“Against Calvinism,” a counterpoint book by Roger E. Olson

Against CalvinismI believe someone needs finally to stand up and in love firmly say “No!” to egregious statements about God’s sovereignty often made by Calvinists.  Taken to their logical conclusion, that even hell and all who will suffer there eternally are foreordained by God, God is thereby rendered morally ambiguous at best and a moral monster at worst.  I have gone so far as to say that this kind of Calvinism, which attributes everything to God’s will and control, makes it difficult (at least for me) to see the difference between God and the devil” (p 23).

I’m not one to go out of my way to either belittle or cause a fight between Christians, but the fact that I bought and read this book is a testament to the harsh treatment I’ve received from (at least some) Calvinists.  From my understanding of God and scripture, the “new Calvinist” belittling of other Christians and fighting with them publicly is not of Christ.  The author of Against Calvinism is like minded, but has had even worse unChrist-like jewels thrown at him than I have, presumably because he is a professor.  He had students, anonymously and not, tell him he wasn’t a Christian and that he was going to hell – simply for not believing their interpretation of scripture.  Whenever I come across this behavior – insulting people personally instead of addressing the parts of scripture they point to for consideration – it raises a big . . . red . . . flag.  (And, of course, it’s a very bad witness for Christ.)

I’ve encountered this with the proponents of post-tribulation rapture as well, and after looking into the scriptural arguments for pre- mid- and post-tribulation raptures, the post-tribs seem to have the least going for them in my view.  And so they make personal attacks, saying that those who don’t go along with them are just wimps who can’t stomach the idea of going through the tribulation.   Me: “rolls eyes and is reminded of cults.”  But “new Calvinists” do the same thing.  Instead of making an effort to understand where non-Calvinists are coming from, they make incredibly insulting claims towards them that are very far from the truth.   They even have the audacity to call everyone who doesn’t agree with them Arminians (and the name calling has had the impact of turning that theology into a bad label), even though it’s obvious that they don’t understand that theology, and the additional audacity to make it seem that if you are Reformed, you are Calvinist.   This whole scenario should make anyone wonder how (or how well) they assimilate their own theology.

I have no interest in man-centered theology; I am intensely interested in worshiping a God who is truly good and above reproach for the Holocaust  and all other evils too numerous to mention.  Too many Calvinist authors misrepresent non-Calvinist theologies as if they are all man-centered, humanistic, less-than-God-honoring, and even unbiblical without ever acknowledging the problems of their own theology.  Too many young, impressionable followers have not yet figured out what those problems are.  I write this to help them (p 24).

I will argue throughout this book that high Calvinism is not the only or the best way of interpreting Scripture.  It is one possible interpretation of isolated texts, but in light of the whole witness of Scripture it is not viable.  Furthermore, I will argue that high Calvinism stands in tension with the ancient faith of the Christian church and much of the heritage of evangelical faith.  Some of its crucial tenets cannot be found before the church father Augustine in the fifth century, and others cannot be found before a heretic named Gottschalk (d. circa 867) or from him until Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza (p 24).

As a note, it’s good to keep in mind that both Calvinism and Arminianism are theologies that do not fully reflect their namesakes – they both were altered some after Calvin and Arminius died.  Olson doesn’t cover all the aspects of this in his book, as they are not all necessary, but he does show clear evidence that Calvin did not write about, believe in, or adhere to “limited atonement.”  This is the “L” in “TULIP,” the acrostic for the five points of modern high Calvinism:  Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance.  “Four point” Calvinists do not adhere to limited atonement, but as limited atonement logically follows from the other four points and would be needed for the whole theological scheme to work, four point Calvinists are criticized both by high Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike for being inconsistent.

As I’ve seen in other written works, Olson points out that many persons who call themselves Calvinists are not actually Calvinists; in particular, many Baptists churches maintain traditional orthodox doctrine that is not Calvinist, yet they still seem to want to call themselves that.  There aren’t even any Baptist churches represented in the international organization, World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).  It’s good, then, to see that another book I have here, which I’ll write about later (God willing), is written by a Baptist (C. Gordon Olson):  Getting the Gospel Right: A Balanced View of Salvation Truth (the cover shows a balanced scale with Arminianism on one side and Calvinism on the other).  A small book published by the Calvary Church group also presents a middle-ground approach, which that semi-denomination adheres to:  The Five Points of Calvinism: “Weighed and Found Wanting” (George L. Bryson).  Many of the books that Roger Olson uses and recommends are listed at the end of this post.  Three links for further reading now are also provided.

In the title of this post I wrote that Against Calvinism is a counterpoint book.  I used that term because Zondervan published For Calvinism first, and this book is the good or evil twin of that one – but Zondervan doesn’t appear to have a name for these related books (like a counterpoint series or something along those lines).  Olson calls his book little, but it’s not, really.  It has fairly small print and lots of details, though it is smaller compared with the other Olson book mentioned above (Getting the Gospel Right appears to cover more verses, passages, and various interpretations more specifically).

The point is, it has a lot in it, and it’s been hard to decide what to include in this post.   First, I’ll do the obvious thing and briefly outline the main points of high Calvinism, together with counterpoints.   Second, I’ll provide statements and/or questions that typical “new Calvinists” make, with Olson’s responses (some truncated).   And lastly, I’ll include Olson’s mini instructive scenarios that illustrate the different views of salvation grace as they are found in Semi-Pelagianism (it’s a person’s choice), Monergism (Calvinism – it’s all God’s choice), and Evangelical Synergism (Protestant Arminianism – it’s both a person’s choice and God’s choice).  Of course, for the detailed information with all the technical terms, read Olson’s book.

Main Points of High Calvinism with Counterpoints, Briefly Stated

T = Total Depravity.  This refers to humans’ total spiritual depravity, or their spiritual deadness.  Since we are spiritually dead, God needs to intervene in order for us to be regenerated.  Non-Calvinists don’t have much argument with this in general – it is the method and timing of regeneration that is at issue (see the other letters in the TULIP).

U = Unconditional Election.  This refers to being elected by God to salvation, and the believer being predestined.  All Christians believe in election, but not all believe that God chooses people and passes over other people only because God decided specifically.  Calvinists believe people have nothing at all to do with it – they don’t respond to the Gospel themselves – and that it is only God’s choice.  This logically leads to the doctrine of double predestination: there are people chosen by God to go to heaven and the others are chosen to go to hell.  This abrogates human responsibility and so is deemed immoral by non-Calvinists.

L = Limited Atonement (or particular redemption).  Non-Calvinists and some Calvinists (four-pointers) reject the idea of limited atonement outright as being unbiblical.  It denies the plain and supported meanings of  verses like 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 4:10, and others, that convey that Christ’s blood was and is enough for all (if the whole world accepted Christ’s work and God’s gift, Christ’s sacrifice would be enough to cover everyone).  Calvinists of course use other verses to support their theology, and try to explain away verses that say that Christ died for all.  They claim that God intended Christ’s blood for the elect only; as such, they cannot preach to an open crowd that “Christ died for your sins.”  Olson goes into detail about this (in chapter six).  As Olson wrote, “To paraphrase John Wesley, this seems to be such a love and compassion as makes the blood run cold” (p 49).

I = Irresistible Grace (or effectual or efficacious grace, or Monergism).  This seems to be the most flagrantly or glaringly contradictory claim of the lot.  While Calvinists say that God draws the elect – only – and they cannot resist it (it’s irresistible), they also claim (somehow) that it’s not forced on those chosen.  Huh?  Well yes, in Calvinism it is forced on them.  God changes their hearts without their permission; it’s only after God does this that they respond to him, in fact.   Since people are dead spiritually and can’t respond in any case, in Calvinism, it is all God’s doing.  In non-Calvinistic theologies, God has provided a type of grace that draws all people first – some accept this draw and some reject it.  “The ordinary message of the gospel for most evangelical Christians is ‘believe and be saved,’ based on Scripture passages such as John 3:1-21, in which Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again and that belief in him will accomplish that (v. 14).  There is really no way to reconcile this passage with belief that regeneration precedes faith” (p 52).

P = Perseverance.  This doctrine is the least controversial and is not really discussed much by Olson.  He points out that Lutherans and Free Will Baptists reject it, but that Arminius hadn’t made up his mind about it.

Excerpts from “Responses to Calvinist Claims” (pp 188 – 192)

“1.  Any other view of God’s sovereignty than Calvinism diminishes the glory of God; only ‘the doctrines of grace’ fully honor and uphold God’s glory.  It all depends on what “God’s glory” means.  If it means power, then perhaps this is correct.  But power isn’t glorious except when guided by goodness and love.  Hitler was powerful but obviously not glorious.  Jesus Christ revealed God as ‘our Father’ and therefore as good and loving.  In fact, high Calvinism (TULIP), wrongly labeled ‘the doctrines of grace’ by Calvinists, diminishes God’s glory by depicting him as malicious and arbitrary.  Furthermore, if Calvinism is correct, nothing can ‘diminish the glory of God’ [including real or perceived views of him] because God foreordained everything for his glory.”

“2.  Non-Calvinist theologies of salvation, such as Arminianism, make salvation dependent on good works because the sinner’s decision to accept Christ is made the decisive factor in his or her salvation.  It seems more the case that Calvinism makes salvation dependent on good works or something good about person elected to salvation, or else how does God choose them out of the mass of people destined for hell?  It’s either something God sees in them, or else God’s choice of them is arbitrary and capricious.  Furthermore, Arminian theology does not make salvation dependent on good works; all the ‘work’ of salvation is God’s.  The sinner is enabled to repent and believe by God’s prevenient grace and the bare decision to accept God’s salvation is not a good work; it is simply accepting the gift of grace. . . . ”

“5. Only Calvinism can account for God’s sovereignty over nature and history; unless God foreordains and controls every event, down to the smallest puff of existence and down to every thought and intention of the mind and heart, God cannot be sovereign.  This is not what ‘sovereignty’ means in any human context.  A human sovereign is in charge but not in control of what goes on in his or her realm.  God can steer the course of nature and history toward his intended goal and assure that they reach it without controlling everything.  God is like the master chess player who knows how to respond to every move his opponent makes.  There is no danger of God’s ultimate will not being done.  In fact, Calvinism cannot explain the Lord’s Prayer that teaches us to pray, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ which implies that God’s will is not already being done on earth.  According to Calvinism, it is!”

“7. Reformed theology, Calvinism, is the only solid foundation for conservative, biblical Christian theology.  All other approaches, such as Arminianism, a man-centered theology, inevitably lead to liberal theology.  Arminianism is not a ‘man-centered theology’ but a God-centered theology.  It is driven entirely and exclusively by a vision of God’s unconditional goodness and love.  The one main reason Arminians and other non-Calvinists believe in free will is to preserve and protect Cod’s goodness so as not to make him the author of sin and evil.  Calvinism makes it difficult to recognize the difference between God and the devil except that the devil wants everyone go to hell and God wants many to go to hell.  Arminian theology does not lead into liberal theology.  If anything, Calvinism does that.  Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern liberal theology, was a Calvinist!  He never even considered Arminianism; he moved right from conservative, high Calvinism to universalism while holding onto God’s meticulous providence even over evil.  Most of the nineteenth-century liberal theologians were former Calvinists who came to abhor its vision of God and developed liberal theology without any help from classical Arminianism. . . . ”

8. God has a right to do whatever he wants to with his creatures and especially with sinners who all deserve damnation.  His goodness is shown in his merciful rescue of some sinners; he owes nothing to anyone.  Those he passes over deserve hell.  While it may be true that everyone deserves hell, although even many Calvinists hesitate to say that about children, God is a God of love who genuinely desires all people to be saved, as the New Testament clearly testifies in 1 Timothy 2:4 ‘who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’  There is no way to get around the fact that ‘all people’ means every single person without exception.  The issue is not fairness but love.  A God who could save everyone because he always saves unconditionally but chooses only some would  not be a good or loving God.  He would certainly not be the God of 1 Timothy 2:4 and similar passages.’

“11. Non-Calvinist theologies such as Arminianism believe in something that is impossible: libertarian free will–belief that free decisions and actions simply come from nowhere.  Calvinism and some other theologies, as well as many philosophers, know that ‘free will’ simply means doing what you want to do and people are always controlled by their strongest motives, so being able to do otherwise–libertarian free will-is an illusion.” [Apparently, these people never make tough decisions based on multiple choices, like over which house or car or whatever to buy, where to go to college, which job to take, etc. etc.]   “If ‘free will’ only means doing what you want to do even though you couldn’t do otherwise, how is anyone responsible for what they do?  If a murderer, for example, could not have done otherwise than murder, then a judge or jury should find him not guilty–perhaps by reason of insanity.  Moral responsibility, accountability, and guilt depend on ability to do otherwise–libertarian freedom.  The Calvinist view of ‘free will’ isn’t really free will at all. . . .”

Mini Scenarios that Illustrate Different Views of Saving Grace (pp 172 -173)

First, imagine a deep pit with steep, slippery sides.  Several people are lying broken and wounded, utterly helpless [reflecting our fallen and depraved nature], at the bottom of the pit.

  • Semi-Pelagianism says that God comes along and throws a rope down to the bottom of the pit and waits for a person to start pulling on it.  Once he does, God responds by yelling, “Grab it tight and wrap it around yourself.  Together we’ll get you out.”  The problem is, the person is too hurt to do that, the rope is too weak, and God is too good to wait for the person to initiate the process.
  • Monergism says God comes along, throws a rope down into the pit, and climbs down it, wrapping it around some of the people and then goes back out of the pit and pulls them to safety without any cooperation.  The problem is that the God of Jesus Christ is too good and loving to rescue only some of the helpless people.
  • Evangelical synergism says that God comes along and throws a rope down and yells, “Grab onto it and pull and together we’ll get you out!”  Nobody moves.  They are too wounded.  In fact, for all practical purposes they are “dead” because they are utterly helpless.  So God pours water into the pit and yells, “Relax and let the water lift you out!”  In other words, “Float!”  All a person in the pit has to do to be rescued is let the water lift him or her out of the pit.  It takes a decision, but not an effort.  The water, of course, is prevenient grace.

*       *       *

Thanks for reading, and let me leave you with some verses worth considering.

“My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:11-13).

““My [Jesus’] prayer is not for them alone [those living at that time]. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23, emphasis added).

With how divisive and divided Christ’s church is today, how can those looking in from the outside see that God sent Christ?  Can our lack of unity, and sometimes vicious acts toward one another, actually imply that God cannot accomplish what Jesus prayed for (so they are basically false)?  I don’t know the answer for sure, since it’s all too obvious that Christians have chosen men to be leaders in the faith over Christ as the head; I don’t know how that can change in actual application.  And, considering what Paul had said (in the quote above), it seems it may be true that the great apostasy already had started in the early church.  Pray for more unity as well as guidance from the Holy Spirit for all.

*       *       *

For further reading on this subject right now, go to Molinism vs Calvinism, at Reasonable Faith (if you read this to the end then know, too, that some Calvinists have altered Molinism to fit into Calvinism more, and Olson has a small section on this in his book),  Confessions of an Arminian Evangelical, and Calvin’s Comeback? The Irresistible Reformer (in The Christian Century – you need to register to read it).

*       *       *

Recommended readings from “Against Calvinism” (in alphabetical order by title, excluding The and A):

Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (Roger Olson, InterVarsity Press 2006).

The Doors of the Sea: Where was God in the Tsunami? (David Bentley Hart, Eerdmans 2005).

The Freedom of God: A Study of Election and Pulpit (James Daane, Eerdmans 1973).

God’s Universal Salvific Grace (Vernon C Grounds, Bethany 1975).

The Great Debate: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Salvation (Alan PF Sell, Baker 1982).

Is God to Blame? (Gregory A Boyd, InterVarsity Press 2003).

A Scandalous Providence: The Jesus Story of the Compassion of God (E Frank Tupper, Mercer Univ. Press 1995).

The Transforming Power of Grace (Thomas Oden, Abingdon Press 1993).

What the Bible says about God the Ruler (Jack Cottrell, Eerdmans 1991).

Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism (DL Allen and SW Lemke, editors, Broadman & Holman 2010).

Why I Am Not a Calvinist (J Walls and J Dongell, InterVarsity Press 2004).

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26 thoughts on ““Against Calvinism,” a counterpoint book by Roger E. Olson”

  1. As a four-point Calvinist (or perhaps Amyraldist), I just want to say that few who critique Calvin have read him and many who claim to be Calvinist push predestination farther than he was comfortable doing. I would look into the work of French Reformationist Moïse Amyraut for another view that acknowledges what traditional Arminianism and Calvinism neglect: the fact that they are trying to impose temporal processes and logic on an eternal God. Paul clearly teaches both predestination and free will in Romans 9 and 10 and does not feel compelled (or, perhaps, qualified) to explain the tension away. Maybe we could all stand to learn from that example.

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    1. The author of the book has read him and those who follow him in various degrees, having studied the subject for a very long time. I affirm the mysteries in the Bible without rejecting it, since God is beyond our full understanding. I’m not seeking to get more in-depth into people’s arguments, since faith and love for God is what we need to be saved. I think Olson would agree. He is against what seems to be ungodly and hurtful dogmatism, dogmatism that isn’t true and is a bad witness to Christianity. From my experience, I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for commenting!

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    2. You’re begging the question as to just what was “predestined” in Romans 9. Your complementarianism simply won’t work.

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      1. These are old comments, and I’m not sure what you’re getting at. My comment above yours here is fine. Paul warned against useless arguments. Trusting God in faith is what is needed and required, not trying to figure out how God works in every detail, which is obviously impossible. We’re not equal to God and can’t understand everything about Him and His spiritual realm (at least not yet, anyway).

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        1. @Vicki: Hello, Vicki. You have a great site, which is why I want to read your writings and periodically comment, especially on this issue. You said, “These are old comments….”

          True – but new to me. I’m attempting to contribute something useful to the conversation, in case old readers revisit, or new readers (like me) discover the webpage.

          [[…and I’m not sure what you’re getting at. My comment above yours here is fine.]]

          Of course. As I’ve clarified with my post immediately before this one, I was directing my question to someone else, not to you.

          [[ Trusting God in faith is what is needed and required, not trying to figure out how God works in every detail, which is obviously impossible. We’re not equal to God and can’t understand everything about Him and His spiritual realm (at least not yet, anyway).]]

          I completely agree in principle. However, as I’m sure you’d also agree, there’s a right way and a wrong way to exegete the Scriptures, and the wrong way is to (a) ignore context, and (b) produce conflicting interpretations of different passages and try to force-fit those conflicting interpretations into one theological system, when they can’t logically be made to fit.

          Ergo, I was challenging Hudson’s self-conflicted interpretation of Romans 9.

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    3. [**Note: I’m re-posting this, because when I clicked “Reply” the first time, I mistakenly assumed my reply would show up immediately beneath Hudson Shires’, and that my reply would also be block-indented. It turned out to be divorced from the context, and therefore made no sense.]

      @Hudson Shires: You said, “Paul clearly teaches both predestination and free will in Romans 9 and 10 and does not feel compelled (or, perhaps, qualified) to explain the tension away.”

      You’re presupposing (a) a Calvinistic understanding of predestination, followed by (b) a complementarian view of Calvinistic predestination and free will here. But your assertion only begs the question: What is the /meaning/ of “predestination” in Romans 9 (or anywhere else, for that matter), such that it can /logically/ be joined with human decisionmaking capacity…?

      Why do you assume the illogical position of complementarian election, when another interpretation is contextually possible, and, I would argue, preferable?

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    1. An assault in progress…Christianforums.com/soteriology

      by nobdysfool

      It seems that the anti-Calvinists have decided to launch an all-out assault on Calvinists in the Soteriology forum. Many of us Calvinists have decided to just sit back and let them run with it for a while, and true to form, they have begun making fools out of themselves. They are failing miserably. The sheer amount of misinformation displayed is staggering!

      It seems obvious to me that so much misinformation about Calvinism is being promoted because Calvinist theology is a true threat to the status quo of many churches in America, as well as the UK, Canada, and even Australia. And yet the predominate theological understanding of Christians in China, is Calvinist. China is a field ripe for harvest, there is a real hunger there, and the Calvinist teachings have taken root and have grown very quickly in China and the Far East.

      So much for the claim by these yobs in the forum that Calvinism is a failed, false theology. They simply do not know what they’re talking about. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comical….

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      1. I’m sorry, but your comments are comical. We’re ALL Christians, not Calvinists, who believe in Christ and obey Him. I’m sad if the forum where you’re from is out of hand, but from your comments here, it’s not surprising. Did you read my presentation of Olsen’s book here, or read his book yourself? Maybe you should inform yourself. Calvin didn’t even believe all the tenants of scholastic Calvinism. The state of faith in the world today is appalling. in good measure because Calvinists like yourself think everyone else is wrong somehow, want to rub it in their faces, and take over . . . the Bible is God’s word. God didn’t mean for anyone or any group to usurp His word or the head of His church, Jesus Christ. I’m a follower of Christ, and He should be glorified, honored, and spread . . . not Calvin. Your words are no different than any other cult-like group that wants to “win.” The Lord help us all, indeed.

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      2. dear nobdysfool, I seen the discussion on Christian forums about the Unpardonable sin. For some reason it is not letting me post. I a wondering why it is unpardonable

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        1. Hi Ryan. I don’t know if that person will come back here, and regarding that site you’d have to deal with them there. Regarding the unpardonable sin, however, I thought I’d give you the verse and a bit of context. Luke 12:10 gives the verse: “everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” Mark 3:28 says the same way but a little differently: “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” The context of this verse is that some of the Jews were saying that the work Jesus was doing was from Satan, and not God (the Holy Spirit). It seems that the same is inferred for Luke 12 since Jesus is telling his disciples not to be afraid when brought before the authorities because of Him and God’s work.

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  2. In response to “Help required at http://www.christianforums.com/f83/
    “The Arminian God creates men He knows will end up in hell”

    Question – Do the non elect have an opportunity to repent ? Calvinist Griff says no.

    Calvinist hammster replies

    “Anytime they hear the gospel, they have the opportunity to repent.”

    Response by calvinist proxy griff
    So you believe the non-elect are able to repent?

    Which is it ? this is an example of the muddle headed calvinist destroying peoples faith. Please join up and defend the true gospel.

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    1. Hi Paul. Your comment almost got trashed since WordPress had put it in the Spam folder. I guess because of the link and certain words in the post. Anyway, I caught it . . . but I don’t know if I trashed others that were in the Spam folder.

      I’ve had enough of nasty boards, so while I checked the board out previously, I don’t intend to get involved there. I’m not trying to put anyone down, I’m just talking about myself. If anyone wishes to go and see what all the fighting is about, that is up to them – it just goes to prove the message of Olson’s book. And if anyone wishes to join the fray, that is up to them and their calling.

      I have faith in God that He will move all true believer’s in the right direction. Some people are much more into listening to God and being changed than others. When I was a young Christian (young in the faith, not in age), I gobbled up the Bible. Then I started to read commentaries. I’m like, what is with this Calvinist – Arminian thing? At the time, I was in contact with some Korean Christians in this country, and the adult son was going to a Christian university. I asked him about it, and his reaction was: the roll of the eyes. That is my reaction too. The whole controversy is absurd, and the more I see of it the more satanic I think it is. Jesus is to be lifted up, not Calvin (I don’t see many lift up Arminius, and in fact, many people just use all the passages in the Bible and don’t follow a particular theologian) nor any other human. It is a mystery, and we are to be OK with mysteries since God’s ways are above our ways, and His understanding so much more than ours. We have NO IDEA how heaven works or glorified bodies work, so there’s no shame in admitting we don’t know all in how salvation works.

      One of the things that I found most disturbing after reading Olson’s book was the fact that writers like Sproul were so subtle – you can be drawn into Calvinism without knowing it at first – and then find yourself defending it without really knowing what the problems are. Anyway, that’s enough for me on this today. Got to go. The Lord bless and keep you!

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      1. Thanks for you post.

        I would like to emphasis your last point :

        “writers like Sproul were so subtle – you can be drawn into Calvinism without knowing it at first – and then find yourself defending it without really knowing what the problems are”

        This is so true. On the one hand I wish for strong Arminian debaters to get involve in the fray. BUT, based on personal experience, I would strongly advise all others to walk away and shake the dust of there feet.

        I believe you are correct. The dispute is satanic and as you said above “It is a mystery, and we are to be OK with mysteries since God’s ways are above our ways”. This is the bottom line and is as far as any human is going to get.

        Best wishes and blessings to you.

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  3. I can’t wait till God is burning all the Calvinist devil worshipers in hell. They’ve completely destroyed the west, and they’re trying to destroy Christianity. That’s the goal. Denying the moral foundations of Christianity at every turn, and making it just another mithraic mystery cult. The atheists are right to say Jesus is just Mithras if we’re talking about Calvinism, because all the moral content of Christianity and personal responsibility, the notion of living right, its all thrown out the window. If God saves so much as one Calvinist, then Christ was crucified for nothing because these Christ-haters have never done anything their whole lives but blaspheme his holy name.

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    1. Ha ha (uneasy laugh), well, I empathize with your sentiments when running into high Calvinists that just go around telling people that they are going to hell for not interpreting things as they do. That’s what THEY say, I mean; there’s a difference between interpreting text, and ignoring text. They ignore important texts. In any case, the book author had that happen to him, which was just crazy. Literally, the person who said that to him was quite blinded.

      I wanted to provide a link for anyone wanting to know about Mithras. I didn’t know about this “god” and his cult before, so others may not know either. http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/mithras/display.php?page=main According to this article, not much is known about Mithras and it doesn’t provide any beliefs that the cult held to; perhaps there are other sources that have more, but I’d be careful if they claim to know a lot about Mithraic beliefs, and check out the sources.

      I wanted to say some more, as I think God does love us and wishes that all would come to Him. Therefore, I do think we should pray for blinded persons who are deceived by certain Calvinists. There are destructive wolves in Christ’s church: “Every plant which my heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:13-14) It’s interesting that he said to leave them alone and to let the blind fall. Perhaps those who remain blind and go into the pit have no real desire for the truth.

      But, back to the love and salvation wishes of God. We are to tell people the Good News and pray for others’ salvation, and to have mercy, so I think it would be good to pray for anyone that wants to know the truth but seems caught up in a lie, for them to be able to see God’s truth and walk in it–and walk away from anyone teaching a different way. I’m sure there are many who hear Calvinists preach who simply don’t know any better – but that is why we and they need to confirm words preached by consulting scripture, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). John also exhorts us to pray for others: “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for those who sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death. I don’t say that he should make a request concerning this.” (1 John 5:16) The sin leading to death I assume is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Are certain Calivinists committing the unpardonable sin by blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit? I don’t know, but I think it good to pray for all persons to have their eyes opened to God’s actual work and real intentions, to His character and to Himself.

      It IS very frustrating to see people deceiving others over something so important, about their very lives even . . . it is hateful, and hate is flung at us. It does amaze though that people aren’t willing to check scripture and commentaries, to really search for the truth. People just latch onto some “team,” blindly it seems, and then become bulldogs for that team. In this regard I think Mormonism is much more insidious and obviously dismaying.

      I wish I could have written this better. I feel my head is just not in the best place writing-wise right now. God bless anyway!

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        1. Jesus mentions this in Mark 3, Matthew 12:31-32, and Luke 12:10. From Mark 3:28-29: “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” You can read the context in that chapter, which is that some Jews were accusing Jesus of doing the devils’ work when He was doing God’s; so, claiming that what the Holy Spirit is doing is from Satan instead is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

          This is from Matthew 12:30-32 – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Again, going and reading more of the context will help with understanding.

          Since a job of the Holy Spirit is to draw people to God, I personally would be very careful when talking about who He calls and who He doesn’t call, how He does it, etc. I wouldn’t claim anything about it, really, except what God specifically gives us in scripture.

          After this set of verses is one my favorite passages. Jesus talks about the sign of Jonah, and how that is the only sign given them (it’s not really, but as a sign with overall meaning, yes, it seems so). Jonah seemed dead for three days, rose out of the fish or whale, preached, and then the evilest of cities repented. Jesus will die and save all who repent and accept His word.

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            1. My understanding about why this sin is unpardonable is that it reflects the final decision and heart of the person who commits it. The person who commits it has already made his/her decision to reject God’s work. All other sins are presumed to be forgivable because the person has the chance or ability to repent, but what Jesus said implies that the person committing this sin would never repent of it. In Hard Sayings of the Bible, the conclusion on this subject is: “In Mark’s context, then, the sin against the Holy Spirit involves deliberately shutting one’s eyes to the light and consequently calling good evil; in Luke . . . it is irretrievable apostasy. Probably these are not really two conditions but one–not unlike the condition which Plato described as having the lie in the soul” (p 417). What I’ve read and heard pastors say, is, if you are concerned about this sin, then you haven’t committed it. Thanks for asking, Ryan – the Lord bless you!

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  4. HI Paula

    Just for info as you have been abused by ‘Christian’ on some forums. One of the chief trolls at CF – griff,- discovered and outed as Brandon Griffin. He has been disciplined by his employer for spending so much time at work trolling Christian.

    Suddenly all trace of him disappears from CF and another years old poster suddenly becomes active.

    ONLY a moderator could do this. Which is why I have copied this information. The hate ‘gang’ on http://www.chistianforums.com/f83 are ALL going to be outed, their employers and Churches informed. I.e name and shame in order to put a stop to there antics.

    griff – [email removed]

    cygnusx1 [email removed]
    http://careybaptistchurch.co.uk/contact-us

    ‘fool – [email removed]

    crimsonleaf – http://crimsonleaf.co.uk/

    —————————————

    Hi Chris

    Just a heads up.

    Have you noticed that ALL (and I mean ALL) trace of griff – brandon griffing – has disappeared from CF?

    Every post, thread, appearance in friends list. Gone from http://www.christianforums.com/groups/399/.

    As he he was never there. Apart from the damage he has done to a lot of peoples faith.

    Interesting huh. Maybe you have also noticed a newcomer the Soteriology. How odd !

    This demonstrates the TOTALLY dishonest-tactics used by mr Hamm. Who else could and would want to do these things ? Not a genuine Christian.

    Further investigation show the hunters killers activities. Read this. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=505554966187600&id=188504714559295

    ALso if you google jim Scwan amd Empowere you will find Jim – nobdysfool run a ponsi scheme scam.
    Part of the fun is to get attention – particularby face book. They call them it ‘marketing’.

    Im just letting you know this due to your health issues. Don’t let these guys wind you up. They are con men. Maybe post this on CF !

    Regards and be blessed.

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  5. Hi Paul. I’m not sure what is going on here . . . if this is somehow the only way to communicate with these people . . . but I removed people’s emails that you had listed. My blog isn’t the place for listing people’s emails. I hate forums like that, with people trolling and making Jesus look bad. Jesus is Lord, and all true believers are His body, so true believers would not be acting like Satan within Christ’s own body.

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  6. Hello, you might be interested by my own case against reformed theology.

    After having introduced it, I explained what my own experiences with Calvinists were.

    Afterwards, I explained why the idea of a inherited sinful nature cannot be found within the text of Genesis.

    I then went on arguing that the doctrine of God’s secrete will (predetermining us to act badly) is a blasphemous non-sense flying in the face of many Biblical texts.

    Finally I showed that there is no difference between single and double predestination: in both cases, God predetermined countless people to be eternally tortured.

    I called this series “Naked Calvinism” because I want everyone to contemplate the true (and awful) face of this theology.

    So, I’d greatly appreciate your own thoughts on all that stuff 🙂

    Cheers.

    Like

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