REFORMATION RUMBLINGS Explanation—This new dialogue is a carryover of the topic—Calvinism—that has been discussed over the past two weeks. Due to the age of and “hits” on the previous one, perhaps we need to “change courses” and adopt a new look.—Buff
BUFF SCOTT, JR.
The Sinner vs. Free Will And
If the sinner is incapable of choosing the path he will tread, as Calvinists seem to imply, and if God operates upon his heart to the degree that he cannot resist, we have a Savior who is not issuing an invitation to the sinner, as Jesus did, but a Savior who issues an ultimatum and leaves no alternative but to accept. This is contrary to hundreds of scriptures, particularly Jesus’ invitation to all “those who are burdened.” He said, “Come to me, all of you...”
But I see the Calvinist saying, in so many words, “Come to me, because I’m constraining you to come. You have no choice.” More On The Receptive Heart
A few months ago, I joined a Calvinist discussion group on the Internet. I don’t recall any two of them agreeing on Calvinism’s main thrusts. One would assert one thing, and another would propose a different thought. This helped me to understand why Calvinists and Baptists are so divided and sub-divided.
One Calvinist brother inquired, “But what makes one’s heart receptive over another?”
His question seems to imply that God grants some people a receptive heart while denying the same “imputation” to others. If the implication is as I view it, and I’ve dealt with Calvinists enough to know it is, God has created a large segment of the world’s population for the single purpose of banishing them to hell eternally. This is not descriptive of a merciful and loving God. Furthermore, it contradicts heaven’s message of salvation, which entreats all men to be saved.
Each man has the ability to develop either a receptive heart or a non-receptive heart. He is free to choose either. Jesus says as much in John 7:17. Man's ability is granted by God. It is part of man’s creation. The kind of heart he cultivates is of his own choosing. One Calvinist brother wrote, “Our sinful nature means we will always freely choose to rebel against Him, unless He gives us a new heart.”
Yes, even as born-again believers there’s an element of rebelliousness in each of us. As unregenerate sinners initially, we rebelled until God gave us a new creation. The issue here is just how
does God give us a new heart? I’m compelled to answer with Paul, who wrote, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message...” [Rom. 10:17]
. When the message is heard, man has a choice to make. “If anyone chooses to do God’s will...”
No, I’m not isolating these passages from others and building a case for my own benefit. All scriptures pertaining to the subject at hand must be reconciled. Free Gift Or Obligation?
To me, a loving and merciful God would never create billions of people for the single purpose of condemning and banishing them from His presence forever. Yet, this is what the Calvinist position signals.
God wants all men to be saved. Listen to the Spirit as He writes through the apostle Paul, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” [1 Tim. 2:4]
. God, through the sacrifice of His Son, made it possible for all
men to achieve a state of salvation. Paul says again, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance—and for this we labor and strive—that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” [1 Tim. 4:9-10]
Apparently, God foreknew who would be saved, and these became His elect or chosen ones [Rom. 8:29-30]
. Tell me, please—and consider this carefully: If God’s elect must accept the offer of salvation, if they must choose to be saved, salvation and eternal life are no longer free gifts but obligations
. And if obligations, we work
to achieve our salvation, the very opposite of what heaven teaches. “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation” [Rom. 4:4]
If a believer must accept God’s gracious gift of salvation, if he has no choice in the matter, the “free gift” becomes a forceful act
on the part of the giver. A gift enforced upon its recipient is not free! And, if required
to receive a “free gift,” the gift ceases to be free and becomes a coercive exercise on the part of the giver. If God’s elect must choose to be saved, they are like mechanical robots and lifeless puppets who were arbitrarily programmed before the foundation of the world. They can make no move or author any decision until their creator feeds into them certain commands and codes, or pulls a certain string.