Friday, August 28, 2009

Phillips & Wiemers part 4

just in order arbitrarily to send people to hell for not choosing a salvation offered only to the 'elect.'
Again, God is not arbitrarily doing things with the flip of a coin. But even more importantly, this statement assumes that men go to hell because they are not of the elect.

Now it is true that men do not believe or hear Christ's word because they are not of God. However, they go to hell because they are sinners. Phillips as well as Wiemers seem to think that Calvinists teach that men are desperately trying to get to heaven through Christ, but God is shutting them out because God did not choose them to be elect.

In an anti-Calvinist sermon from last year, a pastor used the analogy of men trying to board a bus destined for heaven. But the bus driver would not let them on due to the their not being of the elect. Again, this is not Calvinism.

Salvation is not merely "offered only to the elect". Christ is to be proclaimed and "offered" among all men without distinction. Men who remain in their unbelief will perish in their unbelief. The truth that God must draw men to be saved only demonstrates how wicked we truly are.

In other words, Calvinism teaches that it is the power of God in the proclamation of the Gospel that takes dead sinners and raises them from the dead. It is God by His Holy Spirit that takes the Gospel and applies it to dead sinners. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the Gospel preached and breathes new life into the soul.

This is the difference between a man centered Gospel and a God centered Gospel. Non-Calvinists quite often use extra biblical means to gain false conversions. Paul tells us,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
and again

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things


Todd said...

'Non-Calvinists quite often use extra biblical means to gain false conversions.'

As a Calvinist if the elect are predestined and set from the beginning of time, why would the concept of false conversions concern you?

It's a genuine question. Hope it doesn't sound rude.

Howard Fisher said...

What a great question actually. I have never thought of it. There is always someone who tries to throw a curve ball.

From the non-Calvinist viewpoint, this comes in the same sphere as "Why pray?" or "Why evangelize?"

The problem with the question also could be in the same category as "Why obey God if we are already justified?" Or perhaps we could ask "Why do anything?"

The other day I heard a person ask an apologist about doing the will of God. The problem in his question was that he confused the secret will or decree of God with God's revealed or prescriptive will.

As creatures we are to obey the revealed will of God. As a human being I do not know who the elect are. As a human being, I may be the means by which God brings a person to true faith. Yet if I am currently using means that produces false conversions, then I am dishonoring God and injuring further the one I am supposedly trying to lead to Christ. Therefore I become culpable in his injury. I would no more desire that than I would going up to a person and punching him in the nose.

Now how God in His providence brings about a man's salvation is His business. I am to do what is right.

On the other hand, even if I use the Biblical means God has commanded to call men to repentance, there will still be false conversions. We see that constantly among Reformed folks. People "convert" for all kinds of reasons. We are not in charge of the work of the Spirit.

In the end though, your question still leaves one wondering about freewill. The only thing that I might offer you is that God is personal, and as the LBCF states in chapter 3 paragraph 1:

1._____ God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.

Please notice that God's decree establishes our freewill. Without God's PERSONAL decree, our freewill collapses.

Perhaps you have noticed that non-Christians who say that Calvinism leads to a robot theology? Yet those who are "naturalists" or "materialists" end up in the fatalistic camp. Just look at certain liberal judges that let criminals go because they don't really believe men are morally culpable. This is where naturalism leads us. It is also where open-theism or Deism leads us.

Only the personal Trinitarian God, whose decree establishes all things, does freewill even begin to work.

Hope this is a start.

God Bless

Todd said...

Thanks Howard. Actually it was a Calvinist who taught me we are robots. I like your take on it much better. Best wishes for your JW friend.

Howard Fisher said...

Howdy again Todd,

My JW friend stopped by while I was gone this weekend. So hopefully he will stop by again. I think he will.

I did want to add a couple of thoughts. It is a difficult thing to understand that God has decreed all things when we have been brought up in a culture of libertarian freewill.

The Matrix movie makes reference to the different views. Naturalism leads to fatalism. If you have seen the movie you'll remember both the designer of the Matrix and that french guy both talked about how chemicals drive us to do what we do. So basically, we are robots in that world view, which is why many judges are doing the ridiculous things they are doing.

The same can be true of open theism or Deism. God becomes impersonal or just a type of mormon god. Freewill is one of the big reasons open theism is being discussed. Yet in doing so, we lose the Creator/creature distinction and relationship.

I believe that if God has decreed all things. So in one sense, I can do no other than what God has decreed. This however, has to do with God's secret purposes that He has not necessarily revealed.

On the other hand, God has created me personally to function with a creaturely will made in His image. I do freely choose to do what I choose to do. My actions and will are established by His decree. It is because of this that I am culpable for my own motives and actions.