Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Calvinist Grand Quandary

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 14, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published August 28, 2014

“At any rate, the very attempt by Calvinists to evangelize places them in a twofold grand quandary that requires the abandonment of rudimentary logic.” “But in contrast, if God’s choice over our choice is the crux of the gospel, that crux must be explained in order for the presentation itself to be a true gospel.” 

At the 2008 T4G conference, John MacArthur Jr. officially came out of the closet as a bonafide New Calvinist. He did this because he was convinced by John Piper and others that New Calvinism is Old Calvinism. MacArthur signed up because it’s true, and he was unwilling to reject Reformation tradition. Apparently, only other-than Anglo Saxon can be deceived en masse.

MacArthur’s keynote address was titled, The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability. MacArthur was converted from his Lordship Salvation escapades of the late 80’s by the New Calvinist camp. According to a pastor I knew at the time, Michael Horton and others challenged MacArthur to rethink the controversy he had started. The result is MacArthur still affirming Lordship, but as a manifestation rather than actions of new creaturehood. I recently completed a series explaining all of the confused controversy in regard to the Lordship Salvation issue.

At any rate, the very attempt by Calvinists to evangelize places them in a twofold grand quandary that requires the abandonment of rudimentary logic.

I have written before about the Gospel of Sovereignty. Any ability at all on the part of mankind is a slight against God’s sovereignty. This is the hypothesis of MacArthur’s aforementioned messages. Hence, the “good news” is man’s “absolute” inability and God’s sovereignty. MacArthur’s primary text was John 3:1-8…

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

MacArthur stated during his messages that when the gospel is presented we must make it clear that people can only do one thing in response to the gospel: ask for salvation, and then wait to see if the wind blows or not. So, it is not a decision, often maligned in Reformed circles as “decisionism,” or a choice. Either suggests ability on the part of the individual to make a decision for God or to choose God; ability and God’s sovereignty are mutually exclusive. If man can choose, or make a decision, God ceases to be God.

This qualifies a fair challenge to all Calvinists: “Do you make it absolutely clear in your gospel presentation that people have no ability to choose God?” If they do not do this, if this is not qualified, they are presenting a false gospel by their own definition. Why? The truthfulness of their gospel must be verified by the certainty that the individual does not assume they have a choice or can make a decision.

Most Calvinists get around this by replying that people are being called on to believe only, not make a decision or a choice. However, it also stands to reason that belief itself is a choice. When we are presented with a proposition, we DECIDE to believe it or not believe it. In all fairness, according to their own definitions, Calvinists must make this distinction clear in their gospel presentation. Let’s face it; few do if they evangelize at all. In fact, when Calvinists are cornered with this question, they immediately start acting like a toddler who needs to use the bathroom. Basically, they know that the lack of this distinction in their actual gospel presentation is telling. Their presentation is supposedly purified by the absence of information.

On another wise, Calvinists are also admitting that they are asking for a mere mental assent to acknowledging that God saves people. The Bible states that part and parcel with belief is the acceptance that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Obviously, among the unbelieving, there are those who reject the existence of God altogether, and those who believe in His existence, but don’t want anything to do with Him. Is the wind only blowing halfway in those cases? Are there three different wind advisories? None, moderate, and gale force? Furthermore, if people have no ability to choose, is a decision to choose Buddha over Allah made for them? The logic seems to be that man can indeed choose, but will only choose other gods unless God intervenes—if they understand that they have no ability to choose.

If we give this whole construct merit to this point, we further find that the definition of faith must be a mere mental accent to the facts of the gospel with an intentional non-response; any response must be from the blowing wind. MacArthur stated in the same message that we know  Nicodemus was saved because “the wind blew” referring to his righteous actions.

Hence, if the Calvinist gospel is not false by their own definition, it must be presented as follows:

“God saves people, and you may be one of them and you may not be one of them, but if you are able to choose, God is not sovereign, and you are trusting in your own ability to choose.”

Unwittingly, some Calvinists say it is alright if people initially think they are able to choose, but later understand that it wasn’t their choice. So, it is alright if they initially trust in their decision in order to receive the gift of salvation from God, but later realize this was not the case at all. So at what point were they really saved? And would not sooner be better than later? Why not tell them from the get-go? This implies a cult-like procedure that misrepresents the truth, and then slowly indoctrinates the individual to a just standing. Others suggest that the evangelist should never state that it is their decision, but rather cite Scriptures that imply such—that way, apparently, it is the Holy Spirit lying instead of you. But nevertheless, what the individual believes about choice is uncertain unless clarified.

In the final analysis, everyone but the recipient of the gospel knows they have no real choice, but thinking they have a choice might be necessary to get them into the kingdom. But in contrast, if God’s choice over our choice is the crux of the gospel, that crux must be explained in order for the presentation itself to be a true gospel.

Add to this the definition of “believe” in the Bible. In the Bible, “believe” is never defined as a mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel; it also involves a knowledge of new creaturehood that will radically change one’s life. More than not, it was the “gospel of the kingdom” that was preached by Christ and the apostles. As I explained in the Lordship series, it is impossible for the execution of the commitment to save you because justification and sanctification are completely separate. But clearly, a response to the gospel must include a decision to leave life A for life B. The follow-through doesn’t save you, the decision saves you. Because of the weakness of the flesh, love for God’s ways will vary in application, but you are not only choosing a savior; He is also Lord. It is a choice to leave one master for another. Remember, everyone is under one master or the other. Choosing Christ who purchased you from the Sin master is hardly works salvation through a “commitment” to change. It’s not really a “commitment” but an acknowledgment that the new birth will bring about change in your life and you will be involved in the effort. Again, that’s not what saves you because justification and sanctification are completely separate; one is a finished work and the other is a progression of applied holiness. When you are born again, you are as saved as you will ever be and are infused with the fullness of the Trinity. The concern of anti-lordshippers that “commitment” is works salvation shows their conflation of justification and sanctification which makes them guilty of progressive justification and subsequently the pot calling the kettle black.

Calvinists insist that repentance be left out of the gospel presentation for this reason—it calls on the individual to choose a different way. In the book of Acts, Christianity is referred to as “The Way” in several places. This is more information that must be excluded from the Calvinist gospel in order to make it true by their own definition. Therefore, in order for their gospel to be truthfully presented by their own definition…

“God saves people. If He saved you, you will live differently. The wind will blow, but it’s not your choice, do you believe this? And by the way, don’t change your life to prove to yourself  God saved you, that’s fruit stapling. If you believe, that’s great, but now you must wait to see if the wind blows. The Christian life is a Sabbath rest.”

Anything more than this in a Calvinist gospel presentation is a false gospel by their own definition.

And let us not forget, in Calvinist post salvation status, the wind keeps on blowing, or not. It is undeniable that Calvin himself believed in three classes of people: the non-elect, the called, and those who persevere. Said another way: no wind at all, those who are temporarily enlightened (the wind stops), and the ones who get a steady wind to the end.

There is only one way Calvinism can be feasible; logic must be completely divorced from the Bible.



In Hinduism, which is the best example, the spiritual strata is Bhramin, Kshatryia, Vaishya, Sudra, and Untouchables. But listen very careful to what Karma is in Hinduism. THIS IS KEY. I am citing Swami Bhaskarananda: Chapters IX to XI from the book “The Essentials of Hinduism,” Heading; “Predestination”:

Karma is the infant stage of Hinduism where saints believe they are responsible for their own actions, but as growth moves forward, the mature saint…

He becomes convinced that God has been doing everything by using his body, mind, energy and the senses. He feels that he is only an instrument in the hands of God, and whatever God has been doing to him is for his ultimate spiritual good. At this high level of spirituality the doctrine of predestination becomes the only valid doctrine to him. To him the doctrine of karma ceases to be a valid doctrine.

Therefore, these two doctrines, even though apparently contradictory to each other, are valid for people at different stages of spiritual growth.

Believing Equals Baptizing Yourself into Christ?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 28, 2015

Christianity is a laity movement. It doesn’t exclude formal academia and higher learning; it simply recognizes that higher religious education is fraught with collectivist presuppositions and spiritual caste. The apostle Paul described what the assembly of Christ is mostly comprised of:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

Bottom line: aristocracy invariably glorifies God with a wink and a nod. Throughout history an emphasis on academia has always led to Gnostic-like movements invading the church, and for this reason, academia was suspect in the first and second-century assemblies. And as a result, those of the academic class were rarely allowed to be elders. The apostles often rebuked the saints for submitting to the intimidation of nobility and academic prowess.

When Christians investigate the Bible for themselves, they find stunning contradictions between the intimidating auras of religious academia and what the Bible plainly states. As a rule of life, discernment should never be in neutral.

This ministry has documented a plethora of teachings coming from one of the most trusted academiacs in all of evangelicalism, John MacArthur Jr. This post just adds another caveat to the heap. However, this isn’t necessarily a targeted criticism of MacArthur per se, but my criticisms concerning MacArthur usually take place in regard to his teachings that reflect the Reformed tradition in general.

And his assessment of John 3:8 falls into that category. The motif using John 3:8 as a proof text usually looks something like this:

Since salvation is strictly the result of God’s choosing, the Spirit travels about the earth giving spiritual birth to whosoever God chooses. No one can assess where the Spirit came from or is going—only the results of His work can be seen, and we take no part in it.

In the third session of the 2008 T4G conference, MacArthur stated the following:

And what Jesus doesn’t say is pray this prayer. What Jesus doesn’t say is here are the four steps, five steps, six steps or whatever. What Jesus says in verse 8 is just absolutely shocking to the free will world. “The wind blows where it wishes. You hear the sound of it. You don’t know where it comes from and where it’s going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” What in the world kind of an answer is that? Our Lord is saying it’s not up to you. It’s up to the Holy Spirit, and you have no control over where and when the Spirit moves. No control. This is a divine work. It has to be a divine work. Flesh just produces flesh. Dead people can’t give themselves life. Spirit gives life to whom he will, and you can see when it happens, but you can’t make it happen. It’s the Spirit’s work.

Notice that the premise for MacArthur’s conclusion is threefold: control, what the Spirit does, and the scope of His salvific work. Grammatically, the text is not saying that at all. The word “control” is nowhere in the text, but what is being spoken of is knowledge of the wind, NOT the control of it. Secondly, the wind comparison is not a comparison to the Spirit’s work, but describes the believer:

So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The text is clearly not talking about what the Spirit does, but “so it is” with those born of the Spirit. And what of them? They have no knowledge of where the new birth will take them. They are dying with Christ to end the old self and the life of the old self, and where their new life is going as a new creature is not known. In other words, it’s a matter of complete trust and unpredictability. Christ continually called on people to drop everything in their life right where it was, and follow Him. Same kind of idea.

Furthermore, MacArthur, like all of the Reformed, assumes the scope of the Spirit’s salvific work includes believing, but again, the text does not state that anywhere. The text specifically states that the Spirit baptizes the believer into Christ (“born of the Spirit”) which is the death of the old self and resurrection of the new. The new resurrected life of the believer, like the wind, is completely unpredictable and predicated on trust. This would have been particularly relevant to someone like Nicodemus who was a big man on campus in Israel, and would have been putting his aristocratic status in jeopardy by following Christ.

In fact, Christ emphasized belief in the following verses. You don’t need to be born again in order to believe, you need to believe in the new birth and choose it in order to receive it. Faith comes first after hearing the word of God, then choosing the new birth results in the new birth which indeed we have no control over, but that doesn’t mean we are unable to choose it.

I didn’t understand all of this when I became a Christian, but here is what happened. Through the preaching of the word by a guy named Mark Cline, I came to a belief in the facts about the gospel. But, I didn’t make a decision right away. Why? I didn’t want to give up the decadent life I was living. Intuitively, I knew a decision for Christ meant a new life. I didn’t want a new life, I liked the one I had although I was completely miserable. I was willing to risk an eternity in hell in order to hang on to the lusts I had at the time. When I finally prayed that God would save me, I knew it meant a new life—I just didn’t understand all of the theology. Prior to that, a guy begged me to “Just say the prayer” because believing alone saves. I declined because I knew salvation meant a new life, a life I did not want at the time.

Why would God give eternal life and then call on people to choose it? Why not give the new birth and then inform people that they have been born again? If people have no choice in the matter, why would God call on them to be persuaded? MacArthur, like all of the Reformed, makes belief synonymous with the ability to baptize one’s self into Christ. Supposedly, if you can choose, you also have the power to baptize into Christ. This is a huge leap in logic.