Saturday, September 26, 2009

Living each day by the promises in God's word (if you're elect)

I'm still sick of the question of Calvinism. But the following occurred to me. (This always happens).

Maybe this is no problem for Calvinism. But it seems to me that if Calvinism is true a number of bibilical promises which one would have thought could be appropriated by believers in a straighforward manner have suppressed election clauses in them. I mean God can't be issuing these promises to people he has reprobated, surely.

James 1 2:3
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
(if you are elect).

I Cor 10:13
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
(If you are elect).

Hebrews 13:5b, 6
"...I will never leave you, nor forsake you; therefore I can boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man can do to me" (Hebrews 13:5b,6)
(Assuming, of course, that I am among the elect).

Romans 5:3-5
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
(Assuming, of course, that we are the among the elect).

The point is that these biblical letter-writers presumably issued these promises to church members in general, some of whom left the fold subsequently and died pagans. I would be curious to see what a Calvinist pastoral theology looks like in response to this.


Anonymous said...

Ever heard of the judgment of charity? Are you suggesting that Calvinism posits that elect people have red E's on their forehead and that they should not take people's profession of faith seriously and treat them as if what they professed was not true of them? You can't be serious.

James 1: 2,3 So you believe that people can have saving faith and then lose it? And you believe that the testing of some people's faith does not develop perseverance.

1 Cor 10:13 So why did the people you mention leave the church? If it was to all of them regardless, why did they get tempted and leave?

Heb 13:5,6 Guess God didn't help them to not leave the church. If a crafty non-believer got them to deny Christ, guess they should fear what some men can do to them.

Rom 5:3-5 Sucks that Jesus had to die for people that will leave the church and go to hell to pay for sins Jesus paid for. Or maybe we'll just give the atonement a makeover so natural man will not find it an ofense but would find it the most reasonable thing ever.

The point is you don't bother to give your "arguments" a second thought.

Another point you might want to consider is covenant theology and the Calvinist conception of its dual nature. Such a view easily accounts for these things. But studying the other side isn't something you're known for when it comes to Calvinism. Or so I've heard . . .

Victor Reppert said...

Quite the contrary, I am trying to get some sense of how Calvinists respond. I am quite sure that all the people who now populate Debunking Christianity introspectively felt sure that the truly believed, and did not expect to leave the fold.

I also indicated that this may not be a problem for Calvinism. It was an inquiry. You are the only one making it an attack.

But I think people who sin grievously, or experience severe doubts, or suffer spiritual failure of various sorts can, if they are Calvinists, come to doubt their own election.

A.M. Mallett said...

From a purely logical perspective, the Calvinist cannot claim an assurance of his "election" in that he must always be aware that the LORD has deterministically created his place of deceit. If Calvinist determinism be true God is well glorified by bringing a Calvinist to a place where he deceptively believes himself elect.

Victor Reppert said...

The entire Debunking Christianity site is maintained by people who were Christians and left the fold.

In other words, I take it to be Calvinist doctrine that it is not introspectively obvious whether one has saving faith or not. Loftus, Babinski, and the rest of them over there claim to have had felt as if they truly believed, even though they left the fold later. Anyone could end up "pulling a Loftus" at some future point.

What follows is that no Calvinist can be sure, with respect to any of the promises of God, whether or not they are addressed to them or not. They may or may not be depending on whether God has elected them or not.

Gregory said...

Victor, you have touched upon an important point. A very important point.

With Calvinism, you have to assume a duality in God's will. On the one hand, He wills that some be saved. On the other hand, He likewise wills that some not be saved. And if you are a supralapsarian, then the determination was done prior to the Fall. And, in that case, God imputes a "sin nature" upon Adam and Eve, causing them to fall from grace; and, which is then either traduced or covenantally imputed to the rest of humankind. Covenantal imputation (i.e. Federal representation) and traducianism do not square with the Scripture which says:

"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for their own sin."

--Deut. 24:16

I believe the Scriptures teach Ancestral Sin, not Original Sin. We, as individuals, "fall" on our own accord. But unlike Adam and Eve, we "fall" much easier than they did, since we are beset by much greater evil and temptation, due to a fallen environment.

Getting back to the notion of a duality in God's will, the problem I had as a Calvinist was trying to determine whether or not I was "elect", during long periods of doubt. The reasons for my doubts are complex and varied, but I did not ultimately find recourse or comfort in the Scriptures. And there were a couple reasons for this:

1) There is no passage stating specifically that I am written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12), so I couldn't find comfort going that route.

2) I couldn't count on my "works" for assurance, since "works" make no diffence in monergistic election (Isa. 64:6).

3) I couldn't count on the "indwelling of the Holy Spirit" because it was possible that I was deceived by an "angel of light" into thinking I had accepted the "real" Gospel and was, therefore, "elect" (2 Cor. 11:3,4,13-15).

4) I couldn't even count on "reasoning" to help me out, since that would be a concession to the wicked doctrine of "autonomy"....which would prove that I'm not really one of the "elect"!!!

Consequently, I fell into despair. And, what can anyone tell you when you are convinced that you are the new "Pharoah" or "King Saul" or "Judas Iscariot" or "Satan"? Or what can you offer to someone who believes they have "blasphemed the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 12:31,32)?

I didn't need to "go to hell", because I was already there!! It's a misery that I wouldn't wish upon even the most pompous and arrogant Calvinist.

There was no way to remedy this without descending into subjectivity and opinion. But that is precisely the crux of the matter. The qualia of my soul is telling me that I'm not elect, and the lack of any objective means of securing "personal assurance" had severed any hope of remitting my inner turmoil.

After the many harrowing experiences that I lived through by the help of God's grace, good friends and very theologically astute mentors, I was able to repent of Calvinism.

What I did learn, by these experiences, was that God is "love" (1 John 4:7-11)...and that Calvinism inevitably leads to skepticism. And it does this by fragmenting God's will, hence opening up the door of doubt. And by epistemically eliminating any way of knowing whether you are "elected" or not. Megalomania is the only antidote for doubt, if you're a Calvinist. And that's why I eventually came to reject Calvinism.

This is not the case for the non-Calvinist God because there is no division in His will. God has but a single will. This means that when doubts arise, there is no need to guess or speculate about what His will for us is. Therefore, there is only one answer to the question "does God love me?":

Yes, absolutely!! (John 3:16)

Gregory said...

A common Evangelical message that you might have heard before, especially at Billy Graham-type Crusades, is this:

"God loves you and has a plan for your life."

Bob Passantino used to say this, in reference to Calvinism:

"If you're a Calvinist, you can't say that. You have to say: 'God may love you, but He definitely has a plan for your life.'"

Anonymous said...

Victor, did you catch that I rendered your alternate, "it's for everybody" reading an absurdity?

I didn't "turn it into an attack." I read you as you wanted to be read. That is, "It seems to [you] that if Calvinism is true" then the texts you use "have suppressed election clauses in them."

Your response did not address my rebuttal . . . at least as far as I can tell. I don't consider dodging and changing subjects and scaling back addressing my post.

a helmet said...


Good points. In calvinism it takes nothing to become elect, but it takes everything to verify your election.

The entire religion of calvinism boils down to something you might call CheckIfYouAreSaved-ism.

Anonymous said...

Victor, do you still hold to your interpretation? You made the Bible state falsehoods. But, maybe you just think "all" means "all" but "no" doesn't mean "no", as in "no temptation. Only on Calvinism does "no temptation" mean "no temptation."

Victor Reppert said...

I guess I read suppressed choice clauses into it as opposed to suppressed election clauses.