Generation Cedar

I would like to leave Mark Driscoll behind, and yet revisit one of his quotes:

Read through the end of this post…if you stop short, the gospel will be incomplete.

There is a theological point missing from most modern-day pulpits.  A point we don’t like to hear, a point that flies in the face of our very reason (as often the mysteries of God do), and yet a point so important for us to understand as Christians.

The quote by Driscoll some found bothersome was this:

“…God looks down and says ‘I hate you, you are my enemy, and I will crush you,’ and we say that is deserved, right and just, and then God says ‘Because of Jesus I will love you and forgive you.’ This is a miracle.”

The hard part for us is that God, as a Holy, perfect Being, cannot even look on sin.  Oh the irony!!!  Our finite brains can barely wrap around the infinite character of God.  That’s why we get so angry!  “How dare you say God hated us!”  I didn’t say it…He did!

But this is why it is SO important for us to properly understand God’s character:

We cannot know the depth and height of His love until we know the depth and height of His hatred of sin.  If God doesn’t loathe our sinfulness, Jesus would have died in vain, and His love would be ordinary. The fact that this holy, perfect, spotless God of the universe made a way for us to be spotless and beloved in His sight is unthinkable!

Before we were reconciled, he both loved and hated us–Paul said “we were objects of wrath and destruction” (Ephesians 2, paraphrased).  And YET, because of His great love, which is only possible because of His holiness, He provided a means of redemption for those who believe.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…” Colossians 1:21

John Piper gave a beautiful explanation:

“By nature we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and the anger of God is resting upon us because of our depravity (John 3:36).

Last week I wrote in the STAR that God met me on Saturday afternoon and gave me a deep and peaceful hour. I said that the foundation of my salvation was so real that I felt, as I walked across the bridge, like I weighed two ounces standing in the gentle sun on a mountain of granite ten thousand miles thick. I meant—utterly secure on the mountain of Romans 8:29-30.

But it wasn’t always so for John Piper. There was a time when the mountain of granite was not under me but over me, ready to fall and crush me. It was the mountain of God’s wrath against my sin. God hated me in my sin.

God Hates Unrepentant Sinners

Yes, I think we need to go the full biblical length and say that God hates unrepentant sinners. If I were to soften it, as we so often do, and say that God hates sin, most of you would immediately translate that to mean: he hates sin but loves the sinner. But Psalm 5:5 says, “The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers.” And Psalm 11:5 says, “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates him that loves violence.”

“Six things the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

God hates unrepentant sinners—which means that his infinite wrath hangs over them like a mountain of granite and will in the end fall. “Surely God will shatter the head of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who goes on in his guilty deeds” (Psalm 68:21).

What Good Is for a Sinner?

My only hope is that God may not only contemplate me as a depraved sinner but also may contemplate me in Jesus Christ—chosen, loved, and destined for glory. My only hope is that God will fulfill his predestined purpose for me by appeasing his own wrath and acquitting me of all my sin and conquering the depravity of my heart—a thought that is so wonderful it can scarcely be imagined. But the gospel message is that God has done this in the death of his Son.

Desiring God

118 Responses

  1. No quarrel with that MD quote :o)

    To be honest, I’ve often wondered how people can accept the “Good News” if they don’t yet understand what is the Bad News.

    If you tell someone you have a cure for the disease they don’t even think they have, they will consider the treatment to be pointless, at best or a painful and detestable imposition at the other end of the spectrum.

  2. I am so terribly, terribly, sorry for you, WW. I can’t think of anything more pathetic, and horrible, and soul destroyingly ugly than to believe that my creator, and the creator of the entire universe, “hates” anyone, least of all the “unbelievers” or the “sinners” or whoever else you think will be left behind. Its a child’s sad, sorrowful, hysterical misunderstanding of a parent’s great love. A love which parents have demonstrated over and over again by rushing into burning buildings for their children. That you imagine god can only “love” us to the extent that he “hates” us as sinners is as foolish as imagining that the parent who rushes into the burning building to save their child can only do it under the impetus of “hatred” of the fire. Love can and will do all that is necessary to redeem human beings, if it is necessary.

    Your comments seem to me to be increasingly angry and forlorn. Have you considered that you may be suffering from post partum depression but can’t admit it because of the high value you place on being happy with all god sends you? Try to grasp that god has sent you all good things–including medical care, mental health care, and a caring and supportive group of women in and out of your church. If you find yourself writing post after post about what hideous, hell bound, failures the rest of the world is you need to step back and look at your baby and ask yourself why you think you need to plug up any holes in your life with hating and despising god’s other creatures.

    best wishes
    aimai

    1. YIKES! I know I’m about a year late on this comment but, WOW! This is what you run into when you have a man-centered, earthly-minded mentality. I mean, and this is my own opinion here, but how much can you truly love & revere God when you fail to even capitalize His name?

  3. Well, I agree and I disagree.

    I agree that in order to understand the enormity of God’s love, we have to understand that He is truly HOLY and hates sin.

    Where I differ is that I do not believe God hates sinners. “For God so LOVED the world…” (John 3:16), “But God demonstrates his own LOVE for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It may sound cliched to say that God “hates the sin but loves the sinner,” but that’s precisely what we are told in His Holy Word. Moreoever, that is the message that Jesus lived over and over again.

    Now, I know that my Reformed friends hold to the doctrine of total depravity, so I can understand how you would come to this viewpoint with that doctrine. Being Catholic, I do not believe in total depravity, though I do hold with the doctrine of Original Sin. Won’t go into a long theological treatise on this point, but just wanted to throw it out there.

    While I do not believe that God hates the lost, I do believe that our sin SEPARATES us from God in a very real way. C. S. Lewis used to speak of our sin as a dirty mirror. God is trying to reflect His light off of us, but it cannot penetrate the gloom; we have to let Him wash us clean, then we can begin the relationship of accepting and reflecting His love.

    Anyway, that’s my point of view. Looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

  4. If you read the old testament God hates sin so much that he wiped out nations, families and kings because of disobedience and sin. I have been reading Samuel out loud to my children and Kelly isn’t making this stuff up from her so called Post-Partum depression that I don’t believe she is suffering from. Read the book of Samuel and it will confirm ALL that she is saying. Eli’s sons did terrible things and God destroyed the entire family. Saul did not obey completely when God asked him to defeat the Philistines so God ended his reign as King and sent and evil spirit to him. God HATES sin. He hates it so very much and it brings out his wrath (read Samuel to confirm this). If you believe the Bible, then you believe this truth that it teaches. It is hard to swallow, but take up with God, not Kelly. She is just sharing what the Bible teache and the word tells us it is “offensive” or “non-sense” or “foolishness” to those who don’t believe. Well, it actually says to those who are “perishing.” God says it, not us!

  5. “We cannot know the depth and height of His love until we know the depth and height of His hatred of sin.”

    My heart sank and soared at the same time when I read this. Amen, sister! How is this NOT a statement worthy of jumping and shouting and dancing and singing the praises of His name!?!?

    Kelly, I just want to encourage you and pray for you as you find yourself a “fruitful bough” (referencing Jacob’s blessing to Joseph in Genesis 49:22-26) 😉

  6. Perfectly and profoundly stated! Amen!

    For those who would diminish the wonderful, matchless work of the cross by believing (and preaching) that God loves but does not hate – they have my deepest sympathy for their lack of wisdom.

    As for Heaven being open to everyone (unrepentent sinners and all), I explained it to my 3 year old like this: people have to knock and be invited into our home rather than just decide they want to come in – it isn’t any different for God’s holy home. In fact, it should be more reverently considered for God’s home!

    Kelly, you have my support for the comments that I know will accompany this post.

  7. aimai,

    Save you sorrow, my dear. If I was making stuff up about God I might consider your attempt at shaming me into recanting. And your parent analogy can only go so far; we can take cues about parenting from God, but the two can’t be compared. We are not holy, infinite beings like God, so there is a point when our similarities end.

    Did you read the whole post? Why do you always skip the part about God’s incredible redemption and love for us?

    Since you are an atheist, however, I can’t expect you to understand the deep love of God, which can only really be understood when we know His character. I can only pray for your eyes to be opened so that you may receive the incredible freedom that is found in Christ and escape the judgment awaiting for those who have rejected Him.

  8. Aimai said: “A love which parents have demonstrated over and over again by rushing into burning buildings for their children. That you imagine god can only “love” us to the extent that he “hates” us as sinners is as foolish as imagining that the parent who rushes into the burning building to save their child can only do it under the impetus of “hatred” of the fire. Love can and will do all that is necessary to redeem human beings, if it is necessary.”

    **********************************

    Love did do all that was necessary–and in fact is STILL working in spite of mankind’s best efforts at resistance. We think we are not *that* bad. We claim glory for what is rightfully His. The crown of God’s creation spit in His face and deserves annihilation for our audacity. Yet He is patient and withholds judgment for reasons we often can’t fathom. He is merciful in not giving every one of us what we richly deserve.

    God did rush into the “burning building” which humanity set on fire. All of creation has been affected by sin and there is nothing *we* can do about it. Jesus lived the perfect life that none of us is capable of living. He died the death that every one of us deserve. He re-established the ability to have a loving relationship with our Father…

    But He also made it very clear that through faith in Him is the ONLY way to restoration.

    And it boggles my mind that He planned all of it from before the moment He spoke “light” into existence.

  9. Kelly,

    Thank you for that link. It was quite informative. However, I still maintain that it is a biblical concept that God “hates the sin but loves the sinner.” While I agree with the writer whose link you sent me to that there is enmity between God and Man, I do not find it biblical that God therefore HATES man. Rather, I find that, just as God exhorts us to “love our enemies,” so too God loves us, even while we are His enemies.

  10. Hi Kelly,

    Long time lurker, first time commenter. Anyway, in regards to the phrase “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” it seems you’re about half correct.

    While the phrase does appear in Ghandi’s autobiography, he seems to have borrowed it from St. Augustine. Sometime in the fifth century, Augustine penned the phrase “cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum,” which translates roughly as “with love for mankind and hatred of sins.”

    So as far as Bethany’s Catholic theology goes, it seems she is spot on (Augustine is a doctor of the Catholic Church). However, it is a non-biblical statement and I suppose people one could argue about its implications.

    Mary

  11. If God hated me, while I was still in my sin, I couldnt have ever come to Him. I would have sat in my shame.

    I still sin today, and have times of being unrepentant until I am made aware of my fault. Does he hate me then too?

    The point isnt that some of us ‘miss’ the portion where He has immeasurable love for us……..it is that it is being said He actually HATED or HATES us.

    I guess if using this analogy, I should hate my child, if she doesnt remain repentant to God? actually HATE her?

    I guess this is a good time to tear out Hebrew and Greek. God uses language for our benefit, not His.

    The bible says that if we hate our brother, the Love of God is not in us. That means the Love of God cannot hate.

    Perhaps the old testament, being written before God sent Christ, has different connotations when God ‘hates’ something.

    I do know that our sin can contaminate our personality to the point we mesh with our sin terribly. Like when we are ‘given over to a debased mind.’

    I am in big trouble otherwise. I couldnt bear to try and crawl out from under my junk and problems if I didnt have God routing for me regardless of what I *do* sometimes.

  12. Ok, i re-read the post and think I see it in a different light now. But it leads me to the question…….

    if God hated us, why even bother sending Jesus? He hated us, why did he choose to send Christ *for* us, the hated, if He also did not LOVE?

    I am seriously asking.

  13. At the fear of sounding like I’m leaning toward the “hating” part of God’s character, (please know that I am a product of a merciful God who poured out undeserving grace toward me while I was yet a sinner), I still feel that our misunderstanding of this part of God has huge and damaging implications to the church.

    One of the reasons I think people get so vehemently angry when we speak these kinds of words is because they (the words) are unfamiliar to us. It used to be that great men of God spoke this truth often and the church was familiar with this truth of Scripture. Not so anymore.

    But not only is Scripture FULL (I could give dozens of references) of the plain truth regarding God’s feelings toward sin and unrepentant sinners, teachings of the past reinforce it–we don’t hear that anymore, which is one reason I feel compelled to talk about it.

    If I were to quote here what Jonathan Edwards spoke in his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, it would floor most readers. (I dare you to look up his sermon and read it.)

    A link with Scripture and quotes by Finney, Edwards, Wesley, Henry and more…

    http://famguardian.org/Subjects/Spirituality/Articles/DoesGodHateSinners.htm

    Again, it’s not about delighting to reveal a one-sided character of God; it’s about coming to know God in a way that makes His love newly amazing.

  14. AM,

    The answer is in the post…”Before we were reconciled, he both loved and hated us”

    In order to understand God’s full character, we have to admit that our brains can’t really comprehend the ability to love and hate at the same time. That’s why this bends us out of shape.

    In short, He loves us because we are His creation. He hated us because after the fall, we couldn’t be separated from the sin contained in us; so because of His love, and because of His hatred, He sent Redemption.

    The truth is, if He didn’t hate sin so much–and therefore the one who embodies that sin, He would not have had to crucify His Son for our redemption…the ultimate hate caused the ultimate love and the ultimate sacrifice…I know, heavy.

  15. ‘if God hated me, while I was still in my sin, than I couldn’t have come to Him’

    That’s a huge point. We didn’t come to Him…He pulled us over. And now, His Son covers our sins from His sight. Grace, wonderful grace. Who else could have planned it?

  16. Aimai said:” I can’t think of anything more pathetic, and horrible, and soul destroyingly ugly than to believe that my creator, and the creator of the entire universe, “hates” anyone”

    God said: “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated” which was reiterated in Romans 9:13.

    Jacob typifies the repentant, sinners predestinated to Glory whom Christ came to save and Esau typifies the unrepentant, sinners who are bound for Hell. The gospel is a two-edged sword! There is salvation AND judgement. God does hate the sin, and He does love sinner, but only those sinners who He came to save. To all others, He will say “Depart from me, ye cursed.”

    God uses various times in our lives to convict us of our sinful natures and draw us closer to Him by seeing how utterly hopeless our state is without Him. I personally find it disgusting that someone would accuse Kelly of having a mental illness, albeit temporary, if indeed she was going through a period of conviction. There isn’t one of us who wouldn’t benefit from an inward reflection of our own sinful nature a little more often. Regardless, from the Reformed viewpoint from which her convictions are formed, all of Kelly’s statements have all been theologically sound

  17. Still disagree strongly that He hates sinners; my God, how awful. If the God of the universe hates them, they have no hope.

  18. This is also why I despise the Calvinist doctrine: they say God hates us because we sin, yet pre-ordains us to sin. He gives us no love without Christ, yet we don’t really have a choice about Christ-unless He pre-ordains it. And to any confusion and genuine misery one expresses when presented with this contrary doctrine, the ‘ol answer “It’s okay, we’re not supposed to get Him” is offered. That’s not good enough for me, and it never will be; saying we can’t understand God doesn’t excuse a contrary doctrine that presents a God who isn’t steady in character. The Bible speaks of nothing but hatred for sin and love for us; anytime hate is used to describe a feeling from God towards people in the Bible, it often turns out to either be a mistranslation or not be literal (“You shall hate your mother and father”). I’m just saying this now, ladies, so I won’t need to say it later when/if someone futilely tries to convince me otherwise or debate with me; I feel about Calvinists the way you guys feel about feminists: I respect the people, but their beliefs drive me up the wall until I’m clinging to the ceiling, and this ain’t changing. I can take tough doctrine and teaching, and love it in fact if it’s genuine; Martha Peace and Nancy Demoss are two of my favorite teachers for that. But tell me God hates us, and I’m through; I can’t talk to a God like that, can’t confide in Him, can’t speak to hopeless people about Him.

  19. “If I were to quote here what Jonathan Edwards spoke in his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, it would floor most readers. (I dare you to look up his sermon and read it.)”

    Public school education fluke? I had to read that in junior high for American History.

  20. Jennifer,

    I still encourage you to study the Scripture some more, because I do think it’s so very important to understand this part of God’s nature…the link I posted earlier contains a heap of Scripture that presents us with quite a problem if we insist on our rational understanding of a God who doesn’t hate. (http://famguardian.org/Subjects/Spirituality/Articles/DoesGodHateSinners.htm)

    You must understand that just because he hates the sinner doesn’t mean He doesn’t also love them (and thus gave the ultimate sacrifice for them.)!!! Getting irked about something because it doesn’t sit well with us doesn’t change what the Bible in fact teaches all the way through…but mere words aren’t going to convince you of that.

  21. Don’t worry, Kelly, I will study the Scripture more. I wish to know God more; I’ve often thought the truth of His nature makes the thoughts of Calvinists and Arminians closer than we think, one of His great mysteries. And believe me: I know He hates; I agree completely with your wonderful post “Love must Hate”. I just think He hates sin rather than sinner. However, if He’s capable of both, so be it; it would seem humans are too. I’m glad that you know He loves us. Thank you for your wise exhortation.

  22. Aimai -“Your comments seem to me to be increasingly angry and forlorn. Have you considered that you may be suffering from post partum depression…”

    Aimai – I agree with Quinn. You’ve crossed a line – it’s looooong behind you – in decency with Kelly.

    But NOT ONLY with Kelly. You have done a GREAT DISSERVICE to all women who actually HAVE suffered a post-partum mood disorder with your false attempt at diagnosis (which was clearly a thinly disguised attempt to insult her convictions and faith). Shame on you for spreading such falsity about women and mood disorders.

  23. Jennifer,

    You said:

    “I’ve often thought the truth of His nature makes the thoughts of Calvinists and Arminians closer than we think, one of His great mysteries.”

    Check out that link she gave. John Wesley stated it as well. 🙂

  24. Kim M said
    “Jennifer,

    You said:

    “I’ve often thought the truth of His nature makes the thoughts of Calvinists and Arminians closer than we think, one of His great mysteries.”

    Check out that link she gave. John Wesley stated it as well. :-)”
    ******************************************

    I’ll admit to being a Calvinist-leaning doctrinal “mutt”. :oD
    Although it appears several “points” of Arminians and Calvinists seem to be diametrically opposed, so does the concept of Jesus being both fully God and fully man.
    Do we throw out His divinity because He spoke to us about His Father in Heaven and said “only the Father knows”?
    Or, should we just “spiritualize” His mortality and claim that His body really wasn’t fully human?
    Or, is it possible that God’s way of working things out is just bigger than we can understand–and we need to just accept the truth of both statements?
    Couldn’t the Calvinist/Arminian understandings often be of similar substance? After all, every minted coin has two sides. Looking from only one side, a person may determine that a quarter bears the likeness of George Washington.
    Someone who has seen “the other side” will swear that same quarter has an eagle.

    And, without allowing for the other perspective to possibly have merit, the two observers proceed to argue about what picture is impressed on the metal.

    Who is right?
    Both.
    Or, neither, as both sides often insist that the other one is totally wrong.
    Depends on how you look at it, I guess ;o)

    God Loves. God Hates. The Bible says both. God has many more “facets” than a coin. I hope none of us could ever claim to have a complete understanding of Him.

    I want to gently suggest to those who oppose John Calvin’s understanding of depravity that perhaps we have a hard time accepting God’s hate of sinners because our human, sin tainted pride wants to find some sort intrinsic value in our own beings.

    Scripture clearly states that God chooses to redeem whom He desires. It has nothing to do with any merit on my part and in fact, “works” done under my own sense of “goodness” appear to God as nasty filthy cloth.

  25. I have a few things I’d like to put out there…

    An honest question for the Calvinists out there, How do you feel about the fact that your children might not be “elect” or “called”? Additionally, how does God have a plan of electing only certain people for salvation that goes against His own will (2 Peter 3:9)? Can you point me to Scripture that speaks of election for salvation specifically? Also, could it be that it’s not Calvinism or Arminianism, but Biblicism (don’t know if that’s even a word!)? Why are we trying to recocile ideas that may not be reconciled this side of Heaven? I’m truly asking here, not trying to be snarky or rude! Although that’s hard to communicate via computer…

    And PLEASE do not link me to any reform writings or articles…direct me only toward Scripture…after all there is no private interpretation (1 Peter 1:20) so if it’s plain in Scripture, it’ll be plain to those of us who are born-again. Thank you!!!

    p.s. Kelly, I LOVE your blog and I agree with almost everything you write as you are speaking the truth of God’s word. This doctrine of Calvinism is one that I have trouble finding THROUGHOUT the Scriptures. Yes, I see it in certain places. But, I also clearly see that God sent His son to die for ALL… even those who deny Him. Yes, we are called, but we must respond. We ARE totally depraved in spirit but it’s our soul that cries out to the LORD for deliverance. Additionally, one of the things I struggle with the most is that to get to the doctrine of Calvinism, one needs to be taught that by a Calvinist. Ask the average joe-schmoe believer and he will likely NOT conclude that the Bible teaches the TULIP doctrine. That is concerning to me as there are many cults and -isms out there that operate in the same fashion. There is beauty in the simplicity of the Gospel!! Again, not trying to argue…just wanting some answers to questions I have!!! Thank you and God Bless you!!!

  26. “I want to gently suggest to those who oppose John Calvin’s understanding of depravity that perhaps we have a hard time accepting God’s hate of sinners because our human, sin tainted pride wants to find some sort intrinsic value in our own beings”

    Um, no. For me it has to do with the points I made before, about contradiction. And yes, God does redeem who He chooses: which, according to the Bible, is everyone who comes to Him.

    Awesome points, Kris.

  27. “I want to gently suggest to those who oppose John Calvin’s understanding of depravity that perhaps we have a hard time accepting God’s hate of sinners because our human, sin tainted pride wants to find some sort intrinsic value in our own beings”

    And I would gently suggest that it’s our human, sin tainted pride that wants to be called “elect” or “chosen”. Clearly, that argument could go either way 🙂

  28. Sorry, I hit submit before I was done! Let us remember that we have no boasting whatsoever but in the Cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:14)

  29. Ahhhhhh! It’s a conspiracy…I had a HUGE thing typed out and POOF- it disappeared. 🙁 Here’s the gist of it

    In the article you quote John Piper as saying:
    “By nature we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and the anger of God is resting upon us because of our depravity (John 3:36).”

    I would argue that this is the incorrect interpretation of that Scripture. Here is what the Bible says:

    “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36

    The wrath of God is not upon us because we are depraved but because we believe not on His Son for everlasting life. (not because we can’t believe, but because we won’t believe)

    This could have been an oversight but it does represent a much larger problem with Calvinism. The doctrine is made first and THEN the Scripture is tweaked to fit it (I say tweaked because this is where the reformers come in and say “This is what the Scripture really means there” vs. letting Scripture interpret Scripture.) We should allow the Scripture to make our doctrine.

    Let us reason together about this Scripture (Isaiah 1:18). If God made us as depraved sinners, then why is He mad at us for being depraved sinners?

    Yes, God’s wrath is upon the unbeliever, and yes, it’s by God’s grace that we do come to faith in Him BUT that grace is NOT irresistable.

    Some things to ponder:
    #1 Hell is eternal punishment (Matt.25:46), so how could God punish one for not coming to Christ when they never had the capability of coming to Christ. (also, Hell was not created for people, but for Satan and his angels-Matt.25:41)

    #2 God’s will is for all to be saved (1Tim 2:4,6) He desires none to perish (2Peter 3:9) and he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner (Ez. 33:11)… So why would God predestine something that is against His own will, desire, and pleasure?

    Look at Ez. 33:11 in detail and you will find God is waiting for the wicked to turn from their ways and 2Pt.3:9 says that God is longsuffering and patient, waiting for us to repent.

    There is God’s perfect will and permissive will… God’s perfect will is for all to be saved, but He permits those who reject the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) and the Word (Heb.4:2). That is why some will end up being punished for their sins.

    Matt. 23:37 says Christ wanted to protect the children of Israel and gather them to Himself, but they were not willing to come to Him(again, not that they couldn’t come, but that they would not come…they had a choice)

    “Whosoever wills/desires let him take of the water feely” Rev. 22:17

    Let me know your thoughts 🙂

  30. A few gentle suggestions:

    1. It is not possible for God to hate human beings because He is the Father of them all–even the ones who reject Him. “While we were yet sinning, Christ died…” He loved us even when we didn’t love Him. He sought us even when we turned away from Him. To say that God hates human beings is entirely inconsistent with His nature and negates the very reason He sent His Son. Christ became human flesh precisely because God SO loved the world.

    2. Kelly, when God looks at you He does not see “filthy rags” or “flesh-covered sin.” He sees His redeemed, beloved child. He sees Christ in you, the Hope of glory. Yes, we make mistakes. But that never changes His love. We don’t need to beg, sob, and berate ourselves for making mistakes. We can run happily back to the open arms of our Father and find abundant grace and forgiveness!

    3. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” That verse sums it all up, don’t you think? And also, “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.”

    4. St. Francis de Sales once wrote: “Love is the abridgement of all theology.”

    Let’s remember that it’s love, not hate, that motivates God.

    May love be our motivation as well.

  31. One more regarding God’s perfect will and His permissive will…

    Jeremiah 2:9 “Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord and with your children’s children will I plead.”

    God’s perfect will is that all will be saved but His permissive will allows for free choice, hence the pleading going on here in Jeremiah. Why would He plead with them to do something if they were too depraved to do it? We always must keep in mind the spiritual warfare that surrounds us on a day to day basis. Satan has the unbeliever’s soul and it trying to keep it. God’s word is revealing our sinful condition so that we will call out to be saved. Romans 10:13 would be a mocking statement to the totally depraved, telling them to call out when they can’t if total depravity meant that we couldn’t even call.

    Let us continue to look at Scripture to defend the hope that is within us.

  32. Elisabeth Esther – “Let’s remember that it’s love, not hate, that motivates God.”

    I wonder, what do you suppose motivated God to create Hell?

  33. Necessity. And hatred for Satan; I’m pretty sure EE was referring to what motivates God towards US, in general.

  34. Kelly, I will say that Calvinists such as yourself do preach two things I find indispensible about God: absolute, unconditional obedience and acceptance. I’ve benefited greatly from this and, while Calvinists are by far NOT the only people who teach these, some of the best Christian teachers of discipline have, I’ve found, been Calvinist. No wonder, since you guys have to swallow double the amount of un-understandable things other Christians do; you must have guts of iron.

  35. Lori:

    Your question hints that hatred for humans is what motivated God to create Hell. But before there were human beings, there was a fallen angel named Satan.

    God created Hell for Satan and his dark angels. Hell was never meant for human beings.

    God created human beings for fellowship with Himself and for His glory. His thoughts toward human beings have always been thoughts of love.

  36. Does God ever choose for people to not be His, to NOT follow in obedience?

    “And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” Ex 7:13

    “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him”

    Ezek 14:9,10

    “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

    He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. ..Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. ..15For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. ”

    Matt 13:10-15 (see also Mark 4 and Luke 8)

    “For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” 2 Thess 2:11-12

  37. El Esth – “Lori:

    Your question hints that hatred for humans is what motivated God to create Hell.”

    No, it did not hint at that. I was only reffering to God and hatred, and what could motivate God. It was much broader than what you thought I was hinting at.

  38. El Esth – “God created human beings for fellowship with Himself and for His glory.”

    YES!
    “His thoughts toward human beings have always been thoughts of love.”
    Nope!

  39. Kris said: “And I would gently suggest that it’s our human, sin tainted pride that wants to be called “elect” or “chosen”. Clearly, that argument could go either way :)”
    ***************************************

    Yes, it could. And I find it disturbing that the concept of “election” seems to have this effect on so many. Also, I disagree strongly with the “hyper-Calvinistic” perspective that “God chooses whoever He wants, so I don’t have to share the Gospel…or, if I do, I can be abrasive and rude because God is the One who draws and saves”. That perspective also ignores several Scriptural references about personal responsibility for attitude and behavior.
    Human pride is never pretty but that does not negate the fact that Scripture does support the concept that God chooses to save according to His purpose (Romans 8:27-33; Romans 9, 11). Those who get swelled heads over the concept of “being elect” are in a fearful position.

    ***********************************
    (Concerning the temporary blinding of Israel) “Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be high-minded, but fear.
    For if God did not spare the natural branches, fear lest He also may not spare you either!
    Behold then the kindness, and the severity of God; on those having fallen, severity; but on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” Romans 11:20-22
    *************************************

    Kris: “Also, could it be that it’s not Calvinism or Arminianism, but Biblicism (don’t know if that’s even a word!)? Why are we trying to recocile ideas that may not be reconciled this side of Heaven?”
    *******************************

    Excellent point. It’s precisely why I refuse to exclusively subscribe to either man-devised understanding of Scripture. Once I do that, there is a tendency to try to defend the doctrinal statements rather than the Bible itself. I don’t want to buffer my own relationship with Christ by relying heavily on the conclusions of another human being–even if that man/woman was dead-on right in their understanding. It is impossible to live a second-hand faith and every one of us is responsible to study for ourselves in order to find what is true.

  40. Most of the Scriptures offered by a couple of Calvinists here, referencing God saying He would cut someone off or harden their hearts, have been concerning people in the Bible who were ALREADY rejecting and disobeying God by the time He decided to act thus.

  41. Well, I don’t always know what motivates God. I believe He desires primarily His own glory. I believe that sometimes He moves out of love. But not always. I certainly belive that He moves also out of hate.

    By the way
    re: “1. It is not possible for God to hate human beings because He is the Father of them all–even the ones who reject Him.”

    First of all, I think several people in this posting and the last have clearly supported the claim that God does hate some humans – and supported with scripture proofs.

    regarding God’s fatherhood:
    God is ONLY “the father of all them that believe” Rom 4:11

    He does NOT own the children of the bondwoman (unbelievers) – “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” Gal 4:30
    i.e. He is not their father – creator yes, father no.

    I’m curious, on what scripture passage(s) do you base your assertion that God IS father to all humans?

  42. Heather – concerning the temporary blinding of Israel – my point was only that God does in fact blind people for the sake of cutting them off or witholding repentence or salvation. For His own purposes – some He reveals, some he dosen’t reveal. That’s all.

    By the way EE, not ignoring you. Just waiting for my response to pop up.

  43. Well said Heather! Ironically though, if a Calvinist is defending their doctrines without filtering it through the Bible, they are violating one of the points of Calvinism – Sola Scriptura.

  44. EE – (going to re-do this just in case my computer “ate” my first response, and not Kelly’s spam filter).

    My point is that while we don’t always know what motivates God, I believe it is primarily His own glory. I believe that He sometimes moves out of love, and sometimes out of hate too. It’s not either/or.

    by the way, re:

    “It is not possible for God to hate human beings because He is the Father of them all–even the ones who reject Him”

    -first of all, I think several people have scripturally defended, in this posting and the previous, the assertion that God does in fact hate human beings – not all of them, but yes, some of them. (for example, Psalm 5:5,6)

    -second of all, God is not “the Father of them all – even the ones who reject Him”

    Speaking to the Pharasees, “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil” John 8:42-44.

    No, some are God’s children, children of the covenant/free woman, and some are rejected by God, the children of the bondwoman. Those are “cast out” (Gal 4:30). They are NOT owned by God. They are dis-owned. He created them, yet that does not make Him their father.

    If you please, from which scripture passages did you understand that God is father to all humans?

  45. Lori,

    Oops, I guess I should have been more clear about where my response was directed. I wasn’t trying to correct you. I totally agree with your statement about God’s purposes. Job and Romans both reveal that God doesn’t answer to anyone. He doesn’t have to–but He graciously chooses to when that option best glorifies Himself.

    Actually, my comment was directed toward Kris’s statement about pride and “election”. sometimes I ramble a bit…

    Quinn, I’ve noticed the inconsistency between “sola scriptura” and doctrinal defense does happen. I also believe that there are those who throw around the label “Calvinist” without really knowing what Calvin taught.
    We are all susceptible to becoming lopsided at times. Thankfully, God is faithful to chasten those who belong to Him.

  46. EE: “Let’s remember that it’s love, not hate, that motivates God.”
    ************************************
    God is not simply “motivated by” love. He is the definition of love.

    “The one who does not love has not known God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

    Among other things, Paul wrote that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)

    God actions are loving. That is His nature.

    God is also just, faithful and without fault.

    “He is the Rock; His work is perfect. For all His ways are just, a God of faithfulness, and without evil; just and upright is He. Deuteronomy 32:4”

    Therefore, it is also His nature to do what is right, regardless of whether we can understand.

    Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, Go away from Me, cursed ones, into the everlasting fire having been prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

    Although “angels” can be taken to mean “heavenly beings”, it can also simply mean “messengers”.

    Concerning whether hell was ONLY intended for Satan and demons, I have to ask…If God’s only intention was to punish rebellious cherubim, yet He is forced to also send rebellious humans to hell, does that not suggest that He was somehow taken by surprise that not all people will be drawn to repent?

    I find interesting what Joseph said to his brothers when they were worried that he might take revenge on them for their previous treachery…
    ” But as for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save a great many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20).

    Joseph didn’t say “You guys did some bad things–but God figured a way to work out the details.” He said that the brothers actions were ALWAYS a part of God’s deliberately laid plan. It will not be a fluke that God will send some people to eternal destruction.

    Frankly, I cannot piece together how a “loving” God could do this. But I do recognize that His justice demands that punishment be executed on all those who have aligned themselves with Satan in his rebellion. Does He “hate” those people?

    Concerning the pouring out of God’s wrath on “Babylon”: Revelation 18:20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”
    And the response: Rev 19:1-3 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
    for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
    Once more they cried, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

    I know that for now we are told to love our enemies, but it appears there will be a time when all God’s redeemed will rejoice at the destruction of ALL his enemies (this sentiment is also expressed in several of the Psalms).

    From our current perspective, we cannot see who ultimately will remain in rebellion to God, and eternal damnation is not something we ought to wish on our worst enemy–it will be unbelievably horrible.

    The way I understand this apparent contradiction is: I am not all-knowing. Today’s enemy could be tomorrow’s brother and it isn’t my job to determine who is and is not worthy of God’s mercy. Therefore, I need to simply obey and extend a Christ-like, selfless love to others (and confess to Him when I fail to obey).

  47. Well, I took a blogging break today (OK, I was out of town, it wasn’t deliberate 😉

    I’ve read through most of the comments and obviously can’t respond to them all. Let me say, again, that I really appreciate the respectfulness of this debate; these are strong issues and easily provoking. Thank you for mature, adult debate. Not all comments met the standard and were therefore not published 😉

    Regarding the Calvinist doctrine…I am relatively new to it–I didn’t grow up being taught predestination and in fact thought it was heresy. But now that I’ve been taught the doctrine of election accurately, I realize that it was never presented in a correct light. In fact, every time I hear a person who doesn’t believe in pre-destination try to explain it, they butcher it, and no one in their right mind would believe the perverted definition. So, as Heather suggest, it may be possible that if you oppose the Scriptural principle of election, you simply don’t understand what Calvin taught. I’ll leave it at that for now.

    Consider this passage as it seems relevant to a number of thoughts in this discussion…remembering, these are hard words and just because we don’t like them doesn’t make them untrue.

    “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

    21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

    22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

    23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

    24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
    Romans 9

  48. Another thought I had today…many readers may think I like to “camp out” in the harsh part of God’s character. (One suggested I “chose the mean God of the OT instead of the loving God of the New…as if the two were different entities???)

    What is happening is kind of the Mark Driscoll thing…when something seems swung way to one side, it seems necessary to go way to the other in order to bring about balance.

    Trust me, I don’t just go through the Bible and pick out the “mean” verses to quote while ignoring the myriad of verses about God’s love and compassion.

    For this brief time of discussion, I feel that in order to sharpen our apologetics (that is, our “answer of the hope within us”) we must get the foundation of God’s character right in order that we may fully understand and know the love of Him who is the only hope for humankind.

  49. “I’m curious, on what scripture passage(s) do you base your assertion that God IS father to all humans?”

    Because He created humankind. When Christ said that God was not the Father of the Pharisees, He meant by the Pharisees’ own behavior. In other words: if a child disowns their father, that father is still theirs by creation but NOT by name or, in this case, behavior or honor.

    “He said that the brothers actions were ALWAYS a part of God’s deliberately laid plan.”

    Um, no. What he said was that God brought something good out of something bad. This has always been a Calvinistic trait, to claim that if God didn’t plan something, the only other possibility is that it “took Him by surprise” or that He couldn’t control it. Nope; God makes things work out for the good of those who believe in Him. This is NOT the same as ordaining the horrors that occur, nor is His allowance of free will and actions synonymous with being helpless to stop them.

  50. Wow… all I can say is WOW! Agree to disagree already! We are supposed to be BUILDING and ENCOURAGING one another in these evil times. I find it so hard to find TRUE Believers who actually will AVOID arguments like these. God IS a God who HATES and LOVES, that is completely biblical. And we cannot fully understand His Love until we recognize how much He truly hates SIN…. PERIOD. Those who don’t agree with that are being falsely led. People in these end days are being fooled by the “motivational” and “positive” that says we should view God as a God that only wants to bless us and give to us. Mankind has forgotten that we should both Love AND Fear God almighty. “For the fear of God is the beginning of all knowledge and understanding”. But if all do not agree with what I’ve said above I will NOT get in a heavy debate, nor argue to try and make them see a “point”…. that will only divide. Let’s pray for one another that God opens our eyes to ALL THAT HE IS…. how he LOVES and how He HATES. We must understand that BOTH are His character.

  51. Jennifer – “‘I’m curious, on what scripture passage(s) do you base your assertion that God IS father to all humans?’

    Because He created humankind.”
    that is human inferrence. God also created all angels, but where does He claim to be the father of angels? He created the stars, the trees, the rivers, but where does He claim to be their father? You have not given a scriptural proof for anything, athough many have given scriptural proofs to support our beliefs.

    “When Christ said that God was not the Father of the Pharisees, He meant by the Pharisees’ own behavior. In other words: if a child disowns their father, that father is still theirs by creation but NOT by name or, in this case, behavior or honor.”

    -Well, you’re partially right – God disowned them because of their own original sin – their sin via Adam. The rebellion go Christ came as a result of their sin nature.

  52. “God also created all angels, but where does He claim to be the father of angels?”

    That’s a very fallacious comparison, Lori: God NEVER said angels were created in His image to fellowship with Him and that He was their father, all of things which He said about humans. I have given Scruptural proof for SEVERAL things.

  53. Jennifer: “Um, no. What he said was that God brought something good out of something bad. This has always been a Calvinistic trait, to claim that if God didn’t plan something, the only other possibility is that it “took Him by surprise” or that He couldn’t control it. Nope; God makes things work out for the good of those who believe in Him. This is NOT the same as ordaining the horrors that occur, nor is His allowance of free will and actions synonymous with being helpless to stop them.”

    **************************************
    I’m sorry Jennifer, I fail to see where you get the idea that God had not actually planned for the things that happened.

    And I’m not Calvinist. I just happen to believe there is some notable truth in what he wrote.
    I’m reading the Bible without “doctrinal blinders” on and am willing to look at what is actually written in black and white. Also, I tend to avoid commentaries but have no problem consulting Bible dictionaries to find out what the original words meant.

    BTW, I did not say God made the brothers do evil. They devised that on their own. Some people get the idea that predestination/election means that God puppetizes everyone. That isn’t what the Bible teaches and I don’t believe Calvin did, either.

    Neither am I “text-twisting” as I have checked ten different Bible versions–and all (including KJV, NASB, ESV, LITV and RSV) but four (three of which fall more into the realm of paraphrases) specifically read “meant”. The CEV reads “made it turn out for the best”.
    The GW version says “God planned good to come out of it”
    The GNB says “God turned it into good” and

    The Geneva Bible uses the word “disposed”.

    Strong’s Hebrew/Greek Dictionary says the original word carries the meaning of “to plait or interpenetrate” “To weave or fabricate” “To plot” and indicates deliberacy of intent.

    As used in this context, the dictionary definition (according to Houghton Mifflins Student Dictionary) of “mean” is:
    #3.To have as a purpose or intention

    or

    #4″To design or intend for a certain purpose or end”

    The dictionary definition of “disposed” is: To place or set in a particular order. Arrange.

    There is very little room here to see anything other than a “deliberately laid plan”.

    Consider also:
    Rev 13:8 says: “And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world.”

    The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. It was a done deal even before God made Adam.

    I don’t deny for a second that man chooses. We all make choices, which God allows (although there is Biblical evidence that He is interactive in the decision making process, because — “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
    Prov 21:1

    @ Kevin:

    Thank you sir.
    While I believe it is important to know what one believes and be able to rationally discuss with those who are interested, there does come a point in the discussion when it is prudent to recognize the need to back off from intellectuality and just let God deal with all who are involved.

    Have we reached the point where further discussion has become futile? I suppose that will

  54. “I’m sorry Jennifer, I fail to see where you get the idea that God had not actually planned for the things that happened”

    Prepared for, not planned. God knows every which way to work every situation for good, this does not mean He caused the evil that made them. If He had, that WOULD have been puppet-work.

  55. “There is very little room here to see anything other than a “deliberately laid plan”.”

    Yes, for the results, not the evil itself.

  56. I read this and wasn’t going to respond. But I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it.

    God hates sin, but I have a very hard time believing that God rejects certain people from birth. I also have a hard time understanding why God would send a Savior, would end up basically extending his promises from beyond the Jews outward to the gentiles, if he hates us.

    I have no bible quotes for you;I am not an intellectual;
    but when I see the splendor and majesty of God’s creation on this earth and in the universe beyond us, and to know that there is even more out there we cannot fathom; in the depths of the seas and in places where man has not been; when I feel His mercy on me; when I see the blessings poured out upon me in my own simple life; I have no doubt of God’s great love. All of creation was made for His glory, yet he lets us share in it! What kind of love is that! Praise Him!

  57. “That isn’t what the Bible teaches and I don’t believe Calvin did, either”

    He as good as did just that. If you don’t believe God made the brothers do evil, that’s fine, but your words about God planning the occurence (rather than planning FOR it) seems self-contradictory.

  58. Elizabeth,

    You’re absolutely right–both in “to know there is more out there than we can fathom”, (including God’s mysterious character), and His great love for us…which has really been my point all along! His love can be fully known when we fully know His holiness (which can not even look on sin) and understand the immense need of a Savior to redeem us from the wrath that we deserve. It’s an incredible thing!

  59. Jennifer – “Lori: God NEVER said angels were created in His image to fellowship with Him and that He was their father, all of things which He said about humans.”

    You are quite right – He did claim to father humans – just not ALL humans. If you gave the scripture proof for that assertion, it shouldn’t be hard you you to find and post it again.

    Kris – (8/15, 12:50 pm) – “Can you point me to Scripture that speaks of election for salvation specifically?”

    Jennifer (8/15, 2009 @ 7:55 pm)-

    “Most of the Scriptures offered by a couple of Calvinists here, referencing God saying He would cut someone off or harden their hearts, have been concerning people in the Bible who were ALREADY rejecting and disobeying God by the time He decided to act thus.”

    * * *
    -“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose PREDESTINED to occur.” Acts 4:27,28 (emph. mine)

    -“For those whom He FOREKNEW, He also PREDESTINED to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be thefirstborn among many brethren; and these whom He PREDESTINED, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29,30 (emph. mine)

    -“He PREDESTINED us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Eph 1:5,6 (emph. mine)

    -“also we have obtained an inheritance, having been PREDESTINED according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Eph 1:11,12 (these Eph verses also deal w/ the question of what motivates God – in these cases, His praise and glorification)

  60. All people are predestined to become God’s in Name and service, Lori, as this was His original Plan. However, this doesn’t mean they always fulfill what God created them for; that’s where free will comes in. People go against God’s will every day; do you think He created Ted Bundy to reject Him and dismantle dozens of women and girls?

    “-”For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose PREDESTINED to occur.”

    Yes, what was predestined to occur for THEM. Nowhere does it say that everything predestined to occur will occur. God didn’t force the Pharisees to reject His Son; He simply knew from the beginning that they would.

  61. To finish this thought:

    “God didn’t force the Pharisees to reject His Son; He simply knew from the beginning that they would.”

    And He used this to fulfill Christ’s death and resurrection, which WAS predestined.

  62. Jennifer – reference to the creation of Adam is reference to the world before the fall away from God and into sin. We *could* have all been His children, except for Adam choosing separation and death for us (Romans 5:12,18,19). Now, not all are His children (Romans 9:8). Some belong to the devil. God WILL claim of some, “I never knew you.”

    “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

    What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory…”
    Romans 9:21-23

    It is only by the Holy Spirit working within our hearts can we realize our unworthiness, then “choose” Christ. But It was God’s work all along – we were as dead and stinking and imobile as Lazarus in the tomb when HE chose to awaken us to life. Because He predestined it.

    Jennifer – “God didn’t force the Pharisees to reject His Son; He simply knew from the beginning that they would.”

    I beg your pardon, but given the Scripture, I fail to see your logic. They were in fact predestined to be “vessels of shame.” AND God knew it in advance, since He predestined it.

    I do not know why God allows evil things to occur, like the Ted Bundy acts and worse.

  63. Jennifer (8/15, 2009 @ 7:55 pm)-

    “Most of the Scriptures offered by a couple of Calvinists here, referencing God saying He would cut someone off or harden their hearts, have been concerning people in the Bible who were ALREADY rejecting and disobeying God by the time He decided to act thus.”

    “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
    It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
    As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:11-13 (paying special attention to the first verse, 11)

    This is an example of how God operates, not an exception. God predestines.

  64. Jennifer:

    “He as good as did just that. If you don’t believe God made the brothers do evil, that’s fine, but your words about God planning the occurence (rather than planning FOR it) seems self-contradictory.”

    *********************************

    I’ve offered Scriptural support for my thoughts.

    God does not make men do evil. In fact, most of us cannot even claim that “the devil made me do it”. Our fallen human nature handles that just fine.

    Whether or not it makes sense, God’s unthwartable design and man’s ability to choose do co-exist. It’s not the only apparent contradiction in the Bible.

    God also chooses and He has clearly told us (read Job and Romans 9) that we have no right to question His wisdom. According to Him, demanding that He adequately explain Himself is arrogance.
    I believe these things because the Bible says so, not because a certain teaching about the Bible makes me “feel good”.

    I don’t have any interest in debating just for the sake of winning an argument. Perhaps you will sometime decide to give my (or some of the other well-stated) previous comments some consideration.

    I think I’ll just stand down for now.

  65. “I don’t have any interest in debating just for the sake of winning an argument.”

    Nor I. I don’t expect Calvinists to change their minds, just to leave mine alone. God’s really been looking out for me here, because every time before now that I’ve argued with a Calvinist, by this point I’ve been lost in anger and almost despair. Satan nearly stole my faith with the lie that God ordains evil and picks elected favorites, and I will never allow him to do so again.

    “I’ve offered Scriptural support for my thoughts”

    Yes, but it hasn’t proven them; I don’t think either side could be proven as solely right.

    “Whether or not it makes sense, God’s unthwartable design and man’s ability to choose do co-exist”

    That’s not a contradiction at all; it’s other things in the Calvinist doctrine which are. I consider carefully every Scripture I see, Heather, and I’ve listened to all here, but I will never change my mind about Calvinism, and questioning those of that doctrine is NOT questioning God. My convictions do not come from what “feels good” anymore than yours do.

  66. “I suppose that conversation will be counterproductive if there is only discussion”

    I thought that was exactly what there is here.

  67. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

    What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory…”
    Romans 9:21-23

    I’ve seen this several times before. I think this writer appeared to be asking and reflecting several things by himself, not necessarily making declarative statements. Even if he was, as I mentioned before, most vessels God decided to allow to become corrupt were people who had already chosen disobedience to God long before then. God predestines, but not everything. God calls everyone’s heart, but not everyone answers.

    “AND God knew it in advance, since He predestined it.”

    God knowing this eons before it happened does not mean that He caused it, nor does the fact that He planned before time how to use it.

    I appreciate your honesty Lori and have enjoyed our discussion.

  68. Jennifer:
    “Heather, and I’ve listened to all here, but I will never change my mind about Calvinism, and questioning those of that doctrine is NOT questioning God. My convictions do not come from what “feels good” anymore than yours do.”
    ****************************************8
    Fair enough. I don’t subscribe to the doctrine, either and I was not suggesting that you don’t have reasons for your own perspective.

    *********************************
    Jennifer:”Yes, but it hasn’t proven them; I don’t think either side could be proven as solely right.”
    ************************************

    I’m not on a side. And it was never in my mind to prove to you that any one doctrine is solely right. I have maintained that I can see validity for both Calvinist and Arminian perspectives and have stated that I think it is a mistake to cling exclusively to one doctrine without being willing to carefully examine the Scriptures that are used to support the other.

    My thought concerning conversation being counterproductive was that it is pointless to “just talk”. Or debate for the sake of thrusting one’s point down the other guy’s throat.

    Both participants need to be listening to each other and to God’s leading. For instance, you may not have been convinced of anything concerning Calvinism, but you stated that you have experienced a maturing concerning your reaction to the teaching. In past, I’ve been in conversations where neither side was willing to listen and neither side was remotely interested in being convinced of the differing perspective.

    What is the point of discussion if no one is interested in actually learning anything? Time gets wasted, people’s feelings can get hurt. As the words pile up so does the potential for misunderstandings…

    I decided to quit the conversation of the main subject here because I believe God has now shown me what I needed to see and you have repeatedly said you won’t change your mind.

  69. Well-said, Heather. And yes, with God’s Grace I’ve become more patient. Plus, the people on this board have really been awesome 🙂 As I began to look at certain points of Calvinism (and more importantly, certain Scriptures) through my own eyes instead of through other people’s, I’ve seen glimpses of the bigger truth, the one that connects the two sides more closely than we think. So, I think I have learned and I for one don’t believe anything here’s been wasted.

    “I believe God has now shown me what I needed to see”

    Do you mean of this subject?

  70. Well, normally I just satay silent and read…but reading many of these posts has saddened me, and I really feel like something needs to be said.

    First of all, for a majority of right hearted Christians, for either side to think that explicit pride of lack a character is a reason for a doctrinal discernment is a WEIGHTY and normally unmerited charge….take not that I said EXPLICIT…I think that quite a few decisions are driven by mankind’s pride that they don’t understand of realize…or that their culture has told them is normal and OK.

    Secondly, Kelly states it wonderfully when she said that it seems that your average person who doesn’t believe in predestination has a nearly TOTAL misunderstanding of Reformed doctrine (I use the word, not because I agree with everything concerning taught in the system, but because I happen to agree with it in this instance).

    Predestination is the most ultimately loving thing that God CAN do for us! I could give a thoroughly Scriptural explanation of it….but the fact of the matter is, what I see in the comments is not a Scriptural argument (for the most part…there are a few exceptions)…but emotional backlash due to a belief in a God that has been created in our culture in the last 50-100 years (if you look at history…or at the doctrine of Armineus himself, this type of ‘free-will’ doctrine has never existed…Armineus actually argued that ever IF God chose to save some….that people were actually SO wicked that they could deny even that hand of God himself).

    The argument normally follows along the lines of, “God is love, and because God is love I can’t understand how He could ever [fill in the blank with charge against predestination]. The issue with this is that we are defining who God is based on our definition on love…as opposed to defining our definition of love on who God is.

    Think of it this way…we are all wicked, and totally depraved, but because of this, when God has preached repentance to us, we have mocked Him, spit in His face, and went on living the life that WE want to live, regardless of the foolishness of our plans…we liked them because they were OURS!

    Then, God in His infinite mercy decided to save! To yank His children our of the world, to save them from the foolishness that, if given the choice, they would return to over and over again, just as a dog returns to his vomit.

    One of the best articulations that I have ever heard of this doctrine is actually by Mark Driscoll, and I am going to post a link to it at the end of this comment….but I want to post a few warnings first:

    1) For those of you that dislike Driscoll…that is fine…but irrelevant. I have MANY concerns about the man…but he IS a solid teacher in many aspects of the faith, and even if he wasn’t…if a demon comes preaching truth…then the fact that they are a demon hold no bearing, God will hold us responsible for ignoring truth, regardless from whence it came.

    2)Just again, a reminder that this is not a Scriptural argument…but the MOST important part of the argument IS to be found in the Scripture, and I am not meaning to discount that at all…simply lift of this example of how God can, in fact, be most loving IN predestination, which seems to be MORE of the hang up may times than the Scripture itself.

    With that said, here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgT8G_EaDZw

    P.S. I hope that didn’t sound to disjointed…I was typing this in somewhat of a rush!

  71. Free will exists in the Bible, so it doesn’t have to exist as a human doctrine. I’m beginning to tire of the accusation that we who don’t believe in predestination do so because we’re looking at God through human eyes. Love is love, Ben, and a God who so hates sin will not ordain it, nor will He work His children like puppets after telling us we must choose; this is simple and Biblical, not from my own head. I’ve heard it all before: God’s so loving we’re lucky He saves anyone and should ignore the idea of Him damning some to hell before they’re born; questioning this idea is questioning God, how dare we! Forget that this sounds like a chessmaster puppeteer God, if we doubt it we doubt Him and risk His wrath! We’re not supposed to understand anyway, so forget any glaring contradictions. We’re so bad we couldn’t choose Him if we wanted to, so He has to do it for us! All the passages about love, choice and hatred of sin be damned in the midst of the “predestination” passages, which overrule them all.

    Everything God says about His own love contradicts what I have heard about predestination. Calvinists tell me repeatedly I don’t understand it, then they precede to explain it, over and over, amking it sound more self-contradictory, more confusing, more unBiblical and more brain-twisting with every explanation. So if I don’t understand it, so be it.

    “if a demon comes preaching truth…then the fact that they are a demon hold no bearing, God will hold us responsible for ignoring truth, regardless from whence it came.”

    The only thing I’ve ever seen MD be solid on is Christ’s works and Being, and even there he’s been shaky; besides, finer preachers than him have presented the truth of these matters. If a demon actually came forth and started preaching, do you really think people would stick around to listen? How should we know if it’s truth or not? The demon’s resume rather speaks for itself, and I doubt God would hold us guilty for following His own orders. This doesn’t even have to do with Driscoll, I might add; I just thought that demon analogy was terrible.

  72. I apologize if my last post was too harsh or seemed to mock anyone’s beliefs. I think my heart’s just beginning to wear a little thin over a matter that distresses me.

  73. Jennifer: Do you mean of this subject?

    ********************************************

    In a way, yes.

    God tends to be showing me several things at any given time. Sometimes, a seemingly isolated conversation ties in well with something else I am learning.

    Hubby and I have had some very good conversations concerning some of the blog postings/comments we have read, but I will only share a snippet of how things have related to this conversation:

    About a year ago, someone told my husband that we Christians need to know our theology because it determines the direction of our life. I think he was rather anxious to nail down exactly what everyone in our fellowship group believes in order to decide whether his own belief was compatible. That’s a long story, so I’ll spare the details.

    On a blog recently, a man explained to my husband the importance of churches to have official doctrinal statements and the “signing up” of church members. We’ve heard the reasons before and have belonged to churches with doctrinal statements. And we have seen the potential for harm that comes from them.

    Recently, someone else said a similar thing about theology to me. (It wasn’t chastisement, just an observation) And I do agree with her.

    What we believe about God (His nature, His plan, Jesus, our duty in Him toward each other etc) is absolutely intertwined with the everyday decisions we make.

    But, I believe God has shown me that a personal relationship with Christ must supersede any lofty academic notions we may have about the Lord. As Paul told the Corinthians, “knowledge” tends to make us arrogant. But love (true, God-sourced love) builds up.

    Unexplainable Peace, unspeakable joy and increasing knowledge come only after the humbling of ourselves before the Lord and recognizing Him as all-powerful Creator, all-seeing Master and Righteous Judge.

    There is an enormous difference between “unity of spirit” and “conformity of thought”. God is bigger than any intellectual fence we could build to protect ourselves from error and I don’t think He appreciates our efforts at “homogenizing” Christianity in order to present a surface sameness. He can handle the fact that we are all different and He has called each of us to play a different role–some are hands, others feet, still others are pinky toes–or tailbones–or appendixes. We each have an important duty even if it isn’t a glamorous one. And the body is not complete when one body part goes off alone because of a difference in understanding.

    Our purpose, as Christ’s body, is to have “sameness of purpose”–namely, the glorification of our Redeemer (the Head) through our interaction with each other and the world. Our love and concern for each other indicates our level of devotion to Him.

    Whether or not John Calvin had the proper understanding of *how* God saves people, our Lord has been in the business of redeeming fallen man since before the beginning of time. Nowhere does the Bible say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and become Calvinist (or Arminian or Reformed or Catholic or Charismatic or whatever) and then you will be saved.”

    He expects every one of us to diligently seek after Him and desire to know Him intimately (the way a husband and wife are to know each other). We are to hunger and thirst for His righteousness. But when we meet Him face to face, He will not be asking whether we had properly diagrammed and parsed out every phrase in Scripture.

    For now, He is interested in “What are you doing with the “money” I loaned you?” and “Are you obeying the instructions I personalized for you?–your love for Me is evident by your desire to follow instructions” “Are you faithful in the ‘little’ things?” “Do you love Me with everything you have or are you holding back ‘just a little’ for yourself?” “Am I your Greatest Treasure–or am I simply a fashionable accessory to be tossed away when the trends changed?”

    The singular question on the great “Final Exam” is not going to be “How well did you defend the writings of John Calvin or Augustine or John Wesley or Jacobus Arminius or Martin Luther or your church’s doctrinal statement?”

    The Last and Most Crucial Question will be asked as Jesus’ fiery gaze pierces to your very soul…

    “Do I know you?”

  74. Well ladies, this thread has calmed so now might be the best time for me to bow out. You guys have been lovely and I’ve enjoyed talking with you, but outside forces as well as the stress of this topic are affecting me; I’ve been separated from both sleeping and anxiety medication for a few days and my head feels like it’s been used as an amusement park. God bless, everyone

  75. So, I wasn’t going to post again…I learned long ago that debating heart issues gets no where fast (PLEASE don’t read that as an insult, anyone, it isn’t meant to be…I simply mean that, as many times as I heard arguments FOR predestination, I hated the idea of it until I felt a conviction to look through Scripture and scholarship and give it the shot it deserved). So, I won’t address that issue, but another…I want to address the last post by Heather:

    I REALLY don’t think that we have anyone in here who is trying to defend man and his ‘doctrines,’ whoever that man might be, in fact I am nearly POSITIVE that no one in here follows Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Wesley or Arminius like I have seen the charged with (both sides seem to have been guilty of this). These are simply labels, why do I refer to my soteriology as reformed (or Calvinistic)? Because if I referred to it as ‘biblical,’ then no one would know what I was talking about! EVERYONE thinks their theology is ‘biblical,’ although no one’s fully is.

    So, although you imply that people in here are too concerned about defending the writings of men…I haven’t seen a single person quote Calvin’s ‘Institutes,’ Augustine’s ‘Confessions,’ or the Synod of Dort. We are all people putting forth what we see in the character of our most loved God and Savior!

    Lastly, and just a point to think on, why do you think that most people study theology, study the great men and women of the faith? There may, in fact, be some here who do it simply out of pride (and I admit, that at one time in my walk, that fueled much of my study)…I think that the reason that most immerse them self in the great Christian authors of history, studying them in a way that is second only to Scripture itself, is because they have something great to offer us!

    Thing about it! The reason that I read John Calvin isn’t so I can defend him, it is because the man had a better handle on the character of God and the depths of the personality of the one I worship than I could probably attain in my lifetime! I read Johnathan Edwards because he knew more about the mercy of God than any other man I have ever read! I read John Westley because he understood more about holiness and piety that God demands of us than anyone living I have ever met.

    THAT is the reason for immersing one’s self in these writings….not to defend them (which I don’t think anyone here has been doing)…but because the truth that the had grasped about my Lord gives me allows me to know far more about him than I would have ever been able to grasp in my short years!

    In short…no one (or at least very few) is defending these MEN…but MANY are defending the universal truths that these men had such a profound and powerful understanding of that, for the sake of clarity when speaking of those truths, have labeled with their names.

    The true Arminian does not defend Jacobus Arminius (or, normally, has ever even read him), but does defend the ideas from Scripture that he had such a powerful grasp on about the depravity and wickedness of man and powerful grace of God…and the true Calvinist doesn’t defend John Calvin, but the truths of Scripture that he seemed to know better than any man about (again) the depravity of man, the Sovereignty of God and His power to save.

    Again, I have known men and women who are more interested in defending Calvin and Knox than Scripture, but I don’t think that you have found any of them here.

    So, in conclusion, I can say that the most important thing that will happen on the last day is that Christ will declare us His own…but I DO think that one of the biggest things that we will give an account for is, “Did you strive and take every opportunity to to know me better? Did you take and use all of the information that I left on the earth about myself? Did you learn from the great teachers that I labored through so that you could know me better?”…and that is a question that I don’t want to be shamefully hanging my head before my God about.

    This also ties into my nest post in response to Jennifer…

  76. Jennifer…

    Is the demon analogy that far-fetched? I am NOT saying that a demon would come forth from the pits of hell to preach the gospel to men…but what I am saying is that if one did come preaching truth, I do think that we would be held accountable for discarding it based solely on the messenger…just as I think that ANY truth that is presented to us, we will be heard accountable for, regardless of where it came from.

    I admit that the message was a bit of hyperbole…in that I don’t think that it would ever happen…but not in that if it did I think we would be excused from ignoring truth based on ANYTHING other than the merits of the message itself.

  77. And, lastly (although I told myself that I wouldn’t!)…I wanted to say one last thing, in response to countless posts….

    God does give us free will….most definitely does. It is only that, if He didn’t move to overcome it we would all…every one of us, chose to go our own way. THAT is the heart of man!

    Lastly, in response to Holly:

    Predestination, in the wholeness of the doctrine IS loving to all! In God’s infinite love, He offers salvation to ALL who would repent! The problem being, that (as mentioned above) we all chose to spit in His face when He makes this offer, and go our own way.

    That point is where predestination rests…in admitting that we are all totally depraved, that we have squandered our free will, and that we CHOSE to hate God when given the chance to repent…every single one of us! This is where the REAL issue is between man choosing God vs. God choosing man…in admitting that we aren’t good enough to chose Him! In admitting that we were so lost in our sin that there is NOTHING we could do to save ourselves…INCLUDING stop our wickedness long enough turn from it and chose God…we were sinners! It was our job description! That is what it means to be totally depraved…that we had nothing in us that would love God, we hated Him…and therefore would NEVER turn to Him!

    Therefore, in a further act of mercy, God reaches down and changes the hearts of some, so that they would go to the Bread of Life instead of returning like a dog to its vomit!

    So, while I don’t intend to make the case for a reformed (I use reformed, not Calvinistic, mainly because I see truth in something called single predestination, which isn’t Calvinistic, as Calvin believed in double predestination…just a point of clarity, not debate) doctrine of salvation in this post…the case I DO want to make is that it DOES portray of loving God if man is as depraved as put forth in reformed doctrine.

    So, if you want to make the case against predestination…it doesn’t come down to a making the case for a God that loves….but for a man that isn’t totally depraved.

    And, to concede a point…I DO think that this is a point that Jacobus Arminius managed to work out…in that he believed that all men WERE totally depraved and unable to chose God in their wickedness (most modern Arminians believe in a free-will doctrine that Arminius would have rejected)…which is why I have no problem with a classical Arminian (even though I do disagree with them)…because they are ALMOST reformed….they just believe that man is so wicked that even if God changes their heart….they might STILL turn away from Him!

  78. Ben,

    “why do I refer to my soteriology as reformed (or Calvinistic)? Because if I referred to it as ‘biblical,’ then no one would know what I was talking about!”

    Brilliant answer.

  79. LOL Ben! I think you did what I tend to do! Someone posts something and I get thinking…hitting the topic but missing the person’s point.

    No problem, I’ll explain myself :oD

    If you read my last post (and the one where I mentioned pride) carefully, you might note that I accused no one here of being prideful or of specifically defending any man’s doctrine (although for me, there is a distinct danger of doing that once I settle on a label–and I did mention before that is one reason why I don’t call myself “Calvinist”.) I am too prone to wanting to study and defend my “tag” rather than what I personally have read in the Bible. And I have seen the tendency in others but I did not say that anyone HERE was being this way. It was a general observation.

    To be honest, I do think some people are quick to brand others as being smug and prideful when the former has confused the latter’s confident attitude with that of arrogance. I have seen discussions dissolve quickly into name calling when one side runs out of legitimate points. Again, PLEASE DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND that I am accusing anyone here of doing this–!

    I don’t know how long you have been reading Kelly’s blog but I assure you I try to go out of my way to avoid unnecessary “beatings” of my fellow servants.

    And I will apologize when I get out of hand. God’s been good to spank the debater in me when I get too full of myself.

    When answering Jennifer in my last post, I was giving her an idea of some of the things God has been teaching me. It isn’t a complete picture because I didn’t want to hog too much comment space as I tend to do—-but I was careful to preface my comment by saying that God is teaching me on several levels at one time.

    The conversation here was simply one more chapter in the “training manual”. It became obvious that it is not the time for *me* to try to convince other posters of election/predestination or total depravity but rather back off and digest some of what God has been showing ME. Make sense?

    The fact is, whether or not a person tosses quotes around, other people are influenced by the labels that are used. I have seen this happen repeatedly in other conversations (on other sites) and often, the discussion is over before it starts because someone used a term which another person either misunderstands or believes to be attached to a misunderstanding of Scripture. Well, the “back and forth” may continue for a while, but it becomes pretty obvious that the participants are not so much listening so as to answer specific points but simply defending.

    And often, the conversation becomes nothing more than a debate involving a definition of terms and frenzied shooting back and forth of “proof texts”. Again, I am not accusing anyone here. I think this discussion has gone pretty well and trust that God is teaching all who have been involved.

    He has a way of not simply answering my questions..but actually telling me what I need to know. So many of us may have learned lessons that stretch well beyond the scope of this conversation.

    Kelly has said more than once that it is important to know our theology–because it affects not only our own lives but that of other Christians.

    She is right. We are of one body–Christ’s. If one part hurts, we all should hurt. If one part is mistaken, the rest should lovingly try to correct so that it can be preserved. If one is willfully disobedient, it is best for all if necessary measures are taken to deal with it. A seemingly minor infection in one finger can lead to blood poisoning, spread throughout the body and cause death if not treated properly.

    It is in everyone’s best interest to look out for the spiritual well-being of the others.

    I am not opposed to using labels and do not believe it is sinful to say “My understanding of scripture is very similar to that of John Calvin”.

    And I have no issues with the discussion of why I come to that conclusion. But I only see value in discussing with people who want to know and are considering what I say.

    Hm. I probably have typed too much and risked losing you. Unfortunately, it is my tendency. As I said, if I have portrayed myself as self-righteous or judgmental of other posters, I will humbly apologize. I have had to do that before and am not above it.

    I do believe you simply misunderstood what I wrote. However, if, after reading this, you still feel I am wrong, I will gladly listen to your perspective. Maybe I am missing something…

  80. Ben said “So, in conclusion, I can say that the most important thing that will happen on the last day is that Christ will declare us His own…but I DO think that one of the biggest things that we will give an account for is, “Did you strive and take every opportunity to to know me better? Did you take and use all of the information that I left on the earth about myself? Did you learn from the great teachers that I labored through so that you could know me better?”…and that is a question that I don’t want to be shamefully hanging my head before my God about.”
    ***************************************
    Yes sir.

    Have you read my other comments? Never once did I suggest that “nothing else matters”. It bothers me tremendously that we often hear a lopsided account of the salvation message that sounds like:

    “Just pray with me and confess Jesus is Lord…it will only take a few minutes…if you’re too embarrassed, I can say the words for you and you just squeeze my hand if you agree…”

    And then people are allowed to go out thinking they are “saved” as they happily return to their sinful lifestyles without a whit of conviction or shame over the fact that they are spitting in God’s face.

    As has been already mentioned, our concept of (and relationship with) God dictates our life choices.

    One of the greatest assurances of true conversion is the bearing of good fruit.

  81. Ben,
    I would add that your analogy wasn’t that far-fetched. Remember that when Paul was in prison he mentioned that there were those who were free who were preaching “the Way” just to cause more agony to him. But Paul ended with a “whatever; as long as Christ is preached.” Clearly a paraphrase. 😉 So the message is important, not the person whom is preaching. This goes whether the person is “right” in our eyes or not!

  82. Ben,

    My previous comments got caught in the spam filter and I started to become concerned you might take my “tone” to be condescending or flippant. I see they posted and I’m going to try to summarize and condense my response in order to prevent further confusion:

    1. Your first comment seemed to express concern about the mention of pride being an issue with the way some people present their doctrinal belief. Since I believe I am the one to bring that up, you need to understand that it was not an accusation of any commenter here but an observation based on experience.

    2. Given the limitations of the internet, I have learned to be very careful in assigning motives to the views/actions of others. It never crossed my mind (until you said it) that anyone would assume I think theological study is a waste of time or that those who study diligently are doing so just so they will be better at debating.

    However, I will freely acknowledge that I can be tempted to misuse my knowledge as I become more well-versed in such information. I know I’m not the only one because I have seen the effect elsewhere.

    Concerning the defending of a man-devised doctrine: I was not suggesting that anyone here was consciously doing this. I was thinking that, in practical terms, defense of the teachings of a doctrine (apart from Scriptural backing) often can be a result of officially claiming an understanding to be one’s own. In trying to better understand certain perspectives, I have tried talking with one or another person about a belief to which (s)he holds and have sometimes gotten a circular reasoning that never actually goes back to the Bible but rather “sticks” somewhere in the conclusions someone else had ABOUT the Bible. That wasn’t so much something I saw here but rather something that God pointed out to me as I was involved in the discussion.

    I’m not sure if I could explain more clearly, so you may just have to trust that I didn’t have anyone here in mind when I brought up the “defense of doctrines”

    3. The comment to which you responded was intended not to add to the ongoing discussion but to answer Jennifer in how I learned what I needed to know from this thread.
    Before this subject even was brought up here, I was involved in similar discussions elsewhere. There are a good half-dozen fragmented points (some not even directly related to theology or doctrine) that I have been considering. God often will cement one concept while I’m engaging in a seemingly unrelated conversation.

    Perhaps I should have been more precise when I wrote my statement but I had assumed that my previous comments indicated that I believe it is very important to study theology and that I believe there is much valuable truth we may glean from the godly men and women who have gone before.

    Honestly, I can’t see anything in your statement with which I disagree, so I can only conclude that you either didn’t read my comment carefully or you misunderstood my meaning. Either way–you got some good practice in being able to rationally explain your position and did a fine job.

    :o)

  83. Think about the woman “caught in the act” of adultery, punishable by death according to the law. With His comment, “Let he that is without sin among you cast the first stone,” he dispersed her accusers (and maybe at least some of them began to understand something about self-righteousness.) Then, he simply told her to go and sin no more. Where’s the hate? His love and compassion were such a contrast to the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees that they could not stand it!

    He didn’t say sin wasn’t sin, but in most cases, He loved — and still loves — people into His Kingdom. He won me with love, even though I know I’m a sinner and would go to hell if He hadn’t died for me and I hadn’t accepted His gift of love, eternal life.

    I’ve heard many amazing, incredibly beautiful testimonies of people who have done horrible things being won by Jesus’ love. Yes, we must repent of sin; but in many cases our hearts are touched by His love to do so!

  84. Tricia – the whole adultery scene was a set-up. She had been (supposedly) “caught in the very act.” Yet there was no man being accused. Under the Law the man would also have been subject to the same penalty (Lev 20:10). Yet there was no man! I’m not going to say she didn’t ever commit adultery, but that’s not the point. The pharasees were hiding something (or someone). OR the whole thing might have been a entirely a farce. The point was NOT judgment, but FALSE judgment/abuse of judgment.

    Just FYI

  85. The fact that there was no man accused was a sign of the sexism back then. The Bible said she was born out very disheveled, possibly naked, to be shamed and killed before God. His reaction had EVERYTHING to do with compassion and judgement.

  86. It’s not necessarily a sign of sexism, though that’s a possibility. And like I said “FALSE judgment.” If it were sexism (please support from text), then my assertion would still apply.

  87. To Heather:

    Haha, well, in that case, forgive me for jumping to the defense of something that didn’t need defending. I admit, due to some of my friends attitudes towards doctrine, I am (unfortunately), a bit jumpy on this point..haha.

  88. All the implications were that they pulled her from the act itself, half naked or possibly totally so. If that’s the case, they left the man behind.

  89. Before He told the woman to “go, and sin no more,” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee.” (John 8:11)

    It does not say whether or not she was repentant.

  90. Ben,

    I have no problem at all with someone being thoughtful and able to explain his position clearly. I’ve done plenty of “unpacking my thoughts” without there being a need to convince my targeted listener. But you never know–another reader may have needed to hear your perspective. And, without even knowing, you may have helped someone else. It’s one reason why it is so important to be aware of how our attitudes and chosen words may affect others.

    People watch.

    On that note, the discussion about the woman caught in adultery got me thinking ;o)

    Jesus and the Pharisees had an ongoing battle concerning the level of righteousness God requires and the level of “righteousness” the Pharisees felt was appropriate. He proclaimed that true righteousness must come from a regenerated heart.

    They focused on externals and fell short repeatedly but were unwilling to see their hypocrisy (Paul says that God caused this blindness for a purpose, but I don’t want to get sidelined by the “free will” topic at the moment). And in their blind arrogance, they continually tried to find some way to “trap” Jesus into condemning Himself before His followers.

    Lori is right, the law required that both the man and woman be brought forward.

    According to the narrative, the woman was, without doubt, guilty as charged. She deserved to be stoned and she knew it.

    Yet, in their haste to shred Jesus’ claim to supremacy, the Jewish leaders (as was their habit) neglected to follow legal protocol themselves.

    I know it is pure speculation, but my husband often wonders if the cryptic “stooping to write in the sand” that Jesus did was that He was writing specifically the aspect of the Law which the Pharisees were violating. Then, He stood up and challenged: “Whichever of you truly is motivated by love for God and His commands may be the one to administer His justice”.

    Not one of them cared about obedience to God, so all were convicted— they had to disperse.

    The woman and Jesus were left alone and I believe she realized the implication that if He had not stood between her accusers and God’s righteous demands, she would surely have died. Isn’t that the simplified message of the Gospel?

    I cannot find any follow up accounts of who this woman was but I would like to think that her desperate encounter with Jesus changed her and she heeded His instruction to “Go, and sin no more”.

    A main theme in the book of John is that Jesus is “the Light”. And, as God, He is also “the Life”. There are also other accounts in this Gospel of personalized encounters with Jesus that obviously meant something to the individual but may seem a little ambiguous to the reader. Coming face to face with Jesus is a life-altering thing. It can either mean that a previously hopeless captive is gloriously freed from sin’s prison or that the foolish inmate slams the door and locks it from the inside.

    The Light came into the darkness, but those who love their evil deeds shut their eyes and scurry back into their dim and dusty corners so as to be able to comfortably continue in error.

    The adulterous woman encountered the Light. Her sins were exposed and she was shamed. But the Light also offered her Life. Like the Pharisees, she was personally accountable for her response to what God had allowed her to see.

    The Light has come. Our choice is to either run and hide in order to maintain our comfort levels—OR willingly and continually walk into it (regardless of how humiliating or painful) until it has penetrated the very essence of our souls.

  91. Sorry, I got a little carried away.

    Bringing this back around to the “free-will/election/predestination” discussion: My point is that without God having taken the measures to first show us Who He is, we would all be left in darkness.

    He did everything that is necessary to give us the necessary “taste” of His glorious and holy nature. If the only thing a person understands is “I am filthy and stand condemned before God’s majesty–I have no hope of personally being able to reconcile”, he has been prompted by the Holy Spirit to respond to that knowledge.

    Our response is important, and we will be held personally accountable for whether we humbly accept or pridefully reject the Light that penetrates the dark recesses of our souls.

    We can either stiffen our necks and walk away or we can fall flat on our faces–thanking God for showing us what we are when compared to Him, and begging Him to change us into the likeness of His Son, who is our only hope…

  92. I don’t think it really matters if we figure out HOW God draws men to Himself. That isn’t to say that I think it isn’t important to TRY to understand.

    Doesn’t it seem sometimes, though, that we get bogged down in trying to figure God out and forget to just be amazed that He would even care about us…floating in His vast universe, on a relatively minuscule speck of dust?

    “What is man that Thou art mindful of him…”

  93. I just have one quick comment….and I realize that this will be like rolling a grenade into the room (maybe)…but all of the speculation on the story of the woman caught in adultery is actually speculation on a secondhand story….most modern textual scholars believe that the story was not in the original manuscripts (although the story seems to be widely spread…even outside of the context of the Scriptures)….

    Again, not saying that there might not be good principles in the story….but building an argument off of a story that isn’t in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts that we have (and therefore, are probably not apostolic and therefore probably not inspired) is probably not the best case of action for either side.

    This is isn’t me trying to point a finger at any particular person (really)…just trying to point something out that I had forgotten until right now.

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