Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Facebook Theological Discussion

A missionary friend of mine recently posted 2 status updates on Facebook (FB). Both my brother and I commented on the updates, but my friend deleted all but 1 of my comments. In this article, I am posting my friends original status updates, followed by my comments and the comments of 2 other posters. I have removed any references that would identify any of the individuals.

Here are the 2 original posts by my friend:

Post 1 Missionary: never amazed at the mental gymnastics that hyper-cavinists will use to prove the 'doctrine' of limited atonement. BTW, did you ever notice that those spewing the doctrine of hyper-calvinism consider themselves to be part of the elect along with their kids and grandkids....Let's go out and share the gospel!!!
Post 2 Missionary: pretty sure that 'whosoever' means 'whosover' no matter whoever you are...the only condition is believe!!
Here is my 1st comment in which I quoted from John 3:
2 groups of people contrasted

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This passage shows a contrast between 2 groups of people; those who believe and those who do not. The believing ones have everlasting life because God's wrath on them has been satisfied by Christ. The non-believing ones are condemned because God's wrath on them has not been satisfied by Christ. If their debt had been paid there would no longer be a debt for them to pay. John Owen rightly stated: "…is it probable that God calls any to a second payment, and requires satisfaction of them for whom, by his own acknowledgement, Christ hath made that which is full and sufficient.

All believers affirm a limited atonement. The disagreement concerns the WHOM that is responsible for the limit, whether it is God or man. I, a monergist, affirm that God limits the atonement to those who believe and for those, and only for those, it is a full and complete atonement. The synergist affirms that man limits the atonement by his acceptance or rejection of Christ. That view posits an atonement that Christ did not fully and completely accomplish, as it necessitates a contribution on the part of man.

p.s. The "doctrine" of a limited atonement is not what distinguishes "hypers" from "regular" Calvinists.
Here is my 2nd comment in which I quoted from John 6:
John 3 does not speak to the issue of who has the capability to believe and Romans 3 establishes that no one does. John 6 shows that those who believe do so solely because belief has been granted by the Father.

64 But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
Here is the response to my 1st comment by a 3rd party:
The statement that "All believers affirm a limited atonement" is not accurate. At the very least, it makes obedience to the great commission paralyzingly confusing.
Here is my response to the above comment, and is the only comment of mine that was not deleted from the FB thread.
In what way?
The 3rd party did not respond to my question.

Here is the response to my 1st comment by my friend's wife:
If I really beieved in limited atonement and that God elected some to Heaven (and in doing so some to Hell) I would pack my bags today and head home to my children and grandchildren. I could be better served investing my time in them if all who are the elect [natives of the country they serve] will be saved in the end anyway.
I responded to her comment but did not save the text of my reply. The following is a synopsis of what I wrote:
God uses MEANS to save His elect, and the proclamation of the Gospel is that means. Isaiah 52:7 shows that the feet of those who bring the good news of the Gospel are beautiful.

p.s. the McKillop boys are 5 point Calvinists, but we are not, nor do we know, any 'hypers.'
I exchanged emails about the FB post with my pastor, Tom Fillinger, who blogs at The Text Says. With his permission, I here include a portion of his email to me:
In the first place, there is no "whosoever" in the text to begin with.

The text says:

outos gar egapesen o theos ton kosmon oste ton uion ton monogene edoken ina pas o pisteuon eis auton me apoletai all eche zoen aionion

The highlighted phrase is a present active participle correctly translated "the believing ones". The ina clause preceding this participle expresses PURPOSE. God did what He did for the express purpose that "the believing ones" would not perish but have eternal life. That is about as particular as it gets!!
Update - Friday, June 18, 2010 10:00AM

I posted a link to this article in 1 of the original FB posts. My friend responded to that post, and I, in return, responded to his post. Here are those 2 posts:

Missionary's post:
Don't miss the point! We need more obedience to the great commission, not more discussion...
My post:
The difference between the limited and the unlimited atonement guys is not primarily obedience. It is the different approach each group takes to evangelism.

Synergists posit that God and man both contribute to salvation, God doing everything He can, but leaving it all up to man to make a decision. The focus then of synergistic evangelism is on the response, and the success or failure of Gospel proclamation is determined by decisions.

Monergists posit that God alone does all in saving sinners. He is author, finisher, and everything between. The focus of monergistic evangelism is on the presentation, as Paul in 1 Cor. 1 shows that Gospel proclamation is the MEANS by which the Holy Spirit saves those who believe. Monergists, for the most part, are opposed to altar calls, not because they don't want sinners to come to faith, but because the Holy Spirit does not need our help in accomplishing his work.

It is ironic that many synergistic Gospel presentations end with a monergistic prayer! The preaching declares that it is up to man to respond, but the prayer asks God to work in people's hearts. I also don't understand why a synergist would pray for someone's salvation, since in that view God has done all He can do, and has left the final decision up to man.

Theology DOES matter!
Here are some resources that speak to the issues raised in this article:


What is Hyper-Calvinism?

What is hyper-Calvinism and is it Biblical?

A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism

Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, & Arminianism

Danger of Hyper-Calvinism

The above article references a John R. Rice book on Hyper-Calvinism. The link provided is obsolete. This appears to be the book he references:

Hyper-Calvinism: A False Doctrine

Limited Atonement

Monergism Search - a number of articles linked here

John 3:16 (Limited Atonement)

The Calvinism of Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption

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

Links in this article are provided solely for information purposes,
and do not in any way imply full and complete endorsement.