Archive for July, 2011

Calvinists, free will and a better alternative

Friday, July 29th, 2011

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By Spencer D Gear

Let’s examine some well known Calvinists and their views on free will.

C. H. Spurgeon, in Sermon No. 52, “Free Will – A Slave”, wrote:

“It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free-will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether different things. Free agency we may believe in, but free-will is simply ridiculous”. Elsewhere he preached, “Free-will doctrine—what does it? It magnifies man into God; it declares God’s purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God’s will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent upon human action” (Spurgeon on Free Will).

Here is an article, “John Calvin on Free Will”. Calvin affirms that

“Whenever we are prompted to choose something to our advantage, whenever the will inclines to this, or conversely whenever our mind and heart shun anything that would otherwise be harmful, that is the Lord’s special grace.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion (2.4.6) “The human will does not obtain grace by freedom, but obtains freedom by grace ; …Controlled by grace, it will never perish, but if grace forsake it, it will straightway fall; …The direction of the human will toward good, and after direction its continuation in good, depend solely upon God’s will, not upon any merit in man; … and whatever it can do it is able to do only through grace” (Institutes 2.4.14).

R. C. Sproul in “The Pelagian captivity of the church”, wrote:

“Do we have a will? Yes, of course we have a will. Calvin said, if you mean by a free will a faculty of choosing by which you have the power within yourself to choose what you desire, then we all have free will. If you mean by free will the ability for fallen human beings to incline themselves and exercise that will to choose the things of God without the prior monergistic work of regeneration then, said Calvin, free will is far too grandiose a term to apply to a human being”.

Martin Luther wrote, The Bondage of the Will.

John Piper: “God’s merciful treatment of anyone is never initiated by or in any way ultimately influenced by the person’s will” (John Piper on free will).

A better alternative

I have found the best refutation of the Calvinistic view of lack of freedom of the will in choosing to believe, to be Norman Geisler’s, Chosen But Free. Geisler wrote: “The Bible sees no contradiction between God’s predetermination and human free will” (p. 133) and he defends this position biblically.

‘Arminian theology, when rightly understood, teaches that salvation is monergistic. God alone does the saving. God alone regenerates the soul that is dead in sin. God alone forgives and justifies on the merits of Christ’s blood. God alone makes us holy and righteous. In all of these ways salvation is entirely monergistic. The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is whether or not God’s saving work is conditional or unconditional. Arminians believe that God will not save until we meet the God ordained condition of faith. Faith may be understood as synergistic only in the sense that God graciously enables us to believe, but we are the ones who must decide whether or not we will believe” (Society of Evangelical Arminians, “Is Arminian theology synergistic?”).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 October 2015.

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God says atheists are fools

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

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By Spencer D Gear

This is an expected and sensible question: Why does the Bible say “A fool has said in his heart there is no God”?[1]

The reason that God can state through David (Psalm 14:1; 53:1) that a person who says in his/her heart, “There is no God”, is a fool is because: GOD DOES NOT BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS[2] for these reasons:

1. Creation provides evidence for the existence of God.

Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (ESV);

Romans 1:19-20, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (ESV).

In what God has made in creation, we may not see the full demonstration of all of the attributes of God, but God says that there is enough information in the world of His creation to say that the person who denies this intricate design as a pointer to God’s existence is a fool if he/she says that there is no God.

2. God’s existence is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

According to John 14:9, Jesus stated, ‘Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?”‘ (ESV).

John 1:14 makes it clear: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

If we want an example of God’s existence, take a look at who Jesus is and what he demonstrated when on earth. However, those who have not heard of Jesus Christ through the Gospel proclamation and the Christian Scriptures are also without excuse because….

3. ALL people know of God internally and resist that knowledge.

Romans 1:21 states, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened”.

Rom. 1:18 says that people “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth”.

So God provides the evidence in the conscience, this truth is suppressed and people have “foolish” hearts that are darkened and they do evil deeds.

So, God does not believe in atheists because God’s truth of His existence is within every human being and they suppress this truth so that they can continue to do all kinds of evil things. So all pagan people who have never heard the Gospel have the truth of God’s existence within them but they suppress it and deny it. When they stand before God at judgment, they will not be able to say, “We did not know of Your existence”. God will not take that as an honest answer because of the evidence of His existence that God has provided to all people.

God’s reply will be, “You are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

Because of this evidence, of those who reject it, God declares through Scripture: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”‘.

Endnotes:


[1] Granturissimus #1, Christian Forums, Theology (Christians Only), Christian Apologetics, “Why does the Bible say “A fool has said in his heart there is no God”, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7575781/ (Accessed 10 July 2011).

[2] See John Blanchard’s highly recommended book, Does God Believe in Atheists? Faverdale North, Darlington:Evangelical Press, 2000.

 

Copyright © 2011 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.

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