[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign...

by Antonio da Rosa

We have all heard the 'helpful' (and frankly, contradictory) little story trying to balance the Calvinist doctrine of 'election' with the Biblical invitation that invites all to believe in Christ for eternal life.

It goes something like this:

"At the entrance to heaven there is a sign that says, 'Whosoever Will May Come', and once passed through onto the other side there is another sign that says, 'Welcome to Those Who Have Been Chosen By God From Eternity'"

A problem I see with this quaint story is that the sign on the entrance into heaven is deceptive. According to Calvinism, no one wills to come, not even the elect. Those chosen by God must be forced into heaven by Sovereign operation and imposition. In all reality it is an invitation that no one can respond to.

For every day there is a night...

Could we not conceive of, within the framework of imaginative Calvinistic illustration, a counterpart to the above story? This time it is not election in view, but the dreaded reprobation.

"At the entrance to hell there is a sign that says 'Reject Jesus in His Promise', and once passed through onto the other side there is another sign that says, "Welcome to the Home That You Were Chosen For, Welcome to the Place God For-Ordained for You to Be, Welcome to Those Who From All Eternity Were Rejected By God, and Will Suffer Eternally For His Glory, Welcome to the Unfortunate Soul Tailor Made to Populate Hell'"

The philosophical foundations upon which Calvinism rests are the same sources employed by writers of Science Fiction.

An invitation is given out that no one is able to respond to (the 'sign' post up ahead...).

A god, by his whim and capricious desire chooses mortals to do his bidding by his irresistable coersion.

The same fashions beings made to be cast into everlasting destruction for his pleasure and to his glory.

By what beguilement of Satan can someone believe that the God of the Bible operates in this way?

Antonio

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15 Comments:

  • I'm not old enough to appreciate the five man acoustical band version but I did like Tesla in my younger years.

    I actually like the sign analogy if you change the inside sign to "Chosen by God" - I don't think you are chosen until you walk through the whosoever door (as opposed to a before the foundation of the world decree).

    Let's say I never lie and I own the chargers and I say "whosoever believes in me will be a charger". Now you go the majority of your life not believing me - you can not be identified as a charger and therefore not among the chosen.

    However, one day you trust what I say and wham - your suited up on the sideline standing next to L.T. Now your identity is changed! You're a charger - a charger whom I chose through my sovereign parameter.

    I just got a shirt. On the front reads "Calvinism - this shirt chose me" and on the back "Arminianism - I chose this shirt". The best part is I'm right in the middle - where we should be!

    Man, I've got to quit. It's late...and I'm a Vikings fan!

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:05:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I'm sorry, but I just can't get past John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. I cannot get past John 17:9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.

    I cannot get past the word eklektos.

    I am not saying that we are picked up and put where we ought to be, because I lived my life like that for too long, and it becomes confusing and dead after a while. The Spirit draws us, but I get the impression that there is motion on our part, too. It would be like walking into a fair and smelling popcorn and following your nose. God makes us hungry, and He provides the scent. We follow our nose, so to speak. But if we weren't made hungry by the father, we'd never be drawn by the scent. I hope that explains where I'm coming from.

    I do not agree with the notion that we can sit on our haunches and say simply "well, I'm chosen, and you all aren't. sorry." I did that, but that is not living in the light; that is spiritual darkness still. And the Father, who calls, disciplines His children (oh boy does He ever). And I learned that I had to get up and start moving. But the spark of spiritual life within me was not an intellectual assent to a story I had heard from childhood, it was a rebirth attributed only to the gracious and merciful hand of God.

    I will finish by saying that while I agree MORE with Calvinism, I think that creating a man-made framework to explain salvation causes frustration, confusion, and unnecessary arguments. Stick to the Word of God and accept that there are some things we simply do not know.

    M

    By Blogger Marcian, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 8:18:00 AM  

  • I think you make a good point. Good writing. Those who want to believe in Calvinism are going to believe in it no matter what! Kind regards, word

    By Blogger word, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 8:26:00 AM  

  • Antonio: ["At the entrance to hell there is a sign that says 'Reject Jesus in His Promise', and once passed through onto the other side there is another sign that says, "Welcome to the Home That You Were Chosen For, Welcome to the Place God For-Ordained for You to Be, Welcome to Those Who From All Eternity Were Rejected By God, and Will Suffer Eternally For His Glory, Welcome to the Unfortunate Soul Tailor Made to Populate Hell'"]

    tjp: Good. Very good.

    By Anonymous tjp, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:23:00 AM  

  • Bob Wilkin, president of the Grace Evangelical Society:

    Election and Evangelism

    When I share the Gospel, I call people to trust in Christ, fully expecting that it is in their power to do so. I realize that the elect will believe someday and the non-elect never will. However, there is a difference between what someone will do and what they can do. It is possible for anyone with a sound mind to trust in Christ. That is why those who do not believe can be said to have rejected Him, to have chosen not to receive Him (John 1:11).

    Election and Free Will

    How can both of these be true? How can God elect and man choose? There is a mystery here. Somehow it works out perfectly that everyone God sovereignly elects freely chooses to trust in Christ. So, too, all He does not elect freely choose to reject Christ.
    An illustration may help here. When we walk through the Pearly Gates of the New Jerusalem we may look up and see a sign that says "whoever believes in Him has everlasting life." Upon passing through the Gates if we look back we may see another sign that reads, "elect before the foundation of the world." Which is true? Did we believe or did God elect? Both. Those are not exclusive ideas.

    http://www.faithalone.org/news/y1989/89july2.html

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 4:59:00 PM  

  • Technology is great. I already know who our 'anonymous' is. I will leave him in obscurity, though, and just let him know that I know. It is childish to post anonymously.

    There really is no problem. It isn't as if it isn't common knowlege that Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin hold to a form of unconditional election.

    The 'anonymous' did a google search for "Zane Hodges election", looking for some text.

    It is rather humorous and ironic for some that two people I highly respect, Zane and Bob, hold a position that I do not. Also to find such a classic text from Bob describing the error I illustrate in this post. So if that is the only point that 'anonymous' wishes to make, I say: so what?

    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    ZANE HODGES AND BOB WILKIN HOLD TO A FORM OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION.

    END OF ANNOUNCEMENT.

    Zane says:

    "I say nothing in Absolutely Free! about the doctrine of unconditional election (the so-called second point of Calvinism). As a matter of fact, I hold to that doctrine, though probably not in a form to which Horton would give his approval."

    But Zane also says this, discussing Michael Horton's "Christ the Lord":

    "The reader should understand that five-point Calvinism generally denies the validity of all free will in human beings and embraces a harsh doctrine of reprobation along with a rigid view of divine election. To put it plainly, those who are lost were unconditionally assigned to hell by divine decree in eternity past. Since they have no free will, there is nothing they can possibly do about their eternal reprobation.

    But equally, the elect can do nothing either, not even believe. This leads to the doctrine that our faith does not appropriate God’s gift of life, but rather faith results from God’s sovereign regeneration of the elect person. To the five-point Calvinist, regeneration logically precedes faith, despite all of the Scriptures that condition eternal life and/or justification on faith.

    It follows, as well, that Christ did not pay the penalty for the sins of the non-elect, but only for those of the elect. This too flies in the face of Scripture (2 Cor 5:19; 1 Tim 2:3-6; 1 John 2:2).

    None of these ideas has any right to be called normative Protestant theology. None has ever been held by a wide cross-section of Christendom. Most importantly, none of them is biblical. In the opinion of this reviewer all of them lie outside the proper parameters of Christian orthodoxy."

    The management

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 6:20:00 PM  

  • Note again from Zane, in case you missed it...

    Zane has the following to say about the Calvinist Doctrine of Election, Reprobation, Regeneration before Faith, and Limited Atonement:

    "None of these ideas has any right to be called normative Protestant theology. None has ever been held by a wide cross-section of Christendom. Most importantly, none of them is biblical. In the opinion of this reviewer all of them lie outside the proper parameters of Christian orthodoxy."

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 6:22:00 PM  

  • Antonio, normally I don't like that approach much, but I did enjoy your reversal of the signpost thing.

    It is a shame that so many great theologians have wanted to hold onto unconditional election.

    God Bless

    Matt

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 7:36:00 PM  

  • Zane: ["None of these ideas has any right to be called normative Protestant theology. None has ever been held by a wide cross-section of Christendom. Most importantly, none of them is biblical. In the opinion of this reviewer all of them lie outside the proper parameters of Christian orthodoxy."]

    tjp: Well, thank you, Zane. May your tribe increase!

    By Anonymous tjp, at Thursday, February 22, 2007 2:21:00 AM  

  • I just don't understand how anyone can be deceived with the doctrine of election. That was a great post, Antonio.

    By Blogger Redeemed, at Thursday, February 22, 2007 6:57:00 PM  

  • George Bryson's two books on Calvinism have illuminated this Calvinist shell game quite nicely.

    On the one hand they like to point out that the elect receive something that they don't deserve because God's election is unconditional.

    On the other hand, the reprobate receive something they do deserve, hell.

    Bryson points out that if God's choice is absolutely apart from any merit or lack thereof in man, then the Calvinist must be consistent in applying this to the reprobate as well.

    The reprobate is not exiled to hell because he deserves it because the question of deserving does not enter into the equation.

    In the Calvinist system the reprobate is destroyed in hell just because God wanted it that way, and there is no reason for that choice within the reprobate himself.

    The God of Calvinism is a capricious God.

    By Anonymous Bud, at Friday, February 23, 2007 8:49:00 AM  

  • Did I mention I also can't get past Matthew 22:1-14.

    I don't want to skip over election simply because it's a difficult thing to understand. But I also don't want to gloss over it with a shallow description. I think it merits more awe than that.

    By Blogger Marcian, at Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:51:00 PM  

  • Marcia,

    please be specific and tell me what you think about Matthew 22:1-14. What exactly about it do you have in mind that you can't get past?

    Let me tell you, there are several elements that I cannot get over either in this parable.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, February 24, 2007 4:08:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    You nailed it... I have been preaching the Gospel of Grace in Jesus Christ for over 40 years (didn't start until age 40)... Many of my family are still Calvinist.. and are essentially brain-dead. Will not listen to reason..

    Your Bible logic is Scriptural and clear... Keep it up!

    In Christ eternally by God's Grace and my choice to trust Christ.

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Sunday, February 25, 2007 6:50:00 PM  

  • Antonio!
    What an awesome post!

    I find this a drink of cool water this morning as I was tortured yesterday by Calvinism ... and brought to tears ... thinking of the view of God that so many in my church glory in, this cruel invention.

    Thanks for the refreshement and the simple recognition here of how absurd it really is!

    Our God is good.
    Amen.

    In the Calvinist system the reprobate is destroyed in hell just because God wanted it that way, and there is no reason for that choice within the reprobate himself.

    Bud, that is the logical conclusion, isn't it? And yet doctrines of gracers find reason to praise in this. I don't get it.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, February 26, 2007 4:37:00 AM  

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