Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A malevolent and capricious god

Allah owns no monopoly on heresy or blasphemy (though it's pretty much cornered the market on "religious" genocide, pedophilia, rape, and slavery).

John Calvin's god -- though he and his followers use the language of the Reformation and associate themselves with Luther at every opportunity -- is blasphemous, capricious, and malevolent.

How else can one describe a god that calls itself "Christ" but is His antithesis? The Scriptures state clearly that YHWH loves all humanity, that Christ's death was for all people, that He takes delight in the death of no one, that God wants all to trust in Him and to live. But Calvin's god?

According to the false reformer, Christ died for only those who would believe (Limited Atonement). How does one determine who these true believers are? Worse yet, how does one know if he or she is one of them? Calvinists make up nonsense about knowing that they possess saving faith by their works, but even then, what about those who fall away from the faith? What about their works? And how does one know he or she is not one of them?

Calvinists say they never were a true believer. Under Calvinism, no one can know that their good works are indicative of saving faith and not just makeup on a corpse hiding future apostasy. This does not reflect the language of Scripture, which warns Christ's people against unbelief and shows us that our confidence is not to be placed in our own works, but in the person and work of Christ, Who loved us all and gave Himself to take away all people's sins.

Calvin also taught Double Predestination, another vile doctrine contrary to Scripture. The Bible speaks only of believers being predestined to eternal life; nowhere does the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob speak of creating people for hell. Such a lie makes Him a capricious monster, which may be why Jefferson confessed that he could never believe in Calvin's god.

Both blasphemies, Limited Atonement and Double Predestination, teach and preach a false Christ. A false christ means necessarily also a false gospel. The Apostle Paul declares bluntly of anyone who preaches such a message: "Let him be eternally condemned (anathema)!"

There are other problems with Calvinism besides a mutant works righteousness and false god. It also makes the Means of Grace -- Baptism and the Lord's Supper -- into nothing more than symbols, which denies the power, immediacy, and incarnation of the Son of God.

I had recently the opportunity to observe elements of a children's program offered by a local, generic community church. It turns out that in addition to what appeared to be Decision Theology, the undershepherd responsible for this congregation's instruction also believes in Limited Atonement and Double Predestination.

I wrote to him of my concerns. As of this this writing, he has not replied. While it is possible that he has been busy, the Internet ate my note, or some other event has prevented him from replying, perhaps it is just that he has no satisfactory answers for the problems inherent to his theology.

My original note:
Hello, Pastor . . . ,

. . . I'd like to share with you a concern.

I noticed that Monday's thought of the day was "Choose to believe."

My concern is that many . . . will internalize the understanding that an unbeliever can choose to believe in Christ. Is that the message you intended?

The Scriptures state that we do nothing to save ourselves; even faith is the gift of God, which the Holy Spirit creates in us through the Gospel.

Christ told His apostles, "You did not choose Me, I chose you . . . ." John 1 states that believers are born again not of a "human decision," but "born of God." Paul states that we are "dead in trespasses," that while we were God's enemies Christ died for us, and that the Holy Spirit works in us "to will and to do."

When Christ says in Revelation that, "I stand at the door and knock," He's speaking to Christians, not unbelievers.

Looking forward to your reply . . . .
And here that is:
. . . The issue of salvation that you brought up seems to be one side of a two-sided coin.

The age old question is... "is one converted because of God's work of regeneration within, or does God regenerate the individual because of his or her repentance and belief"? I am assuming by your email, that you would hold that the many- especially children- are converted because of God's work of regeneration within. In other words, you hold that predestination is the act of God regenerating one from a consequence of sin (an inability to choose God or anything good...AKA total depravity). As a result of that regeneration (a work of God), the individual can not resist that call and will be saved. I am not trying to put words in your mouth... this is more of a restatement to make sure I understand your concern.

I believe in predestination... that God chooses those whom He will save. However, it also seems evident in Scripture that there is a need for a response.

Paul's response to the Philippian jailor was "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-- you and your household" (Acts 16:31). Peter makes a similar statement in Acts 2:38 where he says "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the the Holy Spirit."

Your question... "can an unbeliever choose to believe in Christ?" My answer... "I believe we are all unbelievers when we choose to believe in Christ... however, those of us who repent and have faith have been elected by God (an inner working of God on the hearts of those whom He chose) prior to that decision".

As I started with... this is a question that has been discussed and argued by men much smarter than I for generations. I hope this issue is not one that places us as competitors, but as partners aiming to serve the same Lord and submit our lives to the same Savior.
To which I responded:
Hi, Pastor . . . ,

We have not met . . . .

My concern was that the message "Choose to believe" (and now, "Choose Christ") gives the false impression that we have something to do with our salvation.

A new concern is the idea that "the individual cannot resist that call and will be saved." Are you implying that God does not call all people? For if His call is irresistible, but only a few are saved, then He must call only those few.

Where do the Scriptures define "predestination" as "God choosing whom He will save"?

Are you implying that Christ only wants some people to be saved? Where does He say that?

Would you say also that Christ died only for some people?

What of those who fall away from faith?

Would you say that God predestined to hell those who end up there?

Cordially . . . .
Believers are commanded to teach and preach all of and only the Word of God. Anything else comes from the evil one.