Etikettarkiv | theology

Leighton Flowers, and his misunderstanding about righteousness and the SIN nature

sinThe ordinary misconception about sin and righteousness

I can definitely recommend Dr. Leighton Flowers’ pod channel Soteriology 101 as well as his YouTube channel with the same name, because he has a great ability to humbly describe the downfalls and inconsistencies of Calvinism (although perhaps he is even a bit too humble at times). Especially Dr James White has a lot to learn from Leighton, when it comes to debating and highlighting proper exegesis. Please check out Leighton’s channel and subscribe if you want to learn more about the dark side of Calvinism and why it does not fit the scriptures.

Even though I am in awe about Leighton’s way of dealing with Calvinism and Calvinists, I would also like to point out some doctrines where I disagree with his rather common ”Baptist views”. He has correctly said that Calvinism seems to contain two types of free will, two types of love, two types of calling, etc, (or something to this effect) but he too makes a similar mistake when he claims that there are two types of righteousness in his own belief system. He is convinced that this is the only way to avoid Bible contradictions, but there is a better way without having to resort to two types of righteousness.

I am not making any exact quotes here (unless possible) because I usually listen to his podcasts while out running and not being able to take notes. Nevertheless, I have heard enough to know that he believes that there are saved sinning Christians, and that it is totally natural for Christians to sin – and abnormal if they do not. He has not said it in those exact words but that is the only conclusion one can make from his comments. I am not saying that he actively encourages Christians to sin, nor that God does not care if Christians sin (rather the contrary), but he nevertheless teaches that sinning is normal and unavoidable both for unbelievers and believers.

The issues I am thinking about are the following (I am disagreeing with all of them):

  • No one is righteous
  • We cannot stop sinning
  • We cannot obey the law of God
  • We are saved by faith alone
  • Repenting does not mean leaving all of ”the old sinning man” behind
  • Once saved always saved
  • We can get Jesus righteousness transferred into us (Jesus imputed righteousness)
  • We are born with a sinful nature due to Adam
  • Penal substitution
  • Speaking in tongues – always being understood (and not even in use)

No one is righteous – Romans 3:10

The first verse to mention is Rom. 3:10, because this verse, read in a vacuum, is often used as a proof text for other verses. It is the famous ”no one is righteous” verseThe only way to be labelled righteous in a world where no one can successfully stop sinning, is to have someone else’s righteousness transferred into himself – namely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. However, this is not what the text is saying. First of all, Paul who made this claim called himself righteous along with two of his friends, and this means that Paul believes there are in actual fact people who can call themselves righteous. I suspect that Leighton would not disagree with that, but perhaps he would add that they are only righteous because of the righteous blood of Jesus and not because they are righteous in themselves. Nevertheless, Paul claimed that he indeed lived a righteous life by his own actions (likely referring to his life as a saved believer in Jesus Christ). Paul said that the conduct of him and his friends was holy, righteous and blameless (1 Thess. 2:10) and that he had lived with a perfect conscience before God (Acts 23:1). A person cannot sin and have a perfect conscience. Jesus tells us to be perfect, which means we can.

Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

When making the quote in Rom. 3:10, Paul starts off saying ”as it is written”, and it is of utmost importance to check this quote (see link above) in order to not misunderstand him. Paul is quoting from a couple of psalms where unrighteous people (the fools) are contrasted with righteous people (who do good and seek God). This means that even those quoted psalms claim in context that righteous people are non-existent, nor that it is impossible to seek God. Moreover, psalms are often mirroring the reality by using poetic expressions, which means that we should be careful to not take a verse from Psalms and make a doctrine out of it.

Since we have sinned, we must of course repent and be cleansed in the blood of Jesus. We have no authority to cleanse ourselves from our sins, but after having been born again the idea is that we must not revert back to our old life style but be led by the holy Spirit away from sin. We must DO righteousness! Peter, John, James and Paul say:

Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and WORKETH righteousness, is accepted with him.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Ja. 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?—24 Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is justified, and NOT by faith only.25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Rom. 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. — 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? — 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus himself believes there are people who are righteous, and that those individuals therefore have no need to repent (unless they sin of course) because they have already done so. (Repentance is a requirement for salvation.) He did not come to call the righteous to repentance but the sinners.

Luke. 5:32 – I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 

Luke 15:7 – I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Jesus contrasts the righteous with the sinners, where the aforementioned are saved and the latter ones are not. This is far from the idea of ”sinning saints”.

1 Pet. 4:18 – And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

1 Cor. 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

works of the lawWe cannot stop sinning? Yes, people could obey the law also in the Old Testament

Leighton and others seem to take for granted that God’s law can never be fully obeyed, and especially not when it comes to the Old Testament. The idea is often that ”this is the reason that Jesus died for us, because of our inability to obey the law!”. The Bible, however, does not say that God’s commandments are too hard for us to follow, or that we are created too weak to follow them. If we do not even have an ability to fully obey God, and God is aware of this, would it really be our fault if we sinned? If we can obey and does not do so, we are guilty. If we cannot obey of no fault of our own and therefore sin out of necessity, we are not guilty.

But if we could obey, why did Jesus die? Because we have sinned. Bad choice. We are guilty sinners precisely because we could have obeyed but chose not to.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. — 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Gen. 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Is. 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Deut. 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.—14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, THAT THOU MAYEST DO IT.15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 

The Bible says we are NOT saved by faith alone

A lot of Christians should take the practice to repeat the following verse a few times a day:

Ja. 2:24 Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is justified, and NOT by faith only.

Lots of people do not even believe this verse is in the Bible, but the fact is that faith without works is dead. Also demons have faith. It is true that Paul spends a lot of time trying to get the Jews to understand that they are not saved only because they are born Jews and because of any need to follow the 613 Jewish laws (including circumcision) but that is often labelled as ”works of the law” (the law of Moses). Paul makes a clear distinction between the law of Moses and the always existing Godly laws which have always applied throughout history:

1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.  

We are not saved by faith alone.

Ja 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?—25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Repenting – a requirement for salvation

Repenting requires turning away from sin (Acts 3:19; 26:20), and the Bible promises wrath for the impenitent (no matter their faith) and not mercy. Repenting is not one and the same as confessing sins, because also agnostics and atheists might choose to confess their sins. Spending your days sinning and confessing will not save you.

If the case is that Leighton believes that no one can confess their sins without the holy Spirit working in them first, there are Bible verses which speak against it. Sure, we are created to seek God and find him (Acts. 17:27) so in this way we are all ”drawn” to him and divinely created to come to him (if we so desire), but the Bible says that we get the holy Spirit after that we confess and repent (see verses below). Having the holy Spirit does not mean we will automatically obey him.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.  

Act 26:20 – But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and turn to God, and do WORKS meet for repentance.

Mar 6:12 – And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

Mat 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  

Gal. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.— 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

osas 10Once saved always saved – the devil’s lie

It is not God’s responsibility to make sure that we endure to the end and do not fall back into sins. If anyone chooses to sin, perhaps by getting involved in adultery and lies, it is always and only his/her own fault and therefore not possible to blame God for not holding him tight enough or for not completing the salvation process all the way into eternity. It is very common to say that the person ”was not saved to begin with” if he gets involved in heavy sin, but the Bible (and real life) is full of examples with people who have died spiritually due to sin (like the prodigal son). Sure, some of them chose to repent and returned back to life, but it is not certain that everyone will choose to do this.

Leighton says: ”— God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. ” and ”We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.”

It is the devil who taught ”Ye shall not surely die” to the God-believing Eve, but he lied. Sinning always has and always will cause spiritual death – unless the person repents. (Repenting means turning away from sin.) A branch in the vine (Jesus) can be cut off due to lack of fruit.

Rom. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is DEATH.— 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive AGAIN; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Rom. 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Also in the Old Testament we can read that a righteous person (someone who does righteousness) will not be aided by his previous righteousness if he sins again. He will rather die in his sins if he lives in sin.

Ez. 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,— Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.—13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,—17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Imputed righteousnessimputed righteousness

You will never read in the Bible that we can get Jesus righteousness imputed into us. Not even in Rom. 4. Yes, we can read about ”imputed” righteousness, but not from Jesus Christ. The word ”imputed” comes from the Greek word ”logizomai” (Strong’s 3049)  and does not mean ”transfer”, but rather ”reckoned” or ”counted as”. If we have repented from our sins, and become totally cleansed, we are reckoned as righteous because we are. This will last as long as we keep ourselves righteous and do not become dirty again. Remember that WE must do righteousness, and we are told to not be deceived about this. Do not let anyone tell you that you can be regarded as righteous in God’s eyes while still living in sin, or that you can combine righteousness with sin and still be ok.

But wait a minute – does not the Bible warn us from thinking we can trust in our own righteousness? (Rom. 10:3; Phil 3.9) Yes, but what does this really mean? It means that we should not believe that we can be saved because of a permanent good standing with God which can never be changed no matter what we do. We should not do as the Jews, who believed they were always acceptable in God’s eyes because they were born as Jews, were sons of Abraham, etc. If a righteous person trusts in his own righteousness and commits sin, he must forget about being right with God due to that sin. This is the message we can read in Ez. 33:13, and it is still applicable.

Ez. 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Read more about ”imputed” righteousness here.

The sinful nature

It is good news that Leighton does not believe that people are responsible for having inherited a nature inclined towards sin (which means they are without guilt), but I do not even believe we have inherited a sinful nature in the first place. If we have inherited a nature inclined towards sin, what is the huge difference between the disposition of Adam and Eve? Why did they sin? Did they too have a nature inclined towards sin since they in fact did sin? Apparently they could choose to sin just as easily as their descendants, and this is evidence of that our nature did not change, which explains why the Bible does not claim it. If our nature would have changed due to our forefathers’ sin, why does the Bible not say so considering that this is rather significant information? Romans 5 and Ephesians 2 do not say it, nor any psalms.

Leigthon says: ”— because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin.  — We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty (?) before he has personally sinned.”

Penal substitution theory (originally from Anselm)

I believe that Jesus Christ died to REMOVE our sins, which is a big price to pay (his own life). I do not believe that Jesus paid for our sins, or that our sins somehow ended up in his body before they were eventually removed. Nor do I believe that Jesus took the penalty that we should have, on himself and instead of us. The punishment due to us is destruction and hell, which Jesus did not take on himself. Jesus did not die as a substitution in penalty but a substitution for penalty, under certain conditions. The atonement is a substitute for our penalty so that our penalty itself can be remitted in forgiveness by the mercy of God. If Jesus had paid for our sins, then our sins would be forgiven before we sinned and even long before were even born. Paid is paid. A breach of God’s law is either paid or forgiven – not both.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Speaking in tongues – ”no man understandeth him” (1 Cor. 14:2)

I am not exactly sure what Leighton’s view is about speaking in tongues or the spiritual gifts in general, but I have listened to a podcast which makes me suspect that he has the common ”baptist” view of the spiritual gifts – which means that he believes that spiritual tongues are always understood, and actually not even in use. A preacher such as Benny Hinn is unfortunately often used by non-charismatic preachers to represent churches which make use of the spiritual gifts.

1 Cor.12:13 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed:and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. —9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: — 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?31 But COVET EARNESTLY the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Cor. 14:1 Follow after charity, and DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS, but rather that ye may prophesy.2 For he that speaketh in an UNKNOWN tongue speaketh not unto men, but UNTO GOD for NO MAN UNDERSTANDETH HIM; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. — 4 He that speaketh in an UNKNOWN TONGUE edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I WOULD THAT YE ALL SPAKE WITH TONGUES but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. — 12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are ZEALOUS of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.14 For if I pray in an UNKNOWN TONGUE, my spirit prayeth, but MY UNDERSTANDING IS UNFRUITFUL.15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding ALSO: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. — 18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. — 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

SO we should not forbid anyone to speak in tongues (so not discourage it), but we should DESIRE, COVET EARNESTLY and be ZEALOUS to speak in tongues – and even better; to do so when it comes to even better gifts like prophesying and healing (in order to edify even more people). The question is: Do we all obey this? Are we eager to get the gifts? Do we encourage others to get the gifts and explain to them what wonderful gifts which are awaiting them? If not, why not obeying Paul’s advice?

Some things we can learn from the above:

  • Paul explains the different parts of the body of the church, where prophesies, tongues, healing, etc, are some of the parts. He does not say that this body would  cease to exist within a few years.
  • There is such a thing called ”an unknown tongue”, which we are requested to eagerly seek. It means: no one understands.
  • We should desire the spiritual gifts (that is all of them, but especially those who can benefit the most people).
  • No one understands the tongues (unless they are interpreted).
  • Interpretation of the tongues is a separate gift, indicating that the original tongues must be interpreted if they are intended to be understood. 1 Cor. 14:13 is just one verse proving that it is not certain that a person who is able to speak in tongues automatically also has the gift of interpretation and able to know his/her own tongues.
  • Edification of oneself is a good thing (or else you must not pray for your own health, strength, wisdom, etc). Being able to edify even more people is of course even better.
  • Paul wished that all of the Christian Corinthians (and likely therefore all Christians) spoke in tongues, and he never added that this wish only applied for a certain time/generation.
  • If there is no interpreter available in church (which might be the case), then the person should pray in tongues to himself and to God. He is never told to forget about speaking in tongues because people are able to fake them.
  • We are asked to pray in two ways, we should pray/sing with the spirit (not understanding the words), or the opposite way which is praying/singing with our understanding and spirit. It depends on if you pray for yourself to God, or if you pray/speak edify other people.
  • Paul spends 3 chapter talking about speaking in tongues and other spiritual gifts, and he does not discourage it anywhere. He does the exact opposite and he wishes that everyone would speak in tongues.

Finally, a film by Torben Söndergaard. A Danish preacher who highlights both the importance of repentance and the fact that Christians should go out and preach the gospel, heal the sick, etc.

 

 

The philosophy of Calvinism more important than GOD for Calvinists?

tulips-2Why is it so important for Calvinists to believe in Calvinism, and that God predestined people to be elect and non-elect before they were even born?

Do they LIKE this story and the way it turns God out to be?

Is it because Calvinism is taught in the Bible? Or is it because Calvinism COULD be taught in the Bible if we ignore certain verses and read other verses in a vacuum to make the text conform to Calvinism? MUST we read the Bible as though Calvinism is taught in it, or is it possible that we can get another outcome (more flattering to God) without having to ignore or twist any verses at all? I would of course vote for the latter. Below are the options as I see it, and the absolutely most negative aspect of Calvinism is that it makes God out to be the author of sin, turning him into a tyrant who prevents most people from being saved. Or maybe there is something even worse – namely the idea that he does this FOR HIS GLORY! The mere thought should make a Christian cringe.

The Calvinistic option 

Note that I do not believe there are any Calvinists who are able to be consistent with their own doctrines, and consequently I do not believe they strictly believe what I write below. I believe they are way smarter than their own doctrines and that they more or less choose to be non-consistent Calvinists. Some try to be more consistent than others and openly admit that they believe God predestines even child molesters to commit their crimes, whereas others do all kind of gymnastics in order to avoid the absurd outcome that Calvinism demands.

  • This alternative makes God responsible for our actions, including our sins. Bringing up the topic of compatibilism does not help, because we cannot make mutually exclusive ideas become true just by describing an invented process with fancy words.
  • The idea is that nothing comes to pass against the will of God (at least if Westminster Confession of Faith is valid). Meaning that sin therefore (if we want to be consistent) happens according to his will. This God apparently also has at least two opposing wills, and one of his wills is attributed to his desire that get people to sin in order to accomplish his purposes.
  • Since God is the author of sin, he is someone who sadly does not make sense and is therefore difficult to approach with a sincere heart. How is it possible to love someone above everything else, knowing that he has predestined most people to be wicked non-elect sinners before they were even born, and even gets so mad at them for being what he created them to be that he sends them to hell?
  • Jesus did not die for everybody but only a select few, indicating that God never intended to offer salvation to all in the first place.
  • A Calvinist has good reason to be boasting, considering that God chose them to be the bright wise stars in the world and not others.
  • Ja. 1:13 must be ignored since it says that God does not tempt any man. Calvinists takes a step further since Calvinism teaches that God not only tempts people but makes them sin.
  • Why Jesus had to die on the cross is a complete mystery is Calvinism is true. Could the elect not remain elect unless Jesus died on the cross? Did Jesus die because something went wrong? Something against God’s plans? Exactly what went wrong, and against God’s will?
  • Hell is a place replete with people who have obeyed God to 100% (by being the wicked non-elect sinners that God predestined them to be.)
  • The word ”sovereign” is added to the Bible (in relation to KJV), which is not a problem per se, but the Calvinistic interpretation of this non-Biblical word is. By excluding the possibility that God could very well have created man with free will, this word must then by necessity mean that only God’s will could be in force on earth, leading yet again to that sin happens according to his will.
  • Preaching and praying do not make any sense if Calvinism is true. The elect cannot perish, and the non-elect can never be saved. Must we do these things because God has told us to? What will then be the horrible outcome if we do not obey?
  • Why all the fuss about sin, if Calvinism is true? If the idea is that nothing comes to pass against his will?

The free will option.

  • This alternative makes MAN responsible for his own actions, which means that sin must be blamed on man and not on God.
  • God does not want anyone to perish and there is much joy in heaven each time a person repents and can get his life restored. God’s sovereignty is not disturbed just because he chose to create man with free will and responsibility for his own actions. God does not have contradictory wills, and every single time a persons sins it is always against his will.
  • Man sins according to his own will and against the will of God. This means that the God makes perfect sense when he constantly persuades people to avoid sin. God is holy and therefore disobedience separate us from him. We are created to seek him and find him (Acts. 17).
  • Jesus died for everyone, showing his true love for every man. We are told to be merciful just like he is.
  • We have no reason to be boasting about our salvation since we are 100% lost without God. We have no authority to forgive ourselves our own sins, but we are completely dependent on the mercy of God. He expects us to repent for our sins, and doing so is not ”boasting” since all has been given this ability.
  • Freewillers totally trust the Biblical information that God does not tempt any man and does NOT make people sin.
  • Jesus death on the cross makes perfect sense. Something went terribly wrong and against God’s plans (sin), and there is no forgiveness without sacrificed blood. God was not surprised that Adam and Eve disobeyed him since he created them with the ability to love/hate and obey/disobey, and naturally then disobedience was a possible outcome. This is why it also makes sense that God made sure to warn Adam and Eve ahead of time about sinning, telling them that sin produces death. He told them NOT to eat, and they ate.
  • Hell is a place for disobedient people who have acted against God’s commandments. They had the opportunity to be sent to heaven but due to their pride and their choice to not be followers of God, they deserve hell.
  • Freewillers do not believe anything is too difficult for God, which means he is capable of creating man with free will and making man responsible for his own actions.
  • Preaching and praying make perfect sense, since by doing so we can make influences on the spiritual world and the outcome of things.

Why is not the Freewill option above the better one, and the only option that saves us from having to blaspheme God by suggesting that he somehow orchestrates sin?calvinism-41

I have spoken to many Calvinists and I sense that most of them do not even want the Freewill option to be true because then they would have to give up Calvinism. It seems like saving Calvinism is much more important than God himself. They have all chances in the world to study on apologetic sites that could help them overcome their Calvinistic hurdles and help them to see the Bible in  a different light, but they decline. They prefer to stick with their Calvinistic teachers and books, and whenever they run into a contradiction they choose to go to such sources to see if there is a solution. They would not consider going to freewill sources, since their goal is to save Calvinism. Saving the character of God from being attacked is not important? It is as though they already have their mind made up. They might ask me if they same does not apply to me – maybe I have also made up my mind beforehand? OK, but does it not make more sense to start off checking those sources that save God from being a selfish tyrant, and where there are no mutually exclusive contradictions that I have to battle?

Many Calvinists commonly ask why it would be a better alternative if God created
people knowing that there would be people denying him. It would be a better alternative since it would place the responsibility and culpability with man and not on God. Knowing something is a possibility ahead of time is not the same thing as predestining it to take place. Instead of ”God made me do it”, a person must face the consequences for his own choices.

Even if it is not a perfect example, I often compare it with a Christian parent living in a secular country (much like my own) and where she/he ”knows” that not all of his/her children will grow up to be believers, or even good respectful citizens, due to the agnostic/atheistic propaganda taught in school, among friends, in the media, and everywhere. Even if the Bible would be taught at home, and even if the parents would spend a lot of time encouraging their children to maintain their Christian faith, it is also close to a certainty that not all their children will make the better choice. So would the parent therefore decide to not have any children at all due to this sad reality? I have not met one person yet with this approach. Even if the parent would be told through a prophesy that not all his/her children would be saved, the parent might still decide to have children. If some of the children would turn out to be agnostics as adults, it would not be the parent’s fault. Each person must be responsible for his own actions and choices in life.

There are Calvinists who admit that there are contradictions in Calvinism, but then they often try to excuse their hopeless situation with this verse:

Is. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For them this verse means that even if they have no idea how to solve their theological contradictions now, they expect to do so when they get to heaven. A freewiller, however, does not have to wait until heaven before the Bible makes sense, because there are no verses which must be ignored or twisted.

Why do calvinists erroneously call all Free-willers ARMINIANS?

All arminians are free-willers, but not all free-willers are arminians

Calvinists often reveal that they have studied too much calvinism and too little from non-calvinists, by making the mistake to automatically call us arminians as soon as we tell them that we are not calvinists (and the next step is to call us semi-pelagians). Since there may be issues within arminianism (which some people call ”calvinism light”) that we disagree with, it’s wrong to automatically assume that we are arminians – because that would be like ascribing views to us that we may not have.  It’s wrong to make a person who believes in synergism an arminian by default. Strangely enough, some calvinists are reluctant to rephrase themselves even when corrected!

I still remember the first time I heard the phrase ”arminian” (it’s a word not found in the Bible), and it was the first time someone assured me that I was one! (Funny to be an arminian your whole life without even knowing it…) I had not heard of James Arminius (1560-1609) either, and compared with all the books that I’d like to read, I feel no motivation to study up on what this particular person believed and to check whether I agree with him or not. I know loads of christians in real life and online, but I only know a couple who call themselves arminians.  This tells me that arminians are very rare. There are no arminians in Sweden which I’m aware of, but I can certainly see that people constantly make free will choices in the Bible and often act against the will of God, so it’s not hard to find the concept of free will.

I can understand if people would like to call themselves calvinists if they agree with John Calvin and also believe that he was first with his doctrines/theology (even if they don’t necessarily agree with everything he taught). Calvin was the one who started calvinism, even if he got many of his ideas from Augustine. It’s also a good way to show one’s basic principles by saying one single word ”calvinist”. Calling oneself an arminian on the other hand, doesn’t make much sense if you have the same views as people who lived several hundred years before he did. (I do respect those who prefer to call themselvesarminians” – maybe for the sake of convenience when having dialogues with calvinists, or for other reasons.)

ALL the early church fathers  the first 300 years AD believed in free will without exception (see quotes here) and none of them taught that man was born with a sinful nature. This means that Mr Arminius was hardly the first person with his theology views, and it would make more sense to call oneself  after Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, Origen, or some other church father who lived shortly after the death of Jesus.  The disadvantage with calling oneself after a person, is that you are then expected to study the views of this person, in case someone asks you why you call yourself the way you do. If your claim is ”I call myself an irenaeusian, because I believe in free will just like he did”, then the follow-up question is why you don’t call yourself after another theologian who also believes the same. This places an unnecessary burden on you to be forced to study books outside the Bible, and it takes valuable time from Bible reading. It’s of great value to study the views from the early church fathers (or reading books from other authors) and it’s sometimes I can recommend, but it’s wrong to make it a requirement.  I personally feel no obligation to study up on what arminians believe due to the expectations from others. 

If I have an uncle who believes in free will, would it make sense to call myself after him, instead of a person who lived in the end of the 1500’s? If I lived prior to the year 1590 (when James Arminius was 30 years old and still sided with the calvininist Theodore Beza) what would I call myself?

If a person doesn’t side with Mr Brown, does it follow that he absolutely HAS TO side with Mr Green? It’s one or the other and no other options?  Let’s say that in the future a Mr White becomes a well-known christian and a man who believes in free will and who also writes famous books about it. Must I know change labels and call myself after HIM? I’m not against the idea to label oneself after a person per se, if the views in question originated with him.   

The Synod of Dort

The synod of Dort was a Dutch regional conference (with a political context) which plays a big role for calvinists, but christians believed in free will long before this local meeting as well as afterwards. This synod was not a council of the Protestant churches of Europe, but a Dutch national synod to which some Reformed theologians were invited from various parts of Europe.  It was not a free assembly for the discussion of the Bible, but a national ecclesiastical court for the trial of alleged heretics. Theodore Beza was John Calvin’s direct successor and he sent his disciple Arminius to Holland in 1589 to put down the arguments against his theology views. Beza believed that if God was absolutely sovereign and man helpless in sin and that men are saved/damned by predestination, then it followed that God causes men to sin just as he causes men to be saved. This position existed also in various degrees in Augustine and Calvin’s theology. The opponents argued that if God causes sin then God is in point of fact the author of sin. Arminius changed his position (against Beza) when starting to research the topic deeper and comparing with the Bible.

Whenever Arminius was given a chance to publicly defend his theology, his sound scholarship won the argument and nobody wanted to publicly debate against him. Nobody suggested that the Remonstrants mishandled Scripture but only that they failed to use Scripture to defend a predetermined position. Ironically nearly all of those who opposed Arminius wanted him to quit preaching the Bible as the final authority, because they felt such a message undermined their own authority. To settle this, Arminius sought after a synod to publicly debate and settle the theological and political rift that had occurred in Holland about these issues but he was denied a synod during his lifetime. Instead a synod was made after his death under conditions all together different from what he and his followers expected.  Free debate was denied and the Remonstrants were treated as criminals. They were present only as defenders, and the calvinists were the accusers, and never the other way around. Four days after the Synod’s closure, those same leaders beheaded Johan van Oldenbarnevelt for the crime of general perturbation (treason) for his support of the Remonstrants. About the synod we can read:

“Whosoever casts his eye over the list of the foreign divines that composed this last of Protestant councils will find scarcely one man who had not distinguished himself by his decided opposition to the doctrine of conditional predestination, and who was not consequently disqualified from acting the part of an impartial judge of the existing religious differences, or that of a peace-maker.”

William Birch: ”Arminianism was condemned at the Synod of Dort (1618-19). And what of it? A group of supralapsarian Calvinists joined theological and political forces, calling on foreign political allies, to ruin the reputation, ministry, and systematic theology of some theologians who disagreed with their doctrines on soteriology. And this local phenomenon is supposed to carry weight in thwarting Arminianism? History itself is a witness to the sham of an operation under which the Calvinists instigated the hearings of the Synod of Dort.”

Read more about the unfair and horrible events concerning the Synod of Dort and the aftermath here

Examples of KJV verses which could be better translated

The Bible only perfect in English?

I certainly couldnt be a ”KJV-onlyist” because I prefer to read the Bible in my own tongue which is Swedish.

If the KJV was ”perfect” then you would never have to go back to the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic at any time for references and to get a more clear view, because the KJV is supposed to stand on its own legs and fully able to solve all queries. Nevertheless also KJV-onlyists sometimes go back to the Greek when they want to see the more ”original” meaning of a passage, and this is evidence in itself that KJV is inferior to the original languages and and not ”perfect”. Sometimes it’s hard also for native English speakers to understand some of the words in the King James Bible. They may have to look up the meaning of words and some words have changed meanings over the years. If the KJV was ”perfect”, the language used should always be up to date, but this is an impossible demand for any Bible translation.

Some suggest that people who don’t have English as their native tongue could still use their own Bible version of ”Textus Receptus”, and be a ”onlyist” when it comes to this particular version, but not all languages have this type of translation. Since the year 2003, there is a Swedish translation (”Reformationsbibeln”) rather close to the ”KJV” because Textus Receptus is used as a source (or the main source), but only the New Testament is translated. Besides, I’ve seen examples of errors in this translation, like adding question marks where there are none in the original Greek. Neither can we conclude that ”the very first Bible translation” from the original language to another language is the superior one for that language. This simply isn’t always the case.

Why would God select the King James Bible of all versions to be supernaturally preserved? Because he likes English speakers the best? If KJV was superior over all other versions, then all those who are not English native speakers would have to sit down by the feet of those who are, to learn the ”real” truth. As soon as there is a difference of opinions concerning a Bible passage, then the person who is a native English speaker could claim to be more accurate since he is basing his understanding on the KJV.

There are many examples of where a particular expression can be better captured in Spanish, Swedish, or some other language, rather than in English. (In other cases it might be the other way around.) It makes better sense if it’s the original Greek, Hebrew and Arameic which should correct us and not a secondary translation. As soon as you translate a sentence from one language to another, there is always a risk that the perfect nuance of the original language gets lost.

Anyway, here are some examples where KJV has an inferior translation than other versions in English. (Note, that I still feel the KJV is the best translation overall in English.)

Titus 2:13 Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;
The New American Standard Bible 

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  
The King James Version 

In the NASB ”our great God and Savior” refers to one person, Jesus Christ Himself. This makes the deity of Christ clear, by calling Him ”our great God.” The KJV opens up for the possibility that ”the great God” and ”our Saviour Jesus Christ” may refer to two distinct persons.

Romans 9:5 
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!
The New International Version 

Romans 9:5 
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.
The King James Version 

Whereas the NIV proclaims that Christ ”is God over all,” the KJV avoids this claim to Christ’s deity, stating only that Christ is ”over all.”

John 5:18 
For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
The New American Standard Bible

John 5:18 
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 
The King James Version

The deity of Christ is better shown in the NASB, because only Jesus had a completely unique relationship with God, where God is His ”own” Father. God was no one else’s Father in this unique way. If we all had God as our Father in this unique way, then we would also be making ourselves equal to God.

Matthew 26:63-64 
But Jesus remained silent.  The high priest said to him, ”I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  64 ”Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
The New International Version 

Matthew 26:63-64 
But Jesus held his peace.  And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.  64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said.
The King James Version

The NIV makes it clear that Jesus’ response to the high priest, literally ”you say,” is a Greek idiom meaning ”yes, it is as you say,” (i.e. ”what you have said is true”).  Therefore, Jesus’ response is an indication of that He claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God. The KJV, fails to translate this idiom into its full meaning for modern readers, and consequently leaves doubt as to whether Jesus actually claimed to be the Son of God.

Revelation 1:8 
”I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God . . .
The New American Standard Bible

Revelation 1:8 
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord . . .
The King James Version

The KJV omits the word ”God” (Greek theos), supplying instead only the word ”Lord,” which by itself does not necessarily denote deity.

Hebrews 1:3 
And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;
The New American Standard Bible

Hebrews 1:3 
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;  
The King James Version

The NASB makes it clear that the nature of Jesus is precisely identical to the nature of God Himself (”the exact representation of His nature”). The KJV diminishes this expression to merely the ”image” of God.  Given that all human beings are said elsewhere to be made in the image of God (Genesis 2), it becomes difficult to establish from the KJV rendering of this passage anything more than the humanity of Jesus.

Another evidence that the KJV is not ”perfect” is the below verse.

Hebr. 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 

The word IF is not in the Greek in verse 6!

Yet, this word is what many theologians base their understanding of when it comes to this verse. Consider what Adam Clarke wrote about this and the aorist tense:

”And having fallen away” I can express my own mind on this translation nearly in the words of Dr. Macknight: ‘The participles who were enlightened, have tasted, and were made partakers, being aorists, are properly rendered by our translators in the past time; wherefore parapesontas, being an aorist, ought likewise to have been translated in the past time, ”HAVE fallen away”. Never­theless, our translators, following Beza, who with­out any authority from ancient MSS. has inserted in his version the word ”if” have rendered this clause, IF they fall away, that this text might not appear to contradict the doctrine of the perse­verance of the saints. But as no translator should take upon him to add to or alter the Scriptures, for the sake of any favourite doctrine, I have trans­lated parapesontas in the past time, ”have fallen away” according to the true import of the word, as standing in connection with the other aorists in the preceding verses.

(Theodore Beza is John Calvin’s successor.) Young’s literal translation reads:

”And having fallen away, again to renew them to reformation, having crucified again to themselves the Son of God, and exposed to public shame” (v. 6).

More articles concerning errors in the KJV can be read here and here.