Contend Earnestly: Total Depravity - Affirmed

Friday, July 27, 2007

Total Depravity - Affirmed

When we look at total depravity, I am going to really try to defend the position and what we mean, as Calvinists, when we speak of total depravity. Most have commented on Nate's post and there is some great positions being posited on people's positions, so I encourage you to read Nate's post and the comments as well. What I will try and do is answer as much as possible on the affirmation on the Calvinistic confirmation of this most important understanding of anthropology and hamartiology, and focus little attention on Nate's post, although naturally, refutation will take place in the flow of this post.

I do believe that one's approach and definition of this subject, will guide the understanding of their view on soteriology, so as Nate spoke, and also others throughout the years, total depravity is really where the debate needs to start. When a Calvinist states that man is totally depraved, they mean that the man's nature is completely corrupt, perverse and sinful throughout. This "total" is NOT a means to say that every man is as evil as they could possibly be. I have heard R.C. Sproul say that even Hitler didn't murder his mother. So, we are speaking here of man's total inability of spiritual good. The word "total" is speaking of the total corruption because of sin and it extends to every part of a man, his body and his soul and has affected his mind, will, etc.

As a result of this, man is completely unable to do anything spiritually good. Man is so spiritually bankrupt that he can do nothing pertaining to his salvation, unless first regenerated by the Spirit of God. What this does NOT mean is that man can do no good on a human level of interaction. We have all seen Mother Teresa, Bill Gates and Gandhi and asked ourselves, "How can someone say that they are doing nothing good?" When the Calvinist speaks of man doing nothing good, we are speaking of the spiritual deadness not the standard that man imparts to one another. There are two things to consider when speaking of good; there is the outward good and the inward good. The outward good, is keeping the commands of God. When one does not lie, cheat, steal, murder or slander these are outwardly good, and, we as man, can see this good. But, the most important, according to Christ himself, is the inward good of intentions of the act. This inward good is pit against the perfection of the Father who is holy and undefiled by sin. Even Christ says: you shall not murder (outward good), but I say that even if you are angry with your brother you have already murdered in your heart. (spiritual depravity compared to God's holiness)

So, that is the overview of this view, now I want to show the Scriptural proof of this thought of us being completely depraved and dead in our sin.

Even though Nate has tried to escape the subject of death in the garden (even telling us to throw out Romans 5), it is very clear that Scripture warrants that in the garden, not only physical death was to come to pass, but on that DAY spiritual death happened.

Genesis 1:31a tells us that when God was done creating He said:

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

So, we see first that God describes His creation as being "very good." We then have the command of God about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God says this:

but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Genesis 2:17

Notice that God tells Adam that IN THAT DAY you shall surely die. If God is speaking only of a physical death here, you would think God to be a liar, for in that day Adam did not die, for he continued to live. On the contrary, you would think that if God was speaking of a spiritual death that we would have some proof in the Bible. Here is where Nate said to throw out Romans 5 because it NEVER speaks of a spiritual death, but I would have to completely disagree. Look at Romans 5:12,18

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

Romans 5:12,18

Notice that through the one sin, CONDEMNATION happened and through on act of righteousness there resulted justification of LIFE to all men. Does any think that justification means simply a physical life? Or is Paul telling us that through sin we have all died, spiritually, but through Christ we have all been brought justification of SPIRITUAL life. The Greek word here for "condemnation" (katakrima) means a "damnatory sentence."

I believe just through this one verse (there are others) we can see that Adam literally died on THAT DAY, spiritually.

You would also think that if this truly happened that there would be some "fallout" because of this death of sin. Which, of course, we have. God goes from calling His creation, "very good" to now the first murder happening in Genesis 4:8 and then we have the Nephilim in Genesis 6 and then finally God simply states:

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 6:5

And just so that you don’t get the idea that this was only pre-flood and things were differently afterwards Genesis 8:21 states again:

the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth;

The Greek word used here for “intent” means “framework or purpose.” So the framework and purpose of man’s heart is to do evil, not good.

But what happened? How did God go from saying that man was created good to saying that he was framed, inclined and purposed for evil?

Sin. What was the punishment for that sin? Genesis 2:17 states that if they ate from the tree that would “surely die” and every since then people have responded and taught like the devil taught when he said in Genesis 3:4, “You surely will not die!” To say that we have not died, to be honest, is how SATAN HIMSELF RESPONDED!

To continue in thought on the deadness of man you would then expect the rest of the Bible to teach it, and it very explicitly does. You really have to do some dancing to try and reinvent what the word, "dead" means.

I will quote my good friend Josh here:

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
1 Jn 3:14.

-Passed from death to life is pretty clear here.

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel- 2 Tim 1:10

-Christ did not abolish physical death, and the spiritual death that is abolished is not your definition of the second death in Revelation, it is the human condition of spiritual death from birth. Notice the antithesis is bringing life though the light of the gospel.

I would have to agree with Josh here, it is very clear why Christ came: to abolish our spiritual death. Look at on of the most popular verses in evangelism:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.
Romans 6:23

This part is going to get lengthy, but I hope that the vastness of it will help one understand that this doctrine is not just found in one part of the Bible, but the Bible is filled with this doctrine. I will link the Scripture references instead of writing them all out.

As we have already stated, Adam's sin caused death to the whole human race (Romans 5:12) and so we also see in Ephesians 2:1-3 and Colossians 2:13 both telling us of this deadness in our sin.

David confessed that he, and other men, were born into sin: Psalm 51:5; 58:3

As a result of this sin in the garden man has been darkened to the truths of God and our hearts and minds are corrupt and evil: Gen 6:5; 8:21; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19; Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Eph 4:17-19; 5:8; Titus 1:15.

Not only this but we are actually slaves to sin, under Satan's control and told that we are children of Satan: John 8:44; Eph 2:1,2; 2 Timothy 2:25,26; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 5:19; John 8:34; Romans 6:20; Titus 3:3

I will repost a little from what I did in my opening here. Unlike Nate, I believe that Romans 3 is a perfect example of us before we are with Christ, before we are regenerated, and that is that "no one is good, no one seeks for God, that we have become useless" and that Romans 8:8 tells us that "no one in the flesh can please God." These apply to us. Nate tried to go back to Psalm 14 to say that this is talking about the fool, but before we are in Christ, are we not all fools? We are called children of the devil (John 8:44), children of wrath (Eph 2:3); haters of God, slaves to sin (John 8:34); and Ephesians 4:17-19 describes those without Christ as futile of the mind, darkened, excluded, and hardness of heart. Does not 1 Corinthians 2:26,27 tell us that we were fools? The point is that before you are in Christ you are a fool! After Christ, you are only a fool to the world, but in reality you are the wisest because God has given you the wisdom from above. (James 3)

This is all because we are totally depraved of any spiritual good. God explicitly tells us that

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isaiah 64:6

Everything that we would see as "righteous" God sees as literally a bloody "menstrual rag." Even Job tells us:

Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!
Job 14:4

Do you see this? Job actually starts this chapter off by saying that man from woman is "...full of turmoil (or trouble)"

Jeremiah continues in this understanding of the complete depravity of man:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin
Or the leopard his spots?
Then you also can do good
Who are accustomed to doing evil.

Jeremiah 13:23

It is almost embarrassing how many verses speak about the complete evilness of man's nature. Nate and I said at the beginning of this discussion that we must both come to the fullness of Scripture to see how our theologies "play out" and I would have to say that the Calvinist doctrine takes the full of Scripture to describe our condition, while it is not easy to hear, it is definitely truth.

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Romans 6:16

Notice that if you are a slave to sin that is whom you obey, you are one or the other, not both. If you are evil's slave then you must obey your master. How do we ever come out of our depraved mind to follow Christ? How can we obey our Master who calls out to us: Repent! It can only happen by God's grace, through regeneration and the effectual call, but that is for later in our debate.

I believe that Matthew 23:27,28 allow us to understand fully what we see while we are here on this earth. Nate said that Jesus never speaks of total depravity, yet Jesus does and I will give you one example and leave you with this. While we see others as doing good, like I said outwardly, God's standard, which is perfect, is to judge us inwardly.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Matthew 23:27,28

May we never underestimate our sin, but may we hate it and try to rid ourselves of it. When one underestimates sin, they will only be more liable to fall into it.

Soli Deo Gloria


Anonymous said...

A few comments Seth...

To be honest, I dont disagree with much of what you said. I have never gotten on here and said that I think man is anything more than completely sinful and evil. Total Depravity is not really speaking about man's utter sinfulness but rather and inability to seek God in any way unless effectually called. On this, you spend very little time. But yes, I agree that man is totally sinful...

Let me also clear up a few things. I did touch on spiritual death. Of course Christ did not die for the abolition of the spiritual death. As I stated, we were condemned to death (spiritually) following the garden of Eden. So before comparing my response to Satan's, please read and take these in their context. You even said it yourself...condemned to death. You even used the greek to show it means a "damnatory sentence." I agree. And like I said, it is not uncommon to refer to those condemned to death as "dead men." Its a simple metaphor for our condition. We are born "dead men" in the metaphorical sense since we are born condemned to death in hell because of our sinful nature. Before we ever commit a sin on this earth, we are condemned. As for Romans 5, I believe it talks about Christ abolishing spiritual death but what I was saying is that it doesnt say anything about us being actually spiritually dead. I guess thats a misunderstanding.

"Notice that through the one sin, CONDEMNATION happened and through on act of righteousness there resulted justification of LIFE to all men. Does any think that justification means simply a physical life? Or is Paul telling us that through sin we have all died, spiritually, but through Christ we have all been brought justification of SPIRITUAL life. The Greek word here for "condemnation" (katakrima) means a "damnatory sentence."

I really like this paragraph that you wrote. Its good, in fact is basically what I believe minus one incorrect step you have taken. Through one sin CONDEMNATION happened is exactly what I said. I honestly couldnt agree more. But Paul is referring to this condemnation and not literal spiritual death, which like I said, occurs after death. It is the payment that must be paid as stated in Rom. 6:23. John says that those who dont believe are "condemned already." Not dead already, but certainly condemned already.

Finally, I would like to point out another quick error. Seth, I agree with you that our sinful nature that none of us seek God. I truly believe that. It is unnatural for us to seek God...sin IS our natural instinct. But when the word of God is preached to a sinner, I believe the Bible talks about the Holy Spirit accompanying that word. It is with the conviction of the Holy Spirit that men are brought to salvation. They must see themselves as what they really are. Sinful and condemned to death unless they accept the gift Jesus is offering. So I suppose what you need to show, and what every Calvinist needs to show, is that man is not saved by the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the word of God. You need to show that is through God bestowing his irresistable grace on them that they turn. This, I firmly believe, is an impossible task. I believe man can choose to not answer conviction and we should know this since we do it all the time. Also, King Agrippa tells Paul "almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." It sounds like Agrippa understands the message Paul lays before him. It also sounds like he rejects it for whatever reason...something keeps him from being able to put his full faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Can a Calvinist really prove that what stops people from turning is God's neglect of bestowing grace to certain people rather than a willful rejection of the gospel? No Calvinist has been able to accomplish this so far from what I've seen.

Anonymous said... thing I said was a typo...

Of course Christ did not die for the abolition of the spiritual death. As I stated, we were condemned to death (spiritually) following the garden of Eden.

That was supposed to read that Christ did not die for the abolition of PHYSICAL death. Oops, I'm sure many of you were thinking I was out of my mind. Sorry for the mistake.

Anonymous said...

Acts 26:28 John Gill says quite well "Verse 28. Then Agrippa said unto Paul,.... Either seriously or ironically; rather the former, arising from the convictions of his mind, which he could not stifle nor conceal:

almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian; to profess faith in Jesus as the Messiah, to embrace his doctrine, and submit to his ordinances, which is to be a Christian, at least externally: and when he says "almost," or "in a little," his meaning is, that within a little, or very near, he was of being persuaded to embrace Christianity; or in a little matter, and in some respects; or rather in a few words, and in a small space of time, Paul had strangely wrought upon him to incline to the Christian religion; though the first sense, that he was almost, or within a little of being a Christian, seems to be the best, as appears by the apostle's reply to it: what it is to be a real Christian, See Gill on "Ac 11:26." An almost Christian is one that has much light and knowledge, but no grace; he may know something of himself and of sin, of its being a violation of the law of God, and of the bad consequences of it, but has not true repentance for it; he may know much of Christ in a speculative way, concerning his person and offices, as the devils themselves do, and of the good things which come by him, as peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation; but has no application of these things to himself; he may have a large notional knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel, but has no experience of the power, sweetness, and comfort of them in his own soul; all his knowledge is unsanctified, and without practice: he is one that has a taste of divine things, but has not the truth of them; he may taste of the heavenly gift, of the good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come; yet it is but a taste, a superficial one, which he has; he does not savour and relish these things, nor is he nourished by them: he has a great deal of faith in the historical way, and sometimes a bold confidence and assurance of everlasting happiness; but has not faith of the right kind, which is spiritual and special, which is the faith of God's elect, the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; by which the soul beholds the glory, fulness, and suitableness of Christ, under a sense of need, and goes forth to him, renouncing everything of self, and lays hold upon him, and trusts in him for salvation; and which works by love to Christ and his people, and has with it the fruits of righteousness: he may express a great deal of flashy affectation to the word, and the ministers of it, for a while, but has nothing solid and substantial in him; he may partake of the Holy Ghost, of his gifts largely, but not of special and internal grace; and indeed he can only be an almost Christian, that becomes one merely through the persuasion of men: it is one part of the Gospel ministry to persuade men, but this of itself is ineffectual; a real Christian is made so by the power of divine grace. Agrippa was only persuaded, and but almost persuaded by the apostle to be a Christian, but not by the Lord, nor altogether, who persuades Japheth to dwell in the tents of Shem."

To this we might add that these are the very people spoken of in Hebrews 6:4-8.

Seth McBee said...


You seem to contradict yourself. You say that Romans 5 speaks of Christ conquering spiritual death but doesn't say we are spiritually dead. If your option is true, that Christ died to abolish spiritual death and we are not spiritually dead, why did Christ abolish spiritual death? Maybe I am just not following you.

As far as Agrippa, why are you using a narrative from a pagan to dictate your theology? That would be like taking the false accusations from Job's friends to prove the character of God...that would be inappropriate.

If you are going to use narrative, to generate theology make sure that it is godly narrative and spoken by a writer of a New Testament book. For example. When Luke tells us what happens in Acts 16:14, we can believe this narrative and use it for our theology because he is the one that is writing the inspired word. But, we would not take what King Saul did in the old testament and try and prove that is how we are supposed to live...understand?

As far as this post, I am glad to hear you agree with me on it. Because if you agree with my post, you agree with the Calvinistic look at total depravity. Looks like my work with you is going to really be on Irresistible Grace. I hope that we have a good discussion there.

By the way, did you see that video I posted...pretty funny stuff. Anyway, have a great Lord's day and we'll talk again soon.

Bob Hayton said...


You still haven't dealt with the passages which teach that life is given to us through Christ's work. We are passed from death to life, Christ brought life to us. Eph. 2 says we are made alive together with Christ. What's that talking about if we are not spiritually dead? Why do we need life to be given to us then?

Anonymous said...

Alright, I have a lot to cover and not a lot of time in which to do so but I will go my best. Let me first say that since I was out of town this weekend, I really had very little time to read and respond on here. But I was reading tonight and I noticed a lot of the comments on my post where Bnonn and David were going back and forth a bit. Josh had it pegged right...a headache indeed. Hold that thought though, I will touch on it in a sec.

Bnonn, dude seriously...I think you've got some major issues. I don't mean to offend but this whole God causing sin thing is pretty ridiculous in my opinion (and seemingly in the opinions of just about everyone else on here ). God's creation was without blemish. Satan tricked man into sinning and since then, he has been our worldly father. Jesus says "Ye are of your father the devil" because God can have nothing to do with sin. He created us in his image, but immediately after the first sin, he was no longer our father until those sins were atoned for. God calls sin an abomination and we read that he hates it. God did not think up sin, Satan did. His rebellion against God was the start of it all. Whenever that happened, we dont know but it sure appears to be before the creation of the world. Anyways, you guys spent entirely too much time on this already. And you can certainly continue it for as long as you like but I'm afraid Bnonn, you aren't reading the same book as me.

Bob, I am going to try and address a few issues with you. From your posts on Total Depravity opposed I had a few comments. Books certainly have their place, but no, we don't need anything more than scripture. Teachers have their place also, and just like Rom. says, "how shall they hear without a preacher?" The preacher is an important part of the word of God's power to an unsaved person. Someone needs to be take it to them and also show them how to be scritpurally saved. Anyways, as far as the pamphlet by Piper...already read it. But just for the heck of it I read it again. Hopefully you are not too offended if I confess that I found it less than interesting. Its just the same old same old. I've heard the arguments and the Bible verses many a time, and every time they are taken out of context (especially the limited atonement part, which I found exceptionally flawed). But my point with all of that was, every time a Calvinist wants to make a point they tell me to go read this book or this article. Its so ridiculous in my mind. Sure, these things can have their place but everything you're telling me to go read is Calvinist literature and I find the same problems in all of it. To me, tradition and "great men" seem to matter a whole lot more in the Calvninst doctrine than they do in mine.

That brings me to my next point (and back to paragraph one where I told you hold your thoughts). Here is one of my biggest problems (besides doctrinal issues) with Calvinism. I don't and have never seen it as a theology, but rather as an "intellectual philosophy." Don't believe me? Go back and read all the posts with Bnonn and David and all of that whole argument. Its like people are doing everything they can to try and sound as smart as possible. I'm not trying to mean, really, but it seriously bugs the heck out of me. If I have to hear the word metaphysical one more time I'm going to puke. But I do understand the draw to Calvinism, I really do. And the main draw, I believe, is its roots in "intellectualism." Just about every Calvinist on here has shown it at some point or another. Anyways, just food for thought.

Enough of my ranting. Bob, let me get to some of the biblical questions. The thoughts on Agrippa were noted and yet I don't fully agree. Sure, "almost" doesnt get it. No argument there. But it does say something I believe that seems to not fall in line with total depravity. From what I've heard, the non elect cannot understand the word of God and can make no moral choice to accept it. Agrippa seems to understand perfectly what Paul is saying but is simply unwilling to put his full trust in what Paul has told him. I dont know, it just seems to me that it didnt fit with the calvinist doctrine of total depravity. As for the Eph. verses and Christ making us alive...yes, I believe them. I've made comments regarding such issues several times already. Christ died to abolish spiritual death and when we are saved, yes, we are "made alive." Agreed. I will try to explain it like this. Many times I have said that we are condemned to death because of our sin nature. The death comes at the end as eternal separation from God in the lake of fire. Thats spiritual death. We are certainly all condemned to such a fate from birth. We must consider John 3:18 which says "He that believeth on him is not condemned..." So someone who accpets Christ is free from the condemnation of eternal death. Continuing "...he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed..." Those who dont believe are condemned to eternal spiritual death. But he that believes is not condemned to such a fate...we are made alive. I think we all believe in eternal security, right?? From the moment you believe, the condemnation is gone and the eternal spiritual life is there. Obviously, we will still die, but our souls never will like those who are condemned to spiritual death. I guess I dont know if this is making sense to you guys or not. But regardless, there is a bigger issue on this total depravity thing and that is that I still feel as though much of it has only been spent on why man is completely sinful. On this we agree. I definitely think man is depraved. The totally part is where we part ways. Thats why I like when calvinist use "total inability" instead. I think it sums up your point better. I havent heard much to suggest total inability yet.

Seth, I think you are right that this will come down to irresistable grace but also a little bit of unconditional election. The problem I see with this though is that the Calvinist side is so dependent on its other points. Irresistable grace only works when total inability is proved...which it cannot be. Thus, much of the time is spent referring back to total inability when in essence, all that is being explained is that man is depraved, which we already agree on (just not totally).

Anyways, its 2am and I'm tired. So I must go and I will be back on again in the near future. Hopefully no one was too offended during my earlier rants.

Unknown said...


Your still attacking Calvinism "without" attacking Calvinism. Your turned off by charactures of some Calvinists and using that as a guilt by association.

I would still like to see you take the verses for Total Depravity and show me how and why they do not mean what Calvinism says they mean.

Debate wise, you have not tackled the verses, you are just giving very general comments.

Nate said: To me, tradition and "great men" seem to matter a whole lot more in the Calvninst doctrine than they do in mine.

Josh- Theological history is just as important as secular history. The councils and creeds exists as historical witnesses so we do not have to repeat the same mistakes and arguments in doctrine.

Nate: That brings me to my next point (and back to paragraph one where I told you hold your thoughts). Here is one of my biggest problems (besides doctrinal issues) with Calvinism. I don't and have never seen it as a theology, but rather as an "intellectual philosophy."

Josh- there is a philosophy behind everything, but I know what you are saying. If you do not see it as a theology then why this debate? Calvinism is theology, Nate. Philosophy and Theology are not divorced disciplines.

Seth McBee said...

You are walking a fine line here telling us all here that we are rooted in "intellectualism." If you mean this how it comes off, what you are really saying is that we are not saved and merely intellectuals meddling in just another philosophy on how the "world works."

Remember that we are called to "exhort sound doctrine and refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9) We are to "contend earnestly for the faith..." (Jude 3,4) We are not to be clouds without water, we are to be growing in our faith and doctrine. We are not to be tossed here and there. We are to meditate on the word, so that we'll be like a tree firmly rooted.(Psalm 1)

So, when we try and exposit Scripture, and really, we are simply trying to follow in the footsteps of Ezra as it says,

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Ezra 7:10

remember Nate, anytime you try and explain the Scriptures you are going to sound like an "intellectual" to someone. But this is just part of exposition.

Don't call it "intellectual" just because you don't agree or because you don't understand it.

I am not saying I understood all that Bnonn and David were speaking about, but I do enjoy the discussion because it makes me think more and more on my thoughts of God's determinitive will and our sinful desires.

May God bless you brother.


Anonymous said...

Alright, I have more issue that you can consider a "non biblical issue" if you wish. I just thought this was interesting as I just cam across it and I also thought it was relevant to the discussion between Bnonn and David and God's place with sin. It comes courtesy John Calvin himself. I have read some of him before but I missed this part...

"God not only foresaw that Adam would fall, but also ordained that he should... I confess it is a horrible decree; yet no one can deny but God foreknew Adam’s fall, and therefore foreknew it, because he had ordained it so by his own decree (Cal. Inst., b. 3, c. 23, sec. 7)."

Wow. I must admit I was shocked when I read it. Though I strongly disagree with Bnonn's position on that whole issue, I must give him credit for being the only one on here who seems to come close to Calvin's actual position. Calvin certainly didn't stop at saying God allows people to sin. This guy comes right out and says "God made Adam sin." Seth, maybe you are closer to my position on some of this stuff rather than me taking the "calvinist position." That was a pretty horrible statement in my opinion. Again, I just wanted to share it because I thought it was relevant to the debate between Bnonn and David.

Seth, I certainly wasn't saying you or any other Calvinist is not truly saved. I still feel that way, that Calvinism is very much "intellectual." I guess what I meant to imply was that it doesn't seem to me that people get saved into Calvinism. It seems like they get saved, then indoctrinated into Calvinism. Again, I was not trying to be offensive, just honest. If it is all just a misconception on my part, then so be it. I am absolutely not questioning anyone's salvation, alright??

Geek, thanks for the comments, let my try to respond here for a minute. In my last post...yes, I was attacking Calvinism based on personal experience and the like. As I said though, I wanted to be honest with the impression that it gives off. Just take it at face opinion based on what I've seen and heard. Thats it, ok??

Honestly, what more can I do to help with the verses? If you have questions about specific verses, feel free to ask me about them. As for total depravity, my post on it was filled with verses and explanations of my views regarding them. I just browsed my post on total depravity and I tried to deal with as many verses that Calvinists use as I could. But I feel there is a bigger issue here that some of you have not tackled either...all anyone has ever proved to me in this debate thus far is that man is depraved and completely sinful, which I already believed. What they haven't proven to me is Total Inability, which is leg on which total depravity stands. That man is absolutely incapable of truly desiring salvation unless firt regenerated by irresistable grace. I have alluded to this several times in the past few days and the cupboard of comments on it has been bare. The reason I don't believe the calvinist can explain it is because it isn't possible. You can try to show me the verses where it says we can only get saved when the Holy Spirit is working on us, but I believe that as well. What Calvinists need to do is show biblical proof to support where I believe they cross the line. Let's not use the words "total, depravity, inability, etc." for just a second and analyze where we stand. See, we both believe that man is sinful and will not seek God on his own. We both believe that man can only be saved by God and his giving of the Holy Spirit. We both believe that no man has every repented without the conviction of the Holy Spirit working in him. I believe all these are biblical points. Where the Calvinist differs is that he says we are so sinful and lost that we CAN NEVER seek God (with the Holy Spirit, mind you) without first receiving irresistable grace. I know this extends then beyond the "T" and into the "I" of our debate so I will assume that the reason no one is addressing these issue is because it will come later. I think many of you are so busy arguing the wrong point that you have missed much of what I have said. I'm right with you guys for a while but there comes a point where we break apart. I believe that God doesn't give irresistable grace but that saving grace is available to all. I believe the "whosoevers" of the Bible (of which there are many) are absolutely literal. The calvinist paints them as basically meaning the elect. "The world" has been said to mean the elect of God from all nations etc. (see John 3:16-17, I John 2:1-2). I don't agree and that isn't something I need to explain but rather the Calvinist. I believe just what it says...that Christ came to save "the world." That He is the propitiation for our sins and also for the sins of "the whole world." The calvinist adds ideas into the text and therefore must answer them. Again, I will be more than happy to address any specific scriputres you want to ask me about. Just make sure they deal with right issue, ok? You dont need to prove to me that man is sinful and doesn't seek God without the Holy Spirit's conviction, alright? You (and all Calvinists) need to show me biblical proof that man cannot be saved by his own response to conviction but only by an inner miracle of irresitable grace.

Seth McBee said...

We will indeed get to Irresistible Grace and you will definitely have to exegete some key Scriptures for me so I can see where you fall on this...we'll get there.

As for your Calvin quote, I would have to ask you to exegete a couple of passages for me, if you will and let me know how you take these.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:16


“Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil.
Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain. You also open Your eyes on him And bring him into judgment with Yourself. “Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one! “Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You;
And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.

Job 14:1-5
(concentrate especially, if you could on verses 4 and 5)

On Life and Conduct

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.
Proverbs 21:1


It looks as though the issue you have with our look on depravity is not depravity itself, but on the part of resisting God's call.

So, if you could please exegete the aboved mentioned passages for me that would be great.

Also, as far as Christ's death, you won't like our "debate" on this subject as I am a little different (which has happened recently) than you have come across before.

We'll have to wait for our issues with Irresistible Grace until we get there.

Anonymous said...

Hey Seth, I will indeed try to exegete the verses. Please note that I am not trying to interpret in light of calvinism or anti-calvinism, but simply reading what I see the verse meaning in the context of the book, chapter, etc.

As for Psalms 139:16, this seems to be a psalm where David is talking about God's omiscience. He is all-knowing and knows David intimately. David also pleads with God to "search and try him" to cleanse him of any "wickedness" as we read in the last two verses of the psalm. In verse 16 specifically, David is referencing the fact that God knew him before he was even born and knew his entire life. He also acknowledges God as the designer of his life.

In Job 14, Job seems to be mourning the fact that man is given only one life to live and his was filled with heartache. He makes statements in this chapter about trees having hope because they be cut down and grow again. Man has no such hope, as there is no second chance at life. In the first five verses, Job is mourning about the condition of man (seemingly himself in particular). He "withers" and is like "a shadow." He seems to have a realization of sorts that nothing can be done to change it either. Life is temporal and often painful.

Real quickly, the verse in Prov. 21. The heart of the king is in the Lord's hand. To me, I see this verse as very comforting. We know that God is in control because the king cannot do anything that does not allow. God also "hardened" pharaoh's heart. This verse definitely speaks of God's sovereignty and control over all things. I firmly believe that God has control. I do not believe that we can quite take this verse to mean that EVERYTHING a king does is only because his heart was made to do so by God. But it certainly does speak of his ability to intercede when he sees fit for any number of reasons.

Anyways, Seth hopefully that answers some questions. I really have to get going so I cannot keep going on this right now. I do agree that Irresistable Grace will be a key issue, as will Unconditional Election (as I feel this is a very difficult point for a calvinist to argue BIBLICALLY). Those two will be key issues. You are right that I dont disagree with man being depraved or inherently sinful, but resisting God's call. It goes a little deeper than that though, because like I have stated, Total Inability is a better term for the calvinist position. They have to show why man cannot get saved by the convicting of his own God-given conscience, but only by the immediate effects of irresistable grace...I really look forward to that part of the debate!

See ya

Seth McBee said...

I don't want to be nit-picky, but I think it is needed here. Seems like you have given me more application instead of exegesis, which there is a big difference. Preachers and teachers need to do both. So, in light of that...

Psalm 139:16

The whole of the Psalm actually speaks of God's omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence...but what I want you to let me know is what does it mean when David said that before he was born all His days were ordained for him

Job 14:1-5

Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You;
And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.

Please exegete and don't focus on application...

Psalm 21:1...where do you see in this verse that would say that the king can do anything apart from God's hand?

Nate...thanks again for your patience on these issues...

David Ponter said...

Nate said:

Wow. I must admit I was shocked when I read it. Though I strongly disagree with Bnonn's position on that whole issue, I must give him credit for being the only one on here who seems to come close to Calvin's actual position. Calvin certainly didn't stop at saying God allows people to sin. This guy comes right out and says "God made Adam sin." Seth, maybe you are closer to my position on some of this stuff rather than me taking the "calvinist position." That was a pretty horrible statement in my opinion. Again, I just wanted to share it because I thought it was relevant to the debate between Bnonn and David.

David says, Grrr, snort, snort, grrr. Sorry Nate you have misunderstood Calvin. He held,as I have held that God ordains all things, but yet God permits sin. He does not cause it efficiently or directly. It is Calvin who uses the language of remote and proximate cause.

I think you may not understand how the Reformed are using the term "ordain."


It is indeed true, that the proximate cause of reprobation is the curse we all inherit from Adam; yet, that we may learn to acquiesce in the bare and simple good pleasure of God... Calvin, Commentary Romans 9:11.

Here again I entreat the honesty of my readers, to compare my language, and the whole strain of my teaching, with your garbled articles. Thus, when your calumny is detected, all the odium which you labor to excite, will vanish of its own accord. Meanwhile, I do not deny, that I have taught along with Moses and Paul, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Here you expostulate with me to the contempt of Moses, and treating his word as of no account, ask “When the same Moses declares, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, why have recourse to that violent interpretation—God hardened Pharaoh’s heart?” Now I need go no further for an explanation, than the ninth article, which while you quote, you either distort or misunderstand. For if the will of God is the highest, or remote cause of hardening, then when man hardens his own heart, he himself is the proximate cause, I everywhere distinguish between primary and remote causes, and those which are mediate and proximate; for while the sinner finds himself the root of depraved feeling, there is no reason why he should transfer his fault to God. Calvin, The Secret Providence of God. Article 8, Calvin's Reply.

David: Calvin rejects bare permission but affirms willing permission. Institutes 1.18.2-3.

Calvin alludes to the same reference I think Bucanus referenced (see todays blog-post at theology online:

Because God’s wisdom appears manifold (or “multiform” as the old translator renders it), ought we therefore, on account of the sluggishness of our understanding, to dream that there is any variation in God himself, as if he either may change his plan or disagree with himself? Rather, when we do not grasp how God wills to take place what he forbids to be done, let us recall our mental incapacity, and at the same time consider that the light in which God dwells is not without reason called unapproachable [1 Timothy 6:16], because it is overspread with darkness. Therefore all godly and modest folk readily agree with this saying of Augustine: “Sometimes with a good will a man wills something which God does not will … For example, a good son wills that his father live, whom God wills to die. Again, it can happen that the same man wills with a bad will what God wills with a good will. For example, a bad son wills that his father die; God also wills this. That is, the former wills what God does not will; but the latter wills what God also wills. And yet the filial piety of the former, even though he wills something other than God wills, is more consonant with God’s good will than the impiety of the latter, who wills the same thing as God does. There is a great difference between what is fitting for man to will and what is fitting for God, and to what end the will of each is directed, so that it be either approved or disapproved. For through the bad wills of evil men God fulfills what he righteously wills.” A little before he had said that by their defection the apostate angels and all the wicked, from their point of view, had done what God did not will, but from the point of view of God’s omnipotence they could in no way have done this, because while they act against God’s will, his will is done upon them. Whence he exclaims: “Great are God’s works, sought out in all his wills” Psalm 111:2; cf. Psalm 110:2, Vg.]; so that in a wonderful and ineffable manner nothing is done without God’s will, not even that which is against his will. For it would not be done if he did not permit it; yet he does not unwillingly permit it, but willingly; nor would he, being good, allow evil to be done, unless being also almighty he could make good even out of evil.” Institutes, 1.18.3.


Seth McBee said...

David...great stuff...

Bob Hayton said...


I'll be glad to stick to scriptures.

First a few comments on what you've written:

"See, we both believe that man is sinful and will not seek God on his own. We both believe that man can only be saved by God and his giving of the Holy Spirit. We both believe that no man has every repented without the conviction of the Holy Spirit working in him. I believe all these are biblical points. Where the Calvinist differs is that he says we are so sinful and lost that we CAN NEVER seek God (with the Holy Spirit, mind you) without first receiving irresistible grace."

From the above quote I guess you are saying man needs God's help to respond to God's offer of salvation. Calvinists say God must do more than help, he must change the very disposition of fallen man to want to come to God in the first place. On the outset we should say that there is a mystery of how this actually happens in the real world. I like to say Calvinism explains what goes on behind the scenes. We try to be honest with all of what Scripture teaches, even when it can be challenging to understand just how it all works together.

And before I go to the Scripture, again those of us on this side of the divide have not seen you really make a Scriptural case for your position. About all we've seen has been you disputing the accepted teaching from both Calvinists and Arminians and those in between, on spiritual death. And then you have also made a point from the passages where God commands people to repent, claiming that for God to call people to repent, there must be an innate ability in man to repent. It has been shown that this is an unwarranted assumption, even on the Scriptural case of God making all kinds of other demands on us which even us saints are unable to fully obey. Just because we can't obey the first and second great commandments doesn't mean we can be let off the hook and be unresponsible for obeying them.

Now to Scripture on the total inability of fallen man to believe.

1) Rom. 8:7-8 these verses have been brought up many times, unsaved man cannot (speaks to ability) please God. (Keep in mind that Heb. 11 says faith pleases God). Since coming to God is a pleasing thing, unsaved man cannot do this, because he cannot please God.

2) This explains why the passages which speak of unsaved man's thorough wickedness matter here. As Seth has said, if coming to God through repentant faith is a good thing, man is unable to do any good things, because he is completely evil.

3) 1 Cor. 2:14 teaches that unsaved man cannot understand the things of God. They are only discerned by the Spirit of God (and again, Rom. 8:7-8 teaches that what makes someone unsaved is that they are not in the Spirit, they don't have the Spirit to make such things understandable to them).

4) John 6:44 with vs. 63-65 (being Jesus' explanation of why he said what he did in vs. 44). Here it is said that man cannot (again speaks to ability) come without the Father's drawing them, or in the words of vs. 65 without the Father granting them to come.

5) Also consider these Scriptural metaphors,

a) man is dead in sins (Eph. 2:1)
b) man is a slave to sin (John 8:34)
c) man is blinded by Satan to the light of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4-6) [notice there that just as God created light, so God must do a creative act to allow light to enter the soul of one who is blinded]
d) man is held captive by Satan at Satan's will (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

6) Consider this also: in John 10:26 Jesus said "but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock". So if someone is not of Jesus' flock, ie. they are unsaved, they do not believe. How can they then believe?

7) Also consider this: with believers, Jesus said "apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5) and it is said that God works in believers both to "will and to do" things pleasing to God. So if believers require God at work in them to will, and if believers require God so they can do anything, how much more do unbelievers require God to be at work in them to will and to do in order for them to respond to the Gospel call?

8) This is moving into the "U" area but consider 1 Pet. 2:8b-9a "They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession..." Notice the unbelievers disobeyed "as they were destined to do", and the difference between the unbelievers and those Peter is writing to is not that the recipients of Peter's letter were obedient and responded to the offer of salvation, per se, the difference is they are chosen. (See this line of reasoning in 2 Thess. 2:10-14. Also notice others who were destined to disobedience in Jude 4).

Well, there is some Scripture. I am eager to see if you will interact with the Scripture here. Hopefully you can at least see the magnitude of the Scriptural case for our position. And again as you study "U" and "I" you will see much more Scripture which fits with this understanding of "T".

God bless you brother,

Bob Hayton

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, I was hoping to get to Unconditional Election tonight, and I still may but I see there were a few more comments to answer and I don't want to ignore. Seth, I tried to leave my interpretations brief and rather general for a specific I didn't want to interpret anything in light of trying to make it work for or against calvinism, ok? And I think that, while definitely not profound or in depth, it was certainly exegesis. In fact, I don't believe I focused much, if any at all, on application. Application is deciding where and how it fits into our lives on a personal level, exegeting is merely interpreting or explaining...which is what I did. I try to avoid getting too in depth for a good reason. First, I want to let our debate develop a little more, and that will indeed answer some more questions. Secondly, I try at all cost to avoid proof texting (which I have seen to be a big problem in debating with Calvinists). I think you can see the difference in the way I debate and the way Calvinists debate. You guys (calvinists) are constantly asking me to explain, explain, explain...which isn't necessarily a problem but I've covered the same verses a few different times. Calvinists are always giving me their proof texts and saying: "See...this has to mean this" or "How would explain this..." Again, not that this practice is inherently bad, but there is obviously a deeper issue than a handful of verses. It is virtually impossible to exegete a verse without taking into account the entirety of scripture and making sure the texts harmonize. I will surely show you throughout the remainder of this debate how I feel these verses fit.

David, sorry to make you so irritated about the Calvin quotes that you had to resort growling and snorting. Did I really misunderstand? God ordained sin seems pretty clear to me. Sure, candy coat it any which way you like but that quote certainly doesn't need to come with an instructional manual. I don't think there is an interpretation of the word "ordained" that would make Calvin any more correct so I guess it is a moot point. Ordained means to some way set up...let's put it this way...if God did in fact ordain Adam's sin, then HE had more to do with than Adam did. Which is as absolutely dead wrong as anyone could possibly get. Don't worry though, I have a few more quotes from Calvin to come that I find equally devoid of truth.

Bob, I don't have too much time and you gave me quite a lot of information. I'll touch on it, but I can't write forever on this. As for Romans 8, granted unsaved man cannot please God (in respect to righteousness). I've said it a million times, I don't disagree. Real quickly, Corinthians says that we cannot understand the things of God without the Spirit. True, but interpret correctly. Saved people can gain an understanding of God as they mature and the Spirit reveals God to them. But the Spirit of God also works through his word and can prick the heart of the unbeliever...still notice its only through God (though the heart has to be "prepared soil"). But a question for you is...if we cannot understand and be saved without having the do we supposedly get saved through irresistable grace? That isn't through the Spirit either. If we have the Spirit at the moment we receive the irresistable grace, then we are saved before we can even respond to the irresistable grace. You don't have to respond if you wish to save it for that part of the debate, but think about it. Let me touch on John 6 quickly before I have to go. This is an oft misinterpreted Calvinist passage. I referred to it earlier but I will do so again. First of all, the Calvinist view of this verse completely disregards the context of John 6:41-71 as well as so many other verse that show God's desire for all people to get saved (a FEW: Matt. 11:28, 16:25, 22:9, Mark 16:15, Luke 9:23, John 3:16-17, 5:34-40, 12:47, Acts 17:30, I Tim 2:3-6, II Pet. 3:9, I John 2:1-2, I John 4:14). Now about those verses specifically in question, Calvinists will say that they say that no one comes to the father unless God sovereignly chooses some to be saved. Remember, scripture cannot contradict itself so it must harmonize with the other verses that seem very contrary to Calvinist proof texts. If you read the entire chapter of John 6, Jesus speaks of those "not believing" several times. Of course, it is the Calvinist who comes to those verses with the preconceived bias that Jesus must be saying that believing is something not everyone can do. When you read that chapter without bias, and in light of so many other scriptures speaking of God's desire for everyone to be saved, it seems like a logical conclusion that anyone reading would see that the believing in him in something they could in fact do. Jesus words in verse 64 (as well as verse 36) indicate that believing is something they were SUPPOSED to do. In the Calvinist view, God basically does the believing for them through irresistable grace. And I believe that Jesus did know who would and who wouldn't be saved...afterall he was God in the flesh. Jesus is simply endorsing that truth. Also notice that John states that Jesus knew who "would not" and who "would" betray. The Calvinist would need John to say Jesus knew who "could not" believe and who "had no choice but to" betray him. Verse 65 (contextually) means that God grants that people can come to Jesus only by believing...which fits perfectly with what Jesus said in the preceding two verses, the entire context of chapter 6, and of course the whole Bible. Calvinist need to own up more to what they believe. Remember if Jesus commands people to believe, which is something THEY CANNOT DO, because GOD hasn't GRANTED THEM salvation then God is really the betrayer of Jesus. Did Judas really have any choice but to betray since he cannot believe and because it was God who did not grant him salvation? The calvinist position is frankly so unbelievable because, like it or not, it removes all responsibility from man (though apparently not penalty). I will get into this much deeper in Unconditional Election and will further show just how utterly ridiculous it really is. Hopefully I have indulged you with enough scripture for the time being. I really need to go...sorry I spent so much time on John 6 but I tire of its misuse. Anyways, I will probably not be back on here tonight with Unconditional Election so that will come tomorrow possibly, or Thursday at latest.

God Bless

Josh said...


By requesting you to wrestle with the "proof" texts, we are asking you to engage in the system to show its appearant weakness. What you are doing is pretty much just tossing us flash cards that say "I believe this", "I believe that".

This hasnt even hit debate level yet. Its really to early to move on. We are seeing if you will engage the texts. What I see is a lot of name calling and staw man attacks.

Ill do a summery of your posts and comments to show you and ask seth to email it or post it, so you can hopefully understand my comment and not just brush it off as some outwitted crazy calvinits that is tossing proof texts at you.

Bob Hayton said...

Real quickly, Nate, let me respond. Like Josh, I'm not seeing much in the way of debating here. You aren't interacting with the texts at hand. Its easy to just shout "proof texting" but eventually you have to deal with some real exegesis.

On Rom. 8 you say it is dealing with righteousness only, so do you deny that coming to Christ and believing Him is a righteous deed?

With 1 Cor. 2 you are totally ignoring exegesis. You say:

"Real quickly, Corinthians says that we cannot understand the things of God without the Spirit. True, but interpret correctly. Saved people can gain an understanding of God as they mature and the Spirit reveals God to them. But the Spirit of God also works through his word and can prick the heart of the unbeliever...still notice its only through God (though the heart has to be "prepared soil")."

This ignores what 1 Cor 2 says. It is making a point about the natural man as opposed to the spiritual man. The spiritual man has the spirit and is taught by him, the natural man isn't and can't even understand the things of God, because they are foolishness to Him. Now the text says nothing about the Spirit being able to work through the word on the hearts of unrepentant men. That may be true, but it is not taught by the text. How in this text do we find your teaching? 2 Tim. 2:24-26 supports my assertion, as does 2 Cor. 4:4-6, that unsaved man is blinded by, and is in bondage to the devil in this matter and needs God to "grant repentance". (The "I")

You give me a question: if we cannot understand and be saved without having the do we supposedly get saved through irresistable grace? That isn't through the Spirit either. If we have the Spirit at the moment we receive the irresistable grace, then we are saved before we can even respond to the irresistable grace.

Let me answer. Irresistable grace is just that, irresistable, there is no responding that is needed. God changes your heart. God the Holy Spirit regenerates the lost sinner, the result of that new living heart is repentance and saving faith. Most Calvinists today would affirm that regeneration happens instantaneously with repentance and faith. I know we'll get to the "I" eventually, but you can feel free to read my post regeneration, reception, and faith, for more of what I believe concerning this point. To go back to the question, lets use the terminology of Rom. 8, we are no longer "in the flesh" we are now "in the spirit" and therefore we can understand the things of the Spirit. This is the whole point about the need of a new birth.

I'm still scratching my head about your treatment of John 6. Okay read it in context... assume that everyone can believe... oh and God wants all to be saved... so that means what??

Dealing with the text itself, such statements as the following fall completely short: "Verse 65 (contextually) means that God grants that people can come to Jesus only by believing...which fits perfectly with what Jesus said in the preceding two verses, the entire context of chapter 6, and of course the whole Bible." How do you get the above from this quote of Jesus: "there are some of you who do not believe...this is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."(vs. 63 and 65) ?? Again, Jesus is explaining why not everyone believe, the answer? God only grants some to believe, you can't come, you can't believe unless it has been granted by the Father. This is not a statement that God grants all the ability to believe, or that God grants that all will be saved whoever decides to believe. That is just not in the text.

I'm sorry brother, but I just don't see how you are getting this from John 6. I should stop, I understand there are many more posts to follow in this debate.

Blessings, brother,


Josh said...

Brush By Comments:
Nate: "Total Depravity also makes it impossible to follow scriptural commands. God "commands all men everywhere to repent." How can a perfectly just God lay forth such an unreasonable demand? Many Calvinists have told me that a command does not necessarily imply the ability to keep it. Flawed thinking."

Josh: This is at the heart of TD. I commend your insight to address it here. You still have not unfolded this for us. Did God command Pharaoh to let his people go and at the same time harden his heart? This is a brush by comment that is never tackled in your defense. You say it is flawed thinking, please follow through and show us instead of just telling us.

Half Picture:

Nate: "Even more condemning to total depravity is that Jesus appears to not believe it. In Mark 4:11-12 Jesus speaks in parables as a judgment against the obstinate Jews. They kept his message from being understood by them lest "they might turn and be forgiven." Had they heard the gospel preached
clearly, they might have repented. Jesus also "marveled" at the unbelief of his listeners in Mark 6:6. Had he believed in Total Depravity, this would be no marvel to the Son of God at all."

Josh: Does your view here contradict Jesus dying for the whole world? So, here we have Jesus refusing to give the light of the gospel. How does that square with non Calvinist views? Also I see an undeveloped understanding of the two natures of Jesus Christ. Why did Jesus cry over Jerusalem, I mean he has known for eternity their fate. Why did Jesus tell his mother that his time was not yet, but then made the water into wine? Jesus laid aside, or did not consider equality with God something to be held onto, so that as a man he would live among us and bring us redemption. Jesus while on earth did not the the timing of his second coming. Again, you have here a ill formated theological base to judge Calvinism by.

Faulty Context;

Nate: "I will start to conclude by looking at few scriptures. I always hear John
6:44 from Calvinist and that men are only saved when God draws them. They make a point of the Greek word meaning "dragging." This is quite contrary to Calvinist doctrine though if through the irresistible grace the sinner immediately comes willingly. Context context context. Read vs. 45. Every man that hears the teaching and learns of it, comes to God. He is "drawn"

Josh: So, Nate, the word draw is used as drag in the bible. The Arminian position is that the word here means "woo" when in fact the word is always translated as drag, draw, pull. So there is a difference between woo (resistible) and draw (irresistible). What is left out of your equation is that the changed nature of man means he wants Christ, he wants God. We are not saying God is calling some kicking and screaming to him, while refusing others that are trying to seek him. I think your charge of context here is actually failed to your charge. Do a word study on draw and its greek word. See what you come up with.

Context is word to verse, verse to passage, passage to letter (or book) and book to bible.

Personal Attack:

Nate: "Total Depravity seems to only function if man is spiritually dead from birth. That is obviously not the case. To believe so is to willingly be fooled in my opinion. The teaching on this is very clear. I often here Calvinists say that we need to take the Bible in its full context and let the bible interpret the Bible. I totally agree. Just make sure you practice this. To believe total depravity and spirutal death from birth is a clear disregard for the context of the Bible."

Josh: Now here, this is just disturbing. You mean to persuade me by saying I am willfully fooled and clearly (as in meaningfully) disregarding context? You are already willing to move on to Unconditional Election, yet you have not answered all the lobs we have tossed at you about spiritual death. All the commentators have been very clear with tons of scripture on spiritual death. I suggest taking all those passages and explain how they do not mean spiritual death. Never mind, I changed views because you called me purposefully ignorant :-) (jesting)


Nate: "It should be so easy to understand unless of course, you allow yourself to be blinded by philosophies. Remember, the Bible is not nearly as difficult as the Calvinist would have you believe. God makes it so easy a child can understand and get saved. I have seen four and five year olds saved."

Josh: Again, you got me! Now I see I am blinded by philosophies :-) I know where you are coming from. I agree with Paul as well. The problem is you also have a philosophy. So how do we know who is blind? Also, Calvinists never say you are not saved if you do not understand Calvinism, which is here implied. The bible is easy enough for a child, yet so deep we will never plumb its depths. Calvinism can be difficult to wrestle with. It is no more difficult to tackle than the Trinity or say to the unsaved man that finds the gospel itself to be unintelligible. Its more about presuppositions and dealing with conflicting views than it is about Calvinists making the bible hard to understand.

Nate: "And the ONLY book I encourage any of you to read is the Bible."

Josh: So, we do not need teachers? I know you are not saying that. However, you are ignoring a great amount of historical theology and contemporary teaching. Gifts from God for the body. Your statement is a faulty elitist view, more often espoused by KJV onlyism and close minded fundementalists that fear dissention in the ranks.

That is enough for now. My intention is not to harass you in any way. I hope to hold up a mirror for you to evaluate your commentary through. You have not tackled the issues, you have brushed by them in a hurry to teach your view. No worries, we all do it, lets just do it with patience, actual study and real humility.

Anonymous said...

Josh...dude, seriously, have you read anything and taken it to heart? I am not trying to name call or anything. I have tried to reiterate that I am not trying to be offensive while being HONEST with you guys. Read the last post again and read John 6. I feel that shows a pretty good weakness in the "system" so to speak. I try to put the disclaimer of "I believe this" on many of my statements so I don't portray to you me saying I am right and you are wrong, end of discussion (for a good example see Bob's post from a few days ago referencing Calvinism as "true christianity). I'm trying to not offend you guys while dealing with something that I strongly disagree with. I'm sorry if this debate isn't good enough for your seemingly high standards, but I promised everyone that this would move at a fairly decent pace. We all know this could go on forever, and frankly, I don't want that and neither does anyone else. And I really don't think this can hit debate level until we get more into Unconditional Election and Irresistable Grace because I really don't think we can go any farther on Total Depravity at this point. It may resurface when we hit some of these other points...especially Irresistable Grace from what I can tell. I want this to be profitable to you and to everyone but try to be more understanding. Please realize that I am dealing with several other Calvinists and have had only one other person of the same stance comment on here...and he only a few times. I'm certainly outnumbered, which is totally fine, but it leaves me with many many comments and many people who want me to answer them. I've certainly had my feet held to the fire much more so than Seth or anyone else on here. And Josh, man, I don't think your crazy, alright? At least no crazier than I am =)

But listen, to say that I haven't given my fair share of texts is totally untrue. To say that I have resorted to "flash cards of I belive this and that" and failed to "engage in the system to show its apparent weakness" is either ingnorance or just oversight. Much of my last post was spent on explaining John 6 as thoroughly as I could in a short time. I also attacked the Calvinist position on that same text several times based on what I have been told in the past and on here many times. Funny that the first response to it is not defending the Calvinist view on it but rather accusations of name calling, and failure to properly "debate." I consistenly call your sides verses "proof texts" because thats what you are giving. Have you noticed that I havent asked one person to "exegete such and such" for me. You know why? Because that won't get us anywhere. Face it, people come into these debates or whatever you want to call it with a prejudiced view of the other side (I'm not saying I am excluded from this). It would be pointless for me to continually ask you to interpret certain verses that I can see really contradict the calvinist viewpoint. It would be pointless because I know you are going to defend them and interpret them from a calvinist viewpoint. To me, its MUCH more important to look at the system and what it stands for. That is why I have, and will continue to, make a big deal abou the assumptions we can and must draw from calvinism. For instance, in my last post when I was talking about John 6, I made several references to the Calvinist view point and said what was the correct interpretation of the verses in context as well as what the calvinist would read them as. You see, I see the Calvinist doctrine as one that makes some pretty bold statements such as men cannot choose to be saved, God chooses some to salvation and others to damnation, etc. To me, those are very provocative statements and my goal is to take what the Calvinist stands for, pour it through the scriptures and see how much comes out the other side. Thats a debate. Defending what you believe and the statements you are willing to make based on it. I don't know if its true, but it seems like it is to me, that there is so much to attack with the Calvinist doctrine that when you argue with a calvinist, they try to avert your attention from dealing with what their doctrine implies and instead focus on interpreting some verses that, when they stand alone, certainly could appear very calvinistic. What is more important than trading interpretation of verses is defending the stance each of our faiths take. Thats why when I make comments like: "In the calvinist view, God creates man who cannot be saved apart from his irresistable grace, yet chooses not to grant him that grace though he is certainly able. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that God creates people who have no other hope but eternal damnation. There are people who God creates for the sole purpose of torturing in hell because they will NEVER EVER have a chance." Defend that. Thats what your faith says. (You dont actually have to defend it right now, its more rhetorical than anything else). Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying at all that the scriptures are second best. What I am saying is that obviously we are both going to have lots of verses to throw at each other. You claim many verses that say only the elect can get saved (whom God already chose), I show you several verses that say God desires that all men get saved. Seemingly where we get is nowhere because of our preconceived notions about sin, depravity and salvation. Is this making sense or I am just rambling on? Probably a little of both.

All to want a REAL debate? Then defend your faith...absolutely including the applications we can make regarding waht we know about both sets of beliefs. Defend what Calvinism STANDS FOR. Defend the provocative stance it has taken on God's role in sin, salvation and damning people to hell without any hope from before their conception. Then we will have a debate. Until then, we won't get anywhere. Trust me, this is not my first Calvinist debate. I live in a city where it is predominantly calvinist. I go to a small bible college that is very calvinist. I see them, talk to them and hang out with them all the time. I am even related to some (heck, I even married one that I converted =) ). And from this past experience, I know that you guys will not change your opinion regarding your texts. And I have studied it in depth and have come to the conclusion that calvinism is not the most biblical doctrine so I have no intention of changing. Do you see? Its almost like to get anywhere, you have to take it to the next level. You have to show what each doctrine stands for and then compare that to the Bible. You have to make some harsh sounding statements at times. You have to defend your faith rather than keep asking someone else to interpret, interpret, interpret...especially when you've basically already decided that you will not agree.

Ok..its official...I have now been declared a rambler!!! I really need to go get some sleep. Thanks again though for your comments Josh. Just remember, we may not agree but we're not enemies and I dont ever mean it to sound like that.


Josh said...

No, your stuck with me as a brother :-)

Josh said...


these are not antithetical

"You claim many verses that say only the elect can get saved (whom God already chose), I show you several verses that say God desires that all men get saved."

Anonymous said...

Josh, I lied...I just read your post so I will comment once before and then will head off for some coveted sleep. Trust me, your comments are taken to heart, I try not to pass anything off as lightly that anyone offers me as "admonition" even if I happen to disagree. Realize also, that I could claim brush by comments, half picture, superiority, etc. with many of the posts directed my way...

Anyways, let me explain a few things. I tried to declare my intentions with this at the beginning. I did not intend for this to be a full on debate, in fact, my original intention was dialogue between me and Seth based on the refutations of Dr. Goetsch's articles on Calvinism. It just ended up that we decided to post it and it has evolved into this. My original intention was a few somewhat indepth emails to explain better my position, to give a better understanding than what Dr. Goetsch did in the articles he wrote. Thats it. Maybe thats the reason you have taken some of this as "half picture" or "brush by" comments. And yes, I am ready to move on to Unconditional Election. Not because I feel overwhelmed by total depravity and I'm so scared that I dont know what else to do but run and hide, but because I simply don't want to debate forever in vain. I don't hate any of you guys at all, yet I disagree with some of your stances. Seriously though, would you ever change them? Probably not, regardless of what I showed you. So, I suppose the only way to make any "real progress" in this debate is, like I said last post, to defend what your doctrine stands for. I reiterate that the scriptures ARE the most important thing, and none of debate that. But it sounds to me like none of you are amateur calvinists, you know why believe what you believe. I know why I believe what I believe. Its by challenging THAT that we will come to see which stands and which falls, or maybe which one just seems more plausible. Does this make any sense?? You could give me a hundred verses to exegete, and I could interpret them carefully and dutifully...yet you would disagree. I could then respond with a hundred for you, and undoubtedly, I would disagree with your findings. And also, part of it is that arguing total depravity is VERY difficult without crossing into other parts, namely irresistable grace. Maybe trying to keep the two separate made it seem like "half picture." In essence, I suppose it is. I know you had a few specific questions about TD and I will try to touch on them more during irresistable grace since the two are so linked. I suppose I have made come to one realization during these past couple weeks of debating regarding calvinism. I have always attributed one of calvinism's weakpoints as its total reliance upon its other points. If you get one to fall, they all fall (especially if you get TD or IG). Yet while having a debate, I have seen the source of weakness as also a source of strength. Because of their interdependence on each other, it makes it a bit more difficult to argue them separately as we have done. Attacking it as a whole is almost too messy because their is so much there, but having each point rely on each other creates some strength in our particular format. For instance, you feel as though I have commented full enough on TD, yet going much further will undoubtedly lead to IG which is farther down the line, and so I have avoided this section of the argument. Its as if a part of each section is off limits to arguing unless you care to bring up another point...and in doing so, the "mess" starts. Does that make any sense???

And just before I end for the night, my goal was never to change you or any one else. I cannot do that. My goal is only to plant a seed of doubt in your mind regarding calvinism. This seed will do one of two things. Either you will see that you are in a doctrine that isnt wholly biblical or you will further deepen your convictions that you are right.

Peace again...

David Ponter said...

Nate: David, sorry to make you so irritated about the Calvin quotes that you had to resort growling and snorting. Did I really misunderstand? God ordained sin seems pretty clear to me. Sure, candy coat it any which way you like but that quote certainly doesn't need to come with an instructional manual. I don't think there is an interpretation of the word "ordained" that would make Calvin any more correct so I guess it is a moot point. Ordained means to some way set up...let's put it this way...if God did in fact ordain Adam's sin, then HE had more to do with than Adam did. Which is as absolutely dead wrong as anyone could possibly get. Don't worry though, I have a few more quotes from Calvin to come that I find equally devoid of truth.

David: Hey Nate, don’t worry. I cant see it going anywhere. “Candy Coat” That’s not the way to have a conversation. If I would just throw out labels regarding Arminianism, calling it open-theism or pelagianism, that would not go down well. And if I just refused to allow my opponent to define his terms as he uses them, but just decide to define his terms the way I want to caricature them, you might have a wee little problem, for sure. But that’s fine.

Take care,

Josh said...


Lets take this comment from you a bit further:

"You claim many verses that say only the elect can get saved (whom God already chose), I show you several verses that say God desires that all men get saved."

How are these antithetical?

Anonymous said...

To summarize your position as I see it to this point,considering your treatment of not just John 6 but other comments,there is a clear lack of indepth understanding of the Sovereignty of God and also Total Depravity. Again you just regurgitate the same old bromides that have been destroyed over and over again in the past 1500 years. But then you summarily dismiss the interpretations of Calvin and others,that have stood the test of time,and then deliver your own interpretation as if you have some special revealation.

A through study of Calvinism will reveal that,in fact,the verses you critize do harmonize through every book in the Holy Scripture. This is what most Calvinists have come to realize and not just because Calvin wrote it. As Spurgeon said "Calvinism is just a bad nickname for Biblical Christianity".

Seth McBee said...

Wow...I go to bed and wake up to some "fun" stuff.

First, I am going to thank Nate, once again, for putting up with all us pesky Calvinists. This has got to be hard, and I actually wish we had some Arminians or some others that believe as Nate does (as he would say and the Arminians would also say that Nate is not an Arminian,and I would agree) would join him so that he didn't have to shoulder all this on his own.

Second. Nate, I hope you read all these comments and take them to heart as I will take what you have to say to heart and test them according to the plenary, holy writ.

Third. Be nice to Nate. He is really sticking his neck out here, don't bite his head off and let's have some "fun" with the Scriptures. It was my fault for bringing this to the blog, which I did to keep us all in check with our comments and exegesis. I am glad I brought it to the blog cause it has me thinking and I hope it has Nate thinking, and everyone else for that matter.

Now, enough of the hand holding.

Nate, coupla things.

When I ask you to exegete, I want some serious depth, even though you say that, "it won't get us anywhere..." I totally disagree.

You also say that we have only used a "handful of verses." Really? Seriously? I have drawn, just myself, from the Pentetuech, Major Prophets, Psalms, Wisdom literature, Minor prophets, the Narratives, the Gospels, Paul's Letters, Peter's Sermons, and John's Revelation. How is that a handful of verses?

John 6? We'll get there...I'll leave it alone for now...even thought that is hard to leave.

I am going to do a post to hopefully help us define some terms that will make it easier to move forward.

Nate. Keep up the fight, I hope you are not discouraged.

Anonymous said...

David..sorry again if my wording offended. But for the last time...EVERYONE: I am not an Arminian!!! Feel free to label Arminians whatever you want. I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Gosh, the fact alone that I have repeated this about a hundred times shows how well people actually listen to what I say.

Josh...those verses are not antithetical. I just see them differently I suppose. I believe that God's elect is a biblical term, though I find that the people who are saved are elect. Once saved, you are God's chosen. I'll get into it more, butI am on my lunch break and am very limited for time. Hope you understand.

Bob, a few comments for you. Bob, if the calvinist understanding of the Bible is the measure of "in depth understanding" then yes, I readily admit to a lack of depth in understanding. It's funny though, my views have never yet been "refuted." I get lots of "in depth" explanation of verses from you all yet they never translate to attacks on my beliefs and their application to salvation which is really what this whole thing is about. Let me ask you a quick question regarding some past comments.

Bob said: Irresistable grace is just that, irresistable, there is no responding that is needed. God changes your heart. God the Holy Spirit regenerates the lost sinner, the result of that new living heart is repentance and saving faith. Most Calvinists today would affirm that regeneration happens instantaneously with repentance and faith. I know we'll get to the "I" eventually, but you can feel free to read my post regeneration, reception, and faith, for more of what I believe concerning this point.

Let's apply this. The philipian jailer asks "what must I do to be saved." Mind you, there is no need to respond according to you. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Wait, doesn't believing come first? Then salvation as a result of believing?? Same in John 3:16. The Calvinist must interject to the jailer and say "wait for the irresistable grace, and thou shalt be saved." If salvation happens instantenously upon the receiving of IG, then certainly there is no need to believe. Unless of course, you subscribe to the idea that believing also happens instantenously with receiving the irresistable grace. However, biblically we see over and over...believe and be saved, believe and be saved. Not be saved and believing comes with it. Its seems like contradiction. Feel free to answer. These are the important issues...taking the application of the teachings of Calvin and applying them both to real life and to the Bible. I see no way to defend "what must I DO to be saved?" "Believe and then you will be saved." If thats not responding Bob (even if you want to say its responding to irresistable grace!!) then I dont know what is.

Peace...lunch time is quickly evaporating

Seth McBee said...

I agree completely that we must "repent" or "believe." Couldn't agree with you more.

But, you are just answering what happens "how we see it." There is a difference in how God sees things, and what happens "behind closed doors" with God. We'll get to this, so I don't want to spend an incredible amount of time on this. But, to think that Christ or the Apostles would tell anyone to await regeneration is like telling some to wait until oxygen enters your body before you breathe. We can't see, touch or smell oxygen yet we know it is there so we can literally take a breath. Same with believing. We must receive the oxygen (regeneration) before we can have faith and repent.

Don't disregard something just cause you can't see it or have control over it.

Adiel said...

Isnt the jailer's question, "What must I do to be saved?" a manifestation of God's irresistible grace in action or nah?

Seth McBee said...

I would agree. Again, kind of like sense I am breathing it is a manifestation of oxygen coming in and out of my body.

Bob Hayton said...


Let me clear up some confusion. I have never posted as "Bob", only as "Bob Hayton". You will always see my ugly mug shot, when you read a post of mine.

The post about Calvinism = "True Christianity" recently was not my post, it was another poster named "bob".

Now the question you directed me has been answered a little by others already, but I'll give it a brief go. As Seth said, IG happens behind the scenes, so to speak. In Acts 16 just before the jailer scene we find Lydia, and there God informs us what went on behind the scenes, before she was even attentive to what Paul said, God had to influence her heart. In other places in Acts (13:48 I think) we find statements like this: "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed". So these are hints that something is going on behind the scenes which influences why some will believe.

No Calvinist should tell someone to wait until they feel IG happening to them before they believe. The outward gospel call is always the same "repent and believe", but just like with the Jailer and with the crowd in Acts 2, it is God who "pricks the heart" and regenerates them to enable them to seed after God and believe.

With the birth analogy that Jesus used, there is nothing that we can do to contribute to our birth. It is completely beyond us, and yet Jesus describes regeneration that way. It is something God does to us, and afterwards we give evidence that we are now alive. We don't jump through the hoops and receive the prize of regeneration, it doesn't work that way.

Again check out my post, regeneration, reception, and faith, for more.

I hope that explains how we can believe what we do on that point.

By the way, please keep us Calvinists accountable in this debate, too. Don't let me or anyone else speak down to you or treat you uncharitably. I think you are wrong, however, in assuming that discussing the passages and exegeting them won't do anything. All of us want to grapple with texts and be changed by them. That is where real Christian debating should center, IMHO.

Blessings from Christ,

Bob Hayton

Anonymous said...

Hey guys...alright here is the deal. I have already emailed Seth earlier today to inform him of my decision to drop out of this debate. I know it may come as a disappointment to some (very much so to me) but please hear me out. I stated a few days ago that this was originally intended to be only a few emails back and forth between Seth and I discussing Calvinism and my beliefs, not for the intent of changing our views necessarily (though that wasnt out of the question) but more as clarification because Seth seemed like he thought Dr. Goetsch painted Calvinists all wrong and it appeared to me that Seth and many others on here painted fundamentalists (in no way Arminian) wrong. Thats really what has evolved into this large scale debate...which is ok. The problem is, I have nowhere near the time to put into this what I need to, and seemingly every night I am spending hours reading posts and responding, as well as studying and its kinda wearing me out. I have certainly had much more to answer than Seth. This is not only difficult to do because of a hectic schedule outside of this debate, but it has also led to very little time to spend with my family just about every night. I can't do that anymore, it just doesnt seem right.

I am truly sorry for those who are disappointed and wanted to see this debate continue. Trust me, I love debating and arguing, and I didn't even get to my good points yet!! =) But alas, my set up with Seth was to probably go a week or two...and it has already been almost two weeks and we are still discussing total depravity. Hopefully you guys understand.

Let me also add that it has become increasingly clear that no one is going to change their position. You all seem pretty entrenched in Calvinism and I couldn't believe more in my beliefs. The biggest problem I have ever had with any Calvinist is when I've been told that evangelism is not really necessary. It was nice to hear from everyone on here that evangelism is important to them. To me, that is without a doubt the biggest issue. Also, I'm sorry for any comments that were deemed offensive...they were not meant to be so. With that, I bid you all farewell. I thanked Seth for his participation and I will thank you all too for your participation and for caring about God's word and the things of God as much as I do. I consider you all brothers in Christ, no matter what our disagreement on these issues. And I do sincerely feel bad for backing out, as I dont consider myself a quitter. But I just figured better early on than in the middle when this already commanding an overwhelming amount of my time, more than I really can give.

Thanks guys, hopefully you all understand. Seth, thanks for opening your blog to those who dont believe like you do.

God Bless


(p.s. Bob Hayton, dude, sorry about misunderstanding who you were. I never realized there were two Bob's until you mentioned it.)

Bob Hayton said...

That's okay, Nate. Us Bobs come a dime a dozen these days...

Bob Hayton said...

Sorry, too you're dropping out. Maybe we all should have let off more in the comments. But glad for the kind words, and I likewise view you a friend and brother in Christ.

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