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Once Saved, Always Saved


Types of Calvinism

Then we have a more moderate form of Calvinism to the left of Wesleyan Arminianism known as €œFour-Point Calvinism", and then beyond that is a €œFive-Point Calvinism" which, similar to Finneyism on the opposite extreme borders on the heretical. Let me explain what I mean about €œFour-Point" and €œFive-Point".

There is debate among church historians: €œWas Calvin a "Calvinist"?" €œCalvinism" as we know it was not formulated by Calvin or from Calvin"s  Institutes, but by something known as  The Remonstrance of Dort. It was Calvin"s followers who later began to define Calvinism in the sense we know it. In the same way we must make something of a distinction between Wesley"s own personal beliefs and Wesleyan Arminianism, we have to make something of a distinction between Calvin"s own beliefs and what has come to be known as €œCalvinism". Classical Calvinism, which came out of  The Remonstrance of Dort  is called €œTULIP", an acronym or an acrostic.

  €œT" = €œTotal Depravity".  Calvinism and Arminianism both believe we are totally depraved. What does that mean? It does not mean we are as bad as we are capable of being; biblically we cannot get any worse. It just means we are totally fallen in body, mind, and spirit. Man is so fallen spiritually even his bodily members are taken with sin. He is totally depraved. It is like a six egg omelet where five of the eggs are good but one of the eggs is bad; the whole omelet is contaminated. Calvinists and Arminianists both believe in €œTotal Depravity", that we cannot save ourselves and we are fallen. The problem is that Calvinists deny that once quickened by the Spirit and drawn to Christ by the Father that a measure of free will is given by divine grace making it possible to accept Christ. To them because man is dead due to sin it is not only salvation by grace, but we have no option whether or not to respond to that grace.

€œU" = " Unconditional Election".   The complication is   that Wesleyan-Arminians and Calvinists alike view grace as €œUndeserved Grace". I totally agree, Wesley would have totally agreed €“ we all agree that God's grace is undeserved. Christ died for the ungodly; while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) We cannot do anything to earn salvation and it is a sin to even think that we can. (This is the rudiment of Calvinistic thought which I will explain shortly.) It was the reaction to the heresy and corruption of medieval Roman Catholicism. However, Calvinists since Dort at least redefine €œUnconditional Grace" as "Unconditional Election" €“ that is, a doctrine of predestination where God intentionally creates some to go heaven and others so they can be eternally tortured in hell. There are multiple problems with this false doctrine. To begin with it directly contradicts too many scriptures that explain the divine nature relative to salvation which prove God does not create people for eternal torture (e.g.,  1 Tim. 2:4,  Eze. 33:11).

The second problem is that this notion of God intentionally making people for eternal torment for which they have no choice and others to salvation for which they have no choice logically contradicts the need for evangelism and carrying out the Great Commission since the predestined will, of necessity, be saved anyway and those created by a God of love to be eternally tormented have no choice. While alien to scriptural thought both theologically and philosophically, this is purely a westernized variant of the Islamic doctrine of €œInsha"Allah"; philosophically Calvinism is Islamic, not Judeo-Christian.

It is easy to see why fundamentalist Islamic mullahs esteem the Puritans as they are two of a kind. As the Taliban, Iranian Shia and Saudi Wahabbis have their  mutaween  (religious police), so did Calvin's Geneva, Puritan England and Massachusetts. There was a €œkulturkampf" or war on culture where the theater, the humanities and sports were replaced by public burning, hanging and flogging in lieu of entertainment. This carried over into Calvinistic support for slavery in the Southern USA by the Southern Baptists and Methodists, apartheid in South Africa by the Dutch Reformed Church, and plantation displacement of Irish peasants by the Anglo-Puritans in Ireland. Muslims call it €œdemitide", Calvinists called it €œelection".   While John Wesley opposed the institution of slavery, even an otherwise outstanding figure like George Whitefield, because of the cursed Calvinism to which he foolishly subscribed owned Black slaves resulting in a shameful indictment on the memory of such a great man of God.

The Puritan-Presbyterian wars saw Calvinists slaughtering each other as well as non-Calvinists in Britain under Cromwell and Owen as a holy war just as in Islamic jihads Muslims slaughter each other as well as €œinfidels". The status of women under Calvinistic Puritanism and in Islam is likewise identical; philosophically the two are the same.   Jesus said we know them by their fruits and from Calvin's Geneva, to the Salem witch hunts, to slavery and apartheid we have seen the fruits of what Calvinists call €œpredestination" and what Moslems call €œInsha"Allah" (all that transpires is the perfect divine will).  

As Muslims read the Judeo-Christian Scriptures through the prism of the  Quran  which combine elements of Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism with a recycled Arabian paganism and then re-interpret the  Quran  in light of the  Hadith  in a religion based on  The Five Pillars. Calvinists read it through the prism of Calvin's  Institutes  which are a recycled Patristic theology of   Augustine (the chief doctrinal founder of Roman Catholicism), and then reinterpret that along the lines of the five acronym terms of their "TULIP". All of this tragedy, treachery, madness and hypocrisy stems from the mal-definition of €œUndeserved Grace" as €œUnconditional Election". In the philosophical and moral sense,   Calvinism is nothing more than Islam pretending to be Christianity.
The final problem is that the primary New Testament definition of €œelection" has to do with a corporate identity such as Israel being an elect nation or the collective Body of true believers. Calvinism distorts Romans 9-11 out of context to misapply election to individuals.

"The Christ of Arminianism"

I have something here and I almost could not believe it was sent by one of these people who otherwise like me: €œThe Christ of Arminianism". €œArminianism" means that you do not believe in an unconditional €œonce saved, always saved", that you do not believe that Jesus died for only certain people, that He is willing to receive all. This is Arminianism in a nutshell. I will read from what they sent me.

€œThe Christ of Arminianism loves every individual person in the world and desires their salvation."

That is true. I believe that Christ loves every single person in the world and sincerely desires their salvation. The Christ of the Bible did not desire the salvation of only those whom God has unconditionally chosen. Citing the verses that would back that, but ignoring the verses that would balance it, they continue €¦

€œThe Christ of Arminianism would offer salvation to every sinner and does all in His power to bring them to salvation."

I believe that.

€œHis offer and works are often frustrated because many refuse to come."

That sounds scriptural to me.

€œBut the Christ of the Bible essentially calls for Himself only the Elect and sovereignly brings them to salvation. None of them will be lost."

And, again, he points to the verses which support his point of view, but not the ones that balance it.

€œThe Christ of Arminianism cannot regenerate and save a sinner who does not first choose Christ with his own free will by which they can accept or reject Christ that free will may not be violated by Christ."

True Arminianists do not actually believe that; we believe we  can  accept Christ, He has to give us the power to do it, but so this person thinks.

€œThe Christ of the Bible, however, sovereignly regenerates the Elect apart from their choice".

According to this we have no choice.

€œThe Christ of Arminianism died on the cross for every individual person and therefore made it possible for everyone to be saved. The Christ of the Bible died only for God's Elect people."

In other words, the others were created to go to hell forever by some overstated kind of predestination. The Bible  does  say God created all things for a purpose, even the wicked for the day of judgment, but He would rather they be saved.

€œThe Christ of Arminianism loses many who He has saved."

Jesus said many would fall away. (Mt. 24:10) Even if He does give eternal security as some say, it is not necessarily based on His will or His work but the choice of the sinner.

€œThe Christ of the Bible preserves His chosen people."

And he concludes by saying that people, like most Pentecostals €“ people like John Wesley €“ do not have the same Jesus, the same Jesus as the Calvinists. George Whitfield was a Calvinist, John Wesley was not, but they never had this kind of recrimination where they said each other had a separate Jesus €“ two different Jesus Christs. Some people go so far as to say that if someone believes that Jesus died for everybody and that the Lord can receive everybody, that they have a different Jesus.

This is known as €œextreme Calvinism" €“ €œhyper-Calvinism". Such people can go so far with this that if someone does not go along with it, there can be no fellowship. Very often they are the same kind of people given to such things that if someone reads another version of the Bible other than the €œAuthorized Version" there can be no fellowship. These groups push further into error and get into something the Bible calls €œparty spirit": €œWe have it right and others have it wrong". (Gal. 5:19) I get accused of that, but in fact it is not true. I always stand by the basic things of the Bible. If someone departs from the basic truths, if they go into things the Word of God says are wrong, then I will take a stand. But to divide over these other issues I think is wrong. Nonetheless, let us understand the nature of the division €“ not  personal  division, but  theological  division.

Starting at One End of the Spectrum

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On one extreme we have something known as €œPelagianism". Pelagianists were a kind of monk who actually lived in Britain in the early centuries of the Church and Pelagius was opposed by Augustine of Hippo. What did Pelagius believe? Pelagius denied original sin; he denied the fact that man was fallen. Pelagius said we can choose God ourselves because we do not have a fallen nature. The Bible says that is not true.

The Bible says that because of the Fall of man in the sin of Adam and Eve, we have a fallen nature. We are born with sin, therefore we must be born again. Pelagianism is a total heresy. We will find extreme Calvinists, many in Scotland and Northern Ireland, saying that Arminianism is simply another form of Pelagianism or a diluted from of Pelagianism.

Just to the left of Pelagianism is called €œFinneyism", named after the North American Evangelist Charles Finney.

I do not deny that many people were saved through Charles Finney"s preaching. Things that seemed to be supernatural manifestations of God's power are associated with his ministry. However, we need to be very careful about making those things a barometer of consensus. Charles Finney also denied that man had a fallen nature. The Bible says because we are born with a fallen nature we must be born again. He denied it, however he admitted we all have sin anyway.

In the Middle

In the middle there is something known as €œWesleyan Arminianism". Arminius was reacting to extreme Calvinism. His ideas were taken up in this and other countries under the influences of the Great Revivalists, particularly John Wesley, and it is often called €œWesleyan Arminianism" in countries like Great Britain, America, Canada and the like. This view believed that man is fallen, that we are all fallen, and that all men fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) This view  also  believes we cannot save ourselves. As a matter of fact, this view also believes we cannot even  chooseJesus of ourselves.  

We cannot save ourselves and we cannot choose Christ. He said, €œI chose you". (Jn. 15:16) However, this particular view is what I believe and which classical Pentecostalism believes: we are dead because of sin. We cannot choose the Lord Jesus, we cannot choose to be born again because our spirit cannot communicate with God's Spirit because we are dead in our sins; God's Spirit puts just enough light back in us to communicate with Him. And He gives us just enough of the original state before the fall to make the choice Adam had.

The Restoration of Choice

Adam had a choice between two things: the Tree of Life (the Lord Jesus and eternal life) and the tree of the world (the knowledge of good and evil). He made the wrong choice. Jesus came as the €œSecond Adam". (1 Co. 15:45) Only two men had a choice: Jesus and Adam. Adam had a choice and Jesus had a choice.

In the Temptation narrative (Mt. 4:1-11;  Mk. 1:12-13) Jesus was with the wild animals the same as Adam in the Garden. Christ was the Second Adam. The same things Satan tried on Adam he tried on Jesus. Before Jesus could have went to the cross and died, He had to be tested the way Adam was. In a sense, He had to earn the right to go to the cross tested as Adam. He identified with us.

Adam had a choice, Jesus had a choice, but we do not. What God does when He convicts somebody of sin is to make it possible for them to make a choice they would not make otherwise. We cannot choose Him €“ He chooses us, but He makes it possible for us to respond through His grace. Calvinists deny this. Calvinism (in its classical form) says we will never choose Him in any degree.

An unsaved person has no choice in sinning; they  must  sin because they are under the law of sin and death, much like the law of gravity. The most an unsaved person can choose about sin is when, where, and how, but this they cannot choose. As believers, because God's Spirit is in us, have a choice €“ we do not have to sin. God gives us back our free will; we can choose to walk according to the Spirit or the flesh. Calvinism, in effect, denies the restoring work of Jesus Christ when He died and rose from the dead and gave us a new nature. God gives us back free will when we are born again. We have no free will before we are reborn and we cannot choose to be born again until God quickens it. That is what it means to be €œArminianist".

Types of Calvinism

Then we have a more moderate form of Calvinism to the left of Wesleyan Arminianism known as €œFour-Point Calvinism", and then beyond that is a €œFive-Point Calvinism" which, similar to Finneyism on the opposite extreme borders on the heretical. Let me explain what I mean about €œFour-Point" and €œFive-Point".

There is debate among church historians: €œWas Calvin a "Calvinist"?" €œCalvinism" as we know it was not formulated by Calvin or from Calvin"s  Institutes, but by something known as  The Remonstrance of Dort. It was Calvin"s followers who later began to define Calvinism in the sense we know it. In the same way we must make something of a distinction between Wesley"s own personal beliefs and Wesleyan Arminianism, we have to make something of a distinction between Calvin"s own beliefs and what has come to be known as €œCalvinism". Classical Calvinism, which came out of  The Remonstrance of Dort  is called €œTULIP", an acronym or an acrostic.

  €œT" = €œTotal Depravity".  Calvinism and Arminianism both believe we are totally depraved. What does that mean? It does not mean we are as bad as we are capable of being; biblically we cannot get any worse. It just means we are totally fallen in body, mind, and spirit. Man is so fallen spiritually even his bodily members are taken with sin. He is totally depraved. It is like a six egg omelet where five of the eggs are good but one of the eggs is bad; the whole omelet is contaminated. Calvinists and Arminianists both believe in €œTotal Depravity", that we cannot save ourselves and we are fallen. The problem is that Calvinists deny that once quickened by the Spirit and drawn to Christ by the Father that a measure of free will is given by divine grace making it possible to accept Christ. To them because man is dead due to sin it is not only salvation by grace, but we have no option whether or not to respond to that grace.

€œU" = " Unconditional Election".   The complication is   that Wesleyan-Arminians and Calvinists alike view grace as €œUndeserved Grace". I totally agree, Wesley would have totally agreed €“ we all agree that God's grace is undeserved. Christ died for the ungodly; while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) We cannot do anything to earn salvation and it is a sin to even think that we can. (This is the rudiment of Calvinistic thought which I will explain shortly.) It was the reaction to the heresy and corruption of medieval Roman Catholicism. However, Calvinists since Dort at least redefine €œUnconditional Grace" as "Unconditional Election" €“ that is, a doctrine of predestination where God intentionally creates some to go heaven and others so they can be eternally tortured in hell. There are multiple problems with this false doctrine. To begin with it directly contradicts too many scriptures that explain the divine nature relative to salvation which prove God does not create people for eternal torture (e.g.,  1 Tim. 2:4,  Eze. 33:11).

The second problem is that this notion of God intentionally making people for eternal torment for which they have no choice and others to salvation for which they have no choice logically contradicts the need for evangelism and carrying out the Great Commission since the predestined will, of necessity, be saved anyway and those created by a God of love to be eternally tormented have no choice. While alien to scriptural thought both theologically and philosophically, this is purely a westernized variant of the Islamic doctrine of €œInsha"Allah"; philosophically Calvinism is Islamic, not Judeo-Christian.

It is easy to see why fundamentalist Islamic mullahs esteem the Puritans as they are two of a kind. As the Taliban, Iranian Shia and Saudi Wahabbis have their  mutaween  (religious police), so did Calvin's Geneva, Puritan England and Massachusetts. There was a €œkulturkampf" or war on culture where the theater, the humanities and sports were replaced by public burning, hanging and flogging in lieu of entertainment. This carried over into Calvinistic support for slavery in the Southern USA by the Southern Baptists and Methodists, apartheid in South Africa by the Dutch Reformed Church, and plantation displacement of Irish peasants by the Anglo-Puritans in Ireland. Muslims call it €œdemitide", Calvinists called it €œelection".   While John Wesley opposed the institution of slavery, even an otherwise outstanding figure like George Whitefield, because of the cursed Calvinism to which he foolishly subscribed owned Black slaves resulting in a shameful indictment on the memory of such a great man of God.

The Puritan-Presbyterian wars saw Calvinists slaughtering each other as well as non-Calvinists in Britain under Cromwell and Owen as a holy war just as in Islamic jihads Muslims slaughter each other as well as €œinfidels". The status of women under Calvinistic Puritanism and in Islam is likewise identical; philosophically the two are the same.   Jesus said we know them by their fruits and from Calvin's Geneva, to the Salem witch hunts, to slavery and apartheid we have seen the fruits of what Calvinists call €œpredestination" and what Moslems call €œInsha"Allah" (all that transpires is the perfect divine will). As Muslims read the Judeo-Christian Scriptures through the prism of the  Quran  which combine elements of Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism with a recycled Arabian paganism and then re-interpret the  Quran  in light of the  Hadith  in a religion based on  The Five Pillars. Calvinists read it through the prism of Calvin's  Institutes  which are a recycled Patristic theology of   Augustine (the chief doctrinal founder of Roman Catholicism), and then reinterpret that along the lines of the five acronym terms of their "TULIP". All of this tragedy, treachery, madness and hypocrisy stems from the mal-definition of €œUndeserved Grace" as €œUnconditional Election". In the philosophical and moral sense,   Calvinism is nothing more than Islam pretending to be Christianity.

The final problem is that the primary New Testament definition of €œelection" has to do with a corporate identity such as Israel being an elect nation or the collective Body of true believers. Calvinism distorts Romans 9-11 out of context to misapply election to individuals.

A Reaction to Catholicism

John Calvin was a Humanist scholar. None of his ideas were really original. He was a dynamic personality and a capable writer, but his ideas all came from Erasmus of Rotterdam, Martin Luther, and others from the first generation of Reformers and the Humanists before them. He was a Christian Humanist, but he was still a Humanist.

During the Middle Ages during the Renaissance a heresy was represented by people we know as €œThomists", people influence by Thomas Aquinas, which was known as €œMedieval Scholasticism". Frances Schaffer explained it very well. What it virtually came to mean in the Renaissance was that although man was fallen, his intellect was not. (Do you see how nonsensical it gets?) And so all this religious argument begins revolving around man"s  intellect  as not having fallen but only his spirit. Even the Reformers never totally rejected Philanthropism, but the Humanist scholars who influence Calvin and Calvin himself who was a Humanist scholar set out to correct this error in medieval scholarship and delved into Gnostic hermeneutics and a lot of other things. So Calvin was reacting to Roman Catholicism in the Renaissance in the Middle Ages which said man was  not  totally depraved.

Secondly was the issue of €œUndeserved Grace". The Roman Catholic church"s teaching is sacramentalism and selling indulgences. (That is how the Vatican was built and what triggered the Reformation.) Luther reacted against Tetzel the Dominican. €œWhen a coin in the coffer rings a soul from purgatory springs". It expresses the belief that somehow one can earn salvation by buying it or by good works, and this is still found today in places such as Italy. It is terrible to see old ladies, elderly women, trying to go up the stairs €“ the Scala Sancta €“ on their knees with rosary beads trying to get their mothers out of Purgatory. Calvin was very likely acting against the depravity of Roman Catholicism.

The €œT" and the €œU" we both agree on, but then Calvin gets into the €œL".

The Beginning of Digression

  €œL" = €œLimited Atonement"  or particular redemption. €œBehold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". (Jn. 1:29) Jesus said, €œIf I am lifted up €¦I will draw  all  men unto Myself". (Jn. 12:32) Calvinism asserts that maybe He draws, but He is not intending to save everyone He is drawing, only the Elect, only the predestined, only those He foreknew.

God is omnipotent €“ He is all-knowing. He is omniscient. It is impossible to describe God with human intellect. Of course He knows the future. Of course He knows who will be saved. Of course He knows the one who will react to His grace. He chooses the ones He knew would respond €“ that is Arminianism. Calvinists say no, that it is only the ones whose names were written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world and that is all there is to it. Nobody else is going to be saved as their name is not in the Book, and there is nothing anyone can do to get their name taken off the €œhell book" and into the Book of Life because that is the way they were born.

This is quite sad, is it not? One of the two versions of Christianity which cause the most mental illness perhaps, although the Jehovah"s Witnesses have a higher rate of mental illness than the general society, is Roman Catholicism. Take a country like Ireland with its very high instances of alcohol abuse, its high instances of child abuse and homosexual pedophilia €“ all of that stuff is built up in a psyche, a social psychology, that is influenced by the Roman church. The oedipusy because of Mary, the sexual repression because of the influences of Augustine"s Manicheanism, and other such things begin to manifest themselves in different ways. Roman Catholic countries have a lot of mental illness and a lot of alcoholism. But look at the other extreme.

I was in Bible college with people who grew up in strict Presbyterian backgrounds in Northern Ireland and Scotland. They went from one extreme to another. Roman Catholicism teaches one gets saved by works and by the sacraments, so they are always working to get saved, driving themselves neurotic and giving themselves a guilt trip. Because faith without works is dead and the evidence of our faith, (Ja. 2:17) extreme forms of Calvinism say one has to do these works to prove they are saved. €œI must be saved because look what I am doing." Neither one of them seems to give a real assurance of salvation.  Neither  of the extremes gives the people psychologically an assurance of salvation and a real peace.
The modern forms of Calvinism do not drive people crazy. Having a mother who was Irish-Catholic I can tell you that Irish-Catholicism is a form of mental illness. And so is Hassidic Judaism. I have seen both close up. My family is a combination of both Jewish and Catholic and I have seen both sides of it.
€œLimited Atonement" asserts that Jesus only died for certain people, full stop. So say the Calvinists, not so say the Arminians.

€œI" = €œIrresistible Grace".  This says no one has a choice. If God put a name in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world, they  have  to be saved, they  must  be saved, and they  will  be saved €“ they have no capacity to choose Jesus, that is it. God chose us, we have not chosen Him, therefore we cannot even respond to Him except that He has ordained our response to it.

€œP" = €œPerseverance", which is €œonce saved (unconditionally), always saved". Notice I said €œunconditionally". I believe €œonce saved, always saved", but it is  conditional; it is not  unconditional.

The Other End of the Spectrum

The moderate Calvinists will hold to €œTotal Depravity", €œUndeserved Grace", €œIrresistible Grace", and €œPerseverance". Even moderate Calvinists will not hold to €œLimited Atonement", that Jesus only died for certain people and the others are created to go to hell. Five-Point Calvinists would hold to it all.

Even going further, there is a form of Calvinism that is as heretical on one extreme as it is on the other: it is €œhyper-Calvinism" in the sense of not just being €œFive-Point" but by saying that because God has already foreordained the Elect, the Church does not have to witness or evangelize.

We laugh at it now, but that was the predominant thinking of Baptists in Great Britain until William Carey stood up and challenged them at the Baptist Convention. He wanted to send missionaries to the East to convert the heathens and pagans and was told, €œBrother Carey, sit down and be quiet. If God wants the heathen He will do it without your help or mine."

Another form of heretical Calvinism is licentiousness. Because somebody went out and made a confession of faith at some point, (they went up at a Billy Graham Crusade or put their hand up in a meeting or said a prayer at the back of the class) they are unconditionally €œonce saved, always saved" and can now go out and keep sinning. Most Calvinists would say that if they do that it proves they were never saved to begin with, but there are others who would say that even if they backslide, if they really made the confession, that it does not matter, they are still going to be saved; it is just their works which will be burned up. (1 Co. 3:12-15) This is heretical. This is not what €œman"s work is burned up" means at all. It refers to the things we do in the flesh not ordained by God, the things we do to €œget" saved instead of what we do because we have  been  saved. When a Christian is saved we do not work to €œget" saved, we work because we have  been  saved. Catholics, Jehovah"s Witnesses, etc. do it to  get  saved, Evangelicals do it because they have  been  saved. But a lot of the works we do are, of course, in the flesh and a lot of us do a lot more worldly and temporal things than we do the things of the Lord, and those things will be €œburned up".

The Extreme Results of "Election"

These extreme forms of Calvinism cam be quite brutal. This idea of €œelection" has been taken to such extremes that it has resulted in social injustice. Any time we have had a hyper-Calvinistic society of that extreme we have found its hallmark was not only terrible social injustice, but social injustice perpetrated in the name of Christ and the Church. Let us look at the three big examples of an hyper-Calvinistic church which most of us ought to be familiar with.

One is the American South, the extreme Southern Baptists who believed in slavery. The Baptist Church split between the American and Southern Baptists over the issue of slavery. €œGod elected us; we"re foreordained." They said Black people were inferior, that God €œelected" them to be that way. They took one verse in Genesis out of context about the son of Ham and so on to justify what happened to the Black people.

Look at Northern Ireland. No one hates the Roman Catholic Church and its heresy more than I do; it is from hell. I  despise  Roman Catholicism, but I  love  Roman Catholic  people. If I did not love Roman Catholic people so much I would not hate the church that is leading them to hell as much as I do. However, hatred of Catholicism is one thing, oppression of Catholics is another. Look at what the strict Presbyterians did to the Roman Catholics in Ireland for centuries; it is unspeakable. Obviously I have no love for the IRA or anything like it €“ I think they are a pack of thugs. However, there is still a whole history in back of what is going on there that most people in Great Britain do not even know about, and would not want anything to do with, perpetrated in the name of an extreme form of Calvinism. In the aftermath of the Plantation Period all kinds of things were justified by Calvinism in what amounted to social injustice against Catholic people.

The third is the Apartheid in South Africa. The Dutch Reformed Church were hyper-Calvinists.

Whenever we find an extreme form of Calvinism we find oppressors. Calvin had a virtual police state which he theologically designed in Geneva. People were burned alive for heresy. There is a Reformed church in Zurich founded by Zwingli who drowned Baptists. If someone believed in being baptized as a Believer, they cut a hole in the ice and drowned them. In Great Britain there was a terrible war with Presbyterians, Calvinists killing other Calvinists. In Massachusetts they burned witches. Whenever we find extreme Calvinism we find injustice and oppression. I know of no exception.

The more moderate forms of Calvinism, even the Five-Point ones such as the Puritans did other things which were good such as the establishment of Parliamentary democracy and so on based on biblical principles; I am only speaking against the extremes. I will speak against the extremes of Calvinism on the one side of the equation, but I will also co-equally speak against the extremes of Arminianism and beyond with the ideas of Finney and Pelagius on the other. The truth is in the Middle and that is the basic situation.

Arguments from God's Word

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh €¦

(This introduces the sections of Romans 9-11 dealing with the soteriological, the salvific and prophetic purposes of God for Israel and the Jews, God's continuing love for Israel despite their popular rejection of its Messiah by what became of the majority of them.)

€¦who are Israelites, to whom belongs €¦

( €œBelongs" is in the present continuous active tense €“ God is not finished with the Jews. In the Greek it is present continuous active.)

€¦the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises €¦

(Indicating it was written  before  70 AD, of course.)

€¦whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

(Meaning the Torah.)

For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;

(In other words, being a physical Jew is useless unless one accepts the Messiah.)

€¦nor are they all children because they are Abraham"s descendants, but: €œthrough Isaac your descendants will be named."

(Now he begins doing a midrashic exposition of the Book of Genesis.)

That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: €œAt this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son." And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, €œThe older will serve the younger." Just as it is written, €œJacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, €œI will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, €œFor this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, €œWhy does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, €œWhy did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, (Rom 9:1 €“23)

Based on this Calvinists will say, €œGod is the Potter, we are the clay, who are we to argue with God?  He  chooses who goes to heaven,  He  chooses the Elect, the others are going to go to hell." And of course they even take €œJacob I loved I loved, but Esau I hated" in some cases and say, €œWhite people I loved, Black people I hated" or €œProtestant people I loved, Catholic people I hated", etc.

Remember that John Wesley"s revivals were an Arminian reaction to the social injustices bred by a dead church that was permeated with Calvinistic thought. That is when the people began coming out of the coal mines and the sweat shops and began giving their lives to the Lord in the tens of thousands.

The Text in Context

So Calvinists say, €œHow can we argue with God? He can do what He wants, He is sovereign, He makes one son this way and one son that way." The first mistake these people are making is a text out of its context becomes a pretext. The context of Romans 9-11 is predominantly dealing with  nations, not  individuals. It is dealing with the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul quotes about the two twins. Let us read what he is commenting on in Genesis.

The Lord said to her, €œTwo nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger." (Gen. 25:23)  
What these people do is take something that is talking about  nations  and apply it to people. There is a principle in midrash called €œkal v"homer" €“ €œlight to heavy". It says that what applies in a specific situation should also apply in a heavy one. But before we use that principle, we must first look at the context. It is not talking about God creating some  people  for this purpose and that purpose, it is talking about His election of  nations.

The Text in Context

So Calvinists say, €œHow can we argue with God? He can do what He wants, He is sovereign, He makes one son this way and one son that way." The first mistake these people are making is a text out of its context becomes a pretext. The context of Romans 9-11 is predominantly dealing with  nations, not  individuals. It is dealing with the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul quotes about the two twins. Let us read what he is commenting on in Genesis.

The Lord said to her, €œTwo nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger." (Gen. 25:23)  
What these people do is take something that is talking about  nations  and apply it to people. There is a principle in midrash called €œkal v"homer" €“ €œlight to heavy". It says that what applies in a specific situation should also apply in a heavy one. But before we use that principle, we must first look at the context. It is not talking about God creating some  people  for this purpose and that purpose, it is talking about His election of  nations.

Moreover, we have something called €œcorporate solidarity" in Scripture. Corporate solidarity is where a person represents a nation or a larger group of people. Esau and Jacob respectively represent what becomes the Israelite and Arab nations. As time goes on, Esau is reconciled to Jacob. In Genesis God has prophetic purposes for the Arab people the same as He does the Jews. His election here has to do with His calling for service; it has nothing to do with salvation in the primary sense that these people are trying to make it.

This is the same in the Book of Obadiah. The name of the patriarch becomes a metaphor, or a general term, for the nations descended from him. So before going any further we have to realize that these people are taking something talking about nations and applying it to individuals when that is mainly not even what the text is talking about. It can  apply  to individuals in some degree, as the text goes on to describe about Pharaoh, but when the New Testament interprets the Old Testament, we have to go back to read the Old Testament"s context.

Moreover, we have something called €œcorporate solidarity" in Scripture. Corporate solidarity is where a person represents a nation or a larger group of people. Esau and Jacob respectively represent what becomes the Israelite and Arab nations. As time goes on, Esau is reconciled to Jacob. In Genesis God has prophetic purposes for the Arab people the same as He does the Jews. His election here has to do with His calling for service; it has nothing to do with salvation in the primary sense that these people are trying to make it.

This is the same in the Book of Obadiah. The name of the patriarch becomes a metaphor, or a general term, for the nations descended from him. So before going any further we have to realize that these people are taking something talking about nations and applying it to individuals when that is mainly not even what the text is talking about. It can  apply  to individuals in some degree, as the text goes on to describe about Pharaoh, but when the New Testament interprets the Old Testament, we have to go back to read the Old Testament"s context.

The Example of a Hardening Heart

Pharaoh hardened his  own  heart. He  repeatedly  hardened his own heart.  Only  after he repeatedly hardened his own heart did  God  harden his heart. God raised him up and used him. He let the guy get away with murder. He let the guy get away with this, that, and the other thing while thinking he was the big cheese. He was deified by Egyptians, of course, and worshiped as god, and God used him for His purpose, only to bring him down. But it does not say God hardened his heart until he repeatedly hardened his own.

But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet  they were not  believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: €œLord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they  could  not believe, for Isaiah said again, €œHe has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that theywould  not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them." (Jn. 12:37 €“40)

Could not, would not, should not. God's hardening of a heart is always in response to its  own  hardening. It was not a case where God just hardened their hearts. Even Calvin admitted that it worked that particular way and according to that kind of dynamic.

This does not quote from the Hebrew text, it quotes from the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament where the mood is subjunctive. The subjunctive mood in Greek allows for the possibility €“ €œLestthey see with their eyes and hear with their ears and turn to Me and be converted". The possibility of their repentance still exists in the Greek subjunctive.

More than that along this vein is the idea of €œbe converted". The Septuagint takes Hebrew and translates it into Greek. €œConverted" in Hebrew is €œteshuva". The Hebrew word for €œrepent" and €œconvert" is the same thing €“ it means to turn away from sin toward God. This idea that He arbitrarily, or by His own sovereign will, just decides who will do this or that is the result of only giving one side of the story. But the Bible speaks of something very different. When  He  hardens hearts it is because they have repeatedly hardened their  own. How many times did He send Moses back to Pharaoh? But let us look even further.

The Potter in Jeremiah

€œGod is the Potter, we are the clay". This comes from the Book of Jeremiah 18-19. Let us read the Old Testament text in its context to see what Paul is talking about.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the  Lord  saying,

When we see the €œword" of the Lord, it is €œd"var" in Hebrew and the Greek would be €œlogos". It is Jesus. This is Jesus Himself coming to Jeremiah in some kind of revelation. It is not like a  messagecame, it is like a  person  came. It had to do with a personal encounter with what the rabbis call the €œd"var" or the €œmamre" (Aramaic), or what the New Testament calls the €œLogos", a personal encounter with Christ. When we read the Bible in the Spirit, it is not simply an encounter with the text, it is an encounter with the Person. What we get from the text derives from the encounter with the Person. If you are just getting information today you are not hearing from Jesus, you are just hearing from me. The question today is are you encountering Jesus? Are you encounter  theWord or just words? If you have  the  Word the  Word  will be crystal clear.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the  Lord  saying, €œArise and go down to the potter"s house, and there I will announce My words to you."
He had to go somewhere. God was going to show him from the illustration of a potter how to understand something. God did not say, €œI am going to show you something now", but €œI am going to show you something that will explain it as an object lesson".

Then I went down to the potter"s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the  Lord  came to me saying €¦
(We can almost say, €œJesus said to him")

€œCan I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the  Lord. €œBehold, like the clay in the potter"s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. (Jer. 18:1-6)

€œCan I not €¦deal with you as the potter does?" Once again, who is He saying this speaking to: a person or a nation? They are taking something that predominantly applies to a corporate group of people €“ a nation, and over-applying it to individuals. Their second mistake is that they do not look at how the potter works.

How a Potter Works

When we take our study tours to Israel, we frequently show people in a Talmudic village in Galilee how the potter made earthenware vessels from clay. If it does not turn out right, the potter smashes it into mortar, lubricates it, and begins over. If he is not happy with that one he re-smashes it, but it is the same material. A potter in biblical times would normally not give up until he remade the thing at least a dozen times.

Jesus does not save people to lose them. When we drop our cross we pick it up. Although  we  goof our lives up,  He  does not give up. He may have to break us and remake us time and time again, but it takes a long time for the Potter to give up on the material. So it is with us.

People are always worrying about their salvation, thinking they may be lost, but the teaching of the potter is not like that; that is not how the potter works. However, there is a time, of course, when the potter does give up.

Not Individuals But Nations

€œAt one moment I might speak concerning €¦

€¦an individual? No €¦

€¦a  nation €¦

The text of Romans 9-11 is nations, not primarily people.

€¦or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that  nation  against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.

(Like the story of Jonah and Nineveh.)

€œOr at another moment I might speak concerning a  nation  or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, "Thus says the  Lord, €œBehold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."" But they will say, "It"s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart." (Jer. 18:7-12)

God will raise up another nation, but if they repent He will take them back. That is what Scripture here says, and that is exactly what Paul is talking about in Romans 9-11.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell €¦

(That is, to the mainly Gentile Church.

€¦severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. (Rom. 11:22)

What does Jeremiah say? If this other pot that the Potter makes does not work out well, He will get rid of that one! But what does Paul then say?

And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Rom. 11:23)

What does Jeremiah 18 say? The same thing. €œIf it repents then I will think better of the good".

This is not the meaning of the €œpotter/clay" teaching in the way they are saying. I wish they would read the text in its context, but they do not.

It is Not What They Cite, But What They Do Not Cite

You will notice that extreme Calvinists will always only use the verses which support their point of view. (I suppose Jehovah"s Witnesses do the same thing, and if we are not careful we can do the same thing, so we have to be careful.)
€œThe Christ of Arminianism loves every person in the world and sincerely desires their salvation".
And he goes on to say that the Christ of the Bible is not like this; it is only the Elect He has unconditionally chosen. Let us look at some of the verses he does  not  cite.

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. (2 Pe. 3:9)

I have had Calvinists try to suggest to me, €œThat only means Christians". First of all, even they are right, even if it means €œonly Christians", how can Christians €œperish" under €œonce saved, always saved"? (I have not received an answer to that yet.) But then it says €¦

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Pe. 3:10)

The context is talking about the end of the world for everybody. He is €œnot wishing for  any  to perish but for all to come to repentance". Jesus does not want to lose anybody.

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:12)

It is something that  must  be apprehended. It is not just something that is €œthere", it is something that must be apprehended.

And he says something even further in Timothy: the Lord says He does not want anyone to go to hell. He takes no joy in people going to hell, He takes joy in people being saved. But when Paul writes about this he is proceeding from a number of Old Testament contexts, one of which is in the Book of Ezekiel.

He Does Not Want to Lose Any

Ezekiel is prophesying at a very bad time, when judgment is well under way, and God tells Ezekiel €¦

€œWhen I say to the wicked, "You will surely die," and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand." (Eze. 3:18-20)

God is telling Ezekiel here and in Ezekiel 33 directly (Eze. 33:11) that He takes no pleasure when the wicked perish; He would rather they repent. €œWarn them so they will not perish". He wants everyone to repent!

Our Calvinistic friends will say that only means €œthe Old Covenant", but now we are under a new Law of grace. That is some idea of grace they have.
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:3 €“4)
God €œdesires  all  men to be saved"! He knows not all men are going to be saved, He knows the ones who will reject His offer of salvation through His Son Jesus, and He knows the one who will accept; He foreordained it €“ He knows how it is going to turn out, but He wants everyone to be saved. Ideally, He wants them  all  to be saved.

We have to look at everything the Bible says on a subject for the full weight of Scripture. There is a balance. A major part of the problem comes from the fact that we are looking back to the 16th Century and the Reformers instead of to the 1st Century and the early Christians. We have to put ourselves in a situation that the 1st Century Christians were in to understand what the Apostles are writing and how it applies to us. But that principle is no less true when we look at Reformed (or Calvinistic) Theology. What was Calvin up against? Why is he writing the way he does? Obviously he was trying to free people from bondage, not put them in it.

The Roman Catholic Church was keeping people ridden with grief, guilt, and fear. And he was trying to tell them that €œonce saved, always saved" to keep them free from this oppression. On the other hand, there was another oppression that came as a result, this idea of only the Elect. It is  a  truth, but a misunderstood truth. He does not want to lose any.

There are so many verses.

€œAnd I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw  all men  to Myself." (Jn. 12:32)

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. (2 Pe. 3:9)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:3 €“4)
And in Ezekiel 3,   €œWarn them so they will not perish".

Such it is, but let us go further and understand why.

The Roots of Calvinism

Calvin came out of Humanism. It was something that later emerged into what we know as €œThe Enlightenment" and was worse than Rationalism. Whenever there is a change in scientific thought, that changes technology. And when technology changes, it changes the economy, and when the economy changes, it changes the culture and the political situation and people"s worldview begins to change.

Out of the Renaissance, Greek and Roman learning was rediscovered and ideas came from the East. Under medieval Roman Catholicism, Western Europe went into the Dark Ages. If you want to know what a Roman Catholic world would look like, look at what a Roman Catholic world  was  like €“ look at the Dark Ages. If you want to know what the popes would do if they had their way in the world, look at what they did do; they had their way for twelve centuries. Look at the inquisitions. That is Roman Catholicism.

At one time, for instance, physics was based on Isaac Newton. It was a Newtonian worldview. But since the advent of Einstein and Relativity, we do not see physics that way. In the old physics matter was matter and energy was energy €“ the two were mutually exclusive. But there was a born-again Christian called Rutherford who moved to England who began to do experiments with photons (light particles) and found out they have mass €“ €œmatter". A light particle is a €œwave"; it is energy. But it also has mass? In the old physics matter and energy were mutually exclusive; in the new physics things we used to think were mutually exclusive are held in some kind of a tension. The worldview of Calvin could not grasp things not being mutually exclusive, that they could be held in a tension with each other.

In the new physics particle physicists today talk about a universe which is neither finite nor infinite but is €œcritical". What is emerging in the world of physics is in many way closer to the worldview of the Bible than that which was the worldview of Calvin. Calvin was black-and-white: €œonce saved, always saved".  
For those not conforming to this the explanation was that they were not saved to begin with. The view was that  either  someone as part of the Elect  or  they were not part of the Elect. He could not keep things in tension.

Holding Things in Tension

This does not begin with Calvin. Calvin simply amplified it for his time and we have been stuck with it ever since. It does not just go back to Augustine and Pelagius, it goes back to the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Sadducees were €œdeterminists" €“ they were €œfatalists"; the Pharisees were not. Jesus usually agreed with the Pharisees. Only on the issue of divorce did He seem to digress from their point of view. He had a more conservative view than they did, but the Pharisees were much closer to the truth than the Sadducees.

Jesus said, €œThe Son of Man must be betrayed for it is written, but woe to him by whom He must be betrayed". (Mt. 26:24) The Pharisees said that all is foreseen, all is ordained, but choice is given. They agreed with Jesus. (Or Jesus agreed with them.) It was the Sadducees who were determinists. Calvinism is closer to the Sadducees than the Pharisees with whom Jesus agreed. Jesus held the two in tension. The way a physicist today can allow that light particles have mass, a physicist from a hundred years ago could not. Calvin could not accept it because of his worldview, but wehave  to accept it because it is the worldview of the Bible and it is the worldview today.

Think about human emotion. Because of the fall of man there is a curse on human relationships, including the relationships between men and women.