Calvinism Obscures the Simple Gospel

I agree with the Calvinist claim that the gospel is simple and clear, but I contend that Calvinism, by its very nature, complicates and obscures the simple and clear gospel.[1] Yes, someone can be saved when anyone says something like, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” but the difference between what a Calvinist and Extensivist (non-Calvinist) mean when uttering those words is quite different.[2] Just the cache of extra-biblical concepts needed to characterize Calvinism as a biblical position is telling. Continue reading →

Calvinist John Piper’s Confusion about Salvation

John Piper writes, “My aim here is to show from Scripture that the simultaneous existence of God’s will for ‘all persons to be saved‘ (1 Tim. 2:4) and his will to elect unconditionally those who will actually be saved is not a sign of divine schizophrenia or exegetical confusion. A corresponding aim is to show that unconditional election, therefore, does not contradict biblical expressions of God’s compassion for all people, and does not nullify sincere offers of salvation to everyone who is lost among all the peoples of the world”[1] (italics added). Continue reading →

Calvinism’s Compatibilism and the Problem of Choice in Scripture and Life

When people reject Calvinism and its micro-determinism through compatibilism and decretal theology, some Calvinists retort that we are exalting the free will of man over God’s sovereignty. Of course, that is a straw man. We are exalting God’s Word, thereby exalting God because God’s Word depicts man and woman as having libertarian free will when properly defined. (See my article “Can Man Endowed with Libertarian Free Will Live Righteously Forever in Heaven?”). I contend that no one can read Scripture without being constantly exposed to a myriad of commands with concomitant consequences; choices given by God, conditional promises made by God, and a host of simple statements that only make sense if people can actually choose to obey or disobey, act or refrain, trust or distrust. Such events permeate the Scripture from Genesis 2:16 through Revelation 22:18. First, let me define compatibilism and libertarianism. Continue reading →

Calvinism and the Problem of Damnation and Hell

Calvinism’s exclusive doctrines position it in an untenable place when it comes to people spending eternity in hell. They offer various responses to allay the indefensible entailments of Calvinism that consign people to hell (the reprobate non-elect class). Here are a few: first, some say they deserve to be there. While that is true, it does not tell us why they are there since the people in heaven equally deserve to be in hell. Second, some say it is so God can show his full glory in both love and wrath. But damning people to hell is unnecessary for God to show his wrath or holiness since no one needed to suffer God’s wrath to demonstrate his holiness because Christ suffering his wrath for our sin is the quintessential display of God’s wrath.[1] Continue reading →

Calvinists and Compatibilists Fail Again to Make Compatibilism Believable: The Hypothetical Otherwise Choice

Some compatibilists seek to temper compatibilism’s determinism by denying the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) by various means, such as the proposed hypothetical otherwise choice known more technically as the hypothetical analytic.[1] Calvinists are prone to seek refuge in the hypothetical otherwise from the harsh unbiblical determinism entailed in compatibilism but it fails as all other attempts to harmonize compatibilism with Scripture do. Continue reading →

Compatibilists Fail to Make Compatibilism Believable: The Frankfurt Counterexamples

In considering this article, remember that Compatibilism is the perspective of Calvinism regarding moral freedom and libertarianism is the perspective of Extensivism (non-Calvinism). Many compatibilists argue that what is known as the Frankfurt counterexamples demonstrate the falsehood of the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) associated with libertarian freedom—that a person, in at least some scenarios, could have chosen differently.[1] Thus, if successful, the Frankfurt counterexamples would minimize the objections libertarians have to compatibilism by demonstrating how true free, otherwise, choice can exist within compatibilism’s determinism.[2] Continue reading →

Calvinist Paul Helm Fails to Acquit God of Causing Evil

Closely related to Calvinism’s problem with the fall is its problem with the presence of evil (See my articles The Word “Permit” Is As Micro-Determined AS Everything Else; D.A. Carson Fails to Absolve God of Causing Evil, and Calvinism Fails to Absolve God from Causing the Fall ). The reality of evil is very problematic within Calvinism’s compatible determinism, as is the whole issue of sovereignty (as defined by Calvinism) and human freedom and responsibility.[1] Calvinists employ various terms when speaking of these mysteries, which I believe are contradictions within their theological system. J.I. Packer employs antinomy and mystery,[2] G.T. Shedd and others invoke the common phrase, it is a mystery.[3] Similarly used phrases are I have no answer for it, it’s hidden, and two parallel lines that meet in eternity. Extensivism’s (non-Calvinism’s) libertarian freedom does not require gauzily cloaked contradictions.[4] The contradictory problems of Calvinism are quite pronounced when they seek to explain God’s sovereignty (as they define it) and evil. Continue reading →

Calvinist D.A. Carson Fails to Acquit God of Causing Evil

D.A. Carson says of his position regarding moral freedom, In the realm of philosophical theology, this position is sometimes called compatibilism. It simply means that God’s unconditioned sovereignty and the responsibility of human beings are mutually compatible.[1] Commenting on Carson’s practice of improperly defining compatibilism (as he has done here), philosopher Paul Gould says, Notice, what Carson means by compatibilism’s is just that freedom is compatible with divine sovereignty (not determinism). In other words, he is restating the fact that Scripture upholds both divine sovereignty and human responsibility (and freedom). But, importantly, his compatibilism’s isn’t compatibilism.[2] That is to say, Carson defines compatibilism improperly–inaccurately. Continue reading →

The Word “Permit” In Calvinism Is As Micro-determined As Everything Else

When Calvinists use phrases like God does not desire man to sin, but he does permit sin, it is easy to misconstrue their meaning of the word permit and understand it in the libertarian sense. [1] The libertarian understanding, which is the normal way the word is used and understood, would simply mean God created Adam and Eve so that they could choose not to sin, and that is what God actually desired for them to do even though He permitted (allowed) them to sin if they so chose; the same is true with people today.

However, in Calvinism, God endowed man with compatible moral freedom, thereby predetermining that man would freely choose to sin. Compatibilism means that man is considered to make a free choice when he chooses according to his greatest desire. What often goes unstated is that while the choice is free, the desire from which it flows is determined by his past or nature; thus, it is precisely accurate to say, according to Calvinism, man makes a predetermined free choice. Continue reading →