Sep 29, 2010

Don't Teach Calvinism to the Lost?

It has been said by Arminians that the doctrine of election, or Calvinism in general, should not be preached to the unconverted, but, if true, only to those already converted. It is argued that to do so would harm evangelizing the unconverted. Is this true?

In reply to the first proposition, it is not true that the doctrine of unconditional election was not preached to the unconverted. Clearly, John 6 and John 10 are lengthy teachings on the subject and addressed to unconverted men.

It is not true that preaching the doctrine of election to the uncoverted is unsuccessful in conversion. Jesus and the apostles all openly taught the doctrine of unconditional election and were successful in evangelism of the lost. So too, in modern times, have been men such as Charles Spurgeon and George Whitfield.

23 comments:

The Seeking Disciple said...

I don't mind if Calvinist teach their doctrines to the lost. But I do hope that Calvinists do so in truth. For example, no true Calvinist can honestly tell a sinner that God loves them since its possible that He doesn't based on a misinterpretation of Romans 9:13.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Seeking:

It is not true that "no true Calvinist can honestly tell a sinner that God loves them." But, I would ask you - "can a true Arminian honestly tell a sinner that God hates him"? Does not the Bible say God hates all workers of iniquity? Can you tell the sinner that? Or, will you tell him that God loves and hates him both at the same time? Possibly in different senses? If so, then you would only be doing what most Calvinists do. We tell the sinner that God loves him, in a sense, and to some degree, but he also hates him, in some sense, and in some degree.

As Paul said that God is "the Savior of all men, especially them who believe," so we can also say that God is "the Lover of all men, especially them who believe." Do you see? God has a general love for all men, but a special love for his elect. I have a general love of humans, but I especially love my wife and children.

Do you deny that God hated Esau before he was born, or not? Isn't that what the passage says?

Blessings,

Stephen

Jeff Peterson said...

Jesus taught reprobation to those he was evangelizing in Matthew 11:26-27 and in the very next sentence issues the call to come to him.

God grew quite the church in the book of Acts by having His Apostles preach and never tell people that God loved them. Do a word search - Greek or English - the word "love" does not appear in Acts. Ever.

Thanks.

Transparent Tulip said...

i learned of calvinism before i was saved. it teaches one very important fact. our hearts are wicked and deceitful above all things and i was in need of a Savior.

Bruce Oyen said...

There is a big diffeence between what a Calvinist means if he tells a sinner God loves him and what a Christian non-Calvinist means.The Christian non-Calvinist means that God loves sinners with a saving love, and can appeal to John 3:16 and 1 John 4:9, 10,and 14 to support his claim.
As for the book of Acts not using the word "love," this is a vey faulty method of Bible study. If you believe that all parts of the Bible are equally inspired, you don't pit one part of it against another part.Sure, we don't read the apostles told the unsaved God loved them. But that does not change the fact that john 3:16 tells us the lord Jeus Christ himself says God loved the world and therefore gave his only Son to save those who will believe in him.
The Gospel of John never uses the words "repent," and "repentance." Should we, therefore, say John did not believe in repentance?
I recommend that you read the 3rd edition of Dave Hunt's book, "What Love Is This?" He does an excellent job of refuting Calvinism.
I once was a strong 4-point Calvinist, and have many 4 and 5 point Calvinist books in my library, and have read many of them carefully.

Bruce Oyen said...

I forget to mention in my earlier response that ,yes, the book of Acts nowhere says the apostles told sinners God loves them. But it also does not say they said God hates them. Nor does it say God loves his children. DOes that mean he doesn't love them?

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

I believe most of your comments were not addressed to anything I said. That being said, allow me to offer a few comments to what you wrote.

First, arguments from silence are generally not reliable. So, I agree that the comment about the addresses of the Book of Acts, to the unconverted, not mentioning God's love, is not a solid argument.

Second, the reference I alluded to, about God hating people, was from Psalm 5: 5.

It is not true that all five point Calvinists do not believe God has a saving love for the non elect. His saving love is seen in extending the invitation to be saved. What I affirm, however, is that God's love for his elect is more than this, for it assures that the elect will not only be invited, but made willing to accept it.

Obviously, God does not love all men as he loves his elect. The love God has for his elect is unconditional, but his love for the non elect is conditional.

Paul argued "once loved always loved" in Romans 8. Those loved by God can never be separated from that love. Yet, if God loved all men, in the sense of the apostle, then no one will be lost.

The apostle John refers to this special love in John 13: 1 when he says of Christ, "having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."

Also, we are told "whom the Lord loves, he chastens," and tells us that there are those who are without chastisement. (Heb. 12: 6-8)

I don't care to read Dave Hunt. His handling of scripture is faulty.

I don't care to believe in a God who, in spite of loving a man with unlimited love, and sending Christ to suffer his penal deserts, nevertheless sends him to Hell any way.

Thanks for visiting and for your comments.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen you wrote, "I don't care to believe in a God who, in spite of loving a man with unlimited love, and sending Christ to suffer his penal deserts, nevertheless sends him to Hell any way."
Your mistake here is this: You forgot that we Christian non-Calvinists say God sends unbelivers to hell for not believing the message that Christ died for them. However, 5-point Calvinists say Christ died to save only the elect and God sends the non-elect to hell who, according to Calvinism, were left out of the plan of salvation from the get-go. According to 5-point Calvinism, the non-elect can only believe if chosen to be saved and irresistably drawn to faith in Christ. Calvinists also say the rest, i. e. the non-elect, cannot be saved because God wills them to remain unsaved.He does not give them faith to believe the Gospel. So, in the end, their damnation is God's doing, not theirs.That is a God in whom I can no longer believe.

Your friend,
Bruce

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

We could argue back and forth a long time on this. I really don't have time for it now. I have a four night debate in less than a month on this topic (conditional versus unconditional election).

You are correct to connect this topic with the question of whether faith is God's gift or man's self willed act. I credit God with my faith and repentance. Arminians must credit themselves. God is the one who made me to differ from others who do not believe.

I understand the philosophical debate regarding this. You, like others, argue that if God is to get all the credit for a man believing, then he must also get the blame for another who does not believe. So, the Arminian solution is to give the sinner the credit for his believing. Only this way, they think, can the sinner be blamed and God excused.

But, what do the scriptures say? Does it say that God loves all equally? Do they teach unconditional election or not? Do they teach that God loves only his people with infinite saving love?

I did not write "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated," and other such verses.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

I will respect your wish, Brother Stephen, though Arminians would take exception to what you said. Perhaps your readers would profit from a look at www.evangelicalarminians.org.

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen, if providing the following quote does not go against your wishes, please publish it. It is taken from Barnes' Notes, as found on the StudyLight website. Unless I am mistaken, Barnes was a 4-point Calvinist. Here is what he said about the verse you have made reference to, Malachi 1:2, also found in Romans 9:13. the quote is taken from his comments on Romans 9:13:"Have I hated. This does not mean any positive hatred; but that he had preferred Jacob, and had withheld from Esau those privileges and blessings which he had conferred on the posterity of Jacob. This is explained in Malachi 1:3, "And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness," Comp. Jeremiah 49:17,18; Ezekiel 35:3. It was common among the Hebrews to use the terms love and hatred in this comparative sense, where the former implied strong positive attachment, and the latter, not positive hatred, but merely as a less love, or the withholding of the expressions of affection. Comp. Genesis 29:30,31; Proverbs 13:24. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Matthew 6:24. "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other," etc. Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother," etc."

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

For Barnes, or any other Calvinist, or Arminian, to affirm that "hate" does not mean "hate" and "love" does not mean "love," in the case of Jacob and Esau, is a perversion of scripture. Paul brings up the cases of each, not to show how God is discriminating in the giving of merely temporal blessings and privileges, but in the matter of salvation. How can you deny that Romans nine is dealing with salvation? Is not God having compassion and mercy on certain vessels a matter of salvation? How can you say that God's choice to love, show mercy, and to make into vessels of honor, is not a matter of salvation? Does not Paul say that "we brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise"? (Gal. 4: 20)

Was not the choice of Isaac a choice regarding him becoming an "heir of promise"?

When Paul says "the are not all Israel which are of Israel," is he not telling us who are the real children of God? Does he not equate being a "child of the promise" with being a "child of God"?

How can you say that the Potter is not making children?

If Paul is not talking about eternal salvation, but a choice to earthly status and blessing, then why does he think that this leads one to think God unrighteous and unjust?

If the hatred of Esau was not a positive hatred, then you would have to say that the love was also not a positive love.

Why do you want to exclude salvation from "those privileges and blessings"?

I hope you will listen to the debate I have on this topic when it is made available on the internet. Perhaps we can then have a more indepth discussion.

Perhaps I can also write some after the debate on how God loves all men generally and his elect specially and you can then respond.

Again, thanks for your input.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen, you might be interested to know that another Calvinist, B. H. Carroll, says the same thing as Albert Barnes. Here is what Carroll says in his "Exposition Of The English Bible" on the Malachi passage about Jacob and Esau:

Now we come to the exposition of the prophecy. We take up in this chapter three of the prophet's messages. There are eight in all. The remaining five will follow in the next chapter. Malachi's fundamental affirmation is that God's love was shown in Israel's election, and Edom's rejection (1:2-5). Here we have exemplified that pedagogical method. He first makes his great fundamental, theological statement: "I have loved you, saith Jehovah," one of the most fundamental and far-reaching truths that was ever uttered. With that as the fundamental truth in theology we hold to everything else. Malachi then projects their questioning: "Ye say, wherein hast thou loved us?" This question represents their very dangerous, skeptical attitude. This attitude, as expressed by "wherein," is manifested at seven points in this book, viz: 1:2, 6-7; 3:7-8, 13. But Malachi goes on and proves that God loved Israel. His proof is based on the history of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, in contrast with the history of Jacob, or Israel. His love is proved by the difference in his conduct toward Jacob, and his treatment of Esau. In other words, God's love for Jacob is proved by Jacob's history, in contrast with the history of his brother.


These nations were as near akin as they could possibly be, but the very opposites in disposition and destiny. We have some of the characteristics of Edom in Obadiah. Now the difference between God's treatment of Jacob and Esau is as he says in the latter part of v. 2, "Yet I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness." He does not mean that he actually hated Esau, but that Esau occupied a very small place, or a very subordinate place in his estimation, for God cannot hate any nation, but he puts them in a very low place in his estimation in comparison with others.


God's love for Israel is proved in her preservation, while his lack of love for Edom is proved in the fact that Edom is made a desolation, which occurred at the hands of the Nabataean Arabs during the period of the exile, somewhere about the middle of the century preceding this prophecy.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

I would rather take John Gill and the Old Baptist forefathers, as commentators on Romans 9, than Carroll. Read Gill's commentary on Romans 9 and you will see that he agrees with me.

Also, the Old Baptists who wrote the second London confession used Romans 9 as proof of personal election to salvation.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

I have Gill's commentary set, his book, "The Cause Of God And Truth," and his book, "A Body Of Divinity." I have read all of the last book, except the article at the end. It is a rich book, though it would have been much better if he were an Arminian. Keep in mind what Spurgeon said about the results of Gill's theology. Ha! Ha! Just having some fun, my dear brother.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother Bruce:

Please read Gill on Romans 9 in his commentary.

Spurgeon endorsed John Gill, although he may have warned against a dab of hyper calvinism in his later writings. Spurgeon pastored the church previously pastored by Keach and Gill, two eminent Particular Baptists men. He was a five point Calvinist just as his predecessors.

He believed that God loved all men enough to offer salvation to all, but loved the elect superlatively, or specially, and chose to give them that grace necessary to believe and receive the invitation and its benefits. I agree with Spurgeon.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

My friend Stephen, here is some of what Spurgeon said about Gill. It is taken from The Spurgeon Archive on the internet, though I read it myself in his book on commentaries and commentating:
"No one in these days is likely to be censured for his Arminianism, but most modern divines affect to sneer at anything a little too highly Calvinistic: however, amid the decadence of his own rigid system, and the disrepute of even more moderate Calvinism, Gill's laurels as an expositor are still green."

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

I am on the computer working on several things and so I am able to respond to you rather quickly.

I question that those are the words of Spurgeon himself. I suspect they are words of others. Please give me the citation reference from Spurgeon's works.

Here is what Spurgeon said about Gill that is reliable.

"In some respects, he has no superior. For good, sound, massive, sober sense in commenting who can excel Gill?" - C.H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Vol. 1

Now, how does this statement line up with the citation you give? Did Spurgeon change his mind?

Besides, did Spurgeon not agree with Gill on unconditional election and special atonement? That is the chief issue. He did not agree with Gill on everything, especially in eschatology, but you cannot show where they disagreed on the basic five points. Spurgeon did not believe that God love all men equally, but loved the elect with the greatest love, a special love that is denied to those not chosen.

Did you know that the Philadelphia Baptist Association recommended Gill's commentaries throughout the 18th and 19th centuries?

Blessings,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

One other thing. The citation you give from Spurgeon is not saying that Spurgeon thought that Gill was "green," but that the groups he named thought so. I think he is chastising those who do not esteem Gill highly. Tell me if I am wrong.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

If you go to Spurgeon's book, "Commenting and Commentaries," you will find this Spurgeon statement in the section having to do with sets of commentaries. It comes right before what CHS said about Adam Clarke's commentary set. By the way,it seems the reference by Spurgeon to Gill's laurels being green was a compliment, meaning they were not faded.

Bruce Oyen said...

I forgot to answer your questions and other points, so I will do so now: yes, CHS and Gill were both 5-pointers.I don't doubt the PBA recommended his commentaries. Yes, he spoke well of Gill's commentaries.But he still made reference to "the decadence of his own rigid system," which was not against his 5-point Calvinism, but most likely against the fact that Gill let it get in the way of evangelism. Speaking of Spurgeon: when I was a Calvinsit, we read Spurgeon's "A Defense OF Calvinism" out loud in a church service in place of a regular sermon. So, Calvinism is nothing new to me. I used to be a 4 1/2 pointer and taught it in church. I did not read Dave Hunt's anti-Calvinism book, "What Love Is This?" until after I left Calvinism.

Bruce Oyen said...

I should have mentioned that I, too, value Gill's commentaries and have used them a lot since getting the set maybe 15 years ago.

Bruce Oyen said...

HEre is another statement from Spurgeon about Gill, this time about Gill's Calvinism. It is taken from his comments about Gill's commentary set. CHS said:
"Gill is the Coryphaeus of hyper-Calvinism, but if his followers never went beyond their master, they would not go very far astray." So, we have 5-pointer Spurgeon saying 5-pointer Gill was a hyper-Calvinist.More than that, the leader of hyper-Calvinism, for that is what "Coryphaeus" means. Perhaps this sheds light on CHS making reference to "the decadence of" Gill's "own rigid system."