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Keith Schooley

I think the antecedent/consequent will option is the only one that makes sense, although I think that that might be a more convoluted way of expressing something that could be expressed more simply.

If I want to give a gift to everyone in my church, and I say, "I want everyone to have a gift," what I mean is that I want everyone to accept one. I have no intention of forcing it on them; if I did that, it would no longer be a gift, but an obligation. There is, in the concept of a gift, the necessary attribute that it be freely received.

Salvation is a gift that God graciously gives us. It is, and can only be, received by faith. When God says He wants all to be saved, He means that He wants all to receive it by faith.

So the answer to, "If God truly wanted everyone to be saved, and God is all-powerful, then why isn't everyone saved?" is, "Because salvation is not the action of one, but the action of two." The receiving party in no way contributes to the gift itself, but he does have to receive it in order to have it.


Keith: I've commented with your very analogy before and had my comment swatted into the back of my head.

It seems to me that Dr. Keathley has coined some new words I hadn't seen before to say what I've understood the salvific sovereignty of God to be all along. So...guess I'm gonna have to start reading more, huh? selahV


Thanks for sharing that find. I think that his wording is definitely something to work with.

You'll just have to learn to duck next time they swat at you.

Don't ya know that in theological circles, the convoluted is the only way that we can keep the laymen from understanding it and thus rendering us pastors useless? :) Actually, I rather like his wording. It made complete sense to me and I as well think that of the 4 options given, it is the only one that is viable.



thanks again. i find myself saying this a lot. like selah, the fourth option has been my view in this matter, and it seems to me to be the one truer to the scripture's teaching about God's nature and salvation. i'm always glad when people smarter than i am tell what i believe and make it look smart. that just tickles me to death. :)


ps. i'm done with wade's blog and the outpost gang. i may go over there to see what venom they're spewing, but when wade and the outpost guys start censoring men like you and k. michael crowder....also, i've felt their censor wrath before as well, then i'm done with them. it tells me a lot about the way they are. it kind of reminds of me of the little boy who's getting beat at a board game, and then he grabs up the board game and says we aint playing anymore and runs home. so, i'm done with them.

Benji Ramsaur


I think there is another option.

Two wills: God's will of decree [which includes double predestination] and God's will of command [which includes the command to repent and believe the gospel].

Bottom line though.

If you approach the scriptures with the very strong mindset that affirming "mystery" in the Bible is not good, then you will not become a Calvinist.

An example would be "I can't wrap my mind around how God could desire the salvation of those He has not chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world. THEREFORE, I reject that both can be true."

You will either become Arminian or Arminian leaning or hyperCalvinistic or hypercalvinistic leaning.

The great enemy of Calvinism is not Arminianism.

It is a very strong rationalistic mindset.

If your mindset is "I believe in order to understand" then you can well be on your way to becoming a Calvinist.

If your mindset is "I understand in order to believe" then you are much more likely to land in that which is "other".

At least, all of these thoughts reflect my thinking.


peter lumpkins


As usual, your comments are clear and make very good sense. It is difficult to understand how some fail to grasp such a relatively simple concept as "gift."


Dr. Keathley is an incredible read and a breath of fresh air, I might add, from some who insist the 'faith once for all given to the saints' is summarized by the Cannons of Dort...


Thanks again. I think I've thought in similar fashion as Dr. Keathley explains it but never expressed it nearly as clear...


You are welcome, my Brother. Dr. Keathley is, as I said earlier, a breathe of fresh air. I hope I get to meet him sometime. For the record, B&H just released a new book entitled 'The Church' whic is a whopping 900+pages! In it, SB scholars dealt iwht various theological subjects. Dr. Keathley has a masterful essay there on "Soteriology" which expands nicely his paper here. It's a pricey volume--$49--but, I believe worth every cent.

As for not going back to either Wade's or Outpost, I have no choice on the first, but the second I'll continue to frequent.

As for censoring, honestly I do not consider myself censored since I can say about anything I desire here. For me, the big losers are the community itself. Not because they will miss my voice, of course. Not too many there ever agreed with what I wrote.

Rather, it is the voice of dissent within their own little world. If ouw views cannot stand the sharpest criticism, we should fold our papers and head for home.

If anyone needs a check it's bloggers like Wade who seem to think they represent "The" truth, not to mention the complete lack of accountibility when completely asinine remarks are made toward or about others (e.g. Dr Grudem, Paige Patterson, and the latest, The mentally handicapped).

If what I did was "unchristian" and "puerile", so be it. I will not be silent while the mentally handicapped are exploited by a Baptist Preacher.

Sorry, David, for the little sermonette. Grace to all. With that, I am...



Out of all the comments, I appreciate Benji's the most. Good words. And they're expressed very agreeably to boot.

Keith, synergism is not the only or even the best theological view in soteriology. Your presupposition assumes without proving so that there must be ability on the part of the recipient. Also, "freely receiving" is not a necessary attribute to giving, I believe. The key part is the ability of the giver to give, and to do so freely without restraint or obligation on his or her part. Of course, all analogies break down when pressed too far, but if I give the gift of a priceless, antique vase to a barbarian, who immediately slaps it out of my hand, destroying it in the process, is it any less of a gift because it wasn't "freely received"? You would probably observe it was freely rejected, and that would be a proper observation, but I think the point remains. What about dropping food supplies on needy people? Because all are not freely received, do they cease being gifts at that point?

But the crux of the issue I believe is in Scripture:

Romans 9:15-18 (ESV)
15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,*n but on God, who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

This is not amenable to the idea "God wants everyone saved" motif which is so popular in most SBC churches.

And I would leave everyone with a question: if you believe that God is at least basically good, omnipotent, and omniscient, why not allow Him to choose your ultimate destiny, not only in all of life but in salvation as well? Some viewpoints might as well attach a disclaimer: God did all He could do; He provides the salvation, but I must partake of it; the final and ultimate glory for my salvation belongs to me and my decision alone?

I am beginning to think that is much more of a heart issue, than it ever was an intellectual understanding.

James White has many excellent discussions on this, and one such discussion is here:



Part II of that is here:

peter lumpkins


Thanks for the comment. And, your reflection on this is superb. Thank you.

I do wonder a bit about the alternate vision you proposed to Dr. Keithley's. For example, on the one hand you state God's Will of Decree which includes both Election to Eternal Life and Reprobation to Eternal Death. That is similar to Dr. Keathley's second option, I presume. Unlike him, however, you posit another will: 'Will of Command', which according to you, includes, the "command to repent and believe."

I'd raise the question about your understanding of "will of command." Most of those with whom I am familiar place within this sphere of God's will those actions which are 'soft' actions. That is, morally decisional. God's will is "Do not lie" yet God 'permits' us to lie, etc.

I mention that, Benji, because, from a Calvinist perspective, from which presumably you come, the command to 'repent and believe' cannot possibly fit this sphere due to the nature of a) God's Election & Reprobation which is incontrovertible b) the Calvinistic veiw of total depravity which inevitably includes 'inability'--while someone possesses the ability to not lie, no one, according to Calvinism, possesses the ability to either believe or repent.

Given that, I cannot see how the two-will scenario you posit, Benji, can survive.

Finally, the example you gave is interesting; "I can't wrap my mind around how God could desire the salvation of those He has not chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world. THEREFORE, I reject that both can be true."

In my view, that is a blade that cuts both ways. An Arminian could just as well state and does: "I can't wrap my mind around how God both decrees the salvation of those He has chosen before the foundation of the world and how all people possess a libertarian view of free will. THEREFORE, I reject that both can be true."

Hence, Arminians can appeal to 'mystery' (though not to be confused with the Biblical idea of 'mystery') in the very same way as Calvinists.

There's a funny thing though. When Calvinists claim 'mystery', that's perfectly o.k. When Arminians do so, "you are being inconsistent!" :^)

Grace, Benji. With that, I am...


Benji Ramsaur


I think I understand where you are going at the end of your comment.

And to his credit, Dr. Keathly does ackowledg the validity of mystery in the new theology book you alluded to. If I remember correctly, he says the question is where do we say there is mystery [or something along those line].

Well, if the scenerio is one where what one side calls "mystery" the other calls "contradiction" and vice versa, then I think it would be good for both sides to take a step back and be self-conscious that this is happening.

So, how do we decide what is mystery and what is not in the Bible?

My answer?


And it is because of exegesis that I have NO problem affirming both that God commands people to repent and believe the Gospel who are "unable" to repent and believe the gospel.

Of course, someone might object "contradiction!".

To which I would basically reply "exegesis!"

Of course, I can't give all the examples, but a few might suffice as to where I am going.

If I follow the logic OF THE BIBLICAL WRITERS [not Calvin or DORT], then I think I am led inescapably towards Calvinism.

When Jesus says [twice] no on "can" come to me. I don't have to try and make that permission or oughtness. I take it as referring to ability.

And no amount of "Well, Jesus commanded this and that so people must have the ability to do this and that or else God could not hold them accountable" fazes me.

Jesus explicit declaration trumps even seeming "inferences" by interpreters.

And then when He goes on to say [in one of those instances] that the drawn will be resurrected on the last day [and in context it is referring to only the resurrection unto eternal life], I just follow the logic.

Those who were drawn necessarily come to Jesus since the drawn ones are raised up to eternal life.

When Paul speaks of foreknowing not what [i.e., people who believed in Jesus] but WHOM [i.e., people] then I just follow his logic.

Those whom God foreknew He predestined, those He predestined He called, those whom He called He justified, [which must mean that those who heard this call must have necessarily believed in Jesus since it is through faith that one is justified], those whom He justified He glorified [thus guaranteeing final salvation]

I don't have to make Joseph's declaration "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good" mean "you meant it for evil, but God USED it for good". I just let it stand.

God can predetermine evil without being the author of it. I have no problem with that. Doesn't faze me. But a very strong rationalist can't accept this I don't think.

If I am being talked down to by an earthly judge in a courtroom, I'm not in a position to "judge" what he says.

How much more the God who is exalted above the heavens...

Keith Schooley


The "God wants everyone saved" motif is also "popular" with such writers as Timothy, Peter, and Ezekiel (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, and Ezekiel 18:23).

With regard to Romans 9:15-18, let me ask you this: do you know the context of the original passage Paul is quoting in v. 15? If so, then you know that it has nothing to do with the denial of mercy to anyone. And how would you interpret "raised you up" in the original context of the quotation regarding Pharaoh? If your answer is, "raised to this position of authority" (or some such interpretation), then you haven't grappled with the passage; it means that God had spared Egypt from destruction prior to that point in order to demonstrate His power.

My point is that you cannot look at the passages Paul quotes in their original contexts (in other words, look at them the way Paul would have looked at them), and come to the conclusions that Calvinistic interpreters come to. And therefore you cannot just quote a few verses of Romans to trump anything else anyone might say about election.

And my answer to your question, "Why not allow Him to choose your ultimate destiny?" is the quite simple fact that I have it on good authority that this "basically good, omnipotent, and omniscient" God has chosen hell as the ultimate destination for many (arguably, the vast majority, per Matt 7:13-14).

And contrary to Calvinist propaganda, Arminians have no desire to take any glory for salvation. We don't even talk in those terms. We're not the ones trying to make comparisons between the ones who accept Christ and the ones who don't. We're simply grateful for the gift. There's no glory in receiving a gift; in fact, isn't it your experience that sometimes it's quite humbling to be in a position to have to receive one?

Steve Grose

Guys (and gals) rather than spend too much time on typing words.. may I say as you would expect, that I think Keathley's points 2 and 3 can be understood together.
(I guess I am saying what Byron and Benji are saying, so add Brosey to the list, :>)
I am grateful for the quote from Ezekiel 18 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” [This is]the declaration of the Lord God. “Instead, don’t I [take pleasure]when he turns from his ways and lives?

I think this verse needs to be taken even more into the equation.

God has a Sovereign will (largely secret but worked out in history, seen only from the end, not the half way point).
God has a Moral Will (i.e. "thou shalt not kill", but within His Sovereign will He can determine the bounds on that "except for hittites amorites etc")
God has a Revealed will (the entire word of God).
God has a desired will (Where His love and mercy reside Ezek 18).
God has a decreed will (from the foundation of the earth Eph 1:4,5 11).
I think that we cannot know the summation of all, for the summation of all take into account aspects of the very nature and being of God that are unfathomable by the human mind.
I think this is the fault of Dort, that we try to understand too much and nail down too much and perhaps feel that "we have God by the toe" when all we have is what God has revealed of Himself in the Word of God.
The Word of God is a sufficient revelation of the being and nature of God, but could never be an absolute revelation of the being and nature of God, because all eternity in the presence of God will not be sufficient time for us to understand and comprehend the full being and nature of the triune God.
Like Augustine, on this side of eternity, I have to say of the nature of the Divine Decree what Augustine said of the nature of the Trinity, "If you try to understand it, you'll lose your mind, but if you deny it you'll lose your soul!"
(That quote is found on the last page of Auhgustine's monumental work "On The Trinity".. I spent a year reading it... oh I wish i'd started at the last page instead of the first!)
Rider: I am not saying that by denyoing the Divine decree you will lose your soul (maybe just fracture it a little :>) )

Whatever the outcome of debate on the nature of the Divine decree, the Sovereignty of God, and human responsibility, there is one thing and only one task that we are given: matt 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples ofall nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember,I am with you always,to the end of the age.”
Lets go win souls rather than try and win unwinnable arguments!



First of all, though I share your desire for evangelism, I must disagree with your last sentence. Yes, these arguments are not winnable, and yes, winning souls is more important. But these are soteriological concerns, and are therefore important, as they directly reference primary matters of faith. That is not to say these should be fellowship issues, but they very well might become "cooperation" issues among believers. And I honestly think that believers are expected to read the Scriptures relevant to such concerns objectively, praying for guidance, and seek understanding (all of it, and perhaps even most of it, is not a mystery).



I've read the verses you reference, and that motif simply isn't there. Context is key. And for that reason, I'm glad you brought them up. I can respond to 1 Timothy 2:4 with "all men without distinction, not all men without exception" and do no interpretive violence or eisegesis to the text. I can note the intended audience of 2 Peter 3:9 (saved elect). And, how did you get that motif out of Ezekiel? I simply read it for what it says, that God takes no pleasure that the wicked should die, but rather that he should turn (repent) and live. The key here is God's desire of righteousness. But, more than that, all I have to do is "zoom out" and read the whole chapter to find out that Israel (not the entire world) is the focus. Again, context is key.

1 Timothy 2:4

2 Peter 3:9

Ezekiel 18:23

(Yes, I have still not read anything in my view that can successfully challenge Piper's Two Wills argument)

Regarding Romans 9:15-18 (and Exodus 33, which you do not specifically reference), the context ultimately comes down to individuals. That is the apostolic interpretation in Romans 9. That is ultimately where the interpretive focus must lead: God's free will to give mercy and direct compassion upon whomever He chooses without obligation.

How do I interpret "raise up"? Yes, you make a good point about Egypt being spared, but I've never had a problem with the idea of it including everything about Pharaoh (and by extension, his entire country, though I confess, I didn't think about it outside of his person before). God caused him to be born, to get nourishing food, to grow up, to acquire wisdom and skill, and ultimately authority. God literally "raised" him up in every sense of that word, to bring Himself glory, in the display of His own power, wrath, and justice.

On the contrary, if I read Romans 9 correctly I am convinced I must come to the Calvnistic interpretation of it if I desire to remain honest with the text. A good clue as to whether your theology is right or not, is to see if it raises and answers the same objections that the apostle himself raises and answers in the text. If *you* raise the same objections the apostle by way of apologetics reasoning raises, then perhaps your view is not in agreement with the apostle. And not surprisingly, people raise the same objections to the Calvinistic interpretation that the apostle himself raises and then answers in the text of Scripture.

So, you have a problem with God sending sinners who are worthy of His condemnation to hell? God never sends the innocent to hell, that would be unjust. He only sends those who are guilty. I don't mean to trivialize suffering, but a Biblical answer to "why do good people suffer?" could be, in part, "there are none good" (Romans 3:12)

I believe you when you say Arminians have no desire to take glory for their salvation. I believe most (if not all) probably agree. That is not my point.

My point is, taken to its ultimate conclusion, synergism requires some presence of self-glorification. You can be grateful that God authored the possibility of salvation, and you can be thankful that He actually provided that salvation to you, but ultimately, Arminians/synergists reserve for themselves the deciding factor in their salvation, so that they could honestly request in heaven that God should be grateful for their sovereign choice in His favor.


Sorry, the Piper link should be this:


Benji Ramsaur


I did not like how I articulated one of my sentences.

Let me try again.

When Paul speaks of foreknowing not what [i.e., the act of people coming to Jesus] but WHOM [i.e., people themselves] then I just follow his logic.



I apologize. I'm not trying to be a blog hog (though I turned into that! sorry). The TinyURL is this (links to Piper):




I do not know where to start. There is more on the table than one comment can justify. And, frankly I suggest that a longer conversation is much to be preferred than longer comments.

First, Benji, I fully concede at least the existence of 'mystery' if we carefully employ the term. 'Mystery' in the English sense alone and not the biblical sense may be helpfully employed, from my view, conceding, for example, we may not exhaust proper relations within the Trinity. Surely 'mystery' is helpful in grasping the reality that God exceeds out capacity to understand.

I suppose also, that we could assert something similar, though even more cautiously employing the term, when speaking about God's sovereignty and human responsibility.

That said, it must also be granted, it seems to me, that we must be careful to distinguish between 'mystery'--in its English sense--and contradiction. From my perspective, truth can be mysterious; truth cannot be contradictory. 2 + 2 = 5 is not true anyway you slice it. If the law of noncontradiction is a farce, it's time for us all to eat, drink and be merry. No one can know anything. Jean Paul Sarte is the result--all is absurd.

I mention this Benji, because I sense an inherent flaw in what you posted earlier. On the one hand, you desire to affirm the intrinsic 'mystery' in your conclusions about God commanding all to repent while at the same time affirming that no one can repent. You see "no problem in doing so" because, of course, 'mystery exists.'

So far so good. However, a strange metamorphosis takes place. Once you proudly affirm your commitment to 'mystery', rather than leave it there, as for example, one may note our Grosey many times does, you waltz right in and sit right down in a puddle of coherent, consistent logic to demonstrate, to your satisfaction, your position.
You speak of the compelling case that 'leans you toward Calvinism." How does it do so? Through the "logic of the Biblical authors." You then attempt to "prove your case" by your "exegesis"--the absolute logic of which moves you toward Calvinism. How so? Because of consistency, coherence, logical connections, not the least of which is the law of noncontradiction.

The dilemma you find yourself in, it seems to me, is on the one hand affirming 'mystery' but on the other hand desperately affirming logic. The big question is, why would somebody who begins with such a clear statement of 'mystery' find it necessary to defend by the same method they have just denied, the truth they desire to affirm.

Incidentally, it becomes increasingly easy to speak out of both sides of our mouth; or if you prefer, to "have our cake and eat it too." That is, employ logic and rationality until we get backed in a corner. Then, simply pull out the secret weapon when facing a clear and present danger to our reasoning--"We cannot understand. It's all a mystery."

How much I've heard that line from my Calvinist brothers when they are caught with their skirt up. Logic fails them. So they plead 'mystery.'

Unfortunately, Benji, your comment strikes me as an attempt to employ 'logic' but leave a nice little safety net--'mystery'

Grace. I'll attempt to look again at your comment and see if I'd want to revisit some of the verses you've provided.

With that, I am...




Glad you are participating. I am not sure an entire string of links is necessary for our discussion here. Most of us know of James White as well as the Gadfly, not to mention John Piper.

The thematic purposes of 1Tim 2.4 & 2Peter 2.9, you, in one general sweep, dismiss with this conclusion: "I've read the verses you reference, and that motif simply isn't there...I can respond to 1 Timothy 2:4 with "all men without distinction, not all men without exception"

My brother, it will take more than cliche to dismiss the very skilled exegesis of not only NonCalvinists but Calvinists themselves as they grapple with this passage. I suggest you go to the library and get away from the internet for awhile.

The very verses under question whose "motif you assert is "simply not there" are the very verses that convinced Calvinists to forsake Limited Atonement.

As for your statement: "synergism requires some presence of self-glorification...Arminians/synergists reserve for themselves the deciding factor in their salvation, so that they could honestly request in heaven that God should be grateful for their sovereign choice in His favor."

It's statements like these, Byroniac, that stand as the major cause of division in our community. What you have just done is attribute to believers such as myself--not to mention about 14m Southern Baptists and millions of other evangelicals--a blasphemous position we would deny by my own blood.

You have placed in my mouth, my heart , my theology a false gospel, worthy of the title "heresy" If my salvation is ultimately dependent upon me, I am lost forever and will burn in hell.

Frankly, Byroniac, it's views such as yours that this site was conceived. I would never attribute a blasphemous position to Calvinists. Do I believe they have confused sovereignty? Yes. Do I believe they are misguided about free will? Yes? Do I believe they hold a false gospel? No I do not. One may be misguided without necessarily being blasphemous and/or embrace heresy.

Mercy on us all. With that, I am...




I am not trying to impugn anyone's motives. Let me make that perfectly clear now, as I failed to do earlier. I'm not placing anything in people's hearts (which I cannot see), but am simply speaking of the logical conclusions of systems which begin with certain premises.

My position has a similar Achille's heel: it seems that the logical conclusion of such is that God is the author of sin. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, how could He be anything else? But such a position I deny in my heart, though I do acknowledge that evil exists because God wanted it to. And I'm more comfortable personally with saying that God created/authored sin than I ever would be that there is anything not created by God (and therefore not under His control). I don't believe I am impugning God's motives or moral nature (or at least, I certainly do not desire such), because I also affirm what the Scriptures reveal about God's nature, character, and purpose.

It's probably safe to say we'll all not find total agreement on these issues, but they're certainly worthy of discussion.



It is not about "impugning motives". I do not think I mentioned such. Rather you said undeniably that those of us who embrace less than Calvinism--and your particular brand of Calvinism at that, Byroniac, for all 'Calvinisms' are not held equally--"requires some presence of self-glorification...reserv[ing] for themselves the deciding factor in their salvation, so that they could honestly request in heaven that God should be grateful for their sovereign choice in His favor"

If what you have said it true, Byroniac, I'm as lost as a dollar bill buying a lottery ticket. Not only so, I'm leading hordes of people to hell with me through a false gospel I'm preaching.

Indeed if what you say is true, we possess no genuine fellowship only a pretended one since I am trusting in myself to be saved and you are trusting in God.

I reiterate: it's not about motive. God only sees those. I agree. It's about the content of a NonCalvinist's faith which, according to your assessment, is no Biblical faith at all.

That, Byroniac, is your stated views about NonCalvinists. Here are mine about Calvinists:

Most Calvinists I know are fine, moral people, interested in a genuine understanding of the Bible's God and our God's bible. They possess, from every indicator I humanly observe, a true Biblical faith in every essential of the true biblical Gospel.

Most Calvinists are intelligent, exegetes of Scripture and possess for the Christian Church a rich depository of untold contribution to our better understanding of the Christian faith. I possess not one reservation in my being in fellowshipping to the max. Do I think Calvinists are mistaken in the way they think either history or scripture fleshes out the Sovereignty of God? I most certainly do. At no juncture has any body of believers more read into scripture their own, preconceived, non-biblical notions about a particular concept than has Calvinism pertaining to God's sovereignty.

Do I think Calvinism is misguided in other areas? Yes. And I also think, in some of the more radical doses--especially when the philosophy of hard determinism bleeds right through, and hyperCalvinism appears--Calvinism may cease to be biblical Christianity and devolve into 'christian fatalism.' This, however, usually does not affect mainstream Calvinism.

In my view, then, as I think about it, it seems possible for those believers such as myself to embrace a posture that, while not agreeing with Calvinism, can certainly embrace Calvinists themselves, calling them brother and sister in faith--in short, not being antiCalvinist.

However, the car you have chosen to rent, Byroniac, it seems to me, if you are consistent, takes you to an entirely different destination. You believe we embrace a 'self-glorifying' message that, in the end, God Himself must thank His lucky stars that we saved ourselves for He simply could not do so.

The Humanist Manifesto II reads: "No deity will save us; we must save ourselves." That seems to be a nice, bite-sized chewy which describes your view toward NonCalvinists.

If I am correct in my assessment of your view of NonCalvinism--not our motives, mind you, but our message--not only may you be against our false Gospel, you are obligated to be so and sin against God if you don't. In short, there is no Biblical alternative for you but to be ANTI-nonCalvinist.

Grace for all of us. With that, I am...




May I remind you that you are the one who is drawing all of these conclusions. I am not. I'm not here to judge hearts, motives, or understandings.

Do I believe that people can be saved without embracing Calvinism? Surely. I'm sure there are many out there who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, who do not accept "Calvinism" and never will their entire lives. They are not responsible for what I believe, but they are responsible for what God has revealed to them in the Scriptures and to be obedient, because they will stand before Christ as Lord for themselves.

Again, I want to reiterate that I am simply discussing conclusions, however ugly and uncomfortable, to systems that begin with certain foundational premises. Perhaps I am wrong, but I fail to see where these conclusions are anything but inescapable. However, I could be wrong, and as always, I do need to study more (and you are right; it would be better to have my nose buried in a book than to be on the Internet so much).

I'm not trying to determine who's saved, who's preaching a false gospel, who's worthy of fellowship or any of that. I just want to talk about the Scriptures. The child of God will respond positively to them, and needs them and the truth they provide. This isn't ultimately about personality, philosophy, or world view though it involves each of those. Scripture is our final authority and main focus of interest.


With that in mind, I agree with James White, that those who are Christians must accept these truths taught in Romans 9. God is the author of our faith, and the saved are the children of promise, elect by His grace and for His glory. And that we Gentiles who have not pursued righteousness have yet attained it by faith in Christ. These are beautiful truths, and the child of God must embrace them, holding to Scripture and not the traditions of men.

Benji Ramsaur


Fair challenge.

I strongly believe that while systematic theology is valid, it should be informed by exegesis.

I think what I am getting at in both affirming the logic of the biblical authors and the validity of mystery is that I basically affirm the logic of the biblical authors in their immediate/Bible book context and the mystery that can arise out of the Bible as a whole when exegesis informs our systematics.

I think what I just said could probably be refined a bit, but I think that is basically what I am saying.

Plus, I would argue that man's accountability is not based on his moral ability but on the basis that he is created by God [Rom. 1].



Benji Ramsaur


I would also add that I try to let the more clear verses of Scripture interpret for me the less clear.

Accordingly [to give an example], Christ's [twice] explicit statement "no one can come to me" is more clear than verses that give explicit commands from God or explicit declarations that man is made in the image or likeness of God which accordingly make no explicit mention of whether or not man has moral ability.

The Arminian, I think, has to try and make his case on "inference" or "implication" here. And I agree that trying to find inferences or implications from biblical texts is a valid approach TO THE DEGREE THAT THEY DO NOT CONFLICT WITH CLEAR SCRIPTURE [at the least].


I think when the Arminian bumps into Christ's declaration, he should say "Whoa horsey, whatever free-will implication I may have 'thought' I legitimately derived from this or that biblical text 'must' be invalid. Christ has spoken."

However, the Calvinist has the advantage of looking at Bible verses that speak of man's "enmity" towards God, etc. and allow Christ's explicit declaration to help him interpret what those verses mean, at least in part.


P.S. I do believe the Trinity is a huge hole in the Christian rationalist's argument. If he was consistent, then I do not see how he would not lapse into heresy. Praise God for His grace here.

peter lumpkins


Thanks again for your sober response. First, no self-respectable NonCalvinist would dissent from either exegesis informing theological pronouncements nor question the more clear, explicit texts of scripture informing the less, clear texts.

Second, at that very point is where the Calvinist and NonCalvinist wish each other Godspeed and move along their respective roads in certain truths we all pursue.

For inevitably, we differ in what actually constitutes either clarity and/or explicity. For you, Benji, Jesus' statment clearly reveals "no one can come."(Jn6.44) Fair enough. The NonCalvinist undersatnds Jesus clearly qualifies that with unless the Father who sent me 'draws' him. Again the Calvinist says "and 'draws' clearly means 'irresistably' etc. etc.

For me, these are certainly worthy of dialog. They are unworthy to divide.

Faith and Hope. With that, I am...


peter lumpkins


My brother, two quick comments and then you may have the final word on this one.

First, you begin with: "May I remind you that you are the one who is drawing all of these conclusions. I am not. I'm not here to judge hearts, motives, or understandings."

For me, that's simply amazing in light of what I thrice denied: "It is not about 'impugning motives'...I reiterate: it's not about motive. God only sees those. I agree. It's about the content of a NonCalvinist's faith...not our motives, mind you, but our message." Why keep bringing up you're not judging hearts and/or motives? No one here is suggesting you are. Indeed I'm doing my best to make that clear.

Secondly, however, it is about understanding. Strangely, Byroniac, you say here: "May I remind you that you are the one who is drawing all of these conclusions"

But here you assert: "Again, I want to reiterate that I am simply discussing conclusions, however ugly and uncomfortable...I fail to see where these conclusions are anything but inescapable."

Tell me, Byroniac, which is it--"My conclusions" or "Yours" we are discussing?

Grace. My Brother. With that, I am...



I'm sorry Peter, I kind of mucked that up. Perhaps I didn't understand you correctly. But I am referring to two different sets of conclusions, one logical, and the other, for lack of a better word, political. What I meant was that the logical conclusion of what I see as the synergist system forces some self-glorification on the part of the believer, because salvation cannot come to completion without that all-important variable of human sovereignty producing a salvific decision. The "political" conclusion you brought up was that I'm requiring that those who hold to the synergistic viewpoint are guilty of heresy. That's why I kept repeating: I'm not judging hearts or motives here, for only God can do that.

What I *am* saying is, I only see the Scriptures teaching one way of salvation, which we can term monergism. That doesn't mean that every one who is truly saved holds to all points of monergism. I would hold that they hold inconsistent theological beliefs (as well do I, but I believe monergism is less inconsistent with Scripture than synergism). Again, this is not a fellowship issue, but it could very well be a matter of the heart and how one views Scripture.

Richard Coords

"For by grace ye are saved, and not by faith, lest any man should boast."

Anyone know where this verse is found?

Richard Coords

Here are a couple more to look up...

"Faith cometh by Election, and Election by the sovereignty of God."

"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of faith? Nay, but by a law of Election."

Benji Ramsaur


Hat's off to you for a conversation on this topic seasoned with Christin charity.

God Bless you brother.



Hello Peter! I've finally figured out why I have empty pages in the end of my Bible. It's so I can print out James White's take on Romans 9 and paste it with the inspired writers of scripture. I wonder is he's done an exegesis of verses that tell us to "Test the Spirits etc..." Who knew we all just have to "accept" James White and not "test" his words about what all the Scriptures mean! Anyhoo, I'm just an Atheist, Arminian, Synergist, illogical, ignorant, biblical illiterate who needs to listen to my betters who are simply better because they declare themselves to be!

Keith, I hope you didn't spend a lot of money on your education since you've obviously gotten so much wrong. Such a shame to waste so much time and money when all any of us have to do is sit at the feet of James White who's got it all figured out for us!


What's that sound? aaaah sizzling sarcasm...
:) be kind to all we struggling souls.


Peter, a mini-shout out: I rarely comment, but regularly read and appreciate your material. Thanks for taking the time.

I’d like to comment on something Benji wrote: "A good clue as to whether your theology is right or not, is to see if it raises and answers the same objections that the apostle himself raises and answers in the text."

Calvinists tend to see the objection/complaint in Rom 9 as a challenge to the fairness of individual predestination/reprobation. Calvinists read Paul‘s answer to be: “This is God’s sovereign right - who are you to question God (about unconditional individual election)?”

But is this what is in the apostle’s mind? The idea is relatively recent - mainstreamed by Calvin et al, first mentioned by Augustine.

It seems more likely that the objection comes from Jews who rejected Christ. God’s relationship with Jew and Gentile is, after all, the dominant theme of ch 9-11, and often comes up in 1-8. The rejected/hardened ones, in this text, are not those unconditionally reprobated by eternal decree, but Jews who rejected Christ. This breaks Paul’s heart, but he notes that 1) there is a remnant of believing Jews, 2) their rejection somehow resulted in blessing to the Gentiles, and 3) they will be grafted back in if they do not continue in unbelief.

This bundle of issues surrounding how Jews and Gentiles relate to each other and to God no longer vexes us, but it loomed large in the apostle’s thought and in the life of the early church.

It seems more consistent with the text that the objection/complaint is a challenge, by an unbelieving Jew, to the New Covenant, which admits Jew and Gentile based on faith in Christ: "Isn't God violating His promise to Israel? How is it fair for God to reject His chosen people? How is it fair to change the entry requirement mid-stream - to faith in Christ?”

I read Paul‘s answer to be: “This is God’s sovereign right - who are you to question God (about the New Covenant/faith in Christ/extending mercy to Gentiles)?”


GROSEY...I think Mary thinks (and correct me if I'm wrong, Mary) that most C's don't struggle, they just lean on White. I'm certain you don't...you lean on the shoulders of the Lord. selahV

P.S. I haven't read White so maybe he's got big shoulders. :)


Peter...you go and do your site and make it so nice and legible--easy to read. Then you go and make everyone's comments in italics and my eyes go buggy. will you straighten us up? selahV


Perhaps this will solve the italics problem?


Nope. guess not. Sorry. I thought I could fix it with embedded HTML, but no such luck.

Benji Ramsaur


A gentle correction. I did not write that.

However, I would like to comment on what you said. I don't have the text in front of me, but if I remember correctly Paul does not even address the idea of Gentiles in ch. 9 until he talks about "called" Gentiles AFTER he already addressed vessels or mercy/vessels of wrath and AFTER the objection.

Again, if I remember correctly, before he even mentions the Gentiles he is addressing the idea of "an 'Israel' within Israel"--thus Gentiles do not even enter the picture until later on in that chapter.

It's true he brings up Ishmael, Esau, and Pharoah, but not in the sense of "representing" Gentiles who enter the New Covenant by faith in Christ.

Plus, he uses an historical example to show election was not based on anything good [which 'faith in Christ' is] or bad.

But if you love the New Covenant, then you must be a friend of mine:)



If what you wrote is the case, that the first portion of chapter 9 is not addressing Gentiles, how then can the jump be made to the Calvinistic understanding that Paul is addressing election as it relates to all humanity? Rather, it would seem to me based upon what you state, that the election of Romans 9 has nothing to do with the Church but everything to do with Israel. What say ye? By the way, I am in no way trying to be antagonistic, ask Mr. Grosey, I just have lots of questions.

peter lumpkins


I fixed the italics. Sorry. I noticed it myself but just didn't have time to think what would have caused such a curious glitch.

When you noted it, I decided it may be an aggravation to others as well. So, I thought about it and remembered I had placed a couple of HTML codes for making key words in my comments to Benji in italics. I typed in the code wrongly on the end and it made ALL comments from that point forward in italics. Interesting.

Grace. With that, I am...


p.s. Everybody play nice...


AWWW MAN! Peter, you totally ruined my reason for coming over here. I was prepared to raise a stink and then you insist that I play nice. I think I'll take my toys and go home. :~)

By the way, THANK you for putting everything back in block. I'm not as young as Selah V but my eyes sure appreciate this much better AND thanks for giving a place to discuss this without having to hear that I'm a heretic or apostate for not ascribing to John Calvin or Gill.


Sorry Peter and Steve. I can't resist the snark. (Insert winky face here. I still cannot see smileys)

Yes, SelahV you were exactly right in your interpretion of my sarcasm. I notice many not really believing the Bible, but believing their belief about the Bible. If you don't get that line just consider it a great mystery or perhaps my insomniac mind is simply functioning at a higher level of logic this morning. And then there's this whole ancestor/teacher/pastor worship thing that goes on that we're just all supposed to buy into.

You may now all now wish my royal snarkiness a happy birthday. I have it on very good authority (my children) that I can do whatever I want today! So many blogs in need of my unique wit and charm and so little time!

peter lumpkins


Happy Birthday!!

With that, I am...


p.s. Only those who aren't familiar with your style thinks you're snarky...

Benji Ramsaur


Fair question. I just went over Romans 9 and I think I may have overstated my case.

Verse 6 is clearly talking about "an [Elect] 'Israel' with the nation of Israel".

However, by the time one gets to verse 18, it seems that Paul might be speaking of anybody [Jew or Gentile].

Accordingly, by the time one gets to 24, it is clear that the vessels of mercy [mentioned previously] include "called" Gentiles.

However, I still do not see any talk of Jewish/Gentile relational problems from verses 1-23.

Also, I don't see any talk of "faith in Christ" being problematic to Jews from verses 1-23. Instead, I see the langauge of "election" and "calling".

Good question


Richard Coords

Benji Ramsaur,

There are a couple points to consider concerning Romans chapter 9:

You have both the individuals and the nations in mind, and hence God's statement in that in Rebekah's womb [individuals], were two nations. [broader context].
This added complexity definitely can lead to misunderstandings, and I'd like to clear a few up.

1) Sometimes when the Bibles speaks of Jacob, the broader context of Israel is intended, just as sometimes when Esau is mentioned, the broader context of Edom is in mind. Refer to my write-up for specific examples. Obadiah also illustrates this point.

2) The Election of Jacob [indiivudal] over Esau [individual] was not based upon anything "they" did. So what was it based upon? God's sovereign choice. And what was God's sovereign choice based upon? Foreknowledge or decree? If it's foreknowledge, what is it foreknowledge "of"? If you read Romans 9, you'll find the quoted passage from Scripture, "The Older will serve the younger." This never, ever, never, ever, took place within the lives of the individuals, but did take place with Edom serving Israel. Paul then connects the two quotes. "The Older will serve the younger...just as..."Jacob have I loved but Esau I hated." By Paul saying "just as," he is connecting the two quotes, and therefore if you say that the reference to servitude in the nations in mind, then so does the comment about WHO God loved and hated. Some try to obsure the meaning of "hate," while ignoring the fact that the only reference to God hating Esau is found, not in Genesis, but in Malachi, hundreds of years after the death of Jacob and Esau, and at Malachi 1:2-4, you will find God saying that He is forever indignant with Edom, and you can read about why this Judas-nation was hated by God, at Obadiah chapter 1.

So the added complexity is simplified when you sort out what applies to what. The basis for God's election of Jacob over Israel was either because of His foreknowledge of their respective lineages, Israel and Edom, or an unconditional decree concerning Israel and Edom.

3) When Calvinists reference Romans 9, in terms of God hardening, what EVERY single Calvinist forgets is Jeremiah 18:1-13. To some, it's almost like that verse doesn't even exist, and yet there it is. God "the Potter" is explaining to Jeremiah, the conditional nature of His molding. Why do Calvinists ignore this passage when interpreting Romans 9?

Benji Ramsaur


I agree that sometimes when the Bible quotes those individual names the broader nation is in view.

Hence the individual name can be "representative" of the nation.

However, verse 6 is clearly speaking of an elect people within the "one" nation of Israel.

And verses 7-8 goes on to say that not all the children of Abraham are children of God.

Verse 9 is illustrative of Pauls point: Abraham's son Isaac is, to use the language of verse 8, a child of promise [implication: Ishmael is not]

But someone might think that this is because Sarah was the mother of only one of the children--Isaa, not Ishmael.

So, in verse 10, Paul talks about Rebeckah [who is one] and the "one" [quote from Paul] man Isaac having two children. One was elected and one was not [vs. 11], one would serve the other [vs. 12], and one was loved and the other was hated [vs. 13].

To me, all of this is ILLUSTRATIVE of Paul's argument back in verses 6 and 7. Thus, I think, 1-13 only has one nation in view [Israel] and the elect contained therein who are the children of God as its main focus. Even if Paul's illustrations speak of nations, I think they are illustrative of Paul's argument in verses 6-7.

I think Paul's basic point in 6-13 is that God's word has not failed since there is an elect people within the nation of Israel/among Abraham's descendants.




Mary, you said "And then there's this whole ancestor/teacher/pastor worship thing that goes on that we're just all supposed to buy into." I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this, but if you mean that certain people such as myself blindly follow other teachers, such as James White, I'll happily plead not guilty, you need not be concerned over that.

BTW, Happy Birthday!


well Happy Birthday Mary. oh to have the license to say whatever we want one day of the year and not be held accountable...not to be this side of eternity I'm afraid. blessings! selahV


Blessings Mary ...
Congratulations for attaining the ripe old... errr young age of...
I think I'll stop there...
man am I glad I live in Australia... :)
BCR and folsk discussing Rom 9.. don't forget Romans 11 speaks of an election within Israel.
Now.. that has to touch on individual election.. Some within Israel are elect, some are not...
Rom 11:4 But what was God’s reply to him? I have left 7,000 men for Myself who have not bowed down to Baal. 5 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.7 What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened,
8 as it is written: God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day.9 And David says: Let their feasting become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent continually.


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