Category Archives: 2 Chron 7:14

2 Chronicles 7:14 is not for Christians

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(Image courtesy Cupcakegirl10)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

It is common among some evangelical Protestants (including Pentecostals) to use this verse to call Christians back to humility and prayer, turn from their sinfulness, and God will hear and bless their countries. He will forgive their sin and heal their land. It is used as a verse to call believers to the biblical disciplines that should lead to revival.

1. A call to revival

Here are a few online examples:

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb Steve Gaines was president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Memphis area Bellevue Baptist Church in 2017. He acknowledged that the context indicated the message was for the Israelites but added:

‘Just because 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not written to Americans does not mean that Christians in America cannot benefit from its admonitions by obeying its precepts. Again, “all Scripture is profitable.” The warnings in the Old Testament “were written for our instruction.”

Many Christians in America are praying for a fresh spiritual awakening and revival among those of us who know Jesus Christ. I for one am praying for American Christians to embrace genuine humility, hunger and holiness. I am also praying that the Lord will graciously see fit to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and send His much-needed healing (An appeal to rightly apply 2 Chronicles 7:14).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[1] Donald Dueck wrote in April 2020:

Personally I believe this is a promise to us as well as it was to the Israelites and so I believe it is still relevant. In my personal life as a believer I have received many more blessings from God during times I was actively seeking God’s will then at times when I didn’t really care about what God wanted from me. I believe it applies to nations as well as to individuals. This “healing” relates to all types of problems being solved and is not limited to healing from a physical sickness (Quora).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[2] A sermon by Dennis Lee:

Now consider God’s promise to the church and His people.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) [A special message: Our only hope, Sermon Central, 22 July 2020.]

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[3] Rev. Andrew B Natarajan is a Methodist preacher:

Today we are going to mediate on the theme ‘Welfare of a Nation’ based on the scriptural verse 2 Chronicles 7:14…. In this passage, the Lord spoke to Solomon about the cause and effect of loss and restoration of the welfare of a nation…. The welfare of a nation is depended (sic) on GOD-FEARING people…. Though, primarily the words “My People and their Land” refer to the People of Israel and the land of Israel. The promises are given to people of Israel is also promise given to the “people of New Israel” I.e., you and I (sic). (Welfare of a nation).

When I blog on Christian forums such as Christianity Board, Christian forums.com and Christian forums.net I sometimes encounter Christians who want to ignore the immediate context of the verse. They apply it to their nations, particularly the USA.

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[4] Pearl said: “He is speaking to the ‘people who are called by (his) name’ so that’s us” (Christianity Board, ‘God says…’ #3).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[5] Pearl, when I lived in California I used to go to The Church On The Way. Wednesday evenings we would pray for the nation, and our start time was 7:14 pm’ (Christianity Board, God says… CharismaticLady#4).

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[6] 2 Chronicles 7:11-18 and especially Verse 14, is one of the most misused passages of scripture today, by especially preachers. They are misleading new and immature true believers and weakening their true and rightful faith in Christ. Let me explain it a bit…
‘It really does not apply to us (as believers) today in its original context and setting. The context in which it was written was after Solomon dedicated the temple. Then YHWH spoke to him and to his people concerning YHWH’s presence in the Temple and what is will do in the future. It was both a blessing and warnings’ (
APAK #11)

lu1089227q91v_tmp_1aa640af0b3c26cb[7] Ok then so are we are not to humble ourselves, are we not to pray, are we not to turn from our sin, are we not to seek his face? I don’t think I would go with that so I’ll continue to believe that the passage is for me’ (Pearl#13).

2. Original audience

Who were the people to whom 2 Chron 7:14 was addressed? This is the immediate context:

11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron 7:11-14 ESV).?

So King Solomon finishing the ‘house of the Lord and the king’s house’ tells us exactly who the recipients of 2 Chron 7:14 are – the ones over whom Solomon was king.

This is stated clearly in the context: ‘When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever’ (2 Chron 7:3 ESV).

3. Is there an application for our nations today?

We have seen 2 Chron 7:14 was not a promise for today’s Christians but for the Israelites. We violate Scripture when we reef it out of context to make it mean what it does not mean.

However, some people have challenged my application of 2 Chronicles to the situation in America (see examples above).

But 1 Corinthians 10 and Romans 15:4 instruct us that we can learn lessons from the Old Testament Scriptures for the Christian life and church age. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope ” (Romans 15:4).

“For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

Though the law of Moses is not the believer’s rule of life, it is an important source of instruction for the Christian life. We draw spiritual lessons from it. We learn from its examples.

For an excellent explanation of 2 Chron 7:14 in context see: What is the meaning of 2 Chronicles 7:14?

4. Conclusion

When 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) was written, to which Scripture did it refer? ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work’.

Since the NT was in the process of being written, the OT could be the only text to which this ‘Scripture’ applies. Therefore, on the authority of the NT, the OT is ‘profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness’ so that the messengers of God would be equipped for their work.

Based on that kind of explanation, it would be easy to conclude that 2 Chron 7:14 is profitable for teaching true believers today.

This would be a false assumption as 2 Chron 7:14 in context applies primarily to this situation: ‘On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he [King Solomon] sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that the Lord had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people’ (2 Chron 7:10 ESV). The immediate context for v. 14 is v. 13 which states: ‘When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people’.

It is a mistake of biblical interpretation to make a text mean what it does not state in context. We are allowed to make many applications of teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness from 2 Chron 7:14.

However,

We must not confuse application with interpretation.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 August 2020.

Is Panentheism true Christian teaching?

Process-Relational Panentheism Diagram | Pantheism, Buddha ...

(Image courtesy Pinterest)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

‘Panentheism’ may seem strange language to you. It’s not a word we hear very often from evangelical Christian pulpits. However, my view is that it ought to be explained and refuted because it promotes damaging theology.

1. What is it?

I’ve encountered it in two situations: (1) Recently, from a Christian friend who had this view presented, and (2) when I was researching for my PhD dissertation on the historical Jesus, I came across some liberal, postmodern scholars. One who was an ardent advocate was Marcus J. Borg in his book, The God we never knew (1997). He died in 2015 at the age of 72.[1]

1.1 Marcus Borg the false teacher

Borg contended that ‘how we think about God matters…. I argue that a “panentheistic” concept of God offers the most adequate way of thinking about the sacred; in this concept, the sacred is “right here” as well as “the beyond” that encompasses everything”’ (1997:VII, 5)

I agree with him on one point: ‘How we think about God matters’. However, does he have the correct biblical thinking about the Lord God of the universe?

Borg defines panentheism as

God is the encompassing Spirit; we (and everything that is) are in God. For this concept, God is not a supernatural being separate from the universe; rather, God (the sacred Spirit) is a nonmaterial layer or level or dimension of reality all around us. God is more than the universe, yet the universe is in God…. This way of thinking about God is found among many of the mot important voices in the Christian theological tradition (Borg 1997:12).

He claims that these statements from Scripture support panentheism.

bronze-arrow-small ‘The whole earth is full of God’s glory’ (Isaiah);

bronze-arrow-small ‘The earth shining with God’s glory’ (Ezekiel);

bronze-arrow-small ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ (Psalm 19).

1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ (Psalm 29:1-9 NIV; Borg 1997:34-35)

That these verses should be misinterpreted to divert attention from the LORD of glory who created the universe and calls us to praise the Lord of glory for his nature and actions in the universe, is a mockery of justice.

For a further critique of panentheism, see my article, Differences between orthodox theism and panentheism.

2. Down-to-earth questioning

A friend sent some questions to me from a discussion he had with a colleague. These are the colleague’s issues:

Here the issues are in red font:

clip_image002  ‘If there is nothing outside of God….’

This is a false premise as it promotes the heresy of panentheism that can be diagrammed as,

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(Image from Facebook, ‘Christian Answers for the New Age’, 18 March 2019)

In biblical Christianity, God is outside the universe which he created. The Scriptures teach that God reigns over the nations from His holy throne in heaven (see Psalm 47:8; Isaiah 6:1, 66:1; Hebrews 4:16).

clip_image005‘Why did Lucifer have thoughts of rebellion?’

“With both the angels and humanity, God chose to present a choice. While the Bible does not give many details regarding the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels, it seems that Satan—probably the greatest of all the angels (Ezekiel 28:12-18)—in pride chose to rebel against God in order to seek to become his own god.

Satan (Lucifer) did not want to worship or obey God; he wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14). Revelation 12:4 is understood to be a figurative description of one third of the angels choosing to follow Satan in his rebellion, becoming the fallen angels—demons” (GotQuestions 2020. Why did God allow Satan and the demons to sin?)
There is not enough biblical information in the inspired Word to give a definitive answer to this question.

clip_image002[1]‘These negative thoughts would have to be part of God’s nature?’

That could never be so because of God’s absolute holiness (Isaiah 6:5), absolute justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), and absolute sinlessness (Habakkuk 1:13).

clip_image005[1]‘If time is just a construct for the human mind…’

Biblically, we know this is false because it was God who created everything and that included time. See Genesis 1:1; Ecclesiastes 11:5; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16–17. God needed nothing external to himself to create the universe (Acts 17:24–28). There are many more Bible verses in support of these teachings.

clip_image005[2]  ‘… God would know and see everything instantaneously, therefore, Lucifer’s fall would have all been part of the big picture to come?

This is exactly right. It’s called God’s omniscience. God knows everything, past, present and future, seen and unseen. The Bible confirms this in 1 John 3:20; Isaiah 46:9-10; Psalm 139:1-3, 15-16; and Acts 1:24.

clip_image005[3]‘Lucifer’s fall would have all been part of the big picture to come?

This is correct. But that is because of the nature of God’s omniscient attribute. God knows even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:29-30).

See the next installment of the person’s retort to my reply in, ‘Theism vs Panentheism’.

clip_image0073.  Works consulted

Borg, M J 1997. The God we never knew. New York, NY. HarperSanFrancisco.

4.  Notes


[1] See the obituary in the Los Angeles Times, ‘Marcus Borg, scholar who challenged literal view of Jesus, dies at 72’, 24 January. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-marcus-borg-20150125-story.html (Accessed 9 July 2020).

Jenn 3d

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 July 2020.

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Buddhist, Rohingya and Christian lives matter

Why must I go to alternate media for information about persecution?

(Image of Christian girl, Orissa, India  who was bruised and burnt during the anti Christian violence in Orissa in August 2008. It occurred when a bomb was thrown into her house by extremists; Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black police SUV with the city name "MINNEAPOLIS", and a license plate that reads "POLICE" (some letters are obscured in this frame). One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.(Frame from witness video, showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd‘s neck. Image courtesy Wikipedia).

This article was published in On Line Opinion, 25 June 2020.

There have been 8:46 rallying cries across the USA to coincide with the length of time it was assessed for George Floyd to die on 25 May 2020. Others conclude it took 7 minutes 46 seconds.

The police officer, alleged perpetrator of the crime, Derek Chauvin, has been sacked from the police force. However, Floyd’s death has propelled rallies for ‘Black lives matter’ across the world – in the USA, Great Britain, across Europe, Australia, and in other countries.

This Rohingya crisis caught media attention.

I honestly support these protesters and their reasons. A policeman killing a man by putting so much pressure on his neck he could not breathe, if convicted, should be called a murderer.

However, there are other situations as serious that have had some mass and social media coverage. In recent years, mass media outlets have reported on the persecution of the minority sect that Rohingya Muslims have been persecuted in Myanmar (Burma) and have fled to Bangladesh.

BBC News (23 January 2020) gave details on the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims.

(Rohingya refugees in refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2017; Image courtesy Wikipedia)

‘The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered measures to prevent the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (formerly Burma)….

Thousands of Rohingya died and more than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh during an army crackdown in 2017.

UN investigators have warned that genocidal actions could recur.

How have Myanmar people responded?

Tun Khin tweeted the ICJ ruling was ‘a crucial moment for Rohingya justice, and vindication for those of us who have lived through this genocide for decades’. He is the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK and continued:

‘The court’s decision clearly shows that it takes the allegations of genocide seriously, and that Myanmar’s hollow attempts to deny these have fallen on deaf ears’ (BBC News).

Human rights organisation Amnesty International said the ICJ decision ‘sent a message that the world would not tolerate Myanmar’s “atrocities”’.

The extent of Rohingya sprawling camps near the Bangladesh border for those fleeing Myanmar’s violence has been captured by a camera on a drone (BBC News 2017).

The Australian Government has explained its position but it hasn’t been updated since 14 June 2018. The Sydney Morning Herald (2017) reported: ‘Australia must act on Rohingya genocide’ which relates how ‘Almas saw her seven children and husband murdered during a wave of massacres in Myanmar. She and thousands of other survivors now face new threats as they languish in refugee camps’. ABC News, Brisbane Qld, ‘Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocide, says Rohingya Muslims caught up in armed internal conflict’.

Why don’t the people take to the streets with this slogan: ‘Rohingya Muslim lives matter’?

Why do I need to go to alternate media for other deaths?

George Floyd’s death is in the news, and rightly so. Have you heard much on the following?

Release International Voice reported on Indian Christian believers who were ‘taunted, beaten and forced to pose “like Christ on the cross” in police custody when extremists accused them of “forced conversion”’.

‘Pastor Indresh Kumar Gautam and four others were arrested after 30 Hindu extremists broke up their Sunday service in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh’. Australian mainstream media gives this persecution a flick pass as it doesn’t seem to have the worldwide implications of a George Floyd murder.

Why haven’t we heard a media campaign, ‘Indian teens’ lives matter’, following the death of a 16-year-old by stabbing and stoning? What was his crime? He was a Christian and wouldn’t renounce his faith. What was the crime he committed?

If it were not for alternate news’ sources I would not know of this persecution to death by Hindu extremists.

He refused to abandon his faith in Jesus Christ. Where were Australia’s news outlets to report this with catchphrases such as, ‘Indian Christian lives matter’?

It’s time for the ABC, SBS, Fox News, Sky News, Channels 7, 9, and 10 to wake up to international news’ responsibilities. I commend The Guardian Australia edition for reporting in February 2020 on the Australian ambassador’s meeting with the Myanmar military chief who was accused of Rohingya genocide. ‘Human Rights Watch has said Australia’s decision to take the meeting risked giving legitimacy and credibility to a military accused of mass atrocities’.

Other Australian news sources may have given limited coverage to some of the examples which follow. However, as a regular news reader and watcher, I have not seen any kind of uprising like ‘black lives matter’ in association with the deaths of other ethnic minorities – except Rohingya Muslims.

According to The Gulf News (01 March 2020) in Pakistan, 22-year-old Saleem Masih was ‘tortured to death for taking a dip in a village tube well in Pakistan, his fault was that he was a Christian’ and ‘polluted’ the water he bathed in.

Masih’s father said Saleem claimed the men who attacked, abused and cursed him did it because he was a ‘filthy Christian’. Social media users were furious about Saleem’s treatment and spread the word through #JusticeForSaleemMasih. ‘Pakistani Christian lives matter’.

The Buddhist minority in Vietnam has been under threat for decades in fear of persecution. At the Taiwan International Religious Freedom Forum in Hsinchu City in June 2018, Vo Tran Nhat, executive secretary of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, a nongovernmental organisation founded in Paris in 1975, explained his views as a non-religious person: ‘He cares a great deal about the Buddhists and minority Christians, who raise their voices against oppression and injustice. If Buddhists lose their religion, Vietnam would lose its “soul,” he warned’.

What has Australia’s main-stream media reported about these situations?

There are many other examples that the mass media choose to ignore. I’m thinking of a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who maintains his allegiance to Jesus in spite of suffering unemployment, persecution from Muslim family members, and homelessness.

An Egyptian woman is another case in point. She was kidnapped by extremists, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man. It is exceedingly difficult to bring such women back home to a normal life when they live in an honour-shame culture.

In April 2020, a Christian pastor, his wife and 15-year-old son were attacked by a Muslim neighbour in Pakistan. They were severely injured by machetes, sticks and pistols and they were treated in hospital. The case was reported to a local police station. Pakistani Christians face severe maltreatment. Often it comes from family members, radical Islamic groups, and even the government.

North Korea is a closed country and distribution of unapproved literature is a capital offence that could lead to forced labour or execution.

However, in 2014 Natasha Moore from the Centre for Public Christianity (a Christian organisation) published an opinion piece for the ABC’s, The Drum, Why don’t we hear about persecuted Christians? She gave an example of ‘the plight of Mosul’s Christians [that] has been noted by a growing number of news outlets, from The Independent to The New York Times. It has broken the surface of the international news cycle in a way that other atrocities – the fire-bombing of churches in Nigeria, the summary execution of North Koreans caught with Bibles – have not’. She does not consider the media were covering up the global persecution, but it reveals the media’s blind spots. As an example of the seriousness of the situation, she stated that Christians were persecuted in139 countries and about four or five acts of religious discrimination are against Christians.

Countries that were moderately secular and are now ‘avowedly secular’ have stepped up their hostility towards Christians. Turkey and Egypt join with post-communist, Islamic and some South Asian countries, Moore wrote. She referred authors to the 2008 book, Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion (Paul Marshall et. al.).

Farce of injustice by media

I find it to be a pretence against fair journalism when the media can so promote ‘Black lives matter’ when we have examples of Buddhist lives matter, Rohingya Muslim lives matter, and Christian lives matter around the world.

When will we see major, objective reporting on the Christian, Buddhist, Rohingya and other persecutions?

(Image courtesy fssx.news. An 11-year-old Christian child was beaten to death by his Muslim employer on July 11, 2019, in Faisalabad, in northeastern Pakistan.)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 June 2020.

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Some Christians unacceptable in Australian sport

When diversity has come to mean exclusion in sport

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Two situations have highlighted this recently in Australia and both relate to the one sportsman:

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(Israel Folau image courtesy Wikipedia)

clip_image004Rugby union champion, Israel Folau, a Christian,[1] had his 4-year contract cancelled by Rugby Australia (RA) in May 2019. In making the announcement, Rugby AU CEO, Raelene Castle, stated:

This has been an extremely challenging period for rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team. But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork (Newman 2019).

clip_image006Peter Beattie, Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, told AAP Folau was ruled out of playing for rugby league again because

our position on Israel Folau remains the same…. We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for (Zemek 2019).

One of RA’s major sponsors, Qantas, said of Folau’s Instagram post, ‘These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support’ (Decent 2019).

1. What is diversity Peter Beattie?

The Cambridge Dictionary (2019. s.v. diversity) defines diversity as:

(a) ‘the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people:

(b) ‘the fact that there are many different ideas or opinions about something’.

The Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. diversity) gives similar meanings:

(c) ‘The diversity of something is the fact that it contains many very different elements’.

(d) ‘A diversity of things is a range of things which are very different from each other’.

Diversity does not mean acceptance of a range of things, except what we don’t like or consider unworthy of a sportsman or sportswoman. Diversity is diversity. clip_image008

No ifs, buts and exceptions.

Based on these definitions of ‘diversity’, Mr Beattie of ARL diversity includes different things, people, ideas, opinions, theologies and values. It includes the Christian values of Israel Folau. He should never be excluded if ‘diversity’ is one or ARL’s guiding principles – as you state it is.

To be consistent with ARU’s values, diversity means acceptance of Christian values, including Folau’s values, even though you might not like them. Would you allow him to make this personal post on Instragram without sacking him?

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(Image courtesy WikiIslam)

2. Ms Castle: What is ‘inclusion’?

Dictionary definitions are:

(a) ‘The act of including someone or something as part of a group, list, etc., or a person or thing that is included (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

(b) ‘The idea that everyone should be able to use the same facilities, take part in the same activities, and enjoy the same experiences, including people who have a disability or other disadvantage (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

(c) ‘Inclusion is the act of making a person or thing part of a group or collection’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

(d) ‘The act of including or the state of being included’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. inclusion).

Therefore, …

3. To exclude Folau’s pro-Christian view is censorship and exclusion.

It flies in the face of promoting a diversity and inclusion of views in RA and ARU. It is time for Rugby Australia and the Australian Rugby League to accept and promote genuine diversity that includes Folau’s Christian values.

This has nothing to do with whether you like what he stated or whether you find it offensive. Folau paraphrased Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) with his Instagram post.

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(Image courtesy The Roar)

This accurate meaning of diversity and inclusion includes athletes who speak their values into the public square, whether they are secular, atheistic, humanistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or Tao.

To be truly diverse, these two codes of sport need to realise that their current positions practise censorship of a player’s Christian values – and it must stop because it goes against the meaning of diversity and inclusion. Christianity is included in inclusion and is part of the incorporation of diversity.

The Samoa News reported:

A former Australian rugby international says anyone who believes Israel Folau has a right to publicly express his views on sexuality has no place in the sport….

But the former Wallaby and now journalist Peter FitzSimons said if other players are offended by the sanctions handed down to Folau and support his views their time in the sport may also be up.

“The answer to those Pacific Islanders is two-fold. Number One: We love you blokes. You’re terrific, you’re wonderful people and you are great rugby players,” he told Morning Report.

“Number Two: If you’re deeply offended and you’re on Israel’s side on this and you feel so strongly you’re going to leave we’ll miss you but Rugby Australia and the Australian rugby community are not going to have people wearing the Wallaby jersey that put up public posts that say that gays are going to burn in hell.

“The gays have had centuries of vilification – we’re not doing that anymore….[2]

4. It is hypocrisy

In my view, what is currently named and practised by ARU and RA as diversity and inclusion is falsely named. It is factually against true diversity and amounts to uniformity with the politically correct views within the sport. Genuine inclusion means ‘the act of including someone or something as part of a group, list, etc., or a person or thing that is included’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2020. s.v. inclusion).

Margaret Court - Wikipedia(Image Margaret Court 1970, courtesy Wikipedia)

 Therefore, to exclude Israel Folau for religious reasons, is not inclusion, but exclusion.

What has been done to Margaret Court is hypocritical as it has opposed and excluded her because of her views on the Christian position on homosexuality.

When will these sporting bodies agree with the truth that what they do in excluding Folau and Court amounts to discrimination of these two sports’ champions.

5.  Christians not acceptable in Australian sport

See other examples of vilification against her Christian views for Margaret Court in my articles:

6. Conclusion

The appeal to reject the intolerance of Israel Folau and Margaret Court falls flat because the folks who want tolerance and inclusiveness in sport actually practise intolerance and exclusiveness.

They have redefined tolerance and inclusiveness to agree with their politically correct views.

(This image of professional rugby league player for Fiji, Australian teams, and English teams, Kevin Naiquama. Courtesy NT Times.)

He is unashamedly Christian with this crucifixion tattooed across his back. He has John 3:16 on his chest. The back tattoo took 40 hours to complete. These Christian symbols have not been a cause of opposition by the rugby league community – to my knowledge. Why?

‘From the bottom is The Last Supper going into Jerusalem City, then finishing up the top with Jesus Crucifixion’ (West Tigers Forum).

Sport Confidential: Kevin Naiqama spent 40 hours getting back ...7. Works consulted

Decent, T 2019. Rugby Australia set to sack Israel Folau for anti-gay social media post. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 11 April. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/rugby-australia-set-to-sack-israel-folau-for-anti-gay-social-media-post-20190411-p51dar.html (Accessed 14 June 2019).

Newman, B 2019. Israel Folau “considering options” after “landmark” decision to terminate his contract. Rugby.com.au International (online), 17 May. Available at: https://www.rugby.com.au/news/2019/05/17/folau-verdict-castle-hore (Accessed 14 June 2019).

Zemek, S 2019. ‘We are an inclusive game’: Chairman Peter Beattie slams the door on Israel Folau’s NRL plea. News.com.au (online), 5 June. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/we-are-an-inclusive-game-chairman-peter-beattie-slams-the-door-on-israel-folaus-nrl-plea/news-story/047903812065e9d52b68baec328937b8 (Accessed 14 June 2019).

8.  Notes


[1] He is a non-Trinitarian, so promotes heresy. See my article: Israel Folau teaches false doctrine

[2] Samoa News 2019. Players who support Folau ‘have no place in Australian rugby’ (online), 5 August. Available at: https://www.samoanews.com/regional/players-who-support-folau-have-no-place-australian-rugby (Accessed 8 March 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 May 2020.

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The Bible and Contraception

(image contraceptive pill courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

A Christian stated on a blog:

It’s impossible for the bible to address every issue that could come up in a person’s life.
I cannot, however, think of one that is not covered somehow by the 10 commandments … or the Great Commandments of Christ.
[1]

Another responded:

Contraception is the first one that comes to mind.
Is it right or wrong from a Christian perspective and why?
[2]

This is why it is important to have a solid Christian world view and be in a church that encourages Christians to have faith, thinking and reasoning about issues of today. See: Learn how to screw up your worldview.

1.  Faith, thinking and reasoning

The Bible supports all 3 of these issues:[3]

  • God states we are to reason (Isaiah 1:18).
  • We are required to be ready to share a defense with people (1 Peter 3:15).
  • It is right to show unbelievers our faith is reasonable and logical.
  • This challenge influenced my writing this article: When Christian thinking becomes fuzzy
  • ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Heb 11:6 NIV).

How does contraception fit into this world view? I reason that it is responsible to plan a family (& the number of children we have) that fits the income and expectations for this Christian family.

2.  Nothing in Bible forbids contraception

I have not found any Bible references that support or forbid contraception, so Christians should not add rules not in Scripture and make them universal rules.
However, I accept that some contraception does kill the unborn child through an early abortion:

Some forms of contraception, specifically the intrauterine device (IUD), Norplant, and certain low-dose oral contraceptives, often do not prevent conception but prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum. The result is an early abortion, the killing of an already conceived individual. Tragically, many women are not told this by their physicians, and therefore do not make an informed choice about which contraceptive to use” (Randy Alcorn).?

I’m not surprised the Pope took that position as the anti-contraception view has been part of RC theology for a long time.

3.  Papal Encyclical Letter

The Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI states, in part,

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.[4]

While I don’t agree with the RC position, I commend that church leadership for its high regard for all of human life, from conception to natural death.

As for Genesis 38:8-10 (NIV), it deals with a specific Old Covenant situation and is not applicable to Gentiles (and Jews) under the New Covenant. These verses state:

Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfil your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to avoid providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

4.  Conclusion

Intrauterine device

IUD with scale.jpg

Copper IUD (Paragard T 380A, courtesy Wikipedia)

There is nothing specifically stated in Scripture to affirm or deny contraception. The only exception is the use of a device that prevents implantation of an already fertilized ovum, e.g. an IUD.

5.  Notes


[1] wondering#54 2020. Stoned to death. Christianforums.net (online), 1 March. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/stoned-to-death.81713/page-3 (Accessed 1 March 2020).

[2] Ibid., Christ the King#54.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#62.

[4] The Vatican 1968. Available at: http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html (Accessed 1 March 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 01 March 2020.

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‘Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language

Israel Folau.jpg

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The debate over Israel Folau’s statement about sinners, including homosexuals, has led to a prostitution of the English language. I use prostitution in the sense of ‘the act or process of misusing and wasting’ (Macmillan Dictionary 2019. s.v. prostitution).

Read the words of …

1. Rugby League & Union officials who violate the meaning of inclusive

Peter Beattie, former chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) told Fox Sports (5 June 2019):

“Our position on Israel Folau remains the same,” Beattie told AAP.

“We are an inclusive game with respect for all. Israel has social media posts online that go against what our game stands for.

“As it stands, he will not be considered for registration. What Israel chooses to do in relation to his social media posts and his faith is a matter for him”.

Two days after he was announced as the new ARLC chairman, Mr Peter V’landys AM, violated the meaning of inclusiveness with this statement:

The inclusivity of rugby league changed his life as an immigrant child and he has zero tolerance for Folau’s anti-gay messaging.

Former chairman Peter Beattie had previously shut down an attempt by the sacked rugby union star to resume his NRL career, and V’landys has supported the move.

“The game is inclusive. Israel’s comments are not inclusive,” V’landys said (news.com.au, 1 November 2019).

V’landys was adamant: ‘I think we need to be more inclusive and I think the greatest asset our game has is it is very inclusive’.

Beattie and V’landys repeated the assessment of Rachel Castle, CEO of Rugby Australia, ‘”Inclusion means inclusion for everybody, and we’ve got portions of our community who were very hurt and upset by Israel’s comments, hence why we are in this situation’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2019).

‘Inclusion means inclusion for everybody’. Really? That’s with the exception of being a Christian sportsman who posts on external social media with a warning from the Christian Scriptures:

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(Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau), courtesy abc.net.au, 11 May 2019)

Here are three sports’ leaders trumpeting inclusiveness but who have adopted a view of adding an exclusion to the meaning of inclusion. How do we know?

2. The meaning of ‘inclusive’

The Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) defines the adjective ‘inclusive’ as: ‘If you describe a group or organization as inclusive, you mean that it allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person’.

Lexico.com (Oxford dictionary) (2019. s.v. inclusive) provides the meaning as: ‘Not excluding any section of society or any party involved in something’.

The MacMillan Dictionary (2019. s.v. inclusive) describes inclusive as ‘deliberately aiming to involve all types of people’.

Therefore, to have an inclusive policy for Rugby League and Rugby Union teams means ‘all kinds of people’ should belong to them and not ‘just one kind of person’. It involves all types of people, including the secular, various religions (including Christianity), and those with no religion.

To require that a certain religion not express itself in activities outside of the sporting club – especially external to practice and playing games – is to violate the definition of ‘inclusive’. It is another issue if this anti-religious activity is written into the sports’ person’s contract.

Making an exclusion as part of the understanding of inclusion seems to be part of the definition for Peter Beattie, Peter V’landys and Rachel Castle.

3. Inclusive means excluding Christianity

If ‘inclusion’ is ‘for everybody’, why is it not for Folau’s Christianity? Castle, Beattie and V’landys have thus caused ‘inclusion’ to incorporate an exclusion. If Castle agreed with the Collins Dictionary, she would not be in the challenge of the Folau contract. That’s because Christianity must be a part of an inclusive rugby union code.

Grand Slam tennis champion of 1970, Margaret Smith (Court), is another example. For the male champion, Rod Laver, for the Australian Open tennis grand slam he was flown from the USA, where he now lives, to celebrate his 50th anniversary since his grand slam win.

What has happened to Margaret Court? She is a Pentecostal preacher in Perth who has made clear statements about God’s view of heterosexuality and opposition to homosexuality. The Newcastle Herald reported Court’s statements:

“I just said what the Bible said and I think a lot of people didn’t like it,” Court said.

“Really that’s all I was saying and you got blasted because of it and bullied because of it.

“In my heart, I have nothing against the person, we have them in our own church, but that’s how I think it was portrayed.

“I think I had broad shoulders in tennis and you can carry it through.

“I’d still say the same thing again today.

We need to be able to say what we think and believe.

“I think we really need to protect freedom of speech because that’s the start of something.

“We need to be able to say what we think and believe.

“It wasn’t that I was saying what I thought, I was saying it from what God thought in the Scriptures.”

Court admitted she stands up and speaks her mind for the next generation.

“I think a lot of people did (get upset) because I think they lead that lifestyle and that’s their choice,” she said (Greenway 2019).

margaret

(photo, Margaret Court, courtesy Victory Life International, Perth, WA)

Tennis Australia’s (TA) response was swift. It “respects Margaret’s unmatched tennis career and welcomes her to the Australian Open, particularly in this milestone anniversary year,” the TA statement read.

“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.

“In 2017 the Australian Open launched #Open4All, a major diversity and inclusion initiative, designed to showcase the many inclusive opportunities in tennis” (Matthey 2019).

This is a farcical statement. It states ‘we will continue to actively promote inclusion’, but what does it do with Margaret Court? It practises exclusion because TA does not support Margaret Court’s freedom to practise her Christian beliefs. When ‘inclusion’ incorporates ‘exclusion’ words have lost their meaning. See my article: Inclusiveness’ that prostitutes the English language.

Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’. I consider that TA’s support for inclusion while practising exclusion to be in the category of ‘sincere ignorance’. I wait for the day when TA wakes up to Margaret Court’s view of homosexuals:

“I love them, I have them in the church here [Victory Life Centre, Perth]. ” she said (Christmass 2019)

4. Conclusion

With the NRL, ARU, and TA, it seems to me that we have leaders of the organisations that have written a new, idiosyncratic definition of ‘inclusion’ to exclude those whose beliefs (expressed externally) are those with which they disagree.

I’m of the view, based on the definition of ‘inclusive’, that the NRL, ARU and TA should have this policy with regard to all players: ‘We welcome players of all religious and non-religious perspectives. What you do off the field is your business, even if it is in public. You will never be excluded from our sports because of your religion’.

The prostitution of the English language by these sporting leaders has required that inclusive incorporate an exclusion – the message of Christianity.

They exclude those whose world views differ from theirs. It’s time for them to get back to the common explanation of ‘inclusive’ that excludes nobody.

5. Works consulted

Christmass, P 2019. Margaret Court defends views on gay marriage amid renewed Tennis Australia drama. 7News (online), 7 November. Available at: https://7news.com.au/sport/tennis/i-have-nothing-against-homosexuals-margaret-court-defends-views-on-gay-marriage-c-545514 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Greenway, B 2019. Aussie tennis legend Margaret Court stands her ground on same-sex marriage. Newcastle Herald, 2 January. Available at: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/5834029/margaret-court-stands-her-ground-id-say-it-again/?cs=7597 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Matthey, J 2019. Tennis Australia invites Margaret Court to Melbourne Park but distances itself from her views. News.com.au (online), 2 December. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/tennis-australia-invites-margaret-court-to-melbourne-park-but-distances-itself-from-her-views/news-story/a1e119362cbecee6edc7f8eaa4c21585 (Accessed 23 January 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 January 2020.

Image result for clipart word Inclusion"

Image result for clipart word Inclusion

Matthew 12:24: Was Jonah in the belly of a whale?

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(Jonah, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

On christianforums.com a poster wrote: ‘Nowhere in the Bible is Jonah’s fish called a “whale”.[1]

It is predictable that someone would object: ‘I beg your pardon?’[2]

Speedwell asked for ‘chapter and verse’.[3]

Since AV1611VET is an avid supporter of the KJV-only view, it was not surprising that he pulled out a KJV verse to try to refute Speedwell:

For the second time:
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
[4]

Speedwell came back with an accurate response:

Mistranslation of the underlying Greek ketos which means “great fish” just like the Hebrew of the OT.[5]

Even though I came into this 2017 thread very late, it had been closed so I could not add the following information.

Was it a whale or sea monster?

The Greek, ho ketos is translated as ‘the whale’ in the KJV. However, the Greek word in Matt 12:40 means a ‘sea monster’ (Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich Greek Lexicon 1957:432), which does not necessarily refer to a whale. So the ESV translates it accurately as a ‘great fish’, the NIV as ‘huge fish’, and the NRSV as ‘the sea monster’. All of these are correct translations of the Greek.

To require this word to be translated as ‘the whale’ goes beyond exegesis of the text.

Works consulted:

Bauer, W, Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[6] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Notes:

[1] Christianforums.com 2017. Speedwell#5764, Proving evolution as just a ‘theory’, 15 December. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/proving-evolution-as-just-a-theory.8028023/page-289 (Accessed 11 January 2020).

[2] Ibid., AV1611VET#5765.

[3] Ibid., Speedwell#5677.

[4] Ibid., AV1611VET#5767.

[5] Ibid., Speedwell#5769.

[6] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’, 4th rev and aug ed, 1952 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2020.

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(photo courtesy Pinterest)

Was John Calvin a TULIP Calvinist?

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(Tulip image courtesy photos public domain)

Does it matter what your church teaches and practices concerning Christian salvation?

What is the future for churches that proclaim the following?

clip_image004All people are saved (universalism)?

clip_image005People have no say in whether they accept or reject the Gospel of salvation?

clip_image004[1]The whole of humanity is so corrupted inwardly that there is no hope of salvation without God’s supernatural intervention – without that person’s agreement.

clip_image006People have a free will that enables them to accept or reject God’s offer of salvation.

clip_image005[1]The offer of salvation is open to everyone in the world?

Two of these positions come under what is known as the salvation theology of Calvinism.They are:

clip_image005People have no say in whether they accept or reject the Gospel of salvation?

clip_image004[1]The whole of humanity is so corrupted inwardly that there is no hope of salvation without God’s supernatural intervention – without that person’s agreement.

In this article, I will examine whether the teaching of TULIP was included in the doctrines of Calvin.

I’m particularly concerned with whether John Calvin, who preceded the formulation of TULIP, believed the doctrines of TULIP.

1. What is TULIP Calvinism?

TULIP is an acronym for the theology expounded at the Synod of Dort (1618-19), held in the city of Dordrecht, the Netherlands, that responded to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance. These doctrines have been summarised as TULIP. Here is a brief explanation of these five doctrines at: ‘The Calvinistic “TULIP”’:[1]

In brief, TULIP means:

clip_image008 – ‘total depravity. This doesn’t mean people are as bad as they can be. It means that sin is in every part of one’s being, including the mind and will, so that a man cannot save himself’.

clip_image010– ‘unconditional election. God chooses to save people unconditionally; that is, they are not chosen on the basis of their own merit’.

clip_image012 – ‘limited atonement. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross was for the purpose of saving the elect’.

clip_image014 – ‘irresistible grace. When God has chosen to save someone, He will.

clip_image016 – perseverance of the saints. Those people God chooses cannot lose their salvation; they will continue to believe. If they fall away, it will be only for a time.

Since Calvin did not originate TULIP, the purpose of this article is to discover from Calvin’s writings if he taught the theology expressed in TULIP.

Of necessity, this article will require many quotes from Calvin, especially to demonstrate favour or disfavour towards each point of TULIP.

clip_image0181.1 Total Depravity:

Calvin wrote in Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.2.26: ‘The will is so utterly vitiated[2] and corrupted in every part as to produce nothing but evil’.

Elsewhere in Institutes he states:

‘Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,’ (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). If every thing which our mind conceives, meditates plans, and resolves, is always evil, how can it ever think of doing what is pleasing to God, to whom righteousness and holiness alone are acceptable? (John Calvin, Institutes, Book 2:2.25)

… Man, since he was corrupted by the fall, sins not forced or unwilling, but voluntarily, by a most forward bias of the mind; not by violent compulsion, or external force, but by the movement of his own passion; and yet such is the depravity of his nature, that he cannot move and act except in the direction of evil. If this is true, the thing not obscurely expressed is, that he is under a necessity of sinning (Institutes Book 2:3:5).

clip_image020See my articles in support of total depravity:

clip_image0221.2 Unconditional Election:

Calvin wrote in Institutes of the Christian Religion:

Book Three, Chapter 21.1: OF THE ETERNAL ELECTION, BY WHICH GOD HAS PREDESTINATED SOME TO SALVATION, AND OTHERS TO DESTRUCTION.

The covenant of life is not preached equally to all, and among those to whom it is preached, does not always meet with the same reception. This diversity displays the unsearchable depth of the divine judgment, and is without doubt subordinate to God’s purpose of eternal election.

But if it is plainly owing to the mere pleasure of God that salvation is spontaneously offered to some, while others have no access to it, great and difficult questions immediately arise, questions which are inexplicable, when just views are not entertained concerning election and predestination. To many this seems a perplexing subject, because they deem it most incongruous that of the great body of mankind some should be predestinated to salvation, and others to destruction.

How ceaselessly they entangle themselves will appear as we proceed. We may add, that in the very obscurity which deters them, we may see not only the utility of this doctrine, but also its most pleasant fruits. We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with his eternal election, the grace of God being illustrated by the contrast–viz. that he does not adopt all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what he denies to others.

See also Institutes 3.22.7,10. In point 10 of this quote, Calvin wrote:

Some object that God would be inconsistent with himself, in inviting all without distinction while he elects only a few. Thus, according to them, the universality of the promise destroys the distinction of special grace. . . . But it is by Isaiah he more clearly demonstrates how he destines the promises of salvation specially to the elect (Isa. 8:16); for he declares that his disciples would consist of them only, and not indiscriminately of the whole human race. Whence it is evident that the doctrine of salvation, which is said to be set apart for the sons of the Church only, is abused when it is represented as effectually available to all. For the present let it suffice to observe, that though the word of the gospel is addressed generally to all, yet the gift of faith is rare (emphasis added).

This point also infers the doctrine of Limited Atonement as well.

In his commentary on Romans 9:3 he wrote:

It was then a proof of the most ardent love, that Paul hesitated not to wish for himself that condemnation which he was impending over the Jews, in order that he might deliver them. It is no objection that he knew that his salvation was based on the election of God, which could by no means fail; for as those ardent feelings hurry us on impetuously, so they see and regard nothing but the object in view. So Paul did not connect God’s election with his wish, but the remembrance of that being passed by, he was wholly intent on the salvation of the Jews (Calvin’s Commentary, Romans 9:3).

Second Timothy 2:19 (ESV) states, ‘But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity”’.

Calvin responded:

Having this seal ([It] denotes either “a seal” or “the print of a seal”) having led into a mistake some people who thought that it was intended to denote a mark or impress, I have translated it sigillum (a seal,) which is less ambiguous. And, indeed, Paul means, that under the secret guardianship of God, as a signet, is contained the salvation of the elect, as Scripture testifies that they are “written in the book of life.” (Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3.)

The Lord knoweth who are his This clause, together with the word seal, reminds us, that we must not judge, by our own opinion, whether the number of the elect is great or small; for what God hath sealed he wishes to be, in some respect, shut up from us. Besides, if it is the prerogative of God to know who are his, we need not wonder if a great number of them are often unknown to us, or even if we fall into mistakes in making the selection.

Yet we ought always to observe why and for what purpose he makes mention of a seal; that is, when we see such occurrences, let us instantly call to remembrance what we are taught by the Apostle John, that “they who went out from us were not of us” (1 John 2:19) (Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:19-21).

While Calvin’s language is not that of unconditional election but elect who are known only to God who has sealed them, shut them in. That sounds awfully like unconditional election language.

Elsewhere he stated it more clearly: ‘It is no small matter to have the souls perishes who are bought by the blood of Christ’. (A Selection of the Most Celebrated Sermons by John Calvin: Titus 1:15-16, p. 84).

This reads like universal atonement but the same sermon he wrote of God’s eternal predestination and election before the world began:

Whereupon hangeth our salvation? Is it not upon the election and choice that hath been from everlasting? God chose us before we were. What could we do then? We were made fit, We were well disposed to come to God. Nay, we see that our salvation doth not begin after we have knowledge, discretion, and good desires; but it is grounded in God’s everlasting decree, which was before any part of the world was made: (A Selection of the Most Celebrated Sermons by John Calvin: Sermon II, 2 Tim 1:8-9. p. 42).

There you have the contradictory nature of Calvin’s views: (1) Souls perish who have been bought by Jesus’ blood sacrifice, BUT (2) God’s salvation is grounded in His decree before believers were created and before the world came into existence.

I’m befuddled how Calvin could say that he bought the souls of unbelievers with his blood but they didn’t make it into the elect. This is a glaring example of Calvin’s violation of the law of Noncontradiction.

clip_image020[1]See my articles opposing unconditional election:

clip_image0241.3 Limited Atonement

Calvin wrote (quoted above) that salvation is solely for the ‘sons’ (believers) of the church and is not effectual for all. So, Jesus’ salvation through substitutionary sacrifice could not have been for everyone.

By application, it means Jesus’ atonement was for a limited number of people, ‘the sons of the church’. Did he believe in limited atonement? Was it only for the elect of God? Let’s check him out!

He continued:

Though the word of the gospel is addressed generally to all, yet the gift of faith is rare. Isaiah assigns the cause when he says that the arm of the Lord is not revealed to all (Isa. 53:1). Had he said, that the gospel is malignantly and perversely condemned, because many obstinately refuse to hear, there might perhaps be some color for this universal call (Institutes 3.22.10).

Paul Helm’s research on Calvin and the atonement led to this conclusion:

While Calvin did not commit himself to any version of the doctrine of definite atonement, his thought is consistent with that doctrine; that is, he did not deny it in express terms, but by other things that he most definitely did hold to, he may be said to be committed to that doctrine. The distinction is an important one in order to avoid the charge of anachronism (Helm 2013:98).

Not all Calvinistic scholars are in agreement with Helm’s conclusions as he acknowledged:

Those who claim that Calvin held to indefinite atonement are by no means agreed about its consequences. G. Michael Thomas refers to a “dilemma” in Calvin’s theology, the existence of “stress points,” rendering Calvin’s overall position “inherently unstable.” R. T. Kendall holds that while Calvin had an unlimited view of the atonement, Christ’s intercessions were definite, on behalf of the elect alone. Kevin D. Kennedy claims that, according to Calvin, while atonement is universal, union with Christ is particular. The difficulty with the last two views, which tend in the direction of post-redemptionism, or Amyraldianism,[3] is that they imperil the unity of the divine decree, and the divine operations ad extra that Calvin emphasized (Helm 2013:100).

He included this example from Calvin to support his conclusion:

That which Augustine adds in continuation must by no means be omitted. “Since we know not (says he) who belongeth to the number of the predestinated, and who doth not, we ought so to feel as to wish all to be saved. From this it will come to pass that whosoever shall come in our way, we shall desire to make him a partaker of the peace which we ourselves enjoy. ‘Our peace,’ however, will nevertheless ‘rest upon the sons of peace’ (John Calvin, A Treatise of the Eternal Predestination of God).

Calvin wrote this treatise to challenge the teachings of ‘Albertus Pighius, the Campanian, a man of evidently phrensied audacity, [who] attempted, at the same time, and in the same book, to establish the free-will of man. and to subvert the secret counsel of God, by which He chooses some to salvation and appoints others to eternal destruction’ (ibid.).

Other Calvinistic scholars are not as sure as Helm – neither am I – about Calvin’s support for limited atonement. The following evidence should demonstrate that Calvin’s teaching on the scope of the atonement extended to the whole world. But there are passages where he is double minded.

1.3.1   I John 2:2 (ESV) states:

‘He [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world’.

Calvin’s interpretation endorses his view of limited atonement.

And not for ours only He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.

Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated?…

They who seek to avoid this absurdity [universalism – all saved, including Satan], have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world. (Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles: John 2:1-2).

Honestly, is that what 1 John 2:2 teaches? Sounds more like Calvin pushing his own Reformed barrow to me.

Here Calvin confirmed again that Christ’s propitiation/expiation was not for the sins of the whole world of unbelievers but for the ‘whole Church’ and that ‘all … does not include the reprobate’. It only designates those who ‘should believe’.

Simply put, that is not what 1 John 2:2 teaches. Jesus died for ‘our sins’ (believers’ sins) and ‘the sins of the whole world’ of unbelievers. Any other interpretation manufactures conclusions to agree with one’s presuppositions.

1.3.2 Conversely, Calvin also supported universal atonement

However, in other passages Calvin supported unlimited atonement. This is only a sample from some of his commentaries, Institutes, and other writings:[4]

He wrote:

We must now see in what way we become possessed of the blessings which God has bestowed on his only-begotten Son, not for private use, but to enrich the poor and needy. And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us (Institutes 3.1.1).

Calvin used the language of the offer of universal salvation, hence unlimited atonement, to have limited effects on people:

If it is so (you will say), little faith can be put in the Gospel promises, which, in testifying concerning the will of God, declare that he wills what is contrary to his inviolable decree. Not at all; for however universal the promises of salvation may be, there is no discrepancy between them and the predestination of the reprobate, provided we attend to their effect. We know that the promises are effectual only when we receive them in faith, but, on the contrary, when faith is made void, the promise is of no effect (Institutes 3.24.17).

I find this commentary by Calvin to be conflicting, even contradictory:

This is my blood. I have already remarked that, when we are told that the blood is to be shed according to the narrative of Matthew — for the remission of sins, these words direct us to the sacrifice of the death of Christ, without the remembrance of which the Lord’s Supper is never observed in a proper manner. And, indeed, it is impossible for believing souls to be satisfied in any other way than by being assured that God is pacified towards them.

Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke — Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated (Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke, vol 3, Mark 14:24).

On the one hand, the Lord’s Supper reminds believers that ‘God is pacified towards them’, i.e. His wrath towards sinners has been appeased (expiation). However, according to Calvin, ‘shed for many’ means for ‘the whole human race’. Wait a minute! Is it for the whole world? Not according to Luke where this message is directed to the disciples/believers and this shedding of blood is applied only to them and their own sin being expiated.

Here, I see that Calvin has violated the law of non-contradiction.

The law of non-contradiction states that A and not-A (where A is a proposition) cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. For example, my car cannot be parked in my driveway and not parked in my driveway at the same time and in the same sense.[5]

Calvin’s contradictory remarks were: (1) The Lord’s Supper reminds believers God is pacified towards them, and (2) When the ‘holy table’ is approached, ‘let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ’. Has the whole world been ‘redeemed’ by Christ’s death or only that of believers? He did not state it plainly as it is.

However, everyone does not embrace the Gospel that is proclaimed:

Accordingly, he is called our Head, and the first-born among many brethren, while, on the other hand, we are said to be ingrafted into him and clothed with him,[6] all which he possesses being, as I have said, nothing to us until we become one with him. And although it is true that we obtain this by faith, yet since we see that all do not indiscriminately embrace the offer of Christ which is made by the gospel, the very nature of the case teaches us to ascend higher, and inquire into the secret efficacy of the Spirit, to which it is owing that we enjoy Christ and all his blessings (Institutes 3.1.1).

1.3.3 Calvin, Scripture and universal atonement[7]

clip_image026 Matt 22:14: ‘For many are called, but few are chosen’ (ESV).

Calvin’s interpretation was:

The expression of our Saviour, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14), is also very improperly interpreted (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12). There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear, viz., that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts (Institutes 3.24.8).

clip_image027 The parallel in the Synoptics is Mark 14:24 (ESV): ‘And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”.

Concerning this verse, Calvin’s comment is significant:

Mark 14:24. This is my blood. I have already remarked that, when we are told that the blood is to be shed according to the narrative of Matthew — for the remission of sins, these words direct us to the sacrifice of the death of Christ, without the remembrance of which the Lord’s Supper is never observed in a proper manner. And, indeed, it is impossible for believing souls to be satisfied in any other way than by being assured that God is pacified towards them.

Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke — Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated (Commentary on Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:17-20).

Here would have been an ideal opportunity for Calvin to expound on ‘many’ meaning that Jesus did not die for the whole world but only for the elect. He didn’t. Instead he stated that ‘many’ does not leave out a chunk of the world’s population that are excluded from Jesus’ atonement.

This was in opposition to contemporary Calvinistic commentator, the late William Hendriksen, who stated that ‘Jesus’ says that his blood is poured out “for many,” not for all’ (Hendriksen 1975:575).

This is in contrast with the biblical teaching in 1 Timothy 2:9 (ESV), ‘For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time’.

Jesus’ atonement cannot be ‘for many’ and that does not mean ‘for all’. Why is ‘for many’ used in this way? Lenski, a Lutheran commentator, explained the meaning of huper mallwn (‘in behalf of many’) in the synoptic parallel of Matt 26:28 as:

These polloi [many] are all men [people], for all of whom the blood was shed “for remission of sins,” and not merely the believers in whom this remission was realized. They are “many,” and thus extend far, far beyond the eleven. Mark combines this by using huper mallwn, “in behalf of many” in the sense of “in place of many, huper having the idea of substitution (Lenski 1943:1031).

clip_image026[1] John 1:29 (ESV): ‘The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’

How would Calvin interpret ‘the sin of the world’? He leaves no doubt that it applies to all people, Jews and Gentiles – everyone:

Who taketh away the sin of the world. He uses the word sin in the singular number, for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said, that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says, the sin Of The World, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race; that the Jews might not think that he had been sent to them alone. But hence we infer that the whole world is involved in the same condemnation; and that as all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God, they need to be reconciled to him (Commentary on John 1:29-34).

Calvin did not understand Jesus’ taking away the ‘sin of the world’ in any limited way. All were guilty of unrighteousness and needed to be reconciled to God through Christ’s death for all. Calvin is sounding more like Amyraldians who support a universal atonement.

clip_image026[2] John 3:14-16 (ESV):

Calvin’s commentary on John 3:16 was:

And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ (Commentary on John 3:16).

So, all are invited to Christ to partake of the Christian life and unbelievers are without excuse. However, while all people ‘without exception’ are invited to faith in Christ, but there is one brick wall for them: Only the elect have eyes opened by God.

There we have a violation of the Law of Noncontradiction again: All are invited to come but all do not have a chance of responding positively to the invitation. I could paraphrase Calvin’s position: ‘Yes, all of you can come to Christ but all of you can’t come because you are not elected to salvation’.

clip_image026[3] John 12:48 (ESV): ‘The one who rejects me [Jesus] and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day’.

How is it possible for anyone to reject Christ if he or she is included in TULIP theology? What did Calvin have to say about this verse? ‘And receiveth not my words…. We must therefore attend to this definition, that Christ is rejected when we do not embrace the pure doctrine of the Gospel’ (Commentary on John 12:47-50).

So, individual people can reject or embrace the Gospel. This excluded unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace. Since Calvin believes there is this choice for people, he is affirming some dimension of free-will, the power of alternate choice for or against Jesus.

clip_image026[4] John 16:8-11 (ESV): ‘And when he [the Helper] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged’.

Will the Helper, the Holy Spirit, convict the whole world of sin and righteousness or only part of the world because the other part is not included in Jesus’ salvation?

Calvin’s interpretation was:

He will convince the world; that is, he will not remain shut up in you, but; his power will go forth from you to be displayed to the whole world. He therefore promises to them a Spirit, who will be the Judge of the world….

Under the term world are, I think, included not only those who would be truly converted to Christ, but hypocrites and reprobates. For there are two ways in which the Spirit convinces men by the preaching of the Gospel. Some are moved in good earnest, so as to bow down willingly, and to assent willingly to the judgment by which they are condemned. Others, though they are convinced of guilt and cannot escape, yet do not sincerely yield, or submit themselves to the authority and jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit, but, on the contrary, being subdued they groan inwardly, and, being overwhelmed with confusion, still do not cease to cherish obstinacy within their hearts (Commentary on John 16:8-15).

Holy Spirit convincing will happen to the entire world with two kinds of responses, according to Calvin, they willingly agree with the Holy Spirit’s conviction while the rest do not yield. There is no U or I here.

clip_image026[5] Isaiah 53:12 (ESV): ‘Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors

Calvin’s comment was: ‘I approve of the ordinary reading, that he alone bore the punishment of many, because on him was laid the guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that “many” sometimes denotes “all”’ (Commentary on Isaiah 53:1-12).

Therefore, he adopts the view that the Messiah’s bearing the punishment ‘of many’ means He had ‘the guilt of the whole world’ laid on him. If ‘many’ sometimes indicates ‘all’, as in Romans 5, the Messiah took on himself the punishment for the whole world (of sinners).

Thus, Calvin supported universal atonement.

clip_image027[1] Galatians 5:12 (ESV): ‘I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!’

This is an unusual verse to attract this kind of comment by Calvin:

Would that they were even cut off. His [Paul’s] indignation proceeds still farther, and he prays for destruction on those impostors by whom the Galatians had been deceived. The word, “cut off,” appears to be employed in allusion to the circumcision which they pressed. “They tear the church for the sake of circumcision: I wish they were entirely cut off.” Chrysostom favors this opinion. But how can such an imprecation be reconciled with the mildness of an apostle, who ought to wish that all should be saved, and that not a single person should perish? So far as men are concerned, I admit the force of this argument; for it is the will of God that we should seek the salvation of all men without exception, as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world (Commentary on Galatians 5:7-12).

Here he supports the view it is God’s will for all people to seek salvation and that refers to every single person in the world, without exception. How is this possible? ‘Christ suffered (atonement?) for the sins of the whole world’.

Nothing could be clearer. He supports unlimited atonement. However, in Institutes 3.24.16 he makes ‘all men’ mean all ‘order of men’. I find this to be manipulation. He seems confused, indicating salvation is for all people but then he tempers it to the limit of ‘order of’ people – groups, ethnicity, etc. This is nonsensical eisegesis of the biblical texts.

clip_image026[6] Colossians 1:14 (ESV): ‘in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’.

Calvin’s commentary on 1:14 could not be clearer on the extent of expiation of sins:

Unquestionably, when God remits our transgressions, he exempts us from condemnation to eternal death. This is our liberty, this our glorying in the face of death — that our sins are not imputed to us. He says that this redemption was procured through the blood of Christ, for by the sacrifice of his death all the sins of the world have been expiated (Commentary on Colossians 1:12-17).

So Calvin supported expiation for the sins of the world, thus confirming his rejection of limited atonement.

clip_image026[7]1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV): ‘This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’.

This passage should challenge the extent of Calvin’s understanding of the atonement. He wrote:

How comes it that many nations are deprived of that light of the Gospel which others enjoy? How comes it that the pure knowledge of the doctrine of godliness has never reached some, and others have scarcely tasted some obscure rudiments of it? It will now be easy to extract the purport of Paul’s statement. He had commanded Timothy that prayers should be regularly offered up in the church for kings and princes; but as it seemed somewhat absurd that prayer should be offered up for a class of men who were almost hopeless (all of them being not only aliens from the body of Christ, but doing their utmost to overthrow his kingdom), he adds, that it was acceptable to God, who will have all men to be saved. By this he assuredly means nothing more than that the way of salvation was not shut against any order of men; that, on the contrary, he had manifested his mercy in such a way, that he would have none debarred from it (Institutes 3.24.16).

Note the difference between what Scripture states that God our Saviour ‘desires all people to be saved’ but Calvin interprets it as salvation ‘not shut against any order of men’. The difference is crucial – and cunning manipulation, in my view.

All people include every single person in the world while ‘any order of men’ can refer to different classes and races of people instead of individual people. In his commentary on 1 Tim 2:4 Calvin stated that ‘all’ does not mean ‘all’:

Hence we see the childish folly of those who represent this passage to be opposed to predestination. “If God” say they, “wishes all men indiscriminately to be saved, it is false that some are predestined by his eternal purpose to salvation, and others to perdition.” They might have had some ground for saying this, if Paul were speaking here about individual men….

There is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation; because God wishes that the gospel should be proclaimed to all without exception. Now the preaching of the gospel gives life; and hence he justly concludes that God invites all equally to partake [of] salvation. But the present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons; for his sole object is, to include in this number princes and foreign nations (Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:1-4).

‘God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved’ does not refer to every single person in the world but only to groups of people such as classes of people, princes of foreign nations, but definitely not ‘individual persons’.

That’s Calvin’s view and I’d put it in the class of Calvinistic spin where these interpreters make it comply with their presuppositions against universal atonement, conditional election and the free grace of Titus 2:11 (ESV), ‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people’.

clip_image026[8] Hebrews 5:9 (ESV): ‘And being made perfect, he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him’.

For Calvin, his interpretation was that benefits of salvation came to those who chose to obey him:

To all them that obey him. If then we desire that Christ’s obedience should be profitable to us, we must imitate him; for the Apostle means that its benefit shall come to none but to those who obey. But by saying this he recommends faith to us; for he becomes not ours, nor his blessings, except as far as we receive them and him by faith. He seems at the same time to have adopted a universal term, all, for this end, that he might show that no one is precluded from salvation who is but teachable and becomes obedient to the Gospel of Christ (Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-11).

There is no unconditional election, limited atonement or irresistible grace here. Nobody is disqualified from salvation except those who do not want to obey the Gospel of salvation through Christ alone.

Overall, Calvin is straddling the fence between limited atonement and unlimited atonement. He can’t make up his mind.

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(image courtesy The Remarkable Blog)

clip_image030See my articles opposing limited atonement:

clip_image0321.4 Irresistible Grace

John 6:44 (ESV) states: ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day’.

This verse is used by Calvin to expound his gospel of irresistible grace:

Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.

Unless the Father draw him. To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected. True, indeed, as to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him (Commentary on John 6:41-45).

In light of that interpretation, how does Calvin interpret the prevenient grace of John 12:32 (ESV), ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’.

Following Calvin’s decision on the meaning of John 6:44, he is required to provide an interpretation at 12:32 that is in harmony with 6:44. I wasn’t disappointed:

I will draw all men to myself. The word all, which he employs, must be understood to refer to the children of God, who belong to his flock. Yet I agree with Chrysostom, who says that Christ used the universal term, all, because the Church was to be gathered equally from among Gentiles and Jews, according to that saying,

There shall be one shepherd, and one sheepfold, (John 10:16) [Commentary on John 12:27-33].

I find this to be fiddling with the data of exegesis to fit into Calvin’s theological framework of only the elect (the children of God) being drawn. Calvin could reach a harmonious conclusion if he accepted:

clip_image034 Only God provides salvation (Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:9);

clip_image035 Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has extended his grace (his drawing power) to all people (John 6:44; 12:32; Titus 2:11). It is not irresistible grace. It can be rejected or accepted.

clip_image034[1] Since the time of Adam and Eve, God has given all human beings the power of alternate choice (free-will). They can choose for or against God’s salvation (John 1:11; 12:48; Acts 16:31).

Calvin further supports irresistible. Is God’s grace extended to all sinners to enable them to repent? Not according to Calvin:

Hence it is that the whole world no longer belongs to its Creator, except in so far as grace rescues from malediction, divine wrath, and eternal death, some, not many, who would otherwise perish, while he leaves the world to the destruction to which it is doomed (Institutes 3:22.7).

It is agreed that all human beings suffer from the curse (malediction) of sin. Why, then, would the Creator choose only a portion of these cursed sinners while allowing the rest to be damned forever? It sounds awfully unjust to me?

The fundamental problem with this comment from Calvin is that he ignores the extent of God’s grace to all people: ‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people’ (Titus 2:11 ESV). See my exposition of this verse: How to interpret ‘appeared’ in Titus 2:11.

Calvin wrote that there was zero chance of anyone anywhere resisting God. This citation could just as easily be placed under unconditional election and the sovereignty of God:

Scripture proclaims that all were, in the person of one, made liable to eternal death. As this cannot be ascribed to nature, it is plain that it is owing to the wonderful counsel of God. It is very absurd in these worthy defenders of the justice of God to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy unless that it so seemed meet to God? Here the most loquacious tongues must be dumb. The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination (Institutes, 3.23.7).

I react negatively to this view when examining the logical consequences of the Lord God Almighty and his ‘wonderful counsel’ being ‘dreadful’ and ‘impossible to deny’. It makes God the author of horrible evil. Calvin’s teaching is that salvation is irresistible through grace extended to the elect but that God decreed all that happens in our world.

That makes God responsible for child sexual abuse, rape, murder, genocide, the Holocaust, terrorism, etc. He would be a monster God. See my articles:

(1) God sovereign but not author of evil,

(2) Is a Calvinistic God a contradiction when compared with the God revealed in Scripture?

(3) Salvation by grace but not by force: A person chooses to believe

(4) Prevenient grace – kinda clumsy!

(5) Does God create all of the evil in the world?

clip_image030[1]See my articles opposing irresistible grace:

Now to the last point of TULIP. Did Calvin teach and promote it?

clip_image0371.5 Perseverance of the Saints

For although adoption was deposited in the hand of Abraham, yet as many of his posterity were cut off as rotten members, in order that election may stand and be effectual, it is necessary to ascend to the head in whom the heavenly Father has connected his elect with each other, and bound them to himself by an indissoluble tie (Institutes 3.21.7).

In Institutes 3:22.10 Calvin wrote:

Why does the Lord declare that our salvation will always be sure and certain, but just because it is guarded by the invincible power of God? (John 10:29). Accordingly, he concludes that unbelievers are not of his sheep (John 10:16). The reason is, because they are not of the number of those who, as the Lord promised by Isaiah, were to be his disciples. Moreover, as the passages which I have quoted imply perseverance, they are also attestations to the inflexible constancy of election.

Rieske (2016) in

citing data from Calvin supporting penal substitution, from such places as Institutes, 2.16.2.3.5 and 3.22.7.10, on the definite scope of the atonement, the distinction was made between Calvin’s being committed to definite atonement and committing himself to that view.

Calvinism has been called “the archenemy of soul-winning” and rightly so…. Failure to present the gospel of Christ is the real problem. One can easily notice that Calvinists discuss and present Calvinism with the notion that they are presenting the gospel.

How can they do that when their theology states that not all people are thoroughly depraved, offered the Gospel without reservation when they don’t accept conditional election? How can a TULIP people be true to their calling when their theology states that Jesus died only for the elect and not for all. Imagine an evangelist on the street preaching, ‘Seek forgiveness from God for your sins, repent – but you may not be able to do this as you are not in God’s elect. Unless the Calvinists are honest with their theology, they should keep quiet on evangelism, not preach for all within listening distance. They could do letter box drops and engage in Internet evangelism where they don’t have to be honest about their TULIP beliefs.

I find that to be a dishonest approach to evangelism in my community. I attended 2 different Presbyterian churches for 6 years and preached semi-regularly in another. None of these TULIP Calvinist churches conducted evangelistic outreach. I asked one pastor why there was no evangelism in his church and his response was, ‘God will bring them in.’ He sometimes does in dribs and drabs but they are most often from other churches and not new converts.

I recommend this printed interview with Austin Fischer by Jonathan Merritt on Religion News Service, Author says Calvinism can’t make sense of the cross (3 April 2014). Fisher tells of his journey into the young, restless and reformed Calvinists and his journey out of them.

clip_image030[2]See my articles in support of perseverance of the saints:

I am convinced the Bible does not teach OSAS where a person makes a decision for Christ, does not persevere in the faith, and is considered saved forever. See: Once Saved, Always Saved or Once Saved, Lost Again?

I also am convinced by the biblical teaching on total depravity.

2. Conclusion

Calvin taught total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. He presented contradictory messages on the atonement. At times he stated that Jesus’ death was for the whole world. In other instances, Jesus’ atonement was for the elect of God.

Therefore, Calvin was a ‘leaky’ TULIP theologian because of his double-mindedness on the atonement.

I am a TP Calvinist, which makes me a Reformed Arminian in my doctrine of salvation.

I highly recommend Roger E Olson’s article, ‘What’s wrong with Calvinism?‘ (Patheos, March 22, 2013).

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3. Works consulted

Barnett, T 2015. Can We Escape the Law of Non-Contradiction? Stand to Reason (online), 31 October. Available at: https://www.str.org/blog/can-we-escape-the-law-of-non-contradiction (Accessed 30 June 2019).

Geisler, N 2004. Systematic theology: Sin, salvation, vol 3. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Helm, P 2013. Calvin, Indefinite Language, and Definite Atonement. In D Gibson & J Gibson (eds), From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective (online), 97-120. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway. Available at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/churchplantmedia-cms/new_covenant_presbyterian_church_ga/from_heaven_he_came_and_sought_her_1.pdf (Accessed 21 June 2019).

Hendriksen, W 1975. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel according to Mark. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Lenski, R C H 1943/1961.Commentary on the New Testament: The interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. The Wartburg Press. This limited edition licensed by special permission of Augsburg Fortress to Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Edition.

Lumkins, P 2011. John Calvin on Limited Atonement. SBC Tomorrow (online), 15 April. Available at: https://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2011/04/john-calvin-on-limited-atonement-by-peter-lumpkins.html (Accessed 15 June 2019).

Rieske, K R 2016. Calvinism: False doctrines from the ‘Pope’ of Geneva. Bible Life Ministries (online). Available at: https://biblelife.org/calvinism.htm (Accessed 15 June 2019).

4.  Notes

[1] Available at: http://www.thecaveonline.com/APEH/calvinTULIP.html (Accessed 29 June 2019).

[2] Vitiate means to ‘spoil or impair the quality or efficiency of’ (Lexico/Oxford Dictionary 2019. s.v. vitiate).

[3] Post-redemptionism and Amyraldianism are synonymous terms for belief in Jesus’ universal atonement and are opposed to limited atonement (particular redemption).

[4] These Scriptures were raised and expounded by Peter Lumkins (2011).

[5] Barnett (2015).

[6] See Eph. 4:15; Rom. 6:5; 11:17; 8:29; Gal. 3:27.

[7] I am indebted to Geisler (2004:182-185) for some of the research in this section.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 02 July 2019.

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British Home Office shocking Bible interpretations: Rejected Iranian Christian asylum seeker

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(image British Home Office, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Image result for British clipart public domainLiving in a country of the British Commonwealth, Australia, it shocked me to hear that the UK Home Office (HO) refused to grant asylum to an Iranian convert from Islam to Christ. The reason given was that the asylum seeker claimed in 2016 that Christianity is a peaceful religion and it is not.

According to The Telegraph (UK), 21 March 2019, the HO rejected the application because

government officials said his conversion from Islam was “inconsistent” with his claim that Christianity is a peaceful religion.

In order to reiterate the point, the Home Office wrote a lengthy and “unbelievably offensive” refusal letter referencing six Bible passages and claiming that the book of Revelation is filled with “images of revenge, destruction, death and violence”.

The Home Office rejection, below the quoted verses concludes: “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”

I strongly object to the HO’s process and final judgment for these reasons:

1folder The rejection for asylum included verses from the books of Leviticus, Exodus, and Revelation that the HO claimed demonstrated Christianity was not a peaceful faith but one of violence and revenge. Faulty biblical interpretation of these verses was only one of the deficiencies in the decision.

2folder The HO quoted Matthew 10:34 to try to demonstrate Christianity was not a peaceful religion: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (NRSV). In context, what does that mean?

Messiah would be the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6-7) but the people will violently reject Him and His reign (hence the crucifixion and resurrection). Jesus taught His disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you’ (John 14:27).

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27

(image courtesy Pinterest)

Before the consummation of all things (Jesus’ second coming), there will be peace in the midst of a hostile world where there will be violence. With Jesus’ first coming, he warned his disciples that they would experience His peace but it would be mixed with violence (the sword), not from His followers, but by others.

Don’t you see the irony of this asylum rejection? This person has experienced the violence in Iran (the sword – not from Christianity) and is fleeing from that to a country of relative peace, the UK. However, the HO does not want to grant him peace but wants to send him back to persecution in Iran?

You don’t realise it, but you have helped this person experience Matt 10:34 (when properly interpreted).

It’s time for the HO staff to take a basic course in biblical hermeneutics (interpretation).

3folder Profound biblical misunderstanding by the HO leads me to support Bishop Butler of Durham who said of the HO, ‘I am extremely concerned that a Government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities‘.

a. Leviticus not for Christians

One of the HO verses given for rejection was the line from Leviticus 26:7, ‘You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you’.

To whom was this verse directed? It was addressed to the Israelites (Lev 25:54-55) and all of Leviticus 26 deals with what will happen for obedience or disobedience by THE ISRAELITES.

Lev 26:7 does NOT deal with laws for Christians.

The HO staff has fallen into the hole of misrepresentation and eisegesis. A course in basic hermeneutics is needed by those staff who made the final decision.

b. Christianity and peace

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt 5:9). This does not contradict Leviticus 26:7 (What is the context? Who will fall by the sword?) Jesus did not teach, ‘Blessed are the violence pertrators’.

The almighty God whom Christians worship has one attribute in which he is the God of peace (Phil 4:6-9 NLT). However, he’s also the God of wrath (see John 3:36), which demonstrates the judgment of God.

c. The apocalyptic Book of Revelation

It’s a shocker what the HO has done with the interpretation of the Book of Revelation in rejecting this visa application.

I join with Bishop Paul Buttler in condemnation of the HO’s actions: ‘To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a government report on the impact of climate change is advocating drought and flooding’.

Your HO staff don’t seem to know how to interpret apocalyptic literature.

Of the three points above, why has the HO engaged in biblical interpretation at all? If they want biblical interpreters, there are many in the Church of England who have done much better jobs than that demonstrated in the rejection letter.

4folder I understand that a Home Office spokesperson said:

“This letter (of asylum rejection) is not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution, including conversions to a particular faith.

“We continue to work closely with key partners, including the APPG (All-party parliamentary group) on International Freedom of Religion and a range of faith groups, to improve our policy guidance and training provided to asylum decision-makers so that we approach claims involving religious conversion in the appropriate way” (Premier, 21 March 2019).

I sent the basic content of this article to: (a) The British High Commissioner, Canberra, ACT Australia, email: australia.enquiries@fco.gov.uk; and (b)  The United Kingdom Home Office, London UK, email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk. When and if responses come, I’ll add to this topic.

Conclusion

The British Home Office (HO) entered the voyage of biblical interpretation in its rejection of a visa for an Iranian asylum seeker who converted from Islam to Christianity because the latter is a ‘peaceful religion’.

The Iranian claimed that Christianity was a peaceful religion. The HO said in its letter of rejection that it wasn’t and quoted passages from the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the Book of Revelation. The HO claimed the Book of Revelation was filled with “images of revenge, destruction, death and violence”.

It cited Matt 10:34 to try to confirm Christianity’s violent intent. To ram home the point of Christianity’s violence, it used Leviticus 26:10.

I tried to show that the HO engaged in eisegesis – imposing its own meaning on the text – instead of obtaining the meaning from the text, when taken in context. The books of Exodus and Leviticus were written to the Israelites and demonstrated what God would do to that nation if it obeyed or disobeyed God’s commands.

The HO officials who wrote this letter of rejection to the asylum seeker should hand hermeneutics (interpretation) over to the theologians and exegetes. The rejection letter contained pathetic biblical interpretation that a Hermeneutics 101 student would be failed for.

Anger after asylum seekers given just 80p a week extra in Home Office ruling

(photo courtesy The Independent: ‘Anger after asylum seekers given just 80p a week extra in Home Office ruling’)

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:01 April 2019.

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Advantages & disadvantages of distance education – a personal perspective

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(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I pursued a PhD in New Testament (British model of dissertation only) through distance education. These are some of the advantages and disadvantages, as I see them, of pursuing distance education:

A. Advantages

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  1. A GREAT advantage is that I can pursue all of the education from home, as long as I have computer and Internet access.
  2. This means that costs are much less as I didn’t have to move house locations with my wife or use public transport.
  3. Based on my previous academic qualifications, the options for study were increased substantially, as long as online degrees were available through the college, seminary or university.
  4. As a general rule, I didn’t go to other libraries as most articles (a few exceptions) were available through EBSCO and Google Scholar, if the University subscribed to most journals needed for the research.
  5. On personal issues with my progress, I could Skype my supervisor.
  6. I benefitted from Skype connection for my verbal defence of the thesis. I received the positive decision of successful defence within minutes of completing the interview.

B. Disadvantages

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1. Since I pursued my BA and MA in a classroom environment, I miss the interaction with people of different perspectives. The dynamic of the classroom is absent – Big Time!!

2. Being able to ask (and get answers) from professors in an immediate context is missing. At the beginning of the academic year, I sent material through to my supervisor but it could take him 3 weeks to get to it as he is also teaching in the classroom. Getting immediate feedback is an issue.

3. Accessing library resources is a challenge as many journals are available online but many other academic resources are not. Most resources in my technical area are not available at or through my local library. I have to travel many km (or miles) to access books that I need. When a journal article is not available, I had access to a librarian assistant who has been very helpful in tracking down most articles. However, there is the occasional article that was not found as the University did not subscribe to that journal.

4. How can this issue of distance education be solved?

5. Webcam and Skype could be used more effectively in interacting with other students and supervisor. More online interaction with other students could be promoted, but busy students don’t always have an interest in the small focus of my dissertation. I’m also seeking interaction at a local theological college to see if there are students and faculty interested in my topic. But that also involves considerable travel to the location of the College.

6. Loneliness was the BIG issue for me. Doing it all alone takes a lot of discipline when I try to work 6-7 hours a day on the dissertation.

7. For continuing study after the degree is completed the databases of EBSCO and Google Scholar are not available from my home computer. I have to make an arrangement with a theological library in Australia that has access to all of the journals I require.

8. I completed my dissertation in April 2015 and graduated in September 2015 after 5 years of research with the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

C. Conclusion

If I were to pursue doctoral study again, I would choose the distance education mode, but with these changes:

  1. Find a theological discussion group in my city of Brisbane, which had a population of 2.27 million at the 2016 census. If living in a regional part of this large country of Australia, meeting with other theological students for discussion would have to be via Skype. Then one has to deal with the availability of Skype transmission in remote areas.
  2. Meet with those at higher levels of study who are engaged in advanced degrees of study.
  3. My pastor and the laity in my church were not able to discuss these issues with understanding.
  4. I completed my PhD at age 69 in 2015.

My completed dissertation is available at: Gear, Spencer D, Crossan and the resurrection of Jesus : rethinking presuppositions, methods and models.

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(image courtesy Liturgy (NZ))

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 05March 2019.

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