Monthly Archives: December 2010

Questions for Calvinists

Here are some questions for Calvinists.  Most of these have to do with God’s character.  These are genuine questions that I haven’t heard good answers for, and help explain why I’m not a Calvinist.  You’ll notice that there aren’t a lot of questions about “free will”, as I don’t care about it except to the extent that it is used to protect God’s character.  Answers from my Reformed brothers are welcome.  Don’t  feel obligated to answer them all.

If sovereignty means that God freely and unchangeably ordains whatsoever comes to pass, why does evil exist?

Where did evil first come from?  Did it in any way originate from God?

Does God love everyone in a meaningful sense?

In what sense does God love those whom he deliberately withholds grace from?

Is God sincere?

If God’s hidden will sometimes conflicts with his revealed will, how can you trust what he says?

Does God have an intrinsic sense of morality and character that guides his decision making?  Is it meaningful to us?

If “Irresistable grace” is true, why doesn’t God save everyone?

Was God’s justice fully manifested at the cross?  Doesn’t it minimize Jesus’ death to argue that reprobation is necessary to show God’s justice?

I hope that everyone goes to heaven, Does this mean I love more than God does?

Does it trouble you that God deliberately leaves most people in a state of inability, and that their damnation is unavoidable?

Historically, areas with Caucasians have been more Christian.  If Unconditional Election is true, why does God show an apparent  preference for Caucasians?

Do you ever doubt that you are elect?  How do you know whether God wants you to be saved or not?

Why did God choose you?

How do you avoid feeling proud that God loves you and not someone else?

Why did God decree the holocaust?  How did it give him glory?

How does evangelism make a difference?

The devil wants all to go to hell.  God wants most to go to hell.  How can you tell the difference between God and the devil?

Ezekiel 18:23 If God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and wants them to turn and live, why is reprobation necessary or even possible in the Calvinist system?

Matthew 23:37 Why didn’t Jesus gather up everyone in Jerusalem when he longed to?

Mark 10:21-22 If Jesus loved the rich young ruler, why wasn’t he saved?

John 3:16 If God loves the world and irresistible grace is true, doesn’t that mean everyone will be saved?

Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.  Who does all refer to in this verse?  Is the first all used in a different sense than the second all?

1 Timothy 1:18,19 What does it mean to shipwreck one’s faith?

1 Timothy 2:3-4 If God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, how is hell possible?

1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  How can “whole world” mean anything else other than whole world?

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Interview With Roger Olson

Here is an excellent Q&A session that Roger Olson did with George P. Wood of the Assemblies of God.  They discuss various aspects of Calvinist and Arminian Theology. Q&A With Roger Olson.  Be sure to check it out.

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Differences in Calvinism and Arminianism

It is easier to respect the position of someone whom you disagree with if you can understand their motivation.  Therefore, it is helpful to identify the foundational differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.

God’s Primary Attribute: Calvinists understand God primarily in terms of power and authority. God is sovereign in a deterministic sense.  Nothing happens without God’s decree.  Any doctrine that limits God’s power is viewed with suspicion by the Calvinist, even if it’s a self imposed limitation of God’s choosing.  Arminians understand God primarily as relational. Arminians believe that God is willing to set aside his rights in order to be reconciled with humanity. God did this because of his great love for humanity.  Power vs Relationship is the primary difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.

The purpose of the fall: Calvinists believe that God created mankind in such a way that the fall  was certain and necessary.  God purposed the fall to display his attributes of  justice and mercy, which in turn display his glory and greatness.  Arminians don’t believe that the fall was necessary. God purpose was relational.  He created man with the ability to freely respond to him in love.  In order to facilitate genuine relationship, Adam and Eve and their posterity needed to have the capability to do things that God did not ultimately prefer.

The Source of God’s Foreknowledge:  Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, However, the source of God’s foreknowledge is different in the two systems.  In Calvinism, everything that happens is certain and necessary.  God knows everything because he has decreed for everything to come to pass.   In Arminianism, man’s doing is the cause of God’s knowing.  God sees our future choices and knows what we will do.  This is a logical order, because God has always had this knowledge.  Arminians  make a distinction between certainty and necessity.  Knowing something will take place is different than causing it to take place.

Grace: Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works.  Both believe that man must be drawn by God in order for him to want to be saved.  We disagree on the nature and extent of grace.  Calvinists believe that drawing grace is effectual and particular.  Those whom God chooses to be saved will certainly be saved.  God elects to save certain individuals and passes over others.  Arminians believe that drawing grace is universal and resistible.  God desires for all to be saved and draws all to himself.  Drawing grace can be resisted by the individual, to his own detriment.


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