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Old 02-09-2009, 01:49 PM
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Default CALVINISM: Sound Doctrine?

Over the past year there have been several Posts on this Forum concerning Calvinism (pro & con), and there are several members of this Forum, who I believe are genuine Bible believers, that also have embraced John Calvin's Doctrines. The following comments are in regards to statements and comments made about Calvinism (pro & con) on the Forum and are my personal beliefs regarding the issue.

For the last few months I have been doing a study on Calvinism (not yet completed) which is far too lengthy to post in a single Post, and so over the next few days (weeks? ) I shall Post my personal study on this issue in six parts - #1. An Introduction; #2. "Total Depravity"; #3. "Unconditional Election"; #4. "Limited Atonement"; #5. "Irresistible Grace"; and #6. "Perseverance of the Saints". {T.U.L.I.P. - the famous acronym associated with Calvinistic beliefs}

Doctrinal matters and differences cannot be settled by a couple of verses and a few comments. Although much of the Bible is "plain to him that understandeth", there "are some things hard to be understood". There is the "milk of the word" and then there is the "strong meat":

1 Corinthians 3:2
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
Hebrews 5:12
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Hebrews 5:13
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
1 Peter 2:2
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1 Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

When dealing with John Calvin's Doctrines (Calvinism) it is necessary to get into some "strong meat" and those who delve into this issue must - "have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil".
Quote:
The Five Points of Calvinism
{THE CALVINIST CORNER <> www.calvinistcorner.com}
There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism. Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500's at the time of Martin Luther who sparked the Reformation.

The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual, where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples' sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some Armenians believe you cannot lose your salvation).

Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (
also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (
also known as Once Saved Always Saved)
These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.

Total Depravity:
Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.
The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick (Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine."
Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

Unconditional Election:
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

Limited Atonement:
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many'; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

Irresistible Grace:
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy"; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.

Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.
Before we can deal with a particular issue concerning the Holy Scriptures, it is best if we define the issue (or the parameters concerning the issue). I believe that the foregoing description of Calvinism is a fair representation of what Calvinists believe (Please Notice: The above description of Calvinism is NOT what I “think” it is – the definition is by Calvinists themselves.)

Let me state from the start: I am NOT a “Calvinist”; or an “Armenian”; or a “Ruckmanite”; or any other kind of “ist’, “ian”, or “ite”! I am simply a Bible believing Christian. I do NOT believe in, NOR follow “Calvinism”, “Arminianism”, “Ruckmanism”, or any other man made “ism”! I believe in the Holy Scriptures (the King James Bible), and endeavor to follow them – NOT men!

Before we begin a Scriptural examination of John Calvin’s doctrine (Calvinism), in addition to defining Calvinism, it is necessary to define (according to the Scriptures) the “Attributes” of both God and man, in order to establish a Biblical Foundation upon which to build good, sound, pure, and uncorrupt doctrine. Later on in this study, it shall become clear as to why it was necessary to first, establish what man’s “attributes” are, and to discern the distinct purpose each one of them serves.

THE BIBLE’S DESCRIPTION OF GOD

God Is a Tri-Part Being – {Body – Soul – Spirit = God's "Substance"}

1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {NOTICE: “NAME” - NOT “NAMES”!}


The Substantive Attributes of God are: God Is Eternal = I AM

Self Existing {Without Beginning or End of Existence / Immortal-Perpetual-Unchangeable}

Omniscient {All-Knowing - All-Seeing}

Omnipotent {All Powerful – Unlimited Power}

Omnipresent {Everywhere - Present in all places at the same time}


God Possesses a Heart and a Mind = {God’s “Faculties”}

1 Samuel 2:35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

Job 23:13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

Romans 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

The Moral Attributes of God are: God Is HOLY

HOLY{Perfectly Pure – Sacred) {HOLINESS is God’s Primary Moral Attribute}

Just {Righteous, Principled, Upright, Equitable, Impartial}

Truth
{True, Genuine, Faithful, Honest, Veracity, Fidelity}

Love
{Benevolence, Good Will, Charitable}

Mercy
{Grace, Pardon, Compassionate, Pitiful}


THE BIBLE’S DESCRIPTION OF MAN

Man is a Tri-Part Being – {Body - Soul - Spirit = Man’s Substance}
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Substantive Attributes of Man are: Man is Mortal
(With Beginning and End – Subject to Death, Judgment & Eternal Punishment)

Man Has:
{Limited Knowledge & Limited Understanding}

{Limited Power & Limited Abilities}

{A Limited Presence – Confined to His Body}


Man possesses a Heart, a Mind, & a Conscience* = {Man’s “Faculties”}

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Mark
12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Titus 1:15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.


* Adam was originally created in the “Image of God” (Body, Soul, Spirit, Heart, and Mind).

It is my belief that Adam acquired a conscience along with his sinful nature (and passed these on to mankind) when Adam and Eve sinned and disobeyed God by partaking of the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Main Purpose of Man’s Three (3) Faculties

The HEART - MOTIVATES

The MIND - FACILITATES

The CONSCIENCE - REGULATES


The Moral Attributes of Man are: Man is Sinful
{All men & women are born with a sinful naturewhich adversely affects all of their “Attributes”}

ALL OF MAN’S ATTRIBUTES: Man’s “Substance” {Body-Soul-Spirit} and Man’s “Faculties” {Heart-Mind-Conscience} are adversely affected by his/her sinful nature – and as such:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” [Romans 3:23]

A Scriptural examination into the nature of the attributes of man reveals that, unlike all of God’s other creatures upon earth, man is a “spiritual” being {soul, spirit, heart, mind, conscience} living within a physical body {ourflesh”}.

The following are the Scriptural Definitions of the words body, soul & spirit {our substance} and conscience, mind, & heart {our faculties} Webster’s & Strong’s aren't much help when it comes to "spiritual" definitions of certain Bible words of spiritual importance.

THE BODY (FLESH) = Our Tabernacle [2 Peter 13-14]:
The Scriptures describe the body (flesh) as being that substance within which our soul, spirit, conscience, mind, and heart reside.

THE SOUL {Approximately 498 Verses} = Our Essence:
According to the Scriptures the soul is that substance within a man or a woman, which is the very essence of their being. The soul within a man or woman is that substance that distinguishes mankind from all of the other living creatures in God’s creation. The soul is that substance which separates an individual from every other individual and makes them unique.

THE SPIRIT {Approximately 134 Verses} = Our Life:
The spirit (pertaining only to mankind) is that substance {which is given by God} within a man or woman wherein our very life resides i.e. the spirit is life itself. In the Bible the spirit is separate and distinct from the heart and the soul in purpose, though it may have some similar characteristics.

THE CONSCIENCE {Approximately 30 Verses} = Our Regulator:
The conscience is that faculty within a man or woman wherein resides the awareness of right and wrong (good and evil), and which influences the heart and mind as to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own affections & actions. According to the Scriptures the human heart and conscience are separate and distinct from each other in purpose and in operation. {Approximately 30 verses}

THE MIND {Approximately 108 Verses} = Our Facilitator:
The mind is that faculty within a man or woman wherein resides our intellect or intelligence. In the Bible the mind is separate and distinct from the heart in purpose, though sometimes similar in function and operation.


THE HEART {{Approximately 876 Verses} = Our Motivator

The heart is that faculty within a man or woman which is the center or seat of our: 1. thoughts, 2. meditations, 3. considerations, 4. perceptions, 5. concepts, 6. reasoning, 7.understanding, 8. beliefs, 9.imaginations, 10. fears, 11. doubts, 12. counsels, 13. intents, 14. desires (affections - emotions), and 15. pride. The heart is where the 16. will resides and operates.

1. Job 17:11; 2. Psalms 19:14; 3. Deuteronomy 8:5; 4. Deuteronomy 29:4; 5. Acts 5:4; 6. Mark 2:8; 7. Proverbs 8:5; 8. Romans 10:9-10; 9. Genesis 6:5; 10. Isaiah 35:4, Luke 21:26; 11. Mark 11:23; 12. Jeremiah 7:24; 13. Hebrews 4:12; 14. Psalms 37:4, Colossians 3:2; 15. 2 Chronicles 32:26; 16. Psalms 101:2, Psalms 119:69, Psalms 119:145, Isaiah 32:6, 1 Corinthians 7:37, Ephesians 6:6.

It is absolutely necessary to define words and establish parameters when it comes to Scriptural issues in order to demonstrate that ALL of the attributes of man (Substance & Faculties) are clearly different from each other and serve a separate and distinct purpose, although at times, some may be similar in function and operation (for instance: the soul & spirit, or the mind & heart).

The problem is, that for all of these years (since the time of Calvin and before), most of the “scribes” and “scholars” have failed to DEFINE the “ATTRIBUTES” of man {according to the Scriptures}, and in failing to do so, they often confused (i.e. mixed up) the “soul” & the “spirit” (of man). Most of the Reformers believed that man was a “dichotomy” (that man’s “Substance” consisted of just a body and a soul/spirit – believing that the soul & the spirit were one and the same thing!)

And not only that, they either failed to recognize the importance of our “Faculties” (Heart, Mind, & Conscience); or to distinguish between the “heart”, the “mind” and the “conscience”; or they thought that they all were the "same" - which they are NOT! (Psychiatrists and Psychologists make the same mistake today – thinking that our physical brain = our heart, our mind, and our conscience – which it does NOT! [1Corinthians 2:16 & Philippians 2:5]

We are now ready to examine the doctrine of John Calvin (Calvinism) in the light of the God’s Holy Scriptures {The King James Bible}:

Firstly - I do not accept the premise that: There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism.

There is a “THIRD CAMP” (that most Calvinists refuse to recognize), of which I am a member. I will not let anyone “classify” me (or what I believe) in ONLY ONE of two possible camps, simply because they do not believe that a “Third Camp” exists – or because they refuse to recognize it. And herein lays my first “problem” with Calvinism (or more properly – with some Calvinists): When there is a disagreement amongst Christians (over doctrine or issues of importance), the ability to “DEFINE” the issues cannot be controlled by only one of those parties!

Let us calmly (& respectfully) examine what has been said about Calvinism (and Arminianism) in the light of the Holy Scriptures and try to see what God has to say about the matter. {Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.} See also:John 5:39

According to the Calvinists:
Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin.”
and:
“The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word.”

Whether the claim that Calvinism honestly -adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word.” {All Denominations, Sects, and Cults basically make the same claims} is true or not, is not as important as the fact thata system of biblical interpretation and theological formulations are NOT Scripture – they are interpretations and formulations about Scripture, postulated and put forth by a man, and therefore subject to error (regardless of a supposed high view of Scripture . . . . based solely on God’s word).

I do not subscribe to a system of biblical interpretation or theological formulations derived by a mere man (or men), simply because he may have been “brilliant” or “sincere”, and was able to “codify” or “formulate” the Holy Scriptures into a system of biblical interpretation that may, or may not be true, but “makes sense” or “rings true” to some Christians.

I am very wary of all biblical systems of interpretation – since there are so many systems of theological formulations out in the world today that are false and contrary to “the Scripture of truth” - Hence my “concern” with all so-called Systematic Theologies. {Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.}

Calvinism: focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. {To which I believe that all genuine Bible believers would agree with and subscribe to.}

Calvinism:also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual, where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation. {I will deal with each of these points individually, as I proceed with my comments – except to say that, of the supposed “teachings” within the Bible, I can only agree with the last statement - only as stated.}

Calvinists Claim:Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples' sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some Armenians believe you cannot lose your salvation)”.

If the above representation of Arminianism is true, then there is a clear difference between what I believe and the doctrines of both “Calvinism” and “Arminianism”:

1. Unlike Arminianism (or as Calvinists purportedly report) - I did notPICK” the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour! I HEARD “the Gospel of Christ” (the same one preached by the Apostle Paul – [Romans 1:16, 15:19, 15:29]; and BELIEVED (in my heart) the word[Romans 10:17] ofGod concerning Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection [1 Corinthians 15:1-4]; and RECEIVED the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour [John 1:12] and became a son of God.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

I did not “PICK” Christ as my Saviour – I BELIEVED on Him and He saved me!

2. Unlike Calvinism - I believe that The Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and shed blood are totally sufficient for the sins of the whole world, but are only efficacious for those people who BELIEVE on Him!

1 Timothy 4:10For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that BELIEVE.

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

3.Unlike the way Calvinist’s explain how I supposedly believe (I just “decide”) or the way Arminianism may actually be - I just don’t DECIDE if I “want to be saved or not” – I must first BELIEVE the Gospel, before God saves me [Ephesians 1:13].

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that BELIEVE on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. {“nor of the will of the flesh” - I don’t DECIDE anything! God determined before the world began that those who will BELIEVE on His son shall be saved!}

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through himmight be saved.
18 He that BELIEVETH on him is not condemned: but he that BELIEVETH NOT is condemned already, because he hath NOT BELIEVED in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Notice - the “operative word” in all of the above testimony is “BELIEVE” (i.e. BELIEF). I believe that before anyone can receive salvation, they must first “BELIEVE” THE Gospel of Christ and then (and only then) will God save them.

4. Unlike most Armenians - I DO NOT believe that once a person is saved (born again) that they can “lose” their salvation. And Unlike most Calvinists -I believe GOD PRESERVES His saints – NOT in “the perseverance of the saints”.

Psalms 31:23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
Psalms 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
Psalms 97:10 Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.

Can any honest person say that I am a Calvinist? Does anyone sincerely believe that I am an Armenian? I trow not! I am a Bible believing Christian and refuse to join either “camp”. I guess you could say that I am “outside the camp” (and in good company!)

In my next Post I shall comment on the Calvinist doctrine of "TOTAL DEPRAVITY" {What I personally believe to be the "Linch Pin" of John Calvin's entire "doctrine" and upon which most of his other "doctrines" rest.}
 

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