Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave, And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save. His glories now we sing, Who died, and rose on high, Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die. Page 1 David Kirkwood states that man is born with the “propensity” (inclination, tendency) to sin. Here he assumes complete innocence when a baby is born. This is a problem. Scripture says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3). Look at what David says in Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (ESV) It is better in the NIV - “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Romans 5 states that through Adam all sinned. It is important in the Calvinistic understanding of the Bible to see that “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” This means that all are depraved, totally… this does not mean that all have done in their depravity what they are capable of doing. For instance, all are depraved, but not all have murdered someone. However, Jesus states clearly that if you have hated someone, then you are a murderer in your heart and God considers you a law breaker in this regard. In essence then, all men are behind the eight ball or constituted a sinners for three reasons: (1) Inherited Sin: They are sinners by nature; possessing an inherited sinful nature (Ps. 51:5; 58:3 and see also Gen. 5:3). (2) Imputed Sin: They are sinners by imputation; Adam’s sin is imputed to man’s account (Rom. 5:12f) just as Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us when we believe in Christ. (3) Individual Sin: They are personal sinners; all men sin as individuals since they posses a sinful nature. Even in a godly environment children naturally are selfish and tend to tell lies, etc. (Rom. 3:23). This is Total Depravity! I agree with Kirkwood on the second to last paragraph on page 2, but he does not describe “propensity” to sin well. In fact, he does not explain what he means by this at all. Usually, when one says this, they assume innocence before a sinful act is done. One is not a sinner until one sins is the mantra. But Scripture does not back this up at all. Also, historically it has never been considered. Paul, Augustine, even John Wesley (an opponent of Calvinism) never considered this. Sinfulness, depravity, whatever you want to call it is instilled into our nature from birth, making us sinners from birth as Scripture says above.
Kirkwood is correct in the last paragraph on page 2 (highlighted). I disagree with prevenient grace though… this was made up by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church and cannot be substantiated by Scripture. Page 3 1. Are people partially corrupted or are we corrupted totally? I think that Scripture is also clear on this point. Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.
Dead means dead, not partially alive or partially good. A dead man cannot do anything, including saying yes to God. 2. Unless God changes their wills… This is a true statement because God must change the will of man for them to be saved. People do not want anything to do with God in their dead, sinful state. Scripture verifies this as well: Romans 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
3. Calvinists believe that the person makes a choice to be saved. This is a common misconception of Arminians. We just believe that that choice is directed by God, the definer of what is a “free” choice. If a person makes a choice after God reveals Himself, then that choice is real because God says it is and also that choice is what the person wants. Remember, all God has to do is reveal Himself and we want Him. If God does not reveal Himself, we will not want Him. 4. What is true virtue? True virtue is that virtue which points people to Christ, God the Son, and brings glory to God the Father. “Virtue” apart from this is only conventional (man centered) and thus, like filthy rags before a holy God. This kind of “virtue” is still sin because it is without faith in God. 5. This is not true! Calvinists believe that Sinners sin freely, never doing anything to please the Father because even their best acts are faithless. Calvinists also believe that their wills are not for or toward God unless God causes them to see the truth of Scripture. Again, Kirkwood assumes that God directing His people to Himself is against their wills. All the Lord has to do is reveal Himself, and people long for Him. 6. Again, a common misconception. Arminians believe that this is force. It is not. The person whom God saves really wants salvation because God has regenerated them to life and sight in the truth. 7. Calvinists believe people freely resist God all their lives until God overcomes that resistance by His own “free will” and saves the dead sinner. None seek after God, therefore God must reveal Himself to be sought out. And this means that God has to give them sight and life (regeneration) so that they can seek Him out. But after God reveals
Himself, the person readily makes up His mind that God compared to the world is what He wants… it is irresistible to him/her because God wills them to believe. Romans 9:16 - So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
And no one can resist God’s will – Romans 9:19 - You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (The
obvious answer Paul is looking for here is NONE!) Page 4 8. This is not true. Calvinists believe they play a part in the salvation of others, not through persuasive words or wisdom, but with the power of the Cross behind them doing all the work. They are just the vessels being used by God to propagate the Gospel for faith only comes through hearing the Word of God. Do we think for one second that God cannot save someone He wants to save? Do we believe that the salvation of others rests on our shoulders? Do we think that if God wants someone saved He will save them? I believe He can do whatever He wants to and if He wants someone saved, He will direct someone to the person He wants saved. This does not contradict Scripture at all. It absolutely affirms God’s sovereign good pleasure and will over His creation to do with what He pleases. 1 Corinthians 1:17 - For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
9. If you believe this then you get credit for persuading them and not God… It then becomes a reasonable acceptable understanding and not salvation. See above Scripture. 10. First, men do not have anything to do with other men repenting. God grants men repentance… it is a gift from God. Man cannot repent unless God allows them to. Scripture confirms this: Acts 11:18 - When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” 2 Timothy 2:24-5 - And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, Hebrews 12:16 - …that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
Second, Peter is trying to win those that are God’s. Calvinists believe in two types of calling: A general call to all people by the preacher and an effectual call which God
saves those from the general call. (Salvation becomes effective for the people who believe). Kirkwood does much assuming on the part of Calvinists here. We believe that we do not know who the elect of God is, therefore we will present the gospel to all people in all places, obediently by the command of Christ. 11. I believe persuasion in any way is useless, yes. I believe preaching and teaching are gifts to the Church according to the epistles of Paul and used for such as equipping the saints of God. I believe evangelism is the command of Christ to win some to Him which we must obey. This means the only part we play is obedience to Jesus, and not salvation of others. God does that, not the preacher. Faith comes through hearing the Word of God. It is the Word of God that produces faith, not persuasive words by a man. Page 5 12. This paragraph I agree with. It is essential for Calvinists to evangelize and propagate the Gospel of Christ. But, people’s salvation is not dependent upon a preacher, but on the mercy of God. Romans 9:16 - So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
13. Because faith comes from hearing the Word of God. 14. The meat of this doctrine is not for babes in the faith. Calvinists believe that this doctrine is for seasoned vets, not those who have never heard the gospel or are only babes in Christ. Therefore, Calvinists present the truth of this doctrine after maturing people in their faith. Calvinists would not, I hope, come up to someone and say, “Well maybe God has chosen you. If you believe this then He has. If you don’t come to Him then He hasn’t.” This is crude and horrible to the unseasoned lost person, especially who is in a Democratic society who believes he is free in all his choices regarding his own destiny. This doctrine is offensive to the American layman church-goer. I have a friend from Romania at the seminary who has accepted this doctrine whole-heartedly because he was not raised under the American, cultural understanding of “freedom of choice.” I think this is one of the reasons I had a hard time accepting this at first. I had to finally see that God is a Monarch and I am a serf, He is the Creator and I am His creation, and He can do what He wants with His creation. Something else about this section. Kirkwood seems to think that discernment should not be used with this doctrine. Even Paul kept from the church meat of the Word because they were not ready for it (see Scripture below). Calvinists I know think it is unwise to go spout this doctrine off without using discernment on the ones they are speaking to. I think, as you have said mom, that discernment needs to be used when talking about this doctrine. But this does not mean that it should never be talked about. This would be foolish and contrary to the commands of Scripture where preachers are commanded to preach the whole counsel of God.
1 Corinthians 3:1 - But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh.
15. Arminians cannot back up what they say with Scripture, so they use language as Kirkwood does, such as “deceptive,” twisting scripture,” speak “nursery rhymes” instead of the word, “robots and puppets,” etc. This is not debate, but Argumentum ad Hominem. He is criticizing the believer/speaker, rather than giving specific references to back up his argument. Page 6 16. People’s virtuous acts or choices are only virtuous if they lead to Jesus or give God glory. Did this man who was committing adultery give God glory for his stopping or did he reward himself with good feelings in himself for not going on with adultery. Let me explain: People do what makes them feel good. If the feeling of not committing adultery outweighs the feeling of committing the adultery, the man will stop. It had nothing to do with God in the unregenerate person to stop the adulterous actions. He just felt more compelled by his pursuit of pleasure to stop. 17. What is good? What is evil? These things are defined by God in Scripture. God defines them. And He says all of our righteous works are as filthy rags. He also says that without faith, you cannot please Him. This means that an act is only “good” if it is exercised through faith in God. Also, God defines what freedom is in respect to His creation and He says that our choices are free. Therefore, a Sinner, because he is what his title states he is always chooses something other than God unless he is regenerated to come to God (No one seeks after God). 18. Kirkwood does not state a Scripture that says a dead person in sin can repent and humble themselves. The Scriptures he does use is a general call to all people in all places to repent and believe. Calvinists believe that people must repent and believe to be saved. We just believe that this comes after regeneration, thus a “living” person in Christ makes the decision to trust Jesus, repent and believe. And we believe that we will not resist it, for who resists God’s will? Also, Calvinists believe the capacity to repent and believe are gifts of God that He grants to a person as stated earlier in this rebuttal. 19. I believe Scripture says contrary here to what Kirkwood is saying about Jesus and the Father. Look at these Scriptures from the Bible and not human opinion as to what Jesus was doing as He taught and called people to repentance. Calvinists believe there is something greater to God then the salvation of every man. If there isn’t something greater, then these passages make no sense at all. Matthew 13:10-17 - Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Mark 4:10-12 - And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 - The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
Page 7 20. Kirkwood disregards what Paul states in Romans 9 with this very statement. Look: Romans 9:14-21 - What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
21. Calvinists believe God ordained evil in the world, not that He approves of it. He ordained it, because He ordained the cross which is an evil act by evil men at the same time a righteous act by a just and loving God. He ordained Judas to betray Christ and the Sanhedrin to give a mock trial of him. He ordained the cross by guiding Romans to nail him to a tree. He ordained it by leaving the tree in the garden, knowing that Adam would choose to eat of it, thus condemning many to Hell.
Acts 4:23-28 - When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
He ordained evil. In fact, God even sent evil spirits to torment people in the OT. Judges 9:23 – And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech… 1 Samuel 16:14-16 - Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. 15 And Saul's servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.”
Also, God can stop people from sinning. Look at this passage: Genesis 20:1-6 - From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.
21. Calvinists believe that God has chosen from the condemned people of the world some whom He will save from before their birth. Look at these passages: Ephesians 1:3-4 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world… Romans 9:11-12 - though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Esau
never had the opportunity. In fact when he sought repentance, God did not grant it to him… Hebrews 12). 22. God ordained that sin occur because, I believe, He ordained that Jesus save sinners. This is accepted by more than I can count, both Arminians and Calvinists. Really cannot argue this point. 23. If I was man-centered and full of pride I would say these exact same things. But Scripture paints a picture of God that people consider foolish, a stumbling block, folly. I cannot make Scripture say what it does not say. God does love people, but in different ways. I think He loves those whom He has chosen more than those whom He has not, all to his own good pleasure. I think that God generally loves people by sending them food, rain, sunsets, etc. Look at this Scripture: Matthew 5:43-45 - “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Then I think that God loves particular people specifically with a much more intense love, so much as to save them. Look at these Scriptures: Acts 20:28 - Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Ephesians 5:25-30 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
An analogy that seems to help me understand this is this: A man loves his wife much more than another woman down the street. Jesus loves His wife much more than the wicked. If I wrote a love letter specifically to Mary and said, “Dear Mary, I love you.” Does this specifically mean the woman I am writing to who is my wife, or all the women who are named Mary in the world. In fact, I love people, and Mary is a person, does this mean I love all people equally with Mary. You see, I think this is where evangelicalism has messed up. We have adopted some general love that is expressed to all people equally and fairly. We have given up on the fact that God’s love is specifically for His people in a much more intense personal way. If I believe as the Arminian does, I am stripped of the love of God and the person in Hell can say “Jesus died for me” just like I can say, “Jesus died for me.” This to me is a horrible outworking of the Arminian position. It says to the enemy of God, you are loved just like the one who is favored of God. Page 8
24. I believe that Jesus does command people to obey knowing that they cannot. It is a continuation of what the Lord did in the OT when He commanded the Law to be obeyed knowing full well that it could not be. 25. Unregenerate people choosing to do some part of the Law is still sin, because they do not believe God. Anything done apart from faith is sin. This means that their “virtue” is guided by a motive other than seeing God get the glory or people coming to Christ, but by their own self-esteem or own pleasure, or some other motive. 26. Kirkwood thinks that there is some level of good in the unregenerate man that will give them ability to do what is good or choose what is good. He states, “They are not so evil…”, but this would mean something contrary to Scripture that states that the unregenerate are enemies of God (Romans 11) or children of wrath (Ephesians 2). The unregenerate are not on God’s good graces list, but on the list that says they will be tormented for all eternity. We must see the Scripture for what it says and submit to its authority and not what we think it should say or feel like we want it to say. We simply need to take the plain reading of a text and believe it, not manipulate it to suit our emotional well-being…even if it is contrary to what we were taught by well meaning men of God. I had to come to terms with this too. It killed me for two years, but after studying to contradict what this doctrine states, I ultimately had to submit to Scripture over emotional ties to men, books or other teachings. Romans 7:18 - For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
27. The answer is repentance is a gift of God and other moral choices are not. (See Scripture above)
Page 9 28. Kirkwood here assumes again that the language of Scripture fits his belief system when it does not. The passage of John 12:32 looks like this in Greek: καγω εαν υψωθω εκ της γης παντας ελκυσω προς εμαυτον And I if I be lifted from the earth/land all I will draw to/toward myself
This Greek word (pantas, pas, pasa, pan) means all kinds… do you notice that “men” or “people” is not even in the verse. In effect, Jesus is saying I will draw all kinds of people to myself… Jews, Gentiles, Red and Yellow, Black and White… all kinds, not just Jews only. That is what that word declares in this verse, so Kirkwood cannot use this verse to back up his statement that Jesus will draw all to Himself, for indeed He has not for some will go to Hell…sadly. 29. God does desire for all to come to repentance, and God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, or else God would be a tyrant as Kirkwood implies. But it must be said that other Scriptures demonstrate that God does choose whom He will save.
Therefore, as I have already stated, there must be something greater to God than the salvation of all men. To the Arminian, it is the preservation of man’s free will or else all would be saved. To me and other Calvinists, it is the righteous display of God’s free will in His justice and mercy on people so that He will be glorified alone. 30. I do believe people are responsible to believe for the salvation of their souls. Again, this does not mean that people have the ability to believe just because God demands it of them. He must grant it to them just as plainly as the Scripture says that Kirkwood is using from John 6:64-65. Page 10 31. I see his point here. Calvinists also maintain that Jesus foreknew who would come to faith and who would not. We all believe in the foreknowledge of God in Arminian and Calvinistic circles. But if God based salvation on foreknowledge, doesn’t that mean that it is a fixed plan as well? Does not this wipe out any type of human freedom too? It seems that Paul and others would not have used terms like predestination and foreknowledge side by side if they did not carry different meanings. He would have just used one term. I think this is poor interpretation of Scripture. But praise God, we are a Holy Priesthood of believers given the Bible to interpret it for ourselves. Calvinists believe that there is a healthy tension between Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility. First God acts, then the human acts under the will of the Father. Who can resist His will? None can. If He wants you saved, you will be. I do have to say that this is the best argument Kirkwood has made so far though. Pages 9-10, so far… I am still not convinced of it though from other parts of Scripture. The Calvinist believes that God has prepared vessels for destruction and uses the wicked to do His bidding… meaning that God used Judas, the Sanhedrin, and the Romans to put Jesus on the Cross as He planned to do and in doing this saved His people, you and me. This is called mercy for His people and justice for the wicked. Harsh, but true. 32. I see his point here too, but opportunity denotes fairness… and this is not so. We were born in the Bible belt in America and others have been born in jungles and desserts with no opportunity to hear the Gospel. According to the OT, God opens and closes the womb. This means that God allows people to be born knowing they will go to Hell. But God’s wisdom is not man’s wisdom and I trust He knows what He is doing. Therefore, I will not say to Him, “This is unfair.” But I will praise Him for being Lord of Creation. Also, Paul clearly states that all of Israel is not Israel. Romans 9:6 - But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel…
So when Jesus says He will grant Israel repentance, He does… the true Israel. Page 11
33. Kirkwood states that no man will come to the light unless God works in him. There are passages of Scripture that have already been stated that at their plain reading Jesus preached in parables to keep people from the light and God sending delusions so that they will believe what is false. This Arminian position only holds on to those Scriptures that teach their position without looking at the whole of Scripture. I acknowledge all the Arminian positions, such as Scriptures that teach God wishing none would perish and God loving the whole world. I simply admit that there is more to the story revealed in Scripture as already shown. 34. Again, Calvinists believe that God desires that all come to the knowledge of salvation. But Calvinists add that there is something more important to God than salvation of men: this being the glory and magnificence of His name. God is more important to God than man is. For if God was not important to God, then God would be an idolater and unworthy of worship. If man and a relationship with him is what is most important to the Lord, then the Lord is idolatrous. The Lord is the First and Supreme Being and magnifies Himself over everything else, including man and whatever is involved with him. If this is not in the center of Biblical preaching and teaching, then that preaching and teaching is worthless and man-centered rather than God-centered. If I promote salvation in preaching and teaching, then the express reason for that salvation is to bring people to Glorify the Lord, not simply have a relationship with Him. Worship of God is the essence of all the doctrines in Scripture. This is why idolatry and hypocrisy were the most hated by God in the OT. I do not want to minimize a personal God-fearing relationship with Jesus, for I believe that Jesus is our friend. I do not want to minimize a loving Lord, but I believe I want to present God as He is and not how I feel He should be. I present Scripture, not emotional ties to democratic ideas that promote “freedom” and “rights” regarding men. I promote God’s “freedom of will” and “right as Creator.” Page 12 35. Kirkwood here is adding to what the text says. He is saying that the Bible omits things that it means to say. This is amazing to me. He never gives one passage in this statement that backs his position. He only criticizes Calvinists for not being contextual, and who can argue with that… Shut up Calvinist, you do not use context! Shut up Calvinist, you are not contextual! This is not debate from Scripture at all. It is frustrating. Also, can an unregenerate mind ever be non-fleshly? If you say yes, you are Catholic and not Baptist. Ephesians 2:1-3 states clearly that, 1 you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Catholic dogma and tradition says that there is good in man
that helps him respond to God’s call. The Bible says there is no good in man at all. (Romans 3:10-12, Romans 7:18). If we say that an unregenerate man can respond to God’s call, then we say that there must be something in him that is good to do so. I say, God regenerates man to life so that he will respond to God’s call, and this regeneration that produces life will always accept and choose God because he now sees the truth and he now longs for God because of it. All God has to do is reveal Himself and we are ruined because of it. I say that until God overcomes the resistance of man, man will always seek
pleasure in something else other than God, for no one seeks after God. And God still holds the man who resists accountable for his sin even if God does not draw him to Himself, because man is sinful. 36. I think Piper and Packer is making a general call to people here. In a general call, the preacher will share the Gospel message that Jesus loves you and died to save you. Calvinists believe that the atonement is powerful enough to save all people who have ever lived, but only effectual for those who actually believe. And Calvinists believe that those people who come forth from a general call to Salvation are the people God designates to be saved and has given the ability to believe, repent and have faith as Scripture so vividly demonstrates. Salvation is a gift from God, all of it… not just parts of it. Kirkwood and other Arminian thinkers miss this point often that Calvinists try to make. But, I have to say that this again is Kirkwood’s better reasoning. So 9-10 and now page 12-14 are good, but inefficient. It is mere human reason and not Scripture which is the mind of God. I think that John Calvin believed in Jesus’ plan as well as me and other Calvinists. I also think Paul was saying believe and repent and have faith to all he preached to. I will do the same… but I believe, according to the Scriptures, that this belief, repentance, faith come as a result of God making someone alive (Ephesians 2) and it is irresistible for who resists God’s will? (Romans 9) General Call and Effectual Call… The preacher makes the General Call, repent and believe… God makes the Effectual Call… I grant you repentance, faith, belief, trust, hope, etc. and you cannot resist my will. 37. This is not true. Calvinists believe that all men everywhere are responsible to believe and have faith in Jesus. We simply do not believe that an unregenerate man has the ability to do so. Kirkwood is drawing conclusions based on his own biased opinions toward Calvinists and not actually seeing what they are saying. I think and believe that all men are accountable to believe and have faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. I also think and believe according the passages I have shown that unless grants men repentance and gives men salvation, they will not believe and have faith. There is a healthy tension between man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty. This dies not mean that man has the ability to do anything good in and of himself unless first he is regenerated by God. I have belabored this point. Page 15 38. General Call of the preacher. Kirkwood is very sarcastic and interjecting emotional sentimentalism into what should be a healthy debate. He hates the Calvinist. This is not going to convince a Calvinist of his position. Paul is told to obediently share the gospel with all people. So he does, and the rest is up to God, Amen. I am glad I do not have to come to people with persuasive words of wisdom, for then the cross would be stripped of its power to save. We do not know who is God’s elect so we tell everyone about Jesus and His saving power. If they do not come, then they have not been regenerated by the Lord to come… maybe they will be later, that is God’s business and His wisdom to know such things. I am just responsible to share the Gospel message that Jesus loves and Jesus will share. I am also responsible to teach the church, not the unregenerate, the doctrines of the Bible…including Election. You do not tell an unbeliever everything. I will not
cast my pearls before swine… You simply tell them that God has provided the death of Jesus and His blood so that they will be saved if they believe. And if they do believe, that belief was a gift from God. If they do not, it was not given to them. Page 16 39. I would say that the gospel is veiled by man’s resistance, Satan’s terrible blinding, and God who allows Satan to do so. Remember, Satan can do nothing without God’s permission. (The whole book of Job explains this) 40. Absolutely!!!!! Page 17 41. God uses evil to produce what He wants. This does not mean that God approves of evil. Look at these Scriptures: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 - The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. The Book of Job – Illustrates God’s using Satan to show the world that He is gracious to His people and has mercy.
42. Best argument he has postulated. But I cannot agree with it due to the rest of Scripture. Especially Ephesians 2:1-10 which states that faith is a gift of God. No one has faith in himself unless God gives it. Catholics believe that, not Baptists. If we had faith in and of ourselves, there would be something good in us. Mr. Osteen is wrong, There is no Champion in Me unless Jesus is there. There is nothing good in us. Unregenerate man is fleshly and never seeks after God; ever never ever until God gives Him life. Page 18 43. Romans 9:11 - though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—
44. Election is based on the faith God gives you, not faith within yourself. Man has no faith apart from the gift of God. This should humble us and cause us to rejoice. Arminian believers hold on to the thing that makes them most proud – their ability to choose their own destinies. And they boast in it. This is not of God. We have no source of boasting for God gave Jesus, God gave Salvation, God gave justification, God gave sanctification, God gave glorification, God gave repentance, God gave faith, God gave belief, and God mercy to the one who believes to choose him.
Look at Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake. Page 19 45. All are destined to Hell until God saves. I am not of the Double-Predestination types, such as R.C. Sproul. I am more of the Single-Predestination types like John MacArthur and John Piper and others. We believe that all are destined for Hell and God actively chooses some to salvation. 46. This love and justice is within God, but so is hate and anger. Does God hate anyone? Absolutely! Scripture says so… Proverbs 6:16 - There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Psalm 5:6 - You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. Psalm 11:5 - The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Psalm 137:8-9 - O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! 9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! Malachi 1:2-5 - “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!”
God hates everyone at the same time loving everyone. He hates all those who work iniquity which includes all of us. But He has it in Himself to love the unlovable. His
character allows this. We are all under His wrath, but the world has received the love of God by the death of His Son. And whoever believes in Him will be saved. 46. Kirkwood thinks that Calvinists do not believe that when Jesus says come to me and I will give you rest is a true statement. Calvinists simply believe that this “coming” is the Lord’s work in the individual. John 6:44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
The Father does the drawing and no one can resist it after the Lord wills someone to come for who can resist the Lord’s will? 47. Look at these texts what God can do with stony hearts: Ezekiel 11:19 - And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh… Ezekiel 36:26 - And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
God does this – no mention of man doing anything with his mind by wisely choosing or his body by doing good actions. Choosing is something someone does. This is salvation by works which the Bible firmly rejects. People choose God, after God chooses them and He causes them to choose Him. This is apparent throughout all of Scripture. 48. If the Calvinist is right, Kirkwood is a blasphemer and should be careful with his words. He does not have the mind of God as I or anyone else does. Simply because Kirkwood does not understand something in his own mind and thinking, he submits that the Calvinist position is wrong. I say, be careful what you call God or perceive God as simply because you have positioned yourself against a doctrine that millions hold simply because you do not understand it. I used to do this… and now I am frightened that simply because my own mind could not wrap around what was being said through Scripture I rejected it and placed my own intellect in the seat that God rightly owns, namely the throne of my heart. I believe it is important for every Christian to submit his mind under the Bible, not the other way around. If the plain reading of the text says something, we should take it as literal and factual, not try to place what we think it should say into our own paradigms of belief. If my mind was over Scripture, I would most definitely hold Arminian views on Scripture, but if my mind is submitted to Scripture, then I have to deal with the texts I have shown you and submit to them humbly and gratefully. I give praise to God for this, that out of all people He chose me even though there was nothing good in me and nothing I could do for myself. Even though I was just like the person down the street, He chose me and I glorify Him for that. Amen. 49. The Lord has caused… us is “us” meaning everyone that Isaiah is talking about… not all mankind. This is apparent in the context.
50. All people are lost including the ones that were saved by Christ whom He did come to save. (Crown him with many crowns…) 51. He did come to take away the sin of the world… but it is only effective for those whom Christ actually saved. He did not save all people did He? If He did, then we would be Unitarian who believe all people go to Heaven because Jesus paid for all people’s sins on the cross. Calvinists believe the Cross has power enough to save all people who ever lived but is only effectual for those who believe. Sufficient for all, effectual only for some… this is what a Calvinist would say… and I have heard Dr. John Morgan say this statement in a sermon as well even though he is not a Calvinist. Dr. Hamilton has explained to me from the email how it is that Jesus died for all. He came as a propitiation for all… a substitute… meaning that it has power to save all people. But according to other verses it is only effectual for those whom the Father has given to Jesus.
The Leaven of Synergism Throughout the centuries since God covenanted to save man through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, whereby He provided a full, perfect, and sufficient satisfaction for our sins, one aberration of the Gospel has recurrently threatened the truth. It is the view that man must make some contribution himself in securing his salvation. It is not the size of this contribution that is the important factor, but the necessity of it. It is as though healing is promised to a terminally ill patient if only he will prepare himself in some way, or yield himself, or present himself at his own expense before the physician. The Roman Catholic Church holds strongly to the view that some self-preparation is essential, usually in the form of a willingness to make amends for wrongs done, or to effect some self-correction in order to merit the grace of God. The Lutherans place the emphasis on the necessity of man's willingness to accept God's salvation. Modern evangelism calls upon men to "make an active decision" as though to pick up the phone and arrange an appointment. Or the patient is invited at least to unlock the door before the physician can make this call and heal him. This door is locked on the inside and can be unlocked only by the patient. But there is no question of the patient's healing himself. On this there is a wide measure of unanimity. He does need the Savior; but he is not considered to be without any ability to assist in some way, or at least to cooperate in the healing process, though the measure of his cooperation may amount to no more than that he allow the physician to visit his soul. Whatever form the human contribution takes, it always means that salvation is a cooperative activity. Salvation is not a God-only process, but a God-and process. This working together is termed Synergism. Such Synergism was a religious philosophy with humanistic overtones even in Old Testament times, and it has been in evidence in every generation. It is man's demand not to be considered impotent, Man admits his sickness, but he is unwilling to admit his death. Theologically, Synergism is fatal to any sound Christian soteriology, for it is a denial of man's total bondage in sin and a claim to some remaining will to absolute good. By and large, the Greek Fathers were always content to place the grace of God and the free will of man side by side, and as a consequence, the Greek Catholic Church early assumed a synergistic position. The Roman Catholic Church followed suit-though somewhat more slowly. Since the Council of Trent it has held dogmatically that man prepares himself and disposes his own heart to receive the grace of justification. (1)
The Reformation was a total break with this almost universal teaching, a recovery of a truly monergistic doctrine of salvation, a Solus Deus position. But like all other revivals of the truth of the Gospel, it soon began to be plagued by those who demanded that allowance be made for man's autonomy if he was not to be a mere puppet, some tiny admission of spiritual competence, some small part which man might be called upon to play, as a sound basis for exhortation in preaching the Gospel and as an incentive to those striving after holiness. Luther himself was wholly committed to a God-only position. Unregenerate man is spiritually dead, not perfectly well as Pelagius held, nor merely sick as Arminius held, but completely dead as Calvin held. We have already traced briefly the gradual leavening of Luther's position by the synergistic tendencies of those who followed him (Chapter 4). This fatal return to the heresy of all ages was, in Germany, largely the result of one man, Melancthon (1497-1560). It was this godly and gentle man whose humanistic influence introduced once again the corrupting stream into Lutheran theology, where it took the seemingly harmless form of attributing to man nothing of a positive nature but only a non-resistance to the overtures of God without which the Holy Spirit is unable to make the grace of God effectual unto salvation. Luther was aware of this tendency from its first reappearance among his disciples and spoke out strongly against it. He said (in Table Talk, under the heading "Of Free Will"): Some allege that the Holy Spirit works not in those that resist Him but only in such as are willing and give consent thereto, whence it follows that free will is a cause and helper of faith; and consequently the Holy Ghost does not work alone through the word, but that our will does something therein. But I say it is not so; the will of man works not at all in his conversion and justification...It is a matter on which the Holy Spirit works (as a potter makes a pot out of clay), equally in those that are averse and remiss as in St. Paul. But after the Holy Spirit has wrought in the wills of such resistants, then He also manages that the will be consenting thereto. (2) Luther agreed that Melancthon seemed to be asking very little when he proposed that we grant only man's non-resistance as his contribution. But Luther warned that this "very little" was more dangerous than the "very much" that the Pelagians demanded when they argued that man was wholly capable of meriting the grace of God, for it had the appearance of a relatively harmless concession whereas in fact it was a fatal one. For those who support it are teaching that "we are able to obtain righteousness and grace by that 'very little.'" The Pelagians struck Luther as being more forthright. He saw Melancthon's apparently mad concession as the more dangerous because it was less patent. The very violence of his diatribe against Erasmus in his famous work on The Bondage of the Will stemmed from the subtlety of this synergistic position. And in this connection Luther wrote: These [Pelagians] assert that it is not a certain little something in us by which we obtain grace, but we obtain it by whole, full, perfect, great and many efforts and works. Our adversaries [the followers of Melancthon], however, declare that it is a mere trifle and practically nothing at all by which we merit grace. (3) And here, as Luther saw it, was the danger. It is no longer the Gospel of the sovereign grace of God that we are proclaiming, but the delusion of the sovereignty of man who in the final analysis holds the trump card. It is not a Gospel of revelation but a Gospel of common sense, for why would God command men to repent or yield to the overtures of the Holy Spirit if man did not of his own have freedom of will to do so? In the Western Church the drift to Synergism was slower than in the East. At the Council of Orange (A.D. 529) it had been agreed that "God does not wait for man's decision." (4) But at the Council of Trent (1545-63) the synergistic view was officially written into the theology of the Roman Catholic Church, it there being agreed that man's will is a decisive factor. Berkhof says: "In the days of the Reformation the monergism of the Reformers was opposed by the Roman Catholic Church with greater vehemence than any other doctrine." (5) Indeed it may very well have been the major reason for the calling of the Council of Trent in the first place. The Reformation was nothing less than the purging out of this synergistic tendency. And yet so strongly entrenched in human nature is its basic philosophy that within fifty years it was, as we have seen, once again embraced by the Lutheran community, and the terms of surrender were couched virtually in the
words of Melancthon. Melancthon held that conversion is the result of the combined action of three causes: (1) the truth of God; (2) the Holy Spirit; and (3) the will of man. He made a facultas out of a mere capacitas, an active ability for grace out of a passive aptitude for the reception of it. (6) And so after over five hundred pages of debate and discussion of the issue, the Formula of Concord finally confesses: "Towards this work [of grace] the will of the person who is to be converted does nothing but only lets God work [in him] (my emphasis)! until he is converted." (7) Meanwhile Arminius, assuming this active ability on the part of the unregenerate man, argued that the basis of Predestination to Election was God's foreknowledge of those who would exercise this capacity responsively. And by this heresy he left a similar community of misguided followers both in Holland and, even more seriously, in England and the New World, who, holding the synergistic view, formed a further major division of the Church of God. Methodism, and out of Methodism a number of other denominational bodies, cultivated the error which has largely inspired modern evangelistic methods. Such human techniques of persuasion are held to be in line with God's appointed method of reaching the unregenerate. Thus man usurps the convicting role of the Holy Spirit of God. The consequences of these "persuasive techniques" in the free world are yet to become fully apparent. Already we see a great resurgence of religious enthusiasm, but if we look at the staying power of these thousands of decisions for the Lord it has to be admitted that the picture they often present a few months after "conversion" suggests there may be something seriously amiss with the method of evangelism, if not perhaps even more seriously with the theology which has inspired the method. Karl Barth in a small volume entitled God in Action, sometimes referred to as his "Little Dogmatics," elaborates on this issue. To him Monergism is the keystone to any stand by the Church against the secular authority because it places the outcome of events squarely in the hands of God. As soon as we begin to say "God and," man becomes increasingly important as the decision maker and God decreasingly so. In due time God is reduced almost to the position of assistant or even bystander. The battle becomes not the Lord's but man's. When the world comes in like a flood to overwhelm the Church as Hitler's world did, man finds himself alone in his weakness and no longer able to meet the challenge. In 1934 Barth said to an English audience: I'm sure that everyone of you is horrified [i.e.. by what was happening to the Christian Church in Germany, and says in his heart I thank God that I am not a German Christian]. I assure you that it will be the end of your road, too. It has its beginning with "Christian life" and ends in paganism. For, if you once admit not only God but I also, and if your heart is with the latter--and friends, that's where you have it--there's no stopping it... Let me warn you now. If you start with God and...you are opening the doors to every demon. And the charge which I raise against you, I lay before you in the words of Anselm: Tu non eons; considerastzi quandi ponderis sit peccatum! You have failed to consider the weight of sin. And that is the sin that man takes himself so very seriously. (8) This seemingly small concession to which Luther refers always has had the effect of opening the way to a flood of error that effectively neutralizes Paul's Gospel of salvation by faith without works. As W. G. T. Shedd observed: The position of partial ability or synergism comes to the same result with that of full ability [i.e., Pelagianism] so far as divine independence and sovereignty are concerned. For it is this decision of the sinner to contribute his quota, to do his part in the transaction, which conditions the result. It is indeed true, upon this theory, that if God does not assent, the act of faith is impossible. But it is equally true that if the sinner does not assist, the act of faith is impossible. Neither party alone and by himself can originate faith in Christ's atonement. God is as dependent in this respect as man. (9) G. C. Berkouwer wrote in a similar vein: "This theme of synthesis [between God's grace and man's power of decision] runs like a red thread through the history of the doctrine of election. It is the theme of harmony, of cooperation." (10) And it is a poison, fatal to the Gospel. It is a heresy that slowly undermines all the implications of the truth of the sovereign grace of God. Warfield refers to it as,
...the evil leaven of synergism, by which God is robbed of his glory and man is encouraged to attribute to some power, some act, some initiative of his own, his participation in that salvation which has come to him from pure grace...Any intrusion of any human merit, or act, or disposition, or power, as ground or cause or occasion, into the process of divine salvation--whether in the way of power to resist or ability to improve grace, or the employment of grace already received--is a breach with Calvin. (11) And a breach with Calvin in this respect is a breach with Augustine and, more importantly, a breach with Paul. In short, the difference between a monergistic and a synergistic faith, between a God only and a God and Gospel, is nothing less than the difference between the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the one hand, and all other religious systems of belief, whether pagan or so-called Christian, on the other. There are basically only two alternatives. If man contributes any essential part towards his salvation, he effectively becomes his own savior, even if that contribution takes no more concrete form than that of merely allowing God to act by non-resistance. There is here a clear point of demarcation. It is all of God or it is no good news at all. If man is free to resist, God is not free to act, for He is bound by man's freedom. If God is to be free to act, man must be bound by the will of God. There can be nothing harmful in such a bondage, since perfect freedom by definition is perfect obedience to perfect law, and "the law of the Lord is perfect" (Ps. 19:7). In the perfect order which is yet to come there can never be any conflict of wills since God's will and man's will are to be one, and both are therefore to be entirely free. But in a fallen world, God's grace must be irresistible or man's will can remain forever opposed to God, and the will of the creature overrides the will of the Creator. In truth-there is no "Gospel" that is not entirely rooted in the sovereignty of God's grace in salvation, which is the sum and substance of Calvinism. And I venture to say that it must be not merely a threepoint or a four-point Calvinism, but a five-point Calvinism. To depart from this is to surrender the whole by giving it a logical incoherence which makes it indefensible whether from Scripture or by reason. The crucial issue is the sovereignty of God's grace in the most absolute sense, a pure unabashed Monergism. The only defense against Synergism is an unqualified Calvinism ascribing all the glory to God by insisting upon the total spiritual impotence of man, an Election based solely upon the good pleasure of God, an Atonement intended only for the elect though sufficient for all men, a grace that can neither be resisted nor earned, and a security for the believer that is as permanent as God Himself. If such a system creates some problems because of the limitations of our comprehension, the problems it creates are not nearly as serious as the problems of another kind created by the alternatives which in fact destroy the Gospel altogether by dishonoring the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ both as to its sufficiency and its efficacy.
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave, And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save. His glories now we si...