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Jul 20, 2007


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Alyce lee

Peter, I really do appreciate these post. Really!
I doubt that you and I will end up on the same road-but that's ok. I'm confident we will both find our final destination in Gods glory and presence.

I'm only going to make this final comment-but I believe I need to say it.
If the sovereignty of God means that he can do anything with me that I give him permission to do, that in itself is my human efforts attempting to take His sovereignty away. An impossible task.

Then of course in Philippians we are confronted with the intractable ground clause of chapter 2 verse 13: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
This scripture proves that God the will beneath my will and the worker beneath my work. The question was not whether I have a will; the question is why I will what I will. The answer, short and simple-God
Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to speak here.



And know you are welcome, my sister. I too hold with you the confidence our paths, while perhaps not now, will eventually lead us both to our Lord's living room.

You seem to assume, Alyce, that sovereignty necessarily implies absolute, determinative control. It may, but it does not have to. For example, in God's sovereign dealings with thunder, fire, rain, locusts, frogs, snakes and rocks absolute, determinative control seems non-negotiable. How else would God move a rock but by sheer force?

On the other hand, in His sovereign dealings with humans, from my perspective, His normal ways of dealing with them remains in an entirely different category. With men and women we find Him calling, wooing, chastising, commanding, teaching, nurturing, blessing, speaking, influencing etc. etc.

He does all this in a painstakingly patient way, taking centuries to accomplish via this route what he could have accomplished in one eye-blink, as with rocks, employing brute force

In my view, our God is no unilaterally brute force Deity. He most certainly is an All-Powerful Sovereign. No less is He an All-Loving, Fatherly Sovereign.

This is not to say He cannot nor does not at times and at His sovereign discretion, make nonnegotiable dictums that over-ride the otherwise normal system of dealing with persons on a personal level. For me, these are exceptions to the rule, not the rule itself.

One last note. After quoting Phil 2.13, you conclude: "This scripture proves that God the will beneath my will and the worker beneath my work." For me, Alyce, I remain unsure that's what's Paul is attempting to say. Indeed the images are not God's works being "beneath" mine, and surely not God imposing His will over mine.

Rather the Apostle speaks of "working out" while God is "working in," as He so wills to do and takes pleasure in so doing. Frankly, I know of no greater promise, that reaps for the serving believer, such comfort and hope, than this: While we "work out," God "works in"--a true, authentic, Divine-human, reciprocal relationship as we are continually being saved.

I trust your weekend a restful one. With that, I am...


Debbie Kaufman

Peter: I concur with Alyce(which I'm sure doesn't surprise you) but I can't seem to get past Romans 9 concerning the Sovereignty of God. That for me was a turning point in how I viewed God's sovereignty.


Pick a version, any version, and tell me the role of man's will please.

Let the Olympics begin!

NASB: So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

GWT: Therefore, God's choice does not depend on a person's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

KJV: So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

ASV: So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

BBE: So then, it is not by the desire or by the attempt of man, but by the mercy of God.

DBY: So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shews mercy.

ERV: So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

WEY: And from this we learn that everything is dependent not on man's will or endeavour, but upon God who has mercy.

WBS: So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.

WEB: So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.

YLT: so, then -- not of him who is willing, nor of him who is running, but of God who is doing kindness:

These quotes from Romans 9:16 are not from a "calvinistic" web site, or from Founders, or Ascol, or White, or Sproul, or even from Spurgeon, Luther, or Edwards.

These quotes are directly from the Apostle Paul's pen, which we can agree came directly from the Holy Spirit.

If man's will, as free willies portray it, has such a vital role, couldn't this have been said differently by the Apostle?

Sincerely, Paul makes it hard for them by leaving no wiggle room, doesn't he?

For example, I'll take yet another version, my personal favorite, the ESV, and offer an example that Paul could have written.

Romans 9:16 So then it depends not exclusively on human will or exertion, but only a little bit, for mostly it depends on God, who has mercy.

Non / Anti-Calvinists have a knack for always saying "why can't Calvinists just read the simple, plain teaching of the bible", completely disregarding 2 Peter 3:16 (look it up), but couldn't the same be said of them? Clearly, it could. It doesn't get any clearer than this verse.

Unfortunately for them, there are many, many other examples.




what you and some other five pointers dont seem to understand is that people like me...a non five pointer....believes the verse that you quoted, and we believe romans 9, every bit as much as you all do. we just choose to believe all the bible, and not just bits and pieces of it which fit our theology/philosophy. i believe that God is sovereign.




Thanks for the reciting of so many versions of Romans 9.16. Great Scott, SL1M! If the Bezian Calvinists had considered Romans 9.16 and quoted it to James Arminius, this entire debate in the Reformation would never have started! Talk about being born in the wrong century...

As far as "knock-out" punches go, my brother, I'm afraid there are few, if any of them available for this discussion.


Thank you, my sister in Christ. And Romans 9-11 is an incredible passage to be sure, and has persuaded many of your position. Curiously, just the opposite--via persuading impact--has often taken place from Romans.

For example, it was preaching to his congregation through the book of Romans, verse by verse, line by line--particularly chapters 9-11--that the loyal disciple of John Calvin, James Arminius, blew the lid off Theodore Beza's extreme supralapsarianism being layered over the top of the classic view of Calvin himself.

At first, the Calvinist crusade was against Arminius the man and his particular dissenting ideas contra the head-honchos of the Calvinist hierarchy. After his death (of natural causes, by the way) and Dort's big Calvinist conference, the full scale bloodbath--literally--against Arminian dissenters ensued.

Even if it was tragic, it was funny when, more recently, the Founders' community short-circuited when the late, Jerry Falwell subtlety suggested that Limited Atonement was heresy. Oh my! Such whining and pouting taking place from our good brothers and sisters at Founders ;^)

But note above, it happens to be Calvinists who *officially* condemned Arminianism as *heresy* and, in the beginning, had Arminians not only exiled but *executed*--all for not believing in Limited Atonement, among other things. What a weird, topsy-turvy world sometimes do we Christians create.

Grace, Debbie. With that, I am...



Hi Peter


Olympics?..... My understanding of Romans 9:16 is, Mercy cannot be earned by the sinner, which rules out a "works" Salvation. God shows Mercy on the basis of man`s acceptance of Jesus Christ and the Cross; otherwise, there is no Mercy.

Olympics.... Rmn 6:10 For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

Rmn 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

And as you say, there are many, many other examples.

I said a week or so ago on this blog that I beleive the confusion on the subject is that we use our (mans) time in determining this instead of God`s time.

At the Cross, Jesus Christ became the sin offering for us, all sin, ( 2 COR 5:21, 1 Ptr 2:24, Isa 53:6 ). Even though we did not yet exist, Jesus took on our sin and felt the pain for it. In other words, the sin that I choose to do today and tomorrow; not yet done in my time; Jesus Christ took it and the pain 2000 years ago. If I choose to sin today( I have a choice ) I put more pain on Jesus Christ back then.

Olympics?........By the way Slim, God`s choosen people, the Israelites, are they all with the Lord now? They were His chosen people. Or would they have had to make a choice at some point in time?

Joshua 24:15 " choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Keith Schooley

Hi Peter,

Well, at least you didn't say it was a "thorn" I was pressing into your side. Because, honest to goodness, I really am not trying to be a "messenger of Satan." ;-)


You may want to check out the larger context of Romans 9. The implied subject ("it") of Romans 9:16 is God's choice to offer righteousness to Gentiles through faith in Christ, and not through endeavoring to perform the works of the Law: "the man who wills or the man who runs" is the one who rejects the necessity to trust in Jesus and wants to justify himself through the Torah. The whole section is about how the Jews feel that if Paul's doctrine of salvation by faith is true, then God's promises to them would have been nullified. Paul's answer is that God can choose whom He wants to choose: He can choose those who believe, as opposed to those who are descended from Abraham and try to observe the Torah. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether a person will respond to the Gospel message or not.

BTW, you referred to me as "Dr. Schooley" in comments in another thread. Would that it were true, but it's not. I appreciate your kindness in making such a generous assumption.



even though i'm no arminian, and even though i'm calvinistic in my doctrine, i enjoy reading what you write very much.

thanks bro. for your contributions.



PETER: I drink my coffee black.

I politely protest the "free willies" reference to those of us who hold to free will AND God's sovereign will being God's ultimate sovereign will.

KEITH: Love your comment. It fit perfectly with the way I am working out all these differences of opinion from man's understanding of scripture.

Benji Ramsaur


Utilizing the exception thou hast give me, I shall proceed.

You said "Stripping away all the layers of verbal veneer, the overwhelming majority of Christian believers--Calvinist and NonCalvinist respectively--who embrace a high view of Scripture, deny neither God's sovereignty nor human free will.

Once that is stated, however, it must be equally acknowledged there are varying positions about precisely how to hold both those truths simultaneously."

I disagree

Both sides mean different things by "Sovereignty" and "Free Will".

Once you ask the question of both sides "What do you 'mean' by these terms", the differences come out in flying colors.

The "free-will" of Calvinists is not "free-willish" enough to be worthy of the name for the nonCalvinst (or Arminian or whatever) and the "Sovereignty" of the nonCalvinst is not "Sovereign" enough to be worthy of the name to the Calvinist.

Anyway, way to go in encouraging both sides to be "nice":)

Benji Ramsaur

Richard Coords


You wrote: "Ultimately, at least from my side of the street, it's less about preserving human liberty and far much more about protecting God's love."

That is very well said. In the book, Debating Calvinism, by James White and Dave Hunt, White makes a comment along the lines of, "I simply do not understand the attraction to a theology that exhaults the libertarian, autonomous free will of man over the sovereignty of God." That's not an exact quote, but pretty close, as most Calvinists would agree. However, White clearly missed the boat, as your comment so simply and eloquently states. I read John 3:16, and am horrified by what I see Calvinism do to it.

Richard Coords


One other point is that I feel that Calvinists have drawn a theological line in the sand, as to precisely what God's sovereignty means, via Determinism, and any who challenge the pre-loaded definition, therefore challenge God's sovereignty. It seems as if the Calvinist has placed God in a box and said that God can only be *this* sovereign. He cannot deal with His creation as the Arminian suggests.

Richard Coords

just to add, the Calvinist perspective is that unless God picks who He only wants to be saved, while passing by and turning a blind eye to rest, He would not truly be in control and would be a weak God. There are a lot of things in that statement in which a Calvinist can go on a tangent with, but the point remains that that's how they feel about God. I would like to share with you a public comment made by the editor of the Calvinist Gadfly on his view of God as portrayed by the Arminians:

Calvinist, Alan Kurschner, writes: “God desires that his sheep are saved. God desires that his people are saved. He does not desire that every single individual who has ever lived, live in glory with him forever. If that were the case, we have an incompetent, unhappy, and impotent God.” (The Calvinist Gadfly, emphasis mine)


Peter - I agree. No knock-out punches will be felt by anyone. But it's fun!...Isn't it?

Coords - I would reply to some of your eisogesis, but frankly your multiple posts every time you comment and distracting for some reason? I don't know. Anyway...

David in FL - You said, My understanding of Romans 9:16 is, Mercy cannot be earned by the sinner, which rules out a "works" Salvation. God shows Mercy on the basis of man`s acceptance of Jesus Christ and the Cross; otherwise, there is no Mercy.

This is eisogesis my friend. Sorry.

Keith - Interesting view on the "it" factor.

Let me see, regarding the interpretation of Romans 9:16...

and Spurgeon

are wrong in the interpretation of Romans 9:16...

...and Schooley is right?

Hmmm...Whatever shall I do?

Let me stew on "it", and I'll get back to you.


peter lumpkins


It's interesting, my brother, when you make it a definitive point to position this issue as a clearly "Scripture alone" matter: "Pick a version, any version, and tell me the role of man's will please. Let the Olympics begin!...It doesn't get any clearer than [Romans 9.16]."

Yet upon being offered a sober, contextual reading of Romans 9.16, that challenges your Calvinist assumptions about the clarity of the text, you offer no commentary in return or tell Keith where his interpretation is flawed. Rather you wager your entire earnings on the writings of men. For some reason, that strikes me a little odd.

Do we now determine truth by counting a show of hands? If we do, my Brother SL1M, you have just illegitimized the entire Reformation. Even more, unfortunately for you, since well over 90% of Southern Baptists disagree with 5 Point Calvinism...well, SL1M, you do the math.

Have a great evening. With that, I am...


peter lumpkins


The question on this post is not about whether Calvinists and NonCalvinists affirm the twin concerns. For the purposes of discussion, it is assumed they do (check out the last post). The dialog design--failed or successful--means to demonstrate what may or may not work as the concepts are teased out.

Perhaps the Calvinist here may see that his/her working definition is flawed. Or, just maybe the NonCalvinist's presumed working definition, when rigorously engaged, finds itself weaker and in need of deeper consideration.

Ideally, for those of us who hold Scripture in highest regard, my hope is that we may see our Brothers & Sisters across the aisle as madly in love with the same Lord and unwaveringly committed to the same Bible.

Thanks for the encouragement, Benji. With that, I am...



Hi Peter,


If your going to call me something, then you could at least spell it right. Its eisegesis not eisogesis. I did state that it was my understanding of Scripture.

Your list of " MEN " , is exactly that, a list of men. Although many of them I admire, especially Pink and of course Spurgeon, I don`t put all of my trust in the interpretation of Scripture in any man or group of men.

One thing about Pink and Spurgeon, they put a whole lot more energy into witnessing to the lost with the Gospel, than debating their Calvinist views with those who didn`t hold the same exact view.

Maybe they realized what was important.



Thanks, Richard. Though as I commented to Benji that this post does not deal necessarily with definitions of either sovereignty or free will, I think, at least from my reading of Calvinists, that most do, in fact, possess a deterministic lens whenever they think about sovereignty.

And, while it is surely right to think of cause-effect connections in the cosmos, particularly in conjunction with raw matter, it is surely wrong to transpose cause-effect connections to the area of person-to-person relationships.

You contributions are welcome, Richard. With that, I am...




Your point about not counting raised hands to settle the issue is well said. Let me stir the cup of coffee, well maybe the whole pot a little bit. 90% of Southern Baptists say they are not Calvinists. Ok. I believe the Lifeway study showed over 50% believed in speaking in tongues or a private prayer language. Hmm.

I recall visiting a SBC church in my hometown a few years back. We were considering joining and had the pastor visit us for dessert. I asked him where he stood on the issue of Calvinism and Arminianism. He didn't directly answer the question except to say that he believed that salvation was of the Lord. Of course I added a hearty amen to that. Then he mentioned that if he were to ask the members of his church what they thought about Calvinism and Arminianism they would reply "Arm and Hammer who?" It was a light hearted moment, but I found it quite telling. I suspect most Southern Baptists could not articulate the differences between these two theological perspectives. So, in my opinion, the 90% number, or the 50% figure on tongues doesn't mean much, except to say there has been an absence on the teaching of historical theology. Of course you could say that the 90% figure shows that Calvinism has been sufficiently taught but soundly rejected. I would disagree.

Regarding the list of men who held to a different view of Romans 9, they are just men. However, these men were far better trained in theology than the average pew sitter. It is good advice to always check your interpretation with that of the "giants of the faith" and see where you stand. Although I'm sure you could trot out a list of Arminian commentators as well.



Peter - Like you said and I agreed, there will be no knock out punches. As far as agreeing with just "men", I am certain that Schooley is just a man as well. I think I'll side with J.I. Packer if you don't mind.

David - I'm sorry for the mispelling. Is that how you spell "mispelling"?

I know you said it was your "understanding", but nothing you said is in the verse. It's just what you understand it says.

I think the verse says that it doesn't depend on man's will or man's exertion, but on God who shows mercy because that's what it says.

You also said, "One thing about Pink and Spurgeon, they put a whole lot more energy into witnessing to the lost with the Gospel, than debating their Calvinist views with those who didn`t hold the same exact view.

Maybe they realized what was important.

Ummm, David. Do you know what my nickname is? People say Slim because it looks like Slim...and that's okay. I've never corrected anyone on it. But it's actually S L 1 (number one) M. Do you know what that stands for David? It stands for Security Level 1 Missionary.

You see, my family and I are missionaries with the IMB living in a place that for my wife, kids and I is a long way from your air conditioned house with carpet right next to a Walmart get all the groceries you want whenever you want them kind of life.

Just for fun, we also have no hot water right now and will not have it for another 3 weeks. Is your hot water off David? You ever got a COLD shower with trickling water?


For 5 weeks?

You ever held a 5 year old and cried with him as you got a cold shower together David?

When was the last time you had to walk almost a mile to get milk and bread David?

We have to do it almost everyday David. Why? Well, you see a missionaries salary is not large so we have to settle for a dorm size type refrigerator. There are five of us in the family David.

Those walks! I wouldn't miss them for the world. It's a great time for witnessing and story telling with the kids.

Oh David. Have you ever laid in bed crying with your wife because you were so proud of your children? Not because they were the hero of the baseball game that evening, or because they got a good grade, or because they drew you a nice picture. But because they comforted you by telling you that they are glad we are missionaries.

Like Spurgeon and Pink, we know what's important. Where do you live at in Florida, David?

While I'm at it, thank you for the $150 million LMCO. Our family stuffed envelopes and personally delivered 5,000 invitations for a free bible last week. We can keep on going because of the faithful giving of Southern Baptists.




We will just have to disagree about my interpretation of Romans 9. It doesn`t bother me on how you interpretate it, and mine shouldn`t bother you. However, this is the normal flow of discourse I usually get when I disagree with a Calvinist.

How awesome it is that you and your family are missionaries. I am sure that God will reward you and that you will have crowns to cast.

Your humbleness is also awesome.

To answer your questions.....

My hot water works great.....I have taken cold showers when I didn`t want to , but not for five weeks.

Never held a five year old in a cold shower.

I don`t have to walk a mile for bread or milk, I can drive to the LIL CHAMP 1/2 mile away.

I do walk from my house to the Ritz Carlton Amelia ( 4 miles round trip ) five days a week for exercise, and I always leave Bible tracs were I can and engage people I meet with methods that I have learned from WOM .

My wife and I have cried in bed together in direct result of our children during their school years, as we homeschooled them, and we were gratefull to God for this.

I live in Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island. I love God and I believe that I am in His will doing what He wants me to be doing.

Your welcome for the 150 million Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but I was only a small part of it.

I trust that you consider me your brother in Christ, as I consider you as one regardless of our views on Romans 9.

David Broughton......davidbroughton@comcast.net

Benji Ramsaur


My point was not to cast doubt on either sides love for the Lord.

You brought up the idea that both sides affirm God's Sovereignty and man's free-will.

If the last post actually showed that both sides have the same definitions for those terms I would be shocked.

It seems to me that the nonCalvinist definition of free-will neccessarily includes an affirmation of the moral ability to choose or not choose Christ (which the Calvinist would reject)

And the Calvinist definition of Sovereignty would neccessarily include an affirmation of determinism (which the nonCalvinst would reject, at the least it seems, when it comes to evil).

If you have a definition for both terms that BOTH sides would agree with, I would love to see it.


Benji Ramsaur



Welcome. Your estimation of SBs, Scott, is more what I reject. As for the list of great teachers, you missed the point.

Surely we all appeal to authority. But when one offers legitimate exegesis and/or commentary--in this case, as did Keith--it is not too much to wonder the validity of the engagement when the counter-point is to simply drop a list of names and walk away as if that is supposed to end the discussion, not to mention when the original point had to do with emphasizing the clarity of what the Bible says. That's all...


Why heavens, no, my Brother you can side with Packer all you want. I find myself siding with Packer alot.

Yet I will post to you as similarly as I did to Scott: to lay down the "Olympic" challenge, quoting a verse with such utter clarity as you asserted here about Romans 9.16 and, upon being offered a sober, well, thought-out perspective, challenging your Calvinistic assumptions surrounding the verse--as our Keith has done, is, for me, just a wee bit strange.

And, in the face of that, you take the time to type out approx. 20 names, all of whom are, of course, noted Calvinists, and then strangely yet silently, tip-toe away with not the first engaging comment about Keith's exegesis? So much for clear, Biblical exegesis.


I'm unsure, from the posts I've written, either here or elsewhere, how it is that you apparently get that I "showed that both sides have the same definitions for those terms." To my knowledge, I have not claimed such. I will state again what I said in my last comment to you:

"The question on this post is not about whether Calvinists and NonCalvinists *affirm the twin concerns*. For the purposes of discussion, it is *assumed they do*...The dialog design...means to demonstrate what may or may not work *as the concepts are teased out.* Perhaps the Calvinist... *working definition* is flawed...Or the NonCalvinist's *presumed working definition*...when rigorously engaged, finds itself weaker and in need of deeper consideration."
(all emphasis added).

I have not tried to define either for Calvinists or NonCalvinists their understanding of sovereignty and free will. My hope is that, in dialog, our "working definitions and presumptions" will become clearer as they are teased out.

I also add that a scenario when our working definitions are not only cross-examined but also pushed to explain how they relate to one another when they seemingly clash is a healthy exercise for us.

I do not know how to express it any clearer.


With that, I am...


Emily Hunter McGowin

I do wish I had time to jump in here and get my coffee all stirred up, too. I love a good Calvinist-Arminian (or, Calvinist-NonCalvinist) tussle.

Thanks for moderating a great conversation, Peter.

Have a great Sunday,


Benji Ramsaur


You said earlier "The question on this post is not about whether Calvinists and NonCalvinists affirm the twin concerns. For the purposes of discussion, it is assumed they do (check out the last post)."

The "check out the last post" made me think that you might be saying the assumption of this post was maybe shown to be valid in the last post.

So, I guess I misinterpreted you.

Now, you said ""The question on this post is not about whether Calvinists and NonCalvinists *affirm the twin concerns*. For the purposes of discussion, it is *assumed they do*..."

So, am I not allowed to challenge this assumption?

While I can't think of any particular examples off hand, it seems to me that you have challenged or questioned assumptions Wade has made in his posts.

If so, then why am I not allowed to do the same with your post?

Either way, it's your house. So, if you don't want me to, then I want to respect whose roof I am under.



Peter - I don't feel obligated to address a misinterpretation of Romans 9 regarding the "it" word, that I have done already no less.

If I offered the rebuttal to this, Schooley could no doubt quote it along with me. All of these men listed have have been all over this and I agree with the conclusions found. I don't disagree with Schooley because I hate him. I just choose to agree with Luther and Spurgeon on the interpretaion than with Schooley. Is that so bad?

I suppose I could go to all my notes when I was studying and wrestling with what scripture says as opposed to what I wanted it to say and cut and paste it all here, but where is the fun in that?

David - We certainly disagree on Romans 9 and I understand neither of us is going to change their view. I never entertained the possibility otherwise.

Your insinuation of knowing "what's important" drove my "humble" diatribe. If you had ill intent in the comment, I forgive you. If you didn't, then I say to you no need to thank me for the service. Our calling is for His pleasure.

Every other blessing you mentioned you have is awesome. I sincerely wish some of that were next to me. It's not like I wouldn't go to Walmart if it were here!!!

We have always homeschooled our children as well.

Even so, come quickly, hot water.




You are very welcome. And, this has been a good conversation though some have, I think, grown bored with it. Now some of the comments are bordering on the silly side. And to you, Emily, a contemplative Day...


You surely are growing weary, my brother: "I don't disagree with Schooley because I hate him"..."?? Nor is the purpose here, SL1M, to have "fun." I was under the impression most of us here were attempting to geniunely understand one another. That both was and remains to be my hope for future engagement. Grace to you and your family...


As far as I am concerned, my brother, you are "allowed" to challenge till your heart's desire. But, even though I am sure I have not perfectly lived up to it in my dialogs with Wade, I tried to have a point when I pressed him.

Unfortunately, Benji, I fail to understand what point you seem to be pressing. From your last post, I suppose you are insisting I am holding onto a contradiction by, on the one hand, assuming Calvinists & NonCalvinists hold onto both the idea of sovereignty and the idea of free will, while on the other hand insisting that I have not defined those ideas.

If this is your attempt at pressing me, Benji, and "challenging my assumptions," know I must fully concede that you really got me good. I see I'm going to have to be extra careful in the future if I want to avoid such embarrassing revelations.

Trusting your Lord's DAY the best. With that, I am...



My apologies Peter. I have grown weary in more ways than one, if you know what I mean.

I think your allusion to "silly" comments bleeding through is true and it runs deep on both sides. I submit it is due primarily to a "tired" subject matter where both sides already have their heels dug in deep.


Debbie Kaufman

we just choose to believe all the bible, and not just bits and pieces of it which fit our theology/philosophy. i believe that God is sovereign.

David, David. That is a poor argument, as Calvinists including myself also believe all the Bible. For credibility it would behoove you to show where this chapter is wrong. It's pretty plain.

Peter: I would appreciate a link or a book to substantiate what you have said but I read it and cannot get past the Sovereignty of God as taught and believed by five point Calvinists. I believe I also quoted the last chapter of Job which affirms my believe in the total Sovereignty of God and not man's free will. I believe from man's view it does look as if it is his own free will, but from God's viewpoint I believe the reality to be quite different. Joseph also says in Genesis to his brothers who sold him into slavery "What you meant for evil, God meant for good." which further affirms that he allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery in order to use Joseph. It looked as if it was his brothers' idea but instead it was all according to God's plan.



Thanks, Debbie. A couple of things may prove helpful. First the 3-part Interview I did with Roger Olson was of great assistance to a large group of people. I still am getting a rather large amount of hits on those 3 posts.

While Dr. Olson has never been a Southern Baptist to my knowledge, he is a renowned, self-professing Arminian theologian. Thus, the perspective he shares is not given in a context of a "critique" by Calvinists. Rather it's Arminiam views from an Arminian. You can find the first post here: http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2006/10/professor_roger.html

Also, Olson's book--Arminian Theology: Myths & Realities--is a good read, but a hefty one. However, anyone who can digest Dr. Gill, as I know you do, Debbie, will have no problem understanding Dr. Olson!

In addition, the works by C.S. Lewis, who was a committed Arminian, are, in my view, indespensible. Indeed, Lewis was such a powerful writer, Calvinists often attempt to "claim" him for themselves. J.I. Packer called Lewis a "confused Calvinist":^), for example.

In these last few posts, I've attempted to leave blank a clear definition of either sovereignty or free will. My hope was, through dialog, definitions would evolve as we teased out the complications in holding both sovereignty and free will at the same time. Some got that vision; some did not.

That's not to say I do not hold what I believe to be some of the keys to the tension involved. Personally, I think Calvinists--at least those Calvinists who appear to hold to a tight, deterministic, cause/effect view of sovereignty-- are simply stuck not being able to adequately explain precisely why God is not the author of evil.

The best answer to this dilemna seems to be that God "allowed" or "permitted" evil to be rather than "caused" evil to be.

The problem is, while "permission" and "allowance" fit nicely in a cosmos that is similar to the way NonCalvinists describe it, they do not fit so well in a deterministic, cause-effect universe.

Surely we can affirm that all things caused by God are also all things allowed by God. No one disputes this.

But may we affirm all things allowed by God are also all things caused by God? The NonCalvinist usually answers with an absolute, positive NO.

However, the Calvinist, it seems to me, if he/she is consistent with his/her assumptions, is required to answer with an absolute, positive YES. This remains an inadequate, insufficient response from the NonCalvinist perspective.

I read of a very popular Calvinist theologian who has, on occassion, spoken about his son who died prematurely. He speaks openly about his struggle until he finally came to terms with it. The solution? He had to accept that God actually "killed his son." But a telling question remains: What if, instead of his son dying prematurely, his wife had been raped?

I hope, Debbie, some of our discussion here continues to be helpful. With that, I am...


Debbie Kaufman

Thank you for the book selections which I will attempt to acquire and I will read the post you refer to. I don't think it's difficult to explain how in the Calvinist view God cannot be the author of evil. Jonathan Edwards in fact wrote a great classic on that very subject. I agree with Edwards. I cannot imagine God holding back any of his attributes in favor of our free will. God is God and that in and of itself is reason enough for me to believe in God's total sovereignty. There are too many passages in scripture that deal with God in all things from Genesis to Revelation. I also believe that He knew Adam and Eve would sin and that Gods plan of Christ coming to this earth and the cross were not secondary emergency plans, but was from the beginning of time. That should add other controversy to this discussion I am sure, but it's what I believe to be Biblically true. The entire Bible points to Christ from Genesis to Revelation.

Debbie Kaufman

BTW, this discussion is very helpful from my end anyway. It's good to get some of the myths out of the way.


Debbie Debbie,

Are you talking to me, or some other David?

I said that I disagree with someones interpretation of a Bible verse, I didn`t say the Bible was wrong.

Are you saying that if one disagrees with a Calvinist, then they are saying the Bible is wrong?


I guess you will note my strange silence on this post.. yes I am one who has grown weary of the debate.. whilst you guys poke at issues we can disagree over as evangelicals, here evangelicals are fighting for their very existence as we seem to be daily overwhelmed with a flood tide of paganism as it enters the churches.
Bro SL1M you have my love and admiration and respect. Y9ou are serving in a hostile and difficult land. We cannot imagine the stresses that you are experiencing upon your wife and your children. And before the Lord bro, we esteem you highly. As long as the Lord calls you there, you keep going bro. And should you ever feel you need a person to back you up, I am certain that every person on this blog would stand with you. You have a place in our hearts and we will pray for you and your family.
You are doing what we can only imagine and it takes real guts to do that!

peter lumpkins


Always a pleasure, my Brother. And you are correct: SL1M and his family get our full support and encouragement.

Offering up dishes on this subject can become weary sometimes, I must admit. Nor do I possess a faint hope that I may persuade someone to dump Calvinism and accept NonCalvinism. Frankly, that is not the purpose which often surprises many.

Rather, I only hope to accomplish a better understanding through civil--albeit sometimes vigorous--engagement between two very strong schools of interpretation surrounding Election, Predestination and Free Will.

No one tires more easily than I to hear skewed critiques of Calvinists. It is not intrinsic to Calvinist theology, for example, to not evangelize. To the contrary, many of history's great evangelists have also been great Calvinists.

Nor is it even remotely accurate to label either NonCalvinists or Arminians as a "man-centered" faith. For me, I can think of no greater insult to hurl toward a Biblical Christian than to despicably suggest his/her faith is "human-centered."

Perhaps, our Lord will grace us with a massive outpouring of Fire-baptism that will so consume, we will have time for nothing else but to burn for Him. Even so, do our Lord Jesus.

I trust your week will go well, Grosey. With that, I am...



Peter: On what do Calvinists and Non-Calvinists agree? We know on what they disagree, uh, or do we? selahV

peter lumpkins


My view is that it is much easier--not to mention much quicker--to speak of those things on which they disagree since the agreeable aspects of their theological system is so overwhelming. That's why I am so attracted to Roger Olson's view--contra my good friend Keith--that Arminianism proper is an option *within* Reformed theology, definitively not in opposition to it.

Faith for tonight, SelahV. With that, I am...


Benji Ramsaur


You said "Some got that vision; some did not."

I got it! [finally]

Evolvement out of blankness

Benji Ramsaur


Thanks for being patient with me.


Peter said:

"This view is often referred to as soft determinism or compatibilism,"

Sheesh, Peter, you don't have to lay the charge of eating man-flesh on the Calvinists, too, do you? Most Calvinists I know think eating human flesh is wrong and yucky..."Compatibilists", indeed. Whatever were you thinking?


peter lumpkins


O.K. O.K. I do admit I so get carried away at times...accusing you guys of things you do not do. Similar, I suppose, to our Benji who, in the absence of a contradiction invents one only he can see. :^)

Or even you, my Timotheos, if you allow me boldness to say, for the statement you attribute to me was made by one of your own, a Reverend Dr. John Feinberg.

I do hope your day well. With that, I am...


William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

In this post and the comments you seem to be wrestling with how Calvinists and NonCalvinists describe or define the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility (or free will). You mention the compatibilist view and offer a link. Most of the Calvinists I know (myself included) hold to the compatibilist view as defined by D. A. Carson: "The Bible as a whole, and sometimes in specific texts, presupposes or teaches that both of the following propositions are true: 1. God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions in such a way that human responsibility is curtailed, minimized, or mitigated. 2. Human beings are morally responsible creatures--they significantly choose, rebel, obey, believe, defy, make decisions, and so forth, and they are rightly held accountable for such actions; but this characteristic never functions so as to make God absolutely contingent" (How Long O Lord, p. 201). He then proceeds to look at several texts to show how both propositons are taught in Scripture, including Genesis 50:19-20, Leviticus 20:7-8, 1 Kings 8:46ff, Isaiah 50:5ff, John 6:37-40, Philippians 2:12-13, Acts 4:23-31. Obviously, Carson is just a man, but he seems to make a good argument from Scripture for compatibilism. Just wondering your thoughts, or others thoughts, on this approach to God's sovereignty and man's freedom. Thanks,


Benji Ramsaur


Could you give us your fuzzy definitions of free-will and Sovereignty so we can all be clear on what you are fuzzy about?




Hey, my brother. I checked out your website--a great stop. And, you seem to be teaching your congregation well.

I possess the highest respect for D.A. Carson. Virtually nothing he pens could ever be taken lightly. Nor does it surprise me that Professor Carson holds to free will in the compatibilist sense. As you rightly observe, most Calvinists embrace, at least in some form, a type of free will compatible with determinism.

Dr. Feinberg said elsewhere that Calvinists who are committed to determinism must reject freedom altogether or else accept compatibilism. There are, however, some notable exceptions--Francis Schaeffer, for example, believed in free will similarly as I defined it earlier--the ability to do otherwise.

The scriptures with which Carson deals notoriously present themselves not only as "compatiblist texts" but, unfortunately for Dr. Carson, also can be read very nicely as "libertarian texts" as well.

From my view, the compatiblist, in order to hold onto to his/her nonnegotiable commitment to absolute determinism while allowing a measure of true moral freedom in human decisions, must opt for a situation very close to J. Edwards' view--free will is the mind choosing what the mind most desires.

Edwards brilliant proposal has been the bread-n-butter view of keeping God sovereign while getting Him off the hook for causing sin. A man or woman chooses what he/she most wants to do. And, unfortunately since the Fall, all anyone ever wants is sin. And they *freely* choose it!

Critics have not remained silent in pointing out, however, that, while Edwards surely threw a kink into the free will chain, he did not finally solve the problem nor get God off the hook.

Critics, thus, grant that fallen humans freely choose what they most desire. But, they rightly ask, who is it that controls desires? Is it not God? Even more, is it possible that a person's desires could be other than they are? If not, how is that real freedom?" they continue to inquire.

For me, I cannot help pitching my tent here, William. Compatiblist freedom, if I am understanding it properly, seems more superficial than libertarian freedom. At least, that's the way I presently view it.

Have a grace-filled evening. With that, I am...


William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

Thanks for responding and checking out the website. My struggle with libertarian freedom is that it seems to ignore the Bible's teaching on man after the Fall (Gen. 6:5, Romans 3, Ephesians 2:1-3, ie if man can choose to do otherwise, then in what sense is he dead in his trespasses and sin and in what sense does he need God to make him alive, v. 4-5, does he not just need to choose otherwise?) and ends up with God being continigent upon the freedom of man (which, to me is why the 'compatibilist' texts mentioned cannot be taken as 'libertarian'). I know we disagree on our interpretation of these texts, but thanks for the discussion, it is helpful.




Understood. And you summarize some of the differences very well, William. Just some things for clarification from the NonCalvinist perspective.

First, accepting libertarian free will--i.e., the ability to do otherwise--does not necessarily imply that every decision a person makes stands on "equal" ground. That is, some decisions are more "impressionable" than others. God is sovereign and thus can and does intervene at His sovereign discretion. But as a general rule, He does not ordinarly override our decisional faculties.

Secondly, evangelical NonCalvinists have championed radical depravity--"total depravity"--almost as fiercely as Calvinists. Indeed, James Arminius taught that the natural man was dead in sin in the very sense as do Historic Calvinists. In short, sinful, depraved humans possess inability to believe apart from a stunning, miraculous intervention from the Holy Spirit. Classic Arminians refer to this gracious intervention as prevenient grace.

Nor do at least some NonCalvinists feel it is unfaithful to Scriptural revelation pertaining to "fallen" humans to view the classic texts in a slightly different, yet no less, significant way.

For example, nothing appears explicit in the texts that deal with sinful depravity that necessarily negate all "hearing" from God. Neither Adam nor Eve experienced absolute deafness upon their descent into utter depravity. Indeed the OT is spiced with those whom we do not normally call "regenerate" but who "heard" God in some way.

In the NT, there are various images used to describe our natural, sinful condition--"being lost," "dwelling in darkness," "believing in error," "being blind," "being deaf," "being sick," etc. etc., none of which imply the inability to hear God speak.

Granted the most severe image is death as in Ephesians 2.1ff. However, there is a) nothing in the NT that insists that "death" is the central image and all the others are to be interpreted in light of it b) "death" in Scripture, when used of our relationship with God, does not seem to suggest total lack of inner faculties as the Calvinist seems to insist.

Nor is death in the physical sense, for that matter, an utter absence of inner faculty. Rather, sinful depravity--spiritual death--may be scripturally seen as a separation from God (Isaiah 59.2; Rev.20.14-15).

Finally, Scripture does not seem to value "faith" as any type of work whatsoever. Indeed faith is definitively viewed as opposite work.

Therefore, from a NonCalvinist's understanding, it remains insufficient to judge someone possessing faith in order to be saved similarly to someone doing work in order to be saved.

Work is about what one offers whereas faith is about what one receives. I am no more responsible for my salvation because I "believed God for it through Jesus Christ" and consequently, received it, than I would be responsible, were I starving, for receiving a loaf of bread graciously given to me by a generous hand. Both receives. Likewise, faith receives, faith accepts. But works offer; works deserve. The two biblically never meet.

I trust, William, I have not so bored you. May our Lord continue to give you His power and grace to remain His man. With that, I am...



Just for the record: John Feinberg is not dead (he is still teaching at TEDS) nor is he a "dainty little man." You must have in mind his brother Paul...

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