You say “Arminian”, I say “Albinian”

John Calvin Jim Ost Jacob ArminiusSince I was a wee lad in college, I have been surrounded by the never-ending “Calvinism vs. Arminianism” debate.  I enjoy a good theological dustup as much as the next guy, but this particular debate seems to be getting more and more shrill as the years go by. 


Warning: This is a long and “doctrine specific” post, so if you are not in the least interested in Calvinism or Arminianism (and that’s ok), move on to another topic.

One of the frustrations of many young, and recently converted, reformed bloggers – to whom Calvinism is fresh and new – is that middle-aged preachers like me refuse their labels.  “No, you’ve got to be one or the other!” they squeal.  Carefully laying out all positions, they demand that I accept one and thereby label myself.  “Oh, you believe that regeneration follows repentance?  Gotcha!  You’re an Arminian!”  “What?  You believe in predestination?  Gotcha!  You’re a Calvinist!”  Sorry, I’m not playing that game.  That would be just as silly as me forming my own theological matrix, then forcing everyone in the world to be labeled “Albinian” or “Anti-Albinian”.  I consistently appeal to be addressed as a Bible-believing Christian.  But, for some, that’s just not good enough.  And for others, my own salvation and worthiness of being their “brother in Christ” is questioned.  Ugh.  Like Paul, I continue to ask, “Is Christ divided?”  Do we still have “one baptism”, “one faith”, and “One Lord”?  Are we all still part of the Body of Christ of which Jesus Christ is the Head?

 I have several dear friends and relatives who are self-proclaimed Calvinists.  I do not question their love for Jesus or their status as brothers and sisters in Christ.  I also have many friends and relatives who do not subscribe to all of Calvin’s ideas.  They, also, are brothers and sisters in Christ who love Jesus.  The church is bigger than you think, and she is Christ’s bride.

I like what Dr. Kevin Bauder, President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, said on his website:

Of all the discussions in which we engage, the bickering between some Calvinists and some Arminians tends to be among the least edifying. Not that I’m against discussion: far from it! These are issues worth deliberating, and I have my own views about what is biblical. I’ve grown enormously through hearing and reading the intelligent and charitable exchange of opinions. The problem is that, too often, the exchange is neither intelligent nor charitable.

Both Calvinism and Arminianism have their reasonable and balanced defenders. I find myself challenged whether reading John Wesley or François Turretin. I find myself edified through the writings of both A. A. Hodge and A. W. Tozer. Both Reformed theology and Arminianism can be defended charitably. Alas, not all defenders are so thoughtful.

There are Crusading Calvinists, and there are Aggressive Arminians. They feed off each other. One of them begins with a bit of sniping, and then we are confronted with the spectacle of caricature, misrepresentation, vituperation, extreme reaction.

Now that I have made clear that I reject forced labeling in reaction to the theological systems of others, let me lay out my present position in regards to Calvinism and Arminianism.  Let me begin by taking the humble road and saying that my position may change over time, as I become convinced by the Scripture of  error.  Some of my current beliefs about eschatology, for example, are different than the ones I held in college, but what must never change is our conviction that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and ultimate authority and judge in matters of doctrine and practice.  In the words of Evangelist Billy Sunday, “When scholarship disagrees with the Scripture, scholarship can go to hell.”  This is why I am a “Bible-believing” Christian, or a “Biblicist” — the Bible must trump church tradition every time.

My friend Reuben has laid out a good graph on the remonstrances of Jacob Arminius and how the followers of John Calvin responded with their T-U-L-I-P matrix.  If you click over to his website and read through the material (although admitedly slanted toward Calvinism), it will bring you up to speed on the subject (or you can read my summary below).  These differences get to the heart of the matter, in the never-ending tussle between self-proclaimed “Calvinists” and “Arminianists”. 

Usually, questions like the following emerge:  Did God decided who goes to hell or heaven long before the earth was formed?  Does He really want all to be saved?  Must we repent and call on His name by faith to receive His free gift?  But can we really say “no” to the Almighty?  Can we be lost after we are saved?  Did Jesus Christ shed His blood for all human beings or just the elect?  Are we capable of “choosing” salvation?  Does God really know and control everything?  Am I just a robot? Why does my lane always go the slowest when crossing into the US from Mexico?
Welcome to the endless merry-go-round!  Hop on and hang on for dear life!

SIMPLE SUMMARY OF ARMINIANISM — Articles of Remonstrance
 1.        Election based on Knowledge — the belief that God chose those who would be saved in eternity past based on His foreknowledge of those who would respond to and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Arminianism rejects the concept that God elected anyone for hell. 
2.        Unlimited atonement — the belief that Jesus died on the Cross for all people, that His blood is sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. Thus, all mankind is savable.
3.        Natural Inability — the teaching that man cannot save himself, but that the Holy Spirit must effect the new birth in him. Strict Arminians do not believe that man is totally depraved and condemned as a result of Adam’s sin, but most Arminians do believe in depravity, just defined differently.
4.        Prevenient grace — the belief that the prepatory work of the Holy Spirit enables the believer to respond to the Gospel and to cooperate with God in the working out of that person’s salvation.
5.        Conditional Perseverance — the belief that man can choose to reject God, and therefore lose his salvation, even after he has been born again. Rather than the “once saved always saved” doctrine of the Calvinists, the Arminian believes that you must abide in Christ to be saved, and that you can choose to walk away from God.

T = Total depravity of man (We are totally incapable of right choices)
U = Unconditional Election (God has already decided who is saved and who is lost)
L = Limited Atonement (Jesus died only for the “elect”, who God already pre-selected.)
I = Irresistible Grace (If God draws you, resistance is impossible)
P = Perseverance of the Saints (Once saved, always saved)

Calvin and Arminius:  Both are right and both are wrong.  Let’s see, for you more linear-minded saints, I guess I would agree with half of Calvin’s depravity doctrine and half of his perserverence doctrine, making me a 1-point Calvinist (1/2 plus 1/2).  As to Arminius’ remonstrances, I guess I would fully concur with his description of unlimited atonement, as well as his view of resistable, prevenient grace and partially-conditional election.  I would tend to leave more tension and nuance in the Bible when it comes to perserverance of the saints and total depravity.  So I guess that makes me a “3 1/2 remonstrance Arminian”.
 Here’s the deal.  We are looking at two sides of the same coin. Election is God’s side, free will is our side. Someone once said that as we enter life, we see emblazoned over the gateway the words “Whosoever will may come”; then as we enter and look back at the backside of the same gateway, we see inscribed what the words “Elect from the foundation of the earth”. Election is God’s side of the coin we call salvation, human responsibility is our side.
God knows everything, therefore nothing surprises Him. 
Thus He knows who will accept and reject Him through their free will.  Those who accept are the elect, those who reject are the non-elect.  God did not create man so that He could enjoy “forced” or “robotic” love from pre-programmed automatons.
D.L. Moody – “whosoever wills are the elect, and the whosoever wont’s are the non-elect”.
Every person who is not saved will have only himself to blame; God will not send anyone to hell, but many people will choose to go there by exercising their free will to reject Christ.
No one who is saved will be able to take any of the credit.
Our salvation, from start to finish, is 100% God’s work, and is based entirely on the finished work of the Cross. We were dead in trespasses and sins, destined for hell, when God in His grace, drew us to Himself, convinced us of our sin and our need for a Savior, and gave us the authority to call Jesus Lord.
Is this grace, this wooing, irresistible? No, we have free will and we can resist, even to the damnation of our souls, but God does everything short of making us puppets to draw us into His family. If His love was truly irresistable, why would He have wept over Jerusalem, longing to embrace them, but they “would not”? Why would the Bible say, “Whosoever will may come…”, and why would God not “be willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance.”?
The concept of a limited atonement, that Jesus only died for the elect, and not for the sins of all people, is clearly unbiblical, and, in my view, repulsive.
The Bible is crystal clear that Jesus’ death on the cross was for all people, and that there is sufficient power in His blood to cleanse away every sin. While His blood sacrifice is available to all, it is only effective for those who believe. “Whosoever will may come” is meaningless if man has no free will and no ability to choose God. To eliminate all the verses that say that Jesus died for the sins “of the world”, you must twist Scripture with such vigor as to make even a Jehovah’s Witness blush.
The eternal security argument is academic.
When a person who claims to be a Christian, and shows some fruit to that effect, turns his back on God and lives the life of a pagan, the Arminian says he was saved and is now not saved, while the Calvinist says that he was either never really saved to start with, or that he is severely backslidden, but still within grace. Ultimately, no one, not even the sinning person, knows the truth — only God does.
In a backslidden or sin-filled state, there is no assurance of salvation, no resting in Jesus, no peace of God in the heart. So the sinning person, whether he is actually a Christian or just thinks he might be, needs to repent. The true believer in Christ never has to doubt his salvation. He can rest in the perfect assurance that God saved him and will keep him, and nothing will ever separate him from God’s love in time or eternity. We are secure in Christ, kept by the power of His loving grace, forever safe in Jesus — read Jude 24-25.
Some things will always be mysteries – Deuteronomy 29:29
If you are eager to logically explain God’s severeignty and man’s free will, forget it! How can man be absolutely free and God absolutely sovereign and directive simultaneously? How can salvation be entirely God’s work, yet require the cooperation of mere men simultaneously? These are unanswerable questions ultimately. The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. It teaches what appears to be unconditional perseverance in some places and conditional perseverance in others. These things can never be intellectually reconciled because God is simply too big for us to understand. Both systems of theology emphasize one set of Scriptures while either ignoring or drastically twisting and explaining away others.
Preach the Gospel, not a system
Often we preach like Arminianists (“Come to Jesus, accept Him today, don’t say no to the Savior”) and pray like Calvinists (“Oh, God, draw him to Yourself, reach him, save him, pour out your mercy on him”), and both are Biblical.  Jesus died for all of us and desires fellowship with all of us. Whosoever will may come and receive of His forgiveness and grace and salvation. God’s election excludes no one; Jesus’ atonement includes everyone.
When asked how he reconciled the sovereignty of God and the free choice of man, Pastor Charles Spurgeon responded, “I don’t need to, because friends don’t need to be reconciled.”
Rather than interpreting the Bible based on any theological or philosophical grid or matrix, it behooves us to simply read and believe the Word of God. As we teach the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, verse by verse, in context, we will at times sound like staunch Calvinists, preaching those passages which emphasize God’s sovereignty, while at other times we will seem like devout Arminianists, as we preach those passages which emphasize man’s responsibility. The key to successful ministry is balance – to stay focused on the Word of God, and not become distracted by the doctrines of men.

We are all the body of Christ

Finally, let me return to my appeal for Christian unity from the beginning of this post.  All Christians have a common enemy and that enemy is not each other.  In the end, there will be only two categories of people:  saved and lost.  Like that old Sunday school chorus says, “One door and only one and yet its sides are two.  I’m on the inside; on which side are you?  I admit to adding hyperbole to this discussion at times, but let’s all renew our efforts to extend charity to other Christians who may not hold exactly the same doctrinal positions on every point. 

A.W. Tozer was asked by a young man studying at a Bible school, “Dr. Tozer when the boys begin to debate Arminian and Calvinistic theology, what position should I take.” Dr. Tozer replied, “Son, when they begin that debate you go and get in your prayer closet and you cry out to God and in four years you will be closer to the Lord but those boys will still be debating Arminianism and Calvinism.”


191 Responses to You say “Arminian”, I say “Albinian”

  1. Ben says:


    Good article. No real surprises. I won’t say you’re entirely free of straw men, but I understand what you’re getting at. Congratulations on admitting that you indeed have a “grid” – a grid of non-reconciliation. Though, the label Albinian may not be necessary, as I think you’re pretty much a Rob Johnson-ian.

    I’ll leave it to others to dissect and examine.


  2. Ben says:

    well, maybe I’ll make one dissection. Actually, a request for more detail.

    I don’t think you’re going to get away with describing your departure from Arminianism like this:

    “I would tend to leave more tension and nuance in the Bible when it comes to perserverance of the saints and total depravity”

    . It seems to me that the Arminian position on perseverance is replete with tension, and as Ruben pointed out, the Arminian position on depravity is not (at face value at least) much different from Calvin’s.

    So, are you willing to dig deeper, or is “tension and nuance” as far as you’ll go? Or maybe I could say it a different way – what part of the original text of the Remonstrance points (perseverance and depravity) do you think are too rigid and unbiblical?

  3. RubeRad says:

    what part of the original text of the Remonstrance points (perseverance and depravity) do you think are too rigid and unbiblical?

    That’s exactly what I was waiting for (and still am)! You try to talk the not-quite-Arminian talk, but the walk of your overall theology fits the shoe — and if the shoe fits, I must convict (to mix way too many metaphors)! I have to take the boys to church, but I wanted to inject a quick early comment.

    You can bet yer backside I’ll be back!

  4. Brad says:


    Good for you for getting a lot of it down. I’m with Ben, we’ve done endless dissecting at sola, I’ll leave this to others. 🙂

    Apart from that I will make a point that you miss or disregard. There seems to be a whiff of “superior moral ground” when you refuse labels and scorn those who take them. Again, as I’ve told you before, I say that labels are often a form of shorthand. And almost always, at sola and in my personal life, that is how I use it. Saying I’m out of the Reformed tradition gives someone a starting place, just as Catholic, Muslim, or Arminian does. It means we don’t have to endlessly repeat the solas and the remonstrance. To prove my point, when you’re swinging wildly for the fences at sola you’re labeling all over the place, you Calvinists this and you Calvinists that. And I have no doubt that you’re just using it as a shortcut, as a way of identifying a position. Do you know anyone on sola who feels they are caught up in a I am of Paul, I am of Apollos debate?? No. Rather we are debating theological points and taking shortcuts by using labels. I think the ground you’re on concerning labeling, at least as it intersects with us, is level ground with all the rest of us. 🙂

    Take care bro

  5. Gregg says:

    Great stuff Jim.
    You are starting to sound like a good post modern theologian now! Horah! Down with labels. Brad is right they are short hand but we Gen xers refuse to be categorized and compartmentalized- it is so non relational.
    On small point. Are you aware of the label you placed on yourself “Biblicist” is a fairly pejoritve term? I have most often heard it to means you almost worship the BIble. You place Christ and the Bible on equal footing. In the future you could send me your rough drafts and I could NorthWesternize it for you. 🙂

  6. Some fodder for further discussion:

    If you take a hard line on “total depravity”, how in the wide world of sports did Cornelius’ prayers get heard by God pre-conversion? Also, if you swallow the entire depravity line, you must also believe that we lost “the image of God” after the fall. But what of the more noble self-sacrificing acts of non-Christian people? Isn’t this one of the things that sets us apart from the animals?

  7. The doctrine of unconditional election forces us to visualize a bi-polar God, at once weeping over Jerusalem and showing hurt and disappointment at our choices, while at the same time, predetermining those same choices. Ugh.

    The doctrine of limited atonement again creates for the theologian a God who invites “whosoever will” to drink of the living water, and wants “all men to be saved”, while at the same time not including those same people, He is inviting, in His atoning sacrifice. Picture being sent an invitation to a party, then, upon your arrival, being told that your name was never on the guest list to begin with. Either Christ’s sacrifice provided the opportunity for all men to be saved or it didn’t.

    I summed up my thoughts on perserverence of the saints clearly. If you read Arminius and Calvin, you will see I don’t agree with either.

  8. RubeRad says:

    This is so astonishing, I have to respond before I even get back to the post proper!

    If you take a hard line on “total depravity”, how in the wide world of sports did Cornelius’ prayers get heard by God pre-conversion?

    Actually that clears things up for me quite well. The only reason you are not a Calvinist is because you have no idea what Calvinism is really about. Obviously, Cornelius was elect, and the Holy Spirit regenerated him to enable him to seek after God.

    Also, if you swallow the entire depravity line, you must also believe that we lost “the image of God” after the fall. But what of the more noble self-sacrificing acts of non-Christian people?

    ?!?!?! Total depravity does not mean that people do not do nice things, or look after their self-interests, or work together to make good use of God’s good creation. It means they do those things selfishly — or even if they appear to be “noble self-sacrificing acts”, if they are not in submission to God, they are in rebellion to God. The Image of God that is in us bears witness to the Law that condemns us, and all the non-elect suppress that truth in unrighteousness, and don’t honor God and give thanks to him, but hate and reject him. It’s a question of fundamental orientation: autonomy, or submission. To confuse that with a question of what anybody does with their autonomy, is to venture into works salvation!

  9. RubeRad says:

    Picture being sent an invitation to a party, then, upon your arrival, being told that your name was never on the guest list to begin with.

    Ahh, the warm glow of burning straw-men — if only I could heat my house this way, I wouldn’t have such a high gas bill this cold winter! (Stupid Global Warming!).

    Total Depravity + Unconditional Election = Nobody is going to be knocking on the door waving an invitation around, complaining about not being on the guest list. That’s even true with Arminian foreknowledge election. Don’t you think, after dropping all of the invitations in the mailbox, God could peer into the future and write down the guest list based on his knowledge of who was going to show up?

  10. I do not agree that regeneration comes before repentance and faith. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God”. So that obviously does not make me a Calvinist. And since I don’t accept that tenant of Calvinism, the Cornelius problem stands.

    I repeat that I don’t think “total depravity” is as cut and dried as Calvin, or even Arminius, made it out to be. You made an amazing statement. That EVERY selfless act done by a non-Christian is still selfish. How do you know that to be true? How do you explain the unsaved firefighters who gave their lives to save others in the towers? Hmmmm…. Jesus even described someone as “not far from the Kingdom” — Mark 12:34 –. I think you and others may be guilty of oversimplification.

  11. RubeRad says:

    OK: FINALLY to the post proper.

    what must never change is our conviction that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and ultimate authority and judge in matters of doctrine and practice.

    Amen. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to disagreein’!

    To eliminate all the verses that say that Jesus died for the sins “of the world”, you must twist Scripture with such vigor as to make even a Jehovah’s Witness blush.

    You mean like how you twist the meaning of the word “elect”, and Jesus’ assertion “You did not choose me, but I chose you”?

    D.L. Moody – “whosoever wills are the elect, and the whosoever wont’s are the non-elect”.

    Yes, that’s what we are able to perceive. Here’s another quote for you:

    Paula Abdul: One step forward, and two steps back

    That should be renamed Senerenade of the Calvinist to the Arminian. So just take an extra step back, and realize that whosoever wills only wills because God elects that they will. And whosoever wont’s remain in their state of Total Depravity because God elects not to regenerate them.

    Strict Arminians do not believe that man is totally depraved and condemned as a result of Adam’s sin, but most Arminians do believe in depravity, just defined differently.

    Well then “Strict Arminians” are heretics, and they haven’t read the Articles of Remonstrance by which Arminians set the definition of what “Arminian” is. Sounds more like “Hyper-Arminians”. Kudos, though, for acknowledging that Arminians define depravity differently. Back at my place, I gave credit to the words of the Arminian article on depravity, while noting that the differences are only apparent once the implications of the other points become clear.

    I would agree with half of Calvin’s depravity doctrine and half of his perserverence doctrine, making me a 1-point Calvinist (1/2 plus 1/2)

    Wow — you are becoming less-and-less Calvinist, as you used to claim a full point for Depravity! As I noted above, your deviation from Total Depravity (the easiest point!) is very disturbing.

    So I guess it’s true what they say — all 5 points of TULIP are really only saying the same thing. If you really truly understood and confessed one full point, the rest come for free. So it is discerning and honest of you to recognize that there is no whole point of TULIP that you accept.

    As to Arminius’ remonstrances, I guess I would fully concur with his description of unlimited atonement, as well as his view of resistable, prevenient grace and partially-conditional election.

    What is “partially-conditional election”? Where’s the partially? Once you’re done twisting the word “election”, it is wholly dependent on man’s irresistible free-will choice.

    I would tend to leave more tension and nuance in the Bible when it comes to perserverance of the saints and total depravity. So I guess that makes me a “3 1/2 remonstrance Arminian”.

    As Ben noted above, the Arminian Remonstrance article did leave Perseverance in a state of tension and nuance, so why not claim a full point for that? And again, what’s up with total depravity? There is no tension or nuance in the Bible with regards to Depravity!

    Are you disagreeing also with the “different” Arminian definition of Total Depravity, as well as T for TULIP? (Exactly what is that “different” Arminian definition, and how do you disagree with it?) And maybe I’m just too Calvinistically cut-and-dried with my Math for you Arminians, but how do you score only 1/2 a point for Perseverance AND Total Depravity? You already claimed 1/2 for T and 1/2 for P, so that would already make you a “three and two-halves points” Arminian. If you bust out your solar-powered wristwatch-calculator, you’ll find that that adds up to 4 points.

    So here’s what’s really going on. You have correctly recognized that the Arminian Articles of Remonstrance (let’s just call them AAR, since they don’t spell out a flower, and I’m getting tired of typing that all the time) — you have correctly recognized that AAR considered together are inconsistent, because they attempt to maintain the same doctrine of Depravity as TULIP, but the other points of AAR don’t permit it.

    So I guess I was wrong all along. You’re not a Classical Arminian. You have taken steps to rectify this inconsistency, and have become a Hyper-Arminian. Now we can move on to the next question — whether you are Semi-Pelagian, or fully Pelagian…

  12. Don’t you think, after dropping all of the invitations in the mailbox, God could peer into the future and write down the guest list based on his knowledge of who was going to show up?

    Um, you totally missed the point. The New Testament is full of invitiations for “everyone” to embrace Christ. It would be silly for Christ to invite everyone, when, in fact, He had already predetermined and selected some for damnation. Foreknowledge is HUGELY different than predetermined damnation with no choice.

    And, FWIW, I still think my invitation to the party illustration stands, even with foreknowledge. Nobody can say that they weren’t invited or prevented from attending.

  13. Ah, I knew it was only a matter of time before you would fall back on the Calvinist’s favorite straw man — Palagianism! lol… Let me burst your bubble before you get all geared up to fight your windmill, Mr. Quixote. I believe in salvation by grace through faith…period. I DO NOT, however, consider faith to be a work. Can we “earn” our own salvation? By no means. My departure from classic Calvinistic depravity comes when you say that “man is incapable of choosing good or doing anything apart from selfishness.”

  14. I would be interested in everyone’s thoughts on the following (please don’t blockquote others…just sum up your own views).

    As a result of Adam’s sin, his being an imprint of the “image of God” took a hit.

    But how much of a hit?

    If we are totally depraved (in the Calvinistic sense) we now carry none of God’s image…it was wiped out. That means we are totally and utterly evil and unable to produce anything without sin.

    But are there other options? And, if so, how would they play out?

    Option One: We carry NONE of the image of God anymore before salvation.
    Option Two: The image of God remains, but is now tainted so that nothing good or pure can be produced from it.
    Option Three: Depravity is not total; this would explain flashes of the image of God in people.

  15. RubeRad says:

    I do not agree that regeneration comes before repentance and faith. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God”. So that obviously does not make me a Calvinist. And since I don’t accept that tenant of Calvinism, the Cornelius problem stands.

    I understand that you are not a Calvinist, so you don’t accept my explanation. But you asked (as if Calvinism had no way to explain), so I answered.

    You made an amazing statement. That EVERY selfless act done by a non-Christian is still selfish.

    Why does this amaze you? All these years, what did you think people meant by Total Depravity? Does a “good” non-Christian need to repent of less than “bad” non-Christians?

  16. Man cannot save himself by his good works. His good works are “filthy rags” as means to achieving his own salvation and atoning for his sin. But that’s a far cry from saying that every selfless act of a non-Christian is rooted in selfishness.

  17. RubeRad says:

    Ah, I knew it was only a matter of time before you would fall back on the Calvinist’s favorite straw man — Palagianism! lol… Let me burst your bubble before you get all geared up to fight your windmill, Mr. Quixote.

    I am too tired to tilt at a new windmill today, but the definition of semi-Pelagianism is “man is not so totally depraved that he can’t choose God”. Anybody else reading this thread can judge for themselves whether or not that describes you.

    See here:

    These men objected to a number of points in the Augustinian [Calvin-style] doctrine of sin and grace, namely, the assertion of the total bondage of the will, of the priority and irresistibility of grace, and of rigid predestination. They agreed with Augustine as to the seriousness of sin, yet they regarded his doctrine of predestination as new, therefore in conflict with tradition and dangerous because it makes all human efforts superfluous. In opposition to Augustinianism, Cassian taught that though a sickness is inherited through Adam’s sin, human free will has not been entirely obliterated. Divine grace is indispensable for salvation, but it does not necessarily need to precede a free human choice, because, despite the weakness of human volition, the will takes the initiative toward God. In other words, divine grace and human free will must work together in salvation. In opposition to the stark predestinarianism of Augustine, Cassian held to the doctrine of God’s universal will to save, and that predestination is simply divine foreknowledge.

    (Note that this is not from a Calvinist site; they show their colors by asserting “practical dangers inherent in Augustine’s teaching on grace”)

  18. Glad you quoted Pelagian’s theory so that I can definitively DISAGREE with it. I have already stated repeatedly that man, by his own effort, cannot save himself. I believe in prevenient grace through which God gives man the grace to accept His offer of salvation by faith. I do not consider faith itself to be a work.

    Let me say it again…MAN CANNOT SAVE HIMSELF…

    My issue with Calvin’s brand of total depravity is whether anything is left of “the image of God” after the fall, i.e., selfless acts of sacrifice and love. This does NOT imply that man’s goodness can save himself apart from Christ’s atonement.

  19. RubeRad says:

    I would be interested in everyone’s thoughts on the following (please don’t blockquote others…just sum up your own views).

    (oopx, I just put that in a blockquote, didn’t I?)

    ‘Bino, I sense an opportunity here to avoid thread overload. I recommend that you paste your invitation as a new, separate post. If you do, I can paste my answer over there too, and/or you can delete this comment, but here is my answer:

    Option Two: The image of God remains, but is now tainted so that nothing good or pure can be produced from it.

    The Image of God remains (and we have partaken from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), so we can recognize good when we see it (although we suppress the truth in unrighteousness). But our fallenness means that we cannot reproduce good on our own. The Image of God in us is therefore sufficient to condemn us only — we have no excuse for our sins.

    Note that the exact wording of Option Two has some subtle problems, however. It depends on what “good or pure” means — or more specifically “good”. I think everybody would agree with Option Two if it said only “pure”. But “good” can be understood in weaker senses. We continue in Adam’s sin of rebellion and autonomy, and as long as we maintain ourselves as our ultimate authority, everything that we do is tainted with rebellion — nothing is pure.

    But there is a limited, outward sense that it could be said that some things we do are “good”. As in “useful”, “helpful”, “practical”, “nice”. But not pure.

    Obviously it’s wrong (non-Christian) to believe in justification by balance-scale, i.e. “good” outweighs “bad”. Calvinism & Total Depravity assert the total opposite: all your unregenerate life is counted as sin because it stems from the Original Sin of autonomy which you inherited from Adam. Albino wants to assert a middle road, where there can be a mixture of truly good and truly bad in the unregenerate, but everybody has at least some bad, and (rejecting the balance-scale approach) the presence of any bad disqualifies one for justification, thus all must trust in Christ so that his perfect righteousness can be imputed to us.

    It’s quite a different concept.

  20. RubeRad says:

    Let me say it again…MAN CANNOT SAVE HIMSELF…

    I agree — man cannot have saving faith in Christ by himself…

  21. Matt S says:

    My only strong disagreement with Calvinism (there are others that are more subtle) is the “L” in the cute TULIP acronym.

    No way do I believe that the Bible teaches Limited Atonement. To say that Christ died for the sins of SOME not ALL is just not Biblical. Therefore no one, in my opinion, can be a 5 point Calvinist. I am sure you 5 pointers have a great explanation for these verses but I will give them anyway.

    I John 2:2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

    II Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord WHO BOUGHT THEM-bringing swift destruction on themselves.”

    God bought the false prophets? How is that possible?

    The bottom line with this discussion is it will always be impossible for our finite minds to comprehend what an infinite God knows. We cannot wrap our minds around the relationship between a totally sovereign God that allows His people free will.

  22. RubeRad says:

    Also, if you swallow the entire depravity line, you must also believe that we lost “the image of God” after the fall. But what of the more noble self-sacrificing acts of non-Christian people?

    Here is an excellent, short article that addresses exactly that question with the answer “You don’t understand what we mean by Total Depravity”. Even Albino will agree that “man’s many good works, even though in accord with God’s commands, are not well pleasing to God when weighed against His ultimate criteria and standard of perfection.” I.e. works don’t save. That’s not in question here. What is in question is, how does salvation happen? Calvinists & Arminians (and all Christians) agree that salvation happens by faith and repentance. What C&A fundamentally disagree on is whether faith and repentance are man’s choice, or God’s gift.

    But because everybody understands that good works that the unsaved do are completely irrelevant to their salvation, that question is irrelevant to the discussion. The point of Total Depravity is to assert that man cannot, of his own free will, obtain salvation by faith — because his free will is totally depraved. Without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, man’s free will is 100% dedicated to autonomy and rebellion against God’s authority.

    The fact that man’s rebellious, autonomous free will produces many works that are “good”, is a coincidence, due to the fact that we all bear the image of God.

  23. zrim says:

    these discussions always make me chuckle. why an arminian can’t bring himself to wear the collar is just befuddling to me. but i think what is going on here is usually not so much a matter of calvinism versus arminianism, but a matter of a confessionalism versus a pietisism. the former like their labels, the latter are naturally put off by them. i am a confessionalist “to the core.” i have no problem with creeds, catechisms and confessions, institution, etc. in fact, i see them as absolutely necessary to nurture faith; pietists do not, they see them as obstacles. pietists are like cats and water and they tend to think very highly of themselves. albino’s tone and tenor is very typical: “i am beyond your pesky labels, you God-in-a-box folks. i transcend all this.” very gnostic, very romantic, very experiential…very american-made. the flippant attitude and snarky sneer comes through loud and quite clear. confessionalists are those poor, feeble-minded christians who can’t think for themselves.

    so, rube, perhaps this might shed some light on that flat spot on your forehead. getting an evangelical pietist who descends from the anabaptist tradition to commit to any sort of label, etc. is like trying to get a cat to bark. it just ain’t natural and i would be amazed to see it. and inasmuch as he ID’s calvinism with confessionalism he rejects the calvinism therein because it’s confessionalistic–and THAT is to be avoided at all costs. they throw the baby out with the bath water. they end up always reinventing the wheel and starting from scratch all the time. they are the “bible-believers.” i know, i used to be one and live amongst them (still do). “we believe the bible,” they constantly say. and when you point out that so do mormons and roman catholics they simply turn to prejudice to distinguish themselves from the “sects and cults.” you ask them, “well, mormons believe in the bible…what makes you so different?” and then they begin to give you “statements of faith,” which are the poor man’s confession, not knowing that they are now doing what those big, bad confessionalists do! they start talking about the trinity, doctrine of sin, man, the cross, the fall…whoa! hey, i thought you just believed the bible? what’s this trinity and doctrine stuff? sounds awfully religious and theological.

    but i do have a tongue-in-cheek question: this in-between view always makes me wonder, “is there a whole number between 4 and 5”?


  24. Matt S says:

    Rube you said, “Without the intervention Holy Spirit….”

    Perhaps it is true that all men are able come to God first through the working of the Holy Spirit (i.e. it is not possible for man to do it on his own without the Holy Spirit first moving in his life)

    But is it possible for the Holy Spirit to stir up inside someone and then for them to choose to reject the Spirit, thus rejecting God?

    Or once the Holy Spirit draws you are you then incapable of making a choice to reject?

    Could this be a balance between God’s sovergnity (his electing those who He will allow the Spirit to stir) and man’s free will (the ability of man to reject that stirring of the Spirit)?

  25. zrim says:

    when i found these distinguishing categories of confessionalists and pietists it all made sense. and i began to stop arguing with my fundy-evangy biblicist, arminian-but-would-sooner-die-than-admit-to-it IFCA family. they are simply in another tradition. i might as well walk down to the local RC parish and suggest the priest re-think the mass or papal authority! won’t happen. american pietsists like albino are not so much resistant to calvinism as they are to confessionalism. it’s like trying to get someone to agree that 2 plus 2 is 4 when they are opposed to learning in the first place! stay out of school and you don’t have to accept the equation. the harder work is not convincing someone of calvinism or 2 plus 2–that’s *impossible*.

    my flat spot is just about healed. too bad, though, i lost a nice place to rest my beer when watching r rated movies.


  26. RubeRad says:

    he rejects the calvinism therein because it’s confessionalistic–and THAT is to be avoided at all costs

    I dunno, I see (with Albino at least) that he is happy to knock down petals of TULIP all day long, and that’s what frustrated me. Which reminds me:

    “No, you’ve got to be one or the other!” they squeal. Carefully laying out all positions, they demand that I accept one and thereby label myself.

    I don’t actually demand that you be one or the other. If you can find a third option, I’d be interested to hear about it, but what I am saying is, if you’re going to go around spouting EXACTLY the doctrines of Arminianism, and if you are an ordained pastor with a degree in theology, and you are presented specifically with the doctrines of Arminianism, it is dishonest to try to pretend that you are not Arminian. Or more specifically, that your doctrines are Arminian. Maybe I should buy you a T-shirt that says

    “I’m not Arminian, (but my doctrine is).”

    You can wear it next time MacAllen has a gay pride parade, in protest of the T-shirts that say “I’m not gay (but my boyfriend is)”.

  27. RubeRad says:

    But is it possible for the Holy Spirit to stir up inside someone and then for them to choose to reject the Spirit, thus rejecting God?

    I don’t know what this “stir up” is, but if you look in the New Testament, you will see that “stirring up” is something that people do to each other (and almost always for evil!), and biblically speaking, the Holy Spirit does not “stir up” people towards faith.

    But this question is important to the way that I (and I believe the Bible) reconcile God’s sovereignty with man’s “free” will. The action of the Holy Spirit is one of revelation. The unsaved suppress the truth in unrighteousness. But when the Holy Spirit reveals to us through the preaching of the gospel (faith comes by hearing) how sinful we are, and how perfect God is, our free will has an inevitable, involuntary response. That revelation is God’s act of grace to us. It is irresistable. You gotta love Him. Forced love rocks.

  28. Matt S says:

    So your answer to the question, can somebody reject the Spirt that is “revealed” inside him is NO, correct?

  29. Sigh…zrim responds the same way many Calvinists do when we don’t swallow their doctrinal formulations and also refuse to be labeled…”You’re stupid.” He is suggesting that we are averse to study, and if we reject his (scratch that) Calvin’s grid for studying the Scripture we MUST not be thinking Christians, like those brainwashed Mormons. sigh…

    I am not against statements of faith. I agree with the entire Apostle’s creed. I just refuse to be labeled as anything other than a Bible-believing Christian. That clearly gets under your skin, and I’m sorry it does, because I’m guessing you’re my brother and part of the body of Christ too.

    BTW, I’ve debated Mormons for years, and they DO NOT believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word or even our final authority. They actually teach that the Book of Mormon is the “most correct book on earth”, so even when it comes to “guilt by association”, rzim blew it.

    Nope, sorry fellas. I’m not Calvinist or Arminian…I’m Albinian. 🙂

    Just two kinds of people: saved and lost…

  30. And our friendly Calvinists are confirming what I said in my original post: “You’ve got to take our label….please be labeled, dude!!!” Hilarious…

  31. RubeRad says:

    So your answer to the question, can somebody reject the Spirt that is “revealed” inside him is NO, correct?


    I am not against statements of faith. I agree with the entire Apostle’s creed. I just refuse to be labeled as anything other than a Bible-believing Christian.

    So even though you agree with the entire Apostle’s creed, you refuse to be labeled an Apostolic Christian?

  32. Tim Skoglund says:

    First of all I’ve got to say Limited Atonement as an independent concept is just silly. Where in Scripture is that notion even remotely hinted at? The possibility anyone would try and defend “L” reminds me of a discussion with a Calvinist who insisted that God sending the condemned to hell was an expression of love since “God is love”. This is simply re-defining words to the point they are meaningless.

    But free will has its problems. Secular scientists debate two explanations for all human behavior and choice: Environment (life experiences, external influences, etc.) and Genetics. In either case, these are given to us. Outside the scientific realm, the spirit is another component of identity that can be assigned responsiblity for our choices (e.g. to believe or not to believe) since it is only our spirit that passes into eternity. The spiritual component doesn’t help me grasp free will either, because someone is responsible for giving me my spirit. I’m led to the conclusion that there’s no part of me for which I can claim credit. Unconditional Election (i.e. no free will) has no conflict with any of these three possible determinants of identity and choice.

    Perhaps God works some miracle that is incomprehensible to human thought that allows for free will, but that would be pure speculation and entirely useless to discuss.

    If one accepts Unconditional Election, then Limited Atonement is nothing more than saying atonement is meaningful only for the elect. In this case LA isn’t a separate point, and there’s no reason for Calvinists to go out of their way to say Christ’s atonement can only go so far. Repulsive, indeed.

    I really liked Albinian Viewpoint #4 on Perseverance. I call that part of the tulip “Eternal Uncertainty” – you can never really know if you are elect. If you live like a Wesleyan Armenianist then no worries because you’re motivated to make your election sure.

  33. Albino,

    I understand the desire to avoid labels. There is, actually, no such thing as an “Arminian” in the same way that there is such a thing as a “Calvinist”–that is, a self-conscious theological tradition stemming from the seminal work of a specific theologian. An Arminian isn’t an Arminian because someone taught him the articles of the Remonstrance and he now reads the Bible through that hermeneutical grid; he’s an Arminian because the Bible told him that Jesus died for everyone and everyone has the opportunity to believe and be saved, and he got called an Arminian for sharing that view in public. His first response was probably, “But I’ve never even been to Armenia.” Most Arminians simply see themselves as Bible-believing Christians. Period.

    But I think the term is useful, to describe “non-Calvinist evangelical Christian.” By your own reckoning, you’re more than 3/5 Arminian. On depravity, you’re as Arminian as Wesley, and on Perseverence, well, even James Arminius wasn’t sure about that one. That looks like 5/5 (or, perhaps better, 4/4) Arminian to me.

    Now, you can take the label or reject it, but as I wrote in “An Alternative to Calvinism and Arminianism?” those of us who essentially agree on this side of the divide are at a disadvantage, since Calvinists of all stripes are willing to be called Calvinists (or at least Reformed), while most of the people on our side are too busy splitting hairs trying to prove that they’ve found that missing link of balance between the Calvinism they don’t believe in and the Arminianism they don’t want to be associated with. I think most Calvinists would have more respect for us if we’d stop quibbling over what we’re called.

    That having been said, I love your Tozer quote. All this is fun to discuss, but it’s ultimately academic. Living the Christian life is what counts.

    God bless,


  34. RubeRad says:

    If one accepts Unconditional Election, then Limited Atonement is nothing more than saying atonement is meaningful only for the elect.

    That’s what I’ve been trying to say! Actually also that Limited/Unlimited Atonement is not a question of whether “His blood is sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of every man, woman, and child who has ever lived”. It’s not a question of how much Jesus paid. It’s a question of what (rather who) he bought.

    In this case LA isn’t a separate point, and there’s no reason for Calvinists to go out of their way to say Christ’s atonement can only go so far. Repulsive, indeed.

    Blame the Arminians. They had separate points for Conditional Election and Unlimited Atonement, and Dordt just responded point-by-point. But Calvinists would be the first to affirm that all five petals of TULIP are really only expressing different facets of a unified, consistent, doctrine of Sovereignty. Totally understand and believe just one, and the rest come for free.

    If you live like a Wesleyan Armenianist then no worries because you’re motivated to make your election sure.

    Eek! Wesleyan Holiness doctrine is inherently legalistic. Your statement reminds me of the Jewish concept of fencing the Torah with extra laws for extra proection, just in case what God revealed isn’t enough!

  35. RubeRad says:

    On depravity, you’re as Arminian as Wesley, and on Perseverence, well, even James Arminius wasn’t sure about that one. That looks like 5/5 (or, perhaps better, 4/4) Arminian to me.

    That’s what I’ve been trying to say! Welcome to Albino’s blog, Keith — I have not yet found the time to wander over to your place and comment, but there’s a lot of thoughtful stuff there that is worth reading and interacting with.

  36. RubeRad says:

    Calvinists of all stripes are willing to be called Calvinists (or at least Reformed), while most of the people on our side are too busy splitting hairs trying to prove that they’ve found that missing link of balance between the Calvinism they don’t believe in and the Arminianism they don’t want to be associated with. I think most Calvinists would have more respect for us if we’d stop quibbling over what we’re called.

    Excellent point. ‘Bino, you should learn from Keith here, who understands both the usefulness AND limitations of labels. Calvinists are willing to be called Calvinists, even though everybody hates Calvinists. So the least Arminians can do is accept the label Arminian — Arminians only get grief from Calvinists! And yes, ‘Bino, I would respect you more…

  37. Tim Skoglund says:

    Ok, I’m no Wesleyan scholar, but being motivated to make your election sure is Peter’s idea, not mine. I’m not trying to carry a flag for legalism, just throwing a friendly jab.

    What I really want to know is why would God give us the perception we are free to make choices. Why the deception if the reality is completely the opposite? If I’m totally pre-programmed by the personal spirit, environment, and genetics (all His gifts) why do I still perceive myself as an indpendent, free agent? I don’t see Calvinism addressing this inherent perception of choice even if it does mesh with a logical, deterministic view of reality. I can’t be satisfied with free will alone or unconditional election alone. If I accept it as a paradox, what is my label?

  38. Shame on you, Tim! How dare you claim to be just a “Christian”, when it’s so fun to divide up the body of Christ according to pet doctrines!

    Welcome, Schooley. I have enjoyed your blog, and appreciate your chiming in on this topic. Even though we simple Bible-believing Christians waaaaay outnumber reformed Calvinists, we must be willing to confront the weaknesses and shortcomings of their system, because they almost think that it’s infallible! When was the last time you ever heard a Calvinist say, “Gee, I don’t know,” or “maybe everything doesn’t fit neatly together after all,” or “that Scripture does present a problem for my system.”

    Like I mentioned earlier, failure to recognize tension between different passages of Scripture is one of the Calvinist’s biggest weaknesses.

    I appreciate your reasons for embracing the Arminian label, but I’m still not convinced. I’ll stick with Bible-believing Christian for now.

  39. Echo_ohcE says:


    Actually, while Calvinists did a lot to divide the church in two, charismatics have done a lot to fracture it into little tiny pieces, and Arminians have turned it into one man, one piece. Everyone is a little church unto themselves.

    Carry on, don’t let anything get in your way.


  40. Ben says:

    we must be willing to confront the weaknesses and shortcomings of their system, because they almost think that it’s infallible! When was the last time you ever heard a Calvinist say, “Gee, I don’t know,” or “maybe everything doesn’t fit neatly together after all,” or “that Scripture does present a problem for my system.”

    I see it didn’t take long to get back to straw men, generalizaing, and characterization, eh? Look, don’t be pedantic in one sentence, then accuse someone of intellectual arrogance the next.

    I realize you think there are weaknesses and shortcomings, but it seems for the most part, you haven’t given the time to digging into the doctrine and exegesis in order to fully understand the response to these “shortcomings”. When debating, you continually throw out arguments that demonstrate this. See above (“why do sinners do noble things”) for why I think you misunderstand depravity.

    In other words, why don’t you actually try to find an answer for the common arguments you are making? Instead, you assume, because you find your conception of Calvinism silly or repugnant that it is untrue. Don’t you think many of us struggled with these same questions? Understand it, then debate it. Or, like I’ve said before, just say you don’t agree with the exegesis of thousands of verses of scripture.

  41. RubeRad and Albino–

    Thank you both for your kind words and for checking out my blog. Albino, I’d prefer merely to be a “Bible-believing Christian” as well. But Calvinists would also call themselves “Bible-believing Christians.” As a matter of fact, most would call themselves the only Bible-believing Christians. But I digress…. 😉


  42. zrim says:


    i didn’t call you “stupid.” i think that is an inference you drew from my words. i would prefer to call you inconsistent, disingenuous and incredulous in your formulations, which proceed from a deep seated pietism (not arminianism over against calvinism). you are being routinely taken to task under the calvinist/arminian rubric and i am saying that is something of a false rubric and wheels keep on a-spinnin’.

    with regard to your nomenclature of a ‘thinking christianity,’ i have spent years with bible-only folks. i don’t know you at all, but i take it you are in the same tradition more or less. and what i experienced there was a a false notion of thought versus experience. i am no smartie; in fact, most of oyu bible-only types are smarter than me, honestly. your system of pietism tends to erect a front of what i consider psuedo-intellectualism. it isn’t that you don’t read or don’t have the capacity to engage in serious thought, because you do. but your regard for it is an intrinsic nose up.

    the apostle’s creed is not a “statement of faith.” the former is doctrine that is binding, the latter tends to be akin to a maleable form like a corporate vision statement. the confessional forms are more than “good ideas” that sound pretty good and are kinda helpful but are easily dispensed with when they don’t meet our present felt needs; they are binding. i can hear you already making the charge that we elevate them beyond the scriptures. but we don’t.

    what you say about mormons just makes my whole point, al. they will tell you they “believe in the bible.” but go a few more feet and you find out that this superficial sort of statement is clearly simplistic and not nearly enough. it is a lot more complicated than that. so when you opt for the “bible believing” nomenclature you make simplistic what is not simplistic. i was not using a guilt by association charge–i think you might misunderstand that notion. i know quite well you bible-only types are not mormons! but instead of relying on confessional standards to speak for you, you opt to start from scrath and “debate the mormons” and do the work the confessional forms can do, so to speak. how exhausting. you make yourself the interpreter of holy writ instead of a well seasoned tradition ripe with much better minds than ours and an experience than is bated in an understanding of the scriptures than is halting in its majesty. why you presume to know better than the stalwarts and fathers of the faith is beyond me, because i sure understand my finitude and rest in letting a better tradition speak fo rme. i know that gets under your skin because of your rugged individualism andmakes you quake in your boots but it’s part of what separates a confessionalist from a pietist.

    two kinds of people, saved and lost…classic of fundamentalism’s rigid separation schema. the best of confessionalism actually sees things working a lot like a venn diagram. As you may or may not know, the classic venn is two intersecting circles. One circle contains things only proper to one group, the other only proper to another; in the middle, where they converge, is common ground. In the left circle we could say exists unbelievers and all the things proper to them eternally speaking is contained therein (judgment, and all the related properties) and in the right circle the same for us (redemption and all the related properties); but in the middle is where we all exist under natural law and its related properties.

    I was reading Horton’s God of Promise and he traces out two competing yet very similar pietsist groups: fundamentalists and liberals. The former see the world as only two separate circles, the damned and the forgiven; all that proceeds from the former is evil and inherently bad and all that proceeds from the latter is inherently good (fortunately, inasmuch as I am intimately familiar with classic fundies, they don’t really act/speak/think as their rigid system would demand, which I can never decide is a good thing [since it’s a bad system anyway] or bad [inconsistent]!) the latter, the liberals, collapse everything together so that all is holy, universalism, etc. but reformed confessionalism, contra fundamentalism, allows for the two categories of damned and redeemed, but adds a third category of common ground. It is here that we can labor side-by-side with anyone and everyone is the common, creational and cultural tasks assigned us all as those under the Lordship of our common Creator. Will the properties in our “remdemption” circle interplay during common endeavor? Most certainly. Same is true for the unbelievers conversely, of course. But just because we have redemption “on our side” doesn’t mean what we do/say/think in common intercourse is beyond the common effects of sin (i.e. our ideas are not inherently right); same is true conversely of the unbelievers, of course (i.e. not everything they say/do/think is inherently wrong). So we don’t have a leg up on them in the common sphere, not one iota. Pietistic sympathies have a typically hard time swallowing that notion, but it makes perfect sense to my confessionalist ears. It really worries pietsist to hear that “scripture has no direct, immediate or obvious bearing on creational endeavor,” but that’s what I would consider a good confessionalist believes. It’s also why I don’t feel at home in the mainstays of American religion, which as I said, is largely pietistic.


  43. RubeRad says:

    What I really want to know is why would God give us the perception we are free to make choices. Why the deception if the reality is completely the opposite?

    Gee, I don’t know. I don’t think that scripture tells us WHY God gave us a sense of autonomy, but only THAT we will be held responsible for the choices we make (even though in reality, we don’t choose Him, but He chooses us). THAT we have choices to make (at least at our perceptual level) is obvious by the presence of every command in scripture: do this, don’t do that.

    [Matt]II Peter 2:1 : God bought the false prophets? How is that possible?

    Indeed, that Scripture is difficult for my system, as we discussed it over at L is for Effectual. Not everything in the bible fits neatly together — especially when dealing the presence of the non-elect in the visible church, because that is the intersection of our perception and hidden realities. And it is important for all Calvinists to realize that we must not hyper-Calvinistically act as if we understood all hidden things; we can’t write off anyone as non-elect, as Jesus did.

    I’ll take these tensions over Arminianism any day. Unconditional double-election is manifestly scriptural — not to mention a trivial logical consequence of God’s sovereignty.

    Here’s an anecdotal question. Think of all the Calvinists you know. How many of them used to be Arminians (or Arminians in “It’s just the bible and me” clothes)? (I’ll give you some help, just here there’s at least me, zrim, and Echo). Then think of all the non-Calvinists, anti-Calvinists, and confessed Arminians you know. How many of them used to be Calvinists? If your anecdotal evidence matches mine, then you’ll realize that it’s basically a one-way street. There’s a reason that when you go Calvinist, you don’t go back…

  44. Alex says:

    I see the same pattern in these discussions. A Calvinist would sleep a lot better at night if several verses were not included in the Bible, for example the verses Matt shared with us in one of his posts above (1 john 2:2 is just one example). Now when a Calvinist brings a verse out in the Bible that says He died for the elect, I say Amen. Why, you may ask?Because we are privy to some very important information, not all men will be saved. I believe that, Calvinists believe that and so do Arminians.

    I will use the example of Adam. Adam brought sin into this world and because of it every human born in this world is a sinner. Christ (referred to as the 2nd Adam) died for the sins of the world. When Christ died the veil was torn and we now have the OPPORTUNITY to commune with God once again. Notice the word OPPURTUNITY. It’s similar to the OPPORTUNITY Adam had to NOT eat of the friut. This is where thinking gets really screwed up because a calvinist will say that Adam didn’t really have a choice. I say he had a choice, he screwed up and God was not surprised. He knew what Adam was going to do. This to me is how awesome God is, that he planned this whole thing out so that as sinners we now must realize our sin and our NEED for a Savior individually. This is done through the Word.The only condition is we must believe the Word. I didn’t make this up. God says this through his Word. Why do I always find myself arguing with calvinists that believing (having faith) is not a work. Who said that “having faith” is a work. Where in the Bible does it even imply this thought. Calvinists made this up. It eats away at a calvinist when I say that I absolutely believe that “it is only by grace that I have been saved.” Where is the boasting in that? Am I the only one running into the same arguements over and over?Do you find yourself in these discussions?

  45. zrim says:


    “a calvinist will say adam didn’t really have a choice.”

    I am a calvinist and i say adam had a choice. he was made good and obedient. God put him on probation and established the covenant of works. he chose disobedience, thus plunged all of our wills into a toally depraved state. we have inherited a depraved will that can only choose evil; we have no natural choice other than evil.

    what calvinists are you speaking with who tell you adam had no choice? they need a refresher course, methinks.


  46. Echo…

    Wow. A short entry. I’m impressed. But, unfortunately for you, your “everybody does it” rebuttal is insufficient.

  47. rzim,

    I have a lot to say to your post, but ministry duties today preclude me from taking the time. Just some quick food for thought: When Jesus separates the sheep and the goats, don’t you agree that those are two groups? When we die and face judgement, we either go to heaven or hell, correct? Again…two groups. “He that has the Son has live; he that does not have the Son, does not have life.” No nuance there, my friend.

  48. zrim says:

    general comment: speaking as a committed confessionalist calvinist, i sure find it odd that so many of us behave the way we do. i mean, it’s almost as if we can’t stand the idea that there exist in the world those who depart from our distinctives (which are completely biblical–calvinism is just a nickname for the biblical witness, like spurgeon said). we spend unreal amounts of time and energy (look at this thread) trying to delete the world of non-calvinists. it’s like all those misguided evangy restorationists who try making gays non-gays because they just can’t sleep at night knowing that out there exist real gay people in the same world they also inhabit (uh-oh, a smell another cans of worms getting opened). weird.

    al, you didn’t read closely enough. our system does indeed recognize the two groups. there are the reprobate and the elect. there is no nuance at the final judgment, correct. but in the meantime, in the present church age, the sheep co-exist with the goats in both the world and in the church (wheat and tares, remember?). i genuinely suggest you go back and re-read what i said. i’d like to keep typing but it is friday afternoon, the sun is finally out in west michigan and i feel fine (even though the world is full of non-calvinists!)

    best you you, all, and have a good weekend!


  49. Alex says:


    unfortunately I made the mistake of categorizing all calvinists which is a mistake. However, I know several calvinists who believe that we are “robotic-like.”

    I want to understand what calvinists do with passages like the following:

    2 Corinthians 5:13-15
    13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    What about 1 John 2:1-6?

    ,1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

    What about John 3: 16-21?

    “For God so loved the world,[g] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”

    Contrary to many calvinists beliefs us “Bible believing christians” do read and study the same Bible.

  50. Echo_ohcE says:


    You say that Calvinists would claim that Adam didn’t really have a choice to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    Name one, just one Calvinist who affirms that.

    The following comes from John Calvin’s commentary on Gen 3:
    “On this account, Paul teaches us that by the disobedience of Adam sin entered into the world. Let us imagine that there was nothing worse than the transgression of the command; we shall not even thus have succeeded far in extenuating the fault of Adam. God, having both made him free in everything, and appointed him as king of the world, chose to put his obedience to the proof, in requiring abstinence from one tree alone. This condition did not please him. Perverse declaimers may plead in excuse, that the woman was allured by the beauty of the tree, and the man ensnared by the blandishments of Eve. Yet the milder the authority of God, the less excusable was their perverseness in rejecting it.”

    “Again, it appears to many absurd, that the defection of our first parents is said to have proved the destruction of the whole race; and, on this account they freely bring an accusation against God. Pelagius, on the other hand, lest, as he falsely feared, the corruption of human nature should be charged upon God, ventured to deny original sin. But an error so gross is plainly refuted, not only by solid testimonies of Scripture, but
    also by experience itself.”

    So that’s what John Calvin himself had to say. But perhaps John Calvin is not the best representative of what Calvinism actually is.

    Ok, here are some quotes from the Westminster Confession of Faith, which Presbyterian (i.e., Calvinist) churches hold to:

    I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.[1]

    1. James 1:13-14; 4:7; Deut. 30:19; Isa. 7:11-12; Matt. 17:12; John 5:40

    II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God;[2] but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.[3]

    2. Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 1:26, 31; Col. 3:10
    3. Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6, 17

    But maybe the Westminster Confession of Faith, which continues to be confessed by millions of Calvinists still does not convince you. Perhaps the Belgic Confession of faith, which is confessed by millions of other Calvinists will. It says…

    “We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but wilfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life; having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death.”

    You know Alex, it just may be that anyone who confesses that they don’t think Adam had a choice about whether to eat of the tree or not has actually distanced himself from Calvinism. Because I’ve just proven to you that Calvin himself didn’t believe or teach that, and modern day Calvinists of the reformed traditions don’t teach that either.

    You might be able to find a few Reformed Baptist types who call themselves Calvinists who more or less misunderstand Calvinism to be completely contained in the 5 points of Calvinism, namely TULIP – perhaps some of them might say what you’re saying. But they aren’t actually Calvinists. I would lovingly refer to them as wannabe’s who require more instruction, not in “Calvinism” mind you, but in the Scriptures. Because of course, what is truly called “Calvinism” is only the historic reformed faith, which is really only the faith once for all delivered to the saints through the mouths and pens of the apostles, and contained in the Scriptures.

    But I’m sure you’re not deliberately lying about what Calvinists believe. I’m sure you’ve just made a mistake. It’s ok. We forgive you.


  51. Echo_ohcE says:


    Then I hereby reject your criticism of Calvinism as being schismatic. You and your kind are far more schismatic.

    Please say the following out loud to yourself in a voice that sounds like it’s coming through a walkie talkie:
    Pot, this is Kettle, come in Pot.
    Roger, Kettle, this is Pot, go ahead.
    You’re black, over.
    Roger that Kettle, so are you. Over and out.


  52. Echo_ohcE says:


    Here’s Calvin on those passages:
    That’s 2 Cor 5

    Here’s 1 John 2 (note that to see the commentary on the rest of the chapter, you need merely click to the next page)

    And here’s John 3

    For further reading on what Calvin says about almost the entire Bible, go here:

    You want to know how a Calvinist interprets these passages? Go right to the source, John Calvin himself.

    Of course, Calvinist is, as Zrim said, a nickname for the reformed. And most of the reformed would critique Calvin here and there. But for the most part, we like him lots. He was pretty sharp.

    If you would like more reformed commentaries on specific passages, I’d be happy to recommend some books.

    It is of course, not a good idea to try to explain exegetical questions in a blog, when you’re talking about large amounts of Scripture. You’re virtually asking someone to write you a sermon. The typical sermon requires 20 hours or so of prep time, and you’re asking for three of them.

    So pardon me for simply pointing you to what Calvin himself said, and not saying it myself.


  53. Echo_ohcE says:


    I’ll tell you a secret, but you have to promise not to tell Albino, ok?

    Calvinists only seem to hate everyone who disagrees with them. They just get passionate about what they believe. They don’t hate you, even if it feels that way. In the same way, I’m sure you don’t hate Calvinists, but you’re passionate about what you believe.

    Well great! We should all be so passionate about our great salvation wrought by Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh. If there’s ANYTHING worth getting excited about, that’s it.


  54. Bruce S. says:

    The only condition is we must believe the Word. I didn’t make this up. God says this through his Word. Why do I always find myself arguing with calvinists that believing (having faith) is not a work.

    Not only is believing (having faith) a work, it is a work that God performs (through the Holy Spirit) – John 6:29.

    – Blessings –

  55. Kerry says:

    Mark it on your calendar. We agree! We actually agree. And it’s only taken 23 years. 🙂

  56. Bruce,

    Hurts me to see such a studied man stub his toe here, but let me guide you to Ephesians 2:8-9

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

  57. RubeRad says:

    We are not saved by OUR works — we are saved by GOD’s work, more specifically by CHRIST’s works.

    Alex, the general answer to “all” of your questions about biblical use of the word “all” is that the purpose of the New Testament in its context of addressing the Jewish religion was to crush the concept of Jews as the chosen people. Jesus is the Messiah not just for you/us Jews, but for people of all tongues and from all nations. The promise to Abraham has come true — through him all nations will be blessed.

  58. THROUGH faith…NOT by works. Sorry, faith still isn’t a work, and it’s not God’s faith, it’s our faith IN God’s finished work.

  59. Rube. This is what trying to squeeze everything through Calvin’s tulip grid does to you. Even the word “all” doesn’t mean what it means anymore. Let the Bible speak for itself, and remove the grid.

  60. Bruce S. says:

    How can you pit scripture against scripture as you have done by guiding me to Eph 2:8-9 as if somehow we are dealing with a divided house here. Can’t you see Eph. 2:8-9 and John 6:29 as entirely in harmony?

    Revelation 5:9 Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

    notice this very helpful clarifying that the word “all” is explicitly stated to refer to people from every tribe etc. that Reuben refers to above. And obviously, to me and just about everybody else,[historically speaking, but who’s counting] he studiously avoids saying that Christ ransomed every last individual that ever lived but that you ransomed people for God from every tribe etc. means a subset of every last individual that ever lived.

    BTW, it is becoming obvious to me over time that anybody that ignores what RubeRad says is just plain making a mistake. This guy can flat out think and clearly express what he is thinking. Been doin’ it from a very young age. If he had thicker hair he could be a TV evangelist and make the big bucks. His faith and his communication of it has done more for my weak faith than you might ever imagine. However, I also confess that too much more of these synergistic doctrines will push me right straight into atheism, so much do I hate this weak contingent god you guys push. If your doctrine is right, I am surely damned.

    Speaking of stubbing my toe, it was the best thing that happened to my left big one. I kicked a footstool and jammed the nail back into my toe. It hurt so much I couldn’t even curse. It eventually fell off (the nail, not the toe). The new one that grew back is clean as a whistle. No toe fungus. It looks suitable for public viewing, unlike my other ones. The whole episode is kinda’ like 2 Cor 4:17 on a small scale.

  61. Echo_ohcE says:


    Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
    Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth

    Let’s do some exegesis.

    Does the phrase “whole world” in v 6 really mean the entire globe, or to every individual person on it? What about the Mayans, the Aztecs? They had not yet heard the gospel in Paul’s day. Or the Chinese or Japanese. They hadn’t heard it yet either.

    Do you think there might be some other definition of whole world here? Boy we Calvinists sure do twist things, don’t we?

    Paul probably didn’t even know that the Chinese existed. So maybe he just meant the whole Roman world, because they did view it as the whole world at that time. But wait! Did Paul mean that there wasn’t anyone left in the Roman world who hadn’t heard the gospel yet? Does “whole world” mean every single individual on the planet? And what about the people who were dead that had never heard the gospel? Surely it didn’t have them in mind, did it? Because Paul wouldn’t be inaccurate after all, because the Bible is inerrant, which means it was written just like our modern newspapers.

    Joh 12:19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

    This is the Pharisees’ comments to one another on Palm Sunday. They were talking about the world, in fact, the cosmos, going after him (Jesus). Amazing! They sure did have a small sampling size though! Because it was only the people in Jerusalem that they were looking at. To them, this was the world, the cosmos. But of course, they didn’t mean every single person, did they? They themselves didn’t follow Jesus! Surely they are part of the cosmos!

    Mat 2:2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
    Mat 2:3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
    Mat 2:4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

    Does “all Jerusalem” mean every single person in Jerusalem, or is it a figure of speech?

    Mat 3:5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him,
    Mat 3:6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

    Every single solitary one? Even the Pharisees who didn’t believe?

  62. Echo_ohcE says:

    Mat 4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

    Was there somewhere in Galilee he didn’t preach?

    Mat 4:24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

    Did ANY of the sick stay home?

    Joh 1:7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

    Will every single person believe?

    Joh 3:26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness–look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

    Did everyone go to him? Every single one? What about the Pharisees, and how come it says that his own did not receive him, if they ALL, every single one, went to him?

    Joh 4:29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”

    This is the woman at the well. Did Jesus tell her ALL she ever did? Or did he summarize it by saying she was living with what she hoped would be her 6th husband? Maybe he did tell her all she ever did…”And then when you were six, you tripped and fell down and skinned your knee, which your mother cleaned, bound and kissed…”

    Joh 4:39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”

    But if it’s ridiculous to say that he told her every single action that she ever undertook, which would take a very long time to tell, were their hopes false? Did they believe in a lie, and is that why they believed in Jesus, thinking that his testimony to this woman about her life was full and complete in the minutest detail?

    Or maybe, American living 2000 years after the fact, it’s an ancient text and they use words a bit differently than they do in the newspaper.

    But I can go on.

    Joh 4:45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

    Did they watch him eat his food?

    Joh 8:2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
    Joh 8:3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst

    If every single person came to him in the temple, then how could the Pharisees show up with this woman? Does all always mean every single one?

    Joh 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

    So the disciples gained infinite knowledge, did they? How come they didn’t practice astrophysics? How come the apostles didn’t bring us the internet, if they knew all things? Was there anything that Jesus said to them that they forgot? Did they remember the precise thing he said about what a particular glass of wine tasted like? Did he say oakey undertone or earthy undertone? I can’t remember. Or maybe he meant that they’d remember everything that they needed to remember, or all that was important?

    Act 1:19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

    There wasn’t anyone in Jerusalem that didn’t know about it? Not one person?

    Act 2:12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
    Act 2:13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

    Look at that! All…but others! All here actually means SOME!!!

    Act 3:9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God,

    Yep, no one missed it.

    Act 3:11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded.

    No one was busy doing anything else, I’m sure. Is this figurative language?

    Act 9:26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.
    Act 9:27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.

    But Barnabas wasn’t afraid!

    Act 17:21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

    Seriously, somebody had to have a job in that town. I guess he didn’t mean the women, who were cooking and fetching water. And I guess he didn’t mean the slaves, who were working. But I suppose he must have meant everyone who was legitimately considered an Athenian citizen, so that must be only the land owners. So yeah, they never did anything at all other than listening to new ideas. They never went home, they never did any work at all, and there were no exceptions.

    Act 19:9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.
    Act 19:10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

    ALL the residents? Every single one? So does that mean that if there was even one person in ALL OF ASIA who didn’t hear them preach that the Bible is wrong or lying? All means all, doesn’t it? Is it really every single person?

    Act 19:27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”

    Did he mean that every single person in the entire world worshiped Artemis?

    Rom 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

    Not one part of the world where they haven’t heard of the faith of the Romans?

    Heb 9:19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,

    Did he sprinkle blood on every individual person in the crowd, or did he toss some sprinkles of blood on the crowd as a whole, and that counted as having sprinkled all the people? You tell me if he sprinkled blood on a couple hundred thousand people. It wouldn’t have taken all day or anything.

    I’m tired. I skipped around a lot. The word “all” comes up over 1000 times in the NT. You can bet I didn’t look at them all – meaning every single one, because it DOES sometimes mean that – but I wanted to get a sampling of a couple of different authors.

    But you can surely see that “all” doesn’t always mean “every single one”, and your argument that Calvinism has twisted our ability to understand a normal word is, well, amateurish. Sorry, but I can’t think of another way to put that. All doesn’t always mean every single one. I’m sorry, but your insistence on that is just silly. How many hundreds of examples do you want to see?

    You do read the Bible, right?

    Greek is a lot more complicated than you think it is, and the people who wrote the Bible are VERY different from you. You might want to stop pretending that you’re reading your local newspaper when you approach the Word of God.

    And you owe some people an apology. Not me, but you know who.


  63. Echo_ohcE says:


    You accuse Rube of squeezing everything into his grid, encouraging him to remove the grid, and let Scripture speak for itself.

    You might want to think about applying a grid or two, maybe take a class on interpreting the Scriptures. You know, something basic and fundamental, like how to do the most basic and simple linguistic analysis.

    Maybe you should consider studying Greek.

    What I’m saying is that it is you who is squeezing Scripture into a grid.

    Someone once said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Perhaps his second greatest trick was in convincing you that you don’t have a Creed or a Confession, and that you let Scripture speak for itself. You don’t.

    You have ridiculed Rube and others for being ridiculously slippery with the Word of God, accusing them of twisting the Scriptures, insisting on what appears to you to be common sense. But the reality is that you don’t really know how to interpret the Scriptures in a very basic, fundamental sense. That’s not a crime in and of itself, but at least recognize that you don’t know what you’re talking about to the extent that you are obviously supposing. You seem to think that interpreting the Scriptures is something children do for fun.

    The Word of God is not a child’s toy. I suggest you think long and hard about what that means.

    Please note that I don’t condemn you. Only God can do that. But you may consider me a voice which pleads with you for a little bit more maturity, and a little bit more careful consideration of the biblical text. It is not a toy for children to play with. I’m not making a statement about you, calling you a child. I’m making a statement about the Word of God.

    Think long and hard about what it means to teach, in light of James’ strong words that not many of us SHOULD be teachers, because it comes with a harsher judgment. Were you a layman, I wouldn’t speak to you this way. But you call yourself a preacher and proclaimer of the Word of God, and you’re treating it like it’s Romper Room play time. You’re treating it like it’s a game.

    You’re acting as if you’ve already mastered the Scriptures and they have nothing left to teach you. And you can’t even read it in its original language.

    You might want to rethink that. I’m saying this not to insult you, but to wake you up. Wake up! You are a PASTOR and you stand before the people of God and claim that your words are God’s words, and you don’t even know what God has said. Is that dangerous? You bet your 10 gallon hat it is!

    I think you have done something you might really regret. But you of course need not be afraid, because Christ is greater than ALL our sin, each and every one of them, the entire lot. You can certainly be forgiven for your cavalier attitude toward the Scriptures and others and especially the people in your pews. You can totally be forgiven that and much worse beside, make no mistake.

    But I beg you, on behalf of the people in your pews, spend some time to at least learn some of the basics of Greek. You will find it exceedingly rewarding. I guarantee it. It will pay big dividends. Learn the Greek so that you can discover what the text is actually saying. You’ll be surprised to discover that it is almost never as cut and dried as you think. I have been and continue to be surprised. But once you learn what the text is actually saying, I would encourage you to submit to the text, no matter what it says.

    You know, learning Greek isn’t that bad. All you need to do is pick up the basics of the grammar. There are powerful computer programs that will know the vocabularly for you, and you’ll learn that in time. But at least if you get the basics of the grammar, you will learn something about the language. It would be pretty easy to pick that up. It’s not that hard. You could easily do it. Having a Strong’s is not enough. That doesn’t even begin to help you translate. Strong’s oversimplifies everything. If there are three choices for what a word can mean, how will you decide? Context. But if you don’t understand the grammar, which is very complicated, how will you discern the context, so how can you discern the meaning of the word as it is used in this context? You can’t, but if you’ve got that Strongs, you get the false impression that you CAN. And that is exceedingly dangerous.

    Just think about it. You don’t have to tell anyone. It’s between you and the Lord.

    But I’m telling you that recognizing that “all” doesn’t always mean “every single individual” is like exegetical fingerpainting. I’m not saying that to insult you, but to honestly explain what’s going on here. Your understanding of Scripture has seriously suffered. Repent of it, hear the word of pardon from Scripture, and then go do something about it. You don’t have to learn Greek overnight. But start it. Buy a book and at least begin to get a feel for how complicated the language is.

    I beg you. For the people under your care.


  64. RubeRad says:

    Rube. This is what trying to squeeze everything through Calvin’s tulip grid does to you. Even the word “all” doesn’t mean what it means anymore. Let the Bible speak for itself, and remove the grid.

    No, the word “all” doesn’t mean the same to 21st century Americans as it did to 1st century Jews.

    What did your grid do to “choose”, “elect”, “predestine”, and Rom 9?

  65. RubeRad says:

    OK, now I’ve read all of Echo’s stuff. I think it’s pretty clear that “all” the occurrences of “all” don’t mean “all”.

    So let’s get back to your disturbing doctrine of Mostly Depravity. You’ve found a way to disagree with the only point in common between AAR and TULIP! I can’t believe nobody other than me is dogpiling you for that!

  66. Wow. Where to begin? Again, this time from Echo, we have the typical, “If you don’t agree with Calvin’s system, you obviously don’t study enough.” Sigh… The only way Echo would truly be satisfied is if I became a full-on reformed, Calvinist 5-pointer. Then, he would be convinced that I study, because I would agree with his position.

    Bruce, nobody is ignoring Rube. Who links his site on my blog? I concur that he is an extremely intelligent Christian man — don’t know about the tv evangelist part, but I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I like the way you amp this up by saying, “If you’re right, I’m damned!.” Nice, thoughtful addition to the discussion.

    Rube, my point about “all” is the same point about the word “world” that we find over and over. You can’t take it at face value because it would warp your reformed grid, so you go to great lengths to make it actually say something else. This is what I mean by letting the Scripture speak for itself. As to my grid, I already explained that I say “amen” to predestination and election passages of Scripture. I simply don’t feel the need to do the impossible — reconcile free will with God’s sovereign choice. (did you read my post?). Because you chose to embrace a system that claims to reconcile the two, you are left to redefine words like “all” and “world” and flail around explaining how such a God could not want any to perish, and weep over those who would not embrace Him, while at the same time making their choice for them in advance.

    Love you guys.

  67. RubeRad says:

    ‘Bino, I admit that I don’t take “all” and “world” at face value all the time. I go to very short and reasonable lengths (not “great lengths”) to explain these verses, not because otherwise they would warp my grid, but because otherwise, they would leave scripture in a state of internal inconsistency, and I don’t believe that God is a liar.

    You need to admit (even more than you needed to admit you are an Arminian) that you don’t take verses at face value all the time. Your grid forces you to go to great lengths to deny verses that clearly teach unconditional double-predestination. Jesus says “You did not choose me, but I chose you”, and you do NOT say Amen, but you say “THROUGH faith…NOT by works. Sorry, faith still isn’t a work, and it’s not God’s faith, it’s our faith IN God’s finished work.” That is not Amen. Tell me how you take Eph 1:4-5 at face value.

    Even more than admitting that you don’t take verses at face value all the time, you need to admit that it is WRONG to take verses at face value all of the time. The bible is not a children’s book. It is deep and complex, and a face value reading is not sufficient.

    Or perhaps it’s this way. When you say “Amen”, you’re not saying “let it be”, but rather you’re saying “that Scripture does present a problem for my system, so instead of resolving the problem, I’ll smile and nod and say Amen, and leave that scripture flapping in the breeze, as long as the the scriptures that I enjoy taking at face value remain nailed down”.

    You and I agree that “everything doesn’t fit neatly together after all”. Your approach seems to be “I’ll take at face value as much as I can, and everything else I’ll write off as tension, nuance, paradox, and mystery”. But God is not a liar, and there are no actual inconsistencies in the Bible, so I dig in and try to find an understanding that makes the most sense out of all of scripture. But isn’t that your job? You’re the pastor!

  68. You guys just can’t help it. It took just a few days before you began characterizing my approach as “romper room”, “childish”, “fingerpainting”, etc. We keep coming back to “anyone who dares to remove the Calvinist grid is a childish dummy.” Ugh.

    Ok, if it will make all of you feel better, we agree in the value of hermeneutics, exegesis, word studies, etc. Like Paul, it pains me to have to defend my pastoral credentials, it really does, but I have studied hermeneutics and Greek (just one semester), and am very familiar with textual criticism, etc. I also understand that “all” doesn’t always mean every human being. — “Hey, all of you better get out of the pool!” Does everybody feel better now?

    I’m guessing you cowboys all studied hermeneutics at Westminster, right? I”m sure they told you that when you look at a passage, we look at the text, the context around the text, the culture of the writer and reader, and we bring other passages to bear in understanding the text. When Jesus interprets a text, that trumps everything else.

    Sometimes we can harmonize the passage with other passages of the Bible, and sometimes we cannot. That doesn’t mean that it is not consistent, it just means that we do not understand it fully, like we will one day (I Cor. 13).

    I submit that Calvinists tend to interpret the Scripture through their grid’s system. Even when an obvious interpretation of the Bible is that Jesus died for the sins of the “world”, they “over-massage” the text to get the Bible to fit their system of limited atonemnet.

    Reuben, I would submit that the “childish” approach is the one that assumes that we have all the answers, or that we can understand the mind of an infinite God and plumb the depths of free choice vs. predestination. You can’t. You’re not God. That’s above your paygrade. An adult says, “I don’t understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and don’t feel compelled to have an answer to every question.” THAT’S adulthood, and, in my view, that’s a TRUE PASTOR. Not some seminary grad with all the answers, but someone who honestly reads and studies the Scripture, applying it to people’s lives and “pleading with men to be reconciled to God as Christ’s ambassador.”

  69. Matt S says:

    Nothing like a good C vs A argument to divide the body of Christ!

    Isn’t our time better spent on other things that build our brothers up, instead of trying to tear down their “straw men”!

    I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy, but don’t you think after a few hundred years of having these discussions to no avale that it will be impossible for the Calvinists to rid the world of Arminiasts and vise versa?

    I wonder how important all this is to God. When we all stand before Him at judgement what are the questions we will be asked? Do you think the C vs A discussion will come up?

    Lets focus on what matters, saving souls.

  70. Hi Matt. I appreciate your feelings. I repeatedly call for Christian unity, but it’s a one-sided sentiment, I’m afraid.

    And although I agree with you that saving souls is what matters, I don’t think our Calvinists brothers would agree with that statement, either.

  71. just freed up 2 more comments further up (echo and ruberad) that answered earlier objections of Matt and that somehow can doomed to my moderation dungeon.

  72. RubeRad says:

    I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy, but don’t you think after a few hundred years of having these discussions to no avale that it will be impossible for the Calvinists to rid the world of Arminiasts and vise versa?

    No, Arminians see the truth and turn into Calvinists all the time. Me, my dad, Echo, zrim, and I would guess over half the adult population of my current church are living proof.

    Like a said before, it’s a one-way street. The number of people who have a scriptural epiphany and turn from Arminianism to Calvinism far outnumbers the other way around. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anybody I’ve ever heard of deciding Calvinism was unscriptural, and turning to Arminianism instead. If anybody here knows of anybody, I’d be very curious to find out.

  73. Matt S says:

    I do not know enough people on either side (you and Bruce being the two Calvinists, and I do not know anyone who professes to be an Arminian) to comment on that.

    I do know that my point is this: It is far more beneficial for you guys to spend your time and energy on matters other than trying to convince the world that your theology is “correct”.

    I ask again, what will it be like when you stand before the judgement seat of Christ, will He care that you were a Calvinist? Or that you converted “X” number of people to Calvinism? I say no, spend time saving souls.

  74. Echo_ohcE says:


    I think you misunderstand your job description as a Christian.

    When we stand before God’s judgment throne, he will not simply ask us how many souls we saved, and then pat us on the back for each one. Where does the Scripture say that?

    No, we will give an account for our sin. Neglecting to share the gospel when God gave you an opportunity to do so is one sin to be sure, but neglecting to believe in those things which God has commanded us to believe is another, and just as important. God has not called each and every individual in the church to be an evangelist. If you are called to be an evangelist, then why aren’t you preaching from a pulpit? Of course, Christians are presented with opportunities to bear witness, and we are commanded to always be ready to do that. But part of being ready to do that means that you know what the Bible says and that you understand it so that you can present its truths to people who have never heard them before as God sends them along. To not understand the Scriptures is to not be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you, because the Bible is the source of that hope, the explanation.


  75. Matt S says:

    Your right Echo, and it is nice to see you soften your stance on what the everyday Christian should do when presented with an opportunity to share our faith.

    You, as a 5 point Calvinist believe that your theology is right. That is ok you should believe that. Those of us who disagree with some of the tenents of Calvinism do so because we believe the Bible teaches something different, we believe that.

    We will not change your mind and you will not change ours. My point is all the energy and work you put into studying, setting up arguments, and laying them out in hopes that we will “see the light” is futile, it will not happen.

    So instead of that, spend your time on things that are productive and are beneficial to the advancement of the kingdom of God. This does not mean preaching necesarily, but could include a whole host of things. This is what I am saying.

  76. Echo_ohcE says:


    I can’t even believe that you responded the way you did. I’m just shocked.

    You’re right, I won’t be satisfied until you’re a full on Calvinist, but I won’t be satisfied when you agree with TULIP. I might begin to be satisfied with that, but it’s a far bigger Bible than that.

    You keep saying that we have made up this system – apparently, John Calvin had a dream or something one day and made it up all on his own – and then we artificially impose that system on the Scriptures, where it clearly doesn’t belong.

    I’m sorry, but there’s no word for this but ignorance. You don’t know what you’re talking about. But I know why you do this.

    You do this because you see verses like “not only for our sins, but the sins of the whole world”. And you suppose that the reformed look at that and say to themselves, “how can I twist these words in order to fit my interpretive grid?”

    This is nonsense and really unfair. Maybe you assume everyone does this because perhaps this is what you do when you approach Scripture, or maybe it’s because Rube is right when he says that you smile at those Scriptures you do not understand (meaning that they don’t fit your interpretive grid), and wink and say that it’s impossible to understand the Bible and anyone who says they can is arrogant.

    But to say that it’s impossible to understand the Bible is wrong headed. It is a sure sign of unbelief. Not full on unbelief, but remnants of unbelief which we all have. But your view of the Scriptures is the result of that remaining unbelief. You don’t have perfect faith, no one does. This is where your faith’s imperfections are being manifested.

    Here’s why. Why on earth would God speak to us if we couldn’t understand what he was saying? Is he trying to torment us?

    On the road to Emmaus, when Jesus rebuked the disciples for not understanding the Scriptures, for not picking up on the fact that everything that had been going on with him had been predicted in the OT, and that all the time it had been right there in front of their eyes – did he smile and wink at them and say that the Scriptures are impossible to understand? No.

    I think you know what he said. It’s in Luke 24. He said that they were slow of heart to believe what the Scriptures said. The reason why they didn’t understand it was because they didn’t believe it, not because it was impossible for them to understand.

    It is possible to understand the Scriptures provided you actually submit to the Scriptures and believe what is written in them.

    When we reformed say that we think we understand the Scriptures fairly well, or that our system of doctrine accurately reflects what’s contained in the Scriptures, we aren’t being arrogant, we’re merely saying that we BELIEVE the Scriptures, and that we are trying to submit our beliefs to them.

    But you insist that when it says “the sins of the whole world” that this reflects your theological grid, your system. That’s understandable. Given your system, I would see why when you bring your system to such verses you would take them that way. But then you smile and say that you can’t understand other verses like those that talk about people being predestined, chosen, elect, etc.

    You see, when you say that you simply don’t understand what that means, all you’re saying is that you don’t believe what it says. Of course you have to realize that since Scripture is internally consistent, this means you don’t really believe what the rest of it is saying either. Because when you see “the sins of the whole world” and you think that that supports what you ALREADY believe, you have misinterpreted the verse. I’m not saying that seeing support for what you already believe in Scripture is inherently bad, I’m saying that when you do it, it is bad, because what you already believe is not what Scripture says. And the proof for that is that you have to wave your hands in the air and talk about how it’s impossible to understand the Scriptures fully, which interestingly enough simply gives you justification for throwing out those verses, passages etc, that don’t seem to jive with what you think and believe.

    Notice how our approach is different. Notice that when we come across verses that seem to contradict what we believe, we give careful thought to it, comparing Scripture with Scripture. We look at how the Scriptures use the word “all” for example, and we think about how WE use the word “all”, and it suddenly dawns on us that the Bible is not an engineering manual, but real people actually using real words in the way that real people use them. It’s every day common ordinary speech in written form.

    So when we come across something that appears to contradict what we believe, we think about it, study it, and figure out how to interpret the verse properly. If this disagrees with what we believe, then we must change what we believe. This long and arduous process is what led to the reformed system of doctrine in the first place!

    You might look at me, and call me a Calvinist, and say that I simply reject out of hand what the Bible says in some places. It isn’t true. I became reformed as a result of submitting to Scripture, seeing what it says, and recognizing that the nonsense that I grew up being taught was wrong, unbiblical, and foolish, reflecting what man wants to believe more than what God commands us to believe.

    You cannot make a similar claim. You grew up believing what you do now, didn’t you? You didn’t grow up reformed and realize that the reformed have got it all backwards. No, you were taught what you believe by others who believe what you believe. And you were taught to see it and find it in the Scriptures. But what you weren’t taught was the Scriptures themselves. How many sermons on Romans did you hear growing up, except for the few token verses that everyone likes to quote while ignoring the rest of the book? How many sermons did you hear on Ephesians 1? Romans 9? John 6? Or any other passages that speak of predestination, election, our being chosen by God before we were even born, and being created to serve the purpose he has designed for us?

    I’ll answer for you. None.

    And I’ll ask you another question. How many sermons have you preached on those passages? Don’t bother to answer. I know it’s none.

    Because I know that if you got up to preach on Eph 1, you wouldn’t know what to say. You wouldn’t know how to preach that chapter. You’d have to stand up there and say, “Well, I don’t know what this passage is saying. But the other day, I was watching a basketball game on TV, and…”

    Could you preach through the book of Romans? Do you preach through books at all? I’m guessing you do topical sermons. I’m guessing that this is because this is what you were taught to do by those who had gone before you. I’m guessing that you stick to the passages you understand, and make them say what you think they say.

    But do you know that even before the Church, going all the way back to the synagogue, the practice was lectio continua? That’s just the technical term for preaching through a book. Chapter 1 this week, chapter 2 next week, chapter 3 the week after. That goes all the way back to before the Church, and the Church adopted the practice, and has been doing it for 2000 years.

    But this topical idea comes along. And this is a great thing to do, because then you just don’t have to preach those passages that you don’t understand.

    But don’t worry, the Bible doesn’t command us to teach the whole council of God or anything. Just pick and choose what you like, and don’t worry about the rest.

    It’s not that I just won’t be satisfied until you agree with me. It’s that you insist that all means what YOU think it means. That I find appalling. It’s that you wink at the passages that you “don’t understand”, even though an average high school student can understand them just fine. That you don’t understand it is an excuse not to believe it. Plain and simple.

    If you throw a verse at us as an objection, when have we failed to tell you a story about how to interpret it? But you have failed over and over again. You just wink at it and say that it’s impossible to understand.

    I translate that, exegetically, according to the Scriptures, to mean “I refuse to obey the Word of God, because I refuse to believe it.”

    Your problem, like the disciples before you, is being slow of heart to believe what the Scriptures say.

    Call me a fool if you will. But you have made it abundantly clear that you aren’t interested in submitting to Scripture. That’s not because you’re not reformed. Plenty of people are not reformed, but they are submitting to Scripture, and they actually LEARN something when they read it. You don’t learn. You already know it all. Don’t you?

    Yep. Unbelief. And what’s funny is that you’re going to come back with “Echo just wants me to be another Echo.” I don’t care if you think like I do, but I do care that you wink at Scripture. There are some honest Arminians out there, but you aren’t one of them.

    I’m sorry to say it.


  77. Matt S says:


    How does II Peter 2:1 fit into your TULIP theology. I really want to know, not being sarcastic?

  78. Ok, labelers. Find out what you might really be here.

  79. My Dear Echo.

    Wow. Man, you really claim to know me and my ministry well, but the sad fact is that you are DEAD wrong. Ugh. Where to begin? I atttended a 4-year Christian college and received a double Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Pastoral Ministries where I was taught cessationism, and the typical brand of eschatology popular with evangelicals today. I don’t beleive either, because of the Scripture. As the years go by, and I study the Bible, many former doctrines have fallen by the wayside, but, of course, how would you know any of this, right? If I started listing all the ways my theology has evolved, it would make your Calvinist head spin.

    I LOVE the book of Romans. I LOVE the book of Ephesians. I preach and teach election and predestination passages with intensity and zeal. One of my favorite passage of Scripture is in Jeremiah, where God says, “Before you were born, I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” GREAT stuff. Almighty God has put us here on earth for a purpose in our generation. Can I get a witness?

    Here’s the difference. I ALSO preach “God is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL come to repentance” with gusto. I talk about the heart of Jesus, when he wept over Jerusalem saying, “How I longed to gather you in my arms, but you WOULD NOT.” I let the congregation know that Jesus died for the sins OF THE WHOLE WORLD, and that “for God so loved THE WORLD” that He gave His one and only Son.” I tell them that to be saved they must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    I don’t see it as my mission to reconcile to full satisfaction both truths: predestination and free will. The Bible teaches both. How does that logically play out? I don’t fully understand that. And there are some things we won’t fully understand until we see Jesus face to face — and what an awesome day that will be!

    Your system claims to fully reconcile the two, and I just don’t believe it does the job. You bring your confessions and tulip to the Scripture and fail to see that sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

    As to my preaching style, I DO NOT limit myself to one homiletic choice. I preach topically, I preach biographically, I preach expositionally and I always preach what the Holy Spirit leads me to preach. I recently finished a series on the parables of Jesus, and a few months ago I preached a series on the churches in Revelation. I am currently preparing a series on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and I have taught 12-week courses several times on the Gospel of John, Philippians, and Romans.

    Two Sundays ago, I was ready to start preaching on several Psalms, when I felt strongly impresssed by the Holy Spirit to speak on Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son. I woke up on Sunday morning and told the story that Jesus told, letting the people know that God is our Perfect Dad who waits to embrace us, forgive us and throw us a party when we come to Him. Several people let me know that God spoke to their heart, and one man, who had been out of fellowship with God, prayed with me after church and re-committed his life to Christ.

    We can’t limit God to one style of preaching or teaching…we can’t be afraid to be systematic in our teaching, but we must always be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    Finally, you you continue to belittle and accuse those who don’t come to the same conclusions as you as “ignorant” and “childish”. I submit that the sign of a mature adult is one who recognizes that there are mysteries that we will not fully understand this side of heaven. If we truly grasped “all mysteries” and had “all knowledge” we would be God, wouldn’t we?

    So now I appeal to you, Echo, as a brother in Christ. Admit to your brothers and sisters that there are millions of Bible-believing Christians that don’t share your doctrinal grid who love Jesus, love Scripture, and after studying the Bible for themselves, have decided not to embrace Calvinism. This may help you with your frustration.

    We who are not Calvinists are part of the church, Jesus’ bride. One Lord, one faith, one baptism…..and one bride.

  80. RubeRad says:

    How does II Peter 2:1 fit into your TULIP theology. I really want to know, not being sarcastic?

    Matt, that’s a very good question, and a very difficult one, which I also asked, and Echo (and others) discussed over at my blog.

  81. Sermon in Spanish and English on “The Father Who Waits for Us” referenced in an earlier post.

  82. Matt S says:

    Echo seems to think that this verse (II Peter 2:1) falls into one of two categories: 1) The verse supports “L” we just do not understand the verse (we being everyone, not just non-Calvinists) 2) “L” in tulip is wrong.

    I vote for option number 2. I think the verse is clear, there is no explaining away this verse, perhaps the “L” needs to go away once and for all ( that will mess up the nice little acronym, sorry to say)

  83. I fixed the link to the theological worldview quiz. Sorry. Now you can truly let others label you again.

  84. Echo_ohcE says:


    I’m surprised that you responded exactly as I predicted, even after I predicted it. I’ve already admitted what you want me to admit. Some people are honest about the Scriptures and recognize that there are things that they don’t understand, but continue to seek to figure it out. I was saying that you are not in that category.

    But you insist that you are in that category.

    Ok. Whatever. I’ve said my peace.


  85. Ben says:


    I’m not sure I agree with you that you believe in both predestination/election and free-will. Perhaps a debate on Calvinism is not the best place for that to shine through, but it seems that you really don’t affirm election, at least not in the same way as the Bible does. Election is not the same as foreknowledge, and it’s not “group election”. Can you affirm that God elects individuals to salvation? If not, I submit you don’t believe in election/predestination. In fact, I’d argue that you overthrow the meaning of the word itself when you define it in the way you did above (foreknowledge).


    To supplement your anecdotal survey: A few folks in our church (RPCUS) have left to attend Baptist, non-denoms, etc. Though most cases were due to disagreements over church discipline, and in one case, infant baptism. So, no, I don’t know any Calvinists who have studied and gone over to the Arminian positions either.

    I do know a number of studied Arminians (though they resist the label): Albino, my dad, other members of my family. I also knew a couple “studious” Open Theists in college. But, in my contact with Christians in the several Baptist (Piper’s church aside) and non-denom churches I’ve attended, most would probably not know much about the whole debate beyond a notion of predestination.


    Please, lighten up. In fact, I would ask you to stop with the ad hominem attacks. It’s one thing to go after someone’s KNOWN suspect practices, but it’s entirely different to speculate and attack people for it. Your arguments with respect to Calvinism are many times sound, but your witness is weakened by the manner in which you have conducted those arguments (in this thread at least). As someone who knows Albino well, your accusations are completely baseless and revolting. So please, a little more Christian charity.


  86. zrim says:

    wow, lots said since friday, and lots of predictable mud-slinging at each other. that is unfortunate, to say the least, but “by the grace of God go i.” i did have some thoughts over the week end and wonder if anyone might care, since so much of this might be helped by simply recognizing the even deeper and more subtle yet very important differences. i still contend that this sort of discussion (which is soooo played) really owes to much more than calvinism verses arminianism. i would like to have this post as seen as a direct response to our dear leader, albino, as he represents a tradition i wish to put over against another.


    You have said you much to say to me. I am sure you do. I am also sure that what you will have to say will be very predictable and i will not be surprised. That is not a jab, not a way of dismissing you or putting you down by calling you predictable. Rather, it is to make it clear that i am very well acquainted with your tradition and how it thinks, the presumptions and goals it has, etc. You are in what i call the PREF tradition (pietistic-revivalistic-evangelical-fundamentalist). I know this tradition pretty well as i both converted and married into it. I have no idea you you really are, but i know you very well at the same time. You are my whole extended family, whom i love and respect and enjoy very good, familial and civil relations. My FIL is himself a PREF preacher. However, your (meaning yours and theirs together) system or tradition, i have come to believe without any doubt, is errant and not in keeping with the biblical witness. This is ironic since your tradition works very hard to convince those within and without that it represents the biblical witness without compromise; it relies on its own sense of confidence and authenticity. One tell-tale sign is its sloganeering of being the “Bible-believing group. We are the ones who simply believe in the Bible, who have a personal relationship with Jesus in our hearts and lives, who just really love the Lord and seek to do His will. We are the genuine article. We don’t accept the language of labels or systems or traditions. We are just Christians.” PREF’s don’t refer to themselves as anything but Christian because they see themselves as transcending forms, etc. It is reductionistic in this way and tends to appeal more to those who don’t want to be too bothered by a thoughtful or measured piety as that sort of thing is seen as an obstacle to true faith. Don’t get me wrong, PREF’s have some measure of intellectual impulse, but it is largely under emphasized and undervalued. PREF’s just want to get on with the program. It depends deeply on its own sincerities and confidences—a lot of willing and running. You probably have been known to champion such sentiments as “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.” Despite all the efforts in PREF to resist systems it cannot get away from having one because it is natural; the more they try to just “be real” the more they heap up the PREF system and the very externalisms they think they avoid. It is a non-system system, just like the non-denominational tradition is a denomination! It is interesting to watch PREF’s set up their own systems to which adherence is expected while at once denying anyone has to adhere to anything. It’s as system that assumes that it’s template of experientalism trumps that of confession of faith. But one can just as easily fake pious platitudes of self-disclosure in “his personal relationship with Jesus in his heart and life, how He walks with me and talks with me” as one can his recitation of the Creed or spitting back catechism answers. The question then becomes which template is really biblical: confession of truth that is wholly outside the self by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit or testimony to what happens within the self? And, no, you can’t have it both ways. That’s an American hermeneutic, not a biblical one.

    (How does one know if he is in a pietistic or confessionalist tradition? Bill Clinton was once asked a similar question about politics, namely, how do you know if you are Republican or a Democrat? He said that if you perceive the sixties as a primarily beneficial time in recent history, you are probably a Democrat; if you see it as primarily a disadvantageous time period, probably a Republican. There is a religious equivalent in analogy to determine if one is a pietist or a confessionalist. Do you perceive the phenomenon of Billy Graham as primarily beneficial or harmful? You are a pietist if the former, a confessionalist if the latter. Granted, these analogies are rather simplistic, but i think they give a nice thumbnail tool to begin making distinctions.)

    i am in what i call the CRO tradition (confessional Reformed orthodoxy). I am convinced of its utter and plainly faithful exposition of scripture. And as one who is committed to the reformed confessionalist tradition (which is inherently Augustinian-Calvinist), as one who uses these terms as to mean being synonymous with the biblical witness, as one who maintains what DG Hart has dubbed “the absolute intolerance of Presbyterianism,” and as one who considers those who in any way reject these heads of doctrines to be rejecting the faithful exposition of holy scripture, i also do not think that the best of said tradition is represented by the neurotic need to make everyone like us. There is a difference between “making everyone like us” and faithful and good witnessing, evangelizing and missions. I contend that ours is predominantly, and once again that which reflects what naturally arises from the infallible Word of God, a tradition mainly of nurture of the covenant people of God (read nurture to mean: comfort, rebuke, teaching, reproof, guidance, etc.–all the things a natural father does for his children our tradition does for us) and most decidedly not a an over-zealously evangelical one, or one that seeks to convert the world in a ham-fisted, awkward zealotry. Such efforts i would leave to your tradition. Where we seek to perpetuate the faith via the inheritance of the covenant children, through baptism, catechatical instruction, regular week-day and sabbath worship, the rituals of word and sacrament, profession of faith and confirmation of faith by taking a seat at the Table alongside seasoned saints, your tradition emphasizes those “far off” and external to the covenant, and seeks to gain more converts by any means necessary. This is part of why i find it odd amongst those here who claim the reformed confessionalist tradition to behave not like confessionalists so defined but more like those from your tradition. PREF’s ought to act like PREF’s, but CRO’s ought to act more like CRO’s. Your tradition is typically ill at ease by the fact that those different from you actually exist in the world, and take it upon individual selves (contra a CRO emphasis on churchly officers to do this work) to convince those from other traditions some of the finer points of ours, namely Calvinism. But Calvinism isn’t the end all be all of our confessionalist tradition; it’s only one part of it. It is absolute and closed doctrine to us and indisputable inasmuch as it the biblical witness. Is it perfect? No, but it is the best expression of revelation on earth. I find it as odd to be debating he doctrine of total depravity or grace or free will as it is to debate the very existence of God or the historicity of the Resurrection. If PREF’s don’t accept these doctrines they are most certainly rejecting the doctrines of revelation. But the world is full of folks who reject the teachings of the Bible in all sorts of varying degrees; non-Christians who reject the truth with wide swipes or Christians who deny finer points. (This is not to suggest you are not Christian—i know, that is a tape running through your PREF head because it’s your own PREF tradition that tells you that anyone who rejects YOUR finer points within YOUR system, from theology proper to more secondary issues that are the stuff of Christian liberty, that they are likely not a Christian. So let me make clear how CRO zigs where PREF zags in that regard.) But one cannot go to bed every night with dirty sandals—one must at some point shake the dust from them and rest in the grace of God. If you want to reject the teachings of God, fine. I lose a lot more sleep over whether my own covenant children will turn in grateful response to God’s grace and embrace personally all they have been baptized into and instructed in! If you ask me, that’s being a truer CRO than worrying about whether or not some dude calling himself Albino Hayford on the web embraces true biblical doctrines or even can be credulous enough to accept the Arminian collar. You have heard the biblical witness clearly enough and have once again chosen to reject it. My sandals are clean.

    This may sound to my reformed confessional brethren as to promote a low view of evangelism or missions or even apologetics. Far from it. Those are necessary components of what Jesus told us to do and they must be done. My contention is that they must be done as informed by our tradition (which again, is to mean to say, as the Bible commands). In other words, these things must be done well. Ours does and PREF does not. So when my fellow confessionally Reformed brethren act like PREF’s i am disturbed. PREF’s have dominated Protestant American religion and we CRO’s think we must think/act/speak like PREF’s if we are to be considered to be doing evangelism, etc. well. But it’s just untrue. An all too common mistake is that we appear to under emphasize evangelism of the outsider because of our Calvinistic doctrines of predestination or election—that’s not true Calvinism but hyper-Calvinism. We do so because we tend to emphasize the nurture of our covenant children in order for the Faith to perpetuate. We don’t have to start acting like PREF’s in order to prove we value evangelism. It’s just that we value covenantal nurture more. Most heads in pews are there because they were born into it. Granted, this tends to be more out of what i would consider a residual and faint understanding of our tradition by our circles. Sadly, coupled up with the fact that we have inherited a system so characterized and not understood it is a tidal wave of PREF’ism that charges a laxity for evangelism. The result is a confessional community that thinks it must start being more revivalistic in order to prove it values evangelism. But this seems like a penguin thinking it has to prove it’s a bird to all the other birds by using its wings in an alien fashion. Awkwardness and oddity are two words that come to mind.



  87. zrim says:

    let me also add that in my experience most PREF’s don’t act/think/speak as poorly as their tradition, namely their fundy impulse that rigidly separates the “saved” from the “lost” and ascribes the former as being those who have all the answers and the latter as those who have “nothing but evil flowing in their veins,” would demand.

    i find most of you to be good people who actually do understand a broader regard for things than their rigid fundy’ism makes it. as albino shows in some of his final remarks, not all things have been rationally “figured out” and there is a clear place at the table for mystery. see, his fundy’ism doesn’t have a strangelhold on him! 🙂 friendly barb there! we all do belong to the one faith, but some of us have clearly discerned the scriptures far better than others. i know that makes those who have not feel like that is a personal jab or something, but it isn’t. it is to at once manintain a clear emphasis on orthodoxy and what is plainly right while also trying to maintain christian charity and liberty. i am convinced that the best of CRO does this, no matter how poorly her constituents practice it!


  88. Alex says:

    stop assuming you know people. To prove how dangerous this can be I assumed you were a man in his 60’s, retired, living in Florida plagued by the memories of all the years you were picked on in grade school. Boy was I wrong. My father-in-law and Mother-in-law said you attend their church and you actually are a great guy. Glad to hear I was wrong.

    I have a question for you Echo, can studying the Word actually become an Idol?

    Our goal as Christians is to be more Christ-like and based on the life of Christ he had compassion on the lost. He didn’t have to give up his morals and standards to “dine with sinners” he didn’t have to lay his theology aside in order to stick up for the prostitute. Based on your reasoning to study the Word,to work on the sin in my own personal life and to better understand my theology, Jesus should have just locked himself in a room with the Pharisees and Saduceeds and grilled them to make sure their theology was up to par. That to me is what is so frustrating. He spent a whole lot of time sharing the Gospel, healing sinners and explaning to his disciples who He really is. I know this may be hard to even fathom but there are actually people living in the 21st century who have not even heard the name Jesus. That means that with the amount of biblical knowledge you have you could very effectively minister to unbelievers. That includes me and I haven’t even stepped foot into a seminary.

    I leave with this challenge to you Echo, Bruce, Rube, Zrim and all you “non-Evangies” out there,
    What are you doing with all of your knowledge? Is it all about gaining knowledge for yourself and your family or do you see the need to spread the Gospel to unbelievers?

    Based on what I’ve read, all 4 of you could do some serious damage spreading the Gospel to unbelievers. One thing is for sure, some of you guys have plenty to say.=)

  89. Matt S says:

    I still have not recieved a response to my question regarding II Peter 2:1

    I hear from you 5 pointers that when you come across a scripture that does not fit your theology, you change your theology.

    So I will assume that you are all in reality 4 Point Calvinists going by the acronym TUIP

    Glad to be of service…

  90. RubeRad says:

    Matt, I guess you missed it but I said that the specific question of II Peter 2:1 has already been discussed at great length here, so if you want Echo’s “answer”, you can find it there — I don’t see why he should have to type it all again (although he doesn’t seem to mind typing…)

  91. zrim says:

    what am i doing with all my knowledge? thanks for assuming i even have some!

    seriously, your question once again shows a classic PREF bias. and you can have that bias, that’s fine, because you are (ithink?) a PREF: that all things can be singulalry measured by how much high-octane evangelism i am doing and doing it by the PREF rule book. your system underemphasizes my CRO ethic, which emphasizes the covenental nurture of my children/family. sorry. no, i do not spend time and energy witnessing to everything from people to paperclips. and i make no apology for that, not one iota. think about this: how many times in a given week can you really have any meanginful time witnessing to unbelievers? not much, unless you awkwardly force it. add to this the reality that most of them could care less. now, consider the fact that when you regulalry/daily instruct your children and lead your family in daily worship at home you do so not only every day but with those who are both very maleable/willing (well, let’s not gloriy ourselves–kids are not always willing!!), or at least impressionable, to say nothing of the fact that this is a biblical command.

    your PREF assumptions clealry zig where my CRO ethics do. what i would ask is that you don’t judge my ethics/actions by your rules. i could ask how often your worship and instruct your covenant children. and if you are like the PREF’s i know you likely will say that you hav eno idea what i am talking about since catchism sounds positively catholic and home worship just plain weird; you probably ship them off to awana every wednesday or disparate bible verse memorization (yes, i used to be an awana leader). my criticizing that would be inappropriate, since you are a PREF.

    what else am i doing with my knowledge? oh, i don’t know, keeping the sabbath via that principle good work called public worship (contra PREF notions of a myriad of good works that even pagans can do), pressing on in my ofice as deacon, abiding in the covenantal law in my six days of labor. but i am sure that is all way too boring and not quite relevant enough to cultural transformers and high-octane evangelizers.


  92. zrim says:

    oh, and alex, i would say that yes the bible can most assuredly become an idol. without a doubt. take the classic PREF exercise of bible toting, where they brag about how well-worn their bibles are to show just how pious they are, how much they “just love the Lord and His word.” they might even get little bible protectors to show how much they care about it. like Jack VI and the Pharisees, they know all the books backwards and forwards but have virtually no understanding of it. folks can study and study and study and have all the verses memorized their awana leader throws at them. but ask them to knit it all together and give a plain interpretation of things and they go blank or show just how thoroughly cornfused they really are. they might even tell you there is this thing called a rapture (or, as i call it, a bible ghost story to be told around bible camp campfires in order to scare the tar out of the youngin’s and scare them into being good doobies and not drink beer or vote democratically in case jesus come sback and “leaves them behind” for their evilosity).

    yeah, it sure can be a big, fat idol.


  93. rzim,

    Very interesting and revealing commentary. I think somewhere in that dissertation you did manage to say that we are all part of Christ’s body, the church, and, as such are your brothers, right? Reformed people really struggle to admit that sometimes, but I think I kind of picked that implication up. lol…

    You and Echo are perfectly illustrating why labels are so unhelpful. Every new attempt to pigeon-hole me continues to disappoint. When people ask me if I am “charismatic”, I always answer, “It depends what you mean by that label.” The same with “pentecostal”, “fundamentalist”, etc. To give you an example, being called “fundamentalist” brings a smile to my face, because it conjurs up images of Bob Jones and Jerry Fallwell in my head. Do I fit that profile? Not so much.

    The three reformed bloggers here who actually know me are Bruce, Reuben and Ben, and all three of them would also concur that you have missed the mark in your assumptions about me and my ministry.

    But your comments do shed a lot of light on your attitude toward people who don’t share your doctrinal grid. You come across and condescending, superior and elitist, much like many Christians in the “Holy Spirit Baptism” camp do when talking to cessationists. That’s wrong as well.

    If I were to respond to you, rzim, with my surface observations about reformed, confessional Calvinists, it would be that they are largely interested in sitting in smoke-filled rooms, buried in books, searching for the perfect doctrinal grid, singing only hymns that have “stood the test of time” — and I do mean TIME!, mainly disinterested in getting dirty in the trenches and reaching the lost with the Gospel. Seated on the sidelines, wine in hand, they criticize and carp at evangelists (“They don’t use the correct formula”, “They don’t have perfect doctrine”) who are actually out in the streets “imploring men and Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God.” Then, after other groups bust their tails in reaching out to the lost, and have success bringing in lost sheep, they grab up the converts and convince them that there is a “more perfect doctrine”, stealing them right out of the churches that brought them to Christ in the first place.

    That is the picture that you paint to many outside your groups. Is it largely a caricature and unfair picture? OF COURSE! But you are doing the same thing here to the other side.

    I find your ink-blot test of whether Billy Graham has had a mostly positive or negative impact disturbing. I’m guessing you’re not a big fan of Billy Graham. That reveals more about you.

    Rube, I do have friends who left reformed churches when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and their pastors could neither explain nor understand their fresh boldness to share their faith and new giftings in their lives. I’ll see if I can get them to chime in here. I also have some friends who bailed out on reformed churches because, according to them, they got tired of “boring worship and hungered for music written in their own lifetime.”

    I have more to say but I’m still very tired from church yesterday and I have a deacon meeting to prepare for tomorrow.

    One body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism….the bride of Christ.

  94. Matt S says:


    check your arrogance at the door, you do not have a “better”, “more inspired”, or “more sophisticated” understanding of the Bible, you have YOUR understanding. (at least I hope it is yours and some dead guy’s that you adopted) Just like I have mine. You are no more right than anyone else. Stop assuming you have everything figured out, and the rest of us are walking around in a fog.

    And answer my question above about the L in Tulip

  95. zrim says:

    oh, somebody stop me with all my serious damage i am doing as i spread the evil calvinist gospel to unbelievers–er, i mean to my children! those poor kids. they actually believe God saves them and not themselves.

    alex, i know you are quite worried about the fact that we awful CRO’s share the same world and church that you do. there are even christians called roman catholics and eastern orthodox! gasp! what shall we do? oh, the damage we are all doing. seriously though, the more you get comfortable with your own tradition the less fretting you will do. sure, i would prefer PREF’s were substantially less…but they aren’t. grin and bear it. take a cue from we CRO’s and rest in the truth. i don’t expect PREF’s to act like CRO’s. it’s when CRO’s act like PREF’s that my panties get into a bunch…or when PREF’s judge me for not being a PREF.

    ok, now i am done having a lot to say.


  96. Alex says:

    Thanks Zrim for your insight. Sorry to not fit your mold. It may have struck a nerve if it was even remotely close to who I am.

    FYI, One of my absolute favorite things to do is pick up my guitar and worship God or read stories straight from the Bible with my kids in the living room of my home. I absolutely Love it!!! I love the way kid’s worship. They don’t require a specific translation or limit their expressions of worship of God to Hymns. They just love God!!!!!

    1At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

  97. itsasecret2u says:


    I will later, I’m sure, be very sorry I involved myself in this conversation at all, but I have to ask. Has it ever occurred to you that you assume too much? You think you know every “non-reformed” person, inside and out, because your extended family is “PREF.” You assume we are into high-octane evangelism, that we care more for making converts than nurturing our families, and that we study the Bible but have no understanding of it whatsoever. These are pretty sweeping generalizations, don’t you think?

    Do you think evangelism has any place in the modern world? Do you suppose that God only places the elect in families of reformed people because, after all, only there will a person get all of the nurturing and training they need? Do you think God has chosen ones throughout the world who only need to hear the Gospel they’ve never heard before? What do you say about those who did not have proper training growing up but now serve faithfully? I’m honestly asking you these questions because I clearly don’t understand your view of evangelism and what we, as individuals, are called to do.

  98. zrim says:

    matt, no more right than anyone else? what the heck does that mean? so, all paths lead to God? no? it is typical that some allow for liberality within the confines of christianity but they disallow it in wider religious conversations. one can say calvinism is right, but so is arminianism. but, not so fast mr. hindu! please. yes, some systems are just better than others. christianity is “better” (read: true) than any other religion and certain expression of it within are better (read: better at exacting the truth) than others. so when my unbelieving family and friends call me arrogant, like you do, when i say the only way is Christ, all i can do is say here i satnd, i can do no other. same for when fellow christians such as yourself still resist the teachings of God as seen in our forms. i can’t easily locate your question about the L in tulip, sorry. probably whatever rube says will do. but you miss my point here: i don’t have any need to debate your in the finer points of calvinism. likely you will simply disagree with whatever i say. but that is expected, so what’s the point? MY point is to try and trace out perhaps why you (or albino) depart from conventional calvinism, not the merit or demerits of calvinism proper. my liberal father rejects the resurrection about as predictabley as you PREF’s deny the finer points of calvinism. i have given up on my dad, so to speak. he knows the arguments, and you know those of calvinism. you both reject certain essential tenets of orthodoxy…what can i do about it that God hasn’t yet?

    and, albino, i truly do not know what else to say. i did my level best to help show where some differences lie and to explain them as objectively as i could. it was not good enough for you. it was just plain arrogant and filled with bias, blahblahblah. here is one intersting dimension though: i spent the first few years of faith in your PREFy circles. my eyes and ears were wide open an di tried to get it. i spent time honestly trying to ID with it in all earnestness and honesty. i rejected it. how much honest time have you spent in confessional circles honestly trying to get it, to ID with it? my guess is not much more than from a distance in your clinical seminary, textbook exercises. you likely work from caricature and have never had any honest and real time really trying to get it. i know what i reject/embrace from experience…do you? my attempt to actually defend your tradition went right over your head, it appears; part of my point was to say we simply have different systems and when you speak you are being consistent with yours. oh, and yes, to be plain, if you are like my PREF family i would consider you brethren. just a very misguided one like my Roman Catholic brethren, but brethren nevertheless.

    matt, yes, my system is one inherited by a dead guy–and a guy named calvin helped systematize it. i will leave it to you to connect those dots. again, though, your words betray what is inherent in PREF: the individual is the final arbitrator of truth when you juxtapose inheriting a system instead of knitting together myself as i sit on a hill somewhere deciding for myself what the bible teaches.


    nasty, old curmedgeon zrim

  99. Matt S says:

    “everyone else” is in reference to believing christians on this blog that dont share your views, not all other religions, come on get real.

    My question to you is if I want to become a 5 point calvinist how do I reconcile II Peter 2:1? What does it do for you “limited atonement” branch?

    Take a crack, don’t be scared!

  100. Matt S says:

    Rube is having a problem with the verse, I hear he is going to become a 4 point calvinist. So what say you? 🙂

  101. Matt S says:

    The best you can do is say you don’t have to debate the finer points of calvinism? This is one of the main 5 points! You would rather spend your time trying to tear down my theology than plug the gaping whole in yours. whatever.

  102. zrim says:

    hi, secret.

    i hear ya. that is the drawback to these darned blogs: trying to convey oneself is like tryin got carry 10 lbs of @#$% in a 5 lb bag (sorry if that was too close to blue language for anyone). you make a valid and fair point about assuming too much. that point always rings in my ears when i have this conversation…because it’s such a good one. my answer? well, i did try to make the point that many PREF’s don’t act as badly as their system demands, as well trying to make th epoint that there is a difference between a system and a perosn. that seems importnat to me. of course, just as God doesn’t send our sin to hell but us (contra the inane phrase “God hates sin but loves sinners”), we must take personal responsibility for our systems. also, yes, these are gneralizations. but that is what a generalization is. it doesn’t mean it is true for every single perosn in that group, of course. but, taken generally, it gets to something truthful.

    do i think evangelism has any place in the world? please read me again. i say that honestly. if you read me to say it has no place you have completely missed some points i was directly making. my larger points have to do with *emphasis*. of course it has a place! i tithe to missiological causes. my wife tends to misunderstand and guffaws at missions. i try to make it clear to her that we ought not despise such endeavors and seek its promotion. that’s not the point though. please don’t mistake what i am saying for some errent hyper-calvinism. if your questions are honest, and i think they are, please read me again. i would add that CRO has an emphasis on churchly means by which to evangelize. it is the work of the church’s officers to do this work, not laity. does this preclude me from conversing with co-workers, family or friends? not at all. but God has ordained not those endeavors but His Church’s officers.

    hoping that begins to help,


  103. RubeRad says:



  104. zrim says:

    matt, come on now. if you can deny the doctrine of total depravity on what ground can you tell a hindu he is wrong? that disingenuous. biblical truth is biblical truth, both in and outside the church.

    ok, i have 2 peter 2:1 in front of me, but i am not immediately seeing your point. what’s the problem exactly? i have to go home now to catechize my kids, so don’t take my silence for the rest of the evening as to ignore thee.

    i should say that generally speaking i do follow a reformed hermeneutic that dictates that scripture interprets scripture. i am not a biblicist, not given to letting one verse unravel a whole biblical theology or systematic theology. my PREF MIL tries all the time to dismantle my calvinism by barking out a verse or two.


  105. Matt s says:

    I never said I disagree with Total Depravity. I am only contending Limited Atonement is not biblical.

    The verse says the Lord bought the false teachers and prophets. Seems that he died for those who are not elect.

  106. Matt s says:

    Thanks rube, I read through most of it and could not find any legimate answer.

    Maybe you can tell me the post # that explains the verse to me.

  107. Matt s says:

    What I can gather is “Master” does not refer to Jesus and “bought” is not redemptive. Does that summarize the stance?

  108. Alex says:

    Zrim, I guess it’s time to “take your ball and go home.” Write us off as just a bunch of wacky emotional evangies like it sounds like you did with your family.

  109. RubeRad says:

    Zrim, the question about II Peter 2:1 is this: how can Limited Atonement be squared with the statement that non-elect false prophets/teachers are said to have been “bought by the Master”? The fact that they are non-elect comes from the rest of the chapter, but II Peter 2:1 is the specific verse that contains the words “bought” and “Master”.

    Matt: The shortest possible answer seems to be that unusual Greek word choice and context dictate that “Master”, although it does refer to God (and Jesus in particular), uses a greek word that implies more like Lord in the earthly King/Noble sense than in the Divine sense. And more importantly, the Greek word used for “bought”, especially without “with/by his blood” is not talking about “redeemed/atoned”.

    And so, at one point Echo says “Yes, folks, this is why we baptize babies”. The point being that everybody in the visible church has in a lesser sense been “bought” by Christ. I say lesser, because “bought” does not necessarily mean “redeemed/atoned/justified/elect”.

    Infant baptism is an outward recognition that redemption through faith is promised. But no actual redemption occurs at the time of baptism. Depending on election, the infant may or may not grow up and have saving faith. But in the meantime, the infant has been “bought” into the visible church.

    The false profession of faith of the non-elect is also an outward recognition that redemption through faith is promised. But no actual redemption occurs at the time of false profession. Or ever. And in the meantime (during this earthly life), the false-professor has nonetheless been “bought” into the visible church.

    But any way you slice it, if U (Unconditional Election) and P (Perseverence of the Saints) are true, then II Pet 2:1 cannot mean that the false prophets were ever actually redeemed, atoned for, had their sins forgiven. Although the call of the gospel is universal, there is no actual atonement for any but the elect, because saving faith is only given to the elect. Many are called, but few are chosen.

  110. RubeRad says:

    What I can gather is “Master” does not refer to Jesus and “bought” is not redemptive. Does that summarize the stance?

    We were typing at the same time! See above, you are very close; “Master” actually does refer to Jesus, but “bought” is not redemptive. I’m not sure I can explain any further, because it would require me to know greek, and probably it would require me to know greek quite fluently.

  111. The easier and more obvious answer here, Rube, is that Jesus died for everybody. This is what I mean about straining to keep that grid from warping.

  112. Matt S says:

    Geez this hard for me to wrap my brain around!

    I do not believe that Jesus’ act on the Cross redeemed, atoned, or forgave anyone. I think the act gave the opportunity for EVERYONE to recieve His forgiveness, atonement, redemption.

    Those that believe on His promise then are the ones who recieve redemption, ie. are elect.

    The difficult part for me comes when you say Christ only died for the elect. He died for EVERYONE, the elect are those who recieve the gift (salvation, redemption, atonement, etc…) that His death produces.

    It is not that Jesus death on the cross did not cover the sins of the world, it did, but not every man on earth will recieve the gift because they will not believe.

  113. RubeRad says:

    I do not believe that Jesus’ act on the Cross redeemed, atoned, or forgave anyone. I think the act gave the opportunity for EVERYONE to recieve His forgiveness, atonement, redemption.

    That is a major difference, which puts you squarely in the Arminian camp on this point. Over on this side of the fence, we believe something actually happened on the cross. All of the sins ever committed by the elect were forgiven. Redemption was Accomplished. During the lifetimes of the elect, the Holy Spirit caused regeneration, administered faith, secured justification… redemption was Applied. (the distinction of Redemption Accomplished and Applied thanks to the classic book by John Murray). This also means that all of the OT elect who had expressed their faith by sacrificing bulls and goats which pointed forward to Christ, were actually forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice, not by the bulls and goats.

    Given that the elect have even their future sins paid for — does that mean we can do as we please? Paul emphatically answers no in many times and many ways in Romans.

    In short, the Calvinist side does understand the difference between redemption being paid for at the cross, and applied during the lives of the elect. But to say that Jesus paid for the sins of the non-elect is nonsense. If the sins are paid for, then they are clean! This leads to universalism.

  114. RubeRad says:

    This is what I mean about straining to keep that grid from warping.

    My strain comes from other parts of the Bible. At least I haven’t let my personal experience of free will warp my doctrine of Total Depravity…

    Here’s a question: did Jesus death obtain potential forgiveness for Pharaoh, even though Pharaoh had already demonstrated that he was a vessel prepared for destruction and had been dust for over 1000 years?

  115. Matt S says:

    In regards to Atonement, Arminian I shall be. We will agree to disagree

  116. What about “Albinian”, Matt? Become my first convert/disciple. No one is looking around. We’re not here to embarrass anyone.

  117. RubeRad says:

    For Matt to be Albinian, you would need to change your theology so that the Albinian label means “four-point Calvinist”. I for one think that’s a great idea!

  118. Thanks to the hundreds of you who have made this thread your home away from home. Your traffic broke records and launched me into number 23 in the fastest growing blog category as well.

  119. Matt s says:

    All heads bowed and eyes closed….. I see that hand over in corner, God bless you……

  120. Matt s says:

    Here is a question:

    In Isaiah 53:5-6 what are the pronouns referring to? The Jews? The Elect? All Mankind?

    5But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

    6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to his own way;
    and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

  121. Echo_ohcE says:

    By “limited atonement,” it might actually surprise you to discover, we do not mean that in some sense, the promise of the gospel isn’t held out to all mankind. For all mankind, it is true that if you repent and believe the gospel, then you will be saved. This is absolutely true and correct with no qualifications. This does not make me an Arminian.

    For our doctrine of total depravity (i.e. being dead in our sins – what does it mean to be dead in our sins?) tells us that we cannot and will not, thanks to our sinful nature, repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, because by nature, we hate Christ and his gospel, because by nature, that is, the sinful nature inherited from Adam, we hate God. That is what sin is, a manifestation of hatred toward God and resentment toward him. James said that even friendship with the world is enmity toward God. You might colorfully translate this as “open warfare” toward God. Our sin has declared war on God. We hate him and we want his throne for ourselves. That’s the sinful nature of our heart, so of course we won’t repent and put our trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, because that would mean submitting to God, and submitting to Scripture.

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    Paul here confirms precisely what I just said. if you disagree, bring your objection. Otherwise, consider admitting that the Bible says that we are unable, because unwilling, to submit to God, and therefore to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.

    Nonetheless, it is true that for all mankind, if you repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, you will be saved. Of course, this implies that the gospel only applies to those who repent and believe it. So Jesus’ sacrifice, while held out to all mankind, doesn’t do ANY GOOD WHATSOEVER for those who do not believe.

    Unfortunately, no one is able to repent and believe, just like we aren’t able to obey the law. So now what?

    Now we cry and feel sorry for ourselves, because we have no hope for salvation in ourselves.

    But wait! Along comes the Spirit, who breathes the breath of life into us, namely faith, and by this faith, we are enabled to repent and believe. Presto!

    Ah, but the Spirit only gives this faith to whom he wishes to give it, and Paul says that it comes through the preaching of the Word, which the Spirit uses in our hearts to create faith in us.

    But the Spirit doesn’t do this to/for everyone who hears the Word, because of course there are non-Christians in church who hear the preaching every week. So it’s not just hearing the Word preached that brings faith, that preaching has to be accompanied by the work of the Spirit in our hearts.

    So while the promise of the gospel is held out to everyone, it is only effectual (meaning, it only actually benefits) for those who have been given faith by God. In other words, if you don’t have faith by which you repent and believe, the cross is of no value to you.

    Gal 5:2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

    So for those who are trying to be justified by the law, Christ is of no value to them, that those people, precisely because of what they believe.

    So as it turns out, what you believe has an effect on whether or not Christ’s sacrifice is of any value to you.

    But it just so happens that we believe that what we believe is affected by the work of the Spirit, that’s all.

    But we are perfectly content to say that the sacrifice of Christ is of no value to those who do not believe. Now if you honestly have a problem with that, I don’t really know what to say to you.

    Remember, we also say that Christ’s sacrifice is held out to the whole world. Just repent and believe, and all this could be yours. True of everyone.

    But unbelievers refuse to repent and believe. They reject Christ, therefore Christ is of no value to them, as the Scripture says.

    Well, we just add another step to this, saying that those who believe have actually been given faith by God, they didn’t create it themselves. No problem here. Very Scriptural.

    When it says in 2 Pet 2:1 that these false prophets, who are in the church, meaning members of the churchh, reject their master who bought them, it’s not hard to figure out what’s being said.

    Jesus laid down his life for his people, the church. That means everyone in the church, whether elect or not. I know, this seems to rail against everything you’ve ever thought limited atonement meant, but it’s true. It’s what the Bible says.

    That is who he purchased with his blood. And of course, they hear that every week in the sermon. The promises of the gospel are spoken to them, held out for them.

    Contrast that to someone who was an Aztec in 500 AD. Never heard the gospel. Meant nothing to him. Sorry, but Jesus didn’t die for that guy. It was still true of that guy that IF he repented and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ, he could have been saved. But the fact is, he didn’t even have an opportunity to believe, because he never heard. He didn’t even have an opportunity for the blood of Christ to cover him and atone for his sins.

    The fact of the matter is, the blood of Christ actually only pays the debt of those who believe. It only WORKS for those who believe. That’s ALL we’re saying.

    You guys are saying that the gospel is held out to all people, well, we agree with that! We really do! We don’t deny that at all! Sometimes we might forget that, but we do believe it. Repent and believe and you will be saved. Spread it to everyone in the world, because it’s for them.

    But hearing this message takes place in the church primarily. And so it is very appropriate to consider church members to be in a different group of people than those outside the church, such as the Aztec. Those inside the church hear the words of the gospel, hear the promises, and can then act on them as they choose, according to whether or not the Spirit is at work in them. But those outside the church never hear the gospel. If they don’t hear it, the promise, while technically held out to them, never reaches their ears.

    When those who are in the church die, the question becomes, does Jesus’ blood pay for their sins, or do they pay for their sins in hell forever? If Jesus blood pays, then they don’t go to hell. If it doesn’t pay, they go to hell.

    So true believers don’t go to hell, because this belief obtains Christ’s blood as payment for their sins.

    IN 2 Pet 2:1, you can say that Christ bought them, because they’re in the church. But ultimately, that price was not effectual for them. It didn’t do them any good. It was of no value to them, because it doesn’t actually atone for their sins.

    Unless you believe that when they go stand before God, all their sins will be forgiven except their unbelief. If you want to say that, I guess you could, but I think Scripture is pretty clear that God will judge everything we have done in this life. The unbeliever who has been raised in church, who has been purchased and is one of God’s people, who nevertheless doesn’t really believe because he isn’t elect and the Spirit never regenerates him – such a man will pay for his sins forever in hell. All his sins. None of his sins are forgiven. If his sins are not forgiven, then they aren’t atoned for. Atonement necessarily leads to forgiveness.

    All you guys who argue against limited atonement are really arguing against something you really do believe, it’s just a matter of us and you having different categories.

    The only people who actually don’t believe in what we call limited atonement are the universalists, who think everyone goes to heaven. If you don’t believe that, you believe in what we call limited atonement, even though you might not like that language, because you believe that the number of people whose sins will be forgiven is limited. that’s really all we’re saying.


  122. Matt s says:


    That is all I wanted to hear all along, Christ’s sacrifice is held out to all mankind.

  123. RubeRad says:

    Amen! Many are called, but few are chosen. And without revelation of who exactly is chosen or not chosen, we are called (Calvinists and Arminians together) to extend the call of the gospel to ALL men. We plant, we water, but God brings increase. Christ is raised, and draws all men to Himself, and those who the Father gives to the Son, the Son will never cast out. For this is the will of the Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and the Son will raise him up on the last day.

    While it is true that there exists atonement only for the elect, that truth is of very little use to us, except that L helps to make a memorable acronym. The better term, Effectual Atonement, is of use to the Christian to reinforce his Assurance. Christ’s atonement is not merely potential, and contingent on our faith, but it is guaranteed Effectual for all the elect, and that guarantee is backed up by the election of Sovereign God.

  124. While it is true that there exists atonement only for the elect

    That is precisely where we differ. I believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world, but only those who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved. You can dress up limited atonement in a new outfit, but in the end, it’s still limited atonement.

    Put another way, can you walk up to a stranger and tell them “Jesus loves you so much that He died for you?” There’s a real ink-blot test.

  125. Alex says:

    I must admit, that last post was articulated nicely. We do agree. I must admit TUEIP just doesn’t sound as nice.

  126. zrim says:

    alex, you sure did miss a lot of what i was saying when you charged me with taking my ball and going home in some sort of a huff. what i said was i was going home for the evening. i don’t blog at home (no internet) and had spent enough time at work in this conversation. that’s all. so, i am back.

    and i don’t “write off” PREF’s. i have simply articulated some of the differences between our traditions. i know what i both embrace and reject. that i don’t spend inordinate amounts of time trying to make PREF’s CRO’s does not mean i have dissed PREF’s. like i said, i used to be a PREF. and it took some time to actually be able to swallow the stuff of confessionalism (more specifically calvinism). i didn’t come to it overnight. it took time to exchange my arminian views for calvinist ones.

    one of the reasons i am avoiding getting itno the specifc discussion over the finer points of calvinism versus other systems is that i don’t feel a need to do the job others are much better at doing. how’s that for some humility? second, i have always found thatthose who differ from my calvinist views usually have their heels as dug in as mine and it gets to be a head-banging experience; folks know and understand more or less the calvinist views, and simply reject them. fine. it’s not my job to fix whatever ails them. third, and again, it is not my larger point, which i am beginning to sense just isn’t appreciated since heads continue to be down and plugged into that age-old back and forth between calvinists and others. my contribution here is to try and examine larger themes, subtler dimensions that we are not always aware of.

    i will say this though about the limited atonement dimension: as expected, rube does an absolutely fine job of articulating our calvinist view just above. nice work, rube. i think it was horton who once quoted someone else who said, “God has elected His chosen people, but He keeps electing.” now, there are some holes in such logic, i think, but i appreciate what is being said here, namely that we have no idea who is elect and who isn’t. some elect have not been born yet! God does indeed hold out the Gospel to ALL flesh. and we should be careful to avoid the horrible rrors of the hyper-calvinists who diminish the work of preaching liberally the gospel, depending upon election as if it is some sort of magic that works apart from the speech of men. horrible stuff.

    so, here i am with my ball again, alex. sorry that other more important duties called me away. but, much as you might like to tag me a huffy 4-year-old, thereby diminishing the credibility of anything i might want to contribute, i am not sure what you might have to say about my reappearance here. and, if i elect at some point to just go it will be because i sense i am not a useful contributor and that my suggestions and ideas just are not perceived as helpful to anyone. i won’t feel too bad if that is the case since i find that most of american cult and culture seems rather disinterested in the pietist/confessionalists categories anyway (check out jason stellman’s blog, de regnis duobus cult, for a forum that in fact does. he’s a presby pastor). folks would rather talk about how to save the world or self improve or even how calvinism is either the end all be all or the most evil system on earth.


  127. zrim says:

    oh, i would be remiss to not suggest a little book by cornelius venema that was pivotal to me in really shedding my arminianism for calvinism. it’s called the…ugh…now i am blanking…shoot…i think it was something like “the exposition on the canons of dordt.” there was much more literature to my understanding, but this one was so helpful.

    and, yes, echo also did a nice job above. good work, echo.


  128. RubeRad says:

    That is precisely where we differ. I believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world, but only those who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved. You can dress up limited atonement in a new outfit, but in the end, it’s still limited atonement.

    I believe that Jesus died for the sins of all who call on the Name of the Lord. We only see “potential atonement” from our temporal perspective. Anyone who has faith will be atoned. Because anyone who has faith was given that faith by God, who elected to give it to him. So once again, where we precisely differ is really only on Unconditional double-election (vs. foreknown election of a category).

    Put another way, can you walk up to a stranger and tell them “Jesus loves you so much that He died for you?” There’s a real ink-blot test.

    Do I need to? Which book of the bible contains the greatest (only) examples of gospel sermons? How many times does the word “love” occur in that book?

    Why would I just walk up to a stranger and tell them that Jesus died for them? Why would they care? Died for what?

    Hey, it’s been fun, but I have a lot of work to catch up on. I’ll try (not) to peek in from time to time. This thread has gotten very long and cumbersome though — maybe you can find a way to refocus and start a new post?

    And I’m still waiting to hear whether Jesus died for Pharaoh’s sins…

  129. Bruce S. says:

    can you walk up to a stranger and tell them “Jesus loves you so much that He died for you?”


    Ps 5:4-6
    You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
    with you the wicked cannot dwell.
    The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
    you hate all who do wrong.
    You destroy those who tell lies;
    bloodthirsty and deceitful men
    the LORD abhors.

    Your unbiblical POV says that man’s negative decision turns away God’s (default) love. The biblical POV says that Christ’s propitiation turns away God’s wrath (only for the elect).

    Walk up to these lost souls of yours and tell them that due to their rebellion and hate of God, they are under God’s wrath. Most likely they will tell you where to go. Some other non-negative response might tell you that they are either 1) a confessor or 2) a sheep (who hears HIS voice) and is about to become a confessor.

  130. Bruce, See, this is another case where your Calvinist grid forces you into positions that, I’m sure, you would never take otherwise. A reading of John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His son.” Tell that unbeliever, “God loved you so much that He sent His son to atone for your sins.” Then tell him, “Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”

    “In this way God demonstrates HIS LOVE, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    Jesus loves you and died for you. Call on Him and be saved.

    Could it be, Bruce, that Jesus’ love for sinners becomes much more beautiful without Calvin’s grid to confuse you?

  131. Echo_ohcE says:


    You and Bruce aren’t saying anything different, you’re just emphasizing different things.

    You want to emphasize that God loves people, in the hope that if you can convince someone of how much love there is available to them, they’ll be attracted, and come and drink of the waters of life.

    Bruce also wants to offer them God’s love and grace, but he first wishes to show the individual in question of their great NEED for the mercy of God. Bruce wishes to drive the unbeliever to recognize the impending doom in his future, and then wants to offer him a way out.

    I used to think that fear of hell was a poor motive for someone coming to Christ. I’m not sure why I thought that, but I suppose I had heard it once upon a time. I suppose that in the churches I used to go to, they must have said it. I don’t know if you agree with that sentiment, Albino, but I used to feel that way.

    Now, however, I realize that fear of judgment is perhaps the primary reason to flee to Christ for deliverance. We have made God our enemy by being friends with the world – to speak of our former unbelieving lives. The unbeliever is a friend of the world, because he is OF the world. (This is true even in the elect if they have not yet been regenerated, as Paul tells the Ephesians that they had previously been children of wrath, meaning that prior to regeneration leading to justification, the wrath of God looms over us.)

    Furthermore, look at the example of Jonah. God threatened Ninevah with destruction in order to bring them with repentance. The destruction never came, but God commanded Jonah to threaten them with said destruction.

    I think that if we are very honest with ourselves, we will realize that the reason why any of us cling to Christ is a fear of hell. This fear is healthy, and frankly it presupposes some measure of faith. After all, you cannot believe in hell unless you believe in God, and you cannot believe in hell unless you believe that God has given us a law, that he has the right to give us that law, and that we are therefore obliged to obey that law; and yet that we have failed to obey that law, and that God justly condemns us for it. We call it sin, in short. It is our sin that lands us a spot in hell. But without faith, you can’t believe that God even exists, nor can you bring yourself to acknowledge that you have offended him, because that implies regret. Even to be afraid of hell requires faith. And if the fear of hell is the fruit of faith, and the Bible is concerned to send the message that hell is a real place, and that judgment will surely come, then it is God’s desire for us to know and understand hell, and to know of its existence is to fear it.

    And to fear going to hell is to be desperate for a way out, for a solution, which God just so happens to be offering as well, namely the redemption wrought by Christ.

    What makes us attracted to the gospel? Is it our desire to be loved, to experience some great emotional ecstasy in which we are loved more than we can imagine? Do we seek Christ out of self fulfillment and a desire to experience the deepest love there is?

    Partly, I think, but only partly. In other words, I don’t think anyone comes truly to Christ out of ONLY a desire for self fulfillment. Apparently, God didn’t think that the Ninevites would have responded the way they did to such a message.

    No, I think more prominent in peoples’ minds when they come to Christ is that they recognize that they have a problem in need of a solution. The problem is sin and the judgment that that entails, and the solution is the redemption purchased by Christ.

    Behold Peter’s first sermon:
    Act 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
    Act 2:37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
    Act 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    And if you want more context, feel free to look it up.

    But what has Peter done here? He has told them that they have KILLED, even crucified the one who was promised to them long ago. Imagine what must have gone through their minds! Don’t you suppose it suddenly dawned on them that they have done the unthinkable, that they have rejected Christ, crucified him, and thus incurred the judgment of God?

    When it says that they were cut to the heart, does it merely mean remorse, or something far deeper? I think it does mean remorse, but I think perhaps that they were consumed with anxiety would be a better way to put it. I mean, if they really believed that what Peter was saying was true – just put yourself in their shoes, how would you feel?

    “Yeah, remember that guy you crucified a couple months ago? Yeah, actually he was the one sent from God to deliver Israel from their sins. By the way, that’s you. And you killed him.”

    Imagine what must have gone through their minds! They believed him, obviously, because they repented, right? They were aware that they had done something horrible, terrible, worthy of judgment. They had killed their promised deliverer.

    In that moment, did they feel ashamed? How ashamed did they feel?

    Let’s tell an allegorical tale. Meet Bob. Bob lives in the 1800’s in the Wild, Wild West, probably near where Albino lives now. But back then, they hung people. Yes, that was back in the day when the death penalty was gruesome and public. Well, Bob has always had a whiskey problem. Always getting drunk and then driving his horse and wagon all over town like a maniac. When he would get drunk, they’d yell out after him from the bar, “Clear the streets, ol’ Bob is comin’!” In rare moments of relative sobriety, Bob was greatly amused by his reputation. He thought it made him tough, and famous to boot. But one day, he got drunk, and, driving his horse and wagon through town like a maniac, as was his custom, he accidentally ran over a child, killing him. The town marshall found him kneeling on the ground, holding the child in his hands, weeping uncontrolably, despite the cloud of too much whiskey. The next day, Bob awoke in the town jail, sober for the first time in years. The father of the son was arguing with the marshall, saying that Bob should hang for what he did, while the marshall was arguing that he was drunk and didn’t mean it. Thinking clearly, again, for the first time in years, the full weight of what he had done bore down on him. Bob knew he was guilty and was ashamed of himself. So he spoke, and said, “Marshall, let it go. He’s right. I should hang.” And to the boy’s father, he said, “I’m sorry.” Then he fell silent. At high noon, Bob was led to the gallows, and without a word, went quietly to the death that he knew he deserved.

    So too, when these Jews were cut to the heart, they, like Bob, knew what they had done, and consequently the due penalty for it. They knew it was just for them to stand condemned. They knew they needed God’s forgiveness, or else they were doomed. They knew it, they understood it, and they accepted it. So they begged the apostles to tell them how to obtain that which they now realized that they so desperately needed: redemption.

    I am convinced that before we can truly see the value of our redemption, we need first to see our great need for our redemption. And it is only when we see the value of our redemption that we actually come to desire it.

    And when fallen man truly sees his need for redemption, he quickly becomes desperate for it.

    Not only is there nothing wrong with this approach, but I think the Bible itself utilizes this approach – not just once or twice anecdotally, but consistently.

    Even in John 3:16, the verse that supposedly I must hate as a Calvinist (an untrue myth to be sure), it says, “will not perish, but have everlasting life”. Why is that in there, except to address our fear of judgment? Doesn’t perish mean judgment?

    Albino, you say call on him and be saved. I would ask you: saved from what? Or perhaps a better question, saved from whom? Why do we need to be saved?

    Maybe we can sort of presuppose that most people understand that they need saving, but do most people really know that, or better yet, do they really believe that?

    Of course it’s not what they want to hear. They don’t want to hear bad news of any kind. That’s true for everyone. But the bad news only makes the good news of the gospel all the sweeter.

    Psa 4:1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

    Psa 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

    Psa 31:9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.

    Hos 5:15 I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.

    Echoing only what I have heard,

  132. How does the thief on the cross example fit into your neat matrix? All he said was “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom.” Hmmm…

  133. He just looked over and “called on the Name of the Lord” and WAS SAVED! So simple yet so awesome.

  134. Echo_ohcE says:


    You’ll notice that in two of the psalms I quoted, it mentions calling on the Lord. That was by no mere accident. I did that on purpose to confirm your notion of calling on the Lord, but to also confirm what I’m saying (and what Bruce is saying) that calling on the name of the Lord is something you do when you’re in trouble, distress, when you feel the weight of judgment on your shoulders.

    I guess I didn’t make that very clear, because the theif on the cross seems to be a PERFECT example of this, almost as if I had chosen it myself. Oh, that’s right, I was actually responding to your previously haven chosen him as an example (though the opportunity to be discussed about by you was open to all such examples, you chose only this one).

    No one calls out to be saved until they feel that they’re in danger and NEED saving. So there’s the thief on the cross. He’s in the process of being executed for committing crime. He’s going to be dead by the end of the day. He’s naked in public and can’t do anything about it. His entire family is shamed and his name is ruined forever. Did I mention he was about to die? And that he knew he was about to die? Yeah, he felt the weight of impending judgment, so IN HIS DISTRESS, he called out to Jesus, “Remember me”. Which we understand to be absolutely pregnant with meaning. But regardless, you’re right, he called on the name of the Lord.

    Now, if you really want to throw me off, what you ought to do is find an example in the Bible of someone who called on the name of the Lord for salvation and repented when everything was going well, when everything was proceeding normally. That would be the tricky part, to explain someone whose comfort moves them to repentance. I am confident that you are capable of finding such an example, and presenting me with just such a challenge. That would be a challenge to my “grid” as you so call it.

    Of course, I wish you the best of luck.


  135. RubeRad says:

    How does the thief on the cross example fit into your neat matrix? All he said was “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom.” Hmmm…

    ?? How does he present any challenge to our “neat matrix”? The thief was, like all of us, Totally Depraved. But he was also Unconditionally Elected, so the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Jesus was innocent, and he was guilty (note that both thieves have the same data to work with — one understands that Jesus is the savior, one does not), and the Irresistible strength of that Gracious revelation causes him to call on Jesus’ name. Thus the Atonement is Effectual for him (as for all elect), and he Perseveres in his faith for another couple of hours.

    Echo, those are some great points about the need for proclaiming sin — the law that precedes the gospel. There is no good news if there is no bad news. And Albino, I’m still waiting for you to count the number of times the word “love” is used in Acts. Also waiting to know whether Jesus died for the sins of Pharaoh…

    Do you perceive the phenomenon of Billy Graham as primarily beneficial or harmful?

    Perhaps it is equivalent to ask whether the phenomenon of Charles Finney was primarily beneficial or harmful?

  136. zrim says:

    albino’s thief on the cross swipe is a classic tactic of reductionism. the text is used to deride any substantial theological system. it is rather best viewed as the case for the simplicity of the gospel. an old ST prof once wisely said, in a lecture on the doctrine of God, there is a difference between being simple and simplistic (read: redictionistic). the gospel is simple but not simplistic.


    no way, the rubber hits the road when we examine grahamism (finney is like shooting fish in a barrel). IMO, we need to examine the stuff of semi-pelagianism and not so much pelagianism.

    graham is the perfect figure to do this with. it may be perceived to be too hard edged to take grahamism to task, but i think that would reveal our latent sympathies for things less than old school calvinism (again, i use the c-word as to be synonymous with faithful biblical witness).

    one dimension i also find interesting in my “ink-blot test,” as albino rightly calls it (but of course implies this as a derision), is the odd celebrationism in american cult and culture of BG. those who faithfully witness to the gospel (i.e. jesus and paul) were ultimately killed and not splashed across TIME magazine or welcomed into the oval office to receive the praises of both soft (de jure, unspoken, meta culture) and hard (political, de facto) culture, given play time on allotted saturday night TV, etc. it is also helpful to remember that the faithful figures were put to death for their witness and not out of some obnoxious and ham-fisted push to simply be hated by cultural icons for being doltish. it is one thing to understand the approval of God to be mainfest in being hated and being hated because you are hate-worthy (read: religious right); it is one thing to be put to death because you behave like a gimp, quite another because you are faithful to the gospel.


  137. It’s getting REALLY hard to keep up with all the comments and questions here, since I’m still trying to have a life outside this blog.

    I’m learning a lot about reformed Christians in this thread, not necessarily learning anything new about their doctrine, but learning a lot about them and how they view the church in general.

    Some quick observations:

    Evangelism is not high on their priority list. Over and over, they mention training children (I guess kind of a covenental evangelism), but I don’t sense any passion for the lost, like I get from Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament. Then we’re getting a little condescension and sneering about Billy Graham from zrim, which just seems to hammer that point home. So what I’m picking up here is that training children and campaigning for pure reformed doctrine is much more important than actively and passionately evangelizing the lost.

    Other members of the body of Christ who do not share their doctrinal grid are not wholeheartedly embraced as their brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve been involved now for several months in these discussion, and though I have repeatedly called for unity, and repeatedly affirmed reformed Christians as my brothers and sisters in Christ, and members of the body of Christ, they continue to avoid doing the same, repeatedly taking swipes at evangelicals, pentecostals, pietists, etc. How about one long post where you reformed doctrinaires chat at length about how much you believe that you are only a small part of the millions of Christians around the world who make up the bride of Christ? How about affirming that we are all your brothers and sisters and we face a common enemy and share a common purpose, to glorify Christ and extend His Kingdom?

    They downplay the Biblical fact that Jesus loves the world. This is VERY important to note. All through the New Testament we find a Jesus who PASSIONATELY LOVES sinners and weeps and is grieved when they don’t accept His embrace. This Jesus loves us so much that He died in our place. Let me say it again: JESUS LOVES US. Yet the reformed Christians, at least the ones in these threads, have a visceral reaction to the simple proclamation of Jesus love for sinners. They are so trapped in this deterministic/fatalistic grid, that they fail to see that they are watering down Jesus’ love to their own detriment.

    Even when I give the simple example of the thief on the cross, I am met by a dizzying and complicated explanation for his salvation, when the Bible makes it so clear. He “called on the Name of Jesus” is his own words by faith, and HE WAS SAVED. Period. When the jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul didn’t meet him with a long laundry list of complicated steps. He simply said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…”

    I will duck back in later this evening to directly answer some questions posed by Rube.

    One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body, the bride of Christ….the church…bigger than you think.

  138. zrim says:

    i have said it before and will again, yes, the confessional ethic prizes covenantla nutrure over evangelism. it’s just in the system, al. why you seem to blame us for it only shows you don’t respect it because you use PREF ethics to judge CRO ones: “can you believe they aren’t rabid for the lost in the same way we are?” i know why you value evangelism over nurture but i don’t blame you for it. you are being a good PREF an di am being a good CRO, just like a RC is being a good RC by submitting to papal authority; just like a good republican doesn’t vie for higher taxes and bigger gov’t. why don’t you get this?

    with regard to affirming you as being in Christ. feels weird to do over the web, but i think i have been more than clear that we CRO’s tend on the positive side when giving benefit of the doubt. at least i do. wheat and tares, sheep without and wolves within. i embrace my PREF family as brethren…cornfused but brethren. just like those certain christians called roman catholics. to negotiate these subtle differences takes a finesse and ability to understand nuance. some in my local reformed communion i am sure are hypocrites and only externally joined to the church.

    i have also used the phrase a liberal propogation of the gospel. you continue to confuse good calvinists with hyper ones. i am not certain as to why other than you simply hate the system (again, not ours but the bible’s). again, you must have a capcity for nuance when you consider the biblical notion that ‘jesus loves the world.” He loves His own only. who they are is not always and immediately knowable, al.

    you have completely missed my previous point about the simplicity of the gospel over against simplisticism. the gospel is simple and is completely an issue about belief, not decision, not relationship forging. the thief and jailor only had to simply believe. they did not have to walk an isle, prayer a prayer, they didn’t have to ask jesus to come into their heart and life (whatever the heck that means), they didn’t have to keep rededicating themselves, they didn’t have to abide by blue laws, etc. they had to SIMPLY believe and confess; they then had to get themselves to a good church and become a catechumen in order to flesh out and give a proper clothing to their new and bare faith. they had to grow and eat meat. don’t despise understanding, al, fo rthe sake of maintianing simplicity. i agree that the gospel i ssimple. but it is also profound and deserves a mindful treatment. don’t hate the mind, for it is the gateway of faith.


  139. zrim says:

    oops, guess the thief couldn’t get to a church. wait, he did, the one all of us long for!


  140. RubeRad says:

    BROTHER Albino,

    You bring up a very interesting point:

    Over and over, they mention training children (I guess kind of a covenental evangelism), but I don’t sense any passion for the lost, like I get from Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament.

    Yes, we view child-rearing as covenantal evangelism. And I must confess that my “passion for the lost” is equivalent to my passion for not ordaining women — that is to say, it is driven by scriptural authority, not by my (sinful) self. Maybe that’s not clear. Myself (who am a sinner), I don’t care if women preach. I only reject ordination of women because the Bible says so. Myself (who am a sinner), I actually don’t have much passion (or compassion) for the lost. But I recognize that this is a sinful fault, because of what the Bible says. Not to attempt to excuse myself, I can’t drum up passion where I have no passion any more than having faith is a choice. Passion or no, I should be doing more about the lost than I am.

    They downplay the Biblical fact that Jesus loves the world…Reformed Christians, at least the ones in these threads, have a visceral reaction to the simple proclamation of Jesus love for sinners.

    Only in the proximity of Arminianism. Arminians connect Jesus’ love with an assumed ability to respond to that love. If only the sinner understood how much Jesus loved him, he would believe! Wrong, and this is at the heart of the Arminian problem; they downplay the Biblical fact that the non-elect Hate Jesus who loves them. Arminian Christians, at least the ones in these threads, have a visceral reaction to the simple proclamation that without monergistic, intervention by the Holy Spirit, sinners cannot, will not, do not want to love Jesus, believe in Jesus, or choose Jesus. You tell a sinner that Jesus loves him, and his response is “OK, big deal. So did the fat chick in junior high.”

    Even when I give the simple example of the thief on the cross, I am met by a dizzying and complicated explanation for his salvation, when the Bible makes it so clear. He “called on the Name of Jesus” is his own words by faith, and HE WAS SAVED. Period. When the jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul didn’t meet him with a long laundry list of complicated steps. He simply said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…”

    Zrim makes an excellent point about simple vs simplistic. Just like Paul, Calvinists don’t meet the question “What must I do to be saved?” with a long laundry list of complicated steps. The only step is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ”. As for a long and complicated laundry list, the Holy Spirit takes care of that. That’s his job.

  141. RubeRad says:

    I will duck back in later this evening to directly answer some questions posed by Rube.

    If you can’t just drop simple, one-sentence answers, you must having trouble with an understanding of scripture that is warped by your grid…

  142. I actually don’t have much passion (or compassion) for the lost. But I recognize that this is a sinful fault, because of what the Bible says. Not to attempt to excuse myself, I can’t drum up passion where I have no passion any more than having faith is a choice. Passion or no, I should be doing more about the lost than I am.

    Ok, thanks for being transparent. At the risk of ending up once again at the business end of zrim’s label-making shotgun, let me point out one possible answer in Acts 1:8 and Acts 4:31 — a fresh Holy Spirit filling for service. “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.” When the Holy Spirit fills us afresh, He often gives us fresh boldness and the same passion Jesus has for the lost.

  143. zrim says:

    it is intersting that and how the term “passion” is used. i would contend herein lies another facet of PREF’ism, namely the deep trust in trust or the high-octane factor of sincerity. another tool used is “how sincere are you, howlively do you feel”?, etc. what makes the PREF very often respond in emotive ways when his system is criticized is the fact that where he has eliminated the need for a grid to “discern divine truth or the bible (read: confessional standards) what rushes in to fill the void is…himself or his sincerity or his own inward sense of understanding. HE becomes the grid. and to tell a CRO he is wrong seems to elicit less personal offense because it is not he himself who is being attacked but something quite objective (read: Christ or His revelation). to tell a PREF he is wrong will often times be met with a snarky smariness because he somehow knows it is HIM who is being confronted. PREF is unmediatorial by its very nature (contra its mantra phraseology of everything being “christ-centered” which is usually code for “our common and narcisstic opinion about whatever is on the table or presently at hand”).

    do i have a “passion” to nutrure my covenantal chidlren? yes. but even that is not driven by bare-knuckled sincerity or enthusiasm. that is, often i find it tedious and i don’t want to do it, kinda like what Rube is getting at about the difference between me and what i am called to do.

    it was exhausting in my former PREF circles to always have to be sincere, even when faking it. notch another one up for the true gospel!

    oh, much as it pains me to do so, i must tweak something rube said. i don’t consider my covenantal nurture to be “evangelistic.” i don’t evangelize my kids. i nurture them in the sure promises made to them by God. i proceed with them as ones heirs to the promise and that is certain. to evangelize is to be both liberal in proclamation, but also to recognize that there is no one before you that has a sure promise made to them. that is a mystery. God has promised to effectually call His own sheep to Himself, but i don’t know who that is until it is made manifest in their public confession. so, i assume the best for my kids and hope for the best as i “evangelize.” hope that makes sense; i always feel i understand certain things much better than i articulate them! 🙂


  144. RubeRad says:

    I will duck back in later this evening to directly answer some questions posed by Rube.

    I would suggest, at this point, that you take an opportunity to answer direct questions with a new post. This thread is overlong.

  145. zrim says:

    i am going to say something that will be sure to kick up some dust, if anyone is still listening.

    i am of the persuasion that would regard roman catholics to still be in the position of needing evangelizing (contra ECT). and inasmuch as i classify PREF’s as antithetical to the gospel as RC’s, so are PREF’s in need of evangelizing. those who deny the forms and confessional standards, inasmuch as they are the faithful witness to the biblical witness, those who come against them or reject them are in need of witness.

    this is what i have always found troubling about these sorts of calvinist/arminian discussions. those who don’t take the collar of arminianism usually speak like one so they really are arminian. as per usual, those who reject the confessional standards (read: against the system known as calvinism) are always antagonistic. folks like rube, predictably, end up tired. rejecters know the scooop and skinny, they have been presented with the truth and have rejected it. they have staked their flags. fine. this is where i rely simply on the HS to draw folks to the truth. i cannot do what He does. i also don’;t feel a need for unneccesary battle and fighting, which is why i resist being sucked into the finer points of argument, because chances are pretty good that a dude like albino has heard it all before. it woulkd be arrogant of me to think that something i say will make it all come together, plus i end up just exhauted because i might as well be telling a priest to rethink the Mass. albino is being a good PREF, and good PREF’s resist the biblical doctrines. he is simply, yet profoundly, in gross error. an din my experience, they don’t tend to soften. my tack is to wait upon God to soften them and seek honest inquiry into the biblical doctrines.

    futthermore, all the zeal in the world, all the sincerity one can muster about how much one “loves the LORD and His word” can make up for getting its basic tenets wrong. youu can tote the bible everywhere you go, you can even place it into a nice little protector to show us all how much “ya love it!” but until you submit to the teachings of that book tucked under your arm, it does you no good. all the zeal in the world for science does not make up for the science teacherr who tells us butterflies are born that way and that birds are really fish.

    i have always said that at least luther had a door to nail upon his thesis, and at least arminuis’s followers put their doctrine down on paper. PREF’s resist institution, doctrine, etc., which makes them even more difficult to evangelize than RC’s and true arminians. they base it all on sincerity. very wily, very wily indeed.


  146. RubeRad says:

    albino is being a good PREF, and good PREF’s resist the biblical doctrines. he is simply, yet profoundly, in gross error.

    I agree, but as I’ve said before, I have tired of arguing about who’s right and wrong. We all know both positions on all the relevant verses, and nobody’s mind is going to be changed (well, Albino’s won’t, but other less-entrenched Arminians may well come to see the truth). I am merely calling for ordained, theologically trained ministers like Albino to stop denying that their theology is Arminian. They should know better. On this thread, not just me, but another more honest Arminian and Ben (Albino’s own cousin?) understand this. So I guess my job is as done as it can get.

  147. zrim says:

    another intersting dimension about PREF is the Fundy impulse in PREF (remember, that’s what the F is for). in my experience with PREF’s they will usually be taken aback at the idea that they have no real interest in doctrine. that’s the F dimension in them. but what it usually amounts to is a “doctrine of doctrine.” this is usually left-over from the early 20th century battles with the Liberals who were credulous enough to admit that they wanted to vanquish the doctrinal substance of historical christianity and what was resident within the confessional tradition; like the RC’s we knew what we were dealing with. The F impulse is like the others, driven by sentiment and sincerity. Thus there is usually a “doctrine of doctrine.” A tradition that thoughtfully engages the doctrine is quite absent because they have simply signed on the bottom line that “doctrine matters,” and the sub-text is usually read to be “unlike those nasty Liberals and watered down mainliners.” All the PREF usually knows is he’s “not RC or Liberal, thank you very much. I just believe in the Bible.” again, we are left not knowing what that exactly means. But it dovetails nicely, this doctrine of doctrine, with the “I only believe the Bible” mantra. It’s really a front that depends upon the sentiment of and behind the statement.

    i love horton’s line that “we are not saved by our doctrine but by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.” lovely insight into how we true CRO’s are not in point of fact the doctrinnaires. that’s the Fundy’s; doctrine for its own sake.


  148. zrim says:

    would it surprise anyone here to know that this calvinist really “hates” things like that web site called calvinist gadlfly? many of my calvinist cohorts seem to like it. i find it detrimental, boorish, mean and unnecessary. it goads those not devoted to biblical witness and diminishes persons who might be honestly unable to see the truth of our conclusions. to make matters worse, those who i referred to as honest inquirers to biblical truth and who are not completely sold yet are made to feel less-than and attacked.

    things like calvinist gadlfy is a blot on our calvinist community. sorry, guys. as much as i wholly embrace the conclusions of calvinism i see little to no good use for such exercises. can some good be seen in such endeavors? sure. but mainly not, no. i find stuff like CG to be the fundy version og good CRO. i say we should be loathed for th etruth we objectively confess, not for being boorish brutes.


  149. Echo_ohcE says:


    Have you made up your mind to just not read my posts? To ignore me?

    What’s so complicated about my answer about the theif on the cross?

    Furthermore, how can you POSSIBLY assert that I have no passion for the lost? I’ve decided to dedicate my life to preaching the gospel! I am giving up four years of possible money making productivity elsewhere in order to go to seminary, while my poor wife gets driven like a slave as a nurse, working at night. And you say that we reformed have no passion for the lost?

    Exactly what sort of evidence are you looking for that I have a passion for the lost?

    And as for the others, are they not spending gobs of time trying to explain truths to people like you on lots of different threads? They are concerned about the spreading of truth! They are acting on that concern! Do you need to see evidence of our various denominations’ missions? What do you want to see? The OPC and PCA both have robust missions overseas and are planting many churches. For their size, they are doing a LOT.

    But if you’re looking for us to be like you, or like one of the people who are in your church, we’re not. Don’t hold your own measuring stick up to us and then tell us we have no passion for the lost. Why would you even say that? Is that because we’re not at the local mall handing out tracks and getting in peoples’ faces, making them hate the name Christian because of our arrogance to assume that we can strike up a conversation with a stranger about the topic that’s probably the most personal there is? You might as well as a stranger what his sex life is like.

    You’re gonna believe what you want to believe. Your irrational responses continue to astonish me.


  150. zrim says:

    i’d tell echo how he comes across, but i think he knows that already. 😉

    just a friendly poke to my peeps.


  151. zrim says:

    seriously though, echo, i say this as a true cohort. i sense in your above post a tone that seems to betray that perhaps things have gotten to you. i know this feeling too well. i appreciate any efforts we put into trying to engage folks like al and his here. but, man, in all my years and current experience with a PREF family my take is that at some point you have to stop beatin gyour head against a wall, you know? and that is the point i have been trying to make essentially: there are very significant and not-so easily seen moorings that PREF’s have which make those with CRO understandings go nutty, and vice versa if we are being honest. we talk past each other because of this. and my desire is to see we CRO’s more and more turn and embrace our tradition instead of taking these guys to task for simply being who they are. i have said it before an di will again: i think our tradition is more about the nurture of our own than it is about “changing the world.” this is not to diminish a missiological view (note i have said that PREF’s as well as others stand in need of evangelization, etc.). missions is not the same as changing the world in some activitic manner (activism is another dimesnion in PREF’ism). what i perceive in all this sort of back and forth is our sinking to PREF levels. granted, i am guilty! like i said, i was in a mood (little joke there). what’s wrong with saying, “we have once again presented the truth and once again it is despised. let us shake the dust from our sandals and move on”?

    what i see nataurally arising from scripture is more a nurture for God’s own people, not a hyper-sesne of “spreading the gospel” as defined by revivalism. this is also what i intuit of the best of our tradition, which itself seeks to reflect this witness.

    for what it’s worth,


  152. zrim says:

    I mentioned my PREF SIL once before about how she spat over a family member marrying a devout RC. I recall her once reminiscing about a boyfriend in high school and a conversation she had once with him. She, of course, was a good Bible church girl who had as her template for “truth” experience, well summed up in the personal relationship doctrines. Her boyfriend was a Presby boy. She apparently grilled him about just “how Christian he was.” That was only a matter of time, of course. To hear her tell it, he was at worst quite lost and thoroughly second class at best. Why? Because he appealed to his baptism and church membership as markers to true faith. He appealed to objective means to nurture faith. It wasn’t that he had some sort of FV devotion and saw his baptism as magic, etc., etc. he was doing what a good confessionalist does by pointing out just how true faith is nurtured by these things. True faith resides behind them. but to her PREF’ism this was quite poo-pooed. She could not see that it was just as possible for him to “fake” his faith or, as the PREF is so given to saying “hiding behind religion,” by appealing to objective means as it is for PREF’s to “fake” faith by droning on and on about how “He walks with me and talks with me, lives in my heart and life, etc.”

    I say this because often times it is we who are cast as the arrogant ones when the PREF template of experientialism is brazenly bandied about and assumed to be the correct template instead of objective confession and personal adherence to it. to us, it has little to nothing to do with proving our sincerity, etc. we point to our adherence to a true church as evidence of true faith, not our own willing and running. So how blatantly we can wear it on our sleeve is not in the value system. We don’t feel the need to prove our sincerity, rather, we simply point to our adherence to the truth. Think of the Creed and how the body of the text is about God and how the “I believe” part is quite minimized. That’s because it’s not about our narrative, so to speak, but God’s.


  153. and nobody’s mind is going to be changed (well, Albino’s won’t, but other less-entrenched Arminians may well come to see the truth). I am merely calling for ordained, theologically trained ministers like Albino to stop denying that their theology is Arminian. They should know better. On this thread, not just me, but another more honest Arminian and Ben (Albino’s own cousin?) understand this. So I guess my job is as done as it can get.

    Again, lot’s of loaded language – “come to see the truth” instead of “come to see your position”. I object to being called “dishonest” for rejecting the Arminian label. Do you really think that I’m being “sneaky” or “lying” about my beliefs, Rube? Come on, now. I completely reject the Arminian label…you don’t like it….too bad.

  154. Alex says:

    I have an interesting question,

    Are RC’s predominantly Introverts? Most RC’s, if not all that I know don’t enjoy socializing. Could this be part of the problem? Maybe this is why they seem to be so obsessed with “working on their doctrine.”

    Just a thought.

  155. Echo_ohcE says:


    Point well taken. Thanks. You are right. I have absolutely made it personal. I’m so immature.


  156. Echo_ohcE says:

    Sorry Albino.

    I keep getting personal in the blogs.

  157. Echo_ohcE says:


    the problem with the Roman Church is that they have substituted the Church for Christ.


  158. zrim says:


    with regard to the last post above in which you spare a bit with something rube said…

    see, this is part of my point. you are not a confessionalist. why rube is charging you with having to behave/think/speak like one of us is just plain confusing to me. it could be said that i am trying to actually protect you to be allowed to be just what you are. read this with an honest tone, please. why he is calling you to “get in line” with our forms of unity seems just as skewed to me as calling on a RC priest to rethink the Mass! i just don’t get that. let the revivalists be and worry about our own officers who don’t comport with the confessional standards.


  159. RubeRad says:

    I object to being called “dishonest” for rejecting the Arminian label. Do you really think that I’m being “sneaky” or “lying” about my beliefs, Rube?

    why rube is charging you with having to behave/think/speak like one of us is just plain confusing to me.

    Yes ‘Bino, I consider it dishonest that you reject the Arminian label, and that is the only reason I bother with this whole discussion.

    Consider this scenario: a man visits your church, and you meet him at the door and chat for a bit. He is interested in joining your church, and wants to know about your theology. He asks you “are you Calvinist or Arminian, or…” You say “I reject (both|all) labels — I just believe and preach the Bible.” So he sticks around, and eventually you preach that grace is resistable by free will;that man is not so depraved that he can’t make a choice for God; that predestination is conditional, categorical, and merely foreknowledge; that atonement is potential for all, but obtained only by those who accept; that you haven’t completely made your mind up about Perseverance.

    He comes back to you and says “Why did you lie to me? You told me you are not Arminian, but you are preaching all 5 articles of remonstrance!” What are you going to tell him?

    Fine, you don’t like denominations, confessions, catechisms, doctrinal conformity, history, movements, and labels. You don’t want to mount a white horse and lead the charge for Arminianism. No creed but “No creed but Christ”. I get that. “You” are not an Arminian.

    But your doctrine is.

  160. Rube. Your comment betrays your bias. Having somebody “join my church” is WAAAAAAY down my list of priorities. Having somebody “believe on Jesus and be saved” is much higher.

    Again, the problem with labels is exactly the scenario you present. If someone asks me if I am “charismatic”, “pentecostal”, “evangelical”, “Calvinist” or “Arminian”, I have to qualify every one of those labels. It depends what you mean by each of the labels. If I explain to the gentleman you describe exactly what I believe as written in the original post above, he can then make an informed decision about my point of view. Obviously, if somebody asks me that question, they know about the famous T-U-L-I-P and I would go down the list exactly as I did above. No misunderstanding involved.

    It is when you throw out words like “dishonest” that you begin to poison the well here. I have been very clear about where I stand. You, being reformed, want to insist that I wear a label, and I reject your labels. I refuse to be defined by some other man’s theological construct.

    I think we have just about drained this swamp dry.

  161. RubeRad says:

    Obviously, if somebody asks me that question, they know about the famous T-U-L-I-P and I would go down the list exactly as I did above. No misunderstanding involved

    Point 1: yes, you are very, very clear about exactly how, where, why, who, and when you disagree with U, L, and I, and how you are fudging on T, and uncertain about P. There is no doubt in my mind that you are NOT a Calvinist. Beyond the fact that you reject labels, this shoe truly doesn’t fit. Thus it also seems unfair to me that you do not give the Arminian label the same courtesy.

    I have been very clear about where I stand.

    Obviously not, if I still can’t distinguish your doctrine from Arminianism. “you preach that grace is resistable by free will;that man is not so depraved that he can’t make a choice for God; that predestination is conditional, categorical, and merely foreknowledge; that atonement is potential for all, but obtained only by those who accept; that you haven’t completely made your mind up about Perseverance.” That’s 5, count ’em 5 full articles of remonstrance.

    You may not be Arminian. But your doctrine is.

    I think we have just about drained this swamp dry.

    Does that make me a stick-in-the-mud? I still hope that someday you’ll tell me whether Jesus died for Pharaoh’s sins…

  162. Echo_ohcE says:


    Don’t be mad at the next post, because I’m actually trying to help you. I’m going to speak to Rube in reformed terms, and it will be helpful to your cause. But from your standpoint, in your terms, you will probably feel insulted. Nevertheless, I will risk it to help you.


  163. Echo_ohcE says:


    Your accusation that Albino is dishonest by shunning labels makes perfect sense to me, and I tend to agree.

    However, he’s only going to appear to be dishonest to someone from our camp. I think Albino makes a great point. If someone asks him if he’s Arminian or not, this person is obviously reformed. And seriously, if a reformed person goes to Albino’s church, do you honestly think he’ll come back for a second time? There is a vast gulf between what the reformed person believes and what Albino believes. Someone will only ask that question prior to the worship service. After the worship service, the reformed will probably have no need whatsoever to ask Albino where he stands on these issues, because he will have already figured that out.

    So I would argue even further that no one will probably even have to ask Albino if he’s an Arminian at his church. That’s a reformed term for the non-reformed. That’s like being Jewish and going to China around the time of Christ and asking them if they’re Gentiles or not. The term just would have made no sense to them, but since the way you use it seems accusatory and suspicious, they will probably insist that they aren’t Gentiles, but Chinese.

    Anyway, if someone who is reformed goes to Albino’s church, I am supremely confident that they will not think he’s reformed when the worship service is over. Do you think that there even could be such a confusion?

    Arminian is part of the reformed’s vocabularly, our jargon. We can’t ask everyone else to express themselves according to our terms. It might make it easier for us to understand everyone else, but they are not reformed, so why should they speak our language? This is like compelling people to learn English, and outlawing other languages. It’s up to YOU to figure out where a pastor stands on the issues that matter to you. Sometimes that requires a little translation, but by that point, you realize that you don’t belong there.

    So whether or not Albino is an Arminian is for us to decide, because it’s our term, our label. We don’t need him to admit to being an Arminian for us to be confident that he is one, anymore than the Jew needs the Chinese to admit to being a Gentile, or for Europe to start speaking English. Different cultures have their own language, their own culture. We are of a different sub-culture of the broader Christian culture than Albino. If we think all Christianity has the same culture, we deceive ourselves. We cannot force people to conform to our culture if they are not of our culture. Why would they want to give up their own culture?

    So to you and I, Albino may appear to be acting stubbornly, but to him, we are asking him to give up his culture, to give up a little piece of his identity in order to take on part of our identity. His response is: no, I won’t submit to your labels, because that is tantamount to admitting your superiority. And he’s probably right, and I think that perhaps if you search your heart, you might find that you probably do want him to acknowledge his inferiority to the reformed culture/theology/etc. You think his views inferior, and you want him to acknowledge that. But if he acknowledged that, then he’d have to adopt the views that he perceived to be superior. Not being ready to adopt the reformed view, he cannot acknowledge it to be superior by submitting to its language, because that would be to submit to its culture.

    So by saying, “Yes I’m an Arminian”, he would be saying, in our terms, “Yes I am ignorant and you are smart, I am inferior and you are superior, but I refuse to renounce my ways and will continue to live in rebellion to what I clearly perceive to be the superior, i.e. more correct because more biblical, view, namely yours.”

    Well, I for one am starting to understand what’s going on here, I think, and I’m also starting to understand why he won’t take the label, and I think at this point, I wouldn’t want him to.

    The power to name something is very significant. Case in point, feminism taught women not to take their husband’s last name. Why? Because taking his name signifies submission.

    In the same way, Albino refuses our label, and in so doing refuses to submit to the reformed view. And I think he should continue to refuse. After all, if he does place this kind of significance on it then here’s the situation. Taking the label would be equivalent to submitting to it, because that’s how he would feel about it, so that’s how he would mean it. But by taking that label, he would be at once submitting to the reformed view as superior, by taking its label, allowing it to name him, but also denying it by claiming to be an Arminian, which is a contrary position. He is forced either to adopt the reformed view, or renounce the label in order to avoid this internally contradictory situation.

    It seems you have been waging a culture war against Albino by insisting that he take the label “Arminian”, and charging him with dishonesty for not taking it. I have been equally guilty.

    So I hereby apologize to Albino for what must have surely come across only as arrogance. But hopefully you will forgive this, since I only just now figured all this out. You don’t have to take our label. Call yourself whatever you like. You are alone accountable to God for what you believe.


  164. zrim says:

    right, echo.

    that was a long way of helping to make one of my larger points from the get go, although there is some zig and zag in your post.

    i said before that as ironic and silly as it may sound i have actually been trying to protect albino from rube. he is not being dishonest in some sense. he is being true to his tradition (and i won’t use my acronymn since it seemes to anger folks so much).

    it is one thing to take an ariminian to task on the merits of the arguments. it is quite another to blame him for taking his side (i.e. ‘you are being dishonest”). does he claim to be in the reformed tradition? no. as confused as he is about how you cannot be at once an arminian and a calvinist, like rube has said, he is one by the doctrines he puts forth. he will never be ordained in a reformed church whilst he says what he says. fine. let him be. it is inappropriate to judge an apple by the properties of an orange and blame the apple for being one (even though it insists it’s both an apple and an orange–fruit, yes, but not an orange). rube crosses the line when he charges al with being dishonest and sees it as his task to correct poor al, etc. i would contend he would do much better to hold fellow reformed/prebies (those who take the collar, so to speak) to get their speaking, etc. in line with their confession…or leave. THAT’s who is being dishonest, not al. al is just very confused. confessional arminians were never this confused about who they were. that is what i mean about his being very wily (and his ilk in wider Evangelicalism).

    furthermore, our forms of unity are exactly what give us…unity! RS Calrk at WSCAL is probably the best voice going on this notion. to reject the forms of confession an doctrine is to be outside the faith (no, that doesn’t mean not christian–does anyone understand this nuance in terms and subsequently not charge me with double-speak??). those who reject our forms stand in need of witness. and that is what a guy like rube has been doing. and al knows all the arguments and still he rejects the truth. those who signed ECT have said that the Roman church no longer stands in need of evangelizing. and those who have not signed have rejected that assertion. *Rome* still has *us* under anathema per Trent! that anathema is entirely appropriate given Rome’s confession, etc. i don’t cluck around getting all hot and bothered that they are “so harsh, so mean.” i welcome the anathema.

    if you reject the doctrines as put forth from the primitive church (paul), to the early church (athanatius), to the reformation you stand outside the true church. this is a radically high view of the true church, and you must adhere to Her. if you don’t, you stand in need of witness. an dif that is not true, then rube and echo and all the rest need to be silent, join hands and sing koombaya–yet they don’t, which shows forth that they also believe some to be in great error. we are not christians because we say so. we must believe in our hearts AND confess with our mouths the truth. there are hordes of sheep outside the true church and they cleave to HER. many will go til their dying day not cleaving to Her. that is lamentable.


  165. zrim says:

    with regard to this “true church” stuff, i would really recommend anyone who might be intersted to skate over to k. riddlebarger’s site (riddleblog) and find a fairly recent posting on his sermon on the marks of the true church. good stuff if you want to honestly get behind the eyes of we reformed confessionalist types.

    why do i have that sinking feeling that my recommendation of anything here is like “spitting in the wind or writing on the surface of a lake”? 🙂 that was a self-inflicted jab.


  166. zrim says:


    your reference to christianity as some sort of culture seems problematic. it seems to me that once you take something which revolves around the categories of truth (i.e. the claims of the christian confession) and make it similar to something which revolves around categories of relative value (i.e. culture) you muddy the waters for your larger point. that is to say, christianity is not a culture. and once you make arminianism a “sub-culture” within the bigger “culture” we seem to come right back to having to let al’s doctrine be “just another flavor amongst flavors.” that might serve to quell irrirtated nerves and smile as we leave the table, but it hasn’t solved anything of real value as far as the faith is concerned.

    i am content to let al go and not look back, so to speak. but not under the pretence that “we just see it differently.” certainly we see it differently. but it’s more than that, isn’t it? i mean, when i have engaged my arminian FIL i have always been quite uneasy in his treatment of the whole thing. it’s almost as if we are speaking of some cold, academic subject: “well, i guess you’re just a 5 pointer and i am a 3 or 4 pointer. oh, oh, oh, isn’t that interesting?” what would anyone say to, “well, i guess you are a trinitarian and i am a bitarian, oh, oh, oh! you say He is fully God and fully man and i say He was adopted by God and was mostly man with some God mixed in; you say Scripture is infallible and i think there are some mistakes in spots”? honestly, what is that? why are the doctrines of sin and grace of less import than those which have garnered a “sacred cow” status?

    i think this low view which allows us to “just see it differently” is due in large part to the fact that american cult and culture is overwhelmingly and predominantly semi-pelagian. and we calvinists are in the minority. and we think this diplomatic approach buys us another day at the table. at what point do we say, enough, not only are you flat wrong but i refuse to continue to let you think it’s all some sort of cold, academic discussion that plays nice so i can get a rub on the tummy from the majority for being winsome? we are talking about the doctrines of God here. nobody is looking to erroneously deride the other side of the table, but you either get it right or you don’t.

    once you use the nomenclature of “culture” and utilize categories of preference, etc., you are setting this whole discussion up to be tantamount to a discussion about which is better: hot dogs or hamburgers, because that’s what issues of *culture* are. and that question is erroneous. what’s better, democracy or socialism? still, relative, cultural. everything from what you prefer for lunch to what form of government you think is best is still not in the same category as divine truth. christian confession transcends culture. it’s what, properly understood, allows for christians of all sorts of cultural/social/political/economic values to gather at the communion rail. want true diverisity? be rigid about doctrinal truth and liberal about culture. there is no one-to-one correspdance between doctrinal truth and cultural values! democrats and republicans should be able to share the pew in america. what we have these days are culturally homogeneous pews where anyone can believe anything he wants about God. it should be the reverse. but as long as we confuse cult and culture as we do in america, i won’t hold my breath.


  167. Matt S says:

    Zrim said,

    “At what point do we say, enough, not only are you flat wrong…”

    Here we go again with these statements. You cannot ever say this becuase you do not know this.

    This is not like telling someone they are wrong becuase they feel murder is okay, or adultery is ok, or whatever else. These can be found directly in Scripture as being wrong, they are black and white issues. Just like your favorite example of “the sky is blue”. You can say this because we can see it with our eyes and agree with the statement.

    The tenents of Calvinism, on the other hand, are a man-made system of interpreting Scripture, it is just that, ONE interpretation. Because there is no verse in the Bible that lays out for us TULIP we cannot be 100% sure that it is Biblical. It is man-made and thus fallible.

    As one example, take the “L”. I interpret Scripture to say this is wrong, you interpret Scripture to say this is right. Neither of us will know until we meet Jesus.( BTW, I do not want to argue this point anymore). The same applies to infant baptism or cessation.

    Stay away from statements of fact regarding issues that are open for intrepetation.

  168. RubeRad says:

    That’s like being Jewish and going to China around the time of Christ and asking them if they’re Gentiles or not. The term just would have made no sense to them, but since the way you use it seems accusatory and suspicious, they will probably insist that they aren’t Gentiles, but Chinese.

    Until the Jew explained “the definition of the term Gentile is ‘not Jewish'”, in which case the Chinese guy would say “OK, that definition in your language does fit me”

    As I have said many, many times, I have given up trying to get the leopard to change his spots. He’s heard all the arguments, he’s read all the verses, and he has his own interpretation (or admission of tension & nuance) for all of them.

    So I’m not asking Albino to admit that my views are superior. I’m only asking him to admit that his views are not just his own, they’ve been around for centuries, they’re well-documented, they have a specific historical source, and They Are Arminian!

    Yes, “Arminian” is a term that in reformed circles means “wrong”, but I’m not asking Albino to say “Yes, I am wrong”, because I well understand that according to his biblical worldview, the content behind the label “Arminian” means “right on!”

    Maybe what’s happening is that Albino simply can’t accept the label Arminian because he knows that Arminians are wrong, and he just can’t face the fact that his doctrines line up with Arminianism means that he is wrong.

    Otherwise, he really believes the Arminians are right — in which case he should have no objections accepting the label!

    But so far, all I can tell is that he thinks the Arminians are completely right, except that they need “more tension and nuance in the Bible when it comes to perserverance of the saints and total depravity”.

  169. RubeRad says:

    OK Albino, here’s the solution. Just sign on the dotted line, get it notarized, and fax me three copies…

    I, Albino Hayford, by the powers vested in me by Jack Hayford, do hereby solemnly swear and affirm that Calvinists are totally wrong, and continually use a grid to twist scripture. Thus I reject the label Calvinist. I also reject the label Arminian. But their theology is fundamentally right. I love the Unlimited Atonement, Conditional Election, and Resistible Grace, and just like them, I am undecided about Perseverance. They were pretty close with Total Depravity — they just needed a little more tension and nuance.


    Albino Shaq

    P.S. I’m not an Arminian, but my doctrine is…

  170. Cute, Rube. Man, you and your reformed peeps really are obsessed with getting me labeled once and for all. I have labeled myself over and over. “Bible-believing Christian”. And you, if you are born-again, are my brother in Christ and a member of His body, the church, which has One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

    No, Calvinists aren’t “totally wrong”, they just don’t accept that Scripture allows for tension between man’s choice and God’s predestination. Like a good quote I heard last week: “Man has free will, but God’s free will is a LOT bigger than man’s free will.” 🙂 Where Calvinists hit the wall is when they try to get the Bible to neatly fit into a logical system, and it just doesn’t. Sorry.

    And round and round we go.

    Your Brother, bought by the blood of Jesus,

  171. Echo_ohcE says:


    I would have thought that you would know me better by now than to lecture me about preferences in theological thought. I don’t get that. Clearly I was using “culture” as a metaphor so as to talk about differences in doctrine from Albino’s point of view, so that Rube and everyone else could understand why Albino is refusing the label the reformed people want to give him. I drew an analogy to culture in order to help us all get inside Albino’s head a little bit.

    I mean, I’m not surprised that you didn’t like the experience, but I was trying to give Albino a voice in a way that we could understand.

    I think you missed that nuance, as you say.


  172. Echo_ohcE says:


    You make a good point but you go too far.

    You’re right that Zrim shouldn’t be pronouncing judgment on people. But you are wrong to assert that we can’t know certain things.

    Here’s a perfect example. The doctrine of the Trinity is a man-made construct. Man made up this concept. The word appears nowhere in the Bible. But of course, this concept didn’t come out of the air. It is the result of working with the Scriptures and trying to discover a way to understand ALL of what it says about God. So the doctrine of the Trinity is not actually man-made, but is implied by Scripture in many ways, even though not explicitly stated.

    However, once upon a time, this was a hotly debated topic. So those who did believe in the Trinity shouldn’t have told those who didn’t that they were wrong? CAN we know that God is one God, subsisting in Three Persons? Can we know that, or did man make it up?

    Just because a man says something doesn’t mean it cannot be faithful to Scripture, and thus bear Scripture’s authority. Even though the doctrine of the Trinity is a man made concept, you are obligated to believe it, and you are probably perfectly comfortable saying that those who do not believe it are wrong, like the Jehovah’s witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are not Christians. They don’t believe in the same God we do, because they don’t believe in the Trinity. Here their failure to believe in a man-made doctrine is so serious that it keeps them from heaven.

    Of course, all points of doctrine are not so serious. But Zrim didn’t condemn anyone, he simply said that they were wrong. He didn’t say that this would keep them from heaven, nor did he condemn them. He said they were wrong.

    Now, you may believe that Scripture MIGHT teach Calvinism, and that it MIGHT teach whatever else. But the fact is, it CANNOT teach both. Just like we believe that our understanding of the Trinity is correct and the Jehovah’s Witness is wrong, Zrim believes that Calvinism is correct, and by implication, whatever contradicts Calvinism in his mind is wrong. And rightfully so! If this were not the case, he wouldn’t really believe what he says he believes.

    Honestly, you believe in what we are calling Arminianism. (Let’s not get hung up on that word though, I am using it only for expediency.) So you believe in Arminianism, and by implication, Calvinism, which contradicts what you believe, is necessarily wrong from your point of view. You HAVE to believe that, or else you don’t really believe in Arminianism. Believe what you believe because you are convinced that that is DEFINITELY what the Scriptures are saying. If you aren’t convinced, it’s ok to admit that you don’t really know. But for my part, I am absolutely convinced and so is Zrim that these doctrines of what is called Calvinism are correct because they are derived from the Bible. So from our point of view, when we talk about predestination, we are only repeating what the Bible says. We are “ECHO”-ing the Scripture. That’s why I use the name Echo_ohcE, to illustrate that point. You might find it arrogant, but that’s what we strive for, to repeat the Bible’s words in a systematic way, as in the case of the doctrine of the Trinity.

    All of that to say this: just like I said that Rube should not try to get Albino to accept his label, don’t expect the Reformed to stop clearly declaring right from wrong. It’s what we do. The Bible says something, whatever says something different is wrong. It’s very simple. Our doctrines, we think, are simply repeating the teachings of Scripture. You are trying to tell us that we not only DON’T know that our doctrines echo Scripture, but that we CAN’T know. You are attacking the very foundation of what we believe. Stop it. You will be met with nothing but resistance.

    We will continue to echo the Scriptures as best we can. But in the future, perhaps we will strive to do so seasoned with more love.


  173. Echo_ohcE says:


    Your statement that Calvinists don’t allow for tension between predestination and free will frustrates me. Your statement that Calvinists insist on labeling you to the point of obsession frustrates me.

    You may end my frustration by acknowledging two things.

    1. Calvinists allow for tension between predestination and free will, because they affirm both. I have proven this many, many times.
    2. That not everyone is insisting that you take a label. I for one just wrote a VERY lengthy post about why you shouldn’t be asked to take this label.

    You frustrate me, because you are either ignoring my posts or…well, there isn’t another option is there?

    Having tension between predestination and man’s free will means that you affirm both. If you deny one in favor of the other, the tension disappears.

    Frustrated. Banging my head against the wall.

    I think it likely that you, being “on the road” simply didn’t read my post about why you shouldn’t be coerced into taking a label because it was longer than you wanted to read. I can accept that, and I’m not surprised. But I have said that Calvinists affirm free will 1000 times if I’ve said it once, and I know you had to have read them.

    I’m going to start saying that you don’t believe in the resurrection, and no matter how many times you say that you do, I will continue to smile and say that you don’t. Then you will know how frustrated you are making me. Stop it. Don’t make me do it.


  174. Matt S says:

    The Trinity is not a good example. A quick study of the names of God (thankfully we are going through these at my church now) will show the plurality of God in three persons. So it is in the Bible, just not explicitly stated.

    Whereas the verses that uphold the doctrines of TULIP, infant baptism, cessation,etc… are open for interpretation as evidenced by the fact that 2 people can read the same verse and come to 2 different conclusions.

  175. zrim says:


    your “superficial” point was quite understood and well made, etc. but it only works to make a superficial point: we are different and there are many complexities underlying them. that is clear enough. my point was that to use, however, nomenclature with is by its very nature relative muddies the waters.

    so, no, i don’t think i missed anything. i live amongst “albino’s” and used to be one (well, tried like the dickens to be one without much success). so i know the assumptions and i get the metaphor.

    and i have to say, you confuse me in your response to matt. i don’t mean that as a jab, echo. i honestly don’t understand how you can at once say that i have “pronounced judgement on people” then go on to correctly understand what i have said in the rest of the post. where am i “pronouncing judgment on people” if i also “didn’t condemn anyone, didn’t say it will keep them from heaven, didn’t condemn anyone”? huh? are you sipping on al’s potions? (friendly barb ;)).

    i get the feeling you are simply trying to win another day at the table by backing up this idea that “mean ol zrim should be nicer to people. now, let me explain things to you nicely.”

    and…i share in echo’s frustration over al’s complete yet all too common misapprehension that we calvinists allow no tension between free will and God’s sovereignty. classic. scripture gives up on neither, al, and neither do we. how 2 seemingly at-odds concepts co-exist, who knows? it is a mystery. these are 2 concepts that disppear behind a big black circle and what happens behind it is pure mystery. and there are 2 errors modern man takes. he either tries to explain it (what Clark calls the quest for illegitimate religious certainty or QIRC) or he goes the way of mysticism (not mystery, mysticism, what Clark calls the quest for illegit religious experience). when he does the former, h eends up giving man more power than he actually has; when he does the latter he ends up saying ‘let go and let God or give it to God, etc.” well, anayway, classic sign that one still misunderstands both calvinism and the biblical witness. but it’s to be expected. it surprises me not.


  176. Matt S says:

    Echo said,

    “Our doctrines, we think, are simply repeating the teachings of Scripture”

    Those two little words “we think” instead of “we know” is all I am trying to get you and others to see. Thank you for using them.

    I have said before that whatever you believe you should do so with 100% certainty, and I will do the same. This is not in question. I just hate statements of fact (“you are wrong”) when they are clearly in reference to topics that are open for interpretation.

    Just realize that these issues are not black and white but are open for interpretation and obviously we have a different view on what Scripture is saying in regards to certain topics.

    I will not insist that my interpretation is 100% accurate, and you and others should not either because when the perfect interpretation is revealed you and I just might find that we had some things wrong.

  177. zrim says:

    matt’s right. but he makes too much of it. when we use “we think” and “we know” interchangeably it makes for a confusion of sorts since the former begets notions of relativity and the latter those of certitude. but the distinction is only confusing when you are being too slavish to the terminology and fabricate a gap that is bigger than it ought to be in order to make the conclusion that we ought to always talk as if we are uncertain so nobody’s toes get stepped on.

    it’s like those who point out that the term “i feel” when expressing a thought (e.g. i feel that bush was quite wrong in his decision to invade iraq) shows just how drunk we are on emotion, experience, etc. in our day since we replace “i think” with “i feel.” pish-posh. the terms are used interchangeably or synonyomously, that’s all.

    and when one says “he thinks” something, usch as echo has done, of course he thinks what he knows. i know the sky is blue and so i must also think it.

    you hate statements of fact? so what do you say to those who say “it is a fact that jesus did not rise from the grave”? or what do you say to those who say, “it is a fact that he rose from the grave”?

    regarding matt’s last statement, for my part, i tend not to anticipate the new age to be a glorified opening of the teacher’s manual. the old age shall pass away and all things will be made new. this has never evoked a sense that we will all sit around the feet of God, grading our homeworks: “you were right about T and you were right about L; you had cessation all wrong and you had it down pat.” what seems to naturally arise from scripture is that we are not unduly obsessed with the things of this dying and passing age to see who might exit with the most checks on his answers, since that seems to suggest too much of an attachment to the here and now.

    i think these are the fantasies of our desires to be right for its own sake as we picture us comparing our notes in the new age, and those who utter or imply such scenario’s really seem to betray how right they want to be, which is ironic for matt since he hates statements of fact and thinks not much can be known now.


  178. Matt S says:



    He could have very easily left those two words out and the sentence would have made sense, but he chose to put them in there for a reason. That reason is to make the point that it is a matter of opinion, a matter of interpretation.


    I never said I hate statements of fact with a period at the end of the statement. You have to read the rest of the sentence where you will find the all important qualifier “when they are in reference to topics that are open for interpretation”. Jesus rising from the grave is not open for interpretation, stop being ridiculous.


    How did this whole discussion get flipped on its head? You folks in the reformed camp have always been the one’s inferring that you have it all figured out and the rest of us have a less sophisticated understanding of Scripture and if we study long enough we will find the truth and end up reformed. And now I read that I want to be in heaven comparing notes to show how right I think I am? Please stop with the nonsense and admit that you look at all of the “non-reformed” as lesser Christians.

  179. Echo_ohcE says:


    I admit that I look at the non-reformed as lesser Christians. I admit that Jesus died for them and that they will be saved, but I think they have less faith, because their errors stem from a refusal to believe what the Scriptures say. I’m not saying that I think I’m RIGHT to see the non-reformed as lesser Christians, but you’re quite right that this is my opinion. I look at them like children. I do. I admit it. It kind of feels good to admit it too, because it’s honest.

    I think your problem is that you want me to accept your views as being equally legitimate as mine. They aren’t. I won’t ever say that they are. Reformed Christianity is true Christianity. In so far as you are not reformed, it is to that extent that you are not in submission to the Scriptures, but are in error.

    I know you will be furious at this, but it’s true. It’s honest. You probably didn’t want this much honesty though.

    The fact is, we can’t both be right. Scripture doesn’t teach multiple things. It teaches one thing, one message. The reformed have found it and cling to it. The Arminians have cast the Scriptures aside in favor of their own sinful unbelief. If I DIDN’T believe that, I wouldn’t actually believe what I believe.

    Furthermore, I think you have got quite a strange view of knowledge. I guess you think that if you “know” something you cannot be wrong. Human beings don’t have such knowledge. Only God has such knowledge. We can’t REALLY know what we know what we know with 100% certainty. Human beings are finite like that.

    You also totally missed my point about the trinity. Totally missed your point.

    here’s a little lesson in hermeneutics that you seem to need to hear. When someone writes something, their intent is what governs how that writing is to be interpreted. You misinterpreted my statements about knowledge and thinking and some other things, because you took them as if YOU had said them. You don’t seem to want to give me a say in what I’m saying. You don’t want to let me speak for myself and ask me what I mean, you want to tell me what I mean, and then thank me for agreeing with you.

    I don’t agree with you. We live on different planets, you and I. Pagans live in another part of the galaxy, but you and I are on different planets. We don’t use words the same way. We have different views about almost everything.

    You say that the resurrection is not up for interpretation, but it is. Everything is up for interpretation. There are plenty of people who allegorize the resurrection, saying that Jesus didn’t raise from the dead in the body, but spiritually in the church, for we are his body. You may think that to be bizarre, but that’s how some “Christians” interpret that. They’re wrong. We can agree on that. But that’s what they think, that’s what they “know” to be true. Or at least they think they know.

    But you don’t want to concede these points, because they contradict what you want to say. But that’s the point of us being two different people. We don’t agree. We have different opinions, different views, and we use language differently.

    But I digress. It’s all pointless. Meaningless, meaningless, says the Teacher.


  180. Matt S says:


    I am glad you said what you did, I can rest now knowing that you will stop trying to change my theology and vise versa. I will be content to be looked upon as a “Lesser Christian”, I wear my label with pride.

    P.S. I do not know any Christians who do not believe in the resurection. Those that do not believe in the resurection cannot be Christians.

  181. zrim says:

    echo, amen.

    matt, you might try and get a little better hold on your emotions as well. statements like “stop being ridiculous” seem in the same league as calling someone “an obnoxious liar.” why does it usually seem that, while certainly vulnerable to being inappropriately emotional as we reformed can be (e.g. “calvinist gadfly”), it is usually those who haven’t honeslty worked out their theology onthe other side of the table who resort to the metaphorical tantrum.

    “stop being ridiculous.” matt, i was just working out the natural logic of your statements. and now you are drawing a line in the sand by saying one has to believe in the resurrection to be a christian. warning, matt, that is a dogmatic statement and you are now in danger of being “an obnoxious liar” or some other nasty thing. echo correctly points out your incosistency in your epistemolgy, or how you “know what you know.” you categorize the doctrines of sin and grace as those of which “we can know nothing, as matters of interpretation, etc.” yet you then get dogmatic about the resurrection. why? you must prioritize certain doctrines in some way, which itself is dogmatic. careful, matt, if you keep going this way you may “come over to the dark side” and actually have a fleshed out and substantive faith in lieu of a reductionistic one.

    when someone sees a discussion such as this one “getting flipped on its head” it, in my opinion, shows again just how UN-complex you see things to be. albino thinks we have drained this swamp. yes, that is about the depth of inquiry i have come to expect from evangies, having been one once.


  182. Matt S says:

    The resurrection is clearly seen in Scripture, no? And if the gospel accounts are not good enough read I Corinthians 15:12-19.

    I feel fine being dogmatic about this.

    The other issues (TULIP, cessation, infant baptism, etc.), not so much they are still matters of interpretation.

    You must understand that you are dealing with a “Lesser Christian” so I cannot be expected to understand the Scriptures as clearly as you. 🙂

  183. zrim says:

    yes, it is clealry seen in scripture. but trying telling that to a classic Liberal. classic Liberals have a doctrine of the resurrection, but it is spiritualized, etc (i.e. “Jesus rises in our hearts.” sound familiar? not much different from the “evangeliberalism” with its doctrines of personal relationship, He lives in my heart and life, etc.).

    now you are saying Liberals are in error, right? i join you in your fierce dogmatism. but now you are placing other clear scripural witness in the “i dunno, maybe, maybe not” category. that i just don’t get, sorry.

    but you must understand, you are speaking with a confessionalist, one who has a high view of the confessions, creeds and catechisms as they simply bear witness to revelation. so i cannot be expected to embrace the reductionistic approach to confessional truth.

    i did “amen” echo’s post in which you were called a lesser christian. although echo charged me with “passing judgment on other christians” in another post. so perhaps i should qualify my “amen” a bit. you are a christian (all thing sbeing equal) who stands in error if you reject the heads of doctrine asserted in the canons of dordt. you are not a lesser human being; i don’t use such phraseology, matt, to get at your intelligence level (most PREF’s i know are indeed smarter than me) or any other human domain that tries to get at your worth as a person, etc. in this way, i still feel no need to apologize for anything i have ever said. (echo, and others like daniel, may want to think about the fact that he seems to have to regularly apologize for his words.) so, perhaps calling you a lesser christian has way too much reckless connotation in it? if you depart from the essential heads of doctrine, you are in error. another dimension to this “lesser” language is that a christian is a christian is a christian. scripture knows nothing of a degree of christian. thus, when we hear language that puts a qualitative spin on one’s status (e.g. “he is more spiritual than me, he’s really spiritual.”) it is a mistake. being mature or immature is different, but if one is a christian there are no classes or rungs or degrees, etc. this flies in the face of a lot which informs american made PREF’ism, i think. it certainly frustrates everything from pentecostalism to socially sanctioned and acceptable, mainstrean evangy’ism with its own class of “carnal christians” or some other such classism.

    so, echo’s term is actually quite faulty in this way.


  184. Matt S says:

    I like my new label and will wear it with pride, no hard feelings. 🙂

    Your position is understood, what you see as a matter of fact (clear spiritual witness) I see as a matter of interpretation. I am ok with this, we will agreee to disagree. At least we will have something to discuss on these blogs!

  185. Echo_ohcE says:


    The resurrection IS clear. But people still allegorize it. They interpret it to mean that Christ raised from the dead BY indwelling the church, his BODY. That’s what they say. I don’t think what they say is legitimate, but they still say it.

    If you had watched James Cameron’s recent documentary, you would have seen these people, people who say that whether or not Christ bodily raised from the dead doesn’t affect their faith one way or the other.

    Now you may find their allegorical interpretation of this to be ridiculous, and so do I, but that is their interpretation.

    But just as you find their interpretation of this to be ridiculous, and you write them off as idiots, or that they simply are unbelievers – now you know how the reformed feel when you look at passages that clearly teach predestination, which people find ways to explain away, just like these people explain away the resurrection. For example:

    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

    I think that’s crystal clear and the meaning is pretty obvious. To me, it’s just as much common sense to look at this passage and get our doctrine of predestination as it is for you to look at the following and get the resurrection:

    1Co 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

    In both cases, the doctrine derived from them is equally obvious. But you and your comrades say that since the meaning of this next verse is also obvious, then the obvious meaning of Eph 1 must be interpreted a different way:

    Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    So since the meaning of this verse seems obvious to you, therefore you won’t accept the obvious and clear meaning of what is written in Eph 1.

    But you see, the people who deny the resurrection aren’t doing anything different. Something is obvious to them somewhere, and so that causes them to deny the obvious meaning of 1 Cor 15 above.

    Well, the reformed think that John 3:16 is obvious too.

    The reformed, in a sense, don’t deny that God loves his entire creation. Here is a parable.

    At the fall, man turned his back against God in order to have a love affair with Satan. It’s like God came home and found his wife in bed with another man, his creation in bed with Satan. This wouldn’t have incurred the wrath of God in the first place if he did not first love his creation and unite himself to it by being the God of creation. The relationship between the Creator and his creation is very much like the relationship between man and wife. It is a covenant. It has certain rules, just like a marriage.

    In a marriage, you’re not supposed to have sex with people other than your spouse. But the creation did just that, figuratively speaking, by “playing the whore” with the devil.

    Those who are condemned to hell are condemned as an adulterous wife. So you ask a husband if he loves his wife whom he has found in bed with another man. Yes, he does love her, and it’s precisely because of that love that he’d probably like to strangle her. His anger is the result of his love.

    In the same way, God was married to the creation, and Adam’s only rule was not to eat of that tree. By eating of the tree, he committed adultery with the devil. Now all mankind is guilty.

    But because the creation was still his wife, so to speak, he sent Jesus to die to redeem us. That offer is held out to all the world. Anyone who believes will be saved.

    However, we cannot believe of ourselves. We need God to breathe life into us that we might believe. Because when Adam sinned, we all died, spiritually, and part of the nature of this condition is that we are unable to have faith, because we are unable to recognize God as our God. We deny him his due worship. We fail to recognize our husband. Paul says:

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    The mind set on the flesh is sinful, unregenerate man. Like we all were before we were “saved”. The unregenerate person cannot submit to God’s law. And what’s the very first law? “You shall have no other gods before me.” Unregenerate man cannot obey this law. It is impossible. We cannot and WILL not worship God or even recognize him as God until and unless the Holy Spirit regenerates us and dwells in us. Paul confirms this:

    Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

    There are only two options: being in the flesh or being in the Spirit. If you are in the flesh, you CANNOT obey the law of God. If you are in the Spirit, you can, at least to a degree, because we all know that we cannot obey perfectly. But as long as you remain in the flesh, you cannot obey. It is impossible. So we cannot worship God as our God. We CAN worship God as our God, and recognize him as such, ONLY when the Spirit of God dwells in us. If the Spirit does not dwell in us, we are in the flesh. If the Spirit does dwell in us, we are in the Spirit. If the Spirit does not dwell in us, we cannot obey the law of God.

    So we reformed recognize the plain, clear meaning of this. You cannot obey God AT ALL, you cannot even acknowledge God unless you have first been regenerated, unless the Spirit first comes into you and dwells in you. God must act first in order to raise you to live spiritually, for in Adam we died.

    As long as we remain in the flesh, in Adam, we have other gods, and do not worship the one true God, because to do so would be to submit to his law. The unregenerate man does not and cannot worship God. He might go to church and convince himself that he is worshiping God, but he is actually only worshiping the idols of his heart, because his god is only himself. They are not actually worshiping GOD, but the god of their own making, the idol they have formed in their heart. They are worshiping the golden calf and calling it Yahweh.

    So we reformed conclude, from SIMPLE, common sense understanding that junior high kids can understand, that our doctrine of election is clearly laid out in the Scriptures. It is clear as crystal.

    To deny it is exactly the same to us as denying the resurrection is to you. It’s just contrary to a common sense reading of the Scriptures. The passages which you and those who share your view suppose contradict what we’re saying don’t contradict it at all. We have strived to reconcile the Scriptures – all the Scriptures – to understand them, to be conformed to them.

    But make no mistake: there is not a single thing in the Bible that is not “open to interpretation”. It’s all a matter of interpretation. But that’s why the Bible is so rich. You see, if you begin with the premise that the Bible never, ever contradicts itself, then you can in fact figure out what it is saying for the most part.

    There ARE some mysteries, but what many people claim to be mysteries actually aren’t. I’ll grant that the doctrine of the Trinity is mysterious, and the doctrine of the incarnation is too. I’ll grant that how God’s sovereignty and man’s free will are reconciled is a bit difficult to understand, and that there is mystery involved. And we cannot fully understand God – there is much mystery in the Scriptures.

    But whether or not Christ raised in the body is not a mystery. But some say it is. Whether or not God loves his creation is not a mystery. But some say it is. Whether or not God predestines some to life in Christ is not a mystery. But some say it is.

    But look, while we affirm that everyone is predestined in one way or the other, election to heaven, reprobation to hell – we don’t take these to be perfectly equal. Now there is actually mystery here. Because the divine decree of some to eternal death in some strange way that we cannot understand comes after the fall, at least logically. This position is called infralapsaianism. You can look it up if you’re interested. The point is, it’s not the same. People who go to hell go there because of the wicked rebellion in their hearts, like the woman caught in bed with another man. God truly did love his wife, the creation, but she decided to profane herself with another.

    It is because God loves his entire creation that those who go to hell go there. God would not be mad at them and condemn them if he did not first love them, and make himself “vulnerable” to being betrayed by them, like the man who marries a woman and finds her in bed with another man. If it wasn’t his wife, and if he didn’t love her, he wouldn’t care who she slept with. But this is his WIFE, whom he loved and bound himself to and united himself to. Thus his wrath is incurred.

    Think about this analogy some more, and I think you will like it the more you think about it. I’m really starting to like it.

    I didn’t know where I stood on this infralapsarian thing before, until one of my professors told me that the reformed are traditionally infralapsarian. I thought about it for a while, and honestly it makes the Scriptures much easier to understand.

    The reason why you and those who hold your view butt heads with Calvinists so much is that most Calvinists are supralapsarian by default.

    Here’s a very short write up about these issues.

    It is my opinion that you and others who share your view have been confronted with Calvinists who are largely supralapsarian, because that’s kind of how we understand it by default. Infralapsarianism is kind of a nuance on supralapsarianism.

    Supralapsarianism was condemned at the Second Council of Orange in 529. This was not an ecumenical council, but many people give it some weight. You might find this to be pretty interesting.
    This is a link to the canons of the Council of orange. For reference.

  186. zrim says:

    he-he, ok. you wear your label of condescension (lesser christian) and i will wear mine (obnoxious liar).

    i really do think this issues are compelling and really interesting. they tease out some very significant differences we all have yet seem to skittish to even acknowledge, for whatever reasons. and that really was my very original point when castin gmy lost into the discussion; i wasn’t wanting to get bogged down in the calvinist-arminian thing, but just trying to trace out some lines that go way too neglected. you’re gonna hate this, but i was right as to what was going to happen. albino would refuse the collar, being an american made pietist (good arminians themselves would have no idea what to do with him) and “our side” would be left standing with a great, big flat spot on our foreheads! i was just trying to explain WHY that would happen.

    there are credulous arminians around who recognize the intrinsic consistency in their system and no nothing of someone who would actually take the cafeteria approach like albino. both calvinism and arminianism are consistent internally, and to pick and choose really shows how under-grasped each is. remember that calvinism wouldn’t even exist had it not been for the assertions of arminius. our heads of doctrine are simply consistent refutations of each of their 5 heads. phenomenon like albino are american made approaches that are not only at odds with calvinism, but even good arminians would not want him on their side. and, again, he springs from any man’s bothersome system because he transcends anything that asserts anything beyond “bible believing christian.” that is not so much arminianism as it is american made religion. what rube had on his hands wasn’t an arminian so much as a PREF–and that’s a much more wily character.


  187. Matt S says:

    “They disagreed, however, as to what precisely went on in the divine mind,”

    Nothing like finite human minds trying to understand what goes on in God’s infinite mind.

    Just let God be God….

  188. Echo_ohcE says:


    Are you even trying to understand what I’m saying, or were you just reading through it to find something that you could point out that you thought was ridiculous, to give you an excuse not to interact with the point I was making?


  189. Matt S says:

    I understand excatly what you are saying Its all good, we will always be 2 different people, not a problem. :). This argument has seen better days.

  190. Echo_ohcE says:

    Point well taken.


  191. thin air says:

    Reformed Christianity is true christianity?????? Whatever.

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