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.


Anonymous said...

Christ spent his time on earth loving and reaching out to those who were in need, not endlessly debating issues. Maybe a better use of your time than worrying about defending your position.

J. Brian McKillop said...

Here is another article that differentiates between 5 point Calvinists and Hyper-Calvinists.

It is titled, “What is a Hyper-Calvinist?”

J. Brian McKillop said...


If I understand you correctly, you are saying that "loving and reaching out," are of greater import than "defending your position."

BUT, "loving and reaching out (LARO)" is based on doctrine. If one's doctrine is in error, their LARO is worthless. Most, if not all, of the current crop of false teachers, does an excellent job in LARO. But would you affirm that those who make decisions as a result of their teaching, are actual follower's of Christ.

I would not!

Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine

The "endless debating" serves to challenge each of us to make sure our doctrine is sound!

SteveB said...

Let’s get a little more specific. The “two groups” of people are actually those who are indwelt by Jesus Christ, and those who are not. Jesus Christ is God’s gift of eternal life. John tells us, “This is the record that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. HE WHO HAS THE SON HAS THE LIFE, and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1John 5:11, 12). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life” (John 3:36). Christ is our life (Col. 3:4). Even Paul keeps to this classification when he states,

“Test yourself if you are in the faith, examine yourselves…that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you fail the test” (2Cor. 13:5)

The “believing in Him” merely precedes the reception of God’s gift:

God’s gift = Jesus Christ = eternal life = salvation.

“Christ dwells in our hearts THROUGH faith” (Eph. 3:17).
“…those who should hereafter believe in Him for eternal life” (1Tim. 1:16)
“…saved THROUGH faith” (Eph. 2:8).

The Canons of Dort, the Westminster Catechism, and all of the Reformed Theology texts all place man believing/receiving Christ before God send His Son into their hearts to give them His gift of eternal life. Texts that I have read all say something similar to this statement in the Canons of Dort:

“But such as receive it (the gospel) and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living faith are by Him delivered from the wrath of God and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them” (Canons of Dort, First Head; Article 4)

I like the Apostle Paul’s order from Romans 10. First the gospel is preached, and then the gospel is heard, and anyone who will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
…SAVED by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)
…SAVED when they are made alive with Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:5).
…SAVED by His life (Rom. 5:10).

If you begin with an unbeliever, does faith/repentance/calling on the name of the Lord precede God sending His Son into the new believer’s heart? Does faith precede the gift of eternal life? Does faith precede salvation? Is there any question that the man who has God’s Son living inside of his heart is saved? A man is first born with life in the flesh. Is there any other life given to a man from God, other than the eternal life a man receives when Jesus comes to live in His heart?

Calvinists err because they redefined the work of God in regeneration. For them regeneration is something very different from Jesus Christ coming to live in a man’s heart to give him new life, God’s gift of eternal life. But there is a crack in the dyke. Some are coming to recognize the truth!

“The new life we get in the new birth is the life of the historical Jesus. Therefore, if He does not raise from the dead, there is no new life to have.” ( JOHN PIPER –sermon: “Receive with Meekness the Implanted Word” 1-6-08 )

Did Jesus Christ indwell men before His resurrection? Was there a new birth for men before Jesus Christ rose from the dead (see 1Peter 1:3)? Did God give men the gift of eternal life prior God sending His Son into the world so that we might have eternal life (John 3:16)? Did God save men before He sent His Son into the world to save them (John 3:17)? Were men redeemed before the blood of Jesus Christ was shed?

The veracity of all of Reformed Doctrine (TULIP) rises and falls on the answer to these questions! I’m truly interested in your answers to these ten questions! If you are willing to be a good Berean, and answer these questions, then I will demonstrate to you from the Scripture how they prove that Reformed Doctrine is in serious error.

Sola Scriptura,

J. Brian McKillop said...


In a previous comment in another post I suggested that you start your own blog and post your research there. If you will do that, I will add links to your articles at my Sharper Iron posts, so that others may have opportunity to interact with what you have written.

The comments box on my posts is not the correct forum for posting your lengthy articles. Your own blog would be the correct forum for doing so.

As I stated, my time is very limited and I will not be able to respond to each of your objections.

Andrew Suttles said...

Great job, CJA. You might want to remember to mention that Calvinists began the modern missions movement, so the idea that God's Grace kills missions is bunk.

Jeff Noblit's sermon at the SBC Building Bridges Conference in 2007 was good on this point.

Nice blog, by the way!