Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email: cfpc@esatclear.ie

QUESTIONS BY A NON CALVINIST ANSWERED BY A CALVINIST

The following questions are taken from the following website:

http://www.baptistlink.com/bible/Calvinism.htm#5. by Edwin Jardinel

At the end of the page, there is an acknowledgement: "These five excellent posts on Calvinism were posted on the Baptist Debate list by: John Henry Baptist@udon.ksc.co.th

This web page composes of a number of statements regarding the Calvinistic faith., followed by the questions listed below. Some of these statements are accurate e.g. The Calvinists have constantly affirmed their position "That man in his natural state being dead in sins, is unable to recover himself by an act of his own free will." Others of these statements are highly inaccurate e.g. The Calvinist says "God will save the unbelieving elect without the gospel" (I have already emailed the above address to see if the writer can give any references to support this most amazing claim.)

For the sake of time, I have omitted most of the statements - both accurate and outrageous - and concentrated on the questions which are obviously designed to back up some of the statements. I do make reference to some of the statements especially in a couple of sections where the writer does not list the questions as such, but intertwines them in statements. All the original questions are included. They appear in dark blue. (My replies, as ever, appear bracketed in red) As you will see, some questions were really two or three questions in one, but I have kept with the original numbering. The headings belong to the original website.

1. THE FALL OF MAN AND REGENERATION

1. Who is calling in Matt. 22:14? (God is calling through the voice of the preacher)

If it is the preacher, why is it that there are those who responded through such call? (Because it pleases God through the foolishness of the preacher's preaching to bring men to Himself.)

If it is God, how come that not all were chosen? (Because God calls all men with a general call - only the elect receive the effectual call.)

Is there an equal number of the called and the chosen? (Obviously not since the text indicates that the number chosen is less than the number called.)

2. How will Eph. 1:13 be explained? Which comes first, faith or the sealing of the Holy Spirit?

(Ephesians 1:13 relates to the assurance of salvation. Obviously a man cannot have assurance without faith, but it is possible that he can have assurance as soon as he believes.)

3. When does the Holy Spirit make the call to repent and believe in Jesus as Saviour, before regeneration or after? (The Holy Spirit makes the call - the questioner's distinction - to repent before regeneration. But only the regenerated sinner will actually repent and believe in Jesus as Saviour. An unregenerate man, although duty bound to repent and believe, will not do so without the Spirit's power of regeneration)

4. Can the Holy Spirit influence a depraved sinner (unregenerate) to repent and believe, or He can only influence the regenerated? (The word influence is left here undefined and is so broad as to mean several things. The Holy Spirit brings some depraved and unregenerate sinners under the word of God and through the word of God regenerates them (James 1:18/1 Peter 1:23) Evidence of this regeneration is repentance and faith.)

5. If the Holy Spirit cannot influence the unregenerate being spiritually dead, to repent and believe in Christ, how come the devil can still influence the regenerated to sin? Is the devil more powerful than God? (He does more than influence the spiritually dead to repent and believe. He actually regenerates them and so they both repent and believe through grace. This being so…the preposition that He cannot influence the unregenerate is a non starter. The devil can influence - tempt would be a scriptural word - the regenerate to sin because God allows him to do so. No…the devil is not more powerful than God. The Calvinistic doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God does not leave us open to this kind of thought.)

6. Which comes first, forgiveness or repentance? (Repentance.)

How will you explain the following passages: Isa. 55:7; Luke 13:3; II Chron. 7:14? (The sinner is to forsake his wicked way and the unrighteous man his (wicked) thoughts i.e. repent before God will pardon him (Isaiah 55:6) Except the wicked repent, he will perish in hell (Luke 13:3) Only after God's people humble themselves, pray seeking God's face and repent, will God heal their land.)

7. Which comes first, faith or forgiveness? (Faith.)

Jn. 8:24; 5:24; Rom. 5:1; Acts 10:43. How will you explain such passages? (Without faith, men will die in their sins and go to hell (John 8:24) Without faith, men will not be justified and it is only after faith is exercised are they accounted righteous (Romans 5:1) Only after faith is exercised do men receive remission for their sins (Acts 10:43)

8. If the Gospel is not necessary in regeneration, how will you explain the passages-- Jn.5:24; Rom.1:16; I Cor. 1:21; 15:1-4; II Thess. 2:14; James 1:18; Jam. 1:21; I Peter 1:23; Eph. 1:13? (The gospel is necessary in regeneration. Keeping strictly to the question, I don't need to explain the passages.)

2. ELECTION ACCORDING TO GOD'S PLEASURE

1. Were the elect already in Christ in eternity? (In a sense - yes. We "were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world" Ephesians 1:4 We take this to mean that God decreed from eternity that we should be in Christ.)

2. When did the elect obtain the new nature, in eternity or at the point of regeneration? (The point of regeneration.)

If the elect obtained the new nature at the point of regeneration, whose children were they before regeneration, of God or of the Devil? (We were children of the devil by sin, although still chosen to be saved in Jesus Christ from before the foundation of the world.)

Explain John 1:12; Eph. 2:3; Gal. 3:26; II Cor. 5:17. (We did not become the children of God until we received Christ as our Saviour, being born of God and so enabled to do so (John 1:12-13) Our unsaved days saw us as children of wrath, even as others i.e. under the condemnation of God for our sins and needing a Saviour (Ephesians 2:3) Only those who have faith in Christ can be considered children of God (Galatians 3:26) Only when we were in Christ - actually regenerated in Him as opposed to being "merely" chosen in Him - did old things pass away and all things become new.)

3. How could the elect be in Christ in eternity since they have not existed yet in eternity? (Our election in Christ from eternity was in the eternal decree of God. Although decreed from eternity, our being saved in Christ could not come to pass until we first came into actual existence and then came by faith to Jesus Christ.)

4.Were all elect justified already at the time of their physical birth? (No)

If not when will they be justified? (When they come by faith to Jesus Christ: Romans 5:1)

5. Is it God's pleasure that some people will reject the truth? Is it God's will of pleasure that some people will reject Christ and die in their sins? II Peter3:9; I Tim. 2:3-4; Ezek. 33:11. (Both these questions ask practically the same thing. Scripture allows us to say only that while God reveals himself as not being willing that any should perish, would have all men to be saved and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked - verses quoted - yet we cannot say that He has purposed to save every last fallen son of Adam. No one can say differently, otherwise we have a very frustrated God. It is significant when Jesus Christ upbraided the non repentance of Capernaum and spoke of God hiding these things from the wise and prudent and revealing them unto babes, He commented "Even so, Father, for it seemed good in thy sight." (Matthew 11:20-27)

6. Are disobedient people doing God's will for them? Matt. 7:21. (The description of disobedience indicates their being outside the revealed will of God. They have willingly chosen to disobey the commands to repent and believe etc., and will so be denied entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven.)

If so, what is God's will for them? I Tim. 2:3-4; II Peter 3:9. (God has revealed to us - as above - that He would have them to be saved and repent etc., Thankfully, He does draw some of these disobedient ones to Himself and they become obedient to the claims of the gospel. Evidently He does not savingly draw them all and we are cast back upon the same observation as before i.e. we cannot say that He has purposed to save every last fallen son of Adam. The Bible reveals that those who die in their sin can only blame themselves, perishing in their own corruption and falling by their own transgression: 2 Peter 2:12/Acts 1:25 God was certainly under no obligation to save any and therefore is under no obligation to save all.)

3. CONDITIONAL SALVATION.

The Hyper-Calvinists believe in unconditional election to unconditional salvation. By their Calvinistic beliefs, they have ignored and violated too many passages in the Scripture. We have discussed previously, that election is conditional. This time I will show you that salvation is conditional. Below, are the many passages which the hyper-Calvinists ignored and violated: (Long list of salvation verses) (Only one question appears under this heading and is answered below. In this section, the writer makes a statement about Hyper Calvinists, and then uses the word Calvinistic in the same breath. There is, of course, a great fundamental difference between Hyper Calvinism and Calvinism. It is my considered view that any critique of these doctrines which cannot discern the difference between a Hyper Calvinism and mainstream Calvinism is hardly worth reading! I have no desire to associate with or defend Hyper Calvinists, but I find it very strange that the writer should say that even Hyper Calvinists believe in conditional salvation. Wherever else they err, I have never seen a Hyper err on this particular point. Unless the writer can prove otherwise, I would take this statement with a very generous pinch of salt. One question appears in this section at the end of Romans 10:13 being quoted. I give it in full…)

14. Rom. 10:13 -- "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". The Calvinists believe they must be saved first before they can call upon the name of the Lord. Do they call on the Lord for salvation? (Calvinists emphatically do not believe that they must be saved first before they can call upon the name of the Lord. Calvinists believe that until they call upon the name of the Lord , they are still lost and it is only by calling upon the name of the Lord that they will be saved. Calvinists do believe that they will not call upon the name of the Lord for salvation until they are enabled to do so by the Spirit of God. No man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3) Therefore, "Yes!" they do call upon the name of the Lord for salvation.)

4. EXPLANATION OF DISPUTED PASSAGES

(In this section the questions are not as clearly set out as in the first two sections. The writer starts off with an erroneous statement i.e. "John 1:13 The Calvinists believe that God saves a person apart from his willingness." This is not so. We believe that God graciously renews our corrupt wills and so makes us willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3) No man was ever brought kicking and screaming to Christ. John 1:13 is teaching us that man is unwilling in and of himself, without the Spirit of God, to come to Christ.)

Rom. 9:16 -- It is true that man is unwilling to come to God apart from divine grace. If man can come willingly to God apart from God's grace and Christ's sacrificial death, salvation is still impossible according to I Cor. 15:3-4, 14-17. That's the point of this passage. But man under Divine influence can exercise willingness to trust Christ to be saved. To whom does God bestow greater grace? James 4:6 says, "God resisteth the proud but giveth grace unto the humble." No one can question God if He wants to bestow greater grace to save the humble. (God gives grace unto the humble. I'm not sure what point the writer is trying to make here. Certainly no Calvinist questions God if He wants to bestow greater grace to save the humble. In fact, Calvinists are not noted for their questioning of God at all. If God wants to save some and not all…we don't question Him either.)

John 6:37-39 -- The Calvinists believe that all elect were given to Christ by the Father in eternity. The questions they must answer are: Were all the elect already in Christ in eternity? (This question was posed above. Forgive the cut and paste answer: In a sense - yes. We "were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world" Ephesians 1:4 We take this to mean that God decreed from eternity that we should be in Christ.)

Did all the elect already possess a new nature in eternity? (No.)

Were all elect already justified, forgiven, and children of God in eternity? (No.)

Actually, a person is given to Christ at the point he believes in Him. The word, "giveth" is in the present tense. If it was in eternity that they were given to Christ, the verb used should be in the past tense. (Although technically not a question, it should be pointed out that sinners were being chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) Just as He is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) This is something decreed from eternity, but sees its execution in time.)

Only those who believe will come to God according to Heb. 11:6. John 6:39 tells us that Christ secures the believers. (Amen.)

Matt. 1:21 -- Who are God's people?
(According to the decree of God…all His elect. Those who have lived, are living and yet to be born. Yet no man can view himself as one of God's people until he actually comes to Christ.)

The Calvinists believe that the elect were God's people since eternity. The questions are, Were they already God's children in eternity? (No. Although preordained to become a child of God, and chosen eternally in Jesus Christ, we did not become the children of God until we received Christ by faith: John 1:12)

Did Paul made a mistake when he said that the believers in Ephesus were in time past by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3)? (No. Although the Ephesian believers were chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world (1:4) yet they were by nature children of wrath until they came to Christ for salvation.)

Did St. Peter made a mistake when he wrote to some believers and told them that in time past, they were not God's people (I Peter 2:10)? (No. Peter reminds the believers that they were (in effect) among the Devil's crowd. This does not rule them out from being preordained to eternal life which they received by faith in Jesus Christ.)

God shall truly save "HIS PEOPLE" from the power and presence of sin in Christ's second coming (II Cor. 1:10). (Technically not a question, but since it concludes the section, it would be a shame to leave it out. We concur with its truth.)

5. MISINTERPRETATION OF JOHN 3:16

1. Can a person reject something that which is not offered to him? (A difficult question…for both Calvinists and non Calvinists. I think now particularly of the heathen who have never heard the gospel offer at all. Yet we know that they are lost. Why are they damned? For sin. Creation leaves them without an excuse (Romans 1:18-20) Their own conscience condemns them (Romans 2:14-15) but some of them have never heard the gospel offer. Perhaps suffice for us to know that it will be more tolerable for them than for those places who do have the free, indiscriminate, offer of the gospel extended to them. (Matthew 11:20-24) Whatever answer we arrive at, it does not interfere with the mission of the church (Mark 16:15) to preach the gospel indiscriminately to every creature)

2. If Christ was not offered as Saviour to some people, how come they were able to reject Christ? John 12:47-48. (The folk in John 12:47-48 had Chris offered to them as Saviour as the context makes clear. Calvinists - as opposed to Hyper Calvinists - believe that Christ is to be offered to every man. We preach to, plead, dispute and reason etc., with men, both elect and non elect, so that they will not reject Christ.)

3. Did Christ sincerely offer eternal life to the Jews who rejected Him? John 5:39-40. (Yes.)

How can He offer salvation if they were not included in His atonement? (Yes. The merits of Christ's blood is sufficient to cleanse away the sins of the whole world and every sinner may be assured that if he comes, he will be received and fully cleansed. Viewing the atonement theologically, we have to conclude that it was not the purpose of Christ to save those who were either then or are now or will eventually be in hell. If it was…then He signally failed.)

4. Did Christ sincerely want the people in Chorazin and Bethsaida to repent or He was just joking? Matt. 11:20-24. (That God could have granted the people in Chorazin and Bethsaida repentance is not disputed. That He did not in His goodness lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4) is also established. Suffice for us to know that they perished in their own corruption. No…He was not joking as you put it.)

Why would He want them to repent if He thinks they cannot repent? (God commands all men everywhere to repent. This is consistent with His own holiness which loathes sin. Although duty bound to repent - another fundamental place where Calvinists and Hyper Calvinists disagree - yet the natural man is unable because of his sin to repent. He is not stopped from repenting by God, but simply left to his own chosen helplessness. God is under no obligation to grant it to them and when He declined to do so in the case of Chorazin and Bethsaida, the Saviour Himself fell back on the thought of Him exercising His absolute sovereignty. Much as this is unpalatable to the natural man, it is there clearly taught in the word of God. Suffice for us to know that as for God, His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30) and that the Judge of all the earth will do right: Genesis 18:25)

Why would He want them to repent if He is not offering salvation to them? II Cor. 7:9-10. (If we are still considering the case of Chorazin and Bethsaida, then they are required to repent because they are sinners. Why He did not see fit to send preachers offer them salvation is answered only by His sovereignty as above.)

5. Does God want some people to reject Christ? (He has revealed Himself as One who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) Christ lamented over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37) His angels rejoice over those sinners who receive Christ and so should we (Luke 15) That He has not purposed to save all and does not grant faith and repentance to all is clear to be seen. I am most happy to extend the invitation to every last creature and seek to see them receive the proffered gift of God.

Why won't He cause all to believe in Christ? (As above…because for reasons known to Himself…He has chosen to do otherwise.)

Is God pleased if others remain to be unbelievers? Ezek. 33:11 (The revealed will of God says "No" i.e. Ezekiel 33:11. Yet His decretive will shows that He has permitted some men to go their own chosen path of damnation. To ask we to reconcile this with my puny little finite reason is to ask too much.)

These five excellent posts on Calvinism were posted on the Baptist Debate list by: John Henry
Baptist@udon.ksc.co.th

(Final comment: I enjoyed answering these questions. The questions were excellent…unfortunately some of the statements were rather bizarre. Any one who takes upon himself to attack Calvinism should at least be able to tell the difference between a Calvinist and a hyper Calvinist.)

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