To Calvinist or Not To Calvanist

God and Devil

Normally, the conversation of Calvinism (or predestination) should probably be had “in house.” For a couple of reasons. First, the general Christian public often gets riled up so much that having a real “conversation” is nearly impossible. A subject like this often leads to shouting matches and battles of biblical wits. In such interactions, I wish not to participate.

The second reason is for the potential damage it does to the seeking/new believer. The doctrine of predestination has been a “stumbling block” (as Apostle Paul might call it) to many, and thus should often be discussed among those more ready for the concept. To this, I agree. And since my audience spans seekers to seasoned believers, I ask all who engage to keep in mind the eyes reading this post and its comments.

Covering Calvinism and predestination in a short 1000 word blog is impossible. But I decided to post anyway. I was discussing Calvinism and predestination last week and became fascinated again with the topic. It was Tim Keller, my favorite Christian author right now, who ushered in the topic. Unbeknownst to him, I’m sure. While I highly respect Tim and his ministry (I’m reading his Center Church book now, which is absolutely fantastic so far!), I understand he is a Calvinist… and I disagree with that stance.

What is Calvinism?

Calvinism is named after John Calvin, a Reformation era theologian. It basically suggests God has complete control over all things. That is, God has ordained (or is in the driving seat for) all things.

Calvinism is named after John Calvin, a Reformation era theologian. It basically suggests God has complete control over all things. That is, God has ordained (or is in the driving seat for) all things. I personally think we need to better define what we mean by “control” and “ordain,” but these are the terms in use. I take it to mean that God is directing, in some way, all actions. At first glance, this may sound exactly right. A sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing God is the perfect candidate for “control” of all things.

The problem (for today) comes with how this affects “salvation.” One of Calvinism’s five key points suggest the notion of predestination. And predestination is the idea that God has already chosen who will spend eternity with him, and who will not. It suggests that God has pre-determined who will accept him and who will not. This, Calvinism teaches, is the epitome of grace. The reasoning goes that, since grace is a gift for which we do nothing to receive, then ultimately it is not up to us to allow it take effect. Grace places the salvation of the individual completely in God’s hands, and completely out of our hands. Biblical verses that are often referenced include:

  • Romans 8:29-30
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  • Ephesians 1:3-6
  • Ephesian 1:11

What about Love?

The verses in those passages are hard to dispute. Hence the great debate over this topic for centuries. It is especially difficult when considering verses like Romans 10:9, John 3:16, and 2 Peter 3:9. In the Peter passage, we learn “God does not want anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance,” which is especially interesting to me considering that God will not get what he wants. Rob Bell asks the question about whether God gets what he wants in his provocative book “Love Wins.” You can see my retort here. It is an interesting point of contention for this conversation, especially considering that Calvinism pretty much puts all control in God’s hands. One does have to ask how it is God doesn’t get what he wants when he’s the one in full control.

There are two ways in which I reconcile the grace of God (not by work, even the work of ”believing”) and the free will of men (the importance of choosing God on our own).

I believe that Jesus paid the price for all sins. Every one of them. That means we are all saved from the penalty of Hell and eternal separation. This salvation is for all men: past, present and future. To this end, Jesus gave us all eternal life. So the question is not whether we will be saved from Hell because we deserve to go there. Yes, we do deserve to go, and the grace of God found in the sacrifice of Jesus clears all of us from such a destination. The question is, what will we do with our newfound freedom.

Consider a man sitting in jail. Another man comes and pays his bail. The guards then open the jail doors and says, “Your bail has been paid. You’re free to go.” At that point the jailed man is free. Actually, he was free as soon as the bail was paid, whether he knew about it or not. The question is, will the man now choose to walk out of the jail cell and embrace his freedom, or will he remain in jail, skeptical that he is being conned or tricked into something. And if he stays, is he really “saved” or not?

This is the grace of God in action, Jesus has paid our bail. We are free to leave the prison.

This is the grace of God in action, Jesus has paid our bail. We are free to leave the prison. But we are still left with a choice to embrace our salvation or to stay put. Where our salvation leads us is up to us. It’s an broken analogy (for the “faith” needed to accept the salvation you’ve already been given produces a spiritual change), but serves us to make the point that salvation and choice can, and does, coexist.

Which brings me to the second point of free will. I understand the purpose of God creating humanity was to form a relationship with him. I believe God wanted to give and receive true love with us. I also believe love is the product of free will; that without choice, love does not exist. Thus, Calvinism and the idea that God is doing the choosing, calls to question whether every Christian who ever existed actually loves God, as opposed to being manipulated by God to look as though they love him. In other words, if I don’t make an independent choice to engage in a loving relationship with God, then I am a mere technology functioning in the way my creator made me. You may say, “Exactly!” But I’d ask you, do you feel your car loves you when you push the gas and it goes? Or when you hit the power button on your remote control and it turns on the TV? No. Creator and created don’t often share “love” relationships.

But God is amazing in that he breaks this creator/created mode. He created us to love him, but in order to do that, he must relinquish some of his control to our free will. It’s the only way we can actually fulfill the purposes for which he made us.

So the problem with Calvinism, for me, ultimately comes to this. Do I really love God? Or, can I really love him, if I am not choosing to love on my own accord?

Your Thoughts?

Oh, there’s so much more to be said, but I’m already over my word limit. Let’s continue in the comments though. You tell me… what are your thoughts on Calvinism and Predestination?

Originally posted on Candid Christianity at http://antwuanmalone.com/to-calvinist-or-not-to-calvinist/ Copyright © 2013 AntwuanMalone.com. Republished with permission

 

About Antwuan Malone

Antwuan Malone is a Christian author and Lifegroup/Connect Associate at Legacy Church in Plano, TX. He believes in being authentic, open, and real. He exposes the concealed thoughts, doubts, fears, and contrarian, cynical opinions we keep in our heads by asking tough questions and engaging in meaningful, soul-searching "Candid" conversations. Read all of Antwuan's articles on his Candid Christianity blog at http://CandidChristianity.net.


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Comments

  1. Scott says

    I have an objection in regards to this statement: Normally, the conversation of Calvinism (or predestination) should probably be had “IN HOUSE.” For a couple of reasons. First, the general Christian PUBLIC OFTEN GETS RILED UP so much that having a real “conversation” is nearly impossible. A subject like this often leads to shouting matches and battles of biblical wits. In such interactions, I wish not to participate. Really? I don’t believe you Mr. Malone, why did you write an article on this subject in the first place? To avoid a heated debate on the subject? Please! The only comment on hell that I have is that I no longer rely on the wisdom of men Col 2:8 . What saith the scriptures? (John 4:42)(John 12:47)(I Tim. 4:10)(II Peter 3:9)(I Tim. 2:3-4)(I John 2:2)(John 1:29)(Luke 19:10)(I Tim. 1:15)(I John 4:14) . That being said if people wish to state that this is a contradiction then we should throw our bibles away.God informs us in (Joh 10:35)………… the scripture cannot be broken: I hope in the future Mr. Malone that you write on topics that are less delicate subjects that you too can participate in. Wow!

    • says

      Hey there Scott. What I meant by the “shouting match” reference was that I did not want to create a conversation where people would just shout back and forth without listening to each other. Those are the most pointless sort of situations regardless of topic. I would, however, love to respectfully hear ideas about the subject, and to share my own (I didn’t say everything in this small blog). I realize the topic does divide, but it doesn’t mean we should sweep it under the rug. Sounds like you agree with me. The question at hand, however, is not really about Hell (though I know it tends to go there). It is about how much control God is exerting in History. Does God somehow control all of our decisions, including the salvation decision, or not? It’s about predestination. What are you stances on that?

      • Anonymous says

        If those verses presented from the word of God are not convincing enough to believers that God is in total control, then I don’t know what it would take to prove otherwise. But here’s a few more in their entirety. “No man CAN come to Me except the Father draw him”(John 6:44) “…the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [that faith] NOT of yourselves; it is the gift of GOD” (Eph. 2:8) “For we are His [God's, not our] workmanship [Gk: 'achievement'] created in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:10) “Of His Own will begat He us [Not by our fabled 'free will,' but by God's will!] with the word of truth…” (James 1:18) “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor or the will of man, but of [the will of] GOD” (John 1:13) “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31) “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those in earth, and those under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11) Eze 24:14 I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD. Concordant Literal: Ecc 3:14 I know that all the One, Elohim, is doing, It shall be for the eon; Onto it there can be nothing to add, And from it there can be nothing to subtract; The One, Elohim, He does it that they may fear before Him. (Ecc. 3:11) “He [God] has made everything FITTING in its season; However, He has put OBSCURITY IN THEIR HEART so that the man may NOT FIND OUT HIS [GOD’S] WORK, that which God[NOT MAN!] does from the beginning to the end.” Dan 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? Psa 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Pro 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. (Eph. 1:11) “The One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will.” Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. Joh 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. How can anyone debate God’s word? But some will so here’s one more:(Isa 46:10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, AND I WILL DO ALL MY PLEASURE: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Good luck on this wildfire you just started.

        • says

          I can see the formatting much better in the email that’s sent to me. I don’t think most of those verses will pertain to this topic, but I can see how a few will. However, the John 6:44 passage (and back to 37) is an interesting one. I can see the passage as you present it, that God has “drawn” men to Jesus, and given them to him. Could it be that the Jesus is explaining to the Jewish audiences that God has made available Jews and Gentiles, and that HE is the point for salvation, not Israel? Particular emphasis on verse 45, where Jesus says “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” It’s the “and learned from him” in this passage that is the kicker. I would suggest that it means that the Gospel is meant to be spread (“faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God), and that there are those who God knows will accept His truth. Indeed, the first step (maybe even the first two or three steps) is made by God. But I can’t detach the notion of love from the overall equation. Does God want our love or simply our worship? I wrote a blog about that here –> http://antwuanmalone.com/for-love-or-glory/ I hope you check it out. You gave some great verses for me to go look through though. I’ll take a look at them. Thanks for engaging in the conversation.

          • Scott says

            My response Quote: However, the John 6:44 passage (and back to 37) is an interesting one. I can see the passage as you present it, that God has “drawn” men to Jesus, and given them to him. Could it be that the Jesus is explaining to the Jewish audiences that God has made available Jews and Gentiles, and that HE is the point for salvation, not Israel? Comment: Looking at (Joh 6:37) ALL THAT THE FATHER GIVETH ME [Doesn’t say Jew or Gentile just “all”] shall[future] come to me [v.44]; and him [No Jew or Gentile mentioned] that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Christ is defining groups of people that have been selected to hear, believe, and understand, which is not achieved by man simply listening and understanding [see v.44 and Romans 3:10-12, 8:7] that has been given to them. John 6:64 & 12:48 an again in 6:65 Christ states that any belief for Christ is given to them only by the Father. Christ speaks of “He or him that believes”, and of the ‘They or ye” that do not believe in this teaching. He that believes “He or Him: v27, 35, 37, 47, 54, 56 “They or ye” non believers v.26, 29, 36, 53, 64 (Joh 6:51) Using figurative speech, Christ describes his commission however, now Christ is speaking about the world: I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Quote: Particular emphasis on verse 45, where Jesus says “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” It’s the “and learned from him” in this passage that is the kicker. I would suggest that it means that the Gospel is meant to be spread (“faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God) Comment: V.45 says nothing of the kind in regards to achieving faith by simply listening, hearing or spreading the word of God and achieving a belief on one’s own behalf. Read V.45 closely. Joh 6:45 Concordant Literal (Joh 6:45) It is written in the prophets: And THEY [opposite of the “He or Him” group] SHALL [FUTURE-not yet] all be taught of God. Everyone, [That sure is a great deal of people] then, who hears from the Father AND IS [continuing action] learning the truth, IS coming [continuing action]to Me.” And what exactly does God have to say about this faith, knowledge and belief of Christ. Did God say anything in regards of how feeble minded men have this unique gift of being drawn to Christ and gain belief on one’s own actions? No, God did not. What saith the scriptures (Isa 64:4, Eph. 2:8, Eph. 2:10, John 6:44, James 1:18 Joh 3:27) How many more scriptures will it take to convince anyone that God is the author of man’s salvation, not man himself IN HIS OWN BELIEFS? God doesn’t need mans help as though God needs assistance in pushing a stalled car off the street.Take a look at Simon Peter in Matthew for an outstanding statement Jesus gives with Peter’s given gift of belief from God: Concordant Literal Translation (Mat 16:15-17) He is saying to them, “Now you [disciples], WHO ARE YOU SAYING THAT I AM? Now answering, Simon Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. “Now, answering, Jesus said to him, “Happy are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, FOR FLESH AND BLOOD [That would be man or self] DOES NOT REVEAL IT TO YOU, BUT MY FATHER [That would be GOD] WHO IS IN THE HEAVENS. Quote:, and that there are those who God knows will accept His truth. Indeed, the first step Comment: There is no accepting going on here like you suggest as though man has a choice in the matter (Mat 20:16-Joh 15:160) (maybe even the first two or three steps) is made by God. Comment Oh really? So, all the scriptures presented to you displaying God’s sovereignty isn’t quite enough to convince you? Have you any faith in what God tells us through the scriptures? What does God say his role is with mankind’s steps: (Jer 10:23) O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Pro 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth [plans in his own mind] his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. Also see Psa 37:23 Most do not believe the scriptures Mr. Malone, or worse, they don’t approve. Yes it would be a nice notion that man could have this ability to choose Christ and to do no wrong and to only choose right, but this has yet to happen. God indeed predestines men’s faith and God has mentioned this many times. (Ecc. 3:11) “He [God] has made everything [That’s ALL] FITTING in its season; However, He has put OBSCURITY IN THEIR [Man’s] HEART so that the man may NOT FIND OUT HIS [GOD’S] WORK, that which God[NOT MAN!] does from the beginning to the end.” Talk about predestination. Wow! What does God do from the beginning to the end? See Isa 46:10-11,. Notice God states how His will, will be done. I HAVE SPOKEN IT, I WILL ALSO bring it to pass; I HAVE PROPOSED IT, I WILL ALSO DO IT.I will, I will, I will, Mr. Malone. Which now brings up a decision that is staring you in the face and that is “ Is God sovereign over all, and mankind or isn’t he? (Eze 24:14) I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I WILL DO IT; I WILL NOT GO BACK, NEITHER WILL I SPARE, NEITHER WILL I REPENT according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD. Comment: But I can’t detach the notion of love from the overall equation. Does God want our love or simply our worship? Once again Mr. Malone God has no wants nor needs, neither does God experiences any weak willed wishes for puny mankind. We are talking about the Supreme Deity who created the heaven and the Earth (Zec 12:1, Isa Isa 42:5, 51:13) The Creator who forms us in the womb (Isa 44:24). So how could mankind possibly act on his own in order to do good or feel love toward God as though it is suppose to be a natural act? Paul tells us (Rom 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Man does not have this ability to do good, even from the beginning (Adam & Eve) and Paul knew this and teaches this. (Rom 8:20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, I am a creature, and you are a creature so, Paul is talking about us! Definition of vanity: excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit, an instance or display of this quality or feeling, something about which one is vain, lack of real value, hollowness, worthlessness, the vanity of a selfish life, something worthless, trivial, or pointless. Paul also goes on to explain (Rom 3:10-12) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, NO,NOT ONE. And this is exactly why the will of God is required to bring us into this faith OF BELIEVING, and in (Romans 8:21) It describes that God indeed will bring man in alignment with His will one day, and when that day arrives we read. “Because the creature itself also SHALL BE delivered [Its God doing the delivering here] from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”. That is another fine example predestination. Definition of predestination 1. an act of predestinating or predestining. 2. the state of being predestinated or predestined. 3. fate; destiny. 4. Theology . a. the action of God in foreordaining from eternity whatever comes to pass. b. the decree of God by which certain souls are foreordained to salvation. Compare election ( def 4 ) , double predestination. Calvin was correct in his premise of predestination and that is all I am going to say regarding that subject. There are many problems with his theology, but that is another complex topic of discussion. I do not have high regard for this man whose hands have been tainted in blood when stifling the voices of them who challenged his works. Hope you find these scriptures helpful. One last scripture for you to meditate on (Php 2:12) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION IN FEAR AND TREMBLING Why? (Php 2:13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

  2. Luci says

    For the longest time I never understood Calvinism—or “Reformed Theology.” It really came into focus last summer when my sister and I got together for a family wedding. (We live thousands of miles apart.) We were separated as preschoolers when our parents broke up and we didn’t find each other again until we were in our mid-30s. Both of us had come to Salvation through Christ separately in our 30s. She is a devoted Reformed Christian and I am an evangelical Christian. What amazes me more than anything is how these two “types” of Christian theology seem to be the perfect fit for each of us. My sister has had some hard experiences, connected mostly to rejection in various ways and from various people. Over the years that I’ve known her as an adult I’ve witnessed tremendous spiritual growth and maturity. I believe it’s because she is so anchored in her belief that God will never reject her because he chose her from the beginning. For myself, after much soul searching, I am convinced we all have a choice. I grew up in many different foster homes because I was a constant runaway. I had a few exceptionally good foster homes, but I couldn’t believe they really cared for me. Then one day I read in the Bible “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” I realized I wouldn’t receive the love of my good foster parents. But what was I going to do with God? I made a choice.

  3. Larry says

    God has always been in full control of all things. He is, at this moment. He will be, for all eternity. The Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of every person, to draw them to the Father. Placing the responsibility of a response squarely on the shoulders of each person is not giving up control. How can God be “….not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” and the same time also create people hardwired before birth, to be damned? If I am correct, a Calvinist interprets that verse to mean that God is not willing that any OF HIS PREORDAINED SONS AND DAUGHTERS should perish, but that ONLY EACH AND EVERY ONE OF HIS PREORDAINED SONS AND DAUGHTERS should come to repentance. God That, it seems to me, is ‘adding to’ the Word of God. I believe the verse should be taken on face value. Let’s be clear: works alone do not save anyone. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. One’s works should be the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, because of one’s faith in God. Good works done without the Holy Spirit are as filthy rags (Isaiah 53). If one is preordained to be saved, or to be damned, why should one do good? If one is preordained to be saved, one wouldn’t have to have a relationship with God. One could simply enjoy the benefits of being a child of God, without any of the responsibilities, and there wouldn’t be any consequences for doing so. There wouldn’t be any need for one to pray, to read God’s Word, to have fellowship with other believers, or tell others about Jesus. There wouldn’t be any reason to tithe, to support the church, or even attend. There wouldn’t be any need of faith. One could simply bide one’s time, until death. If one is preordained to be damned, wouldn’t that person still be doing God’s will? If he’s preordained to be damned, he won’t want to do good. He’ll do selfish things because he is hardwired to do so. Would God create a person unable to do anything but evil, lacking what’s needed to recognize and respond to the work of the Holy Spirit, and then damn him for not doing something he was not able to do? That reduces life to a game of chess, with humanity as pawns.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Larry. I don’t like being reduced to pawns for several reasons. As for grace, I believe the Calvinist position is that “believing” is in itself an “act” and therefore cannot be the conduit to a pure grace form of salvation. I’d say that “works” needs qualification. Anyway, just wanted to offer the general retort to some of your comments, even though I think we are in agreement.

  4. Alan Wynkoop says

    If one is to reject the ‘notion’ that we are predestined to salvation according to the will of God then such a one must thereby imply that fallen and utterly corrupt humans, in whom there is not a single shred of ‘goodness’ or even the capacity for such, are as yet capable of ‘freely’ choosing to seek God. It implies that, while we are ‘AT ENMITY’ with, or, that is, the very hostlie enemies of God, we can still ‘freely’ choose to come to Him. Clearly then that one has rejected the biblical established assertion of ‘Total Depravity’. If then we are to presume that man is not ‘totally depravede’, and is in truth very capable of making ‘Good’ decisions and ‘Good’ actions, it begs to wonder why then Christ atoning sacrifice was needed. If we were ever capable of ‘Good’, then Christ died unnecessarily. The very ‘notion’ of ‘Free will’ not once appears in scripture. Further, those who cling to that rediculous notion have not considered what such a ‘Free Will’ must imply. A will that is ‘Free’ must be able to excersize any and every option at its own discretion without external influence or authority. A truly ‘Free’ will is never subject to critique, censure, or judgement. The ‘Free Will’ must therefore be morally and ethical soveriegn unto itself. The human will is corrupt, ‘Sold under SIN. It always willfully and willingly pursues and serves its master SIN. How then can anyone be so foolish as to imagine themselves to have a ‘Free Will’?

    • says

      I suppose you have nailed it on the head where our disagreement concerns. I believe there are two natures in man. One that desires and resonates with truth, and the carnal, which decides it is best suited to be responsible for its own survival. This notion of ‘Total Depravity’ (of which I need to study) being that man has nothing good about him does not line up for me. Jesus is clear when he speaks to Nicodemus that there is more to us than our sinful carnal selves. And while the spiritual self is not “good” in the God sense (his “good” is perfection) it is made to be sensitive the “spiritual words.” Paul makes reference to these “spiritual words” in Corinthians when he says that he did not come to preaching with eloquence, rather words that spoke to them spiritually. We “must be born “from above”” as Jesus says, but this comes at the voluntary surrender of our (spiritual) selves. —– More, I disagree with the notion completely that a lack of belief in Total Depravity as you describe it means that we can save ourselves. Not at all. As I sad above, God’s standard is perfection, and so our sin does stain any moral thing we do. We absolutely need Christ to atone for our sins. —- But I am curious what you do with love. How do you reconcile that love is a product of choice, and choice by it’s definition requires free will? Do you believe love is product of choice? If not, then what is it? If so, do you see that w/out free will, we do not actually love God?

      • Scott B says

        Just jumping back in here for a minute to stimulate the conversation a bit more. Not trying to pick a fight or taking sides just a few comments in regards to some your statements: Quote:This notion of ‘Total Depravity’ (of which I need to study) being that man has nothing good about him does not line up for me. Comment: Mr. Malone, unfortunately Paul verifies this very condition of Adam and Eve and all of man up until present that is found in Rom 8:20, and Paul was preaching these things after Christ returned to his former glories in the kingdom. Then, Paul explains in verse 8:21 what God has in mind. Isn’t this the true Gospel? Definition of vanity is found on my previous post and it’s not a pretty picture and is synonymous with the depravity which in turn Dr. Strong suggests that the Greek word mataiothti, indeed translates into English words of vanity or inutility (useless thing or person) also synonymous with worthlessness and conceit. Paul goes on to state which people are seeking out God using their supposed spiritual goodness found in Rom 3:10-12 And God creates men of dishonor by His design, not man’s that is found in Rom 9:21 and in verse 22-23 Pauls explains why. Also this sinning and evil that takes place has a very special purpose in God’s plan and I really feel the need to share this verse with you: (CLVNT- Ecc 1:13) I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it. Quote: We “must be born “from above”” as Jesus says, but this comes at the VOLUNTARY SURRENDER of our (spiritual) selves. —– Comment: If Jesus truly said this then these verses are now contradicting (John 6:44) (Eph. 2:8)(Isa 46:10-11) (Jer. 10:23) (Job 14:16) (Prov. 16:9) (Prov. 20:24) ect. ect….If we are volunteering then wouldn’t that thwart God’s foreknowledge of what tomorrow would bring for mankind in general, or are you suggesting that God changes His mind several million times on any given day? (Heb. 1:12) (Mal. 3:6) (Heb. 13:8)… Where does Jesus say this? “but this comes at the voluntary surrender of our (spiritual) selves”? Would you be kind enough to share a few verses that supports thisstatement, please, especially the volunteering and surrendering part? What are we surrendering? And what are we volunteering for? Closing thought. Another verse to assist you with your studies: (Heb. 13:21) “Now the GOD [remember this word, 'GOD'--not SELF] of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting convenient, MAKE YOU [do you see the different between making yourself or GOD MAKING YOU?] perfect in every good work TO DO [God is doing the 'doing'] His will, WORKING IN YOU [it is not you working in you, but GOD!] that which is well pleasing in HIS sight [GOD'S!], through Jesus Christ; TO WHOM BE GLORY [we receive NO glory--we did NOTHING!] for ever and ever [Gk: 'eons of the eons]. Amen” Godspeed and have a great weekend.

  5. Adron Ung says

    I have a lot of thoughts on this…but, I’m tired of clicking a button on the page and having my multi-layered responses extinguished from existence. So I keep it simple. Hopefully, I can elaborate when I come home from church. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! (Luke 13:34 KJV) Notice the conflict between what Jesus wants to do (gather Jerusalem unto himself) and what actually happens (Jerusalem doesn’t “let” themselves be drawn unto him). So what then? Is God’s nature self-conflicted? I think not. Why would God try to do something He knows he cannot achieve? He wouldn’t. That makes no sense. I believe it’s up to us to accept everlasting life in Christ Jesus.

  6. Adron Ung says

    If one were to embrace the notion that God will move our lips to prayer, the one can just keep hoping. It is us that physically move our lips…and God moves on our permission to do so. I pray when I do not always want to. God doesn’t make me pray. To wait for God to do something, when he’s waiting on you to go forth and then He will go before you….is to stalemate yourself. 7 deadly sins: One of those is “sloth” If we are too lazy to do God’s will and we are expecting him to do it for us, then we are guilty of sloth…and that’s breaking God’s will for us to be proactive and productive. Yes, God’s will can be broken by us….and it’s called sin!

      • Adron Ung says

        Before I say anything more about what I have deciphered/discovered from my study of Scripture when it comes to perspectives pertaining to predestination, I’d like to acknowledge that I don’t think I personally can do as much justice to this subject as I may wish. But, I will still try to explain it nonetheless. Point is William Lane Craig, who is a forefront skillful Apologetic (one who defends the Faith), has the most amazing case I have ever seen. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to pass up reading this article in their lifetime…no matter how late it is http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-a-loving-god-send-people-to-hell-the-craig-bradley-debate Amazing!! I recommend William Lane Craig and the above site to every single Christian out their that takes their faith seriously. I consider it vital knowledge! As for myself, I do not hold to the per-destination belief for a few reasons: (1) The creation story, (2) free-will is made most evident in love, (3) people like Moses were actually able to change God’s mind…in Scripture, and (4) because it discourages Missionary work. In terms of free-will being made evident in love, let’s take our study back to well, the beginning of creation. I find it rather fascinating that in Genesis 1:3, “God says let there be light.” He also says, “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters” (Genesis 1:6). All this time you can see that key-word, “let,” meaning that God is allowing something to take place. You see this keyword all throughout creation. Now, as practical knowledge for something to be allowed to happen, whatever is disallowing it to happen must be moved out of the way. However, even I am not sure what could have prior to God’s voice coming forth blocked the light from being (existing or coming forth). Under these conditions I consider that a few hindrances could be at play or maybe just one hindrance or maybe I’m just performing some speculations. But, I believe that the only thing that was hindering light from “being” was the absence of God’s voice. Therefore, when God speaks the world resounds, the world quakes. Secondly, let’s take an examination of the Garden of Eden. You know–the way God wanted it to be. He wanted us to fellowship with Him. But, he put that wretched tree somewhere in the garden. Why would God do that? I mean, why would he create an opportunity for man to sin!? Now, before anyone gets really emotional, let’s consider the fact that there were many trees in the garden of Eden. Yet, there is this one tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Adam and Even are not allowed to eat out of. Still, the question arises, “why would God permit sin to coexist in the garden with Adam and Eve in Genesis 2-3?” Well, before, I can answer that question, I need to remind you that sin was already there in the Garden of Eden. It was there because satan rebelled. Also, I believe that God told Adam and Eve what tree to not eat from in the Garden of Eden, so that they would not accidentally eat from the tree by mistake….and because God wanted to test Adam and Eve’s faith. But, they failed. In continuation, then progresses all this violence and idol worship and harlotry that God did not endorse. But, for some reason, God doesn’t strike many people on the spot because He is giving them time to repent. But, not everyone repents…and the result is that we have people going to hell and we have people in hell…but, God wishes that such was not the case but it is. Why? Because people want to do their own thing and see how they will get along in life without God. And this is a problem because everyone that has tried to do this is guilty of the same thing in different variations…and essentially the problem is godlessness. I mean, consider Heaven. Heaven is where God is and there is complete peace there because God is there and there is light there because God is there and there is everlasting life there because God is there: 22 I saw no [a]temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its [b]temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth [c]will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those [d]whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. In contrast, though, what about hell? Well, hell is where God is not. It’s the complete opposite of Heaven because God is not there. There is suffering in hell because Jehovah God is not there…and because of the devil and because of his demons….which delight in torturing people. For example, consider “legion, the demoniac.” He’s cutting himself with stones and is in chains and is living among tombstones. Is this the work of God? I think not…and I struggle to think otherwise under the glasses of Calvinistic predestination. Who’s torturing the demoniac, the demons. How do I know? They’re talking and they are asking to not be sent out of the man. So, who binds a man, in most cases, satan. Note: for above text read Mark 5:1-20 I say, ” in most cases,” because I referring to what happened to this person named, ‘Herod,’ whom, as it appears, God smote with worms: “And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23 in NASB) In terms of bad things happening and all that, take Job, for example. God lets satan tempt his servant, Job, for a reason. Why? Because God wanted to prove to satan that even under adverse conditions, such as boils being all over jobs body, and his friends despising him, and his wife telling him to “curse God and die (Job 2:9), and Jobs whole family being wiped out by a twister, Job would still stay faithful to God. But, who’s doing the damage? satan. How? Because God let satan afflict Job ( Job 2…maybe Job 1, as well). Let’s go back to what Job’s wife says. Recall that she says, “curse God and die.” Is that God’s will to be cursed? No, if it was God’s will for himself to be cursed, then God is self conflicted and would not have written the 3rd commandment from the 10 commandments. Therefore, one would have to assume that everything is all good and we are all on our way to heaven because we wouldn’t be guilt of anything. But, such is an absurd statement. God did not move Job’s wife’s lips to say, “curse God and die.” That would make God a sinner and us horribly unsaved. Therefore, people can make decisions on their own. Do you know what people do in hell? They curse God. Why? Because of the pain…and the separation and an infinite chasm of things. If only they would have read about the Law and the Prophets and John the Baptist and Jesus and the Apostles, all saying that we must repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness, and love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Notice that Jesus made a decision to go to the cross. This is the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:42-46) And also Jesus refrains form calling 12 legions of angels (72,000 angels to save him). That is, Jesus Christ made a decision to not call the angels at his darkest hour. He chose to suffer so that we could live life eternal. Still, we suffer greatly because (a) life is hard and (b) the world hates the light in us, as it hated Jesus, shouting, “crucify him.” text for above reference: Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53) ——— People like Moses were able to change God’s mind concerning what he was going to do to the Israelites when they built a Golden Calf for themselves. Well, actually if you closely examine the first couple of verses of Exodus 32, you discover that Aaron was the one who did most of the building of the calf and commits a great blasphemy by saying “…This is your God, O, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s blaspheme!! So, God’s angry right. But something happens, “Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel and something incredibly non-Calvinistic to-the-extreme happens. It’s that God changes his mind about wiping out his people. How do I know. Oh, it’s because Scripture tells me so: 14 “So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” Exodus 32:14). HUH, SO GOD HAD A PLAN: something that He was intending to do to Israel, but he didn’t carry out his plans. How did this non-Calvinistic freak event happen? Was it a freak of nature…and God’s bipolar? No, definitely not. Here and right now, I submit to you that something called free-will happened. Moses freely made a decision to intercede on behalf of Israel and God, as a result changes his plans. I’m telling you that PRAYER IS POWERFUL! Finally, I think that predestination is a dangerous doctrine because it discourages Missionary work. If we believe that certain people are never ever going to be saved, then we are just letting people go to hell and we don’t really have much if any of the love of God in us. 1Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3So He told them this parable, saying, 4“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5“When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:3-7) So, apparently if God is making such a big deal about bringing sinners to repentance, then maybe God doesn’t intend for any one sinner to escape His saving grace which is ONLY in Christ….the same Christ who has the keys to both Heaven and Hell. According to Scripture, God wants everyone to be saved. But, everyone is not saved. Why isn’t everyone saved? Romans 1. It is because of rebellion…and the desire of a sinner to try to save himself. It’s just not possible without repenting of your sins and having a personal relationship with Christ. I submit to you that Jesus Christ went to the cross because there was no other way. So…back to “everyone not being saved.” Hence rebellion. Hence God removes His hand of protection. To rebel does not indicate that someone is necessarily saved, it indicates that they know God’s law and yet disobey God’s laws and do whatever they so want. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19). I believe that God is talking about life eternal here. If God is using Moses to tell us to “choose life” instead of “death,” then apparently we can make decisions. If we can make decisions, then apparently we have free-will. If we have free-will, then we can love. How do I know this? Because love is not selfish. God wants to have a relationship with us. He’s already done everything. Now, it’s our turn and the ball is in our court. In simplicity, since I enjoy playing guitar, I may appreciate my guitar. But, does my guitar love me back? That is absurd. My guitar does whatever it wants to do. However, I as a human am capable of making decisions. I can choose to go to church or to stay home. I can choose to rebel or to embrace. I can make all these decisions…and so can you. Therefore, we have free-will. Imagine a world without free-will. Would we feel any emotions? I don’t think that we could feel anything and I’m not sure that we would even have consciousness because we are not aware of the decisions that we make; therefore, we would be like chess pieces on a chess-board. But, that view doesn’t line up with the way that things are. Hence those keywords, “choose” and “let.” 1 Timothy 2:4, tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” But, not all men are saved. So then, is God bipolar in wishing to do something that He cannot attain. No way!! God is waiting on us, I submit to you. So, why are people not saved? Well, it has to do with sin. God can’t be in the presence of sin…and sin is corruption of God’s will. Yes, sin is a corruption of free-will itself. But more than that, THE REASON THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT SAVED IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE REJECTED CHRIST, PREFERRING (choosing) INSTEAD TO TRY TO SAVE THEMSELVES.

        • Adron Ung says

          Apparently, I wrote, “My guitar does whatever it wants to do.” I, otherwise meant, “My guitar does whatever I tell it to do”

        • says

          Wow. I’m glad you took the time to write it all out. We certainly share many of the same points, with exception to the changing of God’s mind. That’s a new one. I can think of a couple other places where the Bible seems to show God changing his mind at the request of this prophet. Hmm, something to think about. ———————————————- Hey, you should check out my regular site as well. It’s at AntwuanMalone.com Sounds like we (all) could have some great conversations there.

      • Adron Ung says

        I wrote this, as well, in terms of salvation and works and what Jesus did for us: https://www.facebook.com/notes/adron-ung/is-salvation-attainable-through-works/566640103348337

      • Adron Ung says

        By the way, I greatly encourage you to read this: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-a-loving-god-send-people-to-hell-the-craig-bradley-debate

      • Adron Ung says

        Wow, that was about a 2.5 thousand word response of mine. I just had to get my response out there for others to discern the truth of salvation and free-will. Any question? Anything I should clarify?

  7. Mark David Griswold says

    I admit I am relatively new to this whole Calvinist Debate, so please cut me a little slack. But I just wanted to say that I would have some REAL BIG problems with GOD IF Predestination (as Calvin portrays) truly meant that GOD – from all Eternity – had picked out who would be SAVED, and who would be DAMNED!!! That GOD would be such a BASTARD as to NOT DESERVE ANY WORSHIP!!!!!!!!! And WHY would GOD MOCK ALL of DAMNED humanity by saying, “CHOOSE ye this day whom ye will serve…” IF MOST of humanity were PREDESTINED to REJECT HIM!!!!!!??????, and therefore UNABLE to CHOOSE ANYTHING????? ANY GOD Who would get GLORY from PRE-Destining BILLIONs of souls to SUFFERING eternally is hardly worth anything, in my book!!! And WHY would GOD WARN us, with “When I say to the Wicked, ‘You shall surely DIE!’, and you give them NO WARNING, NOR Speak to WARN the WICKED from their WICKED way…..they will DIE in their Iniquity, BUT their BLOOD I will require at your hands.” (Ezekiel 3:18) IF PRE… were Really True???, YES, IF Predestination were really as totally and DAMNABLY messed up as Calvinism asserts, Atheists SCORN for Christianity would Not only be Justified, but even DESERVED!!!!! With even the limited interaction I have had with Calvinism, I am VERY CONCERNED that CALViNiSM seems to breed a TRUST in CALViNiSM —– MORE than a TRUST in our AWESOME And WONDERFUL SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST…..YESHUA!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Adron Ung says

    You are absolutely right in your response. Calvanistic beliefs do not paint a very good picture of God. It’s because they don’t understand what “falling away [from grace/the faith is]” in relation to salvation. Calvinists reason that if some commits a lifestyle of these sins God forbid after living a life dedicated to God that the original person was not actually saved…and this is troubling. It even down plays their “magic prayer/once-saved always saved doctrine.” I search for hours to find an article like this: http://www.scottseverance.us/ministry/hebrews_6_4-6.html I’ll have you know that I respect it. This is a note that I recently wrote about this: https://www.facebook.com/notes/adron-ung/what-does-it-mean-to-really-know-godby-adron-ung/584952491517098 More Scriptures cold be cited against the “once Saved always saved doctrine. Here are 2 more: 2nd Peter 2 The book of Jude Please note that Jesus fully saves us. We do not save ourselves. We allow Jesus to pay our ransom. if such was not the case, 100% of all people would be saved automatically…but, it doesn’t work that way. If anyone apostasizes it’s his or her fault (decision to reject Christ) The greatest sin is to reject Jesus Christ. I could cite the Parable of the sower and the parable of the 10 virgins…in support of my claim.

  9. Adron Ung says

    What concerns me with far too many modern day labeled Christians is that they hardly see a problem with willfully sinning. They are like, “I’m under grace.” Well, God is forgiving. But, do you mind if I quote the Apostle Paulon this? For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14, 15 KJV) and…. “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:7-17 KJV). Notice the first few verses. The NLT renders the text, “prove by the way that you live that…”

  10. Adron Ung says

    To me salvation is REALLY important to me because I want to go to Heaven and not hell…so, I won’t tolerate a false view of salvation. I don’t want people to think that they are saved and not really be saved. Including those that reject Christ, God doesn’t promise the Kingdom of Heaven to these kinds of people: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 KJV) Continue reading: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:11, 12 KJV)

  11. Kasey says

    Antwuan, I can really appreciate your introduction, particularly with a call for open conversation among those with a mind ready to discuss openly. So thank you for that. Also, I apologize if my arguments are redundant, I often like to comment first, then go back and read others input….less opportunity for bias. I’ve come across Calvinism and Predestination several times in reading other teachings (some from Keller as well) and though my mind is far from being able to measure up against the wisest and most seasoned of theologians, I often think of predestination like this: What if, because we are humans and bound by time, it limits our understanding of what the concepts of predestination and the elect really are? What if we see on the timeline a series of events that go like this: God, God Creates Man, Man Falls, God Predestines Which Man To Be Redeemed, Faith/Redemption through Christ only for the Elect, Physical Death, Redemption Fulfilled in the ones who are The Elect. This timeline seems to support your argument that if we believed in the theory of predestination and the elect, we could ONLY love God because he predestined us to do so, thus eliminating our free will. But I disagree. What is confusing, is that God is omniscient and knows all, beginning and end. He already knew our fall. He knows our beginnings and our end. His omniscience means that though he desires our love, he knows who will choose to return it, and who will not. So does knowing our response, negate our ability for free will? No, it does not. It didn’t negate our choice in the garden of Eden The fact that God knows who will be redeemed, because He IS omniscient, does not negate free will. It simply co-exists along side our free will. We still have the opportunity to choose right or wrong, though God already knows which we will choose. Thus, the concept of the elect can exist independent of His force upon us. Except that instead of predestining the elect, The Elect, happens as a result of our own choices– to be a part of the elect, or not. When the BIble mentions Predestination, I think that God Predestined all men for glory. We were ALL predestined before the fall. In all the passages listed above, we see men talking to other Christians as being predestined– not because they are Christians, and so were chosen– we were all predestined. It just so happens that the context is in talking to men who are predestined. I would venture to say that we could tell non Christians the same thing. “you are predestined” ..whether you know it or not. In Romans8:29, the verse says, “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” … This passage does not say that God predestined the people. It says he “predestined them to be conformed” to the image of his son. The difference is that the scripture talks about God predestining a plan for the redemption of those who answer his call. There is no language that says, only the predestined have the opportunity. In all scripture about the predestined, it’s spoken as if it is ‘their name” because God already knows. He knows whose name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. That still does not negate our free will. It’s a matter of time for us– will we or wont we be the elect. But God is not bound by time. Thus the timeline looks more like this: God, God Creates Predestined Man (for glory), Man Falls, Christ Redemption available to ALL, Faith/Redemption for those who choose to respond, Physical Death, Redemption of the Elect. God predestined all men before the fall. His predestination is only available to those who choose life. Those who choose life are called the elect, not because God picked ahead of our choice, but because he knows our choice. I think we too closely associate predestination and elect, the same way that some of the prophets put prophecies together, without understanding the time between. My theory is probably riddled with theological flaws, but I feel like it also could be as simple as that. Jesus often uses simple language to demonstrate what we make too hard. Thoughts? Corrections?

  12. Larry says

    I agree with Kasey. Well said! You all have good perspectives, and I have learned from all of you. Thanks for posting. Blessings to you.

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