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What if My Children Are Not Elect?

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An email came into the Credo House today containing this question:

I’m wrestling with Calvin right now and as a parent I have hit a wall…What if my kids aren’t elect? The idea sickens me but it has to be possible. I have a hard time just shrugging that off and saying that it is to God’s glory.

What follows is my response for the sake of processing the topic for yourself:

Thanks for contacting the Credo House. I have 3 precious children and I am personally a Calvinist so please know that I’m not responding to you from a purely intellectual standpoint.

Taking a step back from this particular issue, I think we would all agree with the popular saying that, “God has no grandchildren.” God only has children. No one gets into heaven because they were related to people who were Christians. Even the most ardent Calvinist and the most ardent Arminian would agree that each individual must come to Jesus on their own. So there cannot be any absolute guarantee that all children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, etc… of all Christians will go to heaven. If this were true then the entire world would probably be a Christian. The Bible is full of statements where every person must consciously believe in Jesus to have eternal life (John 3:16).

If someone tries to defend the “all children of Christians go to heaven” position there aren’t too many verses along these lines. One verse they could point to is the Proverb of training up a child and they won’t depart. This verse, however, needs to be kept in the Genre of Proverbs. Proverbs are statements to make us wise. Proverbs are generally true but shouldn’t be considered an absolute certainty.

For example, if I put 20% of my paycheck in savings and I’m careful to spend less than I make it is wise to think that I should be financially stable. It is a generally true statement. My car could break down, my house could flood in a way that insurance refuses to pay and I could have someone steal my identity and ruin my credit scores. The Proverb is still true. Although I perfectly followed the accurate Proverb, I can still be in financial shambles. So pointing to a proverb as a magical formula is violating the rules for interpreting the Genre. The Bible is made up of many Genres. Poetry is interpreted very differently from narrative (i.e., a woman’s neck being a mighty tower). We have to keep Proverbs inside it’s Genre.

Getting back to the issue at hand, how does a Calvinist cope with kids who might not love Jesus? First, I pray for them until I am blue in the face. Or at least that is my desire. I pray they would come to love Jesus as authentically and passionately as my wife and I do. My wife started praying for the salvation of our kids before they were even a twinkle in her eye.

For instance, when pastor Matt Chandler thought he was dying from a cancerous brain tumor, he realized the greatest thing he could do for his infant daughter is to devote the remaining energy he has to praying for her salvation and her future walk with Jesus.

Secondly, my wife and I are always trying to tell our kids about Jesus and hopefully build in them an authentic love for and desire for Jesus. Although Calvinists believe that no one comes to the Father unless they are drawn, Calvinists never know who those people are. Calvinists don’t have a copy of the book of Life. As Spurgeon said we pray knowing it depends fully on God, but we share as if it depends fully on us.

Ultimately, however, if a child (or parent, co-worker, etc…) rejects Jesus their entire life and dies in that rejection then we don’t commit suicide thinking that we didn’t share good enough so they are damned because of our failures to convince them of Jesus. We trust the loving heart of God that for whatever reason they would have hated a heaven where Jesus is the center of attention. We think we know better than God as it relates to saving people, it’s a lifetime for all of us to learn that He is more loving, more generous, more caring, more fair than we could ever imagine. I believe Paul clearly teaches people are elect for salvation yet he still pleads with all people, every one, to come to Jesus.

Even when people, like ardent atheist Christopher Hitchens, seemingly die as God haters I still many times hold out hope that in their last breath God opened their eyes and they came to Jesus. I reserve ultimate despair for later when we will truly know. Then God will console us and help us understand things we can’t know now.

In the meantime, however, I am pleading with all to love and be loved by the only One worth the worship.

211 Responses to “What if My Children Are Not Elect?”

  1. Tim, you answered this as an Arminian would, that if your children continued in their sins (ie by their choice) and died therein you would grieve for them but accept their fate.

    That isn’t the Calvinist position (as espoused by Piper) though. God is the only one who elects, or doesn’t elect, someone for salvation. If your child dies in their sins it’s because God did not choose for them to receive salvation.

    What would you do if you genuinely believed that doctrine? You’d storm heaven, break into the throne room, hold onto God as best you were able, and demand he change his mind, and you’d keep doing that until the stars went out or he changed his mind. How do I know that? Because if I were a father and a Calvinist I’d do that too. (as an aside, his protestations aside, I’m convinced Piper would too)

    However I cannot imagine any circumstance where you can love your children more than God does. In this respect Calvinism is wrong. If your children die in their sins it will not be because God didn’t offer them every opportunity to repent, and certainly not because he didn’t choose to elect them.

  2. Excellent response, Tim. I especially agree with Spurgeon that we pray knowing it depends fully on God, but we share as if it depends fully on us.

    Salvation is indeed entirely God’s doing – as well as a decision He made even before He spoke Creation into existence. However, He has ordained the Church collectively (and Christians individually) to be the means whereby He communicates the call to be reconciled to Him.

    Those whom God elected to save from before the foundation of the world WILL be saved. (That doesn’t, however, absolve us of our responsibility to carry out the Great Commission). God will draw them, regenerate them, give them the faith necessary to believe, grant them repentance, and justify them. No one can do any of these things themselves. Jesus said about salvation “with man this is impossible.” Paul wrote that salvation is by grace alone and that even faith is the gift of God.

    We might indeed want to storm God’s throne room and beg and plead with Him to save our children, but it is when we go home to be with Him that we will understand God’s sovereign choice not to elect everyone, not to elect even our own dear children.

  3. Good post. One thing I think we forget in this situation (and I don’t have children yet, so take my words only as valid as they seem to you) is that the situation in Calvinism here really is no less terrifying than the Arminian system. For in Arminianism, it is still 100% true that any given child either will accept Jesus or reject Him. No matter what you do, a day is coming when they will make their choice, and they were always going to make that choice. Because even for Arminians, God has always foreknown their destiny.
    So in both a Calvinist and an Arminian framework any given child has a chance of being either non-elect or freely unrepentant, and that has always been their destiny, regardless of God’s role. And to be frank, when I do have kids, if any of them are never saved (God forbid!), I would rather it be because of God’s wisdom than the arbitrary whim of their own will. At least if God’s choice is behind it then I can be assured He has planned it all for good, no matter how hard it may be now. If it’s not up to God, then damnation is hopeless arbitrary and meaningless, thus adding to its pain.
    Either way, I’ll pray for my kids’ salvation and teach them to trust in Christ as much as possible, and leave the rest to God. I can’t imagine the horror of losing a child, but from my position now, while it is still too easy, I will trust Him.

  4. I have said this to people before, and they all look at me like I have two heads …

    Why does Calvinism and Arminianism have to be an either-or proposition? Why can’t there be some people who are “elect” (the Calvinist opinion on how salvation works) ans some people who are “free to choose” (the arminian opinion on how salvation works)?

    The spurgeon quote was awesome, and it still works … “As Spurgeon said we pray knowing it depends fully on God (for those “calvinistically saved”), but we share as if it depends fully on us (for those “arminianially saved”).

    We put God in one of two boxes (neither of which makes sense entirely), rather than let him do what he will with whom he will.

    Paul, obviously was saved through God’s choice, not his. The Thief on the cross, IMO, was saved by his own repentance (Calvinism doesn’t make sense, other than to say, we’ll understand later.)

    Why can’t it be both? God *does* save calvinistically, but upon what foundation is the doctrine that God *only* saves calvinistically built?

    Likewise (for the arminian camp), God *does* save arminianially, but upon what foundation is the doctrine that God *only* save arminianially built?

    Accepting both arminianism and calvinism fits Scripture best.

  5. @Mike O: That’s not really possible. Calvinism and Arminianism depend on some fundamental differences. To unite them in any way would be a contradiction.

  6. Tim, (great post, by the way) send them to the Methodists, we would be glad to help out that poor parent! As for you guys, I think you are all messing up your “Order of Salvation”. Both theological points accept that only through God’s grace are you drawn to Jesus. “No one comes to the Father…” So all the “things” you suggested to encourage the child may simply be the expression of that grace. The argument is at the “point of acceptance”. Can you do that as an act of your will or not? Wesley and others (me) believe you could. That grace (call it what you will) strengthens and points you to Christ and -as we (Methodists) believe – when you accept it…
    The interesting thing is that when – in God’s own time and grace – we get to heaven, then we shall know the actual answer; when it does not matter!
    What a sense of humor God has.

    Go with God’s grace,
    Your brother and student,

    Jay Saldana

  7. Tim’s response doesn’t really do anything to ease the anxiety of the parent. Yes, no one is saved because of their parents, but there still is an important difference!

    For the Calvinist, even though we don’t yet know what it is, the destiny is already set. There is nothing we can do to change it.
    For other Christians, there is always hope. We can pray our hearts out like St. Monica.
    Calvinism is false and cruel. It robs people even of hope. It teaches people that there is a possibility that God may love their child, but not the kind of love that actually saves them.

    This parent’s fears are warranted! They cannot be dismissed by saying, “Well, all Christians have that possibility…” because other Christians have HOPE in all cases. Calvinism has only the pitiful hope that the letter in the mailbox is good news instead of bad. Hoping that the letter addressed to your child is a good one not a bad one, is no comfort, and not the SURE hope of the gospel.

  8. @Irene: Even outside of Calvinism, it is eternally true that someone of their own will either will or will not accept Jesus. So the outcome is still the same. There is always hope on both sides. On the Calvinist side, there is hope because we don’t know who all God will save, so until their last breath we believe God might still save them. On the Arminian and similar system side, there is hope because we don’t know what someone will do with their free will until they die.
    The scariest part about Arminianism is that there is no hope for someone who would never use his free will for Christ.

  9. @Caleb, that’s my point … don’t unite them. Why can’t they both operate independently of each other?

    I see nothing in scripture that limits God to only doing things one way. Let Calvinism work internally consistently like it does … for some. And let Arminianism work internally consistently like it does … for others.

    And lot God be consistent in all … if he does things two different ways … all the time … how is that inconsistent?

  10. If it has to be all one, or all the other, and if it’s all Calvinism, then I’m with Irene – that makes for a very cruel God. Do the math …

    Let’s say there will be a total of 10 billion people who will have lived by the time this earth ends. If we only have “elect,” then there are about 8.5 BILLION souls that God created, destined for eternal torment. That assumes 15% of the world population fits all the requirements of salvation, like “really” being saved and “really” having a heart sold out to Jesus. And 15% is probably on the high side.

    The argument that God “really” loves those 8.5 billion souls created for eternal torment is an argument only those who already believe it would accept. That’s like saying you have 10 children. You “love” them all the same, but only 1 or 2 are in your will. It doesn’t mean you love the other 8 or 9 any less, they just, sorry, weren’t chosen. Really?!?

    Sure, Calvinism great for the 15% that he elected (and how grateful you would be!). But for the other 85%? I guess it sucks to be you if you’re one of them. But hey, at least Jesus loves you.

    I don’t mean to be snarky, but it just is contrary to the nature of God. It is no longer based on love, it’s based on … nothing.

    If Calvinism is the only right answer, then the most loving thing God could do is *not* create the 85% destined for hell. or at least annihilate them rather than punish them forever for something they had no say in.

  11. The real matter here would be is God right? If your child doesn’t make it to heaven is God right in condemning your child? Wheter it was a “free choice” or predestined, however when you read the bible at face value it makes clear the freedom of choice we do have is limited in the nature of our will. So over all whether someone is saved or not is God right in it? People hate God in their natural state until they are regenerated by His Grace they do deserve punishment for the dispostion of sin. Do we really believe men deserve punishment for sinning against a Holy God? To answer some questions about elect I defer to the scriptures Romans 9: 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed [k]throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?

  12. @Caleb
    I think we are talking about “hope” in different ways. It seems the hope you are speaking of, I would call “desire”. But when you are desiring an impossibility, I wouldn’t call that hope.

    Back to the letters in the mailbox for a minute:

    I can desire that my child’s letter will be a good one, and I suppose you may call that “hoping”. But if I know there is a possibility he may receive bad news, then there is a possibility that my child’s case is hopeless. We could always desire good news while we wait for the mail to arrive, but that doesn’t change the possibility that the child whose hand you are holding may have a bad news letter addressed to him, which makes him a hopeless case.

    In other traditions, each little pair of hands will receive a good news letter in the mail. And it remains a real possibility for each one that they will open and read the letters. That is hope. We can hope they accept their good news because that possibility exists.

    A Calvinist cannot look into a child’s eyes and honestly say, “I am absolutely sure that God loves YOU and wants YOU to live with him forever in heaven.”

    The best a Calvinist can do is to avoid the real possibility that this child is predestined to hell. No prayer, no sacrifice, no hardship, no pleading, no tears of sorrow can have any effect. Hope in this case is futile. Futile hope is not real hope.

    Go ahead and tell someone–“Of course you have hope! We hope you are one of the elect!” Real comforting.
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you precious Savior for loving, really loving, each and every miserable one of us.

  13. Wow, what happened to the Covenant here? And the Reformed Creeds also? This has always been one of the weaknesses of Credo and P&P (in my opinion), where is the real Reformed and Reformational? We raise our children in the Covenant of Grace and Glory, and hope for their covenantal salvation in God In Christ! This is the essence of infant baptism btw. Note John Calvin’s Catechism 1538… “Since the covenant of the Lord with us is principally ratified by baptism, we rightly baptize our infants as sharers in the eternal covenant by which the Lord promises us he will be God not only of us but also of our descendants.” (cf. Gen. 17:7) (sec. 18). Calvin, along with other Reformers, points to such texts as Matthew 19: 13-15 and Acts 16: 15, 32; but his basic appeal is not to isolated texts but to the eternal covenant of grace (Gen. 17: 1-14; cf, Inst. IV.16.3). Calvin then reasons that “if the covenant still remains firm and steadfast, it applies no less today to the children of Christians than under the Old Testament it pertained to infants of the Jews” (Inst. IV.16.5). Note too, Paul in 2 Tim. 1: 3-5 ; 3: 14-15, etc.

  14. @Fr Robert

    Don’t you know that today’s evangelicals are brighter theologians than Calvin was? In fact, he could stand to take a few basic classes!

  15. @Irene: I hope you are of course joking? ;) The great ignorance today of so many “evangelicals” about the historical church, and the Reformation and the Reformers is simply massive!

  16. Caleb, yes the Arminian parent understands that God foreknows either the salvation or damnation of his/her child. But he/she also knows that foreknowledge is based on the free acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ by the child — and thus not on the active and causal will of God.
    And therein lies the key difference. The Calvinist parent is forced by his theology to accept that his child’s damnation, if it occurs, does so not because they have freely rejected the salvation God has provided for and in good faith offered to them, but because God Himself actively and causally willed, fore-ordained and rendered it certain. They must accept that damnation was, in fact, the end for which that child was created (Which position Calvin himself accepted — “[T]he ruin of the wicked is not only foreseen by the Lord, but also ordained by his counsel and his will…not only the destruction of the wicked is foreknown, but that the wicked themselves have been created for this very end – that they may perish.”)
    How horrid a position to be forced into! For me, my rejection of Calvinism was to a great degree solidified by the birth of my first child eight years ago. The thought of looking at her and having to conclude that she may have been brought into existence for the purpose of being passed over by God’s grace so that she can ‘glorify’ God’s wrath and justice through her damnation, was too horrifying to bear. That was when the implications for God’s character of Calvinistic determinism slammed home to me.
    Also the Arminian parent can at least always present the gospel to his child as a well-meant offer ON GOD’S PART, something the Calvinist parent cannot do.

  17. The bottom line here is it’s not about looking into a child’s eyes and saying I am sure God loves you and wants you to be with him forever that is getting too man centered. Lets not use emotional ideologys to determine this here the scripture is clear that God does not repent or change, any appearence of that is God working that into His designs of redemption. If things rest entirely on the “hope” of the child repenting all on their own than there we’re entirely hopeless. Romans 3 is clear no one will repent on their own 2 Timothy 2:25 makes it clear God grants the work of repentance into a man’s heart. This is a matter of God saving people children or not, God must be the one who saves the Bible is clear about that. So who is being saved is what we’re talking about, God could come down right now and the natural man apart from God’s Grace would say I still hate you and walk to hell slamming the gate behind him. Nobody is in hell that did not want to be their some people even make boasts of the wickedness they indulge in. If God is not sovereign and cannot work repentance into men’s hearts why pray for a persons salvation? It’s just something to think about.

  18. @Charles
    The alternative to Calvinism is not that people save themselves.
    The alternative to Calvinism is that God offers saving grace to all people.

  19. Also, Charles,
    What do YOU tell a child?

  20. Please also don’t think I’m talking about a God who sits angry on His throne waiting to send someone to hell that is not what the God of the Bible that would be a god someone is manufacturing in their mind. Man is absolutely responsible for his actions and God grants many oppurtunitys as far as seen in scripture and in peoples lives to repent and believe. The people who are condemned are because they do not repent and believe, as best as I can understand concerning that Romans 9 as an example or anything else is God is still right whether He shows mercy or not, so it’s not a matter of is my child elect? We would be asking that question all day Spurgeon made a comment about the shirt lifting buisness if all elect had X’s on their backs. However that isn’t how this works you just have to preach them the Gospel and pray God does a mighty work of regeneration in the childs heart and know that regardless God is right. Who are we any way to say God not saving some just because he has chosen not to makes him a moral monster? The bottom line is he should condemn us all because He is that Glorious and Holy and we are that filthy before Him. Some of these posts would make you think salvation is choosing to get out of the line to hell for the line to heaven. When the truth of scripture makes it clear it is a supernatural act in which God creates a new creature by eliminating the corrupted creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [a]he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

  21. @ Irene
    Well you tell them the Gospel. They aren’t going to get saved by you telling them about election lol. The thing here is the Bible is clear that election and predestination occur you cannot want to believe it but it’s there. So the question back at you is God still right whether he sends some one to hell or gives the gift of eternal life? Romans 9:14-19 is pretty clear. If God offers saving Grace to all people why aren’t all saved? Is God inneffectual in saving men? If your answer is yes he offers to all people but only some are being saved that contradicts if you say only some choose to be saved themselves than they are sovereign over salvation not God. You could go down lines of universialism or pelginaism with those mindsets. If God really is sovereign and really does move the kings heart like a river than the limit of our free choice is limited to our nature, I cannot will to fly like superman I can try it won’t happen not in my nature. The same with salvation if man is really dead in sin which the bible is clear about if no one is seeking God without his intervention that God is in control or we could just not pray than since God won’t intervene into a man’s “free will” that exists outside of God’s sovereignty. I am not meaning to be rude if it sounds that way I am just trying to dig to the root here.

  22. So, Charles would tell the parent in the original post, “You shouldn’t be sick over it. Be assured God knows what is best for himself.”
    Is that really Good News??

    I used to think that Protestantism in general held “better” news for the sinner than older traditions. But the more I learn about Calvinism, its implications, and its lack of real answers, and the more I learn about Catholicism, its message, and its view if the human person, the more and more I realize that Calvinism is surprisingly hopeless, with a weird love, and little if any meaning to human life. In Catholicism, I increasingly see the enormity of God’s love, along with endless mercy, real hope, present joy, and assurance of forgiveness that Calvinism cannot offer. I start to get a glimpse of what God being love means.
    I think Calvinists don’t know the freedom and joy they are missing!

  23. Charles,

    I think the root of it lies in whether or not man has a free will after sin, and how God relates to our will. We may not be able to choose God on our own, since we cannot by nature choose something supernatural, or above our nature, but we can in effect reject God when he offers himself, by choosing what belongs to the flesh, and our lower nature, instead.

    I think that is where the differences originate. Then you follow that river downstream and find all kinds of differences such as how to respond to the poor parent above.

  24. First I am not telling the parent not to be sick I am saying God is right regardless. The parents heartache leads to prayer and the desire to preach the Gospel to their children. When I see Catholicism I see Idolatry and Universalism like the Popes recent athesits keep doing good I will see you on the other side statement which he later said was misquoted. I am telling you flatly we All deserve hell you can disagree with me but the Bible says clearly all men Romans 3:23. So the issue here is what kind of strange love are you talking about where God is winking at sin? Like it is a small matter to him? It is so severe He crushed His Son on a cross. Does God know what is best you seem to want to bring God down and say you don’t know whats best save my child now. Once again Romans 9:19 God is right whether He saves or condemns He did not have to pour his wrath upon the Son. The problem is you are not seeing God’s love in light of how bad we are that He would save anyone is astounding. We are that bad that undesvering. I have done nothing but tell you that God is good and worthy of praise all the time and your not quite digging that, read 1 Kings 22:18-25 start to come to grasp God is in control of it all sending delusions to false prophets to accomplish His Judgements against wicked kings. God’s love would be someting I failed to define if I even tried but understand He is Just as well and cannot simply wink at sin. I am no one to tell Him who would and should be saved he makes that choice on His own merits and terms. Please also don’t make this emotional mud slinging just show me real scripture concerinng this matter. Emotional runaway leads to us putting what we want into the Bible not what God has revealed check Romans 9:14-19 Is it God willing to save or on the effort of him who runs? Is God unjust for not saving someone? God willing, and Certainly Not are the answers.

  25. God is not cruel and it is blasphemy to suggest that He is! Some of you make it sound as if God somehow owes people salvation (or at least owes them the opportunity to exercise some perverse notion of “free will” that they don’t actually have, since “free will” doesn’t mean the capacity to make choices but the right to make those choices, and the fact that God punishes the wicked is proof that no one has the right to choose sin, to choose against God).

    God doesn’t owe sinful man anything except eternity in the Lake of Fire. That God allows any one of us to even draw breath from one moment to the next is an act of kindness on His part. God doesn’t have to save anyone and He is free to choose not only whether He is going to save anyone, but also every specific individual that He is going to save. And, no, He doesn’t wait until He gets permission from you or me or anyone else to do it; He made the decision before He even spoke Creation into existence.

    God is the only truly free agent; the only being with free will, the RIGHT to choose. God can do whatever He pleases with His creation and there is nothing His creation can say about it. God is absolutely sovereign and no one has the right to presume to question anything He choose to do or not to do – including the choice to save specific individuals and not save others.

    No human being, on his own, will ever choose God. Man’s own sinful nature prevents him from doing so – there is none who does good, none who seeks after God… Jesus said about salvation that “with man this is impossible.” He said that there is no one good but God. Paul said that we were all dead in trespasses and sins. Well, guess what! Dead people can’t will themselves to life! Salvation is entirely the work of God.

  26. The confusing thing to me is you say we can just reject God brush Him off by choosing the flesh. Do you think Jesus walked up the hill carying that cross fingers crossed hoping someone would accept? I watched a baptist aqquaintaince out witnessing claim a 14 year old girl would have got saved at her preaching but, her friend held her back. LOL behold the power of your god he can’t save a 14 year old girl, that is ridiculous Jesus is Lord everywhere all the time not just over some people all authority is His whether they bless or curse His name. You assume because of this text format I am cold and uncaring that could not be further from the truth I would do my best to comfort this person and pray with them I pray for their family now. However the parent must it can wait a while doesn’t have to be now or your doomed lol relinquish right to child and self and recognize later that God is right regardless. The very first steps of Christianity are denying yourself taking up your cross and following him. Luke 14:26 The love for Christ should be so great that everything else looks like hate by comparison. I am not interperting to much there just kind of reading.

  27. @ Chancellor Roberts
    Amen Brother

  28. Btw Irene, you might want to do some historical study of your own on the so-called Catholic Faith and Theology! It is very interesting that Thomas Aquinas called himself an Augustinian, and surely taught a form of Augustine’s doctrine of predestination & election, which taught a quite real doctrine of reprobation, for those God left or leaves in their sin! No, God is NOT going to save everyone, nor has He ever planned to!

  29. Charles and Chancellor Roberts,

    Of course God has every right to condemn to hell and no obligation to save anyone, but he is MORE merciful than you give him credit for, which must cause him much heartache.

    Charles said

    “The confusing thing to me is you say we can just reject God brush Him off by choosing the flesh.”

    Didn’t Eve choose the flesh over God, and this before original sin, while they walked in the garden with God? Yet now, under original sin, we are not free to choose the flesh over God?

    As for Scripture, take a step back and look at the NT altogether. What do we see? Jesus warning over and over about judgement and hell. The epistles brimming over with exhortations to Christians to run the race, fight the fight, don’t give up, do this not that. These types of things are not aimed at creatures who have no ability to choose good and reject evil.

    The point is that Calvinism has nothing with which to comfort that parent. Only to tell her that her sick feeling is justified.

  30. @ Irene
    The most comforting thing in God’s sovereignty and election is the Hope God will change that rebellious heart to one that loves Him. Ephesians 2:1-7. Once again you have used no scriptureal support what your not realizing is in the state adam and eve lived in they had the ability to make these choices they were in Glorifed bodys in full fellowship with God. We are not so that can not be used to reason out what you want the bible to say for you. So my point here are the words of the Lord Jesus you seem to have a problem with Luke 14:26 . The scripture your ripping out of context is aimed a Christians Christians- meaning those regeneated and capable of exercising faith not the dead in sin unbeliever.The parent should be comforted prayed with all of this it is our duty to take care of our brothers and sisters however, God is to be glorifed and is right regardless that parent must one day come to terms with Luke 14:26 does their love for God surpass love for their family?

  31. You said the parent should be comforted and prayed with. Ok, pretend I am that parent. What do you say to me?

    Tim basically said Calvinists are in no different boat than other Christians. I explained how that was not the case above, using the mailbox scenario.

  32. @ Irene
    You want to know what to the parent and child? Tthe Gospel, that’s it our entire life’s water should flow from that. Your saying I don’t give God credit for being merciful all I have done is talk about His extravagant mercy in saving ANYONE at all. But that is not what your looking for it seems like you want me to tell them something that would please their ears but be untrue to the scriptures. God is Sovereign He decides who is saved period He has the Rights Romans 9:14-20, We all must come to terms with the “hard” verses Luke 14:26 . They are just as relevant today as when speach like that drove away over 5,000 followers when the Lord spoke it. The Good news is that this child’s parents can look to God with faith that His Sovereign will can wrangle in a rebellious child and that God will always make the Right Decision. Whether we think it’s right or not is irrelavent that is much too man-centered. Please Irene don’t think I am angry or hateful I am just trying to tell you period to the Point God is always Right. He could have stopped the fall, He did not because it is with his glorious plan of Redemption, make no mistake here God was not surprised when Adam or Eve sinned. The cross was established before the foundations of the world. Revelation 13:8

  33. As I have said before, surely the Parable of the Sower and Soils teaches the great reality that the only Soil that brings forth the lasting fruit of salvation, is the Soil that produces a real crop… “thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mk. 4: 8) And this alone comes from God’s own “regeneration” or “life” in the/a sinner, who then by grace & glory – through faith – becomes a real Christian! This alone is, “He who has ears to hear..” (Mk. 4: 9). And this is the Pauline Gospel! (Rom. 4: 2-5, noting verses 6-7-8, etc. Both Old and NT verses!)

  34. @ Irene
    Also I feel as though you seem to think a reformed individual preaches a strange Gospel. We don’t I say reformed because I don’t quite agree with John Calvin here is a link it is a simple two minute presentation of the Gospel by a reformed man I like listening to occasionally.

  35. I’m not catholic but @Irene, I’m with you. The Calvinistic arguments seem like double talk to me, and don’t really answer any questions.

    It’s interesting to hear how the scriptures “clearly say” one thing or another, yet we’ve had this generations-long discussion on Calvinism vs Arminianism. The Bible obviously isn’t “clear.” What happens is people find “clear” scripture that supports their view (on either side), and then explain away (that’s too negative, but not sure how else to say it) or excuse scriptures that would seem to contradict them.

    And when I read phrases like, “His extravagant mercy in saving ANYONE at all,” that sounds like a God trying to right a wrong that was not his doing in the first place.

    Really? God CREATED us!! And if pure Calvinism is really true, He’s the one that put us in the place of needing his extravagant mercy in the first place. That’s not mercy, it’s just planning. He did it on purpose.

    That’s like pushing someone out a window, and then grabbing them by the beltloop and pulling them back in and saying, “fine I’ll save you. because I’m merciful.” No they didn’t “deserve” to be save, but they didn’t “deserve” to get pushed out the window, either.

    I said it earlier … these arguments are arguments Calvinists would never accept if they didn’t already believe them. We need to be careful not to defend our THEOLOGY at the expense of reason.

  36. Mike your putting words into my mouth now. Either the bible says all men have fallen short and deserve to be punished or it doesn’t either God saves man or man is saving himself. Look all the way back to Noah. We know from Peter’s epistle that the ark represented the saving work of Christ. So everyone else that died in the flood they were unsaved, you can get into the specifics of why but the fact is God was entirely just in Flooding the world. He didn’t even have to save Noah. Noah found “favor, grace” completely unmerited. My man I am talking about God’s Glory and His right to give and take life period Exodus 4:11. It sounds like your just against anything I am saying rather than being for God’s glory and not trying to stick Him on trial with the how dare he not save or not offer salvation argument Romans 9:14-15 my man He is free to show mercy as He wills.

  37. @Fr Robert, that’s not the only way the parable of the soils can be interpreted. you may be right, but it’s also entirely possible that soil can be worked and changed from one grade to another.

    Is the soil “good” because it was created good? Or is it good because someone has been evangelistically “working the soil” and preparing it so that it could “become” good and ready to receive seed?

    It’s entirely reasonable to read the parable of the soils from an Arminian perspective.

    Unless Arminians don’t look at the whole of scripture like Calvinists do.

    Just for fun, what does a Calvinst do with 2 peter 3:9-10 “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief …” Explain it away? Arminians would say the bible “clearly” says the door is open and the final tally is not set. Calvinism, by definition, states that God IS willing that MANY should perish. In fact, he chose them.

    You can say “he doesn’t want them to, but he knows they will.” But Calvinism states that they were destined to perish from the beginning. So God WAS willing that they perish.

    I said all of that to say this … the Bible is NOT clear that Calvinism is correct. The Bible supports Calvinism. And it supports Arminianism. A Biblical argument can be made for BOTH, both with questions and qualifications. But the Bible is NOT “clearly Calvinist.”

  38. Or have you never read Colossians 1:16 all of everything is created for Him He is the potter we the clay. The purpose of the entire universe is to reflect God’s Glory the entire purpose of mans existence is to Glorify God. The reason the Bible talks so much about us (believers) not generic term here, being conformed to the Image of His Son is that it is most pleasing for God’s Glory being His Son who is the Exact representation of His Glory to be Reflected in all His creation. Also Mike give Romans 9:16-22 a read. it should answer your question without answering about God made us he should do this or that. Paul does not dignify it with an answer.

  39. @Charles I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, I was just saying what it sounded like to me. By the way, the end of the post re: me was similar – you’re putting words in my mouth.

    Let’s not do that. All I am saying is, don’t be so sure you have God figured out. I didn’t put god on trial I simply said I don’t think he belongs in the box Calvin put him in. Not entirely anyway.

    God is sovereign. And like @Jay said way up in comment #7, we’ll find out when we get there how it really worked. Until then, all we can do is try to understand how we *think* God works (some think Calvinist, some think Arminian) and follow him with all you’ve got.

  40. Ok, Charles, what would the Reformed you say to me the sick at heart parent?

    “Let’s pray for the salvation of your child.”
    –Will that help her?
    “If she is elect, God uses our prayers to help accomplish her salvation.”
    –What if she is not elect?
    “Then it won’t change anything”
    –So, . . . . it IS hopeless!

    Tell me Charles, what do you say?

    Take good care of this child, bring her up well, love her more than yourself, so that God can, in his love, destroy her for his glory?

    Sounds like Allah, not the Father of Jesus.

  41. @ Mike and Irene
    Also to more clearly answer your question here God’s wrath does put us in the Need of His Mercy. It is not because of the Devil Christ had to save us it was the Wrath of His Father He bore on the cross. God does desire for all to come to knowledge of the Truth, however Romans 11:7-8 make clear God hardens some people as well it is not that God has two wills and He is bipolar it is that there are different weights to God’s decrees just as the Lord speaks of weighter matters of the law in Matthew 23:23 God has His purposes set in His orders.

  42. Ok, Charles, what would the Reformed you say to me the sick at heart parent?

    “Let’s pray for the salvation of your child.”
    –Will that help her?
    “If she is elect, God uses our prayers to help accomplish her salvation.”
    –What if she is not elect?
    “Then it won’t change anything”
    –So, . . . . it IS hopeless!

    Tell me Charles, what do you say?

    Take good care of this child, bring her up well, love her more than yourself, so that God can, in his love, destroy her for his glory?

    Sounds like Allah, not the Father of Jesus.

    What about you Fr Robert, what do you, as a chaplain, say to this mother?

  43. So what I am trying to tell you is I don’t have all the answers I am not going to preach election to you Irene I am going to preach the gospel, grace and the truth that we must rember Luke 14:26 . I would gladly pray with you but understand if man can reject God than why pray? God is unable to save that rejectful man anyway.

  44. Brother Stumblefoot October 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Oh Boy!! You just opened the gate with this post!! This is not just theory we’re talking about; it’s right in the gut of every caring dad and mom.

    The doctrine of an eternal hell (supported, I think, by poor translations and poor theology) paints our God into a corner, OR it paints all the theological dancing and acrobatics and “best hope you can offer” into a corner.

    Say whatever you want about Calvinism and Arminianism, say whatever you will about how God loves your children, even if He cannot, or chooses not, to save them. At the end of the day, If Universalism or Annihilation are both wrong then let’s just all get disfunctionally depressed and go on tranquilizers or something . The traditional teaching of Hell just has little to say for these concerned parents.

    Love that could provide a safety net, but doesn’t, in the final analysis it’s still a scare in the gut, and love that would, but can’t, provide a safety net–doesn’t do much to help either.

    Somebody please open your eyes and at least look into the
    greatest hope you can imagine–an ultimate reconciliation
    of all (possibly annihilation of some). There are a lot of Scriptures that sure seem to indicate a such reconciliation, and the ones that indicate an eternal Hell appear to be based on an erroneous translation.

    Did the God who created all this: Can’t you suppose that He had a better plan than the traditional Hell teaching presents? Eternal Hell is a Dark Ages doctrine, The Church and civil leaders adopted this from Paganism. God’s ways are not our ways, they are ABOVE our ways!

  45. @Charles, I’m not sure how Col 1:16 fits here. But the Romans 9:16-22 is good support for Calvinism. What’s your point? The Bible does support Calvinism – that’s why so many Christians are Calvinists :).

    I don’t dispute anything the Bible says. But I do sometimes dispute THEOLOGIES that can be errantly built upon inerrant scripture. I believe Romans 9:16-22. I do not believe God operates strictly according to the rules of Calvinism.

  46. God has chosen to elect…in Baptism.

    Baptize your kids and teach them what Christ has done for them in their Baptisms.

    And when faith comes (by hearing), then Baptism is complete.

  47. @Mike: This post is not exactly about “Calvinism” per se, but about the “election” of our children, but the Parable of the Sower and Soils, surely DOES represent the only “soil” that is “good”, and manifests the growing, increasing, and yielding of good fruit, which is only those that God DOES redeem!

    Second Peter 3: 9, is not at all about God “wishing” to save all (every man) from perishing! “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.” Note, “to fulfill his promise”, and “toward you”. Both are only toward the “election of grace”, this and these God does not want to perish! Indeed the “promise” is only toward the “you”, i.e. the Christian Elect!

  48. Irene,

    Yes, God is merciful beyond measure. However, the mercy is in the fact that God has chosen to save even one person.

    There is nothing any of us can do to merit salvation and God is not so impotent that He must wait for you or I or anyone else to “accept Him” or give Him permission to save us (which makes us sovereign over God). God doesn’t merely offer people the opportunity to be saved, He does all the work of actually bringing to pass the salvation of those whom He has chosen even before He spoke Creation into existence. Again, God is not obligated to save anyone. He would be perfectly just to cast every last one of us into the Lake of Fire. Yet, because it serves His purpose and glorifies Him, He has elected to save some.

    What many people mistakenly call “free will” (the capacity to make choices) is simply “will.” In order for the will to be “free,” there must be the right to choose. The fact that God punishes sin is proof that we don’t have the right to choose sin, even though that is all our fallen nature will ever choose. We are, from the moment of conception, dead in trespasses and sins – and dead people cannot will themselves to life. Thus, if anyone is to be saved, God must – as Jesus did with a very dead Lazarus – bring that person to life (we call that “regeneration”).

    Revelation tells us that there will be an innumerable throng of people in heaven praising God in robes of white. However, let’s be clear that God did all the work of saving them all by Himself. He elected them before the foundation of the world. He sent Jesus to die for them (and only for them). He regenerated them. He gave them the faith necessary to believe. He brought them to repentance. He justified them. He will glorify them. However, He has ordained the Church to be the means by which He calls His elect, through the Great Commission. Even the fact that He has chosen to use the Church is itself a great act of mercy.

  49. @ Mike
    Colossians 1:16 has to do with why did God create us check my post # 41 and 43 . I do not believe God is a calvinist mike lol. I do believe firmly that He elects for His own reasons and it is not are place to say How dare God not save him or her.

  50. Btw, note the biblical word “foreknowledge”! (1 Peter 1: 2), which is connected to the “elect exiles” (verse 1, the people themselves), with too “sanctification of the Spirit”… “for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.” Baptism can only be a “sign” and “seal” of this the great providence and purpose in God In Christ. But not and never the “reality” itself! (See, John 3: 8) None of us are really born-again by baptism, but by Christ! As we can hear St. Paul say: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, (in and of itself): but to preach the gospel.” (1 Cor. 1: 17)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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