The Instigator
PatrickSawyer
Pro (for)
The Contender
stcornerap
Con (against)

God has predestined before the foundation of the world who would be saved (Calvinistic Soteriology).

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 339 times Debate No: 98285
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PatrickSawyer

Pro

I would like to debate another Christian on the subject predestination, or as some people understand it, election. Calvinist soteriology is usually broken down into five points: total Depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. While all of those points will be tempting to argue against for my opponent, that is not my desire to debate. My desire in this debate is to focus in on unconditional election. However, I understand that each of these points work together and it will be almost impossible to talk about unconditional election without talking about the other four as well. I am just asking the meat of the conversation be centered around unconditional election.

I believe in the Calvinist approach to salvation for two important reasons:

1. The Bible says it

2. Unconditional Election is foundational to the message of grace.

First, the Bible is intrinsically filled with statements about predestination and election. It is not whether a Christian believes in predestination of election, it is what is their view of predestination and election. I will begin by siting two passage of scriptures that Calvinist begin with most. Ephesians 1:3-5 says this, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will." Secondly Romans 9:10-13, "And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because him who calls, she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' As it is written, 'Jacob I have loved but Esau I hated.'"

These verse are explicitly clear that God has predestined before the foundation of the world who would be saved.

Secondly, the Calvinistic approach to soteriology is foundational to the message of grace. If we are not saved at all by what we do, I believe that Calvinism is the only game in town. If we take an Armenianist approach to salvation, they have to qualify everything. Why are we saved but so many people aren't saved? Because we believed? Well why did we believe and so many people didn't believe? Because we are more humble? Well why were we as Christians more humble that so many other people who weren't humble? As you can see it is just a never ending game. Armenians, or no-calvinist, approach salvation in such a way that they even turn belief into a work. Not so with Calvinism. In Calvinism, God chose us before we had done anything good or bad.
stcornerap

Con

Hello my Friend! Thanks for inviting me to this debate. I want to start out by saying (I know you know, but for the non Christian readers) this is a subject that good people differ on. This is one of those times where we have to look at not only related verses but the totality of scripture to see which side seems most likely to be true. Which side has less contradiction, and does our view point limit God. This isn't a situation where one side feels that they are a Christian and the other is not. I believe that many of the difference's between Christians comes from each side limiting God to the limits of their belief system. I feel that denominations create a divide between Christians because of this reason. I hope in this debate we can be aware of this, and open to new ideas if our current ideas limit God.

I agree with you that there are verses that are very easy to place into the theology of Calvinism. There is no question that you have reason and good reason to believe what you believe. I don't however believe that Calvinism matches up with the totality of scripture. I think you run into too many contradictions. I also don't feel that Calvinism matches up with the character, love, or intentions of God. This doesn't make me right, but it's enough for me not to choose to follow it.

From the very beginning to present day man has had one choice, God or not God. It's as simple as that. All God wants is for us to choose him. The entire Bible is full of God doing things so that man would know that He is the Lord. So that man would have the choice to choose Him and evidence to do so. Choose the God of the Bible over other gods, over religious traditions and man made laws, over the world. Calvinism takes away the choosing factor. The free will aspect that is really important to the totality of the Bible. Also the message that God's love is for everyone, His door is open to everyone, Jesus died on the cross for everyone, all are welcome, God wants all men to be saved, this is taken away by Calvinism. To be a Christian and tell someone that God doesn't want you in Heaven and there is no way that you can be saved isn't the Christian message that I choose to spread. There isn't a person that I would ever look at and say "You are not chosen so you can't be saved" I would say that Jesus's invitation is to everyone, that His hand is extended to everyone and all you have to do is reach for it in faith. God so loved the "World" not God so loved the "elected". This isn't to say that God doesn't already know who will be saved and who won't, I believe just as you do that God does have this knowledge, but that it is based on our age old choice, God or not God.

For myself I find less biblical contradictions with Molinism. It's not my view that we have to say "this is the answer and the only way" because I'm just a dude, and a sinner walking around in a fallen world, not God with all the answers. I will say that for me Molinism fit's better with my view of who God is, who Jesus is, unconditional love, the grandness of God's knowledge, and the theme of free will. I think it's a better starting point to understanding the parallel messages of predestination and free will. I think it supports Gods greatness and the greatness of His plan. Molinism allows God to be all knowing, while still being all loving. I don't feel that it takes anything away from God, the ministry of Jesus, or the plan of salvation. Calvinism for me, takes away from all of these things.

It can be a super complicated subject, and isn't easy for anyone to wrap their head around. But this is an idea that would allow God to remain sovereign, all knowing, all loving, and man to remain free to choose. Love to remain pure and unconditional. The blood of Jesus to not have been shed in vain. Loss of salvation to be a fair and righteous judgement. As well as preserving the Christian message. God knowing before the foundation of the world that we won't of our free will choose Him, is very different than God choosing that we won't choose him and removing our free will and God's availability to us. Like a father knowing he's going to have 5 children, and deciding before they are born that he is going to offer his fatherhood, his love, his help, his inheritance to all of them, and whichever children choose to receive, will receive it and those who don't, won't. That's very different than the father choosing that he's only going to offer these things to one child and not the rest. In this case God is the father, he knows which children will make which choices, but He still gives them the option to choose, while never withholding the offer of His love. If God is love as the Bible says, and if God is the creator of unconditional love then I would say that the father who offers his love to all would better fit that description.
Calvinism is an answer to age old questions, but an answer filled with many contradictions that just don't add up for me. It matches up with the verses that Calvinists use for their arguments but not with the totality of scripture. It's hard for me to think I could tell someone that Jesus died for their sins so that they could be saved, and know in the back of my mind that I don't know for sure if Jesus really died for them because in reality Jesus only died for a few that are the elected. That Jesus died for me but not for my neighbor. I know God is a father who loves all his children whether they choose to live, or choose to die. God teaches us by example how to be fathers, and I believe He teaches that we should choose all of our children, give to those who choose to receive, and leave the door open to those who don't. Can you honestly tell me that their aren't verses and even main messages of the Bible that contradict Calvinism? You can't choose to have faith if it is pre-chosen for you, that's very different then God knowing before hand whether you will choose to have faith. Thanks again!
Debate Round No. 1
PatrickSawyer

Pro

Okay, thank you for your well thought out response. Your concerns with Calvinism I believe come from a good heart, but, as your probably assumed, I think they are wrong.

You said a lot in your response. However, as I was reading it, I seen two major themes in your response:

1. The totality of the Bible contradicts Calvinism.

2. God didn't die for everyone.

I well address those 2 points and then offer some additional commentary.

1. I believe the totality of the Bible does line up with Calvinism.

Take the old testament. God chose the nation of Israel. Even under the old covenant, we see a very involved and sovereign God. God choosing the nation of Israel meant that there were nations that he didn't choose.

Also, remember, Romans 9 (the great Calvinistic chapter if you will) makes many references to the Old Testament. For example, God choosing Jacob and Esau before they had done anything good or bad and God raising up Pharaoh that he might show his wrath in him. When you go to Ephesians, you see God choosing us before the foundation of the world. You see God predestining us for adoption as sons.

I don't think that it could be any more clearer. The doctrine of predestination/election is spread throughout the entire Bible.

2. Jesus' death was sufficient for all but efficient for some. You accuse me of limiting the atonement, but I think you limit the atonement. In your theology it's as almost as if Jesus is saying, "I'm going to go 90% of the way and then you have to go the other 10% of the way." In your theology of the cross, it's almost as if the last words of Jesus would've been, "It has began." However, we know that is not true. That last words of Jesus on the cross should form and shape the way we think of the atonement: It is finished.

If Jesus would've died for all, all would've come. That is how effective his work was. He really did pay the penalty for our sins. However, if he paid the penalty for everyone's sins and then some go to hell, their sins are being paid for twice, once on the cross and once with them in hell. That is injustice and that can't be true.

Jesus really did pay for our sins. In your theology of the atonement, the cross is so weak that faith needs to be added to it to make it effective. In a Calvinist view of the atonement, the cross is so effective that faith flows from it. In your theology of the atonement, we have faith therefore the cross is made effective. In a Calvinistic view of the atonement, the cross is effective therefore we believe. In other words, the difference between your theology and my theology is that in your theology your belief is the center of your salvation, in my theology the cross is the center of salvation.

Jesus said at the last supper, "My blood will be poured at for many." That word many is not a universal word.

The question is this, did Jesus pay for the sins of everyone and all the sins of everyone? If so, you should stop being a molinist or an Armenian and become a universalist.

Now, on to some other things you said:

"Calvinism takes away the choosing factor."

Ephesians 1 says we are dead in our sins. 2 Corinthians 4 says we are blind. Romans 1-3 says we are haters of God and we don't seek after him, we don't want anything to do with him. John 3 says we are not even born.

It's not that Calvinism takes away the choosing factor. It's more like sin takes away the choosing factor. The question is this, how does a dead, blind, hater of God, and not even born yet person CHOOSE. He doesn't UNLESS the spirit draws him to believe. We don't believe unless the Spirit makes us alive to believe. We don't believe unless the spirit opens up our eyes to believe. Here is scripture to support this:

2 Corinthians 4:6, "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness.' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." - So just as sovereignly as God said, "Let there be light" in Genesis 1, so he said let there be light in your life and you believed. Read that verse and ask yourself, what did you do? You did nothing to help yourself see.

Acts 16:14 has this to say about the conversion of Lydia (a real life example), "The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul." Why did the Lord need to open her heart? Because she was dead, blind, hater of God, and not even born yet, and the reason for those things was sin.

If Paul or a real life example is not enough, maybe you will believe Jesus. Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him." Recognize that, "no one can." The reason no can is because they are held captive to sin.

You said a lot and I can't address it all, but hopefully this helps. I will address one last thing. You said in your understanding of Calvinism that God removes our free will. That could not be any further from the truth. God gave Adam and Eve free will. They sinned. Now our wills are not free any longer because they are a slave to sin. Now, to be clear, we are not victims of Adam's sin, we are partakers of his sin. It is made clear throughout the whole Bible, especially in the New Testament in Paul's epistles that we are, "dead in our trespasses and sin." Sin is the reason we were or are spiritually dead. God didn't enslave our will, Sin did. Jesus came to free it. Sin enslaves our will, God gives us a freed will and then we WILL believe. Read Romans 6, we were a slave to sin. Sin is the reason our wills are not free. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

In conclusion, I will say this, Calvinism can be summed up like this: If we go to hell, it is our fault. But if we go to Heaven, it is because of Jesus.

Now, I responded to a lot, if not everything that you said. I would like for you to answer just one simple question for me somewhere in your response: Why are you saved but other people aren't?

By the way, I wrote this in a hurry. Beware of grammatical errors.
stcornerap

Con

Thanks for your response. I want to make the point again that I hope you don't take anything I say as a personal attack or even an attack against Calvinism. Also that I'm not a "Molinist" I just personally find it to be a better fit. I think for the most part you and I believe the same things. I too believe that God chooses us to be vessels for caring out His will. I believe that He chose Israel, the characters of the Bible both believers and non believers for His will. I'm not saying God doesn't have control, I'm just saying that it is possible that His plan is being carried out under His control while giving man free will. Free will to choose God or not choose God.
It doesn't change God's sovereignty, it makes all people accountable, God's love universal, and His judgement just. It also keeps the message of Jesus one of hope. That all those who come to him will not be turned away, this is a beautiful message but I think it loses everything when there's no free will. How do you evangelize? "You have no choice, if you're going to be saved you can't resist it and if you're going to hell there is no hope, you have no choice!" I don't believe that to be the Christian message.
I also want to point out that Molinism doesn't take away predestination which is your debate topic, what it does is include free will and the choice to choose God.
In your example of Pharaoh there would be 2 options.
Calvinism: God created Pharaoh to choose not God (to die) so that he could use Pharaoh as part of His plan and display His power through this use.
Molinism: God knew that Pharaoh of his own free will would choose not God (to die) and God used Pharaoh to display His power through this use.
It's the same Pharaoh, same use, same display of Gods power, same outcome, the only difference is that Pharaoh had a choice and God didn't create someone to die for His own use.
This doesn't change anything that you understand about God other than the idea that God wants all men to live, he knows they won't choose to, but he wants them to and His love and grace are available to and sufficient for all men.

Romans 9: As I said before I'm not in the business of limiting God. If God wants to choose between 2 brothers as to whom will serve whom, who will be used by God in whichever way is in His will, that's up to God, and He has the power to do that and I believe all of His choices are just. I don't have any reservations in regards to God having the power to do these things. This is evidence that God's has a plan however is not evidence that God in totality chose who would be saved or not. It's also in no way proof that free will is not taken into account. This decision was made before the 2 boys were born, but that doesn't mean that God didn't know what they would do with their free will ahead of time as Molinism would suggest. Even if their free will wasn't taken into account and for whatever reason God chose Jacob that still has no bearing on whether the totality of salvation was chosen by God without mans choice.
The raising up of Pharaoh "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
This shows that God had a plan and used Pharaoh as part of that plan, but no bearing on our discussion of salvation.
Romans 9:19 Sounds like a question a Calvinist should ask. Why would you find fault in man if he has no free will? You can find fault because all men are sinners, but that would include the elected as well. It might make more sense if God knew before hand where their free will would lead them, in the world God created and make a better argument for a Molinistic view. That's not to say that God doesn't intervene like in the case of Paul who didn't find Christ through natural situations.

We are dead in our sins, yes we know this Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 4:4 does say we have been blinded but it's referring to us been blinded by the Devil, ((g)od of this age). Romans 1 is pretty clear that though God was evident they chose not God and God "gave them over" to their choices. 2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that is the same Christian God that created literal light, that creates the light of knowledge within the Christian that they find in Christ. These are all great verses as are all verses in the Bible but has nothing to do with the topic. None of these would lead one to Clavinism. As for how it applies to myself and what I had to do with my salvation, I chose to have faith in Christ. We are saved by grace through faith. By Molonism's view God created a world in which I would chose to be saved. Keeping God's sovereignty and control but also keeping my choice and free will.

Acts 16:14 a woman who believed in God heard the message of Jesus by way of Paul and her heart was open by God. This happens to all of us who choose to believe. By Molonisms view God created a world in which if she heard this message in this situation she would chose to believe. Just as with myself, you, and every Christian. Not and argument for Calvinism.
John 6:44 says that "God draws them in", I totally believe God draws us in, this is in no way change by force. God does not force us to chose him.

I can't see how any of this would biblically lead us to Calvinism. I don't disagree with all of Calvinism but the taking away of free will to chose God or not isn't biblical in my opinion.

John 7:17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
We have to chose. Even in the Molonist view where God creates a world in which these outcome will come to pass, we still have to choose. We're not that different my friend. But I would argue that your view has the opportunity to dishearten the disbeliever, the Molonist view would tell the nonbeliever that yes God created a world where He knows what will happen, but you still get to choose. You can choose Christ today and be saved. Thanks again!
Debate Round No. 2
PatrickSawyer

Pro

Alright, again, another well thought out response. I will attempt to respond to it all.

The first definition of Calvinism that you gave, you gave by saying, "You have no choice, if you're gong to be saved you can't resist and if you're going to hell there is no hope, you have no choice!" I have some big problems with that. If you are going to hell, you are right, there is no hope within yourself. It is also true that you have no choice, because dead people don't choose (Ephesians 2). Babies don't choose to be born (John 3). Interesting examples that Paul and Jesus use. Examples that put us in a spot where we are totally helpless. So, we are totally dependent on Jesus to make us alive (Ephesians 2) so that we can see again (2 Corinthians 4) and we can believe. You don't have a choice until the hope of heaven intervenes on your behalf, as he did with Lydia in Acts 16. I believe that what I just said is pretty clear throughout the Bible and is therefore the Christian message.

Now, as far as your reference to Pharaoh, when it comes to your molinistic interpretation of what happened to Pharaoh, that couldn't be any further from what Paul said, "For this purpose I have raised you (Pharaoh) up that I might show my wrath in you." Sounds like to me that the only reason Pharaoh had the power that he had was because God sovereignly decreed that it would be so. Certainly, I believe pharaoh chose evil, but because it was the story line of humanity. Just like when you watch a movie and the actor chooses to do something, ultimately you know that what that actor does and doesn't do is up to the writer of the movie, but it doesn't change the fact that the actor chose to do what he or she did.

In your interpretation of God's choosing of Jacob referenced by Paul in Romans 9, it seems like to me that you are reading things into the text that aren't there. Remember, that as Paul was writing Romans 9, two times he brings up hypothetical questions that he knew the Church at Rome would ask due to the way he was teaching the doctrine of election. The first time he asks theses questions was in reference to God choosing Jacob and hating Esau before they were born and had done nothing good or bad. Paul assumes that after saying this, the church of Rome would ask, "What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!" -Romans 9:14. Then after Paul quotes God by saying, "For this purpose I have raised you (Pharaoh) up, that I might show my wrath in you." He again assumes that the Church at Rome will ask, "You will say to me then, Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?'" -Romans 9:19-20. You have to be careful that when reading, interpreting, and talking about Romans 9, you don't do so in such a way that takes the offense out of it. You know you are teaching the doctrine of election the way Paul taught it when people respond with the same questions that he assumed they would ask him as a result. Seems to me that if we approach Romans 9 with your philosophy, then we take all the offense out of it that Paul knew would be there. If God did everything he did in Romans 9 just because he "knew" what would happen, then those hypothetical questions would be pointless because we could understand that. But the text doesn't say that the reason God did what he did was because he just "knew." That's reading something into the text that isn't there. When you are teaching the doctrine of election and people respond by saying something like, "I don't think God would do that," it is a good indicator you are teaching election the way Paul taught it.

I think the verses you referenced (Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 4:4 & 6, Acts 16:14 and Romans 1) don't directly speak of the sovereignty of God over salvation, but certainly lead us there. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear about this in my last post, I will try to clarify:

Romans 6 talks to us about being a slave to sin. When referencing Romans 6, I was simply saying that we dont have free will in the since that we are not free to choose God. Not because God has enslaved our will, but because sin has. God gave Adam and Eve free will, they chose sin and sin enslaved their will. We have no one to blame but ourselves when it comes to our enslaved will. And remember, we are not victims of adams sin, but partakers.

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul quotes God from Genesis 1, "Let light shine out of darkness." Our lives are full of darkness due to sin. Just as soverignly as God said let there be light in Genesis 1, so he soverignly says, "Let there be light" in the believers life and then he believes. When the sinner sees the depth of his sin, that is light. When the sinner sees his need of a savior, that's light. I'm asking, how did the sinner get that light? He got the light soveriengly through God.

Acts 16:14 talks of God opening Lydia's heart to understand what Paul was saying. Why couldn't Lydia understand? She couldn't understand because her mind was clouded by sin. As long as Lydia's mind was clouded by sin, she couldn't believe. But God soverignly intervened on her behalf. What did Lydia do for God to open up her understanding to Paul? She did nothing. God just did it because he was pleased to do it.

I do appreciate you bringing up Romans 1 even though I didn't reference that. I do believe that is why some are going to go to hell, because God is going to hand them over to their wills/sin. He did that with Adam, Pharoah, and he does it with sinners. That perfectly explains what I said when I said, "If we go to hell, it is our fault. If we go to Heaven, it is because of Jesus."

I responded to just about everything I believe. Thank you for responding to my question, "Why are you saved?". I have another question, please respond if you will. Why did you choose God and others (who are still in their sin) haven't chosen God?
stcornerap

Con

Hi again! Unfortunately I've been busy and I apologize for my lag time in responding. This may be my last chance for response before time runs out so in case this is it for me I'm going to go a little different direction I hope you don't mind.

Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, these are all ideas that have been thought up by men to try to understand the mysteries of God that are not known truths of the Bible. As is the case for many secondary topics that good Christians differ on.

The real answer is that no one will know for sure until we can ask the Lord Himself. But in the meantime people like us get wrapped up in, and thirst to figure these mysteries out.
I think it's important for us to remember that people like us are not the target demographic. Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The gospel is God's tool to gather people to Him through Jesus.
People are called through the Word of God and not through our "isms"
The Bible tells people that God wants all people to be saved
1 Timothy 2 "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people."

This is the Christian message. God loves all men, wants all men to be saved, and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The prodigal son, no matter who you are or what you've done God welcomes you with open arms.

Luke 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

People are saved by hearing the gospel and I think it's important for the message that the Christian Jesus loves them, is their sole source of salvation, and will be there for them if they call out to Him, is preserved. Not preserved by a deep theological understanding like "this is still true even though it's not true in the way it's written, or the way you understood it when you heard it and were saved. But true in a way that can only be understood by a man made "ism" created to understand the mysteries of God that we won't know for sure is the real answer until we can ask the Lord himself. "

"It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me."
The Gospel, people hear it, learn, come to Christ in repentance, are born again, and continue to believe because they are truly a new creation and have a real relationship. Christianity is a relationship not a religion. God wanted a real relationship, not a forced relationship, to be chosen and loved, not a family who is forced to love Him without choice.

Without knowing the depth of Calvinism a person couldn't hear a message like I mentioned in 1 Timothy 2 and understand that man doesn't have the choice to choose God. Molinism would allow for an answer to the great mystery while allowing for traditional Christian beliefs, messages, scripture to retain its meaning at face value. God wants all men to be saved etc.

I don't know what the answer is but I do know that I will tell anyone and everyone that God loves them and that Jesus's hand is extended to them. How else could I love my neighbor? You could never honestly spread the good news, if you didn't believe that people could chose to come to Christ.
Good debate dude. God bless and have a great Christmas!
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