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

The questions below are taken from:

The original question is in dark blue. My replies, as ever, in (bracketed red)
1. It is often said by Calvinists that dead men can't respond. As you say, "you are dead in your trespasses & sins." Eph. 2:1. In Romans 6, it says that "in the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." If being dead in sin means one can't respond to God then does being dead to sin mean that the Christian cannot respond to sin? (Calvinists do not say that spiritually dead men (Ephesians 2:1) cannot respond to God. Dead men do respond to God all the time. The only problem is that their response is sinfully negative. Unless regenerated by the Spirit of God, they will not cease from their rebelling. Being dead to something in the Bible doesn't mean that there is no response whatsoever. The analogy drawn above then doesn't really fit since it is built on the thought that people who are either dead or reckoned dead cannot respond, which is incorrect. Christians obviously do respond to sin - either resisting it or falling into it.)
2. Even though God does perfectly know all human thoughts, can man have thoughts that have never been thought before (i.e. ex-nihilo thoughts)? If these thoughts are not free (e.g., they are determined) then has God caused all thoughts, including evil ones, which would make God the author of sin and evil and man not responsible? (The Calvinist position is that while God has ordained all events that take place (Ephesians 1:11) yet He never coerces any to work against their will. He leaves men to follow the dictates of their own will. Those hands, for instance, which crucified the Lord of Glory did so according to the foreknowledge and determinate counsel of God yet they are condemned as being wicked hands (Acts 2:23) God can draw straight lines with crooked rulers. He ordains all events for His glory - men willingly supply themselves as free agents with their own agenda.)
If, on the other hand, these thoughts are free, then how can God remain sovereign according to the Calvinist definition of sovereignty? (As above. The will of man is free to follow the dictates of his own heart while God is still in full control. There is no contradiction. Certainly Judas didn't think so when he went the way that had been determined (Luke 22:22) His complaint was that he had betrayed the innocent blood (Matthew 27:4) i.e. he consistently took the blame himself.)
3. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:4, "God our Saviour wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth." It also states that God wants all men to be saved in 2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 23:37 and in Ezekiel 33:11 and 18:30. Obviously not all men are saved. How does Calvinism explain this? Does the God of Calvinism have two wills that are in direct contradiction and hence have a multiple personality disorder? (No, God cannot deny or contradict Himself (2 Timothy 2:13) The will of God is one. However to accommodate our weak and finite understanding - for who has known the mind of the Lord? (Romans 11:34) - it is revealed to us as if it were two. God reveals Himself as One who is willing to save sinners and yet those some of those sinners are not saved. Evidently He has not willed with a purpose to save them, for when God purposes, it is done. For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (Isaiah 14:27) Obviously there are matters here that would need to be revealed further to us for our complete understanding. God has not done so. We are only reconciling what has been revealed. It really doesn't achieve any thing to suggest that the Lord has "a multiple personality disorder.")
4. Calvinism excludes individual faith from the salvation process, classifying such faith as a work. (This is untrue. Calvinists believe, in common with all evangelical Christians, that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) To exclude individual faith from the salvation process would be to exclude the sinner from being saved. The questioner should produce authoritative evidence from prominent Calvinists or those widely held Calvinistic Confessions e.g. the Westminster Confession of Faith etc., to back up his allegation.)
How can Calvinists classify faith as a work when Paul specifically excludes faith from works in Romans 3:27-28 and 4:5? (Faith is not a work, as Romans 3:27-28 and 4:5 rightly points out. Faith is the channel that brings salvation to us. We do not trust in our faith to save us but in the One in whom our individual faith is put i.e. Christ. However, if we were to promote faith from being the channel and make it the source or the merit of our salvation, then it would rightly viewed as a work. Calvinists view faith as a gift from God. Many non Calvinists effectively believe that all men possess it and that it just needs stirred up and pointed in the right direction.)
5. Jonah 2:8 says that "those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (I prefer the AV rendering: They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.)
If, as Calvinism teaches, God determined before time began who would be reprobates, and therefore does not extend the grace to them by which they could be saved, how logically can we understand this verse's statement that these reprobates, "forfeited the grace that could be theirs?" (It is vital when trying to understand Calvinism that we believe that men are damned because of their sin. Many fail to understand this and make all kinds of foolish statements. Men are lost because when God offered them mercy - and the offer of mercy is indiscriminate - reprobates refused it. It was genuinely offered to them but they preferred instead their sin. They therefore can be said to have forsook their own mercy. The damned souls in hell are not cursing the righteous decree of God that decided to leave them in their guilt, but their own folly in obeying not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ - 2 Thessalonians 1:8)
6. The Bible says in John 6:44, "no one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." The same word "draw" is used in John 12:32 which says, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto myself." Matthew 23:37 says that men can resist God's will. How do you answer this problem in Calvinism?
(The bigger problem is actually for the non Calvinists. John 6:44 teaches the inability of man, of himself, to come to Christ. He is unable, not because God has chained his legs or blinded his eyes etc., but because sin has done these things i.e. it is a moral and self inflicted inability. The "all men" in John 12:32 are evidently "all kinds of men" i.e. rich and poor, Jew and Gentile etc., If we take it the other interpretation that it means every last son of Adam, then we are left wondering how could Pharaoh or Cain or Esau etc., be drawn to Christ when He was lifted up and they were already in hell. Calvinists do not deny that men can resist God's revealed will (as in Matthew 23:37) but we deny that they can resist His decretive will as this page will show.)
7. You say that even the "good" acts of sinners are "bad" because they come from a completely depraved nature. Is it a "bad" act to rationally apprehend the truthfulness of apologetics? (No. We should go further than rationally apprehend truth. We should buy the truth and sell it not: Proverbs 23:23 knowing that it is the truth that sets us free: John 8:32)
If so, why has God commanded us to practice apologetics to sinners, which causes them to do a bad act? Doesn't that mean that God causes sinners' bad acts? (As we have seen, it is not so. God commands us to preach the gospel in a persuasive way to sinners because they are responsible creatures. Any bad act on the part of sinners are self caused.)
If you say "yes," doesn't that make God a bad guy? (Only if I say "yes" but I didn't. I said "no")
8. When Calvinism is shown to have logical contradictions, Calvinists usually reply that God's thoughts are unsearchable, and therefore the logical problems that Calvinism has, for example divine election and human responsibility, exhaustive sovereignty and human free will, and God's having two contradictory wills, are solved by invoking the phrase, "well that's a mystery."
If you can solve your logic problems by copping out with the term mystery, why can't the Arminian types, atheists and others pull the same move? (The preamble to the question is loaded. Although we cannot explain where many of these issues actually meet, yet we know that they do not contradict each other. Furthermore, God does not have two contradictory wills. It seems that despite Calvinistic denials of this monstrosity, you are determined to foist this unto God, as you mentioned it before. If there is a mystery in the word of God, then it is not a "cop out" to say so when we can offer no Scriptural explanation. If others abuse this answer, it is no fault of ours. God has not revealed every last thing to us. It is my belief that the Calvinist system of theology makes the most sense out of what has been revealed.)
9. The Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 that reprobates "perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved."
From your Calvinistic worldview, how can it logically be said that a reprobate refuses to love the truth and so be saved, when your God determines that the reprobate can't love the truth, can't be saved, and therefore doesn't refuse God at all? (Our Calvinistic worldview says that God leaves certain men to perish in their chosen sin. He is under no obligation to save any sinner and therefore under no obligation to save every sinner. The blame is always put on the sinner. Any sinner who would argue with the doctrine of election should state clearly whether he wants here and now to be saved from his sin. If he does, he may freely apply by faith for this proffered mercy: Romans 10:13 If he doesn't, he can hardly blame God for not giving him what he has just professed not to want.)
10. You have said that nothing thwarts the will of God, and you also have said that a man's will cannot be free or else God would not be absolutely sovereign. (What Calvinists say is that nothing thwarts the decretive will of God, although the preceptive or declarative will of God is often thwarted. God says "Thou shalt not kill" yet every day, someone, somewhere murders a fellow human being. However, since God works all things after the counsel of His will, we may say that His decretive will is not thwarted. Calvinists say that man is free to follow the dictates of his will…but also that his will is in bondage to sin i.e. total depravity. To apply the same question to the questioner…is he saying that there are circumstance sin which God is not absolutely sovereign? With whom does God share His attribute of sovereignty? God and Who else sit upon the throne?)
Doesn't this mean that God determines (or is the cause of) evil and the evil acts of men for his sovereign pleasure? (To determine something is not the same as being its cause. God obviously determined to allow sin to enter into the world. We know that He could have prevented it but didn't. Is the questioner prepared to indict God with being the cause of evil? The problem is not exclusively a Calvinist one. If we reduce much of God's activity to being mere foreknowledge i.e. information gotten before an event…why did He still create a man (Adam) capable of sinning when He had information that this liberty would be abused? Although God ordains that certain events might take place, the sin that is present belongs unto the sinner who willingly plays his part.)
11. In Romans 9 where God says, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" (v15) why do you automatically assume that God does not want to have mercy on all but only have mercy on the select few when God clearly tells us in Romans 11:32 that, "God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all?" (This is not automatically assumed. v18 introduces the limitation of this saving mercy, relating how God also hardens whom He will. Judicial hardening is not an evidence of saving mercy. In Romans 11:32 the "all" evidently relates to "all" who have or will partake of this mercy. If God actually has mercy on every last sinner ever born, then hell will be emptied if indeed it was ever inhabited at all.)
If you say that all means all classes of men, but not all men in every class, then why does it not mean all classes of men but not all men in every class in Romans 3:23 where it says, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?" (We can interpret the "all" of Romans 3:23 in its widest sense, because other scriptures enable us to do so, including those of the context i.e. v10-12 and verse 19 where we read the "whole world may become guilty before God")
Does this mean some have not sinned? Perhaps, for instance, the Virgin Mary?
(Apart from Christ, every last son and daughter of Adam have sinned including the Virgin Mary who confessed her need of a Saviour: Luke 1:47)