A Good Conversation with Ms. J – 3:16 about ‘Calvinism’

August 24 ‘13
5:38pm – Ms. J-3:16

Hi CTJ, Hope you are well. Read your post on reformed theology….what are your thoughts on this subject? GBY!!

8/24, 11:04pm – CTJ

Hi Ms. J, Bless the Lord, I am well. I posted the article because I feel that it does a nice job of dealing with common misconceptions about Reformed Theology without getting too Theologically intense. I for one have benefited greatly from Reformed Theology, and my Fellowship has as well. I have a great many friends from former churches that I have attended, who are not 100% sure just why/how my beliefs are different from theirs. I thought it might help. Now, I’ll ask you the same: what are your thoughts on this subject?

8/24, 11:16pm – Ms. J-3:16

Thank you CTJ. I have been reading up on Calvinism and to me it seems so selective, and the matter of free will seems non existent and it almost nullifies the need to evangelize to the lost. John 3:16 & Matthew 28:19 seem irrelevant in this theology.

8/24, 11:32pm – CTJ

Hi Ms. J, Yes, the issue with Election vs. what the common understanding of ‘Free Will’ is, seems to be a sticking point for people. I found that for me, once I studied the Doctrine of Election, there was no escaping it. Election led to the Sovereignty of God, which then led to the reality of just how dead in my sin I really was, and that was that… To your point, We must, as Matthew 28:19 clearly states, preach the Gospel. We do Not know who God’s Elect are, but He does, and the ‘foolishness of Preaching’ is what He uses to draw them, so we must. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 (HCSB) So since we do not know, we must preach. I put together a Bible study on the doctrine for our church when it came up in service a couple of years ago. It is by no means either exhaustive or complete, but it did provide a base point, if you will, for our members. I will gladly share it with you if you’re interested.

August 25 ‘13

9:05am – CTJ

Please know as well, that I am grateful for this dialog. It is always good (in my opinion) to discuss the things of God with brethren.

8/25, 9:46am – Ms. J-3:16

Amen! I am grateful to have this dialog as well. In all honesty I don’t know much about John Calvin. I’m just a follower of Christ and have no one on a pedestal except Christ Himself. I want to know Him & His word by His spirit and not by the template of John Calvin. I feel the message of God’s love and His sacrifice for ALL on the cross gets lost in Calvinism.

8/25, 9:54am – CTJ

Agreed, Calvin was just a man. I find it troubling that ‘we’ (modern society) feel the need to label every one and every thing. While it seems expedient as a means of categorizing things/people/ideologies, it is in fact destructive, primarily because it causes people to be lazy generally, and not take the time so deeply study once a category has been established, we merely stick the person/thing in that ‘box’.

As for me, I do not consider myself a ‘Calvinist’ for several reasons, chief of which is that John Calvin (proper name Jean Calveaux)’s blood was not shed to atone for my sin. Secondly, the doctrines that he gave category to were in the Bible LONG before he ‘found’ them, so I don’t bother with that.

As for the message of the cross getting lost in Calvinism, I think that is true of all of the ‘isms’, we place them as a label/brand over the central message, and then we can only see the cross through the lens of that ‘ism’ Sad indeed…

And I must tell you honestly Ms. J, I cannot find where God’s love is for everyone, represented in the Scripture, neither as a statement or as a theme… That was a hard truth to grasp, but it was an unavoidable one, once I began to truly study. It is a consistent theme across both Testaments, that God does not love everyone… Which in and of itself makes the truth of His Grace and Mercy all the more amazing and truly humbling.

8/25, 10:46am – Ms. J-3:16

I understand that God’s covenant love (John 3:36) is not for everyone. But, Doesn’t John 3:16 settle the issue of God’s love for all humanity? Is it not true that He hates the sin but not the sinner? Yes, God has different “degrees” of love…,I understand that but I believe He does love all.
Also, I thank God for this opportunity to have an open dialog with a like minded Christian. GBY!!

8/25, 11:31am – CTJ

I hear you, Ms. J. As for hating sin, indeed He does, as for hating the sinner, it is a difficult thing. For example, how do we grasp Proverbs 6:16-19, where it is stated that God hates parts, but then it says that God hates the person who sows discord among the brethren…

Mind you, Calvin agrees with you He wrote in his, ‘Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke’, regarding John 3:16, that “Two points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.”

It appears to me that our job as proclaimers of the Gospel is to attempt to explain the biblical balance that both the gospel invitation and “the world” that God loves are by no means limited to the elect alone, while recognizing that God’s electing, saving love is uniquely bestowed on His chosen ones; and there is tension in which we wrestle… In short, we must proclaim both his Love and His wrath to the world, and everyone in it.

August 27 ‘13

8/27, 3:52pm – Ms. J-3:16

So sorry for my late response….I am Just reading your message. For some reason FB did not prompt me. Anyway, I do agree with you….my struggle is that I have been saved 23 years and up until now I was totally ignorant of the Calvinistic view on predestination and that has shaken me to the core. I can’t imagine God limiting His love & grace only to His elect. It’s equally hard for me to believe that He created the rest of mankind just to be damned in hell. I mean the One who says “love others as you love yourself” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “this is how they would know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another”. How can He not love all? How can He not have died on the cross for ALL. How can He not give all mankind the free will & the opportunity to either reject or accept the truth. As per Calvinism, in my opinion, we are nothing but puppets in God’s hands. That does not make sense to me.

August 28’ 13

8/28, 1:56pm – CTJ

Hi Ms. J, please know that I understand your angst. I believe that this is the paradoxical tension that we exist in. For example, in John 3:5-9, Jesus makes it clear that we can’t tell who the Spirit will give life to, and yet in verse 16 he says, ‘whoever believes’. He repeats the same paradox in John 6:35-40, 44, 65-66 Jesus says that everyone who comes to him is given to him by the Father, but then in verse 47 he says that it is the person who believes… So how do we come to believe? Concerning your contention that “per Calvinism, in my opinion, we are nothing but puppets in God’s hands.” Is that not exactly the sentiment that Paul declares in Romans 9, when speaking of the Sovereign will of God? I will ask though, for the sake of clarity that you define a term for me: namely predestination. As we continue, I’d like to be clear on your perspective on that word, so that I know how to respond. Blessings C

8/28, 2:17pm – Ms. J-3:16

My main issue is with “limited atonement” (that Jesus only died for the redeemed, and not the whole world).

8/28, 2:19pm – CTJ

aha! Ok! So we both believe in a ‘limited atonement’ (in that it is limited to those who come to Christ) the question then becomes, ‘Who sets the limits?’ Is that right?

August 29 ‘13

8/29, 9:26pm – Ms. J-3:16

Yes! As per John 3:16 He died for ALL humanity & not just some “pre selected” individuals. John 3:16 does not say the foll: For God so loved the ELECT that He gave His only begotten son so that all the ELECT will not perish but have everlasting life. Do you see my point?

August 31 ‘13
8/31, 1:38am – CTJ

I have not forgotten our conversation, Ms. J. It is just that my response to you is quite long and I am trying to edit it down…

For Now, I’ll say this: I do indeed see your point. Your contention is that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humanity in total, not just an ‘Elect’ few. As such, I have several questions that I’d like to pose, if you will indulge me:

1) Is then everyone (or will everyone be) saved?

2) If Jesus died for the sins of every person (all humanity), then why are there people in Hell? If, as Luke 12:5 makes clear it is God who casts people into Hell (He has the authority and power), if Jesus’ death atoned for the sins of all humanity, they should all then, be spared the wrath of God, as the pattern from the Passover is the same one, namely, when the blood is seen, (blood that 1 Peter 1:1-2 says that we are sprinkled with) the angel of death (and God’s wrath) passes over. How then is anyone in Hell?

3) Or does this mean then, that atonement is pending or potential until the person decides to accept it?

4) Is the concept of election problematic for you when you consider the Old Testament’s obvious examples of it? (Abram, The children of Israel, Jacob, Noah, Nineveh to name a few)

5) How do you reconcile Jesus’ multiple statements declaring that it was only those whom His Father chose that would come to Him, and that He had in fact chosen the disciples not they Him?

6) If then, Jesus’ Disciples were chosen by Him then, what makes the process different now?

Looking forward to your answers, and the continuing of this conversation.
Blessings to you, Ms. J


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