applies to how God can “cause the rain to fall” as well as the normal water cycle.

    Once again, I am not arguing this, but it is -a- way to answer the question.

  • Wow, not like any Reformed leaders who lectured us and all the ones since that I’ve dialogued with (though you are the second person this month to state that some Reformed churches don’t teach the Reformed creeds and confessions).

    Even after almost 50 years of trying to defend Christ against Christianity, 3 years ago I still had a similar view as you. I kept saying no matter what others claim about Christianity, no matter how much authority they have in the Church, I’ll still choose to follow Christ in the sense of infinite love.

    BUT then two events happened: Our former church here (which had been pushing Calvinism for 10 years so I had quit going) came out with a Bible study book for the small group we were still in. It declared that infants are created “in essence, evil” (Matt Chandler’s Explicit Gospel).

    And various church organizations which had been our life and had denied Calvinism in the past now began promoting TULIP.

    In desperation I sought out denominations which traditionally opposed determinism such as the Methodists and the Wesleyans. But the Wesleyan minister in a huge Wesleyan church down in Georgia is now promoting Calvinism, as is a brilliant scholar associated with the Methodists.

    So I turned to the Assemblies of God. But guess what, in their men’s small group, they did 3 Calvinistic leaders’ books in a row.

    It just kept getting worse. (Maybe I should move to where you live:-) ALL the churches here (except the Church of Christ) support Calvinistic/Augustinian leaders to one degree or another.

    Then the Calvary Chapel pastor who did my dad’s funeral last August, in the middle of his funeral sermon, suddenly said to the hundreds of people that little grandchildren are “little guilty sinners” (it seems he was referring to our 2- and 4-year-old grandchildren who were there in the front seats:-(

    For me that was the final exit:-(

    I realized to the very deepest part of me that Christianity can’t be true, that my faith in Christ was a delusion since so few Christians believe in the Christ who I trusted in.

  • Oh, okay. Sometimes Internet communications aren’t clear to readers. On another site, someone posted a thing like that against my view. So I misunderstood.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And apparently I was predestined to be as non-sectarian and somewhat syncretistic theist, in whatever state that lands me hereafter… But, as there’s no fear of judgement, as I try to practice the Golden Rule and the two greatest commandments as best I know how, and has been stated by all positive paths and ethical systems, I’ve got nothing to fear.

    I’ve said many times, that if my atheist friends are correct, it really won’t matter anyway, and I’ll still not have to have my last thoughts being generally of regret.

    If there is a continuity, and I firmly believe there is, maybe the lessons hereafter won’t have to be remedial training… /smile

  • dart

    Gentlemen, I would just like to say that I enjoyed the discussion resolving the misinterpretation. If only the rest of the internet world replied as civil as you two just did, the comment sections would be quite dull.

  • lisa

    Wow! We do still recite the creeds and other formal stuff but the discussion of TULIP is just not there. I dont think anyone even cares. We gather to Worship God, praise Jesus and do whatever fellowship or mission work we have. I feel really grateful to be in the church I am in. There is never any arguments about doctrine. Its all about the love….

  • dart

    What if John Piper is predestined for hell, how would he feel then? Mind. Blown.

  • Timothy Swanson

    The logical result of this Calvinist belief would seem to be that one
    should never have children. If there were even a 1% chance that my
    children were created solely to burn in hell for God’s glory, I would be
    a monster to take the chance of letting them be born.

    As you
    say, this gets to the view of God’s character. And I agree: if God isn’t
    good, I can fear him, but not worship, and certainly not LOVE him. To
    love a cruel monster is to become a monster one’s self.

  • dart

    I just replied to another comment in jest that I wonder what would happen if John Piper himself found out that he was predestined for hell. Upon further consideration, I find this to be a truly intriguing question. So instead of Corey asking the question “what if it’s the person you love most in the world?” We ask instead “what if you found out that it was yourself to be predestined for hell?” Could one who knows that they’ll be sent to hell still worship God in the same way? Would one dare say “God is God and I have no right to question how he runs things”? It’s so much easier to believe in predestination when we’re smug with the knowledge that we ourselves are saved, “I love God because it’s the other guy that’s roasting”. And THAT my friends is the egocentric anti-christian attitude that some Christians portray.

  • Hmm…I grew up in a non-creedal Baptist church. When being told by a Reformed leader that God would call Christians to commit immoral actions (which he defended with quotes from the Old Testament),
    I realized I needed to read these creeds, so I checked out a large book of them from the library.

    Those creeds were horrific–the Westminster Confession, the Syn of Dort (yes, I know that’s a harsh sarcastic pun against the Synods, but those creeds make horrific claims about God, Hell, etc….

    Keep in mind I am a lay historian, and used to teach Puritanism to students for years as an American literature teacher. Also, I am 2/3 the way through a scholarly tome on the English Civil War. What a horrific slaughter, and it was during that slaughter by Christian against Christian, that the Reformed wrote the Westminster Confession.

    How could all of you in your church possibly recite such creeds?

    Thanks for sharing your very different perspective. I hope you understand my being “in another cosmos.”

    I would rather never have been born than recite the Synods of Dort or the Westminister Confession, etc.

    None of those confessions and creeds are about love for everyone, but of how God only loves a limited number of people, amazingly themselves, but “foreordained” (Calvin) all the billions of the rest of us to eternal torture:-(

    Yes, I know some Reformed claim that God just “passed” over us billions not elected, but it all comes out the same in the end….
    billions to Hell, eternal damnation of some sort.

    By, the way, that brings me back to Matt Chandler who condemns every little infant as being in “essence, evil;”

    He and many others also claim that God has two contrary wills. Outwardly, God “loves” everyone, calls everyone to be saved, but inwardly in God’s hidden will; God wills for most people to be damned for his glory:-(

    Some Reformed leaders even claim God planned the Nazi Holocaust for his own glory:-(

    I’m glad you are reforming from all that horror:-)

    Hope my own sense of despair hasn’t made my comment to you sound too harsh.
    I don’t mean it personally.

    Thanks for sharing your own perspective.

  • Mike

    Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me”. John 10:27 Jesus did not say ALL sheep hear his voice.

    Further Jesus said “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:28 Jesus said no man can change who His sheep are, i.e. there are utterly His.

    Clearly all people do not follow Jesus. Therefore some are “elect” and some are not. Jesus also makes it clear there are some who are “children of the Devil”.

    The question of why God chooses to tell His story, His way, is a different matter.

  • Mike

    No one going to Hell asks the question “I wonder if I am going to Hell”. Anymore than an insane person would ask the question, “I wonder if I am crazy”.

  • Mark Edward

    None of this addresses the key question:

    If it’s YOUR child, YOUR spouse, YOUR parent, YOUR friend, whom you love more than life itself, that God created for the sole purpose of damning to endless torment in flames just because he can… what is your honest, real, non-theologically driven reaction?

  • Mark Edward

    Convenient how everyone who believes in this sort of predestination believes they’re part of the elect.

  • Mark Edward

    ‘Welp, my very own son, whom I love more than my own life, is going to hell for eternity. Praise God!’

  • Michael Muto

    Mike, you are suggesting these statements from John 10 answer a question that isn’t being asked. In fact, the Pharisees were upset for exactly the opposite reason because Jesus was saying his “sheep” or God’s followers would come from a wider circle rather than just those whom the Pharisees would define as God’s people. Shockingly, Jesus gives some guidelines for judging who hears God’s voice and it has to do with doing the works of the Father, not with believing anything in particular. Also your suggestion that Jesus calls some “children of the devil” is from a passage in 1 John 3 and here it is John that says you can tell who is a child of God vs a child of the devil by looking at their actions and their love for others. Not exactly the best passages to be touting to defend a Calvinist perspective.

  • Michael Muto

    Actually, I know lot’s of people that fall in that category of “going to Hell” by the Reformed definition that have asked that question and their conclusion is typically that this Christianity stuff isn’t for me if that is the kind of loving God I’m being asked to trust.

  • lisa

    I must admit. I have not researched any creeds and we only recite the Apostles creed. But I completely understand were you are coming from. It makes me sad where Christianity has gone. If there really was a Jesus, he certainly didn’t want his message to be twisted and complicated as it has becom. Peace.

  • Thanks for listening.

    Glad you can still find hope.

  • Michael Muto

    I agree Neil. Exodus has always been troubling for me even though it is such a central story in the Judeo Christian scriptures. The good thing for me to know is that there is actually no historical evidence anything like this ever happened.

  • SO TRUE —> It’s so much easier to believe in predestination when we’re smug with the knowledge that we ourselves are saved, “I love God because it’s the other guy that’s roasting”

  • YUP.

  • Michael Muto

    I’ve met Carsten Piper, John’s son. He seems like a great guy and it’s weird to see him discussed in the abstract like this. I don’t agree with his father at all.

  • EXACTLY. It would be more loving to abort or never have a child or if you have them, to kill them before ‘the age of accountability’, if this is the case. It would be selfish to have children for 70 or so years on earth, risking an eternity of burning.

  • PinkyAndNoBrain

    This might be kinda cheesy, but you know who else saw that as the only moral action? Jesus (and God, who sent him down there to begin with). Which is why I don’t think He can be the type to pick and choose like that. I don’t think I’m as selfless as you are — I would really prefer to not go to hell — but to me it seems to completely deny the sacrifice of Christ if it didn’t actually DO anything, you know? Like, what was the point, then?

  • Mike

    The fact of a next breath or heartbeat, is evidence of the trust we are asked to receive, not to give.

  • Ed54

    Why would a Being create sentient creatures for the purpose of torturing them in unfathomable horror forever and ever? No respite. No repose. Why would such a Being be worthy of my worship and adoration? The argument that as the creator He has the “right” to do with us as He wishes, is insufficient. Morally, this far less than what we expect from humans; certainly not an omnibeneficient God.

  • Mike

    I see these matters as a discussion of reality, not theology. I care nothing for theology if it does not square with the truth.
    These are God’s child, God’s spouse, God’s parent, God’s friend, and He gave them to you. He is concerned with them more than you are. We don’t know what EXACTLY God is doing with anyone, only God does.

  • Jeanne Fox

    Some Reformed preachers say God planned the Holocaust for His glory?! Hitler said in Mein Kampf: Eternal Nature takes revenge for violation of her commandments. I believe I am acting today in the spirit of the Almighty Creator. By standing guard against the Jew, I am defending the work of the Lord. Mein Kampf , book1, Chapter 2, page 89. The Ford translation.

    It’s creepy that some Calvinists and Adolf are on the same page.

  • Jeanne Fox

    Back in December, 2006, a devout Calvinist told me I was going to hell because I am not a Calvinist. He said only Calvinists worship the true God and everyone else, including non Calvinist Christians, worship a false god.

  • Mike

    Are you sure you know what the goal and exit strategy is in His mind?

  • Actually, there is probably an historical connection. One of the German leaders who was even more deterministic than John Calvin, was Martin Luther. His horrific work Bondage of the Will and other writings emphasize that only some humans are chosen for salvation and they have no choice.
    Even worse, God–according to Luther–works evil in the non-elect:-(

    A human is only an ax used by God.

    And then there are the infamous passages of Luther against the Jews, which many Germans knew well:

    “First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death…

    Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home….”

    “Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know it, hear it, or learn it. There it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs…”


  • AnnieOly

    Wow Daniel, your experience is heart wrenching. I think if that had been my experience I would feel exactly the same way. I was very blessed to have somehow escaped that (or not noticed it) even after spending a lot of time in non denominational fellowships, AOG, Vineyards, etc. Maybe because the PNW tends to be more liberal.
    I no longer can identify as evangelical, but I still believe in Jesus, so occasionally wander into a UCC, Episcopal, or Catholic church, and there I have at times found the sense of joy, wonder, and peace that I used to associate with the gospel, before bad theology went and screwed it all up.

  • Ed54

    I don’t “know” if He is a he, or if “He” has a mind.

  • liberalinlove

    Silliness to the nth degree!

  • joeb75

    I am not typically moved by these emotional-experience arguments against predestination since they take predestination out of context in which it has been described or referenced in Paul, the Gospels, etc. Of course as a Calvinist, I wrestle with the implications of the doctrine of predestination, but that is mainly when I’m also thinking of it out of context. Some comments that may be helpful …

    We tend to assume a wrong image-reference of who God is and what he is doing. Like when we read of God described as a king, we immediately go to the default image of an autocratic, pre-modern European monarch, with a realm of subjects who must submit or else. Which is completely wrong.

    Similarly with election, folks tend to imagine God as some pre-modern Oriental despot who rules arbitrarily, distributing penal wrath on various subjects of his realm almost at random or personal whim. That’s because we don’t have any other image or experience to compare with an eternal being in glory who has only partially revealed his glory and justice. His lovingkindness and mercy have been more fully revealed in his Son, so that should be the context of predestination, and predestination cannot contradict what God has revealed of his justice and glory.

    In fact the basis of predestination is explicitly given – ‘according to his purposes’, — just because we as mortals cannot see, perceive, or understand those purposes does not make them any less just, moral, or rational does it? Does one really believe that it’s possible for God’s unrevealed elective purposes to be in some kind of contradiction to the nature of his revealed justice where he is invested in exalting the the orphan, the widow, the barren, the outcasts, the rejected, the poor? Just because we can’t reconcile the latter with this assumed image of an arbitrary despot doesn’t mean there’s a problem with the doctrine.

    What is the typical context of predestination? I’d say the best illustration is what Peter uses in 1 Peter 2. Christ is the penultimate ” living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious”… and so Peter infers that to be found in Christ is also to be in this position of rejection in the eyes of men, yet counted and chosen precious in the sight of God. That, for me as a Calvinist, is predestination in context, in a nutshell. It brings one back to Christ the living stone, and the wonder of a God who counted us precious before the foundation of the world, despite outward appearances and lack of vindication in the world.

    To begin to answer the question about loved ones that are not in this category? I appeal to them to be found in Christ while they are able, to more highly value Christ the rejected but living stone above their own lives. I for one cannot disassociate the biblical doctrine of predestination with the gospel’s gracious call. Predestination is simply another pillar to the glory of the gospel hope, because it tells something wonderful of God folding our destiny into Christ’s destiny, simply by faith. Non-Calvinists (as well as imbalanced Calvinists overly systemizing various doctrines as isolated facts to win arguments, usually going beyond what is revealed) get morbidly stuck on the negative side of the coin, hence the tendency of assuming a God flipping coins before time for the eternal destinies of everyone. But again this is an image borne out of epistemic ignorance nothing else. It is understandable, the rhetoric Paul uses in Romans 9 presupposes that it grates against innate notions of justice, but that is no short coming on God’s part.

    So to answer the question more explicitly, as a Christian the one I love most is Jesus Christ, as in whom my deepest allegiance and trust are placed. If it turns out that Christ was predestined to eternal judgment, then yes God is a monster. If it turns out that anyone in Christ were predestined to eternal judgment, then equally yes God is a monster. Clear enough?

  • Mike

    Gender aside, He has made himself known to everyone, therefore thought took place.

  • Thanks. It’s been tough for my family, but not nearly as tough as for many humans who Reformed/Augustinians claim are suffering God’s wrath as well as his damning foreordination.

    Did you see the various articles from Reformed leaders including John Piper which claimed that the tornadoes which killed many people in the Midwest and elsewhere were actually sent by God, that the tornado winds were from Jesus?

    I never knew such an evil Jesus.

  • AnnieOly

    I have yet to see anyone directly answer Bens questions without trying to bury their answer under a thick wall of theology speak. This I believe is because no sane moral person would be able to justify torturing a sentient being forever, and its not possible to fully love a God who isn’t more sane and moral than ourselves.

  • novaman75

    I too come from a conservative Baptist background and was taught Calvinism in seminary. Appreciate the question being asked because it is a very real concern. Seems to me to be somewhat easy to ask the questions and not provide the answers or an alternative position. Obviously the word predestination and election or chosen is used numerous times in the NT. Why did God choose to foreknow / forelove some and not all. We are not told. Certainly does leave Him open to showing favoritism to some and not others. Do we have the same concerns over God choosing Abraham and Jacob / Israel and not the other nations of the world. Seems to me it is His prerogative and His answer I am sure will be sufficient.

  • AnnieOly

    But the question wasn’t about favoritism, the question was about your reaction to the eternal torture of a loved one.

  • Skeptical Christian

    I was once a 5 point, supralapsarian Calvinist….until I ran smack into the ancient church’s Christology. I converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity because it has dealt with these issues through the great ecumenical Councils and centuries of saints, martyrs and communion with God.
    All predestination is in Christ. Christ as both God and man by nature show that humanity is not naturally depraved. He gets his humanity by assuming it from Mary (from us). Chalcedon stresses this occurs “without change”. His assumed humanity is capable of instant union with God and does not need a change for this to occur in the Incarnation.
    His humanity is fully ours, not from heaven or different from us, yet it needs healing, rescue from death (Christ can die), and resurrection. Calvinism is beset with Christological confusion (Lutheran’s rightly have long charged Calvinists with Nestorian tendencies), which is why Piper affirms evil is necessary even for God, why Sproul can’t affirm that God died on a cross, and why for decades MacArthur denied the Son was eternally begotten of the Father.

    Romans 9 has nothing to do with God electing individuals for heaven or hell. It is about God having the freedom to shockingly bring gentiles into communion with him through Christ without violating His covenants with Israel. Romans 9 is covenantal. The passage continues through chap 11 where both can be grafted in and then cut off through UNBELIEF.

    Scriptural grenade wars will never expose Calvinism’s true errors. Those towers fall only when any teaching is tested against what is does to Christ himself.
    St. John of Damascus rightly said centuries ago that nearly every error and heresy can be found in the confusion between Person and Nature.

  • Jordan

    Calvinism depends on Neo-Platonic ontology. In my experience, Calvinists always answer these questions with “God’s love is not like our love.” or “God does not have human qualities so what seems unloving to us may be perfect love to God.” These answers follow the same speculative paths as Greek philosophy. They do not come from scripture. Biblical authors had no qualms with anthropomorphisms, and God, in the Incarnation, had no issues with assigning to himself what are genuinely human emotions. To circumvent scripture and claim that biblical anthropomorphisms are only epistemological and not ontological is to submit scripture to human speculation, exactly the thing Calvinists generally detest.

  • novaman75

    So what is the alternative?

  • Al Cruise

    Calvinism is nothing more than tribalism in its purest form.

  • gimpi1

    Not really. God has, for example, not been made manifest to me as of yet.

  • JP

    I don’t understand why you are a Christian if you don’t take the Bible seriously. God in His wisdom has predestined some to mercy and some to wrath. See Romans 9:14-23

  • If God is too good to predestine some people to hell (as Benjamin Corey suggests), would he not also be too good to create hell in the first place?

  • Jeanne Fox

    Hitler mentioned Martin Luther in Mein Kampf. Hitler admired him more for his antisemitism than for his theology.

  • ZLee

    All are destined for and deserve hell. It is BECAUSE God is merciful that in His Grace He saves some. It is for His good purposes and glory that He doesn’t save others. How could it be otherwise with an all powerful all knowing God? Can a limit be placed on omnipotence? Can the knowledge of an omniscient God be exhausted?

    “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

    One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

    What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea:
    “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
    and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and,
    “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
    ‘You are not my people,’
    they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

    Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
    “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
    only the remnant will be saved.
    For the Lord will carry out
    his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

    It is just as Isaiah said previously:
    “Unless the Lord Almighty
    had left us descendants,
    we would have become like Sodom,
    we would have been like Gomorrah.”

    What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written:
    “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” -Rom 9:14-33

  • Ruthitchka

    Wow, there’s at least one other E.O. convert on this forum besides me! Your post is very encouraging. I myself was surprised and happy to learn in Catechism that our Lord didn’t think I was a worthless, completely depraved person. I had never encountered such a hopeful point of view in my prior denominations.

  • Ruthitchka

    My reaction – horror.

  • Let me start by saying I have no deep knowledge of any “isms” and very little about most “ologies.” I don’t know what makes Baptists Baptists or Catholics Catholics, and to be perfectly honest I really don’t care. I see it all as ignorant human beings trying to piecemeal together the epic expanse of the Universe using TERRIBLY limited understanding and failing pretty badly. And I see it that way after decades of trying to do that very thing myself.

    But hey, we need words and stuff to communicate, right? So more power to the theologians and wordsmiths.

    Here’s something to consider, and again, it may go against certain isms and ologies, but I’m going to throw it out there: At the end of the Universe, is history set?

    When the last tick of the clock ticks, what can be changed? You will be out of time, yes? All the choices you made here will be done (probably long-done, because it is unlikely the Universe will end in your lifetime). So, if God exists outside of our stupidly-shallow concept of time, how would it look to Him from the end of the Universe? From where I’m sitting, it would look a lot like “predestination.” Because it would all be history. It would all be done and over with. And, from a certain perspective, it IS done and over with. From the end of the Universe, everything here has already happened. I’ve already finished writing this comment, and you’ve already read it, and we both already had dinner, which was already either delicious or lousy (from inside this flow of Time, I’m hoping delicious!).

    Just something to think about. I am not a Calvinist (or maybe I am, I don’t know the definition) but I do enjoy thinking of stuff like this and going past my human understanding here and there. It’s deep and crazy stuff. Can get really “out there” and it seems to me “out there” is where God hangs out.

    Another thing to consider, if we take this idea of your most cherished person going to hell, is what happens if God sits you down and explains exactly why that happened? What if He lays it all out and it makes absolute 100% sense? What are you going to do then? Argue? I love people who say they will argue with God when they get to Heaven. Or ask Him questions or something. I used to be that way. I had a list ready on hand for when that day arrived.

    The funny thing is, in the presence of God yours and my lists go right out the window. Any argument is toast. Check out Job. Job is us. I really thought, with a great deal of human hubris, that I knew better about certain things than He did. So I could somehow ADD to the tapestry He crafted. Say “Hey God, I get that you wove in some red thread right here, but that was a mistake. Should have been blue.” How insane is that?

    It’s really pretty insane. Yet here we are.

    I don’t have all the answers, and I find myself having less every day. I also find not having the answers to be glorious, because I know who does, and He knows so, so, so much better than I do. He’s proven it to me. Hopefully He proves it to you, too. There’s an amazing peace found when you let Him work his work. :)

    In the meantime it’s great that you’re thinking on such things. FANTASTIC. What else is there, but the pursuit of The Truth? There is Game of Thrones, and baseball, and a lot of noise that we distract ourselves with so we don’t have to swim in the deep end of the pool. But the deep end is AMAZING. You just have to be sure to have a very open mind there, because we spend most of our time in the shallow end, and we forget how to swim.

    PS. And all of the above could be completely wrong and nonsense because I and my amazing human brain are still extremely limited. How incredible is that! So cool…

  • Skeptical Christian

    Romans 9 isn’t about individual election to heaven or hell. It’s about God freely bringing salvation to gentiles without violating his covenants to Isreal. Look at the OT references that are quoted in Rom 9. Two nations are in thy womb, etc. God turns Israel’s birthright on its head bringing salvation to the gentiles.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I don’t know about Question 1, but your question 2 scenario does happen sometimes.

  • Summers-lad

    I think this is an often-missed truth. Many years ago I preached a sermon (something I have not often done) on “Jacob I loved; Esau I hated” in which, amongst other things, I traced the Biblical narrative of Edom, the nation descended from Esau, as rejected by God, but ultimately included in God’s mercy to all nations. I concluded that God’s “hate” or rejection was for a time, as a stage on the way to fulfilling his purposes (in the case of Jacob, establishing an inheritance not based on law or birthright) but is not for ever. The origin of my sermon, and the study that led to it, was a reaction classically Calvanist elements in a sermon I heard a few weeks earlier.

  • Herm

    … and yet we sense all spiritual is intertwined most especially in a perfect balance of chaos mixed with order exactly when we each combined are ready.

    Upon reflection I find the most I learned the fastest was from the time I exited my mother’s womb to the time I exited for good my crib. Having to gain ever slower from then on makes me wonder whether an eternity is enough to digest it all or will I eventually just seem stopped in savor taking in less than can be gauged but still coming closer even slower yet. Relationship is all there is and each increase changes the I am that I am now, and now, and now, … .

    Love is the bond of reciprocally productive and constructive relationship potentially stretching beyond infinite. Bonding fully reciprocally with my neighbor becomes us as the I am. Even without a sun or cosmos of suns time will not stop until all who we love as me becomes one just on the other side of eternity. How many big bangs will we have from this one to the end? How many were before ours?

    I love the little child I am with a Father I trust to provide and protect as I play house, doctor and can sit alone under a tree free to ponder.

  • AnnieOly

    I’m hopeful about the concept of Christian universalism, that through the love of Christ and temporary judgments (these could take any number of forms), that eventually even the most hardened soul will want to accept grace. And that in the event there are some who will never accept it (free will) then annihilation is what’s left. That’s where I’m at right now anyway.

  • Yep. That’s why there isn’t a hell.

  • PinkyAndNoBrain

    Is there any chance you guys can help me find out more stuff about that? I have a friend who keeps trying to convert people by telling them they’re naturally evil, and I’d appreciate actual, theologically sound ways to lovingly shut her the hell up.

  • Didn’t answer the question. What if it’s your child predestined for wrath? I’m asking how you would feel about that.

  • This is a great question as well– I think I discuss this with philosopher Jeff Cook on our episode of That God Show, and may address it in some of my blogs on hell.

  • Thanks for totally not answering the question.

  • “Another thing to consider, if we take this idea of your most cherished person going to hell, is what happens if God sits you down and explains exactly why that happened? What if He lays it all out and it makes absolute 100% sense?”

    That’s a fair question, however, what I am specifically getting at in this post is the question: “what if God sits you down and explains that before your daughter was ever born or ever did anything right or wrong, he predestined her to burn in hell forever”?

    That’s not an answer I could accept and still in good conscience worship such a God.

  • Herm

    A MORTAL is a human being subject to death.

    An IMMORTAL is a ceaseless being with no end.

    “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

    “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

    “Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”” Genesis 6:3

    “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

    “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:29-30

    “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”” Luke 10:25-28

    “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

    “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13

    “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

    “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”” Genesis 3:19

    It is my conclusion from the above scripture that the default for a mortal body’s life is to be consumed back to dust. If God were to do nothing this would be the end for all of mankind. Only accepting to be filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit is immortality possible. The image of God from Their breath is free will as we will to give breath to our children of free will. Each of us by our individual choice of attitude determines destiny for all as offered by God who knows us all along with every hair on our heads. Love of all as one begets eternal life in Spirit and Spirit in us as one with God – Love of self alone begets death consumed to dust as one’s self alone forever more.

  • Don Lowery

    With many Southern/Conservative/American Baptists (since I have spent some of my teenage/adult years in this fold)..if Calvin was right…what difference does it make to preach to people to be saved by saying those magic words…if they’re going to end up in hell anyway no matter what they do or don’t do? This being the case (according to Calvin)…seems to me that all the time/energy these groups have wasted on people who are going to hell anyway would be better spent on helping others than forcing God to be a liar. What a conundrum…wasting your time/energy on those going to hell no matter what you do or serving others by showing the love of Jesus to a dying world and not worrying about where they will end up.

  • This is the most troubling aspect for me, as a Calvinist. I don’t hold to the double predestination model as you’ve laid out. I understand that it is the logical conclusion of a soteriology based on election, but I can’t get passed the idea that if I knew that before my son was born he was damned to hell I would not worship that God.

    I know that. Admit that. Wrestle with that.

    And yet, I believe that God elects. God calls. God initiates. And, most importantly, I believe God is good. My problem with this thought exercise is that it begins by putting God into the evil tyrant position. That’s the beginning place. If you start there, then God damning people to hell makes complete sense. But, if you start from the position of God is good. And God is active in my salvation. And God left the 99 to go look for the one sheep, picked that sheep up – who wasn’t going to move because lost sheep lay down – placed that sheep on his shoulders bearing the full responsibility of the sheep’s restoration. When I start there, that this is the essence of God’s character, then I go, I want to trust this good God for my salvation. If you have to. You can’t just jump to him being evil, but you have to wrestle with the mystery of salvation, which is a mystery for Arminians as much as it is for Calvinists.

    Because here’s the other truth. I trust God more than I trust my son’s choices. My son is five, and he is stellar, but he is going to grow up and make some dumbass choices. It’s going to happen. And I’m praying he doesn’t make poor choices when it comes to faith. I hope he chooses to believe in resurrection, and the cross, and loving your enemies, and beauty, and hope, and Jesus. And I’m going to trust that the good God who looks for lost sheep will be looking for my son.

    Salvation comes from God. Faith is gift given by him. And he is sovereign. is the elect individuals, or the church, or solely the person of Jesus? Or is it some mystical combination of all three? I don’t know. I don’t know that it matters all that much. Western thought is much more concerned with dichotomies that the ancients held in tension. For me, living in that tension is what keeps me open to mystery and humble.

    In the end, all that matters to me is that the good God acts according to his divine prerogative to go find my son and every other lost sheep. And I believe that he has. And that he will. Even so, I pray.

  • Herm

    I sure hope this is taken in the same vein as God took it:

    When I thought God had done something I felt equal to predestining my beautiful children to hell before they were ever born I anguished on a barracks floor for an entire sleepless night. I did the equivalent of standing in full anger eye to eye, toe to toe yelling at Him in no uncertain words to F-off and just go to hell Himself. It took three months for that to be rectified. God let me know (S)He understood that even in my ignorant childish tantrum it was because I loved another as myself.

    Thank you Ben for continuing to portray our creator God as truly a God demanding grace, love, tolerance, sacrifice and mercy of themselves first.

  • That’s a totally reasonable answer. And ironically, not much different than my position. I’m guessing yours is Calvinism Lite? ;-)

    I believe God initiates the dance. That he goes after the lost sheep, that he calls, woos, and draws us to him– and I believe we have a choice in responding to his initiation of the dance.

  • mosessister

    It seems to me this is similar to Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac, a question I have already answered for myself: yes, I would willingly sacrifice my child if asked to directly by God Himself, BECAUSE I believe He is omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. And because it is obvious to my finite brain that He has a better plan than I. I TRUST His judgment more than I trust my own finite judgment.

    Having said that, I am not a Calvinist. Following Baggett & Wells in their book Good God, I find predestination to be both incoherent (esp with respect to autonomy and moral agency/accountability), and not particularly Biblical.

  • Herm

    Would the most divine Father of no beginning and no end love your son any less than you? Would not a creator who can endow free will care even more than you to hold your son who might choose to recognize and accept our Father’s love for himself?

    My adult children were allowed to rebel before they chose to bond with me in love of their own free will. This was exponentially of more value to me than simply propagating our species in my wife’s and my image. I know God to be infinitely greater in appreciation than I.

  • JP

    Of course I would not like that. However, I trust God to do the right thing. How would you feel when you daughter grows to adulthood and turns out to be a bad person?

  • Al Cruise

    This has got me thinking about what I’ve been told over the years. To be saved one must be a ” tongues talking Calvinist, baptized by immersion, and a reader of the KJV Bible, who worships the Lord on Saturday.” Did I leave anything out?

  • Herm

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind – simply because – He is even more capable and does love all merely in God’s image even more than we do God. Did you trust your parents to provide and protect you even before you knew what they did for a living that their cup could overflow onto you – or – did you expect them to come into your room one night to create a never ceasing hell for you? (unfortunately too many children do)

  • No, I dont think God loves him less, more in fact! Which is why I trust him to pursue and woo my son regardless of my son’s choices.

  • Oh, I’m definitely Calvin Lite. Might be why you like me!

    I think what gets lost in most conversations around Calvinism is that Calvinists don’t deny human agency or free will. It’s simply that God is the initiator and source of human agency and free will. How God’s sovereignty and human free will work together for our salvation, I don’t know. What I do know is that I trust the goodness, grace, and mercy of God more than I trust the choice of my son.

  • Herm

    “Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” Matthew 12:49-50

    “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:11

    Are you saying that we only have some kind of arbitrary freedom of will to choose to do our Father’s will to be raised to our Brother, Lord, Messiah, Rabbi, and High Priest?

    I guess what I don’t understand is Jesus made it very clear, I thought, that to be His student and become a little child in God is not much different in what we would desires as the most divine of families on earth. Accepting Jesus as our Lord with full authority is not the law we follow now on earth as it is in heaven?

    We are in the image of God with the responsibly to our free will as does God. Do we choose to give birth to and raise our children with the expectation that they will be as we designed them to be? Why would God give up the best part of parenthood by reading the last chapter of the book of mankind first?

  • Herm

    Could you be more specific?

  • ZLee

    Oh I did. I addressed the heart of the matter. You are asking for an answer that God hasn’t given. He’s left us an obvious tension within His Word. On the one hand, He is a God of mercy, compassion, and love. On the other, He elects certain people for grace and salvation while leaving others to receive the fruits of their unrighteousness. As exegetes our job isn’t to cram Scripture into our pretexts, but to conform our minds to the Word of God (Rom 12). Because we see both sides in Scripture we must at the end of the day admit that God is God and we are not. We are the creatures not the Creator. As bondservants of Christ, we must submit to the Master’s infinite wisdom and sovreignty no matter what questions remain unresolved in our minds.

  • See the difficulty is in the idea of “before your daughter was ever born.” You understand that there is no “before” to God, right? That’s what I’m saying. The idea of jamming God into OUR timeline is where this all breaks down. That’s the only way condemnation “before” birth is possible, if you force him into our Time. And our Time is SO limited compared to God. When you make God play by human rules, everything He does will break the game because He doesn’t play by human rules.

    But let’s take it a step further, because it’s probably a good thing to do. The bigger question becomes “Am I putting something before God?” That’s what’s really going on here, right? Is there something- anything- that you are willing to place above God? When there is, that’s an important fact to know. Because God will always want the thing you don’t want to give up, because that thing can control you and cause you to fall. That thing will be your fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    God wants to give you everything, but He cares too much about you to crush you with everything if you can’t handle it. If there are things you’re unwilling to give Him completely- including your own sense of fairness and justice (and pride)- then there’s work to be done, yeah? And that’s great to see it, because when you see it you can deal with it. Many people never go looking for it, and they don’t have any shot to deal with it until eventually life takes them to the point where they open their eyes.

    It is always good to ask yourself and look deeply into the question “What am I putting higher than God?”

  • Good deal. And also it’s very hard to get to that level of trust, so that’s an achievement. It often takes a lifetime (and sometimes even then some) to get to that place. Eventually, though, you get to see your plans just don’t compare to the glory of His. :)

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    This post relies heavily on the common assumption of God being outside of time. That is not a biblical notion, but was developed by philosophers like Boethius who borrowed heavily from Aristotle.

  • Herm

    I am missing something because, it seems to me, that if your son could be wooed to change his mind and God knew he would why all the effort from God without the joy of suspense for God? I can hold the book in my hand, read the last chapter first, and ruin the journey through the middle.

    Just because God can keep time without revolving around a sun, beyond our comprehension, why would they deny themselves the relationship of the entire journey, with all its ups and downs, walking and reacting step for step with their children in their image?

    Are you pursuing and wooing your son regardless of his choices? Wouldn’t that be a step by step relationship that, you because you love him dynamically, you have no need to go to the last of his chapter to see his conclusion? If you did would you continue to pursue and woo when you found he went to an agonizing ceaseless ever conscious hell. If in spite of your knowledge of his last chapter your son could change his destiny by your pursuing and wooing how could the final result be known until your son’s final choice?

    The real joy of relationship with others to me is in the unpredictability, especially when in reciprocal love. Why would God deny such joy from themselves?

  • Okay. Well, it makes a whole lot of sense to me, personally, so good job Boethius and Aristotle I guess! It makes no sense to me, likewise, that God would somehow be coupled to our timeline. Because that would limit Him, and limitations make him “Not God.” Yes?

  • Herm

    Parents use cribs and playpens to safely limit their little children at play. We begin by keeping track of time by the movements around our crib. We grow through many other tricks to plan our movements through time long before we realize that all we can know on Earth is regulated by our planet’s revolution around the sun. Just because we’re relegated to this planet as a crib for our safety does not mean our parents have no sun beyond our awareness to establish their timing. We are inside Their time we cannot understand even as They understand but are outside of our time. Relationships between free will beings depend on sharing the journey and not ever can exist with a simultaneous beginning and end. Through Jesus and the Spirit in our hearts and minds we know this is an exercise of relationship between creator and their spawned image sharing step by step the journey through the creator’s dimensions, for us beginning at our more limited dimensions for our safety.

  • mintap

    “What if it’s the person you love most in the world?”

    First, God’s love is far greater than my love of anyone. Being in it’s fully realized presence will make no such realization painful in anyway. There will be no more pain or sorrow.

    Second, God has given his covenant promise. He has given the sign of baptism. This might be where some of the problem was for you being in a baptist church where you didn’t practice infant baptism as such a sign.

    Yes, there is tension in all such theology. That has its roots back in the trinity. Another Reformed approach is triperspectivalism. God being triune often has three angles at the same time that are interdependent on each other. He is authority, control and presence. He reveals though the situational, normative, and existential. (See John Frame’s work to see this fully laid out.) Reformed Christianity is best evaluated, not piecemeal, but as a whole system. It is a big-picture overarching approach based on the whole counsel of the Bible.

    Often we feel these tensions when we are emphasizing one of the perspectives and neglecting the others.

  • novaman75

    Don’t really understand what you are trying to say.

  • novaman75

    Universalism is a nice idea just doesn’t square with Scripture.

  • louismoreaugottschalk


  • Herm

    I’m sorry. Thank you for telling me so! Love you.

    It is the best I can do for you as an alternative to “a thick wall of theology speak”. It’s relationship founded upon what we know as God’s image. Not one wall of denominational dogma.

  • Herm


  • ZLee

    Except, well, the Bible says there is.

  • Rick Bartlett

    I’m with you – I just can’t swallow the predestination pill. Never have understood it and never have had one who professes it explain it so that it makes any sense. My question for the predestination believer is this: “Did Jesus always tell the truth?” If so – when Nicodemus came to Him at night seeking answers – why didn’t Jesus just tell him the truth? “Don’t worry about it, Nic … if you’re in – you’re in! If you’re not – sorry, Dude!” Why then did Jesus tell him what most of us have memorized since we were in Junior Church – John 3:16 … that “whosoever” part? I’ve been preaching Christ for 40 years and I’m thankful that I can sing “Blessed Assurance – Jesus is mine!” — instead of “boy, I sure hope so – cause I want to go to heaven some day!” Thanx for your words! God bless!

  • Skeptical Christian

    No. Calvinism is based on the idea that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass. What occurs has been decreed. On the Calvinistic scheme, tonight at 11:56 pm, the pedophile will do what has been unchangingly decreed that he do, and he has no other option available to him. He cannot do otherwise.

  • If it doesn’t fit the greatest command to love God and love others as yourself, or fit with what Christ did on the cross, it is unbiblical. When you give your life for someone, it doesn’t make sense that you would then turn around and burn them with fire.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    It squares with scripture better than eternal damnation, but not as well as conditional immortality.

    (Granted, English translations of scripture tend to be biased in favor of of eternal damnation enough that universalism could appear the least compatible alternative to those who can’t read Greek.)

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I wouldn’t call it its purist form.

    It has more to do with submission to authority figures than with adherence to a group.

    It is worth noting that that Calvinism could just as easily be called Chauvinism, as Johannes Calvinus is just the Latinized form of Jean Chauvin. The Chauvin family does seem to have a jingoistic bent.

  • Wendy

    I once was challenged by this very question. If God knows who are destined for obliteration eternally then why follow such a God?
    I now believe this. Yes God knows who will turn to him and who won’t. Just because He is God and knows the future. However every person is free to accept or reject God’s teachings. Every person is free to choose. We have freewill. Over all this is that God is Good and there is no darkness in Him at all. He is just and merciful and all-knowing and wise. God will be merciful to people far more and more excellently than any Christian could be to anyone. He is righteous and therefore every human being has the opportunity to accept His freely given Saviour and freely given eternal life. God is faithful to all He has made. We can accept or reject eternal reconciliation to God or reject his offer and disappear from existence.

  • Wendy

    Just as well we are not under law but under grace. There is nothing we do or do not do that will save us. Only grace through faith. Every part of Christianity is about relationship. The only criteria is knowing God. This is eternal life: that we know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent. Nothing else.
    The Bible is a guidebook. Yes to fellowship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit it requires truth in our inmost being. However “I am standing on the finished work of Christ. No less will avail, no more is needed.”Seek God in Christ. He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

  • Jeanne Fox

    Maybe they are afraid NOT to worship Him because of He does send people to hell.

  • frrolfe

    Did Calvin ever consider he was hell-bound and his enemies were the Elect?

  • frrolfe

    As Monty Python once advertised one of their philosophical acts: “A smile, a song and a logical inconsistency”.

  • caming

    There’s too much wrong with this to go into detail, but can be summarized this way: Calvin’s theology was born from the society and position of which he taught. John Calvin was not a prophet. He was not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Calvinism is not Christianity, and honestly, his own academic understanding of the bible has been proven to be amateur at best. He was a lawyer with an opinion, resulting in a theology of legalism. The irony is that he was a disciple of Martin Luther, who was a disciple of the Mystics. I’ll never quite figure that one out.

  • frrolfe

    This is not theology. This is casuistry. “are you now, or have you ever been, a Jesuit?”

  • mintap

    “the idea that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass. What occurs has been decreed.”

    Yes, that is God’s control. But don’t neglect the other two perspectives of triperspectivalism. There is also God’s authority and presence. The pedophile is still under God’s authority and condemned for sin.

  • caming

    Are you serious? If God asked me to sacrifice my child, I wouldn’t. Because I would know that it is not God.

  • frrolfe

    Sooooooo: Was the victim pre-destined to be abused? Loving God and cetera

  • mintap

    Well, usually in discussions like this first it has to be determined how we even do theology. Differences often begin there. I mentioned that appealing to the whole counsel of the Bible is an axiom of Reformed thought, and also at the same time something the Bible says about itself (e.g., see Timothy 3). The whole system works together.

  • mintap

    The problem of evil is a problem for all theological approaches. Taking it out of the larger context of God’s authority, control and presence often causes such emotional discouragement. Emotions are not invalid, but also it may add more depth and nuance if we consider how we can approach it based on the whole system.

  • frrolfe

    Whatever makes you happy. No sarcasm here, best wishes.

  • mintap

    My wish for us is for whatever glorifies God and causes us to enjoy him forever, not just mere happiness.

  • frrolfe
  • mintap

    I agree that Calvin was just a man and fallible. I intentionally did not call my position “Calvinism” but instead referred to it as “Reformed.” This is simply a view that aims to come under the triune God as Lord and therefore under the whole counsel of the Bible. There are many more Reformed thinkers as well. Calvin is just one of the most famous and historically relevant ones.

  • mosessister

    God asked Abraham to do this. If you believe God exists, and that He is both good and all-powerful, it’s a perfectly logical move to do whatever He asks of you. If you don’t believe God exists, or that it’s not logical for Him to be good, yet ask apparently evil things of us, that is a different discussion.

    And from an emotional standpoint, which is what Mr. Corey is appealing to, I absolutely agree this is not an easy thing to do.

  • mintap

    “My problem with this thought exercise is that it begins by putting God into the evil tyrant position. That’s the beginning place. If you start there, then God damning people to hell makes complete sense. But, if you start from the position of God is good.”

    I think this insight of yours points to the benefit of considering the multiperspectivalism (or triperspectivalism) of thinkers like John Frame. We are limited humble humans. Some of us tend to take one perspective that is valid in certain ways. Others can take another one that is also valid in certain ways. But ultimately we are not triune like God and don’t have all three perspectives held at the same time. We see the tension of being in this limited state, and sometimes we argue over that.

    For example, the Bible clearly teaches that God has wrath too and not just that God is love. We can legitimately start thinking about certain issues from either angle.

  • mintap

    What if you first knew that it was God?

    Another question:
    So is some platonic ultimate morality above God, or does morality ultimately flow out of God’s nature and character?

  • mintap

    Then what do you take 2 Peter 2:8 to mean?

    “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

  • mintap

    You are assuming that we can know who is elect or not. Why would we have any idea about that? From our perspective, anyone is potentially elect.

    But there is a valid point of not “throwing pearls before swine.” It’s like how Jesus said to his disciples “if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”

    There does become a point where if we discern that things are going no where we should leave and don’t need to waste as much time/energy on those people.

  • I don’t think that’s entirely true. I myself know when the time comes I will be at the mercy of God. Nothing I do will be good enough to stand before Him without grace. If He decides not to welcome me into His Kingdom, I’ll understand. I’ll be sad and terrified and likely wailing a lot, but I certainly can’t blame Him. I know me too well to not think I deserve to be cast out. (I’m hopeful for His mercy.)

    EDIT: Though I can’t say if I believe in “this sort of predestination” or not but just offering another perspective. :)

  • “Did Jesus always tell the truth?”

    The difficulty here, I think, is that you seem to be trying to put God in a box. God doesn’t go in boxes, and especially not boxes that we human beings create. If whatever God says is true, for example, then anything God says is true. Even contradictory stuff. It’s like the old logical game “Could God create a rock so heavy He couldn’t lift it?” Sure He could. “Well then He can’t be God or He’d be able to lift it!” No, when He decided to lift it, He could. It can be both things, because God goes way, way past any limited understanding we have of contradictory logic. And that is very hard for us, because we think it has to be one or the other, not both.

    That sort of thing doesn’t play well in our limited brains. We want it to line up the way WE want it to. We say the above answer is “cheating” or something. But God can’t cheat, because He is far beyond any rule we dream up. Otherwise He isn’t God, yeah? Yet we still try to cram Him into the human-logic box.

    It will make perfect sense when we see Him, thankfully. We’re not stuck like this forever.

    “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not
    yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

  • caming

    I love this, and it’s thought-provoking, truly. And here’s comes the but … but, the ultimate problem remains: that a Good, Loving, Divine Creator (GLDC), so omnipotent that It/He/She exists outside of time, set into motion a chain of events that would result in the destruction/annihilation of its own creation. That is nonsensical. If GLDC exists outside of time, it surely must know that its creation will go off the rails at some point, cause nothing but a literal universal migraine, and most would need to be tossed into a lake of fire. So why start this science project in the first place? Now, just a Creator? Yes. Reasonable, I guess. An Evil Creator? More likely. But we’re not dealing with an objective Creator of either ilk, regardless of the vapid medieval terminology used to describe it.

    So we’re left with either Time God (which I also disagree with) or a GLDC, who acknowledges free-will, and to counter forthcoming migraine, has a pill to take. This pill has an entire field of study around it, but ultimately, it’s to reconcile the creation back to the GLDC, staving off said headache and ensuring his project wasn’t an exercise in futility.

    Some of the side effects include being nailed to a cross, and emptying himself entirely in the form of spirit. Into this world. Determined by time.

    So maybe Benjamin’s question isn’t, “Dude, you chose to burn my child alive before you knew him/her, WTF?” Instead, it’s probably closer to, “How BORED were you, anyway?”

  • caming

    There’s a difference between “not an easy thing to do” and “That doesn’t match the character of God as revealed in Jesus.” We’ll never agree on this, because I don’t view the Abraham story as a literal thing; I believe it’s an example of our evolving consciousness, as led by God, to understand this God differently. There’s an entire academic understanding behind the Abraham story, but no, I don’t believe God “tests” our loyalty like some needy gang leader.

  • caming

    Nate, I must say that I’ve read your stuff for a while and though I disagree with you (most/all of the time), the grace and understanding in which you share your perspective is awesome. I wish I could be a fraction as graceful. The healthy discourse between you and Corey should give hope to these ridiculous inter-faith battles.

  • Dorfl

    I have never understood calvinism or seen how the God portrayed by Calvinism could be considered good.

    It all makes internal sense, once you realise that it’s based on the implicit premise that might makes right. Since God is assumed to be all-mighty, he’s all-good by definition. What he actually does ends up being irrelevant.

  • Herm

    We are the image not the creator. Is it our mortal bodies that portray God? Is it our spirit which reflects God’s intentions?

    We are asked to submit as “bondservants of Christ” no more than a little ignorant infant child is asked to submit to her/his mature all knowing big Brother in love and awe. If one does not have that Spirit of relationship then that one is not a child of God.

  • caming

    That’s the great argument against Calvinism: it perpetually wants to have its cake and eat it, too. Though Calvinists might say, “Oh, no, I mean, we like … totally don’t know if we’re Elect or not,” the opposite is closer to the truth. They’re in, everyone else is out. If Christianity was the religion that thought they had it right, and everyone else had it wrong, Calvinism doubled-down.

  • mosessister

    Even if one doesn’t accept the Abraham story as literal, it is a story of trust and belief in a Being that is bigger than us. I see the question as, can you accept that there is an understanding of “good” that transcends human understanding? And that it is personified in the God of the Bible?

    I agree with mintap, if one approaches the question from a belief that it is truly God who is asking, there can be only one answer, which is why I qualified my original answer with “if asked by God directly.” What you are doing is elevating your finite, human understanding of goodness to a test of whether it is really God. This seems backwards, not to mention idolatrous, to me.

  • mosessister

    Yes, that is the question. And Euthyphro’s dilemma. :>

  • ashpenaz

    Why would it be so horrible if everybody went to heaven? What is happening in the mind of a Christian who is so terrified of and angry at that idea?

  • Ed54

    Presuppositionalism, the art of using a book to prove a book.

  • Skeptical Christian

    But Reformed theology insists that the pedophile cannot do otherwise. There is only one option because of the decree. It is not a passive permission, but a determined occurrance. For Calvinists, every movement to the molecular level is determined by God. Every chemical impulse, thought, quantum activity that brings the pedophile to his determined moment.
    Before the foundations of the earth, God decreed and determined the pedophiles action, the child’s terror and you must affirm that it is all for the fullness of the glory of God. For Calvinism, evil is necessary…..even for God. They think that He is not fully glorified or completely revealed prior to creation while there was nothing but the blessed communion of the Holy Trinity. This is utterly heinous and has been rightly rejected by the ancient church from the beginning. I’ll stick with the ancient faith of the scriptural authors, martyrs, the Ecumenical Councils, St Athanasius, St John of Damascus, St Maximos the Confessor, St Irenaeus, St Ignatius, St Gregory Palamas etc, etc.

  • Skeptical Christian

    Even Schaff was appalled at Calvin’s police state in Geneva. Killings of young and old, banishings, parading people through the streets. This was his Consistory’s carrying out of church discipline. Make sure you scroll down to see the record of happy Geneva under Calvin.

  • Thank you, caming. That means a lot.

  • Mike

    Are you breathing?

  • Mike

    What is so horrible about God giving us the only means available to know love? Freedom to receive and freedom to refuse. Everyone gets either justice or mercy. What’s wrong with that?

  • Al Cruise

    LOL…., being specific was always one of my shortcomings.

  • ashpenaz

    Jesus clothes us in His righteousness while we are dead in our sins. Lazarus was dead–no freedom to receive or refuse. We are all like Lazarus. Our salvation is not based on any work–not any decision we make, not any belief. What would be so horrible if Jesus clothed everyone in His righteousness? What if Jesus raised everyone to new life? God can do anything He wants. Why would it be so horrible?

  • Jeanne Fox

    So the pedophile had no choice whatsoever. Under Calvinism, we are all meat robots!

  • caming

    There is great irony in a human being writing about another’s finite, human understanding, no? What’s backward is misusing a sacrificial story (see: any anthropological study on the trajectory of magic/religion, and you’ll find scapegoats across damn near *all* cultures, not just the ancient Hebrew) to determine the “goodness” of the Sky God. I can say that a divine creator’s understanding exceeds my own without some bizarre internet post about sacrificing my child to prove something. That’s why grace exists.

  • mintap

    We can come to that emotional position if we ignore other aspects of the whole counsel. But Reformed thought is based on an entire system that works together. It is not just piecemeal. God is sovereign and Lord. He is in control, has the authority, and has revealed about himself and our relationship with him through his Word.

    What do you think God’s love is like? How immersive is it when fully present? The Bible communicates a lot about love. It says, “Love is from God.” (1 John 4:7), It says, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

    Love is not something independent or above God. God’s Lordship comes first, then love. We cannot love people on earth apart from God working in and through us. If we have loved non-elect people, that was God’s will for our life, and intended for good. That good from God outweighs anything we could think of as problematic.

  • mintap

    Schaff also spoke quite highly of Calvin as well:

    “His judgment is of the greatest weight, for he had no superior, and scarcely an equal, in thorough and systematic Bible knowledge and exegetical insight.”


  • Whether or not God knows or whether or not God makes the choice for one fate or another for his own purposes are two different things. The Calvinist position being questioned in this article is one that says man has no free will to choose or reject God’s plan of salvation, that God is the only one with free will to choose and ‘predetermine’ who will receive salvation and who will not.

    It is this negating the free will of man that is so difficult for us, particularly in the U.S., to accept as an attribute of a holy and just God.

  • SOME Calvinists may agree with you and others may not. I am definitely more comfortable with your viewpoint than the one that totally denies the operation of free will at all.

  • mintap

    It seems you may be adding too much weight to one of the perspectives and not enough to the others. Yes, God is sovereign and in control (what is the alternative?), BUT also God is the authority and righteous in judgement, and also God is present in sanctification.

    I agree that if we miss the other two parts of the trinity and think of God as not triune and coming from just one of the perspectives than yes it does seem utterly heinous that God would just decree evil actions, but if we consider the other perspectives as well it doesn’t seem this way.

    The ancient faith of the scriptural authors… etc. all held to the trinity. Not all of the post-apostolic early church followed the implications of this as consistently though.

  • I’m going to really confuse everyone, and say I believe in BOTH freewill and predestination! I’m a habitual fence-sitter (and yes, it IS painful), and I blame my ‘balanced brain’ – I’m 50% right/ 50% left, apparently! Though I’m sure it’s more complex than that.

    How can it be both? I am asked. Quantum physics knows that light is BOTH particles and waves at the same time, and a subatomic particle CAN be in two separate places at the same moment in time. Niels Bohr said that if quantum physics does not shock you, you haven’t understood it!

    In my field of linguistics, we have the Neogrammarian Controversy, which recognises that accent changes in a language will occur both gradually AND all at once! Huh? There is clear evidence for BOTH phenomena, even in the same study!!

    Child psychologists are giving up the nature/nurture debate to agree that a child’s personality is a complex mix of genetics AND environment.

    And since this is how the universe works, then in theology we also see it when we study the workings of the creator of this enigmatic universe: The Word was BOTH ‘with God’ AND ‘was God’!!!? All we can do is accept it, lest we blow our minds. And so for me there is room for both the Arminianism freewill that allows us to make our own personal choice to follow Jesus, which feels so empowering and right, AND Calvinist predestination that recognises that it’s all down to HIS grace in the end, not our own works. HE CHOSE US, yet we somehow chose him too! I’ve come to just accept that too, and not dwell on it TOO much : I just rest in awe of it!

  • Wendy

    The more I understand the more I see how little I understand. This whole conversation is from people’s thoughts. When in fact we cannot argue anything except what God has said Himself in His Word.
    1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with …

    … For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. …

    //biblehub.com/1_corinthians/2-2.htm – 18k

  • Wendy

    Its not about what we individually seek to understand…its about Christ in us the hope of glory. Its not about us and what we believe. Its about Christ and what He taught us and is still teaching us. Its God’s plan…God’s message to us, the everlasting covenant through the blood of Christ. Its God with us Emmanuel. Its about us no longer living rather Christ alive in us. Everything else is soulish and carnal. Sit in God’s presence and pray His Word. That’s His will. We are vessels and God is still working on us and redeeming our “old man” who is our unjustified and unspiritual self.There will always be that fight between the old self and the awakened new “man.” We are a new creation in Christ. Without Christ in us we are nothing, we understand nothing, the Truth is not in us. We are His servants seeking to make God real to everyone we come across. Its putting aside our doubts, misunderstandings, and not arguing anymore because God’s Word answers all our questions. We don’t always understand and we often misinterpret the Bible. Thats what the Holy Spirit is here for. Not only to be our comforter but our teacher and guide. The Holy Spirit does what the Bible only partly does. We need to know God’s revealed Truth in His Word but also Jesus, His Father and His Spirit. Call out for illumination, seek the Living Word, cry out for wisdom and seek the Person of Jesus Christ, He is The Way, the Truth and the Life. His Spirit draws us to fully be in Christ and Christ fully in Us.

  • Wendy

    Look not to any man because there has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone perfectly interpreting the Word or perfectly representing God except The Lord Jesus Christ whose work is finished, whose work was perfect. No-one else only Jesus. Every Bible Teacher ever known never was sinless or righteous, or fully God’s vessel. We stumble around and hear many voices. Just when we think we understand…thats the danger point. Christ is all and in all but humans need to be poured out, transformed and filled with God’s Spirit. There’s the Truth right there.

  • mintap

    Do you know about multiperspectivalism?

    Don’t you think what seems as tension has it’s roots in the triune nature of God? God is father, son and holy spirit; control, authority and presence; the normative, situational and existential, etc.

  • Wendy

    stick with no man but only Christ…fully man and fully God.

  • mintap

    “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”

  • mintap

    Yes, we misinterpret the Bible. That is also why the church, our brothers and sisters with the Spirit as go-between, is here. They can interpret it as well. Our seminary professors and pastors have informed perspectives too. No one person gets it right.

  • Wendy

    Yes. Abraham knew it was God asking Him and we also know God would never ask us to sacrifice a child in the way Abraham started to do. He was willing because he believed God’s promise to him. That his descendents would be as numerous as the stars. And God stayed his hand with the knife paused above Isaac’s body. Then when God saw that Abraham was willing to obey then God provided the sheep caught in the thicket.

  • Wendy

    Our puny Earth bound minds ask so many questions because we don’t think like God or understand His Word. There does not need to be anything above God. He has eternally existed and is everything. Outside of time and space. the maker of the universe. Everything that has ever existed or will ever exist.- unbelievable, unfathomable, unknowable knowledge. And yet…incredulously…God our Father longs to be as close to each one of us as our next breath.. Longs to have unbroken fellowship with each one of us. Knowing how many hairs are upon our head. I’m amazed Yahweh hasn’t obliterated us or even bothers with such grasshoppers as us. Surprised and so incredibly grateful for Jesus sacrificial death, substituting Himself in our place that we might avail ourselves of God’s mercy and grace in Christ. We ought to fall at His feet. When He looks at us He sees Jesus within us and His Hand is stayed. Without Jesus we are stuffed completely and will pass into non-existence. All our so called knowledge coming to naught. Praise the Giver of this unspeakable undeserved gift of God. Paul says in the New Testament, that we have the mind of Christ within us. We don’t often allow the God-part in our mind to be heard, or exercised. Help us Lord in our unbelief. We believe in ourselves and our mind so much that we never use the mind of Christ just waiting to take us further toward God than we can imagine. Waiting to be expressed as we fully cooperate with God’s most Holy Spirit.Forgive us Father. As we abide in your love and Your Word and listen to Your Spirit bring us through to complete understanding, complete submission to your will, complete obedience to Your commands.Thank you Lord for Your patience and forbearance. In Jesus Name, Amen.

  • Wendy

    Its not a test of our loyalty but whether we will obey His revealed Word, His commands in His Word, and we cannot understand without God’s Spirit bringing us into all Truth.

  • Wendy

    The Good news is that a believer’s children are sanctified, or set apart to God. And a believers partner is also sanctified so that the children are in Christ. God is not willing that any should perish and that is why He gave up Himself, His beloved Son, to suffer our just death for us so that we migjht become the Righteousness of God in Christ. Wow top that .!!!! We cannot…it is untopable. And also God is leaving the Second Coming of Christ as long as possible so that many many more will have eternal Life in Christ.

    1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified …

    … For the unbelieving husband is set apart for God by the wife, and the

    unbelieving wife is set apart for God by the husband. Otherwise … 1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified …

    … Otherwise your children would be corrupt, but now they are set apart for God. …. …
    SELAH or How’s that????? Isn’t that amazing and whoa how that sets us free as parents. Trust God.
    //biblehub.com/1_corinthians/7-14.htm – 20k

    //biblehub.com/1_corinthians/7-14.htm – 20k

  • Skeptical Christian

    But if you insist on determinism for all humanity, as Calvinism does, then you have determinism in Christ himself. Christ has free human will by nature assumed from his mother. Calvinism must posit some other scenario which ends up in a defective Christology.

    The Trinity is not “parts”. God is not a 3 piece pie.
    And as far as God being “in control”, it does not require an eternal decree for him to foreknow and to be governing all things. Sin is not decreed. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

  • Skeptical Christian

    The “Nature” of God is not triune. His Nature is one and undivided, shared among the 3 Persons. He has one Nature, will and activity. He is 3 in Person. Christ is a single divine Person yet has two Natures.

  • mintap

    In John 5:19 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”

    Yes, the trinity is not “parts.” I did not mean that to come across with what I said. But there are three persons in the trinity, we can talk about three “perspectives” (not “parts”).

  • mintap

    Yes, that is what I meant by “triune”.

  • Indeed. Well said, Tim. It’s beyond our current understanding, but “both” actually makes the most sense when we get out of our own way. :)

  • It’s not that it would be “so horrible,” only that to force those who did not want the gift of Grace to accept it would take away the free will that’s at the top of the list of gifts we’ve been given. What of the people who don’t want new life? Or believe they aren’t broken, so they don’t need saved? Those that even in this world cling to their own salvation and self, saying “I will not accept God, because I don’t like some of the things He does?”

    There is nothing horrible about God saving every person who asks to be saved. For Him to FORCE that saving, though, would be going against His own plan of free will. Does that make sense?

  • It hadn’t occurred to me, but that’s an interesting idea, yes. I think in many ways we put “religion” above God. Which is a shame, because He is all we really need, and the Law can’t save us.

  • Oh no! I’m NOT getting into trying to explain the trinity again!!!! Here’s how we Irish deal with THAT!


  • ashpenaz

    Let’s say I’m a
    doctor. I have the cure for your cancer. I come up behind you and inject you
    with the serum. Not only are you cured of this cancer, the serum makes it so
    you can never have cancer again.

    The cure is a gift
    of grace. The serum is faith, the means by which the cure was injected. You’re
    cured now. You can’t be uncured. You didn’t say you wanted the cure. You didn’t
    make a decision to accept the cure into your life. There’s nothing you can do
    to get rid of the cure, ever.

    If I had a cure for
    cancer, I would give it to people before they even knew they wanted it or
    needed it, for free. I think Jesus would do the same.

  • Fascinating reply, thanks! I will have to really sit and think about that some, and I appreciate the food for thought.

    My initial reaction stems around the “Why start this science project in the first place?” line. I think it would be a mistake to see this all as a science experiment/project. Consider what science is: Mankind’s understanding of the Universe. God’s methods, which we see as scientific theory and such, has no place for projects and experiments. If you look at why we do science as humans – to gain knowledge and experiment – God has no need for such things. So I think that view of Creation would be an issue, and probably taint a lot of what comes after it, theory-wise.

    That said, you’re still left with the idea “Could a GLDC create beings that He knew would end up in the fire lake and still be a GLDC?” That’s certainly something I think every person has to wrestle with and think deeply on. It’s certainly something I struggle with from time to time too. What I usually come back around to is the question “Is your existence worth the possibility that you will choose Hell?” Because this always comes back around to free will. Should God only create beings that He knows will return to Him? And if yes, then is that not a collection of soulless robots? There’s no free will there, is there? There’s no choice if there aren’t two options, and the options are ours.

    Of course, one has to ask at that point “Couldn’t God have created a Universe that caused the individual that chose Hell to NOT choose Hell?” Then you have to consider if our choosing is a product of our lives or something else. And that’s fascinating in itself, and unfortunately probably not something that lends itself well to discussion on an Internet comment section. :) These subjects are all so, so deep that they are worth exploring, but it probably takes a lifetime and won’t be solved right here right now. Still worth it!

    I will keep thinking on this, though. Thanks again. At this point, I guess my response is “I really don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.” :)

  • I wouldn’t believe me either. You’re right, I don’t know everything, I’m not God. I only know what I know, and have experienced what I have experienced, and I can only believe what I believe based on that.

    The word unimaginable is a good one to use. We cannot know what we have no possible way of knowing. But eventually, we will. My prayer is that when that day of knowing comes, I hold fast to my choice to put it into God’s hands. That is my hope, and until that day it will only ever be hope.

  • mintap

    I’ve seen that one before, but I’m not talking so much about explaining the trinity, but the implications of it.

  • AJ

    “the go-to response I heard then (and a common one I hear now) is
    that God is God and I have no right to question how he runs things.”

    Ugh, I hate it when people say this. The Bible is filled with instances where God’s followers question his will. I think he prefers it, really. Otherwise it’s not a relationship, it’s a dictatorship.

  • Haha, I believe you’re right.

  • Realist1234

    The problem with that view is that it just doesnt reflect what Jesus said Himself (and thats ignoring the teachings of his apostles).

  • Realist1234

    I tend to have that view as well, even though its unexplainable! I think it is difficult to dismiss those writings in the NT, both from Jesus and the apostles, where election is indicated, but at the same time it is clear that people ‘freely’ choose to follow Jesus. For myself, when i was ‘becoming’ a Christian, I found both intellectually and emotionally, I felt ultimately I could not say ‘no’ to God.

  • Realist1234

    Yes but the question is, is that faith and grace genuinely available to all, or only those whom God has ‘elected’ from eternity?

  • CroneEver

    That’s what the book of Job is all about – questioning God’s will. And heaven knows that Abraham got into a serious argument with God about Sodom and Gomorrah.

  • CroneEver

    If God’s Lordship comes first, then that means we’re worshiping power. (And leaves the problem of evil yawning hideously in the center of it.) The only way it makes sense to me to worship God, is that God’s Love comes first. Because otherwise, if the Holocaust, children with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS, are all happening according to the will of an all-powerful God… there’s something seriously wrong with that picture. I much prefer what Jesus said – that He was sent (John 12:31) to drive out the ruler of this world, which is Satan.

  • mintap

    All of God comes first. He is not parts or a list of priorities. His Lordship is Love. His Lordship is Personal.

    The problem of evil is a problem for every approach, but appealing to God’s Lordship, to his control, his authority and his presence, helps fit together the tensions better.

    It is a difficult topic to cover. Here is some:

  • CroneEver

    Believe me, I have read and studied plenty on the subject of the problem of evil and the omnipotence of God. And, believe it or not, I trust God fully. In the long run. But I am fully aware – as you should be as well – that meantime, terrible things happen, some of them by direct human agency, some by indirect human agency, and some by other agency. If that other agency is God, then God is not just or loving, no matter how many times someone says that He is. But Jesus said both that God is just and loving and merciful – and also said that Satan rules this world. I think the best analogy is C. S. Lewis’, where he said that this world is occupied territory, like Europe under the Nazis in 1944: we know that rescue is on the way, but we are still living under the oppressor’s yoke.

  • Jeanne Fox

    Are babies predestined to go to hell? Some people say the unbaptized ones do. Others say babies don’t go to hell.

  • mintap

    Like with many discussions among Christians about the problem of evil, we probably agree a lot on this but emphasize some different aspects of it. This is a bit of a cop out because I don’t have all that much time to review what I recently read right now (and my copy of the book is elsewhere) but how John Frame covered it in his Doctrine of God stuck me as the most Biblical and sensical way to approach it that I’ve seen. It didn’t leave me with many qualms.

  • Jeanne Fox

    I know I wouldn’t take it as well as you said. I spent 33 years believing in Jesus as my savior only to learn that I was just a vessel of wrath fit for destruction and it was planned long before I was born, I would be in total shock, then I would lose my mind, and an angel would carry me away in a straight jacket.

  • ZLee

    And? Doesn’t negate anything I’ve said. Deal with the Scripture. Btw, we are not “asked” to submit to God, we are commanded.

  • Well we will have to disagree there, I guess. I do not think Jesus would run around stabbing people in the back with any kind of cure, and my reasoning for that belief is every scripture I have ever read.

    Beyond that, though, you should consider what would happen if you did that. I promise you if you went around injecting human beings with anything- cures or not- they would take great offense and rally against you, even if it was for their own good. Of this I am 100% certain.

  • ashpenaz

    Which is what they did to Jesus.

    I think that Jesus cured everyone of the cancer of original sin whether they wanted the cure or not. Stabbing in the back is perhaps not the best analogy–how about releasing the cure into the wind so that whoever breathes the air is cured? Grace is the cure; faith is the air we breathe which brings us the cure. By grace alone, through faith alone.

  • The difference is probably just our perspectives then. You seem to not believe you’ll be in total shock when you meet God, and I do. I fully expect to “lose my mind” on that day. How could you not? We as we are now can’t even begin to take in what God is or what He does. Of course we’ll lose our minds on that day, so that we can handle it and have something better than our minds ever were.

    If we weren’t changed by the meeting, we would never be able to handle an ounce of what He’ll show us.

    It’s like the concept of Heaven, yeah? We can’t imagine Heaven. Oh we can sit and daydream about what it must be like, usually putting in “unlimited stuff we like” and golden streets, but that can’t even remotely compare to the actuality of it. It’s beyond our imagination, no matter how much we daydream. But it’s hard to understand “unimaginable” until you experience something that you previously were unable to possibly imagine.

    You believe you would be in total shock and lose your mind in this bad and negative way, but that’s because you seem to think you’ll be exactly the way you are right now in that moment. You won’t be as you are right now. Being in the presence of God changes you. (1 John 3:2) Just look at the book of Job if you don’t want to believe me. Look at the difference between Job before God shows up and Job once God sits down to talk to him. Job 38-42 is the meat of it, but to get the best perspective you have to read all of the book. Then you see how much Job speaks before and his words after really show a difference. :)

  • Indeed. And the book of Job shows beautifully how that discussion ENDS, too. :)

  • I see what you’re saying, but breathing isn’t an OPTION. Grace is still an option. It’s not forced on you. God very specifically made it so you get to choose. Yes, it’s totally freely available to all, but it’s still up to you to ACCEPT it or not. You can say “No, I don’t want the cure.” It’s entirely up to you.

  • CroneEver

    My qualms are this: that emphasizing God’s power/omnipotence above all else leads people to worship power (hence all the “abundant life” churches that preach, basically, heresy, by saying that God wants YOU to be successful, wealthy, healthy forever and if anything’s wrong it’s your fault). And when people start worshiping power – when you have someone saying (even, I feel, about God) that “Well, HIS morality is higher than ours” with regard to problems of evil, or the horrible, “It was God’s will that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust / your baby died of SIDS, etc.”, it leaves people looking for the powerful, not the good. And once you start preferring power to goodness, then you’re in trouble, not to mention ignoring what Jesus was truly about. That’s my major qualm. Goodness must come first. Mercy triumphs over judgment. If we give God a pass for doing what we would imprison a person for doing, then I believe we’re looking at the problem wrongly, and opening some very questionable doors in our own mind and morality.

  • ashpenaz

    I don’t think grace is an option any more that coming to life was an option for Lazarus. I was dead–really dead. I had no ability to choose or decide or believe anything. God raised me from the dead, without my asking or accepting, as a pure gift, the same way He breathed life into Adam. Adam and I had no choice but to breathe.

  • Herm

    Oh, yes it does negate much of what you said. I deal directly with the word of God. BTW, in the image of the creator God we all have free will to choose and They ask not command. The consequences are our responsibility not God’s.

  • mintap

    Starting with lordship is not the same as emphasizing power. Lordship can be seen in authority, control and presence.

    The main implication is that if God is Lord, then we have to go to his revelation first, not our feelings, not our desires, not our preferences.

  • Surazal

    How was Job supposed to react when God showed up with “Look how amazing I am!” in the end of that story? Particularly in the OT, it is God’s prerogative to demonstrate His might to humanity. It is humanity’s duty, according to the OT, to accept His Lordship. Unless we were to say that the OT doesn’t count, why is a God that exercises His power not worthy of worship?
    Devil’s (ha ha) advocate here; if God did not flex his celestial muscles now and then, what’s to keep anyone from saying “that’s not a real God,” because real gods are above mortal notions of fairness?

  • gimpi1

    Well, yes. And if life existing is evidence for the Divinity described in the Bible, your standard of evidence is not remotely like mine.

  • Mike

    All evidence is already manifest.

  • gimpi1

    Well, then, as I said before, you have a different standard for evidence than I do.

    Evidence means something that can be seen (or otherwise sensed), quantified, verified and repeated. I can’t sense any deity, I can’t quantify or verify their actions and I can think of no repeatable experiment that can point to a deity. Now, that doesn’t mean there is no deity, but it means the existence of any deity can’t be proven.

  • Mike

    Àll evidence is already manifest. You alone bear it.

  • gimpi1

    Well, since you aren’t actually offering any evidence, this conversation is going nowhere fast. I see no point in continuing. Fare well.

  • Mike

    You have the evidence all around you. But you supress it, because that is what you want.

  • ZLee

    Not at all. You’ve failed to deal with Romans 9, or Ephesians 2, or any other of the myriad of verses that clearly speak to God’s electing work in salvation. I on the other hand am able to see that Scripture clearly teaches that God is both Master/ Lord and Father. These things aren’t mutually exclusive as you would have us to believe. God gives a measure of free will, but we do not have autonomous free will, nor will God’s predetermined will be thwarted or frustrated or restricted in any way by the human will. The human will is subject and a bondservant to sin and death. This is what it means to be born in the first Adam, see Romans 5. But because God is gracious He has in Christ, made it possible for men to no longer be bondservants to sin and death, but bondservants of righteousness, Romans 6.

    Those who are in Christ are free to pursue righteousness, an impossibility prior to the Lord’s work of election and salvation. Or what do you think Paul means when he writes, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sin in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that in now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph 2)”? As I challenged the author, so I challenge you? How about instead of relying on human suppositions and trying to fit Scripture into your existing pretexts, you take the Word as it is, exegete it faithfully and seek to understand and apply it in the way God intended, recognizing that we are limited in our intellect and capabilities in understanding and that there will remain difficulties and tensions this side of heaven?

  • Interesting take! I had never considered the “forced” nature of being born. Of course, that then brings up the question of if Adam, Lazarus, you, etc. DID have the option, and that of course we don’t know. It could stand to reason that if we exist outside time at any point, we could possibly be given the choice whether to experience life inside time or not, and that choice could have led to where we are right now inside time.

    All fascinating things to consider, that’s for sure. :)

  • ZLee

    Jesus did not give His life to every person. He gave His life for the elect. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/piper_atonement.html This is why we know that not everyone is saved. Why else would Christ call Judas, for instance, the son of perdition? Is perdition the same thing as heaven? Of course not. To where are Satan and the rest of the fallen angels condemned? How about all of reprobate humanity, according to Scripture? Looks like you need to do some very basic Bible study instead of throwing around uneducated, and arrogant opinions, based on nothing but human supposition and intuition.

  • Herm

    ZLee, you wrote, “Scripture clearly teaches that God is both Master/ Lord and Father”. You left out Brother, High Priest, Rabbi, all the children of God, and most importantly the Spirit of Truth.

    Thank you very much for your time and concern. In the spirit of “in everything do to others as you would have others do to you”, I challenge you to accept the following as the word of God available to reside fulltime in your heart and mind today:

    ““Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.” John 14:15-31

    ““When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” John 15:26-27

    ““All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”” John 16:1-15

    I can only testify that the “Good News” is that there truly is peace and joy when the word of God converses with you directly. When in the Spirit and the Spirit in me my choices are made clear, not as “you do this or else”, but rather these are the consequences from which you have to choose and be responsible to. Reciprocal love as a little child of God bonds me in God and God in me to do as productively and constructively as my immature little adorable spirit will allow for all of Gods creations, including my most hated enemy. I wish no less peace and joy for you. Thanks!

  • ZLee

    I didn’t leave anything out. The Lord is even more than the things you’ve added, but that’s beside the point being addressed. I don’t know why you won’t engage the subject matter, or the verses I quoted in support of the biblical position on election. The topic of the discussion is focused on predestination and election. There is nothing in your comment in the way of scriptural support for a position contrary to the Calvinist position, nor do you provide any biblical support for whatever it is you’re trying to say. From what I am able to ascertain from what you’ve written, you seem to place your own personal feelings and experience on the same level as the Bible and would rather just talk about your very subjective opinions about the Spirit, instead of engaging with the original topic.

  • ashpenaz

    If we have to add one little thing, one decision, one belief–then we are saying that Christ’s work on the Cross wasn’t quite enough to save us. And the glory goes to us for our ability to put that last finishing touch on the Cross that Jesus left out.

    Instead, all the glory goes to Jesus because He does everything necessary to save us. Sola Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide. Sola Deo Gloria.

  • Herm

    ZLee, you wrote earlier, “On the other, He elects certain people for grace and salvation while leaving others to receive the fruits of their unrighteousness.”

    “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

    “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”” Matthew 21:42-44

    ““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

    “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” Matthew 11:25-30

    “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-5

    ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12

    ““So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” Luke 11:9-13

    I know you are defending theology and dogma of your church fathers whom you love and respect. From the overflow of Christian buzz words by which you share your admonitions I only hear their words and not the word of God in my heart and mind. In all love for you and my Rabbi I truly believe you need to first consider the following before you can understand what I am trying to share with you:

    ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

    God did not elect certain people for His grace and salvation. All people will enjoy or suffer from the fruit they choose to seed, nurture and harvest. All of the scripture I shared above screams that ALL of everyone who abides by and in the will of the Father in heaven will, if they so accept to be cleansed by the Holy Spirit, inherit eternal life as little children of God beginning right now. Some were not chosen and the others cast aside as clearly not up to the standards of the Father.

    “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14 speaks purely to the few whose fruit is worthy relative to Luke 10:27 and Matthew 7:12, the sum of the law and the prophets.

    “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40

    All we have written is on the “topic of the discussion” and “is focused on predestination and election”. You cannot understand why God wants so much to have a dynamic relationship in love with every one of Their creation until you actually come to Christ Jesus to have life.

    “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”” John 10:37-38

    “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:10

    ““If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”” John 14:15-21

    ZLee, I am only using your scripture to point you to an eternal relationship, without pause, with and in the word of God. The Gospel proclaimed is that relationship is readily available to ALL who in all humility do this; ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 ***EVERYONE*** by their choice and not God’s election, predestination or command.

    Love you! peace

  • ZLee

    Which “buzz” words? I’ve used and quoted scripture. I’ve mentioned terms like predestination and election because those were the terms addressed in the article to which we’re ostensibly responding. I know people like to throw the word dogma around as if it were a pejorative. But the reality is everybody has dogma. It just takes different forms. Like your weak Arminian dogma that denies election and predestination in favor of a weak Jesus who truly isn’t sovereign, autonomous God, but is instead beholden to the whims and will of His creation.

    It is very troubling when you refer to direct scriptural quotation as “your scripture” as if the Bible isn’t truly the only God given repository of His special self-revelation. Do you have some other Scripture or revelation that you subscribe to?

    It’s ironic that you would use John 5 while at the same time denying Christ’s other Words in books like Romans and Ephesians. You also fail to deal with those texts or even begin to attempt to show how they harmonize with the view you continue to espouse.

    You’re seeming concern over my supposed failure to recognize the believer’s eternal relationship with God is unwarranted and unfounded and comes out of left field. Where have I questioned or denied such a reality. Seems like you’re engaging some cheap scatter gun approach at argumentation and tossing one rabbit trail after another to muddle the discussion. I’ll reiterate I take the entirety of the Bible to be the Word of God. That means I believe that every jot and title is equally inspired and equally profitable for teaching, correcting, reproofing, and training in righteousness for the man of God, 2 Tim 3:16;17. Therefore because I approach Scripture with a historical grammatical hermeneutic and I seek to let Scripture be the authority over and against my preconceptions, I am able, by the grace of God, to harmonize the fact that He elects for salvation, yet allows volition to His creation, that God is compassionate, yet is also a God of wrath and judgement, that God loves some in a saving way and others in a common way only. In the revelation of God in the Bible and the unfolding of His will throughout history these are tensions we are forced to deal with and harmonize. We aren’t given any other legitimate, God honoring option.

    Finally, the contexts of Matthew 7:7-8 both in the surrounding text, the larger text of the book the verse is not speaking about salvation at all. It is addressing the need for the disciples (believers) to seek the Lord in prayer in order to grow in holiness as apart of the sanctifying work of the Spirit and for the sake of effective ministry.

  • Herm

    2 Tim 3:16;17 was not holy scripture but was only a letter to Timothy. The Bible you search is not the “word of God” and was not written by Jesus. The “word of God” was proclaimed long before any of the New Testament was penned and it was even much longer before Christian Bible was compiled.

    “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

    Only when filled with the Holy Spirit can anyone speak the word of God.

    You are putting your faith and time in parchment that will be consumed as useless. You are not living with and in the Lord but are living only with and in the scripture that seems to be keeping you from Him. All authority over heaven and earth has been given our Lord and Brother by our Father nearly 2,000 years ago. Your heart and mind can be one with and in all of God exactly the same as is Jesus’ heart and mind one in the Father’s heart and mind, today.

    God did not call a halt to life at the end of the book of revelations. There are apostles, prophets and disciples among us speaking boldly the word of God today. None are more than little children in relationship with our big Brother, our Lord, our Rabbi. Paul, Peter, James, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are no more capable or honored by God because they were first than you who may be last.

    For your sake don’t place Galileo in house arrest simply because his observations don’t agree with your scripture.

    You are not alone and I can fully empathize because I once was there. I was educated, experienced and ordained to debate the Bible with the best debaters. Today I am not debating but pointing to a relationship I have, and am not alone, with God that makes the Bible a 1,700 year old guide book to and expose of mankind’s relationship with God in the past. 20 years ago, when I lost everything, after having honorably done all mankind asked of me, I invited the Holy Spirit to reside full time in my heart and mind (continual reciprocal prayer if you will) and trusted my Father to protect me from evil. For 50 years prior I had been open to the Spirit only when I thought I was acceptable. I was accepted because I accepted the offer of God to be one as a little child with Them. The fruit appearing to be from me has become infinitely more sweet and nutritious as I share my cup overflowing.

    The reason you cannot see that I am on point with the thread of Ben’s article is because you relate to your scripture and I with my Rabbi. I am in no way any longer religious for I abide by no spiritual theology, dogma or ritual which has been replaced with a reality of spiritual and carnal relationship directly with God. This would not have been possible until the word of God was released for all from the Holy of Holies when the curtain was torn top to bottom. Since that moment, nearly 2,000 years ago, the word of God (not in any way scripture) has been available for the asking, seeking and knocking. It took me 50 years but I finally asked, sought, and knocked and I can in all honesty testify that I was given the Spirit of God to be a little child in God no more or less perfect than the apostle Paul you quote.

    I know that my Father and Brother no more want to predestine or emphatically command any of us children anymore than I would have done for my children. Relationship where the last chapter is fully known is not a dynamically loving relationship. God as one in the Spirit surprises me daily as I do as one of God in the same Spirit. It is always a joy full of reciprocal love binding us together for the good of all for eternity. We can be free to choose in the entire kingdom because we can love as in the spirit of Luke 10:27 and gauge all we do by the tempering spirit of Matthew 7:12. Though our enemy will not be able to pass through the eye of the needle to inherit eternal life, unless they see to change their self-indulgent ways, we still love our enemy enough to forgive them for what they know not what they do.

    I am sorry that I am not able to help you see why I spend the time with you. I am not arguing by intimidating, manipulating or subjugating by trying to portray God as in any way vindictive or as a puppet master to be feared. I am not in any way being exclusive as in suggesting that God’s eternal love, nurture and relationship is only available to the elect few, whether predestined or earned.

    From my perspective inside the love of God, which I know as available to all who do the will of our Father, you are misrepresenting by trying to sell God as some kind of author who has written the entire book of the remaining portion of eternity. We are first created in the image of God when They breathed our spirit into the physical form, maybe according to your scripture 5,775 years ago in a cosmos begun from a big bang created eons ago. We each are offered, as was the plan from the beginning of the big bang, a choice to become little children of God and really ignorant students of Rabbi Jesus. God is infinitely patient or eternity would be unbearable waiting for an end already predestined with no chance of change.

  • My beliefs have nothing to do with yours. I’m not trying to convince anyone; just speaking my piece. You are welcome to believe in hell and a place of torture designed and managed for eternity by Jesus. I do not. I also do not worship the Bible. Therefore the actions of Jesus will always trump the text of the Bible. And, yes, I wouldn’t know about Jesus without the Bible, but that doesn’t change my view that the Bible is always secondary to Christ. It’s a trinity, not a quartet. The Bible isn’t God.

  • ZLee

    In denying the completeness of the canon and scriptural inerrancy, you have expressed a heretical view of Scripture and by consequence have deviated seriously from the historic Christian faith. I urge you to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been revealed in the Bible, and the Bible alone. https://carm.org/bible-isnt-word-god-it-contains-word-god http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html

  • ZLee

    You’re wrong. We are not entitled to our individual views when it comes to ultimate truth and authority. God is the one who determines such things. Your perspective does not correspond to historical reality, and therefore represents no true Christ at all, but an idol of your own making, a figment of your imagination.

    No orthodox theology would claim that the Bible is God. This is a strawman. But God is very clear that the Bible is His Word, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”—Revelation 22:18-19.” Christ has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word (the Bible) and His Word alone. There is no special revelation of Christ outside of the Bible. Please study Sola Scriptura. https://carm.org/bible-isnt-word-god-it-contains-word-god http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-sola-scriptura-mean/

  • Jeff Preuss

    “You’re wrong. We are not entitled to our individual views when it comes to ultimate truth and authority.”…as you go on to provide your individual view and insist it’s the correct one.

  • ZLee

    Did you actually read the resources I provided? Didn’t think so.

  • Herm

    ZLee, I have used the scripture that mankind canonized, not God, to try to help you to understand Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit is not in the Bible but that a divine relationship with Them is pointed to by the Bible. You have refused to comprehend the scripture I shared with you as admonitions directly from the mouth of Jesus.

    Your attempt to intimidate and manipulate is more in the spirit of the Pharisees, Sadducee, Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate than Jesus the Christ who was crucified for being a heretic to their canon. Jesus is my Judge, Rabbi, Messiah, High Priest, Lord and Brother and no one else of mankind is allowed to usurp His authority by my choice. I really do suggest that you go back over all that I have attempted to share with you as you humbly, with no pride of scholastic achievement, invite the Holy Spirit to counsel with you, alone in your heart and mind, through every word that came from Him. Ben’s words to you were true.

    Father, please forgive ZLee for not knowing what (s)he is doing to others as (s)he would not have others do her/him.

  • ZLee

    The Bible we have today is God’s Word, preserved through two millennia of history. I haven’t refused to comprehend a thing. Ben failed to address my challenge and so have you, repeatedly. I’ll give you yet another chance. How do you reconcile your understanding of election and predestination with Romans 9, Ephesians 2, etc?

    I reject your assertions that I’ve intimidated or manipulated anything. Instead I’ve done nothing but quote Scripture and testify of the historic doctrines of the Christian faith, including references to multiple resources that back the position I support. You, on the other hand have provided nothing but personal opinion, experience, and acontextual scriptures as proofs for your view. What could be more arrogant than claiming, on the basis of nothing but the subjectivity of personal knowledge and intuition, that 2000 years of Church history has it wrong, but you have it right? Yours is a false humility and deception attempting to disguise itself as light. My previous admonition is all the more urgent. Take heed.

  • Alana

    I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. It isn’t like people necessarily know they are rejecting the gift, or even which gift (religion) is the right one.

  • Herm

    “Thanks for totally not answering the question.” Benjamin L. Corey

    “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”” Romans 9:30-33

    What then shall we say? That ZLee stumbles over the stumbling stone? You still are pursuing your righteousness as if it were by works and not by faith. You still ignore the Spirit in your midst exactly as the church and occupying authorities ignored Jesus as of God. Faith in God means actually believing that They can nurture you through all your inadequacies on earth as it is in heaven exactly as human kind would do for their infants in their carnal image. Do you know the Holy Spirit as real in your life? How would you know unless you and He were conversing without the Bible of your choice?

    “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:15-23

    “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:1-10

    There is nothing I have ever read that addresses Paul’s admonitions in Romans 9, Ephesians 2, etc regarding predestination and election. If you can show me the texts that concern you the most maybe then I would be able to address your perspective.

    I do know that ALL I have to do to inherit eternal life is addressed in Luke 10:27. There is not one mention within that text to worship the Bible is a necessary precondition. In fact, through the Holy Spirit the word of God can be boldly proclaimed by the illiterate with no access to the Bible.

    You are attempting to instill the fear of God (intimidate) by issuing your judgment of: “My previous admonition is all the more urgent. Take heed.” That is pure unadulterated bullshit.

    Two millennia of Christian sponsored history, ritual and tradition include many crusades financed by rape and pillage, witch hunts to burn or drown, child molestation, genocide, dehumanizing slavery and much more atrocities that in no way reflect the love of Jesus who would die invoking forgiveness that His enemy might live. The word of God was not preserved in the church mankind usurped as theirs to call christian. The only reliable word of God can be found in the Holy Spirit, period. Because you do not know this and have insufficient faith to actually trust in God does not make it any different. The divine relationship with and in our creator God is available without a Bible but only when we each, alone, ask, seek and knock directly acknowledging all vulnerability.

    For your edification Ephesians 2 is purely about being made alive in Christ and Jew and Gentile being reconciled in Christ. Romans 9 is in regards to Paul’s distress over Israel, God’s sovereign choice to open up the field to the Gentile; “( As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are
    not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who
    is not my loved one,” and, “In the very place where it
    was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’
    ”” Romans 9:25-26, and especially Israel’s unbelief.

    Your unbelief in the reality of the Holy Spirit to be sufficient in God for an eternity beginning today cause me a bit of distress, also. I am truly sorry you just don’t get it and yet speak as though anointed to the Moses seat when it now is occupied fully and perfectly by our Lord Jesus.

    Maybe tomorrow you may know what it is like to be a child again. You can ditch that heavy yoke you have made for only yourself and join in the yoke that Jesus carpentered, there is a position for you, to share with us as we till. We’re not expected to be truly productive in the field yet, no child ever is.

    Maybe, tomorrow. We love you!

  • ZLee

    Aaannd I replied to Ben’s comment with a response, clarification, and challenge that he never addressed. Beyond that, the remainder of your latest comment is so convoluted and meandering, I really don’t find it profitable to engage it. Suffice it to say, your obviously confused mind is indicative of a very confused theology and bibliology and I hope you seek help from a biblically faithful church.

  • Herm

    Been there, done that, got the tee shirt, thanks. You are so entrenched and supported by your “biblically faithful church” that you don’t understand Jesus’ church has no theology, dogma or ritual. He is the sole and sufficient for eternity Teacher with total authority as High Priest.

    Definition of BIBLIOLOGY. 1. : the history and science of books as physical objects : bibliography. often capitalized : the study of the theological doctrine of the Bible.

    God is not and never meant for themselves to become a science or history. God is a relationship in the present. Jesus gave us all the study we need to know how to act and do as children of God as chronicled in Matthew 7:12 and Matthew 22:37-40. In Their Spirit I testify that each works productively and constructively on earth as it is in heaven and together is the final sum of the law and the prophets.

    I hope you seek help from God directly especially from my Brother who understands exactly where you are at, He’s been there, also. I leave this in His perfectly capable hands if you let Him. Bye!

  • Jaysee

    I’m just going to leave this here…

    Assuming you’re numbered among the elect, when you’re in heaven, and your loved one is in hell, you will be glad they are because your worship will be justly drawn to where it is suppose to be. It is not until we reach that side of eternity that we will fully realize that God’s justice is perfect.

    You may not like this thought, I don’t necessarily like it myself, but I think it’s true.

  • ZLee

    C’mon man, how long have you subscribed to such nonsense? Everybody has a theology. The question is whether or not it’s a good theology. The further one diverges from the Bible, the worse their theology will be. The rest of your criticisms, with all due respect, lack much coherence. The Christian faith is that which is rooted in history. God has preserved His Word and His Church for two millennia. He has always been faithful to keep a remnant. And the consistent testimony of that remnant down through the annals of time has been to uphold the Bible as God’s Word, sufficient for faith and practice. You may enjoy novelty. If so, Christianity will not be your best option. Christianity is anything but novel. You feign love and fidelity to the God of the Bible while simultaneously rejecting His ordained revelation. Just be honest and admit that you would rather follow and believe a Christianity of your own conception than uphold and contend for the historic faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3).

  • Herm

    theology – noun – the study of the nature of God and religious belief. – religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed.

    relationship – noun – the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

    ZLee, you are tenacious though from my perspective to a fault. I do so appreciate your care and I thank you very much. I repeat, I no longer have a theology of religious belief. I no longer subscribe to any form of the Pauline theology especially as interpreted by Calvin. I no longer have any form of a dogma that serves as part of my primary basis of an ideology or belief system. Jesus was branded a heretic (as have you branded me) by the likes of Saul before his heart and mind were cleansed by a direct relationship with the Holy Spirit to become Paul. You obviously do not know, or we would be conversing from a more similar perspective, that the advocate of God … the Spirit of Truth … the word of God … the Holy Spirit is a real relationship and not in any way a theory to be studied. I have nothing special that is not available to you, maybe in even greater portions, in being an active little son/daughter of God today. I am connected (John 14:15-21) inside as one with God. I am nowhere near alone as some special only begotten Son such as Jesus Christ, my Brother and Lord. There are many children of God today free from the ignorance begot by trying to find Jesus in sacred scripts. When you are one with Jesus you will see Him in all sacred scripts as each sincere scribe could pen from the maturity of their mind and heart. I know, to you I am incoherent, so below is, without my comments, the script you have available to you that best reflects to portray the very real reciprocal relationship I have in God. Hopefully you read through it all in counsel with the Holy Spirit that you too may become cleansed as in baptism by the Holy Spirit to become a sibling in God. There truly is no other source for the peace and joy I live in today. There is no particular order to my offering in testimony so full nutritious digestion in the Spirit will require a Guide only God can offer, the living Gospel.

    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12

    “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21

    “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:26-27

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:12-15

    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

    But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

    You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:4-6

    And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

    At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. Luke 10:21

    When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:31-35

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-27

    Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

  • Ron McPherson

    Wasn’t it Henry Ward Beecher who explained it as “there are the whosoever wills and the whosoever won’ts?”

  • ZLee

    Everyone’s a theologian http://renewingyourmind.org/broadcasts/2015/06/12/everyones-a-theologian Herm, you desperately need to listen to this. Who is Jesus? As soon as you begin to answer that question, you’re dealing with theology. Period. The question is, is it a sound theology? Again, unless you’re deriving your understanding of Christ from the Scriptures, you do not have or understand Him correctly. As for the many disjointed verses you’ve included, I’ve already addressed your strong tendency toward illogical tangential argumentation. I rest my case.

  • Herm

    ZLee, I have exasperated you … or you are a glutton for punishment … or your heart and mind seeks to save my lost soul … or you are intrigued. In any case I have read everything you have written, and listen from beginning to end everything you have directed me to, because I respect your inquiring mind and heart. It would seem you have heard nothing I have shared. You haven’t taken the years in the wilderness it took me to arrive at where I am. I will not use references I thought you trusted and could discuss in your only “word of God”. I will try to find some common ground where we can begin to actually share bilaterally. You imply that you are willing to study the nature of God and religious belief.

    I am 71 years old. I have been schooled, degreed, certificated, baptized, ordained and experienced in theology, military sciences (honorable combat veteran), spiritual sciences, social sciences and physical sciences. For the last 20 years I have been a developing student of my only Teacher with eternal accreditation, Rabbi Jesus, facilitated by becoming one in the Spirit of God bound by love.

    R.C Sproul, bless his sincere heart and kind tone, obviously has no recognition of the reality of even such a relationship as ours in God being possible. If you were to do a timeline of when each script was written in the New Testament you would find intellectually, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the “word of God” as written and testified to is not the New Testament but is the Holy Spirit. I once did ask, “Who is Jesus?” Then I was a theologian.

    I once, 30 years ago, told God directly as a proud practicing ordained elder and a thriving, top of my field, computer engineer with a psychology major, “Thank You very much! I got it all now. You can use me in any way you will!” From that moment on all that I thought I had started to slowly slip from my responsibility and control until 10 years later I had nothing; no family, no church and no job. I had responsibly excelled with full sincerity in all that my society of birth and church had asked of me to completion and was left with nothing. It was only then that I realized I could trust God to protect me from all evil by simply beseeching Him to do so.

    If God was real then I would be protected much more with His omnipotence, omnipresence and intervention than I was by my own pitiful doing or mankind’s doing, collectively not much better than mine. If God did not exist then what else was there now that the full limit of mankind’s expectations for me had been exceeded and I had nothing left to be responsible for or to? I did something I had not even considered when entrenched in theology and the practice of theology. I MOST humbly invited the Holy Spirit to be active in my heart and mind without ceasing even when I was, or thought I was, sinning. That is the first time I realized sin is purely the separation from a reciprocal relationship with God. Sin is a break in the path disallowing my Father’s will to become my will as His little child. I am but a very little child with free will to choose from what is available to me, compared to my mature elder Brother who has all authority available to Him, so I trip, fall, wander, test and err as I play in the lab work following my Teacher’s class instruction.

    The difference from theology and familial relationship is that I’m not studying who my Father or Brother is because we are in direct relationship at all times. I am not studying to find out exactly what is the will of my Father because He tells me directly at exactly the right time relative to me. My studies under Jesus’ tutelage are without exception helping me appreciate more and more as this awesome eternity unfolds before my otherwise childishly blind eyes. His kingdom is now and here.

    R.C. Sproul talked of the “gift of teachers” given us by God. Jesus teaches that He is the only Teacher we will ever need once we come to Him as His disciples. I am not called to teach any of my fellows of mankind but am called to bring the ignorant lost to be cleansed in the Holy Spirit to unite them with God so Jesus can do the teaching that each and every unique heart, soul, strength and mind needs to peacefully enjoy all of eternity, beginning right now. Children do not earn their way but are free to play and grow in faith that their parents will provide all that they cannot. Loving parents teach their children to love as they play and grow. No family in the image of God can love as much or as deeply all their ignorant and incapable to survive on their own children as much as God loves us. You truly cannot understand that from the outside until you’re inside our home in the reciprocating presence of our divine Family. No intellectual study can encompass the love we can know for certain within the sanctuary of our Family’s home. The final test is not measured by the Bible but by our fruit.

    The “Renewing Your Mind” offering, you directed me to, began with the premise, “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. That could only come from the mouths of those who do not know what it is like to be inside God and God inside them. All of us in all buildings of faith have had moments where God touched us even though God’s sanctuary and the yoke of Jesus is not even minutely contained inside any church structure erected by mankind. The sanctuary inside the church of my High Priest is always available for undisturbed worship in the hearts and minds of all members of God, including the connected presence of the hearts and minds of our Father and His only begotten Son.

    The most egotistical phrase R.C. Sproul used that grated against all I know to be true today was alluding to his concept of the church’s “collective wisdom”. Just how many families are you aware of whose children’s “collective wisdom” was worth much when from the viewing limitations of the cribs they were, due to their ignorance and immaturity, assigned to for their protection?

    There is some really, really good news and that is that no one needs to accomplish a theology study with passing grades before they can become children of God. The exact opposite is true because we first have to in all humility acknowledge we comparatively know nothing of what Jesus knows before we can begin to learn from Him. Theological studies are what you and R.C. Sproul are demanding when you have not been on the inside to know the Truth personally. We must hate all tradition, dogma, ritual and theology of our church family and carnal family before we can, with a cleansed heart and mind, begin to learn directly from our Messiah. You blindly are embracing theology to please your peers rather than trusting Jesus to teach you as only He has the credentials to do for eternity. You and Robert Charles Sproul say this is my “excuse for slothfulness” but you would be the ones making the excuse for not coming to Jesus directly.

    Is it a lie that Jesus told us as His disciples that He is our only Teacher/Instructor? If Jesus cannot do as He promised in scripture then why do you waste your time trying to learn from those before you who have had even less resources than you of a Jesus who does not exist to be your Brother? … because your church family says so?

    I do love you and I feel your pain because I have been in very similar situations as you are in right now. I am pleased that our Lord has brought you here. I hope you realize that very often the intended teacher learns more than the students they choose to teach. I truly hope you learn more to break the shackles of religious tradition that are keeping you from, on the outside looking in, actually knowing the Truth of our creator God and Their divine love truly accessible from the inside with the resource of sharing Their perspective of mature omnipresence. Blessings and thanks!

  • ZLee

    I’m sorry Herm, but your thinking is a mess. I feel compassion for you, I really do. I implore you – do not trust in yourself and your intuition, it is extremely dangerous (Prov 3:5). Do not trust your heart for God has said it is deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9).The only sure foundation is that which is built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. The only true Christ is He that the Bible reveals. There is no other place where God has chosen to place a special, intimate, revelation of Himself. Again, it was the living Christ Himself who warned the Apostle John not to add anything to His written revelation (Rev 22:18). I pray that you would reconsider your position, seek the Lord in His Word where He may be found, repent, and place your faith and trust in the Christ of the Bible, for He was revealed nowhere else, and in Him alone.

  • Herm

    Well, I can still spell your avatar. I guess I’m not that hopeless, yet. You, although, can’t even read this:

    “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:31-35

    Apparently “He was revealed” long before the book of Acts was written and even longer before it was compiled into the New Testament.

    Good luck with your book!

  • ZLee

    Of course God revealed Himself prior to Acts and the New Testament. This is why the first 39 books in the Bible take place prior to Christ’s incarnation; it’s called the Old Testament. I’m not sure how this became apart of the discussion, but I’m not surprised given what I’ve already received from you.

  • Herm

    “What if that beautiful child you raised and would have jumped in front of a bus for, was actually predestined by God to burn in hell for all of eternity, simply to demonstrate his holiness?”

  • Herm

    It was fulfilled and finished when Jesus gave up His spirit!!!

  • ZLee

    What was, Mr. Non-sequitor?

  • Nerdsamwich

    According to Aquinas, the principal amusement of heaven is watching the suffering of the damned. Because there is no suffering in heaven, you WILL enjoy it–you have no choice.

  • Nerdsamwich

    What justification do strict Calvinists have for not pursuing a life of unbounded hedonism? If you’re either of the elect or not, and you have no say in the matter–and no way of knowing–which one you are, shouldn’t it be incumbent upon you to spread as much Earthly enjoyment as possible? If you’re one of the damned, you should make hay while the sun shines, as it were, and get every bit of pleasure you possibly can from this life to fortify yourself against the hereafter. If you’re one of the elect, nothing can change that, and besides, a charitable heart should move you to make what time the damned have here as enjoyable as possible. So how can they justify not offering every possible earthly joy to everyone they meet, as it can’t hurt, and might be the last pleasant thing some poor stranger gets to experience?

  • Nerdsamwich

    He’s supposed to react by showing some damned backbone. Instead, he crawls on the ground like a sniveling bootlicker. Odin knows only contempt for those too craven to stand on their feet before him, why do you think YHWH is a lesser being? Is the god you serve too insecure to tolerate strong followers?

  • Nerdsamwich

    That is the opposite of the meaning of the word “justice”. No finite being can possibly do anything to merit an infinite consequence, either good or bad. An infinite reward for a finite action is, by definition, infinitely unjust. Even one damned soul is an infinite evil, and therefore, the god who created that damnation must be infinitely evil.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Those are not two different things. If God knows that a person will choose damnation and creates that person anyway, he has created a soul for hell, and done it deliberately. Ultimate power comes with ultimate responsibility.

  • Herm

    I really am hurting for you ZLee because if you would allow the Holy Spirit into your heart and mind you would know. You could ask our Teacher who knows your heart and mind to answer. You know like, “What did Herm just write?”

    If you would base your spiritual growth today on the Rock Jesus’ church is built upon instead of fragments of sandy parchment from the past you would know.

    All of this time and you have refused to answer the original question, “What if that beautiful child you raised and would have jumped in front of a bus for, was actually predestined by God to burn in hell for all of eternity, simply to demonstrate his holiness?”

  • ZLee

    It is only by the Holy Spirit that one comes to a true knowledge of Christ and the Bible. The things of God are spiritually appraised; there is no illumination of God’s revelation (the Word) without the work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). It is the will of the Spirit of God at work when anyone comes to understand their sin properly, repent of that sin, and place their trust and hope in Christ. That doesn’t happen apart from the Holy Spirit. So, yes, I definitely have the Holy Spirit and rely upon Him in my daily battle against sin and in the process of growing in Christlikeness, or sanctification. This is the primary work of the Spirit.

    I haven’t refused to answer anything. I addressed the spirit of the questions in the article when I pointed Ben to the reality of the tensions we find in Scripture, and our responsibility to harmonize those tensions in obedience to the Word of God. The Bible says that God both saves some and consigns others to judgment. He is the operative force in each and every case. We on the other hand are finite and limited in what we are permitted and are able to understand. God doesn’t share His omniscience with us. He hasn’t revealed everything about His plan and how it will unfold in history. Instead, He has provided us His Word, the Bible, and His Spirit to make it possible to understand and obey His Word. With these, along with the gifts of the local body of believers, of which we are called to be apart, and prayer, the Lord has said that He has given us everything sufficient for a proper knowledge of Him, and for life and godliness. Therefore, as a result of Scriptural study and learning, I see that God has commanded believers to serve, to love, to evangelize, without prejudice. We aren’t given the prerogative of knowing the hearts of other men. Only God knows. We are to concern ourselves with obedience to the commands of scripture, not to discern wheat and tares in any ultimate sense. God is God and we are not, and at the end of the day we must agree with Scripture that God saves some and condemns others for His own good purpose and will. No man or woman will know the answer to your hypothetical, as it pertains to the ultimate certainty of an individual’s security in Christ or their condemnation, this side of heaven. Nevertheless we are commanded to preach the Gospel, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things Christ has commanded us (matt. 28), trusting that the Lord will save every one of the elect to completion, according to His will (John 6:37-39). Ps, just in case you might be tempted to an acontextual reading of that passage, this will help http://vintage.aomin.org/johnchapter6.html

  • Herm

    ZLee you wrote, “It is only by the Holy Spirit that one comes to a true knowledge of Christ and the Bible. The things of God are spiritually appraised; there is no illumination of God’s revelation (the Word) without the work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14).” amen

    Then you take a dogmatic turn separating yourself from the Spirit. Baptism by the Holy Spirit is the cleansing of your heart and mind and you can sin no more against God when you choose to remain in God. Don’t you at all understand or even desire the freedom of actually being one in God and God in you? There is no tensions in the yoke of Jesus as He leads and shares to make our load light.

    I am no longer using your crutch to help you walk in the Lord. I am speaking as the Spirit leads.

    You wrote, “He hasn’t revealed everything about His plan and how it will unfold in history.” That is pure ignorance as in your Bible, including direct quotes I have already shared with you that you did not read because you in your pride of parchment study mistakenly believe you already knew the spirit in them, Jesus says that through the Holy Spirit He will reveal everything as we are ready. You are apparently not ready.

    You wrote, “God doesn’t share His omniscience with us.” How do you define a relationship as a child of God today in the abundant Spirit of Truth and love? I know and share in the omniscience of God as a little child exactly when my Family knows I am ready. This is, also, corroborated with New Testament verses, quoting Jesus’ words, that I have already shared with you.

    I know my Lord to focus on Him to obey and He is not your lord. He is the Lord of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, Paul, Moses, Abraham, Ben and Herm but not the lord you have given your full and tense allegiance to. You put Calvin and Caesar’s commission (Constantine’s sponsored council of Nicea) before the commission of Jesus to all His disciples then and now. Your lord I would hate, exactly as Jesus teaches me, if he burned my child in hell as though, “well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles”. Jesus has taught me in no uncertain terms to hate all that distracts me from the focus of growing eternally bound in the love of my most divine Family with no beginning and no end. You are distracted from even answering the question for yourself because of biblical tensions. I have no such tensions as you from the Bible or at all from my relationship with my Brother and Father whom I know and They know me. With Jesus in me I truly have the freedom of peace and joy only a child can know fully trusting in her/his family to protect and provide.

    All tension aside how do you answer the question in your own words, without pointing to anything in the Bible as support, “What if that beautiful child you raised and would have jumped in front of a bus for, was actually predestined by God to burn in hell for all of eternity, simply to demonstrate his holiness?”

  • ZLee

    Once again, your appeal to your own authority is deeply distressing. No true Christian rejects the Bible. My opinion and your opinion do not determine truth. Truth has been revealed by God in His written Word. Ultimately, it really matters little what I think about the issue of predestination, whether I like the particular implications or not. As a Christian I’m called to obedience in accordance with the Word of God, trusting that He is loving, compassionate, and good and that one day I will understand more fully His purposes and goodness, while much continues to remain veiled this side of eternity. I can rest in God’s promises (which we find exclusively in Bible) even while some questions remain unanswered. He is faithful.

    You hate the God of the Bible, as you’ve stated, because you would rather worship a God of your own imagination, in direct violation of the 2nd and 3rd Commandments. If this is truly how you view Scripture and the faith, than you’re in grave danger, my friend. Repent, please, repent and believe. Today is the day of salvation.

  • Herm

    ZLee, my zealous friend, that is a bunch of bullshit. You give your theology all credit over any credit for our beloved creator God to be capable of speaking with you directly. You have made a craven image and a god of the Bible you worship distorting beyond your recognition any possible relationship with the true divine loving Father and His only begotten Son. It is you who do not believe. You can quit threatening me with your preconceived god’s “predestination” for me. I am shaking the sand from my sandals. May you one day find true peace and joy free from the tension overflowing to others from your spirit of self-indulgence.

  • ZLee

    I hope you’re just speaking from insecurity and not exposing true colors under a veneer of care and compassion. I haven’t personally threatened you in any way. All I’ve done is to provide for you the historic, protestant, reformed, biblical perspective on the subject matter, consistently. If you would like to know in a concise manner what I subscribe to in terms of what true faith looks like in practice, I commend this article to you http://www.gty.org/resources/positions/P06/is-it-real I don’t know how any Christian would have qualms with these.

  • Herm

    … “Do You Eagerly Await Christ’s Return?”

    “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

    … “Do You Love Other Christians?”

    “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45

    … “Can You Discern between Spiritual Truth and Error?”

    “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:17

    “Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”” Matthew 15:12-14

  • ZLee

    So…are you agreeing or disagreeing with these? do you have disagreements with the other marks? Remember, this is the historic Christian faith being described.

  • Herm

    Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

  • ZLee

    Oh brother.

  • Nerdsamwich

    That’s a cop-out. Who created Satan and gave him authority over the world? With ultimate power comes ultimate responsibility.

  • Nerdsamwich

    So when something terrible happens, we have to look to Scripture to see if we’re allowed to feel bad about it? If it says nothing about in the Book, it’s not actually a bad thing? That’s as ridiculous as saying that Job’s replacement kids completely made up for the horrific deaths of the originals. You forget Genesis, wherein it is written, “The man has become like one of the gods, knowing good and evil.” Adam’s great sin was giving his children the same powers of discernment as their creator, to know bad when they see it. How messed up is it that Elohim intended to create a race of sociopaths? But the point is, we know just as well as he does when something’s wrong. No need to go looking it up.

  • mintap

    Even in our own feelings we see God as Lord. He can harden hearts or give joy. “God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy” Ecc. 2:26

    And we don’t know good in evil as fully as God knows good and evil. The likeness is simply in knowing some distinction, not in knowing it fully.

  • Nerdsamwich

    I have no lord. I am a free man, and could never respect any being–Supreme or otherwise–who demanded I kneel before him. Your quote from Ecclesiastes runs directly counter to Genesis, where Elohim cursed mankind for gaining knowledge. Did you notice why we were cursed, by the way? Because the gods were afraid of human potential, that’s why.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Job is cowed by a bully. That’s the difference in demeanor you’re looking at. Job has the audacity to say that he doesn’t deserve the way he’s been treated, then big bad YHWH shows up with a wedgie in one hand and a swirly in the other to put him back in his place. Job dutifully puts his head back down, duly intimidated.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Wait, so YHWH cares about free will now? When did that start?

  • Nerdsamwich

    So it’s good, holy even, to slaughter the entire population of a large city, man, woman, and child, except for the virgin girls, whom you bind into sexual slavery. That’s a good thing, and it would be a terrible sin of you to refuse to do it, as long as your orders come from the proper authorities. And they accuse atheists of moral relativism.

  • Nerdsamwich

    We remind Elohim of why they feared mankind in Genesis. We arm ourselves with the Fruit of Knowledge, and we band together in the spirit of Babel, and nothing will be impossible for us, not even toppling the Throne of the Most High. There is no evil tyrant who cannot be cast down.

  • Nerdsamwich

    I did trust, and was betrayed. I see the same kind of betrayal in the pages of Scripture. How do you not?

  • Nerdsamwich

    That’s silly, just like the bit about YHWH revoking Pharaoh’s free will to provide an excuse for murdering Egyptians. The Assyrian king should have built some iron chariots and sacrificed to Chemosh.

  • Nerdsamwich

    And they accuse atheists of moral relativism.

  • mosessister

    Uh, no. That not what I’m saying.

  • mosessister

    Actually, Job’s sin was questioning God’s goodness, not questioning why.

  • Free will has been there all along. It didn’t start, or end. At least as far as we know.

  • I think the perspective of “bully” is a very human perspective. We put it onto God because that’s how we would act given that power. God’s way beyond the simplicity of us, though. Job didn’t cow because he was bullied, he saw the truth of his mistake and owned up to it. Honestly that guy was amazing. Of course, everything changes pretty dramatically in the presence of God.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Yes, it IS a human perspective. Being human, it’s the only one I’ve got. I don’t call YHWH a bully because that’s how I’d act in his position. I call him a bully because that’s the character he shows in the story. He mercilessly destroys Job’s life, for literally no reason at all, and when Job says, “What did I do to deserve this?’ he shows up, full of fire and bluster, and basically replies, “Bitch, I don’t NEED a reason! I just felt like flexing my divine muscle, and you were in my line of sight. Now get on the ground and lick my boots for the mercy I showed in not doing worse!” Those are the actions, and the words, of a bully. There are no two ways about it. Job’s “mistake” was a battered woman’s: he had a momentary flash of self-respect, and didn’t quash it quickly enough, so his abuser quashed it for him.

  • Nerdsamwich

    In Exodus, YHWH hardens Pharaoh’s heart against Moses, for the sole purpose of giving himself an excuse to murder Egyptian children. In the NT, he threatens to torture you forever if you don’t turn over your will to him. Free will doesn’t seem all that high on his list of priorities.

  • Nerdsamwich

    You just said that whatever God tells you to do is necessarily good. The example behavior I gave came straight from Numbers 31: direct orders from YHWH, through Moses, to the army of Israel. By your logic, it was perfectly moral for them to do so, because they were ordered to by God himself, and God is both good and all-powerful, right? What am I missing?

  • “for literally no reason at all”

    And there in lies the disconnect. When you believe it was done for no reason, it does indeed seem like bullying.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Of course it was for no reason. The story says so. It was just a stupid bet between YHWH(or El Elyon, I’m not quite clear on that point) and Ha-Satan, the Elohim’s moral police. It’s the equivalent of a city’s vice-mayor betting the DA–on a mere whim–that he can’t make Mr. Smith from Elm Street sue the city. And then the ensuing fallout when Mr. Smith just complains about what’s been done to him. That’s the real point of the story, where YHWH justifies his actions with, “I’m bigger than you, that’s why!” What reason could possibly excuse such monstrous conduct? How can you read that book, and continue to make excuses for its god? To use a topical reference, you sound like the Duggars trying to minimize their son’s crimes against their daughters. Except that you’re making excuses for the guy who made Josh a molester in the first place, and put the girls there, knowing exactly what would happen to them. What possible excuse?

  • Wendy

    I think grace is generally available to anyone post Jesus death and resurrection. I think then they are the elect. I see election as like the ones who uptake the free offer of becoming children of God. Interestingly in the New Testament much is said about the elect…

    Mark 13:22 (KJV)
    For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

    Matthew 24:22 (KJV)

    And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

    1 Thessalonians 1:4 (KJV)

    Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

    Romans 8:33 (KJV)

    Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

    1 Peter 5:13 (KJV)

    The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Mark my son.

  • Wendy

    I see the elect as all those that believe of their own freewill. As in we elect someone to office say as our province member of parliament. They are then the “Elect. ”
    What I do believe is that God is good and just and loving and through Christ the part of God requiring justice is fully satisfied in Him. We are the Elect because Jesus paid the price for own sin. Once it was the wage of sin was death and now by faith through grace…it means life eternal – and life abundant now.

  • Wendy

    As far as those in previous ages…I believe they are judged on what they did in life. All children are saved and go to be with God. There are the ones in the old testament who walked in God’s ways. And throughout history we have those who were either God-faring or not.

    Now this is very controversial but I also am hoping and starting to believe…
    Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
    “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it… ”

    …that those assigned to the place of the dead will be rescued by the Church that Jesus talked about.

  • Wendy

    John 3:16 (KJV)

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Whosoever” to me means anyone and everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord. The God I serve is not wanting any to perish. He loves all that have ever lived on Earth because His love is unconditional.

  • Wendy

    No before a child has the ability to choose in an adult way…they go to be with God. God is absolute good and absolutely just so before the “age” of knowing enough to choose a relationship with God, unborn babies etc.

  • Just a difference in perspectives, I guess! It certainly is a fascinating topic, thanks for providing some things to think about.

  • Herm

    Nerdsamwich, the Bible is a good tool to our spiritual minds to be able to see the exposed picture of mankind’s continually growing, shrinking and growing again relationship with God. To take anything in the Bible as the real live Spirit of Truth is belittling the infinite power of the Holy Spirit to unite all accepting little children, such as ourselves, to be one in and with God. The Bible will betray you, fragmented Christianity will betray you, religion will betray you as it did Christ, self-indulgent mankind will betray you of any name, but I testify from direct experience in relationship that God will not. Our omnipotent and omnipresent creator God bound by love of Their breathed seed has nothing to gain by betraying any of mankind … that is not at all true of those of mankind seeking self-centered gain.

    I challenged God directly and was answered to grow in and with truth, love and acceptance. For the last 21 years of my 71 year old life I have challenged all life under Their protection and have never been betrayed by God. All of life to me has become an adventure of constructing and producing in this playground of earth with an ever increasing sense of peace and joy only a child can know when trusting fully in the protection, intervention and nurture of her/his most divine Family. I wish the same or greater for you!

  • Mark

    In which case, and assuming that human life begins at conception, we should praise all women who abort their “babies,” and encourage all women to do so; thereby, guaranteeing that all babies go directly to heaven before they reach the age of accountability and make the wrong choice.

  • Mark

    If you believe in predestination, why wouldn’t it begin with babies? Why would God care more about babies than any other stage of life? If God predestines a soul to Hell, and that person dies at age 50, or 30, or 8, or 2 months, what difference does it make?

  • Mark

    I think you haven’t read all the scriptures, then. I can think of at least one – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” – where Jesus asks God to extend His full grace to those who did not seek it.

  • Mark

    Grace and forgiveness can be given freely, regardless of the wishes of the receiver.

  • Given, sure. Much like I could give you a gift, yeah? And then you could either accept it, or you could walk away. The receiving part, it seems to me, is on our end. Everyone gets the offer, though. :)

  • The thing is you and I are both fallible human beings. So you saying I’m wrong based on your interpretation (or any other human’s interpretation) of the Bible has no impact on me. I have to be true to Christ as He calls me to. As long as it doesn’t conflict with the cross, I am content.

  • ZLee

    We are fallible and limited. This is precisely why we are told by God in Scripture, not to trust ourselves and our opinions. So when you decide that hell, clearly apart of Scripture https://carm.org/hell, does not actually exist, who should we believe? You or the Bible? Who is infallible, you or the Bible. It is a simple answer.

  • No one but humans are here to read and interpret the bible. Therefore, all interpretations are fallible. That’s why my trust is in Christ crucified. Again, I’m not trying to change your mind. Believe as you interpret to be most correct.

  • ZLee

    Sorry that’s not good enough. God calls us to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15). Christians have always been called to know and understand the Word of God according to the Word of God, and the Word of God is clear – Hell is very real and is reserved for those who remain in their sin. There is no issue of “interpretation” here. The texts are overwhelming and clear. To deny that hell is real, is to deny that any clear, simple reading of Scripture is possible and that the teachings of Christ (Matt 25:41,46; Rev 20:15) and Christianity for the last 2000 years of history, are wrong. Where do you get the right to re-interpret the Bible and the historic Christian faith on the basis of your own fallible, limited, and sinful opinion? That’s some seriously dangerous hubris.

  • ZLee

    Fortunately, Odin doesn’t exist. If you were to encounter the living God…your reaction would be exactly the same as Job’s

  • Nerdsamwich

    You believe that out of thousands of gods, worshipped throughout history, only one of them exists. I thought Christians valued humility. And what do you mean, “fortunately”? Odin’s an awesome god. Dude sacrificed himself, hanging for nine days and nights from the world tree, for the wisdom to be a better leader. YHWH only sacrificed a son(piece of himself, whatever), to “save” the world from what he himself was going to do to it. That’s worse than telling your neighbor to be thankful that you decided to kick your dog in lieu of walking over and shooting him in the face. You’re not benevolent, you’re a psycho.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Then again, this guy had a mystic experience in which the voice of the divine told him that the divine is a lie. He tells it better than I could:


  • Jeff Preuss

    Is that Yggradsil? Yggrasid? How the dingdong DO you spell that tree?

  • Herm

    Isn’t it amazing to what lengths we will go to prove we got it now, done, finished, no need to ever again indulge our quest to touch what seems beyond our reach. But what if spiritual is real and we really are just an image? Our choice to call it quits and be satisfied we know when we know we can’t know without asking, seeking and knocking, always our choice, always ends up our responsibility that we are inadequate to satisfy. Strange how love might really be the answer we could have chosen all along. Strange. Sorry you were betrayed by scripture but should not you have known from the beginning that symbols on parchment could never be the relationship you sought, the one you sense this moment is just out of your reach? I hope the Spirit touches you where you know no betrayal. Love you!

  • Wendy

    This is horrifying to me. Of course we would never praise women for aborting babies. You have taken this to extreme. My two miscarried babies are with God. I loved them and would never have wanted a beloved child to not have life just to guarantee salvation. But if a woman has an abortion and is suffering because of that decision regreted…then I would love to tell her that her baby is safe with the Father. The consequences of her decision would always grieve her just as I grieved two miscarried babies. Do you have finer feelings or is disproving God is a God of love…your sole motivation. ?

  • Mark

    (I) “would never have wanted a beloved child to not have life just to guarantee salvation.”

    So you’re saying it’s more important to you to have the baby, and get the satisfaction of being a mommie, are more important than that baby’s ultimate eternal salvation? Because, with their free will, or election, if Calvanism is true, there is a real chance that – your Christian rearing notwithstanding, they choose a different path, and end up in Hell.

    Actually, my point is that, over the last several thousand years, we’ve constructed a set of rules for God that I don’t believe really exist. Rules like eternal torment for sins committed in a relatively short life, including the “sin” of worshiping God in the wrong way, as in being Muslim, or Hindu, or Jewish.

    I believe in universal salvation, that God loves unconditionally – which means forever – and would not punish us eternally for our sins, whether we pray the sinner’s prayer or not. You may take issue with my beliefs, but universal salvation was a very widely held belief for hundreds of years of early Christianity. Besides which, you seem to be making up some of your own beliefs/rules here on babies going to Heaven. The subject of the original post was predestination. If the Calvanists are right, and God predestines some for Heaven and all the rest for Hell, what difference would it be to God whether the sould died before some unspecific “age of accountability”?

  • ZLee

    Yes I do, because He’s the only living and true God. Tell me, how exactly is it arrogant to recognize the obvious and submit to higher authority? God has revealed Himself in creation and in His special self revelation, the Bible. If you’ve ever taken a look at Scripture, you’d notice that far from exalting humankind it shows man in all his fallen humiliation. We know people. People generally aren’t in the habit of humiliating themselves, especially for all of history to see. No, people and cultures generally seek to portray themselves in the best of light. So tell me, what would cause 40 different authors writing over 1500 years to consistently portray man low and God exalted? It isn’t a natural human tendency. There must be a supernatural source. It didn’t come from within man but from without. God Himself superintended the dissemination of His self revelation. God revealed Himself to men who then recorded His words which became the Bible. I could spend an interminable amount of time demonstrating the veracity of Scripture in light of history, archaeology, textual criticism, fulfilled prophesy, etc. etc. But for the rebel at heart no amount of evidence would suffice. The issue isn’t some false supposed arrogance on the part of the Christian who humbly submits his will in conformity to his Master’s and by grace seeks obedience in love. True arrogance is to deny the reality found in creation, history, conscience, and God’s Word, in favor of a god of one’s own self exaltation, limited to experience, intuition, and self aggrandizing imagination.

    The reason you struggle with understanding God’s economy – why He would need to save people from His wrath and judgment – is because you fail to recognize how holy and pure He is. If you had but just a glimpse you would immediately fall on your face, that is if you were spared death. God is wholly other than His creation. Yet, He is also a god of compassion, mercy, grace, and love. Because He never compromises and never changes, he cant deny or violate one of His attributes ( holiness, justice, purity) for the sake of another (love, compassion, mercy). They are each and every one essential to His being. In order to reconcile rebellious, and sinful lawbreakers that we are, back to Himself, He must exercise mercy and grace while satisfying justice. Hence, the need for a perfect, unblemished sacrifice, Jesus. No greater love has ever been shown. While we were at enmity with Him, Christ died for us (Romans 5:10).

    I know you don’t believe these things to be true, but the Bible says the reason you don’t is because a right understanding of God and ourselves and the Bible are only possible through the work of the Spirit of God. The things of God are spiritually appraised (1 Corinthians 2:14), but you are spiritually dead (Ephesian 2:1; Colossians 2:13). You are a rebel at heart, incapable of understanding spiritual things. You need a new heart, to be made a new creation in Christ (Ezekiel 36:32; Philippians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17). The good news for you and the rest of mankind is that God offers salvation and reconciliation through the saving work of Christ. It is a free gift. All He requires is that we confess that we are sinners and have violated His law, that we turn from our sin and to God’s righteousness (repentance), that we relinquish control over our lives, recognizing and serving Him as both Savior and Master, and that we place our trust and hope in Christ and in Christ alone (John 3:36; 1 Timothy 2:5). I urge you to repent and believe. Today is the day of salvation – 2 Corinthians 6:2.

  • Notice, I’m not demanding anyone agree with or follow my beliefs. So hubris is out. If you want to believe that Jesus is going to torture people for eternity, then that is your prerogative. It doesn’t fit with what he did on the cross, so it doesn’t fit in my beliefs.

    We’re not going to change each other’s mind, ZLee.

  • ZLee

    Likewise. I am not “demanding” anything. It is God, through His Word (the Bible), who makes the demands. I also cannot change your mind and I don’t claim to be trying. It is the Holy Spirit who changes hearts and minds. He is the one who illumines the Bible by lifting the veil from the eyes of the spiritually blind. You’ve yet to engage with any of the myriad verses throughout Scripture that testify to hell and its reality for those outside of Christ. This isn’t a matter of opinion. These are facts. Christ Himself, while on earth, testified to the veracity of hell’s reality (Luke 16). You may find them difficult to reconcile with your preconceptions about who Christ is or how God should act, but the problem lies not in a lack of Scriptural evidence for, but in your pride and unwillingness to deal with obvious reality. I’ll reiterate, how can anyone tell the God of the universe that His doctrine of Hell and it’s reality as demonstrated in special revelation, is incorrect, without that person rightly being labeled as arrogant? Does the pot question the will and design of the potter? I think not. Who are you oh man (or woman) who answers back to God? – Romans 9:20

  • Jack Beans

    Bad theology. Calvin and his friends are wrong. Who gave Calvin the monopoly on this belief anyway?

  • Nerdsamwich

    You mistake me, sir. I will never be satisfied with the extent of my knowledge. That is one of the main things that led me away from church–asked too many questions, and thought too hard about the answers.

  • Nerdsamwich

    You were right the first time.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Wow, dude. That is the weakest argument I have ever heard. Have you ever read your Bible? Nearly every claim of simple fact it makes is incorrect. Pi=3, four-legged insects, mustard seeds being the smallest ones around…there’s very little it gets right. The purported divine attributes are also not in evidence. Perfect justice would never assign infinite consequences to finite acts; that’s the opposite of justice. Love of any kind would never allow for prolonged suffering, let alone eternal. Same goes for compassion. Put it all together, and righteousness is right out the window.

  • Herm

    “I will never be satisfied with the extent of my knowledge.” = the first good reason to desire eternal life for it takes that long to reach the full extent of our knowledge.

    “asked too many questions” = depends from whom as to when too many are asked as for from omniscience there cannot be too many.

    “thought too hard about the answers” = the second good reason to desire eternal life to have enough time to savor the answers.

    No need to call me “sir” as I’m equally as enlisted as you.

  • Tony Arsenal
  • Robert Estienne

    When God justifies an elect person, he also begins the work of sanctification, whereby their heart is reoriented from a desire to sin toward a desire for holiness.

    And God uses means. The reason Calvinists like William Carey and George Whitfield committed their lives to evangelism is that God predestined them to be the visible means of carrying out his purpose in election of those many people who were led to Christ by those men.

  • You have asked so many what ifs and you have spoken about all the unsatisfying answers you have received from others. You have quoted what John Calvin said but missing in all of these tensions, you seem not to have told us what you have done with the source document for predestination; the Bible. Is predestination biblical or it is an invention of calvinism? If you are able to address that, then maybe you will be getting close to your answer. What does the Bible teach by phrases like Gods elect..chosen generation…chosen before the foundation of the earth…born of God not the will of the flesh…i chose you, you didnt choose me…I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy…etc.

    If you look to the bible I believe your tension will be sorted. Moreover it is not our business to know who is elect and who is not when offering the gospel. We are to offer the gospel freely and God will draw His own. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. And that which is born of the spirit is spirit. If you care for those love ones, praying for them and sharing the gospel is the only responsibility within your reach. I believe you might probably have a sense of what Abraham had knowing Isaac was chosen and not Jacob. Your tension is not new. Go to the bible and the answers are there.

  • Jonathan Crappel

    Excellent reply. These are the question that need to be asked and answered, not “And what if you find out the reason they aren’t there is simply because they didn’t get elected?”

    They aren’t in heaven, not because “they didn’t get elected,” but because they “suppress the truth” of God, exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” That is, they reject Jesus Christ, their only hope of redemption.

    Putting the emotional spin on the conversation by asking “What if that beautiful child you raised and would have jumped in front of a bus for, was actually predestined by God to burn in hell for all of eternity, simply to demonstrate his holiness?” does not advance the conversation. In reality, the writer pretends to be more moral than God by asking this question.

  • If you believe in the bible, predestination is a biblical word (look up Ephesians 1:4-14). In salvation, it is used in describing a group of people: Christians.

    The Bible is clear about what it means to be a Christian(John 1:12-13, 3:3). When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes to stay in their hearts and He gives them assurance they are now children of God. It follows then that, according to what the Bible has revealed, one who comes to saving faith rightly can say they are elect: “…you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? “(Romans 8:15-33).

  • It is sad that, as believers, when faced with questions about our faith, instead of turning to the Bible for answers, we turn to speculation in search of answers. If the Bible is the word of God, we must indeed turn to it when faced with such dilemmas. Charles Colson said “Christianity without biblical fidelity is merely another passing fad in an age of passing fads.”

    Bless you.

  • ZLee

    Wow dude, way to not engage with the substance of any of the points I made. Weakest argument? Clearly you’ve never really “read” the Bible. Oh you may have some very surface level familiarity with some of the texts, but it’s obvious you’ve never seriously read any of the Scriptures you claim contain errors or misstatements. It’s more likely you’re simply regurgitating talking points that you’ve heard from others. Any serious approach to the study of the Bible would reveal that context provides resolutions for all these supposed errors. First, pi is never mentioned in Scripture. Then take your citation of the mustard seed faith passage. Context shows that yes, in fact, of all the agricultural crops in the Palestinian region during Christ’s earthly ministry, the mustard seed was one of the smallest, and therefore quite appropriate to use in the way Christ did in His example. It’s also disingenuous to treat His use of the mustard seed as a metaphor for beginning faith, as if he were presenting observational claims to a scientific journal. It’s representative of extremely poor reading comprehension and misses the point being made, entirely.

    And again, your attempt to impugn the character of God is the height of arrogance. Who do YOU think you are o man? Read Job 38-42 and Romans 9:20. Maybe then, by the grace of God, you’ll recognize the absolute absurdity of the creature standing in judgment over his Creator. Maybe your mind will be illumined to the impossibility of one so imperfect, finite, fallen, small, and temporal attempting to teach a perfect, infinite, holy, eternal Creator what perfect love and justice should look like. It is as utterly ridiculous a proposition, as a small neck clam attempting to inform Einstein on the Theory of Relativity.

    * Hey Herm, I see you’re aligning yourself with unbelievers. Fitting.

  • In reality, the writer pretends to be more moral than God by asking this question.

    Well, that’s only a valid criticism if God predestines people to burn in Hell for all eternity, which is the very contention in dispute.

    I, too, agree that exegesis is where we need to go to draw conclusions on these issues, but I find the questions valuable because they put a human face on what could be a very abstract theological system. It might be relatively easy to agree to the proposition that God predestines people for Hell, but if you find it truly difficult to internalize that happening to an actual person, it’s worthwhile to examine the reasons for that.

    One reason might be that we’re not as moral as God is, but another reason might be that we’ve put the pieces together wrongly.

  • Nerdsamwich

    If your creator were were perfect, etc., why the hell would he need you constantly stroking his ego? Insecurity, another sign of an inferior being. Look elsewhere on this thread for my response to your suggestion that I look to Job for an example.

    Bullshit on the mustard seed. Sesame is also grown in the area, and has been for thousands of years. Fig seeds are also quite tiny, and you know old dude was all about figs. You’re right, though, that’s not a good example. How about bats being birds? Or not knowing the difference between leprosy, excema, and mildew? There’s a lot of these. If the book couldn’t get simple facts straight, why the hell should anyone trust it on big stuff?

  • Nerdsamwich

    Can you imagine the ennui that would set in after several thousand years of existence, when even near-endless variety has become routine, when the decades blur together like childhood days in your memory? No, existence can only mean anything if it ends. The infinite and eternal is also the functionally static. It fades into a mere backdrop, like interstellar space. That’s the last thing I want for my life. Even the most happy burden eventually grows heavy, and must be set down. Besides, desiring something doesn’t make it any more likely to exist.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Is compassion a sin? Would it not be simple compassion, the least you could do, really, to offer the damned whatever small enjoyment this life could offer them, before the endless torment of the hereafter? If you really think that the guy down the street is going to hell, and there’s nothing he or anyone else can do about it, shouldn’t you at least buy him a beer? If you knew for an inevitable fact that a little kid was going to get hit by a bus in an hour, wouldn’t you get her an ice cream cone or something? Why should the condemned suffer on earth, too?

  • Robert Estienne

    Because we’re supposed to be showing them the way of breaking free of the yoke of slavery to sin. It would be a silly, unconvincing witness to say to someone “keep having as much hedonistic fun that you can, and even take it up a few notches, but know that if you believe the good news I’m sharing with you you’ll repent and turn away from all that stuff.

  • Vincent Lancon

    “If God created my beautiful children and predestined them to
    hell before they were ever born, I cannot in good conscience worship him
    or love him.” This tells me you worship an idol made up in your mind, a different Jesus than the one in the Bible. You make claim to know the doctrine of God’s sovereignty but then make claims like this that shows the contrary.

  • Herm

    And thus One sets into play eons of chaotic cosmos from one festive big bang of hope and renewed anticipation. Then on a few fertile plots we germinate a new tree of life from which spring the nuts. Nestled within each of their shells lies the fruit in the image of our very own inquisitive spirit for adventure and zest for even more ever changing life without end. Lest we forget we must command the dynamic and restless results of our eons of effort to take a periodic Sabbath to stop, savor, recreate and then go back to work together as One. It’s in our DNA.

  • Nerdsamwich

    They can’t break free, because they’re fated for hell, and nothing can change that. That’s what “predestination” means.

  • Robert Estienne

    That may or may not be true. We can’t know which. But the Bible says that the preaching of the word of God is the primary visible means by which God brings someone to salvation. Should we not want to be used by God in that way?

  • Nerdsamwich

    This thread is about Calvinism. That was the context in which I made my original comment. I even specified “how can Calvinists justify…”, so this whole tack is really not germane to the issue. However, we should not “want to be used” by anyone, for anything. We are people, not objects. I thought Christianity frowned on utilitarian ethics?

  • Robert Estienne

    Romans 6:22 speaks of Christians as “enslaved to God.” The context there is more general – about being obedient to his righteousness, but that would include preaching the gospel.

    As to the issue about how Calvinists can justify doing something, I can’t say I have soteriology all figured out, but I do know that salvation is a gift from God that no rebellious sinner would choose were it merely offered to him, that it is received by faith which is itself a gift from God, and that faith comes by hearing the word of God. I put that all together, and I see what has come to be called “Calvinism” as descriptive of the situation, and I see preaching the gospel to sinners as something Christians are called to do, while leaving the success of that preaching in God’s hands.

  • Robert Estienne

    Your blog is called “Formerly Fundie,” but you say you were in a Reformed Baptist church. We reformed folks have gotten used to being called fundies, but I know quite a few fundamentalists who would be quite upset by that, as fundamentalists are generally strongly opposed to the reformed tradition. Or did you go fundie after leaving the Reformed Baptists?

  • Nerdsamwich

    Seems to me that the word would be better received were the preachers less dour. Still doesn’t answer the original question, either: if you truly believe that you are predestined either for heaven or hell–with no way of knowing your own destination–and nothing you do can possibly change your destination, how do you ethically justify NOT pursuing a life of unbounded hedonism, both for yourself and everyone around you? If you’re of the Elect, you can’t be harmed, and if you’re damned, gather ye rosebuds!

  • Robert Estienne

    “…with no way of knowing your own destination…”

    “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
    1 John 3:23-24

    We can know what we are in Christ if we keep his commandments. One of those commandments is to love one another, and one clear way the Bible gives us of loving others is to dissuade them from sin.

    “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.”
    Luke 17:3

    “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
    Galatians 6:1

    “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
    James 5:19-20

  • Nerdsamwich

    Wow, that last one is probably the most self-serving thing I’ve ever heard. Though it explains why so many “good Christians” proselytize so hard. However, for the Elect, should they exist, it should be impossible to sin, at least to the degree of endangering one’s soul. It just seems to me that the doctrine of predestination should lead one to stop worrying about whether or not one is sinning.

  • ZLee

    Again, there is no way for you, an imperfect, finite creature, to stand in judgement of the perfect, infinite Creator. You are incapable of knowing what perfection is for as a human with a human nature you are totally corrupt and in bondage to sin, like the rest of us. To attempt to make truth claims assumes a Christian worldview, for in your worldview there is no objective standard for good and evil, right or wrong, perfection and imperfection. It’s absurd for you the pot, to assume you know better than the Lord, the potter. It is irrational and unreasonable.

    We were created for God and for His purposes, not the other way around. In His perfect will, we were made to find our highest purpose, joy, and fulfillment in obedient service and love to Him. Because of sin and the fall, we are natural rebels against the Lord and due to our spiritual deadness, are insensitive to the things of the Lord, preferring our own wills and our supposed autonomy to His rule and Lordship. When God glorifies Himself and calls people to worship Him, He does so because He is the best thing in the universe and desires that we experience and enjoy the best thing in the universe in communion with Him. God is not sinful, his motives are pure and holy. There is nothing selfish, untoward, prideful are arrogant about Him, He is incapable of these things for they are foreign to His nature. When you attempt to impugn His character by ascribing false motives to His desire to share His glory, you reveal your own corrupt flesh, the spiritual blindness and deadness of your own heart. It is in the fallen human heart where we find origin of pride, arrogance, hate, lust, murder, strife, etc etc. We need God to redeem us and to reconcile us to Himself. We are utterly hopeless and condemned without His grace.

    Once again, arguing over the size of the mustard seed in comparison with other seeds, misses the point of the analogy completely. It’s time to drop that contention – it’s weak and easily refuted because the answer is so obvious to an honest reader of the text – as has already been pointed out.

  • Robert Estienne

    Just curious – how would you identify yourself in terms of religious views? I had been thinking you were an Arminian objecting to the Calvinist understanding, not that you objected outright to any parts of the Bible.

    If one is sinning and not feeling remorse about it, that gives him cause to question whether he is elect.

    “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
    1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    Notice that it says “such WERE some of you,” not “such ARE some of you.” Being saved frees a person from bondage to sin.

    This issue is exactly what Paul was addressing in great detail in Romans 6, so I’ll just post that entire chapter here.

    “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

    “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

    “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

    “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Also Romans 1:32 condemns the giving of approval to others sinning.

  • Cat lover

    I would rather go to hell than be the kind of person who enjoys seeing my loved ones burned. That’s sick, twisted, and perverted.

  • Robert Estienne

    Also, for a bit of extra reading, here is a good blog post by a man much smarter than I – the man who actually introduced me to Calvinism when I read his stuff during college – addressing the apparent logical disparity between Calvinist doctrine and Calvinists evangelizing. http://www.gracefamilybaptist.net/blog/february-question-month-2010-02/

  • Nerdsamwich

    To answer your first question, I don’t define myself in terms of religious views, any more than I define myself by my means of making a living or my tobacco use habits. To answer your question a bit less literally, I hold strictly to the view that the only thing one can know about the nature of the infinite is that one can know nothing about the nature of the infinite, at least not until it’s too late. However, there are a few logical inferences we can make. For instance, if the universe was created, it was very carefully done in such a way as to make the whole system look and function exactly as we would expect it to if there were no creator. It seems odd that an intelligent agent would do such a thing, especially if, for some reason, it desires a relationship with some part of the creation, but it’s hardly conclusive. Likewise, the classic monotheistic concept of the creator as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent is logically incoherent as well as inconsistent with observed data. In the realm of opinion, I think that if the god of Abraham were to exist, it would be incumbent upon all moral beings to find a way to remedy that condition. If I had to pick an ancient mythology to subscribe to, it would be the Norse one, as those are just about the only gods I can actually respect as people, and if I had to convert to a modern major religion, it would probably be Sikhism, as those guys put their figurative money where their figurative mouth is. Does that help?

  • Nerdsamwich

    Let me get this straight: a perfect being, infinitely good and loving, created you with a nature that is utterly base and corrupt. Do you not see what’s wrong with this picture?

  • ZLee

    Yes, there is a lot wrong with this picture. You clearly have no conception of the Fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world (Gen. 3). The Lord made mankind the pinnacle of his creation and in His image (perfect), and called them very good. Corruption and the consequences of the Fall entered creation only after Adam, of his own free will and desire, chose to rebel against his Creator and to seek his own will. Every man or woman since Adam has inherited Adam’s corrupted nature (Romans 5:12) and have forfeited their relationship with God and their perfection. Because of sin we are now totally depraved; sin touches every aspect of our being. Outside of Christ there is no way to apprehend our true condition. Therefore it isn’t a surprise why you would have such difficulty with this reality, you’re an enemy of God. You know the truth, but actively suppress it in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only true hope.

  • Nerdsamwich

    If your god existed, yes, I would proudly be his enemy. The book you put so much stock in reveals his thoroughly despicable character. For one, he had to have known exactly what would happen when he put the Tree of Knowledge directly in the center of the Garden, with the Serpent just hanging out on it; given the nature he had built into his creations, the Fall was not only inevitable, it had to have been intended from the start. Your god set up rules he knew full well his creations couldn’t help breaking, then punished them when they did. That’s like if I were to tell my toddler to sit perfectly still in her chair while I let a puppy into the room, then spank her when she fidgets. If I did that, I wouldn’t be wise or loving, I’d be abusive. Just like your god. Good thing he’s a figment, huh?

  • Nerdsamwich

    Finally got around to reading your link. I have to wonder why an all-powerful being needs a means–or an excuse–to save those he wants to save. For a truly all-mighty force, are not will and deed one and the same? Nothing can happen that an all-mighty being disagrees with, so he must like Hell–so much so that most of his “children” end up there. It might even be argued that Heaven is part of the sadism: the damned suffer all the more, knowing that their fate is not universal, that they could have been spared, but weren’t.

  • Linda

    Maybe and maybe not.

    If what ashpenaz says sounds loving to you:
    “Jesus clothes us in His righteousness while we are dead in our sins. Lazarus was dead–no freedom to receive or refuse. We are all like Lazarus. Our salvation is not based on any work–not any decision we make, not any belief. What would be so horrible if Jesus clothed everyone in His righteousness? What if Jesus raised everyone to new life? God can do anything He wants. Why would it be so horrible?”

    Then maybe the problem is that what you have accepted as the teachings- the who said what and when they said it -is what’s wrong. Perhaps instead of blindly taking someone else’s word for the scripture and how it came to be decided what is truth and what is not truth, you ought to do some research on your own.
    If you want to know what you truly believe and not what you have been trained to believe then it is your duty to question everything until you find out. We have the internet now which makes it so much easier than ever in history. Check all sources so you don’t get bias in only one direction. In other words, if you only research Christian sources you will only get Christian bias, etc.
    Ask God to protect you and to lead you to the truth and you will find it.

  • Robert Estienne

    He certainly could just evangelize someone directly if he wants to, and there are Biblical examples of him doing this (Abraham, Moses, Saul of Tarsus, etc.), but when he doesn’t, it’s because the means are also an end in themselves. God created man to work. The Garden of Eden was perfect – it required no work, but God still desired to create man and give him work to do in it.

    In a similar way, God also could cause all of my clients’ audit reports to appear out of thin air on their desks, but instead he has tasked my peers and me to do work to bring those reports about.

    Also, the phrase “children of God” is never used to describe all of humanity. In most cases, it refers to believers specifically, though you may be able to find examples of its use in the Old Testament to refer to a certain visible people-group, such as the Jews, which might include unbelievers. I can’t recall any specific examples of that, though.

  • Nerdsamwich

    In the OT, the “sons of God(El or Elohim)” are the fathers of the Nephilim. I can’t get past the way that whatever “created” the universe did it in such a way as to make it function exactly as you would expect it to if there were no creator at all. I just can’t see an intelligent designer making some of the stupid design choices to be found everywhere in nature, not mention the downright cruel ones. If that designer is all-powerful, the problem gets worse, because that means said entity meant for this world to happen exactly as it did. That’s just messed up. As a prisoner wrote on a wall at Dachau, if there is a god, he will have to beg my forgiveness.

  • Robert Estienne

    “I can’t get past the way that whatever ‘created’ the universe did it in
    such a way as to make it function exactly as you would expect it to if
    there were no creator at all.”

    How is that possible to judge? If the whole universe, including the laws of science that makes it work the way it does, were created by God, then there is no way to know how it would function otherwise.

    And all the bad stuff you see happening is the result of the Fall. Adam and Eve did have free will, and yet God foreknew the Fall and had already elected his people and decreed to bring about the gospel of Jesus before he even created Adam.

    See the Baptist Confession (1689) for more on this. http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/bcof.htm#part3

  • Nerdsamwich

    That means that all of that bad stuff was done by God on purpose. He knew what would happen, and set it up to happen that way anyway. Literally every terrible thing ever was set in motion, deliberately, by divine will. If you’re right. If you know the outcome of a chain of events, and you start that chain moving, you are responsible for the outcome. To paraphrase Spider-Man, with absolute power comes absolute responsibility.

  • D.M.S.


  • D.M.S.

    There is only one way into the Kingdom of Heaven and that’s through the belief of JESUS the Christ as your Lord,Savior and Master. Your denomination is irrelevant.
    Praise the Lord.

  • “Putting the emotional spin on the conversation..”. Precisely so. The author’s whole approach to the topic is rooted in his numerous “what ifs”… If we will all be walking around asking “what if” instead of submitting to the revealed will of God in His Word, there will be a million questions to ask.

  • F Franks

    “If it’s the person you love most in all the world” — I would be surprised if what other people think and feel about me were a major factor in my salvation. Why doesn’t God tell us in the Bible to make as many friends as possible, so that, under such intense scrutiny, he would have to save us, or else he would be a “monster”?

  • Calley Reed

    Even worse, how could you selfishly have kids, love them all of your life and teach them about God’s love all the time knowing they could be “picked” for eternal damnation? I can’t wrap my mind around having children at all without a similance of real hope. I’m not sure it gets more selfish.

  • Rogério Júnior

    It is a very sincere question of mine: doesn’t it conflict with Pb 16:4 “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.”? I would really like to know what is your understanding on this verse (and the whole chapter).

  • Lee James

    Well I would like to reply to this question if I may, though I’m neither a friend of Dr Corey, nor a Calvinist (Calvinism is Satanic heresy and anyone involved in it should be very wary of this).

    First of all, predestination is absolutely true. Not only is it taught all the way through the Bible, but it makes perfect sense. It was God’s idea to graciously save a few humans, so why wouldn’t He get to choose which ones were saved? Salvation would be impossible without God’s gracious intervention and mercy, so the idea that a man could somehow be saved apart from God’s grace is untenable.

    The notion that everyone “has a right to be saved” is an absolutely unjust and wrong notion. Even a righteous man would have no “rights” against a sovereign God – but as for the human race, who are sinners – they absolutely have no rights. They only have the right to die. All garbage must eventually be destroyed and must not be allowed to live forever, just as God proclaimed way back in Genesis 3. The entire human race is garbage to God – sinful by nature and an offence to Him.

    Now with that said, on to Dr Corey’s question. The problem he seem to have with God’s election arises from two totally incorrect views he holds:


    Firstly, the idea of people living forever in Hell is absolutely untrue. There is not a word about it in the Bible. The Bible always speaks about the Lake of Fire as being death, specifically the “second death”. Unlike angels, man is mortal. That’s why the Scriptures repeatedly say that sinners will be destroyed and die, but that is never said of angels – nowhere does the Bible ever say Satan will be destoyed or die. The only way for a mortal man to live forever is to be saved through Jesus. No one else lives forever.


    Here is the bigger and far more serious problem with Dr Corey’s views: he obviously does not think it fair that sinners are destroyed, and he seems to love the world. That is very concerning and sadly it would indicate that Dr Corey has never been saved from the world.

    If we have truly been saved from sin and saved out of the world, we do not carry on loving sin and loving the world – we come to hate sin and have no love for the world of sin.

    To be saved means to have been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and to have been enlightened concerning sin and righteousness, which causes us to see ourselves for what we are, and repent, and thus we are crucified to the world.

    From that point on, we no longer belong to the realm of Satan (ie the world) but we enter into the realm of God. We have no fellowship with Satan or His people, knowing that sinners are only fit to die. The Scripture says that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). God hates sin and finds sinners objectionable, which is why He rightly must destroy them on the Day of Judgement.


    For any true child of God, there is NO “person you love most in the world”. Because “the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14).

    There is only ONE answer to the question of whom we “love most”, and that is Jesus Christ. If we hold ANYONE else in higher regard than Him, we simply cannot be His disciple.

    Luke 14:26
    ​”If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”


    Dr Corey refers to his children as “beautiful”. That may be true in some ways, but in spiritual terms that is an incorrect evaluation. Humans do have many good and godly qualities which reflect the glory of God, having been created in His image, and it is especially easy to see beauty on the outside the physical image of God.

    However, God looks upon the heart not upon the superficial exterior. And the truth is that as well as having many glorious qualities, humans are also fundamentally sinful and corrupt. The heart is desperately wicked, says the Scripture. In the case of small children it is only a matter of time that the sin in them begins to surface, bringing them deeper into spiritual darkness as they reach maturity. This happens to all the descendants of Adam – they all carry his genes and follow after their father in death.

    Small children may be RELATIVELY innocent for a time, but if anyone thinks his children would remain that way forever then he is a fool. Human beings are not beautiful, they are diseased, corrupt, and rightly perishing.

    No doubt Adolf Hitler was once a very cute little boy, adored by many and beloved of his parents. But God knows the true nature of children, and their future, and their sentence is already upon them, since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).


    Just for the record, Dr Corey also expresses another incorrect view: the idea that some people will go to Heaven. That is unbiblical.

    Jesus Christ is the only man who ever went to Heaven, and the Scriptures are absolutely clear that He’s coming back to earth to live with His people forever. There is no mention in the Bible of anyone going to Heaven. That is a “church” teaching, and church is a Satanic counterfeit decoy religion, intended to destroy souls.

    That’s why churches are full of sinners who plainly are not spiritual, unholy, and do not bear the spiritual image of Jesus Christ. Few there be who find the Narrow Way. To most Christians, Jesus will say: “I never knew you, depart from me” Because they were not His Sheep and their faith was insincere. They did not give their lives to Him and follow Him faithfully, they bought into the lies of church – like the Protestant heresies of “faith without works” and “once saved always saved”.

    John 14:21
    He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

    1 John 3:9
    Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

  • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

    Regardless of what the teaching from the ‘Calvinist’ understanding may be, the Scriptural truth is that we are all born with the nature of ‘sin’ in us. We prove that to be true as we grow and start to think and do things or our own ‘nature’ or ‘will’ versus that of God how is Love.

    So the question shouldn’t be so much a matter of who is picked to go to the eternal grave which has no hope of resurrection. It should be who is ‘picked’ to have the hope of life again after the death ‘in the flesh’ here on the earth. The answer to this is ‘everyone who exercises true faith in the name of Jesus’ is picked to be given life
    (John 6:40) For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.”

    (John 6:44) No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him, and I will resurrect him on the last day.
    *Note:This is not saying God stops anyoe from willfuly coming ot Jesus. It has to do with the ‘heart’ of individuals willing ot hear the truth and obey it. Contrast this passage, John 6:44, with John 3:16-20

    (John 6:54) Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; -[RNWT
    Note: Many ‘disciples’ that were following Jesus heard this language and stumbled over i. As a result they stopped following him rather than asking hi questions about what he meant by what he was saying.

  • Joshua Luke Reynolds

    Firstly, your question is an appeal to emotion. Simply because we don’t like something or it doesn’t make us feel happy in terms of the consequences, doesn’t make it untrue. This raises the real question at hand: does the Bible teach predestination?

    Ephesians 1 clearly teaches that God has chosen the Christian ‘in Christ before the foundation of the world’ and ‘predestined us for adoption as Sons through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will’ (Ephesians 1: 1–14). As Paul also argues in Romans, there is a golden chain of redemption from God’s eternal foreknowledge and purpose in predestination to glorification (Romans 8:29–20). This is linked to the very idea of salvation by grace, not works. It is God who saves, not we ourselves. As the Psalmist says, ‘Salvation belongs to the Lord’ (Psalm 3:8).

    Secondly, your question assumes that human beings somehow deserve salvation from God, when in reality the Bible consistently teaches that we all deserve condemnation for our sins. The very fact that God has chosen to save anyone at all is testimony to His grace and mercy. He would be perfectly justified in condemning all human posterity should He so desire. In fact, as God, He is free do whatever He pleases – either in creating vessels of mercy or of wrath, just as Paul says to the Romans (Romans 9:22–23). The idea of questioning God’s sovereign choice is as absurd as army of pots gathering together to complain to potter about how He has chosen to make them and put them to use (Romans 9:21). The potter does as He sees fit. Similarly, ‘the Lord does whatever pleases Him’ (Psalm 115:3).

    Ultimately, all of this ties in with God’s sovereignty over all things. As the Lord says, ‘I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’ (Isaiah 46:10). There can ultimately be no ‘moral problem’ with God’s eternal purpose. ‘For God’s will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever He wills, by the very fact that He wills it, it must be considered as righteous’ (Calvin). There can be no higher moral standard than the absolute righteousness of God.