09 June, 2009

Is Calvinist soteriology really what the Bible teaches?

Truly the five points of Calvinism are the doctrines of men. To support these points Biblically one must use eisegesis, ignoring vast amounts of Scripture contrary to its teaching. TULIP destroys the consistency of Scripture and creates contradictions that the Scriptures do not indicate. For every point of Tulip there are Scriptures that contradict this teaching and it becomes apparent to the scholar who seeks instruction by Scriptures that the inconsistency in Calvin’s teaching cannot be reconciled.

As for “total depravity”, I believe that we do not save ourselves but that is the work of the Spirit that brings us to faith and to the grace of salvation. While I believe that the sinful nature is part of our being, we are not totally depraved without a seed of goodness. The Scriptures explain that we are all gifted with the law written on our hearts from our creation and it is that seed which the Spirit nurtures and grows into salvation. So, if the law of God is good and all men possess it then we can not be totally depraved as to our will.

“Unconditional election” is always confusing in that it says that we are not chosen to be among the elect by our own merit but yet Scriptures tell us that we must respond to the Spirit and come to belief. That would suggest that responding to the Spirit is not a meritorious action on the part of the believer and denies free will.

“Limited atonement” says that Jesus only died for a few who are the elect but the Scriptures say differently that Jesus died so that all men may be saved. Now, one can play around with rhetoric to deny, what I believe, are the clear teachings of Scripture that salvation is available to all men by their free will to respond to the law already written on their hearts and come to belief in Christ. Again, there is no effort by Calvinists to reconcile Scriptures contrary to their teaching.

“Irresistible grace” says that God can save whom He will and I do not disagree with this thinking as the sovereignty of God to save whom He wishes is unquestionable as He is the creator of all things. The question comes up, however, is this plan what is indicated by Scripture that our sovereign God will compel some to salvation while ignoring others as this doctrine of men would suggest. It denies, as I believe is its intent, that God has given men free will to respond to the Spirit or not. This comes very close to suggesting another Gospel that is forbidden by Scriptures and negates the great commission to spread the Gospel. For if what Calvin says is true, then spreading the Gospel has little, if any, purpose as a sovereign God will save whom He will and all others go to hell and are separated from God by some previous lottery before the earth was created. To me this puts into question the just nature of God as just and what I believe is man’s mission, as His created, to serve Him. Then, again being consistent, why is the law written on everyone’s heart, if not for providing the ability to respond to the Spirit. Why not write the law only on the hearts of the elect, and not all men, as the Scriptures teach? Could it be that Calvin was wrong and men do have free will to respond to the Spirit and come to faith?

And then, of course is Calvin’s teaching on “perseverance” which is consistent with “irresistible grace” which both denies free will, or the purpose of the law being written on one’s heart. Trying to justify this with the Scriptural teaching that we are to be cautious and ever mindful that we can fall away from belief as John 3:16 says, that we are to continue to believe for eternal life. Then, of course there is the evidence, as all ministers will attest, of those believers, who are seduced by the world into disbelief and a return to a life of sin leading to destruction. While Calvinist’s will say that they were never among the elect, the light of God shown brightly in their lives before it was extinguished by sin without repentance. The question is apparent, if they fall away only for a time is the grace received really irresistible grace and the falling away evidence of a Spiritual walk leading towards sanctification as the Scriptures indicate? And, is the process of salvation and the adoption through the Spirit of a new creature encumbered by the return to a sinful walk in the world? Why would God allow one of His elect to return to sin once he has come to belief and responded to the Spirit and how is that reconciled with “irresistible grace”?

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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