Paul's Passing Thoughts

Acts 10: Reformed Theology and the Problem With Cornelius

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 3, 2012

I was asked recently what I thought the primary key to discernment is. I answered this way: one of the major keys is daily Bible reading. If nothing else, read through the Scriptures and get a general idea of what is going on.

When you do that, you discover that things you hear from the pulpit may need a little bit more consideration and thinking.

We know the Reformed drill. Man is totally depraved. He can’t do anything to merit salvation. You’re either chosen, or not chosen. We can’t do anything to please God—all of our works are as filthy rags before God, and so forth.

So, as you are taking my advice, drinking some morning coffee and reading through Acts 10, you’re stopped dead in your tracks and immediately realize why Luther hated reason so much.

We read the following there:

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

Um, is it just me, or does this kinda throw a monkey wrench in the whole, “all of our works are filthy rags before God” routine? Now, heretics like Paul David Tripp would quickly step forward and say, “That text needs to be seen in its gospel context.” Oooookay. So, somehow, in the “gospel context,” “memorial” really means, “filthy rags.” Right.

Furthering the complexity leading to a need for more consideration is the question of whether or not Cornelius was officially saved when the angel made this statement.

Watch out for neatly arranged theological systems. Especially Reformed ones.

And read your Bible daily.


23 Responses

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  1. Jennifer Darr said, on October 4, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    ” I also hope that your online ministry is under the covering of a pastor and/or local church that knows you, and who you’re submitted to, because as I’m sure you’ve seen in others, without accountability even the best of men are prone to wander, and fall.”

    Bri’s phrase “prone to wander” stood out to me. I heard this phrase from Michael Horton and the White Horse Inn group, alot. It seemed like the theme hymn of New Calvinism is “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…” Thank God we have a “more sure word” of 1 Peter 2:24-25 “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed, FOR YOU WERE CONTINUALLY STRAYING (or wandering) LIKE SHEEP, BUT NOW YOU HAVE RETURNED TO THE SHEPHERD AND GUARDIAN OF YOUR SOULS.”

    I love reading your comments! Great discernment and insight 🙂


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on October 4, 2012 at 2:07 PM


      Thanks,and yes, Peter stated that wonderful promise in the past tense. And somehow I missed the whole thing “Bri” wrote about being under the authority of a ministry. Yep, in New Calvinist churches of late, if you’re a blogger, you are expected to get everything you write approved by the elders. When I was a member at CCC, they actually shut down my first blog.


  2. said, on October 4, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Hey Folks,

    Bri’s comments sound so “Christian” and nice, don’t they? Never forget she is referring to professing “Christian” pastors and leaders in her advice to Paul, not UNBELIEVERS.

    But you know what the real end result of her twisted stance is? Not only enabling but protecting EVIL done in the Name of Jesus.

    I know, I used to do it, too, thinking how righteous I sounded as I held victims to a higher standard than those who were PAID to teach and model Christlikeness. I was so blind. I was a Nicolaitian protector.

    I have a term for what Bri is advocating. I call it “Totalitarian Niceness”. Never speak ill of the party leader. Be a good comrade and do the right thing by not warning others of the dangers or you are in sin. (nevermind their sin, that is not your business. They are party leaders!)

    I could understand what Bri is advising if she were talking about how to interact with unbelievers who harm us. But she is not talking about unbelievers but those who are paid to do evil in the name of Jesus. it is insidious.


  3. […] Acts 10: Reformed Theology and the Problem With Cornelius. […]


  4. james jordan said, on August 2, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    I used this text with a Calvinist recently, and he pointed out how that when Peter arrives he basically says “You already know everything I’m about to say.” So his argument was, Cornelius heard the gospel first and this regenerated him and made him give all the alms and pray, so in reality this passage proves Calvinism. Just the fact that it makes no sense for Peter to arrive and preach the gospel to a man who already knows it all is enough for me to the throw the text in the garbage if that’s what its really saying. I get so tried of Gnostic texts that give the Calvinists a handle.


  5. thomas said, on December 8, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” We are given the free will to humble ourselves
    before God. Admittedly such choosing usually comes about through personal suffering…suffering, or
    chastisement that is usually permitted, or ordained by our sovereign God. This humbling process
    is continual… if we are ever to become holy. Nevertheless, we have the free will either to humble ourselves, or not to humble ourselves before God.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM


      Chastisement is not preordained by God, nor does God preordain suffering. Cause and effect is part of reality according to freewill, and God only intervenes to assure certain outcomes according to His foreknowledge. Primarily, suffering, as addressed in the Bible regards the result of living a godly life which is a choice. Those who choose to be uncompromising will suffer persecution. And, lack of humbleness is NOT an inherent attribute of the born again Christian, nor is it the magnum opus of the gospel. Furthermore, spiritual growth comes many ways apart from suffering–suffering is NOT the only means God uses to bring about spiritual growth. This belief flows from the Gnostic roots of Protestantism. since we are material and therefore inherently evil whether saved or not, to the degree that our material being is diminished we are more spiritual. That’s a bunch of Gnostic rot.


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