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General Comments on Calvinism

In the following e-mail exchanges, the e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

> Gary:

I have been studying Calvinism and God's sovereignty. There is one thing that I can't understand. I know that God is completely sovereign; however, I also know that Scripture teaches that sin does not come from God, and He does not tempt us. When we sin, is our will doing so, and where is the line between our will and God's sovereignty?


You are asking one of the more difficult questions, and one for which there is no easy answer. The problem is how to reconcile, for instance, the following two verses (one of which you refer to):

[Prov 21:1] The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

[James 1:13] Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

So God most definitely can "turn" our desires wherever He wishes, but He is not the source of our sinful desires. The way I picture it, we sin because of our sinful desires, which result from our depraved nature, but God so orchestrates our sinning so that His will is accomplish. This does not excuse our sins, but simply recognizes that God can use it as He pleases.

The story of Joseph is most instructive. Joseph's brothers definitely seemed to decide on their own to sell Joseph into slavery, and they are responsible for their actions. But note what Joseph had to say on the subject:

[Gen 45:7] "And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. [8] "So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

So Joseph's brothers sinfully sold him into slavery, but God was somehow working in the situation to being about His will. I know that is not a perfect answer, but it is the best I can.

And finally, note that bringing in the idea of "free-will" does not solve the dilemma as one has to ignore verses like the ones above to formulate the idea of free-will as Arminians do. The Calvinist position recognizes that God is in control, but also that in someway He is not the direct cause of our evil decisions.

>I was just wondering if you remember me? I'm a young Calvinist who met you when I was in the process of becoming a Calvinist. You are VERY much like-minded with myself. In fact, I just brought up you today in a conversation with one of my non-Calvinistic (? I think--can't tell) friends. I told him that someone I know on the internet considers it to be a non-essential of the faith to which I agreed.<

I think I recognize your name, but I get so much e-mail it's hard to keep track of everyone. But it's so to know someone was thinking of me!

>WELL! Just thought I'd write to encourage you and attempt to edify you. I STILL frequently visit the site, and I REALLY enjoy the Defense of Calvinism, and Refutations of Arminian arguments. They REALLY edify me!

Well...I REALLY must get of the computer, but I wanted to write a short e-mail telling you what you and your ministry mean to me!

Thanks!! (o:
Justified by Faith Alone,

Thanks for the encouragement. It is always appreciated. I'll check out your Web site when I get the time.

> I have read much of your page and it is most insightful and well written.<

Thank you.

> I do, however, question your limitations upon God. It is clear that God is beyond the comprehension of any one man (apart from His own incarnation, Christ Jesus). This being so, God may, in His own judgement, reveal to each person the aspects of Himself that best draw that individual closer to Him. As such, God may be a God of grace to one, a God of mercy to another, a God of wrath to a third, and more others than I can comprehend. As such, to limit God to any set philosophy (even Calvinism) is to bind God in a philosophy of man.<

Calvinism is not "a philosophy of man." It is a theology developed by putting together everything God has revealed about his eternal decrees in the Bible. Moreover, Calvinism incorporates all the various attributes of God that He has reveled (love, mercy, etc.).

> Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor. Have you sold all that you have (including the computer you are reading this from which is hardly a necessity to sustain life or ministry)? Likely not.<

You are correct that my PC is not necessary to life; however, it is necessary for me if I am to do an Internet ministry. And for personal reasons that I won't go into, the ministry I am doing is about the only kind I could do.

> In the same way, though Calvinism may be the calling He has given you to bring you closer to Him (and I hope that it has), and while I feel that you are entirely correct in teaching such a strong doctrine to others, I pray that you are not so vain as to think that you possess all truth.<

Where on my site do I claim to possess ALL truth? What I do is teach what I believe the Bible teaches. I do so as humbly as I can recognizing I will be judged for all that I teach (James 3:1). But at the same time, I do have to follow God's calling in my life and teach the truth and rebuke error (2Tim 4:2).

> God is bigger than Calvinism, sovereignty, predestination, Arminianism, or any other human title we seek to bind him with.<

God is not "bound" by our systematizing what He has revealed to us. That is the reason He gave us the Bible was so that we could know Him.

> I do not wish to dispute your faith, for I hold it true. I wish only to assure myself that I have done all I can to encourage you not to beat down another dear brothers faith because his view of God is not yours.<

Where do I do that? I clearly state on my site that things like the "five points of Calvinism" are not "essentials" of the faith.

> There are many babies in Christ in the world, train those you can, but remember "that it would be better for you to have a millstone around your neck and be cast into the sea than to draw one of these little ones away" (best remembrance on all quoted Scripture).<

I am "drawing someone away" by teaching the Bible? I don't believe that is what Jesus meant in this passage at all.

> Many thanks for your time and I hope that God continues to bless your ministries,


Thank you for your letter. But I must say, it really doesn't seem to "fit" with the way I present my views on my site.

> I am an Air Force Chaplain .... <

God bless you in your position.

>Thank you for your wonderful article Arminian Arguments Against the Five Points of Calvinism [found in my Scripture Workbook].<

You're welcome.

> Being raised Arminian all my life I have found that Reformed theology is the only construct that makes sense of God's Word. It answers the difficult questions of Scripture in a straight forward manner without making apologies for God. It is not readily accepted by the mooshy gooshy style of modern Evangelicals, but I have noticed that when I plant the seed, sincere students of God's word become ready listeners and then seekers of more.<

Agreed on all points : )

> I am relatively new in my studies and have not found any other point by point arguments and rebuttals such as yours. I have study many of R.C. Sproul's writings and they have been most helpful. Yours differs in that you offer a quick reference for arguments against and Scriptural rebuttals.<

It is now one of my "Bookmarks" and I have made several hard copies. If you have done more than this, I would like to obtain it... if you haven't, then please do.<

Thanks again!

Chaplain James

I am thankful you found the study to be so helpful. I don't have any other studies specifically like that one, although I did recently add additional material to that study. I also have two other Scripture studies dealing with Calvinism, along with several articles. You might find them helpful. They are listed at Calvinism.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.

Calvinism - General Correspondences
Calvinism (Reformed Theology)

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