Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Misunderstanding or Misrepresentation

I occasionally engage on social media in discussion related to biblical topics. In some cases my remarks never see the light of day, or are removed shortly after I post them. As a result I have adopted the habit of typing and saving my remarks on my computer before posting them. I have already posted some of those conversations and in the coming weeks will be posting more of them.

This post contains 2 of those conversations. The first is from a post in August, 2009, by Dave Noffsinger titled Calvinism Illustrated at his Kansas Preacher blog.

Here is the text of my comments, which not surprisingly do not appear on Noffsinger's blog.

Your illustration fails at this point:

3. As a matter of fact, I even decided to see the eldest (who has done nothing to me) suffer eternal punishment...

The truth is that all men have NOT "done nothing." We have freely and willfully turned our backs on God, rejected Him, and hated Him.

We should be amazed that He has offered mercy and grace to any of His enemies, when He was in no way obligated to do so.

It appears from this post that you have not read Calvinistic writers. Most of your arguments are not arguments against what Calvinism actually affirms, but against misrepresentations of that which Calvinism affirms.

Read some Piper, Sproul, White, MacArthur, Edwards, Boettner, and the Canons of Dordt. Then critique that which Calvinism actually affirms, rather than a mischaracterization of it.

(posted August 13, 2009 10:52 AM)

The second is from a post in April 2014, by Chris Noland at his Pastor Chris Noland blog.

Don't bother looking for this post as you'll get an "Oops! That page can’t be found" message. It appears to have been removed sometime after I commented and replaced by this post.

Here is the text of my comments:
"I may agree with some minor tenants of Calvinism, but I am not a Calvinist. I may agree with some minor tenants of Armeninianism, but I am not Armeninian."

I once talked with a gentleman who was well informed about a number of disciplines and I was able to learn things I did not know about those disciplines. However, when he began to talk about the Bible, he had Moses building the Ark to save his wife, his sons, and their wives. It was at that point that I began to wonder if he wasn't as well informed about the other disciplines he seemed so knowledgeable about!

I had a sense of deja vu reading your post and wonder if you are also not as knowledgeable about this topic as you might think. ArmEnians are from the country that touches the northern border of Iran. ArmInians are those who are named for Jacob Arminius, a Dutch theologian (nor are there as many N's and I's in the names).

Here are some of the other errors in your post:

You note that "we are to believe the scriptures for what they say", yet you will not find any affirmation in the scriptures of your notion that God gives to all the unregenerate "the ability to choose to believe on Him." You will actually find the opposite of that in Romans 8:5-8

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

Notice that the carnal mind CANNOT be subject to the law of God and those in the flesh CANNOT please God. That is a word that indicates lack of ability.

Another error is that you believe that Calvinists affirm that God will turn away some who desperately want to be saved and will save some who have no desire to be saved. Clearly you have not read any anything written by Calvinists!

In John 6, Jesus states that "all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out (v.37), and continues by saying that "no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (v.44).

The Father here gives individuals to the Son, those individuals come to the Son, and the Son will not cast them out. This chapter is one of the strongest in affirming the Father's electing choice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

2016 Election

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook that was critical of the Republican candidate for President in the upcoming American election. I responded with the following:

Brian - Not too many people I know that are supporting Trump, but not going to vote for Clinton. Is there a 'Neither' option on the ballot.

– – – – – – – – – –

Others joined the conversation and here are some of their comments, along with a further comment of my own. To protect their identities, I have removed anything in their posts that would identify them, and have edited their comments for content.

– – – – – – – – – –

Bob - All Americans need to understand that they are into a political state of civil war. But it's not just a case of Democrats vs Republicans or Hillary vs Trump. To avoid the rhetoric and state it simply, it's battle of sanity vs insanity. And, in this battle, the only arms available are votes. So, they must go out and vote for what they stand for, or, put another way, send a message to the world that America will NOT have a Trump for President.

– – – – – – – – – –

Joe - Isn't the insanity in this case the empowering of a clear criminal?

Thus far you know Trump is NOT a politician, but is relatively successful at producing something of value to society. Until 8 yrs ago he voted & funded Democrats - so he IS a NY Democrat at his core. Because of his choice, the press is now against him and their natural hate for all things not labeled with a D makes them particularly vicious.

Hillary in [sic] the other hand has been horrid... [and] she look[ed] us all in the eyes and lie[d] on [matters that] she clearly does not need to lie about...

So if we have to get a NY Democrat, wouldn't a financially and ethically successful one make more sense?

– – – – – – – – – –

Bob - I refuse to be an ostrich. Donald Trump is the worst candidate for president in the history of the USA. I don't care if he is a washed over Democrat or a bigoted Republican.

– – – – – – – – – –

Joe - I will not march in line with "lemmings" while telling others they have their heads in the sand...

I will abstain the vote because [the candidates] are both liberals.

– – – – – – – – – –

Brian - I have lived in the US since 1978, when my parents and all but 1 sibling acquired our green cards. Since I am not yet a citizen, I have not had the opportunity to vote in any political election in that time. If, however, I had been a citizen, I would have voted for the Republican candidate in every previous election.

The reason for my voting in that way has to do with the platforms of both parties.

Democratic Platform

Republican Platform

The Democratic platform supports the murder of unborn children via abortion, which I hold to be reprehensible - a mother's womb should be the safest place for a child.
Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice (p.37)

We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion...

We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion...
The Republican platform supports the sanctity of human life.
The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life (p.13)

...we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

We are proud to be the party that protects human life and offers real solutions for women.
This single issue is enough reason for me never to vote for the Democratic candidate for President. My opposition to abortion is not recent, but with the birth of my first grandchild a month ago, the issue is more real to me now than ever. I cannot imagine her not having been brought into the world.

It is of great concern to me that many who profess to be Christians are willing to support the Democratic candidate, and I wonder if they are ignorant of the party's platform, or if other issues take precedence over human life.

But the current election season presents me with a quandary. (Remember that I don't have a vote.) I could not in good conscience vote for Clinton, even if I thought she would make a good President (and I don't). I would also have a difficult time voting for Trump because his position on abortion is unclear. One would hope that a candidate would heartily affirm his own party's platform, but Trump may or may not. What is strange is that I find myself in agreement with those who are opposed to Trump, but not for the same reasons. There is strong disagreement among my friends who consistently have voted for the Republican candidate. None of them are willing to vote for Clinton, and many of them are unwilling to vote for Trump. Others intend to vote for Trump, not because they believe that he will make a good President (in fact the opposite), but as a vote against Clinton. This is a strange election when voters are determining their preference by who they are against rather than who they are for.

In the midst of this confusion, there is comfort from the Scriptures. In Daniel 2, we have the record of God revealing Nebuchadnezzar's dream to Daniel, after the king had determined to execute all of the wise men in the kingdom because of their inability to tell him his dream.

Daniel 2:19-23
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.” (ESV)

Our Sovereign God removes kings and sets up kings, and the next President will be no exception, even though neither of the candidates is worthy of such high office.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Solus Christus

A friend of mine (we'll call him Sam) posted the following to Facebook. Bob and Joe (not their real names) joined the conversation, centered around whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. I entered the discussion, which went back and forth between Bob and myself. To protect their identities, I have removed anything in their posts that would identify them.

– – – – – – – – – –

Sam - I grew up in the 70s which means I got to watch the whole careers of Bird, Magic, Jordan, Ripken, Payton, etc. In the boxing world it was a time like no other. Frazier, Foreman, Norton, Quarry, Shavers, and of course, Muhammad Ali. He was absolutely amazing!

Ali boasted and truly believed he was the greatest. History has, with little room for doubt, revealed this to be the truth. Many years ago, Ali made a decision to commit his life to the Muslim faith. "There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." Last night, Muhammad Ali found out if he made the right decision.

Bob - You know, that's always been a confusing point for me. The God that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believe in is the same God in the Old Testament. We just differ when it comes to Jesus, Muhammad, and messiah yet to come. Yet, in this world, we treat each other with such hate and venomous vile towards each other, spewing forth so much violence. If we all believe the same God and pray to the same God, why hasn't God just stopped this confusion and hate? We all pray to him, he hears all of us, so why let all his children fight and kill each other in his name and glory? That's like the president letting the different military branches fight and kill each other to see which branch is the best. That wouldn't happen because we all are Americans and the president (no matter which president) would order the branches in a clear and precise way to stop fighting and focus on enemies abroad. And the branches would all listen to him because he is the one they are all following. So why isn't that happening with God? Does he want us to fight and kill each other? This fighting has been going on for at least a thousand years.

I'm ranting, but you hit a nerve when you said that Ali will find out if he made the right decision by picking Allah. Allah is the same God we as Christians worship. Allah means God in Arabic. If Ali picked the wrong God, then we as Christians have too.

And I know that we Christians pick Jesus and Muslims pick Muhammad, but if Jesus and God are one and the same person, then Muslims pick Jesus too, they just don't realize it. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. That who so ever believes in him, shall not parish, but have ever lasting life.

Well, if you believe in God, and God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, then you believe in Jesus as well. Thus all Muslims and Jews also would go to heaven when they die.

Sam - A true believer in Jesus Christ must be a believer in ONLY Jesus Christ. He claimed that He was the only way, the truth, and the life, and that NO ONE could come to God without Him. If this is not true,then Jesus is either mentally disturbed and deluded or He is flat out lying, either of which would disqualify Him as a Savior. If He is speaking the truth then He cannot be simply one of the ways.

In a search for truth, if you start with a flawed premise you will eventually end up with a wrong conclusion. Jehovah God of the Bible and Allah are absolutely NOT the same. I will not debate this on Facebook but I challenge you to do diligent research on this. It won't take you long to see the difference.

Bob - What I am questioning is if we as Christians/Jews and if Muslims can stop hating each other based on religion bc technically we all worship the same God. I'm trying to make sense of a thousand year old war and finding common ground for more peace and less death and violence. But the more we make differences that separate us with something as important as who we worship, the harder it would be to ever find common ground. We will never find peace and will continue to fight and kill each other over something as silly as religion.

Joe - My understanding is that Ali accepted Christ into his heart as his savior in his early years. If that is true, I believe he's in pretty good shape right now. Just my opinion

Brian - The Bible never references the notion of "accepting Jesus into one's heart." It insists that repentance is necessary for the forgiveness of sins:

Luke 24:45-47 - Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

In Acts 17 Paul is preaching to the philosophers in Athens and here is how he ends his sermon (v.31-32) "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Nothing in either of these passages about "accepting Jesus into one's heart," but a clear emphasis on repentance.

Bob - I could have sworn it was all about just believing in Jesus. Say it with me, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that who so ever believes in him shall not perish, but have ever lasting life." Could you hear yourself saying it in your kid voice? So if Ali believed in Jesus at some point in his life, then he's good. I'm sure he asked to be forgiven of his sins at some point, but it's not a requirement for heaven.

Brian - You show a lack of understanding the Gospel when you insist that forgiveness of sins is not a requirement for heaven.

Bob - Look, I'm not saying as sinners we shouldn't repent and ask for forgiveness for our wrong doings. What I'm say is if a man on his dying breath proclaimed Jesus as his lord and savior and then died, without asking for forgiveness of his sins, he would still be in heaven.

Brian - No, that man would not. The Bible is clear that one must first recognize that they are a sinner and that Christ is the only Savior of sinners. That leads to repentance and faith. A man cannot proclaim Jesus as Lord without the above understanding.

Bob - Well then sir, this is where we were taught differently. I go off of John 3:16 as do a majority of other Christians. God seemed very clear in the bible verse about simply believing in Jesus as lord and savior to get to heaven. My church even reinforced that idea.

But if you believe differently, then that's up to you and I'll pray for you. God bless.

For more articles on the subject of Solus Christus see Monergism

All scripture quotations are English Standard Version
unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Update - April 20, 2106

A few days ago I came upon an article at the website for Open Doors titled Muslims Turn to Christ in Unprecedented Numbers. It was posted on February 10, 2016 and advances the idea, that Muslims are embracing Christianity as a result of visions of seeing and speaking to someone they identify as Jesus.

I posted a comment and received feedback from 2 other posters - Walter and Carla. By the time I was able to respond, only Walter's post is still showing, so am not sure what happened to Carla's. However, I did reply to both of them, quoting the relevant portion of Carla's post.

Download a free PDF of the original article posted March 19, 2014.

I began reading Tom Doyle's Dreams and Visions a few weeks ago. and am writing this article after reading the first chapter. I assume that a writer (any writer) is going to establish in his first chapter the direction he intends to go in the rest of the book. Upon completion of this article, I intend to finish reading the book and read a similar book, Which None Can Shut, by Reema Goode.

The question at the heart of the book is whether or not God is presenting Himself to Muslims in dreams that ultimately lead to their being evangelized and becoming disciples of Christ. The first chapter does not encourage me to believe that God is doing such.

Before I briefly examine the story told in that first chapter, it is necessary to establish what the true Gospel is. Not all that passes for the Gospel is the true biblical Gospel. In two separate passages in the writings of Paul he speaks of another Jesus and a different Gospel.

2 Corinthians 11:4

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it! [emphaisis mine]

Galatians 1:6-9

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. [emphaisis mine]

Since there is other Jesus and a different gospel, it is incumbent upon believers to make sure that we proclaim the true gospel. It is easy for believers to recognize the false religions that reject the Bible completely. In contrast, it is more difficult to recognize different gospels that contain a substantial amount of truth. In other words, religions that are wholly untrue are fairly easy to identify, but gospels that are NOT wholly untrue, but which contain significant truth, are much harder to detect. It's not so much what the false gospels include as it is what is excluded that shows them to be false. A false gospel will focus on a portion of the gospel, while ignoring the foundation of the gospel.

The true gospel focuses on man's greatest need-that of a Savior-and is a gospel that requires repentance and faith. Any gospel that leaves out repentance and faith is a false gospel. Sadly, in many otherwise good churches, the message of repentance and faith is passed over in preaching, thus presenting a partial gospel that is missing the foundation. I don't believe an individual can be truly born again if all they have heard and affirmed is a partial Gospel.

John MacArthur, in The Gospel According to Jesus, writes:

Any message that fails to define and confront the severity of personal sin is a deficient gospel. [p.67]

NOTE: page numbers are from the 1994 edition.

He goes on to add:

This is the theme of the gospel according to Jesus. He came to call sinners to repentance. The corollary is that until people have been brought to see that they are sinners, until they realize their thirst, until they feel the weight of sin and long to be rid of it, the Lord will not give them salvation. [p.72]

Here are some passages that speak to the necessity of repentance:

1 Kings 8:46-51

When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, 'We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness'; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them (for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace),

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that John the Baptist preached a message of repentance.

Matthew 3:2

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 1:4-6

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Luke 3:3

And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The Gospels also record that Jesus himself preached repentance.

Matthew 4:17

Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mark 1:14-15

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Luke 5:32

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Luke ends his Gospel by stating that "repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).

In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter ends his message with a call to repentance:

Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul, preaching to the philosophers in Athens, also ends his sermon with a call to repentance:

Acts 17:30

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

MacArthur notes that "repentance has always been the foundation of the New Testament call to salvation. [p.183]"

One of the remarkable features of the Gospel that commands repentance is that God provides both repentance and faith as gifts which then actuate in belief.

In Acts 11, when Peter explains to the "apostles and brethren who were in Judea" that "Gentiles had also received the word of God," they respond by glorifying God because he "has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18).

In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, we again read about God granting repentance.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Paul notes that "not all have faith," and in 2 Peter 1:1, Peter addresses his letter to "those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ."

The true Gospel focuses on mankind's need of a Savior and shows that God provides the necessary repentance and faith that obtains salvation. A gospel that ignores repentance is a different Gospel.

In Doyle's book we learn that Noor's husband has taken a fourth wife, who is much younger and more beautiful. Dream Jesus walks beside her along a lake and professes a great love for her, leaving her with a feeling of great peace. He instructs her to find Kamal, who will answer her questions. The following day she finds him in the market and shares the dream with him and they converse for some period of time.

Dream Jesus is presented as a lover not a Savior, and yet her greatest need (like all mankind) is for a Savior. From her perspective, Noor's greatest need is for someone to love her as her husband used to, and Dream Jesus is just that person. It's also interesting to note that she has peace even before she becomes a believer. When she meets Kamal he answers her questions and asks her if she is willing to be persecuted and to die for Dream Jesus. What is glaringly missing from the story is any discussion of her need to repent. Neither Dream Jesus nor Kamal says anything to her about her sin and the necessity of repentance. There's talk about the failure of religion, her giving herself to Jesus, persecution that probably will follow, but nothing about her sin and the necessity of repentance. This Dream Jesus is very different from the Jesus who meets a Samaritan woman at the well, recorded in John 4.

We noted 2 Corinthians 11:4 above, and further in that chapter we're told that Satan disguises "himself as an angel of light" (v.14). Based on Doyle's first chapter, I believe that Dream Jesus is not the real Jesus, but is in fact an angel of light.

Dennis McBride wrote a lengthy article on the subject for the monthly publication Think on These Things. It was published in two parts in 2013. The following is from Part 1:

What Isa Doesn't Say: I'm most struck by what Isa doesn't say in the accounts I've read. Although the encounters are said to prepare the dreamers for the gospel, there is little or no mention of sin, repentance, confession, righteousness, or forgiveness; and no presentation of God's holiness or justice. Simply put, the need for salvation isn't clarified (or in some cases even mentioned), yet that was at the heart of Christ's communication with unbelievers when He was on earth. But Isa's "gospel" is minimalistic and void of any clear and concise call to repentance. Gospel clarity and precision would be especially important for those Muslims who don't have a biblical background to draw from and who would therefore need to understand what God requires of them.

Does Isa Pass the Test? Jesus used a variety of approaches when speaking with unbelievers, depending on the individual or group (e.g., Nicodemus, Rich Young Ruler, Woman at the Well), but typically He identified who He was, confronted their sin, called them to repentance, called them to believe in Him, cautioned them to count the cost of discipleship, and then to take up their crosses daily and follow Him. He didn't state all those elements in every case, but collectively they constituted the thrust of His message.

By way of contrast, Isa typically identifies who he is (or the dreamer instinctively knows who he is), and tells the dreamer he loves him and wants him (the dreamer) to follow him (Isa). Sometimes the dreamer is overwhelmed with a sense of love and peace just by being in Isa's presence (which was never the case with unbelievers in the presence of Jesus). So the message that emerges is one of believing in Isa and following him apparently apart from the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

The full text of McBride's two-part article can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2

Here are more resources on the subject:

Muslim Dreams and Visions of Jesus by Fred Butler

Thoughts About Muslims Seeing Jesus also by Fred Butler

Don't You Believe It by Richard Fisher

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Travel Tweets e-book

This is my first e-book, and contains my favorites of the more than 300 tweets from my Shuttle_Van_Man (SVMan) account. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

You can download the book by clicking this link and choosing either the:



PDF file

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Regeneration Precedes Faith Redux

Four years ago I posted an article titled
Regeneration Precedes Faith.
This is a follow-up to that article.

The Calvinist statement that regeneration precedes faith tends to confuse folks, as many view regeneration and salvation as synonymous. Calvinism affirms that regeneration IS a new birth, but IS NOT completed salvation.

One writer shows his confusion by stating:
We must remember here that when [Calvinism] talks about regeneration, it is not talking about anything less than THE new birth. In [Calvinism], "regeneration" is not merely God drawing people to Christ - so that they can believe and then, at that point, be saved. No. In [Calvinism], regeneration is completed salvation. So when [Calvinism] says that regeneration precedes faith, it means salvation precedes faith. It means the new birth precedes faith.

While agreeing with him that regeneration is the new birth, or, more technically, the restoration of spiritual life lost in Adam, Calvinists would disagree that salvation precedes faith.

Here is the difference, as I understand it, between the synergistic and monergistic views:

Synergism posits that faith—sourced in man and exercised in belief—causes salvation. Some insist that repentance is required, while others insist that it is not.

Monergism posits that repentance and faith are gifts given by God—actuating in belief—causing salvation.

In Acts 11, Peter explains to the "apostles and brethren who were in Judea" that "Gentiles had also received the word of God." Their response was to glorify God because he "has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18).

In 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Paul says that "not all have faith."

In 2 Peter 1:1, he addresses his letter to "those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ."

These verses establish that repentance and faith are gifts, and they are not given to every individual. They are received prior to actuation and thus are given at regeneration. God gives these gifts solely to the elect, at the time of his choosing, and they always actuate in belief.

Looking at the resurrection of Lazarus, we can see parallels in his physical resurrection and spiritual resurrection.


Life is restored. The word of God is spoken to him—"Lazarus, come forth" (v.43)—and the command not only restores life to him, but also reverses the decomposition and removes the sickness that caused his death.


Romans 10:14-15: the Word must be heard, as it is the means the Holy Spirit uses to regenerate the elect.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!"


Lazarus exits the tomb; being restored to life actuates in him leaving the tomb. In one sense, the command was irresistible; Lazarus had no say in his being brought back to life and could not disobey the "come forth" command. He wasn't given life so that he could decide whether or not he wanted to stay in the tomb. In another sense, his strongest desire, once life was restored, was to leave the tomb. There was a perfect coordination of the command and his desire. Notice also that Jesus did not go into the tomb to bring him out; leaving was something Lazarus did on his own, because he was restored to life.


Once regenerated (spiritual life restored) the gifts actuate in belief. Now that the elect has been brought back to spiritual life (lost in Adam), he believes. Regeneration unstops his ears, removes the blindness from his eyes, replaces his stony heart with a fleshly heart, and enables him to believe. Life is not restored so that man can decide whether or not he wants to actuate the gifts. He acts on his strongest desire now that life is restored.

In both cases regeneration necessarily precedes activity. In other words, those dead, whether physically or spiritually, are inactive. They must have life restored prior to any action on their part.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Online Theological Discussion

UPDATE - July 7, 2014
My interlocutor in the following discussion
insists that Calvinists must necessarily affirm
that God is the author of sin.
Here is a post by Colin Maxwell titled
Does Calvinism believe or teach that God is the Author of Man's Sin?
that clearly shows the opposite.

Last year I engaged in a discussion with another member, in the private messaging section of an internet forum. Here is the entirety of that discussion except for the first post from each of us, and selected portions from his subsequent posts. The sole purpose of the redactions is to hide the identity of the other member.

My text will appear non-italicized, while his will appear in blue italics.

– – – –

Thu, July 11: In [a thread on the forum] I refuted your statement about Hyper-Calvinists and prayer. I noticed you dropped the HYPER label in your article. Clearly you refuse to be corrected concerning your error.

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Fri, July 12: Your primary argument against synergists is a strawman at best. Just because a person asks God to save someone, doesn't mean we are telling God to save them against their will. God can cause circumstances (as He did with Paul) that can (not WILL) make it hard (not impossible) to "kick against the pricks", but I, nor any logical Non Calvinist Baptist pray with the idea of God imposing an irresistible salvation upon the subject of our prayers.

However, if you a monergist, then you don't believe that a person's prayer would lead to anyone's salvation because the elect are already predetermined. Thus that would make you a hypocrite for accusing a synergist of something that you don't believer yourself.

And it is not a "Hyper" Calvinist that believes this. The Westminster Confession clearly states that God from eternity determined all things WHATSOEVER comes to pass. Knowing that this deterministic statement would lead to the obvious result of God being the author of sin, they included a pre-emptive clause "so as that He is not the author of sin". Well, yes, that does make Him the author of sin. Only an honest Calvinist like A.W. Pink was bold enough to admit it, and bold enough to admit that God doesn't love everybody.

Nevertheless, if God determines all things whatsoever comes to pass, then there is no need to pray because it's going to happen whether you pray for something or not. The Calvinist by praying for anything is asking God to alter the course of predetermined events which is in conflict with Calvinist theology.

And no, I will not be "corrected" because I spent far too much time reading and memorizing the Bible then studying man-made creeds, catechisms, confessions, and Calvin the baby sprinkling, amillennial, murdering Augustinian.

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Fri, July 12: Part 2

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. Rom 10:1

What happened to Israel after Paul prayed that? Paul wrote them off in Acts 28, and TItus wiped out Jerusalem, and for 2000 years Israel has been under blindness (Rom 11:25-26).

Now if Paul KNEW that Israel was elected to be saved according the Calvinist view, then why would Paul make this prayer?

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Fri, July 12: You clearly do not see the difference between the END God has purposed and the MEANS to that end. The Scripture commands believers to make disciples, so Calvinists obey the command as no one can believe without hearing, they cannot hear without a preacher, and they cannot preach unless they are sent (Rom. 10:14-15).

What I notice missing from your writing is any attempt to comprehend that which Calvinists actually affirm. You raise arguments that have been responded to by numerous people over the years, information that is readily available online. It appears that you would rather misrepresent your brothers in Christ than make the attempt to understand the actual views.

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Fri, July 12:

Psalm 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.

Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

It's not very bold to agree with the text of Scripture that clearly shows that God doesn't love everybody. He in fact hates a few people.

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Fri, July 12: I was a Calvinist in the Presbyterian church after I left Judaism long before I became a Baptist 20 years ago. I understand Calvinism all the the Confessions quite well.

The typical Calvinist response is "you don't understand Calvinism". As a Jew, I had to memorize Genesis through Deuteronomy by the time I was 13. When I joined the Presbyterian church I memorized the Westminster Confession of 1646, and 1689, the Helvitic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. I've read Augustine's City of God several times, Calvin's Institutes (I have them in 3 volumes), and several books by John Gill, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd Jones, BB Warfield, JI Packer, Hodges, Mohler, Sproul, Piper, MacArthur, Carey, et al. My college textbook for Systematic Theology was by a Calvinist (Wayne Grudem) and all of the books for my masters in counseling were Calvinist authors (Jay Adams).

So yeah, I have quite an extensive history in "understanding" Calvinism. The reason that I give the answers that I do is BECAUSE I HAVE studied all of the other sources. I choose to believe the Bible, not how some committee that met at a synod told me I should believe it based on the Augustinian views of election and predestination which is the basis of Calvinist theology. Augustine derived his beliefs from Manicheaism a Gnostic and Buddhist system of beliefs. Not to mention the involvement that the Freemasons had in Calvinism. Study the history of James Anderson and the Apartheid imposed on Afrikans by the Dutch Reformed Church (whose logo was the Queen of Heaven). and how Freemason Calvinist churches were established in Afrika to exploit slaves (Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were both slave owners).

I am an independent fundamental Baptist and want no part of ANYTHING that smells like Rome.

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Sat, July 13: So with all your reading you SHOULD know the difference between means and ends. The only option left is that you feel it's ok then to MISREPRESENT your brothers in Christ. With your knowledge you should be able to refute what Calvinist's actually believe and provide exegesis of the relevant passages to show the error. Where is that form of refutation?

I am not as well read as you, but currently am halfway through Pink's Sovereignty of God. I'm sure you will appreciate my unwillingness to accept your statement that Pink "was bold enough to admit it" (the it being that God is the author of sin) without you providing the source. From our interaction here I would not be surprised to find that any such statement (if he in fact made it) was taken out of context by you.

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Sat, July 13: From Pink's Sovereignty of God. I'm assuming you have read chapter 1.

"God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. Ah! that is a hard saying, who then can receive it? It is written, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). When we say that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love, we mean that He loves whom He chooses. God does not love everybody;[2] if He did, He would love the Devil. Why does not God love the Devil? Because there is nothing in him to love; because there is nothing in him to attract the heart of God. Nor is there anything to attract God’s love in any of the fallen sons of Adam, for all of them are, by nature, "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). If then there is nothing in any member of the human race to attract God’s love, and if, notwithstanding, He does love some, then it necessarily follows that the cause of His love must be found in Himself, which is only another way of saying that the exercise of God’s love towards the fallen sons of men is according to His own good pleasure."

Chapter 11,

"Can God "love" the one on whom His "wrath" abides? Again; is it not evident that the words "The love of God which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:39) mark a limitation, both in the sphere and objects of His love? Again; is it not plain from the words "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13) that God does not love everybody?"

Like I said, Pink was one of the few honest Calvinists that had the guts to be honest with the implications of his theology.

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Sat, July 13: So where is the quote from Pink that says "God is the author of sin"?

Feel free to stop using the phrase "few honest Calvinists" implying that most of us are only intent on deceiving people into embracing Calvinism. As a self-professed former Calvinist you know that to be untrue.

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Sat, July 13: I'll make this really simple. Where does sin come from? Calvinists will admit that it comes from man's will. But Calvinism holds that compatibilist freedom determines the persons nature. Thefore a person can only act out of that nature which he has been programmed with. If man does not have the liberty to choose between decisions that are not determined by any external factors, then they must be internal. If they are internal then God is the author of that persons will (which Calvinism admits). That only delays the issue one more step but the implication is still the same. If man is determined to do sin of which he has no choice, then it is still the programmers fault because ultimately, it is the programmer that determined that he sin which still makes God the author of sin.

If man does not have free libertian will, then sin could not have originated with any choice that man made because he was determined to make that choice.

You can not hold that God determines ALL THINGS whatsoever comes to pass, and at the same time exclude sin from the equation. In Calvinist theology, God is ultimately the author of sin.

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Sun, July 14:

Well, yes, that does make Him the author of sin. Only an honest Calvinist like A.W. Pink was bold enough to admit it, and bold enough to admit that God doesn't love everybody.

This is the 3rd time now that I have asked you to provide the source in Pink's writing where (according to you) he admitted that God is the author of sin. Apparently you cannot provide that source!

You claim to have been "a Calvinist in the Presbyterian church" and to have widely read Calvinist writers and thus to "have quite an extensive history in "understanding" Calvinism.

In this correspondence you have shown that you have no interest in understanding what your brothers in Christ actually affirm, and are intent on purposeful misrepresentation. You join the vast numbers of men who, because they cannot refute actual Calvinism, are forced to resort to misrepresentation, in an attempt to discredit that view.

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Sun, August 11: I am close to the end of Pink's Sovereignty of God. In Chapter 8 (page 158 of the edition I am reading) he writes:

Let it be emphatically said that God does not produce the sinful dispositions of any of His creatures, though He does restrain and direct them to the accomplishing of His own purposes. Hence He is neither the Author nor the Approver of sin."[emphasis mine]

A clear refutation of your statement above.

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Sun, August 11: What you have there is merely a preemptive denial that gives Calvinism plausible deniability in the even that someone accuses Calvinism of holding that God is the author of sin. Just because he denies it's implications, does not mean he can explain why the denial is legitimate. If God determines ALL THINGS, then how is He NOT the author of sin? Is sin not a thing? Does sin have some kind of existence that we do not know about? Why then do we call sin sin if sin is not knowable? If, however, sin IS knowable, and from the Bible definitions of it, it most certainly is, then sin exists. If sin exists, then it must logically be included in all things. Common sense says that if God determines ALL things, then that includes sin.

You can not walk away from the implication just because someone offers a summary denial of it. How many times has a police detective heard "he could not have possibly killed that person, he's just not capable. He's the most generous and kind person I've ever met and not a violent bone in his body", only to later find out that the accused actually IS guilty. Just because someone makes a blanket denial does not change the facts. Simply stating a blanket denial only absolves God of being the author of sin in theory, it doesn't offer any explanation as to how or WHY He is NOT the author of sin if He indeed determines ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER come to pass.

The ONLY explanation that does not ascribe sin to God is that man has libertarian free will and chooses to sin, and that man's choice was not caused by any other influences or compulsion than the man's own decision to sin. Calvinism merely delays that obvious implication by stating that mans will is acted out by the nature that he has been given, and he therefore can not act otherwise, even though he could if he wanted to, but he doesn't want to because it is not in his nature to want to, and thus he does not have the ability to choose good or do good. But that still does not resolve the problem. If man has the total inability to act other than the nature that God gave him, then ultimately man can not be held accountable for his inability to act otherwise, and if he is acting in a way of which he is incapable of acting otherwise, then God is still the author of his sin because He created a will in the 'non elect' that can not act other than how it was programmed to act, and if man is only acting out of that which he was programmed, then man can not be the author of his own sin because he is not sinning because he choose to sin, but because someone gave him a will that prevents him from doing otherwise. Implication: God is the author of sin and evil. There is no way to get around that implication.

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Mon, August 12: You made a false claim. I have refuted your claim.

Now you insist that Calvinism MUST affirm something which is completely contrary to Scripture - that God is the Author of sin. The Bible is clear that man is responsible for his own sin and every Calvinist will affirm that.

In Peter's sermon recorded in Acts 2:22-24 you have 2 things that are clear: the 'men of Israel' with 'lawless hands" crucified Jesus, who at the same time was "delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God."

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. [NKJV]

Calvinists affirm that man is solely responsible for his sin and thus his condemnation is just, in keeping with the text of Scripture.

In that same chapter of Pink's work he writes:

Should someone respond, Then is God the Author of Sin? We would have to ask, in turn, What is meant by "Author"? Plainly it was God's will that sin should enter this world otherwise it would not have entered, for nothing happens save as God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a bare permission for God only permits that which He has purposed.

God clearly has a purpose in permitting sin to exist, but such purpose cannot make God the author of sin. If you deny that purpose you end up with sin existing without purpose and God having no control over the world he created.

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Sun, August 11: Can not you see the contradictory logic of Pink's statement? If God willed sin, then He is the author of it. Pink even admitted that everything that is willed by God is decreed by God, and all things that God decreed are what He created. If God wills what He decrees, and He willed sin, then it necessarily follows that He decreed sin as well, and if He decreed sin then He is the author of it. Thus, you make God dependent on sin to prove His sovereignty which means that God was not wholly God until sin was created, thus a Creator that existed for eternity was not wholly omnipotent until He had an opportunity to demonstrate His sovereignty by decreeing sin in order to triumph over it.

Now just exactly who did God have to prove this too? Before God was sovereign over creation, He was loving someone from eternity, but in Calvinism, God gets more glory by determining that some spend eternity in hell, then He would if He had determined that all would freely worship Him which God COULD HAVE done, but He didn't, and if He didn't, then it means He determined others to hell because He wanted to. If that's the god you serve I feel sorry for you, because that's not the God of the Bible. The Bible is clear that mercy rejoices against judgment (James 2:13), and there are things that God said specifically that He did not decree or desire,

"And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin." Jeremiah 32:35.

Furthermore, you are misinterpreting Acts 4. I have written a short explanation of this verse so I won't repost it here. [website redacted]

Calvinism only says in theory that man is still responsible for sin by ignoring the implications of their theology. Calvinism does NOT hold that man has the ability to choose whether or not to sin because that is the entire crux of total inability. If you understand the compatibilist view of freedom, and boil it down to it's core, the implications are illogical and contradictory because Calvinism only says that man is accountable due to God's saying so, but without explaining logically or Biblically how compatibilist freedom does not make God not only the author of sin and evil, but how a loving God could WANT and DESIRE the damnation of anyone by a predetermined arbitrary decree. God does not need the "purpose" of sin to be God, He was God before sin was ever considerable and do claim that sin is necessary to God is to give sin an equally deified status that rivals the sovereignty of God, makes God dependent upon evil which is a form of pantheism.

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Mon, August 12:
If God willed sin, then He is the author of it.

NO, willed for a purpose, which neither I nor you actually knows.

If that's the god you serve I feel sorry for you, because that's not the God of the Bible.

I don't serve your misinterpretation of the God of the Bible.

Furthermore, you are misinterpreting Acts 4.

I referenced Acts 2, not 4.

Calvinism does NOT hold that man has the ability to choose whether or not to sin because that is the entire crux of total inability.

True! Adam as representative for mankind chose for us. He made the wrong choice with the result that all mankind is spiritually dead. If you are unwilling to accept Adam as our 1st representative you must not be willing to accept Christ as the 2nd representative. Romans 5:12-19

I understand that you intensely dislike Calvinism, and that's OK. In order to refute it though you will need to actually refute what the view affirms, not what you think it should affirm.

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Thu, August 15: I finished reading Pink this morning.

In Appendix 2: The Case of Adam (pg.249 in my copy) he writes:

Here then is the difficulty: If God has eternally decreed that Adam should eat of the tree, how could he be held responsible not to eat of it? Formidable as the problem appears, nevertheless, it is capable of a solution, a solution, moreover, which can be grasped even by the finite mind. The solution is to be found in the distinction between God's secret will and His revealed will. As stated in Appendix I, human responsibility is measured by our knowledge of God's revealed will; what God has told us, not what He has not told us, is the definer of our duty. So it was with Adam.

That God had decreed sin should enter this world through the disobedience of our first parents was a secret hid in His own breast. Of this Adam knew nothing, and that made all the difference so far as his responsibility was concerned. Adam was quite unacquainted with the Creator's hidden counsels. What concerned him was God's revealed will. And that was plain! God had forbidden him to eat of the tree, and that was enough. But God went further: He even warned Adam of the dire consequences which would follow should he disobey—death would be the penalty. Transgression, then, on the part of Adam was entirely excuseless. Created with no evil nature in him, with a will in perfect equipoise, placed in the fairest environment, given dominion over all the lower creation, allowed full liberty with only a single restriction upon him, plainly warned of what would follow an act of insubordination to God, there was every possible inducement for Adam to preserve his innocence; and, should he fail and fall, then by every principle of righteousness his blood must lie upon his own head, and his guilt be imputed to all in whose behalf he acted.
He continues on pg.251:

To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which, at first may shock the reader; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency? [emphasis mine]

In your statement above you appear to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will!

The ONLY explanation that does not ascribe sin to God is that man has libertarian free will and chooses to sin, and that man's choice was not caused by any other influences or compulsion than the man's own decision to sin.

Pink continues on pg.252:

Thus, though God is not the Author of sin, and though sin is contrary to His holy nature, yet the existence and operations of it are not contrary to His will, but subservient to it. God never tempts man to sin, but He has, by His eternal counsels (which He is now executing), determined its course.

So there you have it. Contrary to your false statement above:

Well, yes, that does make Him the author of sin. Only an honest Calvinist like A.W. Pink was bold enough to admit it, and bold enough to admit that God doesn't love everybody.

I have shown that Pink (along with all the other Calvinists that I know) affirms that the scripture declares that God is not the author of sin. For you to insist that Calvinists must affirm that God in fact is the author of sin, based on some logic of yours, and to then use that logic to prove Calvinism to be false is to misrepresent your brothers in Christ.

I call on you to desist from such misrepresentation!

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Sun, August 11: All you have shown which is what I have consistently maintained, is that Calvinism offers a mere DECLARATION that God is not the author of sin. But even your quotes from Pink say that God WILLS it, and wills its course. Just because you admit to everything BUT God being the author of sin, does not mean that rejecting the conclusion of your theology eliminates the implications. You, nor any other Calvinist, has proven that Calvinist theology does not make God the author of sin, you have simply denied the implications and frankly, in a very inconsistent and illogical manner.

It's a very simple concept. Sin exists. Sin had an origin. Sin was introduced to the world through Adam. If God determined all of Adam's actions, then Adam did not truly have a choice to NOT sin. Therefore claiming that God is the author of Adam's actions, but not his sin is absurd because you can not separate the 2. If God determined and willed for Adam to sin, then God is ultimately the author of sin.

Notice this example in your own quote from Pink, how that Pink ADMITS the problem, but simply offers a mere preemptive exclusion to the implication:

"To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which, at first may shock the reader; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency?"

Does begging the question resolve the negative implication? No it doesn't. This is not an explanation, it's a justification for the premise without tackling the implication in a manner consistent with Scripture or Calvinism's own stated premise on the determination of God. So OF COURSE is shocks the reader. What Pink did NOT do here, is PROVE how that sin being the result of mans own choice to sin INVADES God's dominion. He simply stated such as a question rather than proving the assertion. If God's omnipotence requires that He control every event, then you can not rightly say that He is omnipotent because there is nothing to compare His omnipotence to that He Himself does not control. The very fact that actions resulting from free agency exist and that God responds to those actions either in judgment or justification offers a demonstration of God's power against evil and for good. Premises contrary to that are simply offering no better explanation than that God is having a universal chess match with Himself.

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Thu, September 5: Earlier I referenced Peter's sermon recorded in Acts 2. In Genesis 50:20, we have another similar example of mans wickedness and God's purpose being joined.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

If we both agree that the text of scripture is accurate, we both must necessarily agree that this passage affirms that God was not the author of the evil done to Joseph by his brothers, yet the evil served the purpose of God.

Where we disagree is your insistence, based on some logic in your own mind, that my affirmation that the evil served a purpose, requires me to affirm that God was the author of their sin. Calvinism agrees with the scripture that God is not the author of sin. Your insistence that Calvinism must affirm that which the scripture denies and your apparent crusade to refute Calvinism on that basis is pure misrepresentation.