Monthly Archives: January 2011

Killing Ants

When I was a kid I used to get a lot of enjoyment from killing ants. I loved to stir up their hills and stomp on them.  Sometimes I would burn the loathsome insects with a magnifying glass.  A favorite method of ant termination was to flood their hills with water. It was satisfying to watch them struggle and drown.

After starting a flood I would sometimes stick a twig in the water to let a few special ants out.  They weren’t special because of anything they had done, but because I chose to let them live.   It was always first necessary to terminate a massive numbers of ants before showing any mercy.  I needed to express my attribute of wrath, and the elect ants had to appreciate that they were living because of my good pleasure.

Keep in mind that all of the ants I killed had it coming.  Ants bite even when you command them not to.

You might wonder how the ants felt about all this?   They were no doubt in awe and reverence that I let  any of them live.  I could have killed them all, but instead I maximized my glory by letting a few of them live.  I could also make up whatever rules I felt like, because I had the power to.   If the ants didn’t like it, they could always talk to the heal of my shoe.

I had two wills regarding the ants. My revealed will was that I really loved the ants and didn’t want any of them to die.   My secret will was that I hated ants and wanted to kill them. If that seems paradoxical, that’s because it’s necessary to distinguish between what I wanted to have happen and what I willed to have happen.

If all this is still confusing, remember, the mind of a grade-schooler is a mystery.

[For those who are concerned, the ant sadism can be traced to two events. 1) In kindergarten I blundered into a rather large red ant hill. This did not work out too well for me. 2) When I was in fifth grade I read a short story called Leiningen Versus the Ants. Read that story and you will hate ants too.  It was providential that Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull had not yet been released, or NO ants would have survived.]


Filed under Calvinism, Election, satire

Let the Sun Shine In

Good advice from Pebbles and Bam Bam, even if it is a little bit Pelagian.  This wouldn’t be broadcast today.


Filed under music

“When in Rome” and Irresistable Grace

I recently saw the movie When In Rome.  What’s fascinating about the movie is that the plot bears a lot of similarity to the Calvinistic concept of  irresistible grace.

[Warning, spoilers ahead]

In the movie, the female lead (Beth) picks some coins from out of a wishing fountain in Rome.   What she doesn’t realize is that the fountain is magical.  When she took the coins from the pool it put a spell over the men who threw the coins in, and they are all now passionately in love with her.  The problem is there is a guy that she really does like.  And he is also smitten with her.  He is trying to convince her that he really loves her, but she thinks his love is not genuine because of the magical fountain.  But the thing is, he never threw a coin into the fountain. He really does love her.

What makes the plot interesting is that the men under the spell all really do love Beth in the Calvinistic sense.  In other words, the magic fountain worked in such a way upon the men that it changed their desires, so that they freely chose to love Beth.

So we have 1) Unconditional election – Beth picked the coins out of the pool based on her own motives. and 2) Irresistable grace – the men whom she picked now love her because their desires have been irresistibly changed.

Lucky for us, Beth is smarter than the average Reformed theologian.  She understood that love is not genuine if it is not freely chosen.  She recognized that if her suitor’s desires were irresistibly changed, then he didn’t really love her at all.  And Beth wanted to be truly loved for who she was, not because of a magical spell.  Fortunately this is a sappy chick flick, and all ends well.

Beth recognized the problem with the Calvinistic concept of irresistible grace.  If we love God because he has irresistibly changed our desires, then we don’t really love God at all.

Perhaps God also wants to be truly loved for who he is, and not because of a magical spell.


Filed under Election, Irresistable Grace, movie review

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Here’s a great old Holiness hymn about the grace of Jesus.   I  like how it illustrates how rich the Arminian concept of grace is.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus
by Haldor Lillenas
(Verison on YouTube here)

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus,
Praise His Name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God’s dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

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Filed under grace, music

The Meaning of “World” in First John

The letter of First John makes several direct references to the universality of Jesus’ atonement.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 NIV – bold mine)

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. -1 John 4:14

In these passages John states that Jesus atoned for the sins of the whole world, and  came to be Savior of the the world.  The Greek word for world is kosmos.  The English word “cosmos” is derived from this word.  Cosmos means the entire universe.

Calvinists sometimes assert that kosmos in the context of John’s letter is limite to “to elect individuals from all nations”. The problem is that this interpretation is applied inconsistently.  And it does not make sense in context of how John applies the word elsewhere in the letter.

For example, 1 John 5:19 states: We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

In 1 John 5:19 “whole world” cannot refer to only the elect, because it is speaking of the present fallen world under the control of Satan. It is this same world that Jesus died for.

For the purpose of illustrating John’s consistent use of kosmos, here is every occurrence from First John. Note how often John makes reference to the present fallen world. There is no exegetical merit to change the meaning to “elect” in 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:14.

1 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.

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

1 John 4:1-3 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

1 John 4:4-5 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

1 John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

1 John 4:13-18 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. [Notice how the Calvinist definition of world contradicts itself within this particular passage]

1 John 5:3-5 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

In summary, The terms “whole world” and “world” as used in First John apply to the entire world.  The same world that is under the control of Satan is the same world for which Jesus died.  The Calvinist interpretation is not viable.  The Arminian interpretation is consistent.  Jesus is Savior of the entire world.  His propitiation applies to the whole world.



Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism, First John, limited atonement