SharperIron's Doctrinal Statement: Questions from Readers

The SharperIron Doctrinal Statement is available here.

Salvation and regeneration

This one came to us via the site contact form in July of 2011.

I would be interested in joining your group and adding to the discussion, however, you require that a person believe your Doctrines Statement and I have a problem with statement #8, which defines “Salvation” as being the result of the inner transformation of the man. This is not Salvation. Your statement is a fine example of the error of Roman Catholicism, which fails to understand the difference between, and relationship of, what Jesus has done FOR us and what the Holy Spirit is doing IN us. Salvation (which is the promise of the believers resurrection from the dead) is what Jesus has done FOR us, outside of us. The new-birth is what the Holy Spirit is doing INSIDE of us (it comes to every believer as a RESULT of trusting the the Gospel of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection). The new-birth is not the Gospel itself and it is not a biblical definition of Salvation.

Would I be allowed to join dispite my refusal to accept your false definition of Salvation?

Response

Thanks for reading our Doctrinal Statement.

Let me see if I can help a bit. Our doctrinal statement is actually lifted from the American Council of Christian Churches and was designed by them to accommodate a pretty broad range of groups that embrace the fundamentals of the faith. It is consciously designed to reject Roman Catholicism, along with many other errors.

That said, it’s just a doctrinal statement and these things are always imperfect.

Statement 8 reads as follows:

[We believe in…] “Salvation, the effect of regeneration by the Spirit and the Word, not by works, but by grace through faith.”

First, the words “saved” and “salvation” are used in a variety of ways in Scripture. A few examples: “Work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12), “salvation ready to be revealed” (1 Pet.1:5), “eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9), “salvation belongs to our God” (Rev. 7:10). The root idea is “deliverance” or “rescue,” and it applies mainly to God’s work of rescuing believers from sin and its penalty.

Many use the term “salvation” broadly and include regeneration as part of it. Item 8 in our doctrinal statement uses the term specifically for the deliverance that comes to those who have become the sons of God (John 1:12) by believing.

The statement does not deny that resurrection is part of that salvation. Many blessings not mentioned in statement 8 are part of our salvation or inseparably linked to it, such as being glorified (Rom. 8:29-30), receiving an inheritance (1 Pet.1:4), becoming like Christ (1 John 3:2), our union with Christ (Rom. 6) and much more. So the term “salvation” properly includes God’s work both within us and outside of us.

The new birth/regeneration is not something the Spirit “is doing” in believers, but something He does immediately and fully when we believe. If any man is in Christ he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, emphasis added). 1 Peter 1:23 describes believers as having been born again. Similarly, 1 Peter 1:3 describes believers as “begotten again.” Ephesians 2:5 refers to believers as having been “made alive” and links this to being “saved” by grace. So “salvation” and regeneration can be spoken of as distinct but are truly inseparable.

So the statement is an accurate, though brief, summary of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Still, if we were going to revise it (maybe someday we will), it would probably simply say:

“Salvation, the gift of God, not by works but by grace through faith.”

So if you believe that salvation is God’s gift for all who believe and that all who believe are also regenerated, there is no reason why you could not agree with the doctrinal statement.

Total depravity

Another inquired in February of this year, also via the site contact form.

Hello Brother Aaron! Of course you don’t really know IF I am your ‘brother in the Lord’ because you do not know what I believe. Fair enough? I came across your ‘fundamental’ web site while googling for fundamental Christians.

I see that one of the requirements of ‘joining’ this forum is to believe that all humans are totally depraved. It’s suprises me that you would make this a ‘requirement’ for entering a forum which is suppose to be ‘open’ to discussing, debating, analyzing or simply sharing what one believes (as a Christian) is sound doctrine. Now I am quite aware that YOU…have the option of deciding ‘what can’ and ‘what cannot’ be ‘debated.’

But in my opinion, I think your ‘reasoning’ (about what can and cannot) be discussed is wrong. Aaron, there is more to God’s Truth than what just you (and I) know to be Truth. I believe you should let ‘people’ share whatever they believe. In time, IF you are continually faithful to God’s Word, you will separate the sheep from the goats. Who knows, you might even find out as I have that many who say they ‘know Jesus’ as their Savior are not really children of God to begin with. Also I absolutely believe that the Scriptures are quite clear that though all humans are sinners, NOT all humans are totally depraved. I am hoping and praying you are NOT a Calvinist. (Did you know that John Calvin absolutely believed water baptism was ‘part’ of the gospel package? He was a lot like Martin Luther in his beliefs.)

Luke 8:15 –– But the good soil represents honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s message, cling to it, and steadily produce a huge harvest.

Hope to hear from you soon…

Response

Thanks for contacting me.

What do you believe “total depravity” means? We have found that many misunderstand our position on this because they are not clear on how we’re using the term. And many mistakenly believe that the doctrine of total depravity came from Calvin.

What we mean by the term is that in Adam all sinned and consequently, all are born sinners by nature. That’s the depraved part. The “total” part is that every part of human beings’ nature is tainted by sin.

The doctrine of total depravity does not claim that every human being is as sinful as it is possible to be or that everyone is equally wicked. It does teach that apart from a gracious convicting work of the Spirit, human beings do not seek God or believe what He says.

Hope that’s helpful.

Rejoinder

Aaron,

I hope and pray you are a teachable person. If you do not believe ‘total depravity’ means total depravity you should change your wording. Aaron, you are kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth. On one hand you say you don’t believe that all humans are equally (i.e. totally) depraved, and then you say that no humans (in and of themselves) seek for God. History shows this world was (is) full of examples of unsaved religious people (totally depraved?) people who ‘sought’ the Creator God of the universe.

Unfortunately in many instances there were no true Christians (i.e. true messengers of Truth) around (in past history) to direct these people to the God of the Bible. (When the Gentile who have no (direct) Law (written Mosaic Law) do instinctively the inner hidden law of God that the Lord has put in all people these laws will be used to judge these people.) In the Bible Cornelius sought for the God of the Bible–—even though he did not know Him. (He did not get ‘saved’ until Peter came and preached the gospel to him.) John Calvin would teach that Cornelius had no choice in the matter. Calvinism teaches (falsely) that God ZAPS people (even those who were not seeking God) so that they have no choice in the matter. This is where the foolish idea of total depravity originated. In Acts chapter 17 the Apostle Paul told the unregenerated Greek philosophers that if they sought to know the God of the Bible they would find Him.

Response 2

The “total” in “total depravity” refers to all of a human being’s nature. It means there is no part of him that is not depraved. This has never meant that every person is as sinful as every other person, though it does mean we all begin at the same point. Our nature is the same but we do not all make the same choices. The result is that some become more wicked than others in their conduct.

Consequently, there is no need to change the wording in our doctrinal statement. In any case, it’s a very old term and though we could use different wording, that wouldn’t undo the history. It makes sense to me to continue to use the term as it has been used for centuries.

Your understanding of Calvin is not accurate. Neither he nor Augustine taught that people “have no choice.” Rather, he understood that a being is only able to choose what his nature permits him to choose. God cannot choose to sin. A sinner cannot choose to seek God—not because anyone is preventing him from choosing, but because he does not want to and cannot—on his own—want to.

Persons like Cornelius seek God when God draws them. Calvin et. al., have never taught that people who are being drawn do not seek God prior to believing. But in these cases, it’s a gracious drawing that moves them toward God and not their own nature.

Yes, Paul told his hearers they would find God if they sought Him. He did not say they were able in themselves to seek Him. Rather, he described what would happen if they did and urged them to do so. Preaching the gospel involves a call to all to repent and believe (seek God). God graciously produces results in hearers. When He draws them, they see the truth of the gospel message and choose to repent and believe. These ideas are far older than Calvin or even Augustine.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

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There are 62 Comments

Jay's picture

I just looked at Philippians 2 in my GNT (UBS 4 text), and the only problem with your interpretation is that the word 'pas' or some form of it is used in those verses. The word 'pas' is always used when speaking of each and every item/person in a grouping. So there is no way that Philippians 2 supports the idea that Paul is speaking only of every believer's knee(s) bowing and every believer's tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It really can't be made any clearer that Paul is describing every human (and other beings as well, including angels) when he writes this.

BDAG translates 'pas' thus:
1. emphasizing the individuals in a group defined by a noun ('every' knee and 'every' mouth, in this case)
2. 'every kind of' or 'all sorts of'
3. 'every', 'any and every', or 'any at all'
4. to denote to the highest degree
5. all, the whole
etc

Furthermore, the verb used in v. 11 for 'to confess' should actually be translated as 'to acknowledge or admit' and should not necessarily be interpreted as a joyful exclamation of praise to God that He is Lord. It could (I think - it's in a subjunctive mood here) be translated as willingly said or grudgingly, which would dovetail in with the themes of judgment that I mentioned in post #28.

Is there another passage that you'd like to use to support this idea?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

No, John 12:32 is clearly talking about Jesus' presence in the world (not just at the Cross), which is in keeping with John 1:9-13, 3:19-21, 8:12-20, and other passages.

That middle phrase "when I am lifted up" is modifying the fact that all men will be drawn to Him which will occur after the crucifixion, not because of the crucifixion.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jack Hampton's picture

Jay C. wrote:
I just looked at Philippians 2 in my GNT (UBS 4 text), and the only problem with your interpretation is that the word 'pas' or some form of it is used in those verses. The word 'pas' is always used when speaking of each and every item/person in a grouping. So there is no way that Philippians 2 supports the idea that Paul is speaking only of every believer's knee(s) bowing and every believer's tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It really can't be made any clearer that Paul is describing every human (and other beings as well, including angels) when he writes this.

I never said that those verses refer to "every believer's tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord."

Instead I said: "I do not think that John 12:32 is speaking about the time when every knee will bow to the name of Jesus Christ."

Some day all men will bow to His name but that time did not begin at the Cross and that time is not now. I believe that John 12:32 is referring to the time beginning at the Cross and continuing unto this day.

"Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn.12:31-32; RSV).

"Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn.12:31-32; NIV).

I believe that the drawing of all men is in regard to the time which started at the Cross.

And since not all men came to the Lord Jesus then it is certain that the word "draw" does not mean an irresistible force.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jack, I just need a straight answer to two questions:

In your view, are human beings alienated and hostile toward God by nature?
In your view, does the sinner's ability to turn to God in repentant faith require gracious enabling by God?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Jack, I just need a straight answer to two questions:

In your view, are human beings alienated and hostile toward God by nature?


That is exactly how Paul describes hunan beings before they believe the gospel:

"Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph.2:3).

Quote:
In your view, does the sinner's ability to turn to God in repentant faith require gracious enabling by God?

I have already said God enables the sinner to repent by sending the gospel to them (see Romans 10:13-15). And as I have already said, I believe that since the gospel comes in the power of the Holy Spirit then there is no one who cannot believe it, even though there are some who do not believe.

Here we see that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" could believe the gospel if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it by the god of this age:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

Since even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel then common sense dictates all men have the same ability.

Now I need a straight answer from you.

Can you see that Paul is teaching that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel and they could if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it?

Thanks!

Dan Miller's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Now I need a straight answer from you.

Can you see that Paul is teaching that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel and they could if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it?

Thanks!

I think that everyone here will agree that "they could if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it."

Can blind minds make themselves see, or does God work that miracle?

Jack Hampton's picture

Dan Miller wrote:
I think that everyone here will agree that "they could if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it."

You agree that those who do not believe are blinded to the truth of the gospel by the god of this age even though Calvinism teaches that all men are blind to the gospel at birth?

According to The Westminster Confession of Faith all people are born disabled and this corrupted nature was conveyed to them by "original generation":

"They being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions" (The Westminster Confession of Faith; VI/3,4).

So according to the Calvinists a person's inability to believe the gospel is a result of original generation and not because the god of this age has blinded his mind to the truth of the gospel.

How is it possible that the god of this age can blind the minds of people to the gospel since they come out of the womb already blind to it and that happened as a result of "original generation"?:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I see I didn't put my questions precisely enough.

Jack, do you believe that human beings are born inherently hostile to God as a result of Adam's sin, that we are blind to the gospel by nature?

It certainly looks like you do not, but I want to be direct and clear.

(That we are born this way is evident in many passages. 2Cor.4.3-4 describes either what Satan did through the Fall or what he is attempting to do (i.e., keep them from seeing), not realizing sinners are already blind. I'd have to do some more reading to see if there are other possibilities, but in any case the passage does not deny that humans are born this way.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I see I didn't put my questions precisely enough.

Jack, do you believe that human beings are born inherently hostile to God as a result of Adam's sin, that we are blind to the gospel by nature?


Aaron, I will have to agree with The Westminster Confession of Faith where it says:

"The light of nature sheweth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared...Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable" (The Westminster Confession of Faith; XXI/1, I,1).

In the following verses we can see that "all men" can know God's eternal power and divine nature soley by the light of nature:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse" (Ro.1:18-20).

Those who "suppress the truth" of that which God has made plain are "without excuse" when they deny the existence of God. Another display of God's eternal power which is revealed in nature, the weather, results in many having a fear or reverance of God:

"He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard...Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty...Men do therefore fear him" (Job 37:3-4,22,24).

The Hebrew word translated "fear" in this verse means "to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe" (Gesenius's Lexicon).

This demonstrates that "all men" have the ability to know that God exists and also have the ability to have a reverence of God.

So to answer your question, No, I do not believe that men are born inherently hostile to God. If that was true then no one would have a revereence of God based only on the light of nature.

Quote:
2Cor.4.3-4 describes either what Satan did through the Fall or what he is attempting to do (i.e., keep them from seeing), not realizing sinners are already blind.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that those who are "lost" and "believe not" could believe if it were not for the fact that Satan had blinded their mind to the truth of the gospel:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

According to the Calvinists all people come out of the womb already blind to the gospel and that is the result of "ordinary generation." So the verses under discussion are not speaking of "what Satan did through the fall."

And your other explanation cannot stand up to the light of what the verses say. According to you Satan was attempting to keep them from seeing not realizing that they are already blind. But Paul says in no uncertain terms that if Satan had not blinded them then the light of the gospel would shine unto them--"lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ...should shine unto them."

That can only mean that those who are "lost" and "believe not" are not born blind to the gospel and are not "already blind," as you maintain.

With those facts in view will you now admit that even those who are lost and do not believe have the ability to believe the gospel?

Thanks!

Dan Miller's picture

Reformed believers often call Arminians Pelagians. This usually bugs me because most Arminians are not.

But here Jack, you are wandering into Pelagian territory. Are you aware of this?

Jack Hampton's picture

Dan Miller wrote:
But here Jack, you are wandering into Pelagian territory. Are you aware of this?

If you have an answer to anything which I said to you in my last post or in my last post to Aaron then let's have it.

But trying to undermine my credibility by "guilt by association" answers nothing which I said.

The verse we were discussing clearly says that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" could believe the gospel if it were not for the fact that the god of this age had blinded their minds to its truth:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.2:4-5).

To this you said:

Quote:
I think that everyone here will agree that "they could if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it."

I see nothing in your answer which demonstrates that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" do not have the ability to believe the gospel.

Do you believe that all men come out of the womb with an inability to believe the gospel and if your answer is "yes" then tell me how you believe that that happens.

Thanks!

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Dan Miller wrote:
But here Jack, you are wandering into Pelagian territory. Are you aware of this?

If you have an answer to anything which I said to you in my last post or in my last post to Aaron then let's have it.

But trying to undermine my credibility by "guilt by association" answers nothing which I said.


There is a difference between a correct diagnosis and guilt by association. The former is what Dan Miller is applying to you. Your attempt to level an argumentation fallacy at Dan fails in that he is not associating you with Pelagianism. He is looking at a key characteristic of both Pelagianism and your theology and seeing direct correspondence. Again, he is employing a correct diagnosis of your theology; he is not employing a guilt by association.

If you do believe that your position and Pelagius' error are truly different, then by all means mention how your following statement differs from Pelagianism.

Jack Hampton wrote:
So to answer your question, No, I do not believe that men are born inherently hostile to God. If that was true then no one would have a revereence of God based only on the light of nature.

Personally, as I read your comments, I see the following. You believe that man has a natural ability to fear God. You believe that the only real impediment to the gospel is (1) not having the gospel (which is a purely cognitive deficiency, which tragically ignores the heart), and (2) the blinding of Satan of those who have the innate ability to believe in the gospel.

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Caleb S wrote:
I'll leave with a question. Does salvation have both man-centered perspectives and God-centered perspectives in the Bible? One where man is focused upon, and one where God is focused upon?

I would say that the ultimate purpose in salvation is in regard to praising God:

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph.1:5-7).

"That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (Eph.1:12-13).


As one can see, my question had to do with perspectives. I asked "Does salvation have both man-centered perspectives and God-centered perspectives in the Bible?" I did NOT ask "What is the ultimate purpose in salvation?" Perhaps you did not understand my question, and so I'm asking it again. Perhaps, you did understand my question, and you chose to dodge answering it because of its implication upon your opening comments. There are a great many possibilities that one can speculate about. The one that I leave with is this.

Does salvation have both man-centered perspectives and God-centered perspectives in the Bible? One where man is focused upon, and one where God is focused upon?

And "yes" I'm still working on 1 Peter 1:9.

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Aaron, you wrote:
Quote:
So “salvation” and regeneration can be spoken of as distinct but are truly inseparable.

If they are inseparable then why do the Calvinists separate them? They teach that "logically" a person is "regenerated" prior to "faith" and no one is saved until "faith" is exercised.

Therefore, according to Calvinism, logically a person is "regenerated" before he is "saved" so therefore these two things cannot be described as being "inseparable."

At least that is the way I understand it. What am I missing?

Thanks!


Going way back to the opening argument raised. Jack, I would strongly recommend that you begin to understand the difference between Calvinism and your own theology. I'm not about to employ a guilt by association upon you; I'm only going to point out a correspondence between the way you argue and the way that others argue. The following in used as an example.

The atheist says that God is impossible; He is contradictory. Question like "Who created God?" and the like arise often. I have often told them that it is not God who is contradictory. It is the atheists "idea" of God that is contradictory. You see, the atheist inserts into the Christian worldview the idea that there is an infinite regress of causality. This is an insert; it is not a part of the Christian worldview. In the Christian worldview, God is eternal; He has no beginning or end. Therefore, the question actually reads, "Who began a beginning-less God?" The question itself is absurd, backfiring upon the one asking. Again, it is not God that is contradictory, but it is the false conceptions of atheists that is contradictory. They have falsely inserted an element of their worldview into that of Christianity, and therefore their conception of Christianity does not make sense. Myself and others often call this the atheistic finite straw man god fallacy.

The point of mentioning this is that this is what I see you do at times. What is it that you do at times? You employ, not the same argument, but you employ the same kind of argument as the atheist above. You "insert" an element of your theology into that of Calvinism, and then you proclaim that there is a problem with Calvinism. The problem is that your argument is "dressed" in the fashion that Calvinism itself is self-contradictory, when in reality it is your conception of Calvinism due to your own insertions that is self-contradictory. The problem lies not with Calvinism; the problem lies with how you have misunderstood Calvinism due to your own theology's glasses, which you are seeing through.

So with all that said, what is the problem? The problem is simply this. Calvinism has a less restrictive understanding of "salvation" that you are bringing to the table. "Salvation" is seen in both perspectives. Man is an actor, and from a man-centered vantage point Scripture will often speak. God is also an actor, and from a God-centered vantage point Scripture will often speak. Hence, to view salvation in terms of regeneration is to focus upon God as the actor. However, this is not to exclude the other perspective; it is to state what Scripture states about a single perspective. There is no separation of the inseparable; there is only a more nuanced understanding of salvation than what you are inserting into Calvinism.

Now, certainly you most likely disagree with Calvinism, but this is another kind of argument altogether. What the quoted post above is trying to do is to perform a reductio ad absurdum. It is an attempt to demonstrate an absurdity within Calvinism. It is another argument to say that Calvinism, in your opinion, does not correspond with Scripture. One deals with Calvinism within the domain of Calvinistic beliefs and principles, and the other critiques Calvinism from the ultimate vantage point: Scripture. However, inserting elements of your own theology into Calvinism is to create a straw-man, and you (being one who should no better) should not resort to such fallacious argumentation. What is inserted? Answer: your opinion of salvation.

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
According to the Calvinists all people come out of the womb already blind to the gospel and that is the result of "ordinary generation." So the verses under discussion are not speaking of "what Satan did through the fall."

And your other explanation cannot stand up to the light of what the verses say. According to you Satan was attempting to keep them from seeing not realizing that they are already blind. But Paul says in no uncertain terms that if Satan had not blinded them then the light of the gospel would shine unto them--"lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ...should shine unto them."

That can only mean that those who are "lost" and "believe not" are not born blind to the gospel and are not "already blind," as you maintain.

With those facts in view will you now admit that even those who are lost and do not believe have the ability to believe the gospel?

Thanks!


You are not understanding the nature of the internal bondage of the heart, and so you are not seeing the alternative of which is being spoken of. I wrote to you of this before. There is a distinction between an internal blindness of the heart and a blindness of the intellect. You love, with an absolute unfaltering passion, an equivocation between the two.

Let us take atheism as an example. Certainly, this qualifies as a way in which Satan has blinded people. This is an intellectual problem for the atheist. Writers like Richard Dawkins are deluded into thinking that because he can explain the earth and its processes via naturalistic explanation, that therefore God is not needed as an explanation. Yes, I read the "God Delusion"; and I wrote a critique of that wretched little book. This is an issue of the worldview. The atheist has a different mindset, different values, different ultimate authority, different metaphysic, and a different epistemology. All of this constitutes a very concrete example of how Satan has blinded the minds of them which believe not. We don't have to speculate; he is directly contradictory to Scripture on a multitude of points, to put it mildly.

On the other hand, people unlike yourself, also see in Scripture the addressing of the heart. This is an internal bondage of nature. It is a different kind. Certainly, it often works hand-in-hand with Satan's blinding, but it is of a different sort. How is it different? Isn't the worldview bondage of an internal nature? Certainly, it is; but it exists cognitively. It does not exist emotively or affectionally. It is one thing to not understand a matter, and it is quite another to be ardently opposed to a matter in your heart. The mother may cognitively know how to kill her child, but there is an affectional antipathy toward doing such a thing. The drug addict may know (cognitively) that his drugs are killing him and that if he continues he will soon be in the grave. However, he loves (affectionally) his drugs too much, and he will not give them up. He is in perfect bondage to his habit. He will steal from family and even murder people in order to briefly satisfy his selfish desires.

There is no contradiction between (1) a person being born with an antipathy toward the things of God and being geared toward self-exaltation and (2) the blinding of Satan in the form of false worldviews. Again, there is a distinction between an internal blindness of the heart (or disposition) and a blindness of the intellect. On account of this distinction, the conclusions that you arrive at in your reasoning above are a non-sequitar. Or at best your conclusion is only one out of at least two options; your position does not necessarily follow.

In other words, just like the Muslim who reasons thusly: (1) God is not tempted, (2) Jesus was tempted, (3) therefore, Jesus is not God. Just like the Muslim, certainly Jesus not being God is a possible conclusion, but it is not the only one. The simple fact that Jesus is BOTH man and God at the same time gives the alternative option. It is only the blindness of the Muslim to the both/and scenario that makes his version of the scenario the only one.

Jack Hampton's picture

Caleb S wrote:
Personally, as I read your comments, I see the following. You believe that man has a natural ability to fear God. You believe that the only real impediment to the gospel is (1) not having the gospel (which is a purely cognitive deficiency, which tragically ignores the heart)

Caleb, I can see that you do not agree with my views but you said absolutely nothing that demonstrates that my views about this are in error. Why not?
Quote:
the blinding of Satan of those who have the innate ability to believe in the gospel.

Let us look at your attempt to answer this. You said:
Quote:
There is no contradiction between (1) a person being born with an antipathy toward the things of God and being geared toward self-exaltation and (2) the blinding of Satan in the form of false worldviews.

Calvinism does not teach that at birth a person has merely an "antipathy toward the things of God" but that he is absolutely disabled to understand the things of God. So if the Calvinists are right then the ability of all people to believe the gospel has been disabled so that means that all men are blind to the gospel from birth.

However, from Paul's words here we know that all men, even them who are "lost" and "believe not," could believe the gospel if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it by the god of this age:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

Since even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel then common sense dictates all men have the same ability.

Caleb, you have provided nothing that even hints that what I said is in error so if you want to prove that I am wrong I would suggest that you try again.

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Caleb S wrote:
Personally, as I read your comments, I see the following. You believe that man has a natural ability to fear God. You believe that the only real impediment to the gospel is (1) not having the gospel (which is a purely cognitive deficiency, which tragically ignores the heart)

Caleb, I can see that you do not agree with my views but you said absolutely nothing that demonstrates that my views about this are in error. Why not?
Quote:
the blinding of Satan of those who have the innate ability to believe in the gospel.

Let us look at your attempt to answer this. You said:
Quote:
There is no contradiction between (1) a person being born with an antipathy toward the things of God and being geared toward self-exaltation and (2) the blinding of Satan in the form of false worldviews.

Calvinism does not teach that at birth a person has merely an "antipathy toward the things of God" but that he is absolutely disabled to understand the things of God. So if the Calvinists are right then the ability of all people to believe the gospel has been disabled so that means that all men are blind to the gospel from birth.

However, from Paul's words here we know that all men, even them who are "lost" and "believe not," could believe the gospel if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it by the god of this age:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

Since even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel then common sense dictates all men have the same ability.

Caleb, you have provided nothing that even hints that what I said is in error so if you want to prove that I am wrong I would suggest that you try again.


(1) The first quotation you have of me is ripped out of context, thank you very much. I was speaking with reference to whether or not your were correctly diagnosed as Pelagian. It would be helpful if you addressed me according to context so as not to create straw men. It was not my intent in that post to demonstrate your error; it was my intent in that post to address whether or not you were correctly diagnosed as Pelagian or not. Therefore, what you are critiquing me of is a red herring that misses the point.

(2) yes, they are disabled, but you have still not correctly addressed the quality of the disabling. you have only rephrased your past words. You still need to get past your purely cognitive view of the "disabling" of Calvinism. Perhaps this is another of your "insertions". As you have contributed nothing new and only ignored my points, then there is not much to say to you other than try to get on board the points that are being made.

(3) The text you are appealing to says nothing of innate human ability to believe the gospel. Only your theological presuppositions are inserting it into the text. The sun may shine on roaches, but it does not mean they they will receive it; they will only run for cover. Men love darkness rather than light.

(4) "Since even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel then common sense dictates all men have the same ability." This is false, and that is not common sense. Again, you are totally ignoring (fallacy of omission) the points that have been raised. Just because you choose to turn a blind eye and remain blinded does not make your points necessarily follow.

Dan Miller's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Calvinism does not teach that at birth a person has merely an "antipathy toward the things of God" but that he is absolutely disabled to understand the things of God. So if the Calvinists are right then the ability of all people to believe the gospel has been disabled so that means that all men are blind to the gospel from birth.
You don't understand the Calvinist position.

1 Cor 1:18-25 "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
JohnBrian's picture

Aaron from post 6 wrote:
Maybe it helps to put it this way:

In every variant of Calvinism I'm aware of both of these statements are true:

- no regenerated persons are without faith (in the Eph.2:8 sense)

- no persons with faith are unregenerate

Or, to put it in more Baptistic terms:

- everybody who is saved (as in, "converted") is regenerate

- everybody who is regenerate is saved (as in "converted")

So, really, the question of when regeneration happens "logically" is a distinct question from whether it is separable from conversion.

I affirm these statements, and also the SI Doctrinal Statement.

I see regeneration CAUSING faith, while others see faith CAUSING regeneration.

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Jack Hampton's picture

Caleb S wrote:
The first quotation you have of me is ripped out of context, thank you very much. I was speaking with reference to whether or not your were correctly diagnosed as Pelagian.

You may think that if you prove that I am a Pelagian then that discredits everything that I said. But you provided absoultely nothing that proves that what I said is in error.

What is important to me is whether or not my ideas conform to the Scriptures. If you have proof that what I said about The Westminster Confession of Faith is in error then please provide that proof.

Quote:
yes, they are disabled, but you have still not correctly addressed the quality of the disabling. you have only rephrased your past words. You still need to get past your purely cognitive view of the "disabling" of Calvinism. Perhaps this is another of your "insertions". As you have contributed nothing new and only ignored my points, then there is not much to say to you other than try to get on board the points that are being made.

Man is either disabled at birth to being able to believe the gospel or he is not. There is no in between, as you imagine. The Calvinists teach that a man is born blind to the gospel at birth by "ordinary generation." But the Scriptures teach that it is Satan who blinds the minds of those who believe not. How is it possible for Satan to blind them who are already blind?
Quote:
The text you are appealing to says nothing of innate human ability to believe the gospel. Only your theological presuppositions are inserting it into the text. The sun may shine on roaches, but it does not mean they they will receive it; they will only run for cover. Men love darkness rather than light.

The verses teach that if Satan did not blind their minds to the truth of the gospel then even those who are "lost" and "believe not" could believe it. That means that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have an inate human ability to believe the gospel.
Quote:
"Since even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel then common sense dictates all men have the same ability." This is false, and that is not common sense. Again, you are totally ignoring (fallacy of omission) the points that have been raised. Just because you choose to turn a blind eye and remain blinded does not make your points necessarily follow.

Even though that is the meaning of Paul's words you just cannot seem to understand what he said. He said that if their minds were not blinded by Satan then they could believe--"lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

You obviously have no understanding of the words there which I just quoted. Let us look at another translation of the same verse:

"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God" (RSV).

It is the blinding that keeps them from seeing the light of the gospel. That means that if they were not blinded to it then they would see its light. That means that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have an innate human ability to believe the gospel.

It is you who is blind to what Paul says at 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 and you are determined to remain blind to it.

Jack Hampton's picture

Dan Miller wrote:
You don't understand the Calvinist position.

Let us see what John Calvin himself said about the following verse:

"And though God have winked at the times of this ignorance hitherto, he willeth all men everywhere to repent now" (Acts 17:30).

It is the gospel which leads to this repentance and Calvin understood that men are "without excuse" for not believing it:

" 'Now he willeth all men.' In these words Paul teacheth that we must give ear to God so soon as he speaketh, as it is written, 'Today, if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts,' (Psalm 95:7,8; Hebrews 3:7,8.) For the stubbornness of those men is without excuse, who foreslow [neglect ] this opportunity when God doth gently call them unto him. Also, we gather out of this place to what end the gospel is preached, to wit, that God may gather us to himself from the former errors of our life. Therefore, so oft as the voice of the gospel doth sound in our ears, let us know that God doth exhort us unto repentance" (John Calvin, Commentary on Acts 17:30).

If all men are not given the ability to believe the gospel then they would have a very good "excuse" for not believing. They could say, "Since I was born in such a state whereby I have no ability to believe the gospel how can I be held guilty for not believing?"

The word "guilty" means "having incurred guilt or grave culpability, as by committing an offense or crime" (The Americal College Dictionary).

In order to be "guilty" of an offense a person must be "culpable" which is "deserving blame or censure" (American College Dictionary).

How can anyone be "guilty" or "deserve blame" for not believing the gospel if he has no ability to believe it? The fact is that no one can be found "guilty" of not believing the gospel if he does not have the ability to believe it.

If the Calvinists are right then we must believe that God condemns a man because he does not believe the gospel even though that same man is not "guilty":

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn.3:18).

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
You may think that if you prove that I am a Pelagian then that discredits everything that I said. But you provided absoultely nothing that proves that what I said is in error.

You are inserting things into my comments here. My point was concerning a diagnosis. It is you that is furthering the argument as "therefore that discredits everything that I said." This is a straw man. What I really think is that this should at least give you some pause. Maybe it should give rise to some self examination on your part. But here you still plod along, boldly going with complete disregard to history. As the saying goes, those who ignore history's lessons are doomed to repeat it. Or it goes something like that.

Jack Hampton wrote:
What is important to me is whether or not my ideas conform to the Scriptures. If you have proof that what I said about The Westminster Confession of Faith is in error then please provide that proof.
Yes, this is why I mentioned what I did earlier. You know, what you are ignoring, the part about an internal critique vs a critique from Scripture. Inserting vs letting a system stand upon its own principles, etc.

Jack Hampton wrote:
Man is either disabled at birth to being able to believe the gospel or he is not. There is no in between, as you imagine. The Calvinists teach that a man is born blind to the gospel at birth by "ordinary generation." But the Scriptures teach that it is Satan who blinds the minds of those who believe not. How is it possible for Satan to blind them who are already blind?
Ok, this is now the second time that you have completely ignored my post concerning the difference between congnitive blindness and moral/affectional blindness. Fallacy of omission. That you keep choosing to ignore the position is not helping you, you know, turning a blind eye to it. Oh yea, almost forgot, your comment is employing a false bifurcation/false dilemma because of the other fallacy of omission.

Jack Hampton wrote:
The verses teach that if Satan did not blind their minds to the truth of the gospel then even those who are "lost" and "believe not" could believe it. That means that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have an inate human ability to believe the gospel.
Does the text say that they "could believe it"? It does not! I'll quote the NIV for you; the version really doesn't matter to me.

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

What the text does say is (1) the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, (2) the result is that they cannot see the light of the gospel, (3) and this gospel displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

What the text does not say is (1) what would happen if Satan did not blind them

Also, even if the gospel did shine on them, like it did in John 8:31-58. They would flee from it like roaches to the light. For men love darkness rather than light. Oh wait!!!! Didn't I say that before? Hmmmm, maybe the last post. What was I quoting from? Well, let's see; maybe it was from John 3:19. But hey, since you're on a roll at ignoring the point, just skip over that too.

Jack Hampton wrote:
Even though that is the meaning of Paul's words you just cannot seem to understand what he said. He said that if their minds were not blinded by Satan then they could believe--"lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
I'm sorry. That is your idea of the meaning which you have imposed upon the text, and/or a "possible" inference (not a necessary one) from the text. Certainly, even according to your version, he said "lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should sine unto them." However, that is a far cry from openly stating that men have an innate ability to believe. Once again, to repeat, to restate, and say again, over and over, if I turn on the light in the shed, which was pitch black, and then the roaches flee, it does not mean that those roaches have a natural ability to love that light!!!! Again, that is an illustration of the point that men love darkness rather than the light. So if the light of the gospel shines on them, then they will flee from it. Notice John 3:20 and the point about fleeing. Now, feel free to keep ignoring the point; keep consistent!!!!

Jack Hampton wrote:
You obviously have no understanding of the words there which I just quoted. Let us look at another translation of the same verse:
You are hilarious. Ha ha ha.

Jack Hampton wrote:
"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God" (RSV).

It is the blinding that keeps them from seeing the light of the gospel. That means that if they were not blinded to it then they would see its light. That means that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have an innate human ability to believe the gospel.

Once again, because you ignore the distinctions and Scripture, because you turn a blind eye to them, you cannot see. Now the real question is whether or not you CAN see the point. The fact that you can repeat yourself is admirable, congratulations. Maybe a few more times and brain washing will happen if that is your goal. However, I would still recommend that you reread the distinctions that I made way back a few hours ago about the cognitive vs more/affectional blindness.

Jack Hampton wrote:
It is you who is blind to what Paul says at 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 and you are determined to remain blind to it.

Tell me, how can you call me blind when it is you that has consistently ignored the point? It seems that you are baselessly attributing to me what applies to yourself.

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
If all men are not given the ability to believe the gospel then they would have a very good "excuse" for not believing. They could say, "Since I was born in such a state whereby I have no ability to believe the gospel how can I be held guilty for not believing?"

The word "guilty" means "having incurred guilt or grave culpability, as by committing an offense or crime" (The Americal College Dictionary).

In order to be "guilty" of an offense a person must be "culpable" which is "deserving blame or censure" (American College Dictionary).

How can anyone be "guilty" or "deserve blame" for not believing the gospel if he has no ability to believe it? The fact is that no one can be found "guilty" of not believing the gospel if he does not have the ability to believe it.

If the Calvinists are right then we must believe that God condemns a man because he does not believe the gospel even though that same man is not "guilty":

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn.3:18).


Ok, now you are just rehashing the old deflated "ought implies ability" error. As Edwards put things you are confusing moral ability with physical ability. And without that distinction you are using the (oh wait, I just happen to have Edwards' Freedom Of The Will with me)...... I'll just quote a little Edwards, since he covered this worn out objection so long ago. Also Luther covered this objection too, and many others, but back to Edwards.
Jonathan Edwards wrote:
It being so much insisted on by Arminian writers, that necessity is inconsistent with law or command, and particularly, that it is absurd to suppose God by his command should require that of men which they are unable to do--not allowing in this case for any difference that there is between natural and moral inability--I would therefore now particularly consider this matter.

The above quote was from "The Freedom Of The Will," by Jonathan Edwards, (Soli Deo Gloria Publications: Orlando, 1996) p. 180. As Edwards pointed out. (1) The objection misses the basic distinction between a natural impediment and a moral impediment. Certainly, his terminology can be a little confusing; however, his point is not missed. It is one thing to not be able to do a thing because of a physical inability or mental handicap; however, it is quite another to not be able to do a thing because one's preferences are utterly averse to the command. (2) The objection misses that "The will itself, and not only those actions which are the effects of the will, is the proper object of precept or command."(p. 180) (3) The free will scheme does not help the matter at all with its liberty of indifference or the modern libertarian freedom. Edwards continues, "So that the Arminian scheme, and not the scheme of the Calvinists, that is utterly inconsistent with moral governemnet, and with all use of laws, precepts, prohibitions, promises, or threatenings." (p. 182) In this avenue of thought, Edwards is simply pointing out that chance and no reason are the ultimate arbiters of the other notion of the will, which is to make an act of the will an involuntary act, which of course destroys responsibility.

Again, I could quote from Andrew Fuller, and Martin Luther on the topic. That objection is old and dead, with no merit.

Furthermore, it is a philosophical imposition upon Scripture, which is based out of a libertarian like view of the will, which is utterly impossible. The objection presupposes that a libertarian view of the will is the only view of the will (begging the question), and then it applies its own notions of "freedom," "forcing," "culpability," and "responsibility." This, of course, misses the reality that there is a compatibilist notion of the will, which is a fallacy of omission or false bifurcation based upon the begging of the question of libertarian freedom. Epic fail.

In short, Jack, the problem is not with God, but it is with your false standards of culpability and guilt.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There are several statements Jack has made, and Scriptures he's referenced that I really want to respond to in an organized way. Not going to happen tonight, but we'll probably do it in article form sometime down the road... maybe "SharperIron's Doctrinal Satement: Objections from Readers."

There's too much in the preceding posts to even briefly answer right now but I do want to point out that this the following is an affirmation of Pelagianism and a denial of the site doctrinal statement:

Jack wrote:
So to answer your question, No, I do not believe that men are born inherently hostile to God. If that was true then no one would have a revereence of God based only on the light of nature.

I also want to point out that I'm not interested in pinning "Pelagian" on you, Jack, so that I can dismiss everything you've said (I don't think anybody here is). Rather, I do want to identify a serious doctrinal error that Christians rejected in the 5th century because they found that it was incompatible with Scripture and sound teaching. The error happened to be championed by Mr. Pelagius. It was rejected, not by Calvinists, but by a pretty wide variety of Christian leaders led--at least through influence--by Augustine of Hippo.

(Much later, Jacobus Arminius--not a Calvinist!--embraced total depravity and rejected Pelagius.)

The doctrinal error of Pelagius, to boil it down, is that people are not sufficiently depraved to render them deeply and helplessly opposed to God. They're essentially neutral toward God and able to choose Him without God working any changes in them first. (I'll confess here to having some trouble distinguishing between what has come to be known as "semi-pelagianism" vs. "pelagianism." But the gist of both is that the natural condition of fallen man is not what is described in Romans 3 and Colos.1.21, for example.)

Jack's variation is not one I've seen anywhere else... probably because it lacks internal consistency. His view seems to be that:

  1. Men are not born in sinful rebellion against God, spiritually dead, blind to the truth
  2. Men (all of them, apparently) become rebellious, dead and blind when the god of this age blinds them
  3. Men remain able to respond in faith and "reverence" to God by looking at nature
  4. Men are able to respond to the gospel in every case because the Spirit always goes with the gospel, enabling hearers to respond

    Where the coherence is especially lacking is between b. and c. and between c. and d. If b. is true how could c. also be true? And if c. is true, why would d. (Spirit accompanying gospel) be necessary?

    In addition to lacking internal consistency, his view includes several iffy--and some false--premises (not going to list and differentiate, but has he correctly understood the fear of the Lord? Has he correctly generalized from passages about the Spirit accompanying the gospel? Is the witness of nature invalid if the hearers are unwilling to head it (is "unable" really different from "firmly unwilling" in the case of natural men?) etc.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

mbruffey's picture

God is benevolent whether He saves or not. For which of the angels has He provided atonement?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not completely sure I understand you... Certainly God is benevolent. Because that is His character, He saves. Because He is wise, He saves selectively.
(He does not save all, so it must be wise and good that He doesn't... we'll have to wait for future clarity to fully see the wisdom and goodness in that.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Dan Miller's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
If all men are not given the ability to believe the gospel then they would have a very good "excuse" for not believing. They could say, "Since I was born in such a state whereby I have no ability to believe the gospel how can I be held guilty for not believing?"
You seem to be asking, "How can he then find fault? For who has resisted His will?"

mbruffey's picture

God would still be benevolent if He saved none. He is not benevolent because He saves. He is benevolent because He exists.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not clear on why existence would necessarily mean benevolence. Satan exists and is not benevolent.
In any case, my view is not that He is benevolent because he saves but that He saves because He is benevolent. Maybe we are saying the same thing differently?
But I think people are on the right track if they look at His saving activity as the ultimate evidence of His benevolence.
"God so loved the world that He gave..."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

mbruffey's picture

HE is benevolent because HE exists. His existence is of another kind altogether. You have an entire class of beings created by Him for which no possibility of redemption has been provided. He is no less benevolent because He chooses not to save any fallen from that class; neither is He more benevolent because He chose to save some from another class (mankind). He would be no less benevolent if He had chosen to save none from either class.

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