The determinism of Calvinism is best understood as micro-determinism because it is not limited to the area of salvation (including reprobation). Well-known moderate Calvinist Millard Erickson, in contrasting Calvinism and Arminianism, says of Calvinism, “Calvinists believe that God’s plan is logically prior and that human decisions and actions are a consequence. With respect to the particular matter of the acceptance or rejection of salvation, God in his plan has chosen that some shall believe and thus receive the offer of eternal life. He foreknows what will happen because he has decided what is to happen. This is true with respect to all other human decisions and actions as well. God is not dependent on what humans decide. It is not the case, then, that God determines that, at times, what humans will do will happen, nor does he choose to eternal life those who he foresees will believe. Rather, God’s decision has rendered it certain that every individual will act in a particular way.” (italics added) Continue reading →
I have a strong desire to enable people to more readily recognize the unmitigated determinism within every aspect of Calvinism. This serves to make dialogue regarding the merits and liabilities of Calvinism clearer as well as enabling everyone a better opportunity to be aware of what they are actually embracing when they don the title Calvinist. In view of that, I frequently speak about the nature of compatibilism, which is Calvinism’s chosen perspective regarding man’s freedom as contrasted with libertarianism, Extensivism’s belief about man’s freedom. If the entailments of these perspectives are misunderstood, the conversation is unproductive. Continue reading →
The following is a question from a respondent to one of my articles. It was asked and responded to in a public forum.
You said, “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. My mother was brutally murdered when I was 8 years old. Are you saying my God wasn’t strong enough to save her or that He cares more about something (namely the free will of man) other than making life perfect and free from sin?”
The following is my response. Continue reading →
Much of the confusion in discussions between Extensivists (here used in place of non-Calvinists) and Calvinists is due to not understanding the different perspectives regarding man’s moral freedom. Calvinists believe man is free according to compatible moral freedom; in contrast, Extensivists believe man is free according to libertarian moral freedom. A clear understanding of these two ideas is essential to properly evaluating the claims of each perspective. The following is provided as a summary. A more detailed explanation can be found by searching Compatible and Libertarian Freedom. Continue reading →
Calvinism believes that God knows what will happen in the future, including everything each person will do because he has microscopically determined that humans perform such actions through decrees and compatible freedom. In very stark contrast, Extensivism believes that God knows everything including everything each person will do as well, but for different reasons. Extensivists recognize that Scripture presents the picture that God chose to create man in his image. This includes the ability to choose otherwise within the range of options God has established, libertarian freedom, which is ubiquitously evident in Scriptures reflective of choosing between accessible options. Given that God chose to so endow man, God has eternally known every choice that every individual will make; further, while libertarian freedom is a force, it is a force created by God, and therefore, entirely under his sovereign rule. Continue reading →
To be a consistent five-point Calvinist, a person must believe the Bible teaches that the benefit of Christ’s death is limited to actually having paid for the sins of only the unconditionally elect. This means that the non-elect are condemned for rejecting what does not exist. To begin with, it is important to distinguish between the intent of the atonement (why), extent (for whom) and application (when) while maintaining the relationship of these distinct features of the atonement. Continue reading →
According to Calvinism, God voluntarily predetermined for some of the human race to experience salvation in order to display His mercy, while concomitantly and voluntarily predetermining to pass over most of the human race, thereby inviolably destining them to perish in hell. The former are known as the unconditionally elected and the latter are known as the reprobate. This predestination is said to be necessary in order to display both His grace and His wrath.
For example, commenting on Romans 9:11ff, John Calvin plainly says, “The reprobate are expressly raised up, in order that the glory of God may thereby be displayed. At last, he concludes [referring to Paul] that God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18). You see how he refers both to the mere pleasure of God. Therefore, if we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will.” Continue reading →
In a previous article I explored Calvinism’s view of the origin of sin and salvation through the lens of their belief in compatible freedom and the “mysteries” that such a view generates. To read it, just search “Calvinism’s View of the Origin of Sin and God’s Offer of Salvation” (posted on October 31, 2016).
This article looks at Extensivism’s view of the same issues. In this article I use Extensivism (broadly) as encompassing all soteriological perspectives that see God’s love and salvation plan as provisioning salvation by faith for everyone, and this in contrast with Calvinism’s exclusive plan, which only includes some people—the unconditionally elect. Continue reading →
Paul Helm demonstrates an error common among Calvinists, which is to evaluate the cogency of Extensivist’s understanding of God’s salvation plan that includes man being endowed with libertarian freedom through the grid that compatibilism is prima facie true. Rather than evaluating whether Extensivism provides a comprehensive, coherent and biblically consistent perspective. Continue reading →
Recognizing that the simple and straightforward message of Scripture is that God loves everyone and truly desires for everyone to hear the gospel and be saved by faith in Christ leads some Calvinists like John Piper to postulate that God has a secret will in which He does not desire everyone to be saved.
That is to say, by what we know from Scripture and the good news of the gospel, it appears that God wills that all be saved by faith in Christ, but secretly He wills that His public will, as revealed in Scripture, be superseded by unconditionally electing only some to salvation and choosing to pass over the rest of humanity. Thus, we are to believe that according to God’s revealed will (Scripture), God loves every person and desires that every person be saved (John 3:16; Titus 2:11), but in His secret will He only wills to make salvation actually available to the unconditional elect. Continue reading →