Can We Choose to Fight About This?

calvin

Please refer to this post as a reminder that I’m not very smart.

Now, let’s talk about Calvinism.

(Sharpen your knives!)

The doctrine of ‘Total Depravity’ is secular ‘Determinism’ with a spiritual veneer.

Replace ‘The Cosmos’ with ‘God’ and you’re all set!

Determinism says:

“Everything happens because of evolution. We cannot choose differently.”

Calvinism says:

“Everything happens because of God. We cannot choose differently.”

Both Calvinists and Determinists are uncomfortable right now.

Neither Calvinists nor Determinists can really argue with this point.

But fear not!

Using my woefully inadequate reasoning skills, I have cobbled together a pathetic explanation.

If you are a Determinist, become a Calvinist.

 

Or quit reading right now.

Calvinists, have you ever been mistreated by a dead person?

Has a dead guy ever offended you?

Ephesians 2 says (as you know):

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air”

How do dead people trespass, walk, or follow?

If we don’t get offended by dead people…

…why would God?

Obviously,  we’re not talking about literal dead-ness.

Maybe ‘dead’ is a destination in this sense.

Maybe ‘following the course of this world’ will take us to a graveyard.

…which is where dead people belong.

But God ‘made us alive together with Christ’ who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’.

The gift of God is an alternative path than the one we must walk on our own.

Without Jesus, we are on the path to death.

It is our responsibility to follow the path to life.

Dead people are not responsible for anything.

When God ‘raised us up with Christ’ he gave us intellect and intuition…

…and free will.

What’cha think?


53 thoughts on “Can We Choose to Fight About This?

  1. LOL! I like your fiesty spirit and sense of humor.

    I was recently attempting to speak with a very orthodox Calvanist about how he’s never met anyone living who is doing faith right and not offensive to him. I was actually thinking, well shoot, I’ve never met a dead person that offended me either! That’s a skill reserved for the living.

    I enjoyed this, “Dead people are not responsible for anything.” Indeed. Let us come alive in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Certainly I do think that the contrast of being dead in this world and being made alive in Christ is the correct, broad view of Ephesians 2. Though, I don’t think being made alive in Christ comes with all of the benefits outlined by the OP. Namely, the additional “benefit” of freewill, which I think is where the OP was intending conversation to go.

    Typically when we talk of determinism, it’s scary to think that determinism could be true, because it seems we would be out of control of our actions. I submit that, no matter the truth, determinism provides us with at least as much, if not more control than the alternative. I will now provide a short explanation, and a long one. Feel free to respond to either.

    Short Version (the point of my post): Choices we make are either random (Non-determinism) or they are determined by something (determinism). There is no logically conceivable third option. Determinism seems more sensible than non-determinism.

    Long Version: If anyone is to further engage in the topic whether or not we’ve been given freewill (as Christians or humans), a definition must be applied to freewill. Most times I’ve had this conversation, free will is ill-defined from the outset and it causes confusion later. I submit that the Libertarianism definition should be used, since it seems to communicate what most people mean and it most effectively contrasts determinism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free will that requires the agent to be able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism_(metaphysics)

    Which essentially means, the “choice” we make is random, not in the sense of a coinflip per se, but more in the sense of passing a skill check in an RPG (ex. you must roll at least a 3 to make a certain decision). For example, consider my binary decision to either take a sip of my diet coke right now or not to sip from my diet coke right now. Since I love Diet Coke and I’m a little thirsty (among countless other variables), we could say that 9 times out of 10 if we replayed the scenario exactly as is, I would take a drink. However, 10% of the time, I would not. There’s no additional reason, besides fate/God has rolled below a 1 or 2 on my 20 sided die.

    What seems to me a more sensible view of the world is to say if we replayed the scenario exactly as is, then I will always (or never) take a sip from my Diet Coke in that moment, because the same variables go into the formula that eventually makes that decision and, just like math, the same output will result.

    Hopefully this is not far off where the OP was looking to go. Feel free to redirect as necessary ^_^.

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    1. I understand your illustration.
      And it would seem that you agree with the determinism illustration. If the variables are the same, we will ALWAYS make the same decisions. The variables determine the outcome. The individual is slave to the circumstances.

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  3. As you use the word cannot, you need to be clear as to whether you mean physical ability (I can lick the bottom of your shoe by placing it near my mouth), cognitive ability (I can lick the bottom of your shoe because I know what it means to lick a shoe), and moral ability (I cannot lick your shoe just for the sake of licking your shoe because that really grosses me out and I can’t change that). It is this last sense of moral abilities that Calvinists would focus on without denying a real freedom in the physical and intellectual aspect of our choices. Your evolution/determinism example, I’m pretty sure, would deny freedom in all three aspects, and that is why determinism and Calvinism are not nearly the same.

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      1. John,

        I would call that “utter depravity”, not total depravity.

        And in that case, one would choose to lick one’s shoe… and it would not gross them out… they would do it and choose it, and not be grossed out.

        Like when sinful man chooses sin without feeling bad. A seared conscience from repeated sin. Sadly, prisons and jails contain many who are just waiting to get out and get back to what they were doing before, running hard until they are caught again. I have heard of this firsthand from people who have been locked up repeatedly.

        Dave

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    1. Whoa… Jonathan Edwards is here!

      Big fan.

      I did say in the last post that PM-ed Edwards, but I had no idea…

      Your laying things out, of course, is correct and most clear.

      If I may add to your venerable wisdom with some words from modern men, as well…

      R.C. Sproul speaks of our Total Depravity as Radical Corruption. (And he fully saw the irony that it was his initials). We are corrupt from the radix, the root, and it reaches into every area of our lives.

      Therefore, we are not truly free. Our mind and spirit are held captive by sin, and it affects how we think and choose. We are indoctrinated, if you will, with sin prior to birth. That is why you have never needed to sit your children down and teach them to lie to to say “mine”. They come that way from the “factory”, if I may be so silly.

      One thing to keep in mind is that the idea of “free will” does not appear in Scripture. The ability to choose does, though. And what do we choose? Whatever is the greatest inclination of our hearts at that particular moment. When I , as a believer, sin, I am choosing to disobey God because at that moment, my selfish desire is greater than my desire to obey God. The Devil certainly did not make me do it.

      Conversely, as an unbeliever, or so says Scripture, the inclination of the heart is against God’s will. The choice will be to not choose God because the heart is not inclined that way. Corrupt from the root. Only with a changing of the heart, a Divine “turning on of the lights” as I like to say, will the unregenerate (unsaved) heart then desire God.

      That does not mean we are “utterly depraved”. Nobody believes that people only do acts of evil all the time, even as unbelievers.The image of God within us has given us universally a conscience. That is enough to condemn men, not save them, though.

      For those who reject what is called Calvinism (which predated Calvin to Luther, Augustine, and Paul, if I may be so bold), please take a step back and look at it from a new perspective:

      In the Fall, all of humanity plunged into darkness and sin, worthy of Hell and eternal death.

      God would not be evil if He allowed humanity to suffer the consequences of that fall.

      Instead, God chose (from before the foundations of the earth!) to save sinful humanity by sending His Son to die and take on the penalty for sins so that we would be saved.

      When God did this, He had a people in mind who He was saving. They will be from all over the world, from a variety of languages, tribes, and races. Who He saves is not due to His respect for man, but due to His good, loving, and perfect will. Nobody will be able to stand before God and prove injustice.

      God was not obligated to save any, yet because of His love, He did. What is it that is so lovable about fallen, sinful humanity? I have no idea, but the Creator sees something in His creation that He chose to save.

      Rather than accuse God of being unfair or a puppet master for “dragging people kicking and screaming into heaven” (which never seems to happen in actual practice), we should praise and adore a loving God, had He even chosen one human to save.

      He owes us nothing, yet we may become in danger of presuming upon His grace, or minimizing it, if we disparage God’s character in our attempt to demand of him “free will” in its truest sense. For if He did grant us our desire of free will, we would all fall as did Adam and Eve.

      It is to our benefit, and His glory, that we do not have free will, in the truest sense.

      Dave

      Psalm 8:4 (ESV)

      4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
      and the son of man that you care for him?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “When I, as a believer, sin, I am choosing to disobey God because, at that moment, my selfish desire is greater than my desire to obey God…Conversely, as an unbeliever, or so says Scripture, the inclination of the heart is against God’s will. The choice will be to not choose God because the heart is not inclined that way.”

        This seems to say the same thing. Believers and non-believers sin because of the inclination of the heart.
        Both go ‘against conscience’ and that’s when the behavior becomes sin. Do babies ‘sin’ when they scratch people’s faces? I don’t think so. Scratching isn’t a sin until the child becomes aware of the discomfort it causes others and does it anyway.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. John,

        As believers, we have the ability to sin, and to not sin. We have the Holy Spirit Who gives us the ability to do things that please God. That is acting in the spirit. When we sin, we are acting according to our flesh, which we still war with until we die.

        But as unbelievers, they only have the ability to sin. For the unbeliever, nothing they do pleases God, since they are in the flesh.

        We can, and do, act against the prickling of our consciences. But we don’t, and can’t, act against our greatest inclination at the moment.

        We have the moral inability to choose Christ apart from an act of God, done without our help or effort. Even the faith we possess is a gift from God.

        Dave

        Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

        8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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  4. Back in the day (before good Calvin), the argument determinism vs freewill got so hot an heavy between the Franciscans and the Dominicans that the pope had to step in and order them to cool it.

    It’s kind of like the wave vs. particle theories of light:

    One of the mysteries of life.

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  5. “Instead, God chose (from before the foundations of the earth!) to save sinful humanity by sending His Son to die and take on the penalty for sins so that we would be saved.
    When God did this, He had a people in mind who He was saving. They will be from all over the world, from a variety of languages, tribes, and races. Who He saves is not due to His respect for man, but due to His good, loving, and perfect will. Nobody will be able to stand before God and prove injustice.”

    Curious how you would reconcile the idea that God meant only to save a select group with 2 Pet. 3:9, which says “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for ANY to perish but for ALL to come to repentance.”

    If God wishes all men to repent and this is conditional not on man’s free will but only on God’s decision, wouldn’t He then save all men?

    “One thing to keep in mind is that the idea of “free will” does not appear in Scripture. The ability to choose does, though. And what do we choose? Whatever is the greatest inclination of our hearts at that particular moment.” Then why does the Bible tell us to exercise self-control? Isn’t that the very definition of self-control? Not doing what your heart desires because you know it’s wrong?

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    1. I think it’s consistent to say that God does have a will all come to repentance, but could also have a will that only some come to repentance. Ex. I want to eat several pounds of Swedish Fish. I also want to lose weight. My desire to .weight outweighs my desire to eat the Swedish Fish, so I opt for the cottage cheese.

      Additionally, the ability to choose does not mean that the output is not guaranteed. Most programs are designed to make choices, but those choices are dependent on the inputs that they come into contact with. So, the self-driving car chooses to stop because it senses a deer in front of it, but it will always make that choice when it senses the deer.

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      1. I don’t think either of these analogies work. The Swedish Fish one would put limits on The power of God’s salvation that are not found in the Bible. (Also, for it to even work in a Calvinist viewpoint, you would just limit how many Swedish fish you eat, not choose an entirely different thing to eat). And people aren’t self-driving cars.

        Which is really the argument here. Are we merely programmed machines, or do we have something in us that makes us more than that? I believe we do. I believe humans have souls, and that that is what is meant by we are made in the image of God. We are not merely material wind-up toys. We are souls with free will. Maybe the Bible doesn’t use the phrase “free will” but it certainly operates under the concept that we have it. Otherwise, why would God command us to do anything? Why would He tell us to go out into all the world and teach the gospel if He can just “turn the lights on,” and if it’s not up to us humans whether we obey the gospel or not? Learning and teaching is useless if we’re just predestined to do whatever we’re gonna do.

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      2. The self-driving cars was meant to illustrate that choice can exist within a determinism model. Thus the call to self-control is fair. Additionally, I think the Swedish Fish analogy still demonstrates conflicting wills, which I think answers what you were getting out by saying God will all to repentance.

        I urge you to define free-will. I think it’s fair to say that either our decisions are random or determined with no third alternative.

        God’s commands and the way the world runs is meant to ultimately bring God the most glory, which I believe is consistent with the Bible and even Calvinism (which, I do recognize my views extend beyond your typical Calvinist ^_^).

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      3. I would define free will as making my own decisions and choosing how to act. I don’t understand how random or determined by God/fate are the only two options. My decisions are determined. They are determined by me. God created us with that ability.

        I think an example of this would be Deut. 30:11-19, when God put two choices before the Israelites: “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

        God created the rules and the consequences, but He let’s us all make our own decisions on which we will choose: life or death? good or evil? God or ourselves?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well, your free will definition is fine, but is not incompatible with determinism.

        Your decisions are determined by you. You are the product of your experiences and natural qualities (Whatever combination of nature/nurture you prefer). However, your experiences and natural qualities are ultimately determined by whatever actions have caused them. It’s still determined, but your will is making a conscious direction.

        Once again, God’s call to make a choice doesn’t mean that we could potentially make the other choice. Using that example, each individual Isrealite had to make a choice. I’d say that all of their experiences and inborn qualities ultimately determined which choice they would make. They couldn’t make the converse choice, because it wouldn’t make sense – the same set of variables cannot make a different outcome.

        So, I feel like I’m rambling, but to summarize: We definitely make choices, but we can’t help but we can’t help but pick the choices we pick. If you rewind my life, I will either always or never pick life, good, or God. The same variables would not allow it to be “sometimes.”

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      5. “We make choices but can’t help but make the choices we make.”

        Sorry, dude. This statement is paradoxical at best. Self-contradicting at worst.

        Choice cannot be pre-determined. If we are compelled for any reason (dice rolls, circumstances, countless variables or the will of God) then we are not making choices. We are machines following programs.

        Punishing us for rebellion is like smashing the alarm clock for ringing at the time it was set to ring.

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      6. Sorry, tried posting this twice yesterday and it didn’t work… though I even double checked the 2nd time… I’m not sure about the protocol for responding to previous posts, so handle as you please…

        Doesn’t God prepare some alarm clocks for destruction and others for glory? ^_^

        I suppose it depends on how we define choice – the way you define it, you’re right, I’ve not allowed for choice in the scenario I set-up.

        However, I don’t think my definition is faulty. We could certainly say that programs make choices. I’ll reference the self-driving car like I did in my thread with Whitney. When the car senses a deer in front of it, it will make the choice to stop. It will always make that choice when it’s because that’s how it’s programmed.

        Additionally, if our will is not compelled, is it random?

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      7. Reason prevents our will from being random. But the question is, whose reason? I think God allows me to decide things. That would be “random” from God’s perspective I suppose.

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      8. What drives your decisions? If it’s reason, then it’s determined based on your reasoning. You can’t act against your reason (without having a more compelling reason).

        And if things are random from God’s perspective, is he unable to determine what you’re going to do based on your reasoning? There are people who ascribe to that line of thinking (Open Theism, I believe is the typical descriptor), but I don’t think it’s fair to call God omniscient and omnipotent at that point.

        Once again, I’m not saying that you don’t make a decision – I’m saying that it’s conceivably absolutely necessary for your decision to either be determined or random (and further saying that it makes more sense that it’s determined)

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      9. Reasons are exchanged for more compelling reasons all the time. And I admit that I don’t know the source of our thoughts. I lean toward an external consciousness that sends signals to my mind. Then, of course, the question is “What do I mean by my mind?”

        To your point, I believe that God allows randomness. I think He is pleased by the experiencing surprise.

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      10. Okay, I think we’re at least at an understanding point. We could pursue whether or not it’s logical that an omniscient could experience something truly random, but I good to table that for another day (I could pursue it too, but I think that delves too far out of the OP).

        My primary concern is when people attempt to appeal to a third option that is neither random, nor determined without being able to explain what that means. Granted, we can allow for that possibility in the same sense that we can allow for other inconceivable things – we just don’t tend to use the inconceivable as a framework in most other circumstances.

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  6. The self-driving cars was meant to illustrate that choice can exist within a determinism model. Thus the call to self-control is fair. Additionally, I think the Swedish Fish analogy still demonstrates conflicting wills, which I think answers what you were getting out by saying God will all to repentance.

    I urge you to define free-will. I think it’s fair to say that either our decisions are random or determined with no third alternative.

    God’s commands and the way the world runs is meant to ultimately bring God the most glory, which I believe is consistent with the Bible and even Calvinism (which, I do recognize my views extend beyond your typical Calvinist ^_^).

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      1. mrsmcmommy,

        Aren’t you full of mischief… 🙂

        I am glad the discussion is hearty, yet gracious. The second it get rancorous, I am hitting the eject button on this particular issue.

        I am quite sure that we will never come to a full consensus. Historically it never has, with good, godly giants of the faith disagreeing on this issue. We humble blogovians (a word I just made up to call the citizens of the “country” of the blogosphere) can’t hope to do better, can we?

        As long as we remain civil, we all win.

        Dave

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  7. Somebody smart once described freewill and determinism as us being like fish in an aquarium. We can swim wherever we want, play in the bubble maker, but there are aquarium walls that we cannot even see. We just think we’re in the ocean, freely making choices. Life is like that too,we have a certain amount of freewill, but we are still fish swimming within the confines of our own aquarium.

    How much choice and freewill do we truly have when we seldom have the power to fully control the outcome, when we are so heavily influenced by others, when our circumstances leave us so few options? So sin is not a simple matter of just exercising our freewill and making good choices versus making bad choices.

    Total depravity is not really about licking someone’s shoe. Totally depravity is more like, tell me I can’t lick your shoe and I will suddenly develop a fondness for it and take up shoe licking as a full time obsession. Determinism suggests that humans are downright predictable and once you fully understand the total depravity of mankind, predicting exactly where our freewill is going to take us becomes easy, and certainly easy for God who made us and knows us so well.

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  8. Within the confines of the aquarium, the fish do make choices. I think that illustration is good.

    Total depravity ignores the affection the aquarium keeper has for the fish. Some fish he loves. Some fish he hates. It has nothing at all to do with the individual fish.

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    1. John,

      Why would total depravity ignore God’s affection for us? The fact that any are saved at all displays God’s amazing and unfathomable love and grace.

      This is a tough matter. When Paul deals with it in Romans 9, he anticipates the outcry of “That’s not fair!” from his readers. His response to that is not the most satisfying to us modern Americans. It is pretty much, “Because God says so, and He is God.”

      WARNING: WALL OF SCRIPTURE AHEAD!

      Romans 9:6-29 (ESV)

      6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

      19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

      “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
      and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
      26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
      there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
      27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

      “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
      we would have been like Sodom
      and become like Gomorrah.”

      Again, we will never settle this while in the body. I am very convinced that once we are in His Glorious presence, we will get it. It will be like a forehead smack and an “Ah! I see! Isn’t God awesome?”

      Dave

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      1. It seems to me the Calvinistic interpretation of this passage ignores the broader context. The unfairness Paul is addressing here is not the elected for salvation vs the unelected. The elected is talking about how through Abraham (and later Jacob rather than Esau) the Israelites were the people chosen to bring Jesus into the world. The reference to “a remnant will be saved” is directly connected to the next quoted passage of “we would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah.” Here he is talking about the Jewish remnant preserved during the Babylonian captivity, rather than completely destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah were.

        This thought continues to the end of chapter 9 and into chapter 10, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

        He’s specifically talking here about the Jews seeing it as unfair that Gentiles are now being offered salvation even though they were not God’s chosen people and were not following the Mosaic law. It’s like the parable of the laborers who were all given the same wages even though some worked all day and others did not. I don’t see how this passage shows that God picks and chooses people for salvation and that they have no choice in the matter. What I see is the gospel being extended to everyone and some are coming to faith, while others are clinging to the old law, with Paul praying that they will change their hearts and minds and come to Christ.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Whitney,

        I appreciate your well thought out response.

        The overarching theme of Romans 9-11 is that God chooses according to His will who will be saved, regardless if they are Jew or Gentile. Borrowing from Bible.org ( https://bible.org/seriespage/11-sovereignty-god-salvation-romans-9 )

        ———————————————–

        Chapter 9 speaks to the unbelief of Israel by stating that God did not purpose to save all Israel. In other words, God didn’t choose those who disbelieve. In chapter 10 Paul presses on to state that neither did Israel choose God. In chapter 11 Paul shows how God purposed the unbelief of Israel to accomplish the salvation of the Gentiles, and that the hopes of the nation Israel are yet to be fulfilled, for the unbelief of Israel is neither complete nor permanent.

        ———————————

        Paul is demonstrating that salvation is by faith, not by being born a Jew, or following the Law, either as a Jew or Gentile, but by God’s sovereign election.

        Romans 8:28-36(ESV)

        28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

        Here we see God as the initiator of the “process” of salvation, and the completer of it as well. It is the fact that God makes it happen that assures us that once we are saved, we can’t fall from grace. In Romans, Paul is working to point to God as the Author and Finisher of our faith. Not our human effort, our works, our lineage, or our adoption of the rules He has laid out.

        In my sharing of the Gospel, I preach as if it depends upon me, with passion and pleading, but have faith that God will use my feeble attempts to bring those to Him that He wills apart from my ability or lack thereof.

        If the calling does not come from God, but is dependent upon hearing and responding to the Gospel, we have the question about those who never hear the Gospel. Do they get a free pass to heaven, since they never heard? For there are some places we have brought the Gospel, and it never fails to get some response. Are we then guilty of letting people end up in Hell because we didn’t get out there with the Word? That would go against the idea that people end up in Hell because of sin.

        Rather, God is in control. Nobody slips through the cracks. Nobody gets a raw deal. All flesh desires the things of the flesh, not the things of God. Once the Spirit gives the inward call, faith results. God sends His people to the right place at the right time to do His will. We are the laborers in the Lord’s field, gathering His harvest. It is not my eloquence (or lack thereof) or my repeated effort, but the inward working of God saves men.

        I am enjoying the discussion. It is so much easier to keep track without a hundred rude comments to dig through.

        Thank you for your challenge of my Calvinism. It drives me to the Word, and that is always a good thing.

        Dave

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      3. I’m on my phone. Excuse the short answers.
        Romans was written to explain to Gentiles why God preferred the Jews. This would be necessary for the Roman Christians to understand their position and situation.

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      4. John,

        This from the “font of all knowledge”, Wikipedia:

        Romans
        Purposes of writing
        To review the current scholarly viewpoints on the purpose of Romans, along with a bibliography, see Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. For a 16th-century “Lollard” reformer view, see the work of William Tyndale. In his prologue to his translation of the book of Romans, which was largely taken from the prologue of German Reformer Martin Luther, Tyndale writes that:

        … this epistle is the principal and most excellent part of the new testament, and most pure evangelion, that is to say glad tidings and what we call the gospel, and also a light and a way in unto the whole scripture … The sum and whole cause of the writings of this epistle, is, to prove that a man is justified by faith only: which proposition whoso denieth, to him is not only this epistle and all that Paul writeth, but also the whole scripture, so locked up that he shall never understand it to his soul’s health. And to bring a man to the understanding and feeling that faith only justifieth, Paul proveth that the whole nature of man is so poisoned and so corrupt, yea and so dead concerning godly living or godly thinking, that it is impossible for her to keep the law in the sight of God.

        In the introduction to Romans in the MacArthur Study Bible, it says “Paul’s primary purpose in writing Romans was to teach the great truths of the gospel of grace to believers who had never received apostolic instruction.”

        A few paragraphs down, it says “The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God: the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.”

        Bible.org says

        “The Theme of the Book of Romans

        The theme of the book centers on the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16,17). Paul is deeply concerned that his readers understand how a sinner may be received as righteous by a righteous God; and how a justified sinner should live daily to the glory of God.”

        And froma random preacher on YouTube:

        Galatians and Colossians hit the “there is no Greek or Jew” themes, showing the Gentiles’ place in the body of Christ.

        Dave

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  9. “Again, we will never settle this while in the body. I am very convinced that once we are in His Glorious presence, we will get it. It will be like a forehead smack and an “Ah! I see! Isn’t God awesome?”

    Amen. These discussions always remind me a bit of kids fighting. We’re prone to stomp our feet and say things like, “if God lets my neighbor into heaven I’m not going because that man is just evil!” At the heart of our debates often lurks this unwillingness to fully trust God, this desire to peek over His shoulder and make sure He’s doing it right.

    On the bright side, we probably honor Him by asking these kinds of questions, by trying to understand His ways better. I just like to remember to call them, “watermelon ideas in a pea brain.”

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  10. One thing that John Wesley had in common with the Reformers and their theology ( now commonly lumped as Calvinism, although Luther, Calvin, and Arminius were all reformers) was total depravity. Total does not mean “as bad as what we could be” in this case- but “man’s natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man” ( thank you John Piper).

    One area that Wesley differed from John Calvin, however, was the idea of previenient grace. That God goes before us- He initiates the relationship to all of us. It is different than common grace- the grace that saves us. This previenient grace is also what keeps us from being as bad as what we could be.

    I believe, under Calvinism, when you combine total depravity with the unconditional election- than the people who are not elected would have no choice but to be depraved- since there is no previenient grace, nor the irresesitable saving grace- that’s only for the elect.
    I believe that was one of John Branyan’s points, Dave ( you can correct me if I’m wrong at speaking for you, John). The non-elected would have no choice but to be evil in the eyes of God. Their virtue, by human’s standards, are still like filthy rags in comparison to God’s holiness.

    Now, Calvinists’ last point is the converse of what Wesleyans believe. Wesleyans believe that God pre-ordained the standard ( welcome for all people) that those who persevered to the end were the elect. Calvinists believe that the elect perservere to the end. The reverse of phrasing makes a big difference.
    Under Wesleyan theology, people can fall out of common grace- while Calvinists believe that the elected cannot fall out of common grace.

    It seems to me, with Calvinism, for the elect, God is saying “let me give you an offer that you cannot refuse”. And for the unelect ” let me refrain from giving you an offer so that you can’t accept”. There really is no choice but to be the elect, or the non-elect- because God’s sovereignty under Calvinism means that God is in control over all things. He decides the elect and the non-elect.
    Under Wesleyan theology, God’s sovereignty means that God is in charge of all things, but not necessarily in control of all things. You have a freedom to choose and to not choose the saving grace of God. This also means that people can fall from common grace.

    Well, now since I mentioned all of the premises of Calvinism, I’ll let people respond. I’ve heard it said that Calvinism is logical- if you accept its premises. It’s reasoning is sound, but it’s the premises that are controversial.

    Due to work tomorrow, I won’t be able to respond until the evening hours- but I look forward to seeing the continuation of this conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. every consider that there may be more to God being “all knowing” than we can comprehend. however, that should never keep the follower from diligently searching the depths of it….
    what if?….

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  12. As a Calvinist, I say Evolution happens because of God, I fail to see how the premise of this piece get’s past the second or third sentence… Determinist might stumble on some truth studying the universe. I mean all sorts of libertines believe in free-will, and what the chose becoming right… so if we had to judge of the character of the unsaved that drift to our representative positions allegories… I’ll take the scientist!

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      1. Subjectively speaking. But “stumble” would actually fit the best if you can’t swerve anyways.

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