Is Calvinism Biblical?
Debate Rounds (5)
The organized doctrine of Calvinism (though Calvinism is simply a nickname) is completely founded in Biblical scripture. The main pillars of Calvinism include Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement (a better term would be Particular Atonement), Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Total Depravity is the Calvinist doctrine that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful as a result of the Fall. Also, man is unable to do anything good (Gen 6:5; Job 15:14-16; Psa 130:3; Psa 143:2; Pro 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Isa 64:6; Jer 13:23; John 3:19; Rom 3:9-12; Jam 3:8; 1John 1:8), and to believe in God (or come to him) (John 6:44; John 6:65; John 8:43-45; John 10:26; John 12:37-4).
Total Depravity: Below I will show that the scriptures advanced by Pro do not support Total Depravity.
Job 15:14-16, Ps. 143:2, Pro. 20:9, Ecc. 7:20, Ps. 130:3, Ps. 130:3, Jam. 3:8, Isa. 64:6, and I Jn. 1:8 all state that man is evil. If God should judge iniquities, truly no one could stand before him. But these verses do not exclude man from coming willingly to God. Depravity does not equal inability.
Gen. 6:5: This verse refers to a particular period of Biblical history. There is nothing in the verse that can be extrapolated to the whole human race. So I maintain that it is unreasonable to categorically state that mankind is completely incapable of doing good. Total wickedness cannot be applied universally. Look at Pro. 17:27 and 29:23, both of which label a specific sort of person (whom may or may not be a believer) "of an excellent spirit."
Jer. 13:23: God is emphasizing the extent of the Israelites" sin. God will judge them for their perseverance in iniquity, but one cannot extrapolate this scripture to the whole human race.
Jn. 6:44-45: The Calvinistic interpretation of this passage ignores context, which is crucial to understanding what Jesus is saying. Jesus was pointing out that these who were rejecting Him were doing so because they were not right with the Father (i.e. not saved), because those who are right with God (i.e. those who have "heard and learned from the Father"), were coming to Him, as a factor of being drawn by the Father. So this passage does not mean what Calvinists think that it means. Jesus is referring to the drawing of those who were already believers to the Son, not the drawing of a special class of elect.
Jn. 8:43-45: This statement can"t be generalized to all unbelievers, since from the context it is clear Jesus is addressing the Pharisees, hard-hearted unbelievers who were planning on killing Him.
Jn. 10:26: Jesus is referring to the believers who follow Him as sheep. But the condition of not being a sheep cannot be seen as necessarily permanent. If it were, why would Jesus say, a few verses later, "Believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." (10:38) Jesus wanted these unbelievers to come to Him, or else He would not have pleaded with them to believe.
Jn. 12:37-40: The context here was Passion week, when the hostility of the religious leaders was reaching a peak and the crowd had been ignoring His miraculous works. The quotation from Isaiah speaks of judgmental blindness upon those who closed their hearts to such a great light, which is here being fulfilled in Israel"s rejection of their Messiah. This has nothing to do with the supposed inability of mankind to receive the gospel.
Jn. 3:16-19: These verses work against Calvinists. God so loved the world that He gave His Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but should instead have everlasting life. There is no support for limited atonement here. Salvation through Jesus Christ and His blood is offered to all. Whoever does not believe is condemned, because he does not believe in Christ, the only door to heaven. But this whole verse cries out that the gospel is open to all. Limited Atonement and Total Depravity find no foothold here, but rather rebuttal.
Rom. 3:9-12: Paul is not referring to an indifferent but rather a diligent seeking. Paul was affirming that no one diligently and continually seeks after God. Here are a few verses that contradict a superficial reading of this passage: Deut. 4:29, Hos. 5:15, Am. 5:4-6, Rom. 2:7. There are many others. Why would God command us to "seek" Him if we cannot? Common sense tells us that when we can "seek" earthly things we should also be able to "seek" after God, and the Bible does nothing to deny this view. In fact, if people do seek after God, (Jer. 29:13, Mat. 7:7) God will make Himself known to those who seek.
Now proceeding to the offensive, I challenge Pro to examine Josh. 24:15, I Kn. 18:21, and Deut. 30:19, all passages in which God challenges non-believers to make a choice concerning Him. A reasonable reading of the text supports the idea that man is indeed capable of choosing good or evil, heaven or hell. Indeed, if the choice was not man"s to make, why was he punished for choosing wrongly? In Isaiah and Jeremiah God pleads with, threatens, and finally punishes His nations in an attempt to bring them back to Him and righteousness. (Jer. 4:1, 3:22, Ezek. 16, Isa. 5:1-7) It is clear from these passages that God founded the nation of Israel for His glory, to proclaim His name, but also that He desired to bless them and would bless them, if they would only obey Him and follow His way (Lev. 26). But when Israel (and later Judah) persistently went after idols and committed evil that God was totally opposed to, such as participating in pagan child-sacrifice rituals in the valley of Tophet (Jer. 7:30-31), God had to punish His people to uphold His righteous name. God would never have had to do this had not the Jews sinned repeatedly!
Also see Pro. 20:27 and Job 38:36 and 32:8, which indicate that God has given us wisdom which we can use to find the truth. I certainly believe that the convicting work of the Spirit is a key to how the lost can believe, but Calvinists have salvation backwards when they claim sinners cannot believe the truth of Christ until the Spirit saves them . Jn. 5:25 says: "Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." Christ said the dead will hear. It is clear that unbelievers are not completely spiritually blind.
Unconditional Election: The problem with this stance is that Calvinists are placing God in the position of sending people to Hell without giving them a chance at salvation. In other words, children and infants who die young (as well as all other unsaved persons) go straight to hell because God predestined them do to so. There is something inherently wrong with this philosophy, and I shudder to think what an atheist would say in response. Why would God"s will be that anyone should perish? The Bible says that God, "desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:4) and that He is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (II Pet. 3:9b)
If God"s will is that all should be saved (and given the above and God"s overwhelming love for us, there is no reason why it shouldn't be just that), then why are all not saved? Man"s free will, our ability to reject the gospel, is what gets in the way. This is the logical answer, far more biblical than selective damnation. Honestly, why would an all-powerful, loving God choose to condemn certain people to eternal torment before they have even been born?
I know that Calvinists may say in response that God"s ways are higher than our ways, and that as a result we cannot question God"s election of some and damnation of others. This approach starts with the rule that God is good. Therefore, all He does is good. But when God does things that are obviously wrong--and He does everything, if Calvinists are to be believed--then we are left with a God that is above His own moral law. In other words, such a God can get away with what we, as humans, cannot. Such a God sends babies to hell for no discernible reason. Such a God is in control of everything, everything including murder, war, hatred, and every other evil deed. Such a God is a very troubling God to believe in. Biblically, God is not evil, so He cannot be responsible for evil. (1 Jn. 1:5, Jam. 1:13, Job 34:12) We, not God, are to blame for our sins.
Particular Atonement: I understand this view to be that Christ died for those God gave Him to save, not for every human who has ever lived. I already mentioned Jn. 3:16, which states without reservation that Christ died for the sins of all. Nowhere in the Bible does it explicitly say that Christ died for the "elect." I am willing to explain any texts Pro may introduce in favor of this doctrine, as it is unbiblical. Here are a few scriptures that emphasize that Christ's death was for the whole world: Jn. 1:29, 4:42, I Jn. 4:14, Jn. 12:46-47, and 1 Jn. 2:2. John clearly expresses that Christ did come as Savior of the World. His salvation is offered to every person on the planet. Rom. 5:6 declares "Christ died for the ungodly." Isaiah says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isa. 53:6) Context indicates he is referring to the whole nation of Israel, and it is obvious that there were many non believers in Israel at that time.
Irresistible Grace: I have already presented much proof that man does have free will. If man does have free will, it follows that he should be able to choose Christ, since that is the most important choice made in life. Salvation comes by grace through faith. (Eph. 2:8) Nowhere in the Bible is man's free choice in salvation denied. For our love for God to be real, God must give us the opportunity to reject him. In other words, marriage at gunpoint or marriage to a robot is not true marriage. We must accept God's totally undeserved gift of salvation in order be saved.
Perseverance of the Saints: I am not an Armenian, so the Calvinistic stance of "once saved, always saved" finds no rebuttal here. Romans 8:28-39 shows that God foreknew who would be saved (not that he predestined them to be saved, but that He knew beforehand who would be saved), and that He has ordained that believers will be conformed to the likeness of His Son. This is impossible if some should fall away. However, I believe that since God has not pre-selected the elect, one can know that one is saved. This position is biblical (Mk. 1:14-15, Rom. 10:9), and affords greater eternal security.
Thank you again for this debate. I hope it will help us both grow in biblical understanding.
The Law of Moses exposes sin to increase it so man would have no excuse for declaring his own righteousness. Romans Chapter Three declares that man does no righteousness.
Martin Luther said to Erasmus, "when you are finished with all your commands and exhortations from the Old Testament, I"ll write Ro.3:19-20 over the top of it all."  Why use commands and exhortations from the Old Testament to prove free will when they were given to show man"s sinful inability to fulfill them?
God"s commands reveal what we cannot do rather than what we can do. Yes, God gave commands that mankind cannot obey. Therefore commandments and exhortations do not prove man"s ability or free will. The Arminian assumption that a command to do a thing proves the ability to do it, is unscriptural.
There may be various reasons for commanding someone to do something. The purpose could be to show someone his inability to perform the command. This would underscore for that person his very need of help. From a mere command, therefore, nothing can be deduced about free will or human ability.
Fallacy #2: "If not free, then not responsible." Calvinists do believe in free will. Total Depravity does not teach that man does not have free will to choose good or evil, but that without the aid of God man will always CHOOSE evil.
Arminians assume if we are unable to make a choice to the contrary, then our wills are not free. This is irrational because it assumes there is such a thing as moral neutrality.
The entire idea of neutrality of will is absurd. If the person"s nature does not determine the decisions of the will, in what sense do such decisions represent the person himself? How could be a decision be a truly moral one if it is morally neutral? Can morality be morality at all and be neutral?
According to Scripture, freedom is described as holiness. The ultimate freedom is absolute holiness. If that is true, then God is the most free being in the universe. Otherwise, we must say God is the most enslaved being in the universe because he is the one least neutral on moral issues.
Likewise, if we assume that bondage of will eliminates responsibility, then the best way to avoid responsibility for our sins to be as bound by them as much as possible. The drunk bound by alcoholism is therefore not responsible for his actions. Should we encourage people to sin more, so they are no longer responsible?
Fallacy #3: "For love to be real, it must have the possibility of being rejected." We often hear that God wants us to love him freely, not by compulsion. He is a gentleman and will not impose Himself on anyone. They conclude that fallen man must have the ability to love God. He simply chooses to love other things.
Scripture teaches love for God is a product of His grace. 1Ti.1:14. If grace is necessary to make us love God, it follows we were unable to love him before grace came. It also shows that grace is not given because we chose to love God. Grace takes the initiative. We chose to love God because grace is given, not because of a virtue or ability foreseen in man.
This premise is similar to fallacy one, that God would not command what we cannot perform. Does God give the saints in heaven an opportunity to hate him so to be fair? Did Jesus have some ability to hate the Father? Or was His love for the Father a reflection of what He really is?
Since faith is a gift of grace, should it be strange to think love must be also a gift of grace?
Fallacy #4: "A person cannot be responsible or punished for what he cannot help." If this is the case, a Christian may not be rewarded for what his new nature, through the fruit of the Spirit, compels him to do. The nature of a person is not a thing he possesses. It is something he is.
Eph 5:25 [we are commanded to love our wives in the same way that Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; therefore, if Christ loved and gave himself for all people in the same way, we are commanded to love all women in the same way that we love our wives]
Matthew 1:21 New American Standard Bible (NASB): She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Hebrews 9:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB): For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Additional reasons that the atonement of Christ is not for all the sins of all people:
God punishes people in hell, which would be unjust if their sins were atoned for
If one were to say, "their sins are atoned for, but that atonement is not applied because of unbelief," he fails to realize that unbelief is likewise a sin
Heb 3:12 ["The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for either: 1) All the sins of all men; 2) All the sins of some men; or 3) Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: 1) If the last be true all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved; 2) That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth; 3) But if the first is the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!" " John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ]
God bears eternal wrath against people, which by definition means that his wrath against them has not been propitiated [appeased]
1The 2:16; 2The 1:6-9
Thank you for accepting the debate :)
Here are a few that Pro should respond to:
1. Jn. 5:25 says: "Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." (NLT) Christ said the dead will hear. It is clear that non-believers are not completely spiritually blind.
2. Isaiah says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isa. 53:6, NASB) Context indicates he is referring to the whole nation of Israel, and it is obvious that there were many non-believers in Israel at that time.
3. Jn. 1:29, 4:42, I Jn. 4:14, Jn. 12:46-47, and 1 Jn. 2:2.
4. Also see the paragraph on Unconditional Election, which deserves an answer.
Fallacy #1: Truly all sin, yet at the same time all do not always sin. Otherwise, the world would be uninhabitable. Romans 3 does not state the latter. The commands and exhortations I quoted were not given to "show man"s sinful inability to fulfill them." Joshua, Moses, and Elijah were not requiring perfection when they encouraged the Israelites to follow God. There were two paths before each Israelite: worshipping idols or the true God. The Law truly was given to expose sin. However, the choice to follow God or not follow God--that choice can be made rightly. Remember, Joshua 24 quotes Joshua as saying that he and his house will serve God. The command to follow God is impossible to fulfill completely, in every respect, but God does not demand that. Remember, Moses failed, and David failed. They did not live perfect lives. Yet they were certainly saved. They served, worshipped, and followed the Lord, believing in the promise of the Messiah, and through their faith (Heb. 11) they are in heaven at this moment. If these commands were given to show "man's sinful inability to fulfill them," then these commands and exhortations failed in their purpose, since Elijah and Joshua (as well as many others) clearly followed God, which was all that was being commanded.
By the way, if "commands and exhortations do not prove man"s free ability or free will," then what can? If God truly lays a choice before non-believers, then it would follow that we would see evidences of the sort I have already presented: commands, exhortations, and decisions that, for all intents and purposes, genuinely represent a free choice in which God really wants people to choose His way, but will allow them the liberty of free will. Calvinism forces us to abandon the obvious solutions in favor of arguments that are more convoluted and dubious than cogent.
Fallacy #2: There is no scripture mentioned here. Where in the Bible is freedom described as holiness? This is a debate on whether Calvinism is Biblical, and therefore arguments devoid of scripture have no place. On the other hand, how is it possible for me to prove Pro"s argument false? If I quote (as I did before) the good deeds of non-believers, Pro will simply say God helped them to choose good!
Nevertheless, I will answer. Man was created in the "image of God," and that image was defaced but not erased at the fall. In Acts 17:28 Paul says, "That they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (NKJV) Paul implies that men are able to seek God based upon the image of God. Man has a remnant of God"s image still imprinted upon his heart, and that enables him to seek after God. Depravity is not total.
In closing, I offer the example of a non-believing father. He is dead in sin, but he still loves his daughter. Love, surely, is good. One cannot say that non-believers are incapable of doing good, for that is simply not the case. And if it were God who chooses to make him love his daughter, why would God not choose to make him love his Creator?
Calvinism does deny free will despite Pro"s arguments. Man can only choose evil, according to Calvinism. Therefore, everything he does that is good is a work of God. Those good deeds cannot be said to be of his own volition. On the other hand, every time man does do evil, he can only do so if God chooses not to make him do good. Therefore, everything man does is the will of God and ultimately not the will of man.
Think about an audio recording. Without any audio input, the recording will show no signal. Only when a cable and microphone are plugged in will anything beyond silence be recorded. Obviously the microphone, not the recording device, is responsible for the results. The recording device has no choice in the matter. Similarly, if man is completely evil, then he can do nothing good. He is like the recording device without a signal. If we were to actually meet such a person, he would probably try to kill us. But we see no one (aside from those who are demon-possessed) who is completely evil. Calvinism has to resort to God as the microphone plugged into man as the recording device to explain this. Therefore, everything that unbelievers do, that is not completely evil, God does, and what is completely evil is also God's will, as by permitting the absolute evil to happen God shows tacit consent.
Fallacy #3: This argument carries no weight, for no one is saved through love. No, belief must come first. Salvation comes from grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and faith is something only we can choose. Our love comes as a result of understanding the great love God has for us and what He has done to save us. But it is still our choice, the natural result of understanding God"s love for us. And both the saints and Christ had free will on earth.
Fallacy #4: See Romans 7:14-16. Even after conversion, we have a choice. Paul was saved; I think that much we can agree on. Yet even he struggled with his sinful nature. The Spirit in Paul and his flesh were warring, and yet he was neither. He had the ability to follow one or the other, even after he had been made new in Christ. We still have a choice; the decisions we make are still ours, so we are rewarded. Those two natures are the reason why Paul talks of running the race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Please note that backsliding on the path does not connote damnation; no, the prize that Paul talks of is the very rewards Pro refers to. If, while unsaved, we were unable to do good, it would follow that, when saved, we would be unable to do evil. But neither is true.
Ephesians 5:25: Christ loves the church, but that does not prevent him from loving the unsaved also. The wife is especially valuable to her husband, but that does not mean that he does not love anyone else. Again, see John 3:16: God so loved the WORLD. Pro has provided no explanation as to how this does not refer to everyone, as is obviously the case.
Note that Pro has not responded to any of the other passages I referenced in opposition to Particular Atonement either.
Matthew 1:21: Why must "His people" be the elect? Ethnically and logically, Jesus" people would have been the Jews, and the Pharisees testify to the fact that not all Jews followed Christ. Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah promised to the Jews. This is the most logical explanation and it now poses Pro a problem, joining the queue of unanswered texts testifying against Limited Atonement.
Hebrews 9:15: The "called" here represent the called nation of Israel. Remember, Hebrews was written to the Jews, to whom the first covenant was made and the eternal inheritance promised.
#1: "God punishes people in hell, which would be unjust if their sins were atoned for."
The sins of all have been atoned for, but sinners must have faith in Jesus' sacrifice in order to be saved. God will not (contrary to the beliefs of some) force anyone to go to heaven. Jesus' blood is a blank check that must be cashed, to use an analogy, or a bridge to heaven that must be crossed. See John 3:36.
Heaven and forgiveness are freely available to all, but they must be chosen.
#2: This is a well-constructed argument, but there is a straightforward answer to it. Unbelief is a sin, but also a CHOICE. It is a choice not to accept God's grace. The unbeliever's unbelief would be forgiven, but his unbelief does not permit him any forgiveness, for he denies and rejects the saving power of Christ. Unbelief is the wall he builds between himself and Christ. He, in rejecting Christ, rejects forgiveness for sins.
Christ's redemption can be understood in this way:
We are held captive by sin. Christ has paid a ransom, so the prison door is open. However, we have to leave the prison cell of our own volition. See Romans 5:6-10.
By the way, persistent unbelief is widely understood to be the "unpardonable sin" for reasons that should now be obvious.
Note that I have refuted all of Pro's attacks upon my arguments.
At the same time, I have shown all of his arguments to be faulty.
I will present another proof against Particular Atonement.
Peter said, "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved," (Acts 2:21, NKJV). This statement is not one that a Calvinist could have made. A Calvinist would be forced to state, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord, being among the elect, will be saved." Romans 5:6 says "in due time, Christ died for the ungodly." (NKJV)
In Scripture we see the gospel offered to ALL. Calvinists cannot offer the gospel to all. They cannot say, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved," as Paul said (Romans 10:13 NKJV), for Christ may not have died for that particular person! This position is clearly unbiblical, not to mention damaging to unbelievers.
I eagerly await Pro"s answers.
looneytunes28 forfeited this round.
Pro, if I AM really stumping you, I encourage you to take some of my arguments to church tomorrow, assuming you go, and consult pastor(s) there. If THEY are unable to provide satisfactory answers (or I later prove them to be unsatisfactory), I would suggest you abandon Calvinism, or at least part of it. Indefensible beliefs are not worth holding.
I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian. I believe in eternal security, salvation through our own free belief in Christ and the sufficiency of His work on the cross to atone for all our sins. I believe in free will, although I also believe God is able to intervene in human affairs, and I believe that God is absolutely good and therefore does not of His own will consign anyone to hell. However, I believe that God does have a plan for the lives of believers and does make all things work together for good in their lives. God's Sovereignty and Free Will need not be mutually exclusive, though I have still not completely resolved the two yet. But in the Bible and in real life we see both in action, so I believe a doctrinal position that denies either cannot be right.
Quote by C. S. Lewis from The Great Divorce:
"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."
Otherwise the Problem of Evil is a serious issue with no solution in sight.
I recommend the book "Getting the Gospel Right" by C. Gordon Olsen. A good portion of my arguments and answers came from it, so I will give him the credit he deserves. He explains a vast number of Calvinistic AND Arminian proof texts, while point out that a Biblical idea of salvation lies between the two: Eternal Security, but free, unlimited Salvation. I encourage you to buy this book.
I also used the website "Refuting Calvinism" for my first post.
I hope to see Pro's post tomorrow. If Pro does post, I will expect him to respond to my Round 2 arguments. My personal beliefs as stated are not up for debate. The issue is Calvinism and whether it is biblical. Pro should challenge me to another debate if he wishes to argue other doctrinal issues.
If Pro does not post, I think it fair to assume he is conceding the debate. At this point in the debate I think I have won, if Pro does not assert any new arguments or refute my arguments.
looneytunes28 forfeited this round.
Calvinism is not a Biblical doctrine.
looneytunes28 forfeited this round.
Calvinism is not Biblical.
Vote Con; vote now!
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Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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