We Left Our Church Because of Calvinism (Things My Calvinist Pastor Said)

[A repost: Updated July 2020 with lots of new stuff, including memes.  (When do I ever write anything short?)  For the text-only version, no memes, click here.  For the memes only, click here.  For the links only, click here.  I will also be breaking this down into smaller posts for a "Things My Calvinist Pastor Said" series.  This is a very long post here, so you can wait for the smaller ones, if you prefer.  All memes were created with imgflip.]

The inevitable has finally happened, the day we hoped would never come: The day we officially resigned from our church because of our pastor's dogmatic Calvinist preaching (May 20, 2019).  (From now on, I will try to call him our "ex-pastor."  And for the record, it was an Evangelical Free Church, which are being taken over by Calvinism all over the place.  So be wary and educated.)

It's been a long road.  He came on board about 6 years ago, and began introducing his Calvinist views here and there.  Just a little bit at a time, never really exposing the ugly parts of Calvinism.  Just subtle points that didn't really alarm us.  



And he's not a mean guy or bad guy or anything.  He seems genuinely nice and like he desperately wants to honor God.  And he's got a good "leader-type" personality: strong, confident, bold, forthright, well-educated, great speaker, enthusiastic.  But he does seem a little bit on the domineering side, in a "this is MY church" and "my ways are best" and "I always know best" way.  But at first, he just seemed bold and enthusiastic.  A strong leader.   

But then a little over a year after starting his pastor-ship, he did a 9-month long series on Romans.  (Calvinists love digging into Romans!)  



And this is when he began pulling out the Calvinist Big Guns.  And it's only gotten worse from there.  Personally, I think he did a 9-month long series on Romans simply so that he could talk about predestination for 9 long months!  It is clearly one of his favorite topics.  And since then, our "alarm bells" have been going off continuously.  (But he's still been very careful to almost never mention the word "Calvinist," or to identify himself as such.  And it's been over 7 years since he came on board as of July 2020, and he has only just now done a blog post on TULIP for the first time, as far as I can tell.  That's how long Calvinists will lay the groundwork and carefully entrench their theology before exposing their theology for what it is.)   







These are things that he or his adult son who preaches sometimes has said (that son of his is CREEPY when he preaches, staring down the congregation, pointing his finger at us as he sternly lectures us, even though he's probably only in his 30's), but these aren't actual quotes (but basically yeah) ...


1.  "We don't 'choose' God or obedience.  We are so depraved, so wicked, that we can't choose God or seek God.  God chooses us and has to cause us to seek Him!"  
            Interesting, because ...  
            Joshua 24:15"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ..."  
            Psalm 119:30: "But I have chosen the way of truth..."  
            Psalm 119:173: "May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts."  
            Joel 3:14: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!"  
            John 7:17: "If anyone chooses to do God's will ..."  
            Deuteronomy 4:29: "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." 
            Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart..."
            Acts 17:27: "For God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him ..."
            Psalm 14:2: "The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."
            Hebrews 11:6: "... anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
            Isaiah 55:6: "Seek the Lord while he may be found ..."
            Amos 5:4, 14: "Seek me and live ... Seek good, not evil."
            Proverbs 8:17: "... those who seek me find me."
            Jeremiah 50:4: "... the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God."
            Yep, no "choosing" or "seeking" in the Bible anywhere! 












2.  "We are as dead inside as physical dead bodies, unable to do anything.  Like a dead body that just lays there - all dead - we can't even think about, want, or seek God on our own unless God makes us do it, unless the Holy Spirit first regenerates our hearts and opens our eyes."  
            Calvinists call it "total depravity," but to them it's really "total inability."  
            [It's much more convincing and deceptive to call mankind "depraved" instead of "unable," because all Christians are willing to admit to the depravity of man.  But if Calvinists called it what they really mean - "total inability," that mankind is completely unable to think about God, want God, seek God, or believe in God on our own so God has to cause the chosen ones to do it, while the non-chosen ones can never do it - then there would be a lot more Christians alarmed about Calvinism.  But "total depravity" flies under the radar.  Sneaky!] 
            Anyway, Calvinists say we are totally unable to do anything that God doesn't cause us to do, not even think about God or want God or seek God.  That everything we do is because God causes it.  
            [But they don't use the word "cause."  They use other words like "ordained" or "determined" or "decreed."  But it always means "caused."  But they have to hide the "cause" because it would get them into messy theological trouble when it comes to proclaiming that God "causes" sin.  And so once again, "determined, decreed, ordained" fly under the radar.  It makes what they're really saying much less clear so that they don't have to get into the repulsive, paradoxical inconsistencies of Calvinism, such as how Calvi-god "causes" sin but punishes man for it.  Calvinism is all about obscuring what they are really saying and what they really believe, hiding it under layers and layers of more biblical-sounding ideas and words.  This helps it get entrenched in people hearts and churches much more deeply before anyone really knows what they're buying into.  Question: If you have to obscure what you're saying so that people buy it, could it be because it's NOT THE TRUTH!?!]  
            But you find me one verse that supports this nonsense!


  
            They wrongly - using flawed human logic - equate spiritual death with physical dead bodies.  They insist that if physical "dead" means you can't do anything on your own, like a dead body that just lays there, then spiritual death must also mean you can't do anything on your own.  And that's why God has to cause you (well, the "elect" only) to seek Him, to want Him, to believe in Him.  Because you are dead like a dead body.  
            But they are basing their theology on their own flawed analogy!  
            Find me one verse that says "spiritually dead" means that we are as lifeless and incapable of doing anything as a dead body, that we can't think or reason or analyze or decide.  
            You won't find a verse like that.
            But do you know what you will find?
            Someone else who was considered "dead," according to the Bible.  The prodigal son.  And yet he "came to his senses" and went back to his father.  His father did not drag him back or put some sort of spell over him to draw him back.  He simply waited for the son to come back.  And eventually, the son "came to his senses" on his own after looking around at his life and the condition he was in, and he decided to return to the father.  
            Spiritual death does not mean "like a lifeless dead body."  That is a bad, wrong, misleading analogy!  It simply means that we are dead in our sins, separated from God, headed to hell.  (If they can get you to agree to their bad analogies, then they've got you hooked!)  
            But guess what?  
            Our brains still work.  Our minds are still alive.  And God expects us to use our living brains to want Him, seek Him, and find Him!  (As you can see in verse after verse in #1 above.)  
            Also look at Amos 5:4"Seek me and live ..."  God is saying, "Seek me and you will find life," which means that if they have to seek Him to find life then they are dead right now because they haven't yet found life in Him.  This means God is talking to "dead people."  He is telling "dead people" to seek Him, to find life in Him.  And God can expect "dead people" to seek Him because He knows that our brains still work.  
            Calvinism says "dead people can't seek God."  But God Himself commanded "dead" people to seek Him.  And so once again, who's wrong?
            And on top of all that, there was a case in the Bible where a physically dead person heard Jesus' call and responded.  His name was Lazarus.  If even physically dead people can hear Jesus, how much more can physically alive but only spiritually dead people hear Him?  
            "Oh," but I can imagine the Calvinist saying, "that's because Jesus woke him up first, so that he could hear and respond, just like the Holy Spirit wakes up the elect first - and only the elect - so that they can hear and respond to God's call."
            First off, we have no indication that Lazarus was "woken up" before he heard Jesus' call.  And even if his dead body was "woken up" first, it doesn't mean that a physically alive but spiritually dead person has to be "woken up" first.  Spiritually dead is not the same thing as physically dead.  But even if it was the same thing, as Calvinists claim, then the story of Lazarus shows us that a physically-dead person heard and responded to Jesus, meaning that spiritually dead people can also hear and respond to Jesus.
            Secondly, we still have the other example of the prodigal son who was considered "dead" coming to his senses on his own and returning to his father and the many verses about God telling people to seek Him, including "Seek me and live."  
            And thirdly, there is no verse that clearly says that God only calls the elect or that He has different kinds of calls for the elect and the non-elect.
            Instead, I see verses that clearly say that Jesus will call "all men" to Himself when He has risen from the dead, that God calls all men to repentance, and that salvation is offered to all people (Acts 17:30, John 12:32, Titus 2:11, Romans 5:18).  
            FYI, Calvinists have no problem admitting that God calls to all people; they just say that only the elect can and will respond.  Apparently, Calvi-god gives fake calls to most people to believe in him, fake offers of salvation and eternal life, knowing full-well that he made them unable to respond to the call.  And he does this so that he could have a better excuse to send them to hell because they "rejected" his offer.  Even though he created them to reject him.  It's insane!
            But I believe the Bible teaches that God calls and draws all people to Him, through nature and through the truth He puts in our hearts and the circumstances He puts in our paths.  I believe He is active in trying to lead all people to Him (but it's up to us to decide if we will respond to Him or resist Him).  I believe that everyone has the chance to find Him, that salvation is possible for all because Jesus paid for all men's sins.  
            Calvinism, however, believes that only the elect will be effectively drawn to Him (the non-elect get a "fake call" that they can never respond to, but that makes them guilty for not responding to it) because God Himself will draw them with an irresistible grace that is only for the elect because Jesus died only for the elect.





   
            [And yet they "brag" about how humble they are - but they don't call it "bragging," but something like "praising God" - to believe that they did nothing to be saved, not even seeking God or choosing to believe in Jesus on their own.  They say that because God "did it all" - chose them and made them believe - then they have "no reason to brag."  
            I, however, think that if only a very few people are chosen to be saved then that makes them "much more special" than everyone else and gives them a huge reason to be proud, to brag, because they won the "salvation lottery" out of millions and millions of people, even if they did nothing to get it.  It was pure luck.  They got the "golden ticket."  Hooray for them!  Only five available, and they got one of them!  They are super-special indeed!

  
            However, Calvinists will counter that with "But it isn't luck.  God doesn't choose people arbitrarily or randomly.  He has His reasons, even if we don't know what they are."
            That's even worse!
            Because it means that not everyone got the same chance to be chosen.  Calvi-god didn't put everyone's name in a hat, giving everyone the same odds of being chosen, and then pick the "elect" at random.  
            No!  Calvi-god had reasons why he picked whom he did to be saved.  He looked at certain people (before everyone was born) and said, "There's just something more special about you.  I'm going to choose to love you more than everyone else, to spend eternity with you instead of with others."  
            Even if the Calvinist claims "I don't know why He chose me, but I can't brag about being saved because I did nothing to get eternal life," it's still a backhanded self-compliment: "He just saw something more special and desirable in me than He did in you.  He couldn't live without me but He could live without you.  I don't know what it is, but something set me apart as worth saving more than you."  
            Even more reason to brag, while trying to sound like they're not bragging.
            But if, as I believe, God made salvation available to everyone, if God calls to everyone, if Jesus died for everyone, if we all have the same ability to put our faith in Jesus, then there is truly no reason to brag or be proud if we chose to believe in Jesus for our salvation.  Because anyone else can do the same thing.  There's nothing special or different about us.  We just chose to accept a free gift that Jesus made possible and that God offered us, that He offers to all of us.  But I digress ... as usual.]  

            But the Bible is absolutely overflowing with examples of the total opposite of "total inability," of God expecting people to make choices, to think and evaluate and make decisions, to seek Him and believe in Him and obey Him.  
            And I would rather determine what kind of a God He is by seeing how He revealed Himself and what He says about Himself in His Word than to, as Calvinists do, define how God must be in order to be the kind of God they think He is (one who, according to Calvinism, has to totally control everything or else He's not really God - a total misunderstanding of "sovereignty") and then twist Scripture to fit their view.  
            God does not cause us to do what we do.  He gives us the right to make our own choices, He expects us to make our own choices, and then He holds us accountable for our own choices.  
            Yes, He does hold all things in His hands, and He works circumstances out for His plans, and He might put us in situations that force us to make a choice or to act out what's in our hearts (without determining what we choose or putting evil into our hearts), and He does put our self-chosen obedience or disobedience to good use ... but He never prevents us from doing what He commands and He never causes us to break His commands.  He might force us to make our choice about Him, but He never forces us to choose to sin or rebel or reject Him.  No one has been predestined to hell!  That is an incredible assault on the Gospel and on God's holy, righteous, trustworthy character!




              Calvinism flips the Gospel and Truth on its head, and then it shames and manipulates you into accepting it ... because, as they say, "it's what the Bible says, and God causes everything that happens for His glory, so who are you to question Him."  
            (No ... it's what the Calvinist says the Bible says.  Big difference!  And Calvinism uses God's glory against God, against the Gospel.  How very deceptive and wicked!)  
            [Also see "Is Faith a Gift God Gives (or forces on) Us?"]





3.  "We all, even babies and small children, are depraved and wicked to the core, deserving of death, and we can never come to God on our own."  
            Calvinists love to remind us of how wicked even babies are.  For some twisted reason, it makes them feel intellectually-superior and ultra-humble to embrace this "evil baby" idea!  "Look how smart and humble we are to embrace such distasteful teachings!  So much better than those of you who question it because you can't handle it or understand it!"  (Of course they don't say this out loud; it's just my characterization of them.)




  
            And as I pointed out in #2 above, Christians agree with the idea of depravity, that mankind is fallen and rebellious and sinful and separated from God.  But Calvinists don't just mean "depraved."  They mean that we are so totally depraved that there is no part of us that can do or think or want anything good.  No part of us that can even want or think about God.  And so God has to cause His chosen ones to want Him, seek Him, choose Him, because we couldn't do it on our own, being as depraved as we are.  
            I think Calvinists don't even realize how much it appeals to their pride to claim that they are "so totally depraved that they can't even think about God on their own."  It's the kind of pride that comes with thinking you are so humble.  Like if it's humble to admit you are sinful, then it must be so totally humble to admit that you are so totally sinful that you can't do any good unless God makes you do it.     
            But the Bible does not support this view of depravity.  It's going above and beyond the Bible's view of depravity.  (Just like a Calvinist's view of sovereignty does.)  Find me one verse that clearly spells out that man cannot think about, want, or seek God on his own, that God has to cause it to happen.  Just one.  
            And Genesis 6:5 doesn't count: "And the Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."  Calvinists use this to support total depravity.  But when you read it in context, you see that it's talking about the people of Noah's day, a mixed human-demon hybrid of people who were so wicked that God had to flood the earth to start over.  That is a verse about the people of that day, not all people in general.  
            And Romans 3:11 doesn't count either ("There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God") because it doesn't say that no one can seek God.  Romans 3 is not about an inability to seek God.  It's about the general nature of mankind, that we are self-focused instead of God-focused.  It's about how no one can earn heaven just by following some law or by being born into a certain bloodline.  It's about how we are all fallen, and we all need a Savior.  That's what this passage is about, not about being totally unable to think about, want, or seek God unless He makes us do it.


  
            Besides, that Romans passage is referencing Psalm 14, which isn't about mankind being unable to come to God.  It's about wicked men being wicked, refusing to call on Him.  It's about the stupidity of rejecting the Lord, not about the inability to accept Him on your own.  
            But this Romans 3:11 verse is one of the biggest traps Calvinists use to ensnare Christians, convincing them that "See, no one can seek God unless God makes them do it."  Once again, show me the verse that clearly says this exact thing, not a half-verse taken out of context and twisted to say something it doesn't say ... and then maybe I'll start believing you!  (Here is a good post on Romans 3 from Soteriology 101: "No One Can Do Good?")
            The thing is, Calvinists do not take what the Bible says at face value.  They do not believe that God commanding men to seek Him means that men can actually seek Him.  They change it to be that only the elect can seek Him because God causes them to seek Him and that the non-elect can never seek Him on their own because they are as "dead as a dead body" and God won't bring them to life because He didn't choose them and Jesus didn't die for them.  Because God predestined them for hell.  
            But a simple, plain reading of the Word shows that God made it possible for all people to seek Him, that He gives all of us evidence that He is real, that Jesus died for all of our sins, that salvation is available for everyone and God wants all of us to be saved and God calls to all of our hearts ... and that's why God can command all men to seek Him.  Because He wants us all to seek Him, to find salvation.  And because He knows we can.  
            But to Calvinists, that's too simple.  A simple, easily-understood, for-everyone Gospel is too easy.  It has to be harder than that.  And so they create mysterious, complicated, convoluted, paradoxical theological ideas by twisting what the Bible clearly, plainly says.  Mysteries that they then have to "solve" in all sorts of twisted, round-about, unclear ways.  Then they get to be super-theological-geniuses who can understand the so-called "deep mysteries" of the Bible, and they get to be "super humble" when they accept the difficult, distasteful, contradictory teachings that they don't fully understand.  "We just humbly accept God's sovereignty and His right to do whatever He wants, such as 'ordaining' our sins but then punishing us for them, even if we can't understand how it all works out."


  
            How nice for them!  To create the theological conundrums that only someone with their theological brilliance can solve!  
            When all along, God wrote the Bible for the common-man, for everyone, to be understood plainly and simply.


  
            Oh, Calvinism makes me mad!  It's not much different than the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law who complicated the Scriptures and turned them into something they aren't, but who were "so educated" that they missed the Truth when He was standing right in front of them.  Blinded by their own brilliance!  
            The thing is, you'll find barely any support for Calvinism if you read the Bible alone (and the little you do find will be far outweighed by the support for free-will, for mankind's responsibility to make real choices).  You have to be taught to find Calvinism in the Bible.  You have to put on Calvinist glasses first to see Calvinism in the Bible.  And that should be alarming!

            [Speaking of free-will, my ex-pastor once said that the Bible never teaches free-will (Really!?!  Then what's a "free-will offering" in Numbers 15:3 and Ezra 7:16 and other verses?), but that it teaches that man has a fallen will that makes real choices.  
            Okay, I can agree with the "fallen will" part, if he meant that our wills are now tainted by evil and sin.  But that's not what Calvinists mean when they say this.  When they say we make "real choices," they mean we make real choices according to our nature.  And this is a huge difference!  
            Because there are only two natures, according to Calvinism: the unregenerated/sinner one that the non-elect get and the regenerated/repentant one that God gives the elect.  And if you get the unregenerated one (or if you're elected but haven't been regenerated yet), it comes only with the desire to sin and reject God, and so you can/will only and always want to sin and reject God, and so you can/will only and always choose to sin and reject God.  The unregenerated person can only desire/choose sin and can never desire/choose to do good or right or to be obedient to God, because it's not in their nature.  This is what Calvinism's "according to their nature" means.  But Calvinists still call this "making real choices," even though fallen, unregenerated people can only desire/choose evil.  
            How in the world can they sincerely call this "making real choices"?  
            They call it "real choices" because they say that the unregenerated person wanted to make those sinful choices, which means they are really responsible for their sinful choices and can be held accountable for them, even though their sinful desires and choices were determined by the nature Calvi-god gave them and it was impossible to choose anything else.  
            Insane!!!]

            Anyway, back to the Bible's view of depravity.  Biblically, depravity is more along the lines of being fallen, sinful, unable to save ourselves.  But the Calvinist's over-extend it to mean that we are "totally depraved" (the "T" in their TULIP theology, look at this post under the heading of "Some Refutations of TULIP" for more on this), that we are so fallen that there's nothing good in us and nothing in us that makes us want to do good or seek God.  And so God has to be the one to make us (well, the elect only) want Him and seek Him and to regenerate our hearts so that we can do good.
            But let's look at one example to see what the Bible says.  Look at Matthew 19:16-26, about the rich, young ruler.  (Read it yourself, never trust anyone else to tell you how to read it.  Calvinists will tell you what they think the Bible "teaches."  But you tell them, "No, I want to know what the Bible actually says," and ask for the verses they are using and look them up yourself.)  
            In this passage, a rich, young ruler comes to Jesus and asks, "What good must I do to have eternal life?"  And Jesus tells him to keep the commandments.  And the man says he has kept all these.  Then Jesus tells him he lacks one thing, giving away everything he owns to follow Him.  And the man goes away sad because he doesn't want to give up his wealth.  And then Jesus utters that famous line about how it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven.  
            I don't think Jesus is saying we can earn our way into heaven by doing good things, but He is pointing out that sometimes earthly things keep us from Him, that sometimes we choose other things over Him.  And Jesus was getting to the heart of what was keeping this man from salvation, that he wanted his wealth more than eternal life.
            But my point here is that this man missed out on eternal life because of his wealth.  He wasn't saved.  And yet this man had kept the commandments.  And what did Jesus say about keeping the commandments?  That it was "good."  This unsaved man was doing "good things," keeping God's commandments, according to Jesus.  
            And yet Calvinists insist that unsaved people cannot think/want/do anything good or be obedient to God unless God has chosen them and regenerates their hearts first.  
            Yet this unsaved man did good and kept commandments.  (This did not "earn" him heaven, of course, because getting to heaven is a "heart thing."  But it's still an unregenerated person doing good, seeking God, trying to obey Him.)  
            This story alone blasts the "T" (totally depravity) right out of the water.  And if the "T" falls then the whole Calvinist theology falls, because it's all built on the "T," on their wrong definition of depravity.  

            [In fact, the Bible also contradicts Calvinism's "total depravity" in Romans 2:14-16 (emphasis is mine): "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them."  This clearly says that we can - by nature - do the good things the law requires of us, that our consciences and thoughts guide us, convicting us or defending us.  And we do this because God wrote the law on our hearts, on the hearts of sinful, fallen men.  Where is the "total depravity" in that!?!  That is the opposite of Calvinism's "total depravity"!]


 
  
            If man is not so totally depraved that he can't think about/want/seek God unless God makes him do it ... then man does indeed have the ability, on his own, to think good things, do good things (not to earn salvation, but to at least do things we and God consider good), to think about/want/seek God ... and so then man doesn't need God to regenerate him first before he can find God (that destroys the "I" in TULIP, Irresistible Grace, that God has to draw the elect to Him, that He has to regenerate them first so they can want/seek Him).  
            And if we can want/seek God on our own then it's part of being human and anyone can do it, so that means that anyone can find God and be saved, which means that there are no specially-chosen "elect" people that God causes to believe in Him (that destroys the "U," Unconditional Election, that God chose a group of people to save, the elect).  
            And if there's no specially-chosen group of people - if anyone can be saved - that destroys the "L", Limited Atonement, which says that Jesus died only for the elect.  If there are no elect people, then Jesus died for all people.  
            And of course, if there are no elect people then there are no elect people for God to cause to "persevere," which destroys the "P," Perseverance of the Saints, which says that God causes the elect to be faithful till the end.  (For the record, I do agree with Calvinists that we can't lose our salvation, but just not in the way they believe it.)
            And just to warn you, Calvinists have many verses to "back up" their theology.  They will verse-bomb you with verse after verse to support their views, making it seem like they must really know what they are talking about and so they must really be right.  But always go back to the original verse and read it in context to see what it says.  Read the chapter it's in, to see what it's about, who it's for, etc.  They do not have as much support as they think they do, when you keep the verses in context.  





            And to get back to the "babies are wicked" thing, to give you a correct idea of how God views children, look for a moment at Jeremiah 19:4:  "For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods ... and have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.  They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as an offering to Baal - something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind."  
            Calvinists call children "wicked, morally-depraved, in rebellion against God, and completely cut off from Him," meaning that if they die too early then they die as wicked sinners who are cut off from God.  They call babies "vipers in diapers," saying that if babies had the chance, they'd kill their parents in their sleep.  
            But what does God call them?  
            Innocent.   
            (Yes, this video is cute and funny, but don't overlook the theology he's teaching here, that children are depraved "born sinners" who deserve hell.)
            Even though we are all born sinners and even though babies "naturally" develop sinful attitudes and behaviors, God does hold this against those who are too young to know better.  God does not count our sins against us until we are old enough to know right from wrong, to choose the truth and reject the lies, to accept Jesus or reject Him.
            Deuteronomy 1:39 makes a distinction between those who know better and "children who do not yet know good from bad."  
            Isaiah 7:16 refers to an age when a child is old enough to "reject the wrong and choose the right."
            In 2 Samuel 12:23, King David said that when he dies, he will go to where his deceased baby is.  And unless you want to claim David went to hell, then you have to say he went to heaven, which would mean his baby also went to heaven after he died.  
            And God calls those who died too early "innocent."
            Yet Calvinists insist on defining babies as "totally depraved, wicked-to-the-core sinners who are in rebellion against God and hopelessly lost unless they repent," meaning that if they die then they were predestined to die separated from God, as wicked, unrepentant, hell-bound sinners.
            And so I ask, who is right?  God or Calvinists?




            Here is a post I wrote - "12 Tips on How to Think Critically About Calvinism" - to help people be discerning about Calvinist theology and what the Bible says.





 (Ah, I crack myself up!)





4.  "God didn't have to save any of us.  But in His love and sovereignty, He chose to elect some to salvation, even though we are depraved and wicked and in rebellion against Him.  But none of us deserve to be saved; we all deserve hell.  So the real question isn't 'Why would God predestine some people to hell.'  It's 'Why did God elect any of us for heaven when no one deserves it?'"  
            That's right, make people feel like they can't ask the hard questions.  And deflect away from the bad stuff.  It's much easier to sell your poison when you hide the skull-and-crossbones!

            [Skilled Calvinists know how to deflect, to get you to look at one hand while they pull the old switcheroo with the other.  Be careful.  For example, if you want to know if a pastor is a Calvinist, ask them.  If they answer "yes," then they are Calvinist.  But if they answer you with a question - such as "Well, you believe God is sovereign, don't you?  You believe in grace, don't you?" - then they are very educated Calvinists who are smart enough to know not to admit it because it turns people off.  
            Here is a story of one Calvinist pastor who knowingly deceived the church he was interviewing at, after they specifically asked him if he was a Calvinist and told them they wouldn't hire him if he was.  And he ended up getting the job, even though he is a solid 7-point Calvinist, because he played games with their definition of "Calvinist."  This is how tricky they can be!  And this should make you mad - a 7-point-Calvinist who basically lied about being a Calvinist by toying with the people's definition of Calvinist.  Shame on him!  If a pastor answers your "Are you a Calvinist?" question with another question, then you can safely assume they are strong, dogmatic, educated, slippery Calvinists who know they shouldn't admit it to you because you know too much about Calvinism to buy it.  
            Our pastor is a very dogmatic Calvinist who has been very careful over the last 6 years to never admit it, to never talk about Calvinism directly.  Calvinist pastors do this deliberately, to get deep into a church before anyone catches on to their Calvinism.  And besides, if a Calvinist pastor never says they're a Calvinist then no one will know to look up Calvinism online for themselves to see what others say about it.  Very strategic.]

            Okay now, back to Calvi-god showing his "love" to the elect.
            My 17-year-old son came up with a great analogy of that kind of "love."  Imagine you're a parent with 10 kids.  And you have more than enough food to feed all 10 kids.  But you decide to choose only one child to feed, and the rest you slowly starve to death.  But the worst part is that you had those other 9 kids just so you could hate them and starve them to death, while you tell them that you really do want to feed them, that you want them to live.  But it was your plan from the beginning to have them so they could die so that you could show the chosen child how loved they are, by comparison.  And because it somehow brings you some kind of sick glory, showing off how "sovereign" you are over everything.
            This is Calvinism!  
            And yep, that's some amazing love, isn't it?


  
            And the Calvinist "death row" illustration is along the same lines, and it doesn't work either.  My pastor used this one, too, saying that God's grace and His love for the elect is something like this (paraphrased): 
            "Imagine there's 100 people on death row, and God walks into the room and graciously chooses to free 10 of them.  Was God unfair to spare only a few of them and not the rest, when everyone on death row deserved death?  God didn't have to save any of them, but He chose to save some of them because of His amazing love and grace.  Without God choosing to save some of them, none of them would have lived, because they all deserved death."
            Sounds kinda convincing, right?
            But the thing is ... in Calvinism, God didn't just walk in and graciously free some of those on death row, those who were guilty of a horrible crime.  He first preplanned and caused them to do the horrible crime that put them on death row in the first place.  He made them unable to resist doing the crime, gave them no choice about it, because He predestined it.  And what's more, God created those He wasn't going to save specifically so that He could punish them with death.  And then after preplanning their crime and causing them to commit it, God then punishes them for it.  
            And we're supposed to believe this is "gracious" and "loving"!?!  "Merciful" and "justice"!?!  That it's how God really is?  That it coincides with His good, loving, trustworthy, righteous nature?
            Bullcrap!
            And I'll say it again ... Bullcrap!



            Oh, the damage Calvinism does to the Gospel, God's character, and Jesus's amazing sacrifice!
            (If "bullcrap" offends you more than Calvinism, then something's wrong.)  
            [And FYI, Calvinists love to constantly talk about God's grace, about how amazing it is, how wonderful it is, how unconditional it is, or like my Calvinist pastor says, "I love the doctrine of God's grace.  His undeserved favor towards wretched sinners like us."  ("Doctrines of Grace" is code-word for "I am a dogmatic Calvinist.")  Sounds good, right?  But what they really mean is that Calvi-god only has grace for the elect.  There is no real grace for the non-elect, the majority of the people.  "Unconditional grace" does not mean it's for everyone, just that the elect did nothing to get it.  But Calvinists will still wax poetic about Calvi-god's "amazing grace," even though it's not for most people because Calvi-god predestined them to hell.  Kinda sick, don't ya think!]

            And notice that another major problem with Calvinism is that it sets up false dichotomies - two options that you have to choose between, that force you to pick the one that supports Calvinism.  In this case, it's "Either God chose some people to be saved or else no one gets saved."  And if those are your only two options, then you will be forced to pick that God chose some to get saved, aligning with their idea of election.  
            But those aren't the only two options.  The biblical one is that God made salvation available for everyone and that those who choose to believe, to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, will be saved.  But Calvinists do not give you the biblical answer as one of the options.  They give you one that you know you have to reject and they give you one that supports Calvinism, and so you inevitably choose the one that supports Calvinism.  
            They do this also with "Either God is sovereign or you are sovereign" and "Either God is in control or you are in control."  And of course, you have to pick that God is sovereign and in control because no Christian would admit that man is sovereign or in control.  (Another one is "Either God controls everything or He controls nothing.")  
            But since you don't think to question their bad definition of sovereignty and "in control," they trap you into their mindset, their backwards theology.  Because when they say sovereign and "in control," they mean "God actively controls all things, even our sins and choices and beliefs."  
            But biblically, sovereignty is about God being the highest authority, the one in control of all things, but He has chosen to not actively control all things.  He has chosen to give mankind the right to make real choices, to have some control in and influence over how things go in this world.  God has chosen to voluntarily restrain His use of power, His ability to control all things, to work with and through mankind's choices, instead of controlling mankind's choices.  But in His sovereignty, He knows how to take whatever we do and work it into His plans.  This is how the Bible shows God working, time and time again.  NOT actively controlling every detail, such as causing our sins and our rejection of Him.  (For more false dichotomies, click here.)
            Or they tell you what certain words have to mean, such as predestination, making you think there's no other way to understand it and so you have to accept what they believe about it.  (Click here for more on what predestination really means.)



               


            Calvinists suck people in bit by bit, like quicksand, through false dichotomies like this that are set up to support Calvinism.  And it works ... because we trust them, we don't even notice the little drips of Calvinism they add here and there, we ignore or explain away the "red flags" we feel in our hearts when they say something that doesn't sound quite right, we don't take the time to compare what they say against the Bible, we get overwhelmed with all the verses they use and don't look them up for ourselves, we read the Bible through the Calvinist glasses they put on us, and because we don't stop to think outside the box they put us in, outside the options they give us, never realizing that they left out the biblical answers from the very beginning.  (Also see "When Calvinism's 'Bad Logic' Traps Good Christians."  Have I mentioned how much I hate Calvinism!)




5.  "God ordains (note: Calvinism means "causes," but they won't see it or admit it) the wickedness that wicked people do, for His purposes and His glory."  
            To Calvinists, it's absolutely not possible that God could have simply allowed mankind to choose to be wicked and to do evil things, and then in His wisdom and sovereignty, He figured out how to work their self-chosen evilness into His plans.  
            No!  Calvi-god doesn't just allow people to sin; he has to pre-plan and cause all the evil that happens ... or else He's not God.  Because a "sovereign" God (according to their definition) has to actively control all things, even every speck of dust in the air.  Because if there's anything He doesn't control, it would mean He's not all-powerful.  According to them.  (Where does it say this in the Bible?  That God can't choose to not actively preplan/control/cause all things?)
            (And remember that if Calvinists say "we make real choices," they mean we can only make the choices that coincide with the desires of our Calvi-god-given natures.  So if Calvi-god gave you the "unregenerated nature" of the non-elect, then you can only desire to sin, which means you can only choose to sin.  Because he didn't give you the regenerated nature of the elect which comes with the desire to obey God and do good.  How's that for "having a choice," only being able to desire/choose sin because of the nature God gave you?)  
            Read the John Piper quotes in this post.  That's pretty much what our pastor says too, while trying to make it sound good, like "Isn't it great to know that God is so in control that He even controls ("preplans and causes") wickedness and evilness!?!"  
            Umm, at what cost?  His character?  His goodness?  His love?  His justness?  Our trust in Him?  The eternal souls of those He predestines to hell?




              Hey, Calvinist, wait for some evil thing to happen in your life, to you or someone you love, and let's see if you still believe this!



  
            My pastor also said that we cannot claim God is unjust when He punishes people because He is simply dealing with a world full of rebellious, sinful, wicked people.  And so we can't rage against Him, because we are a sinful group of people (meaning that we deserve what we get).
            But what the pastor fails to say is that, according to his Calvinist theology, God first causes us to be rebellious, sinful and wicked, giving us no choice or ability to be any different ... and then He punishes us for it.
            Big difference!
            How in the world can this be called "justice"?  How can causing people to sin and reject Him, giving them no ability to not sin and not reject Him, and then punishing them for sinning and rejecting Him be called "justice"?
            If that's justice, I'd hate to see injustice!
            You bet we better rage against that kind of nonsense.  Because God's character is at stake!  The truth of the Gospel is at stake!
            And do you know the great, comforting Calvinist answer to this, to why God can cause sin (the say "ordain" but mean "cause") but is not held accountable for it, to why He can cause our sins and yet still be considered just when He punishes us for it?
            "Well, God can do whatever He wants to do.  We can't understand His ways.  He is the Potter and we are the clay.  Who are we to talk back to Him!?!"
            Deflecting and shaming, while refusing to actually answer the question!
            That's some great theology!    
            But the problem in Calvinism starts at the very beginning with their view of God.  Calvinist logic says, "If God doesn't cause everything then He's not a sovereign God."  
            They decide that God has to preplan/cause everything ... or else He can't be God.  If even a speck of dust is not in His control, then He's not God.  According to them.  And contrary to what God shows us in His Word about how He's chosen to be and act.
            Instead of just accepting the Bible's clear examples of God allowing people to make their own choices, Calvinists think it's so much better - so much more biblical - to say, "God shows how sovereign He is by causing the things He commands us not to do, causing rape and murder and child abuse and rebellion against Him"!?!  (See the post "Do Calvinists really believe God causes sin?  Let them speak for themselves.")  
            Makes perfect sense!  Sheds a great light on God, doesn't it!  
            Calvinists essentially destroy the rest of God's character - His justice, love, grace, trustworthiness, etc. - in order to make Him as "sovereign" as they can, going above and beyond what God says about Himself in the Word about how He's chosen to exercise His sovereignty and power.   

            [And FYI, Calvinists will say "We don't say God causes evil.  We don't say man can't choose."  And that's generally right.  They don't SAY it, but it's what their theology teaches, even if they won't come out and admit it.  
            With Calvinists, you have to dig deep to get to what they really believe, getting past the layers and layers they cover it up with.  Question every word they use, every verse, every illustration (such as even when they say "The Bible teaches ...".  Don't let them tell you what the Bible teaches, their interpretation of it, but seek to know what it actually says).  And when you do, you get to what they really believe, which is far different than what the Calvinist "says."  In fact, their deep-down beliefs are often the opposite of what they said, the thing they assured you they weren't saying.  
            Calvinism is brilliant!  A brilliant satanic deception!  So brilliantly deceptive that the average, garden-variety Calvinist can't see how wrong it is, the damage it does to God's character and the Gospel.  They just think they are being humble and God-honoring to accept it without any resistance.  And they are made to feel that if they can grasp the "hard teachings" of Calvinism that the average believer can't grasp, then they are in the highest levels of the spiritually-intelligent, alongside their theological Calvinist heroes.  Who wouldn't be swayed by that!?!] 





            I mean, think about it a moment, people.  Cause vs. Allow.  This is not a minor issue or a small theological disagreement.  It is MAJOR!  It strikes at the very heart and character of God, at the message of the Gospel, at Jesus's sacrifice, at people's chance for salvation, etc.  
            Does God allow us to make our own choices, to choose sin and rebellion, to reject Him?  If it is our choice then He is holy and just when He allows us to go to hell, because we chose it, despite His many attempts and offers to save us from hell.  
            Or does He cause us to sin and to be wicked and to reject Him, and then punish us for the things He caused us to do?  How is that holy, just, loving, righteous, trustworthy?  
            (Calvinists will hide the word "cause" under layers and layers of gobbledy-gook - such as saying that God doesn't really cause us to sin, but He just lets us choose to sin according to the sinner-nature that He gave us, the nature which can do nothing but want to sin and choose to sin - to obscure the fact that they do indeed believe God causes everything that happens, even sin and our rejection of Him.  It's their desperate attempt to trick people, even themselves, into thinking they aren't saying that God causes sin, when they really are.  It's sad.  And yet, it's even more sad how effective it is.  Brilliant satanic tricks!  Also see "Calvinist Comments: Hiding "God Causes" Under Other Phrases.")




   
            Does God command us not to sin but then cause us to sin?  Does He command us to repent and believe but then make it impossible for most people to repent and believe?  Does He predestine most people for hell, and yet dare to say in His Word that He wants all people to be saved and wants no one to perish?  
            That would make Him a liar of the worst kind!  
            How could we trust anything He says then, when He's always playing word games with us, tricking us into thinking He's saying one thing when He really means another, saying that He doesn't want us to do something but then causing us to do it because He really does want us to do it?   
            Who did Jesus really die for?  For everyone, and therefore everyone is invited to accept Him as Lord and Savior, to find salvation?  Or did He only die for those God predestined to save, the ones He "causes" to believe in Him?  
            Calvinists theologians have literally, clearly said, "Jesus didn't die for everyone, but only for the elect."  (That's the "L" in Calvinism's TULIP.)  
            Let that sink in for a moment.  How can you square that with what the Bible clearly teaches?  
            Do you know how Calvinists try to square it?  
            They say, "Well, God has two kinds of love - a saving kind for the elect and a 'gives you food and water' kind for the non-elect.  And God has two kinds of Wills - a revealed one where He says in the Bible that He wants all people to come to Him, and a 'secret, hidden' one that we Calvinists know about where He causes the opposite of what He says in the Bible by predestining most people to hell, even though He said He wanted all men to be saved.  But God doesn't always cause what He 'wants' to happen. That's why He doesn't cause His revealed Will to happen, why He doesn't save all people even though He 'wants' all people to saved.  And since God predestined most people to hell, and since it would be a disgrace for Jesus if people could reject Him, then clearly Jesus only died for those predestined to be saved.  Therefore, Jesus didn't die for all people - just all 'kinds' of people, all of the elect people from all nations."
            Do you hear that!?!  Do you know what that is?  
            It's friggin' nonsense.  



            It's Satan spinning God's Words, turning lies into truth, evil into good.
            Oh my goodness, it makes me sick!  My blood is boiling!

            [Let's go back briefly to the idea that God has two different, opposing Wills.   
            God tells us what His Will is in His Word:  
            "... [God is] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."  (2 Peter 3:9, KJV)
            "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4, KJV)
            God has said He is not willing that anyone should perish but He wants all men to be saved.  Calvinists will acknowledge this with one breath, but then in the next breath they say, "Yeah, but that's just His revealed Will.  He also has a secret Will, where He has predestined most people to hell for His glory.  But He still wants all men to be saved.  He would like all men to be saved.  It makes Him sad that they are in hell.  But He has determined that predestining most people to hell is better for His glory, pleasure, and plans.  We can't understand it, so we just have to accept it." 
            Where in the Bible is any of this crap about a "secret, hidden Will" clearly taught?
            It's not in the Bible anywhere.  Calvinists have to cobble together a bunch of verses, taken out of context, to get the Bible to say that, to get it to "teach" the exact opposite of what it expressly says.  It's actually quite brilliant how they can get Christians to believe the opposite of what God clearly said in His Word, simply by convincing them that there's a "secret" layer to God's messages that only they know about.   
            So the idea that God has two different and opposing Wills regarding the salvation of mankind is not clearly in the Bible anywhere.
            But do you know what is clearly in the Bible?
            Not only does the Bible clearly say God that wants all men to be saved and wills that none should perish, but it also clearly says this about Paul's message that God wants all men to repent, believe in Jesus, and be baptized in His name:
            "For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God"  (Acts 20:27).  
            The whole Will of God!
            Paul's consistent message was "God want you to repent and believe in Jesus and be baptized in His name," and he calls it "the whole Will of God"!
            Where is there room for a "secret Will" of God that contradicts here, one that contradicts the revealed Will of God?  Where does Paul ever preach - clearly - about a secondary, hidden Will of God?  
            If God really does have a secret, hidden, contradictory Will where He predestines most people to hell even though He says He wants all men to be saved, then Paul is lying when he says that "repent and believe and be saved" is God's "whole Will."
            But Calvinists would still rather insist that God has a secondary, secret, hidden, contradictory Will than to admit that "God wants all men to be saved" is the "whole Will of God."  They will deny what the Bible clearly says, in favor of their messy, convoluted, cobbled-together, "mysterious," can't-be-understood-anyway theology.  And that's why they have to fall back on "We can't understand it, so we just humbly accept it.  Who are you to talk back to God anyway or to think you can understand His ways!?!"
            Sad!]


            If you aren't sure about whether it's "cause or allow," then you better figure it out pretty soon.  Because it has everything to do with what kind of God He is, what salvation is, what He requires of you, what faith is, who can believe in Him, etc.  And it has everything to do with what you tell others about God and the Bible, how you represent Him and His Truth.  
            Read the Bible, from beginning to end, and you tell me if it sounds like God lets people make their own choices ... or if He makes people's choices for them.  
            [God can and does control some things, plenty of things, and He can and does manipulate circumstances sometimes to get people to make the choices He knows they'll make, which He will use for His plans, but He doesn't predetermine which choices we make.  He doesn't command things but then prevent us from doing them (such as His command to seek Him, believe in Him, repent), and He doesn't cause us to break His commands, to sin, or to be wicked.] 
            The Bible is really clear on this.  It's the Calvinists who have screwed it all up with their illogical, contradictory, flawed, nonsensical misconceptions and assumptions about God.  They use a few unclear "Calvinist-sounding" verses (spun in such a way that it contradicts the rest of the Bible) as the lens that they view the rest of the Bible through, instead of simply finding a more biblically-consistent way to read those few "Calvinist" verses.  
            Don't alter the rest of the Bible and God's revealed character for a couple "Calvinist" verses.  Research those "Calvinist" verses more until they fit with the rest of the Bible and with God's revealed character.  And when you do, the whole Bible (and God Himself) is consistent and makes sense and is reliable.  Unlike Calvinism which alters everything about God and salvation to fit a few misunderstood verses!
            I think Calvinist preachers bank on people not knowing their Bibles well enough for themselves.  That way, they can throw out a few "Calvinist" verses and say, "See, it's in the Bible, so you have to accept it.  Humble Christians accept it and don't fight God on it."  (Another thing my Calvinist pastor basically said.)  And so we simply trust them and their views, believing that they must be more intelligent and more educated than us because they sound so sure of themselves and have so many verses to back them up and know some Greek.  We eat whatever garbage they force-feed us and assume there must be something wrong with us and our faith if we disagree with them or if we find it distasteful.  And no one speaks up because we are all afraid of looking "unhumble" or like we're too stupid to get it.  And the heresy spreads and grows stronger.  Calvinism thrives on the people letting the Calvinist pastor tell them how to "understand" what God says in His Word!  
            It's very hard for people to break free from Calvinism once it gets a strong hold on you.  Shame, fear of questioning the pastor, fear of being unhumble for questioning God (a Calvinist threat if you question their theology), and fear of offending or losing your Calvinist friends keep you captive!  
            But if you take off the Calvinist glasses and read the Bible for yourselves, praying for insight, then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!  And your heart and soul will begin to breathe again!  (I could literally feel my heart breaking and my soul suffocating under that Calvinist pastor's preaching!)













6.  "The Bible teaches both God's sovereignty (he means "God causes all things, even sin") and God holding us accountable for our sins (that He Himself causes, according to them).  And so we have to accept them both as true.  It teaches both these truths with no tension.  It's only we who have trouble accepting it and understanding it.  But God has no problem with it."
            Of course God doesn't have a problem with what He teaches.  And of course the Bible absolutely holds everything it says in perfect balance, without any tension.  
            But it's not the Bible I have a problem with.  It's the pastor's interpretation of the Bible that I have a problem with, the Calvinist ideas he calls "truths."  (Setting them up as "biblical truths" makes it harder for anyone to disagree with him because he's made it clear they are "disagreeing with the Bible" if they do.)



  
            And I have a problem with his interpretation of the Bible because Calvinists misunderstand God's sovereignty from the very beginning.  And when you misunderstand a biblical truth from the beginning then it will indeed cause tension and problems with the rest of the Bible.  
            But it's not the Bible that has tension with what it teaches.  
            It's the Calvinist's interpretation of the Bible that screws it all up!
            But it's much easier to understand when you understand it correctly: God has allowed mankind to choose between obeying or disobeying.  And in His sovereignty, He can and does work our choices, whatever they may be, into His plans.  But since He lets us decide to sin or not, He can hold us accountable for our choice to sin.  And so He is just when He punishes us for our sins, because He didn't cause us to do them.  We chose to do them all on our own.  
            (And not in the "fake" Calvinist way of "choosing," where we choose to do what God predetermined we would do and we couldn't have chosen anything else, but we're still responsible for our sins because we "chose" to sin.  Fake choices.  Fake freedom.  Fake responsibility.)

            My ex-pastor has also said that God ordained that Adam and Eve would sin ... and He ordained the wickedness of the people in Jesus's day so that they would crucify Him ... and He ordained that a wicked nation would attack Israel but then He punishes the wicked nation for attacking Israel.  And then the pastor acts like, "How can God ordain these evil things but not be held accountable for them?  I don't know.  But the Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all and that man is responsible for his sins.  And so I just accept this, even if I can't understand it."
            Now, if by "ordained" he meant that God knew it would happen and allowed it to happen and worked their choices into His plans, I could agree.  And if by "sovereign" he meant that God sometimes causes things to happen and sometimes just allows things to happen but that He never causes the things He commands us not to do, then once again I could agree.  
            But Calvinists mean "God preplans, causes, and controls everything that people do, even their sins and rebellion and unbelief and breaking His commands, and they have no choice to do anything differently."  
            And so, no, I cannot agree at all.  And I will fight this with all I've got ... because Calvinism makes God the source of, author of, and cause of all sin and evil (despite their insistence that they're not saying this), but then God punishes us for the things He makes us do.  And this makes God untrustworthy, unjust, unloving, deceptive, a liar, evil, etc.  
            And this is NOT the God of the Bible!
            No wonder Calvinists struggle with how God, in His "sovereignty," could preplan and cause people's sins but not be accountable for it, how He could sovereignly cause our sins but punish us for them.
            Because it's not biblical truth!
            It's Calvinist garbage!  

            But I was wanting to burst out of my seat, jump up, and start waving my hands, yelling, "I understand it!  It's easy to understand when you understand it correctly, when you correctly understand how the Bible shows God exercising His sovereignty."  
            God's sovereignty is about being the highest power/authority there is.  It's not about how He has to use His power/authority.  But Calvinists are all about deciding that a sovereign God has to use His authority and power all the time to control everything (making God the cause of sin, even though they deny it) ... or else He can't be God.
            Instead of letting God show them what kind of a God He is through the Bible, Calvinists decide for themselves how God has to be and act in order to be God and then they interpret the Bible through their own assumptions.
             But biblically, our sovereign God has decided to not control everything, to give people real choices, to let us be the kind of people we want to be.  And, in His sovereignty, He figures out how to work our choices into His plans, our obedience and disobedience.  And this is all over the Bible, in example after example.  And it fits with His holy, just, loving, trustworthy nature.
             God did not plan/cause Adam and Eve to sin (He planned for their sin, but not that they would sin), but He did know that Adam and Eve would choose to sin, and so He had a plan from the beginning to redeem it, to work it out for good.
            And He did not plan/cause the wicked people to be wicked so that they would crucify Jesus.  He just let them be the wicked people they wanted to be and He worked it into His plans for our salvation.
            And He didn't cause the wicked nation that attacked Israel to be a wicked, violent nation.  He simply let them be the wicked, violent people they wanted to be, and then He used their self-chosen wickedness to punish Israel before He punished them for being the wicked people they chose to be.  (This is not unlike the police using a criminal in an undercover sting to catch other criminals.  The cops didn't cause the criminal to be a criminal; they just put his bad choices to good use first, before punishing him for being the criminal he chose to be.)
            And this is why God is not held accountable for our sin and evilness.  He didn't cause it; He just allowed it and worked it into His plans.       
            See!  Easy to understand!  But Calvinism complicates God's simple truths by twisting them, and then when they can't figure it all out, they have to go "Oh, well, I guess we'll never understand.  These are God's mysteries that we can't figure out, and so we just have to accept it as true."
            My 17-year-old made a good point about Calvinism's contradictions:





            And in case you think I'm making up this "cause vs. allow" distinction, let's consider an example.
            In 2 Samuel 24:1, we read "Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 'Go and take a census of Israel and Judah."
            The thing was, counting the troops was considered a sin in God's eyes and God was going to punish David for it, yet this verse makes it sound like God Himself caused David to sin, which would support Calvinism.  
            But it's not what it seems.  
            And 1 Chronicles 21:1 sheds more light on this situation (The Bible and God always make more sense when you dig deeper and learn more, instead of just running wild with one confusing verse.  And in the end, Calvinism always comes out the loser.): 
            "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel."
            Okay, so who caused David to sin?  God or Satan?
            No one caused David to sin.  David himself wanted to sin.  Sin was in his heart.  And God simply used Satan - allowed Satan to tempt David to sin - to get David to act out what was already in his heart, so that God could work it into His plans to punish Israel.  But God did not cause David to have a sinful heart.  He did not preplan or force David to sin.  He just allowed Satan to present David with the opportunity to sin, which David willingly took.  As God knew he would.  
            If David wanted to be obedient, he could have been, and God would have worked his obedience into His plans.  But since God knew David would be disobedient, God found a way to work his disobedience into His plans.  (Also see the example of King Ahab in this post: "Sovereignty and Free-Will Working Together.")

            In Calvinism, God is the ultimate cause of sin.  He preplans it, orchestrates it, causes it to happen, and we could not have made any other choice because God predestined what we would do.  In Calvinism, if we sin it's because God predestined it and we had no ability to not sin.  (And yet then Calvinists turn around and say, "Oh, but we're not saying that God is the author or cause of sin."  Hogwash!  They might not "say" it but they sure do mean it.)  
            Calvinists take one verse - Proverbs 21:1"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." - and they say, "See, God controls all our choices."  And then they interpret the rest of the Bible through their misconception and misunderstanding of that verse.
            But we saw, in the example of King David, how God turns a king's heart - not by preplanning/controlling their thoughts, desires, and actions, but by allowing circumstances or Satan's actions to encourage them to make the choices they want to make (but they could have made other choices because their choices were up to them, not God).  And since God knows the choice they will make, He knows how to work it into His plans.  

            However, if Calvinism is true about God predestining/causing/controlling everything that happens, then how did these verses get into the Bible: 
            1 Kings 20:42"He said to the king, 'This is what the Lord says: 'You have set free a man I had determined should die.''"  (So God determined something would happen, but then it didn't happen.  How is this possible if God determines everything that happens and nothing different could have happened?  Calvinists would say, "Well, God sometimes ordains that people disobey what He has ordained."  And I am not kidding about this.  They really do say this nonsensical garbage.  And with a totally straight face.) 
            Hosea 8:4 (God's words): "They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval."  (Calvinists would simply say, "Oh, well, God can ordain things He doesn't approve of, for His mysterious plans.")
            Jeremiah 19:5 (God's own words): "They have built the high places to Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal - something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind."  (It would be kinda difficult for God to predestine/cause something that He never thought of, wouldn't it?  And how would Calvinists answer this?  I'm actually not sure.  I never heard one try.  Instead, they always switch topics or bring up a different verse that they think "proves" God "ordains/causes" all that happens.)
            Isaiah 30:1"Woe to the obstinate children," declares the Lord, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine..."  (Calvinists might simply say, "Well, God has two different plans.  In one plan, He didn't want the people to do what they did.  But in the other plan, He caused the people to do what He didn't want them to do ... for His glory and mysterious reasons.  And He's so far above us that we can't understand it.  He is the Potter and we are clay.  How can the clay talk back to the Potter or understand the Potter's ways?"  Blah, blah, blah.  Gobble, gobble, gobble.  If you listen carefully, you'll see how - when it comes to the hard questions and their contradictions - they deflect and switch topics and verse-bomb you with verses taken out of context.)
            Psalm 33:10"The Lord foils the plans of the nations ..."  (If all plans are God's plans, and if we can only plan what God causes us to plan, then isn't God foiling His own plans here?  Oh but wait, I forgot ... Calvi-god can have two plans that contradict each other.  He can ordain one thing but then ordain that people do the opposite of what he ordained.  Yep, makes perfect sense!) 
            Acts 14:16: "In the past, he [God] let nations go their own way."  (Impossible ... if every way is God's preplanned way!)
            And why would God give "boundaries" to people, Satan, and nature (such as putting a boundary around the one forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, and putting a limit on how far the sea can move in Job 38:11, and putting a hedge around Job and limits to how much Satan can do to him in Job 1) if God alone controls every single movement that everyone and everything makes?  Boundaries are only needed when there is freedom to move within those boundaries.
            Look at all the nonsense they weave - the theological twisting they do - to make the Bible fit with their wrong theology, instead of simply correcting their wrong theology to fit the plain, simple, consistent, easily-understood message of the Bible!



(I love this kid!)

            You know what?  If Calvinism is going to take one verse (Proverbs 21:1) from a poetic "wise sayings" book of the Bible and make it an absolute, iron-clad Gospel Truth, filtering the rest of the Bible through it, then it needs to do that with all the verses in that book, such as Proverbs 22:4, 6"Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life" and "Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
            They cannot pick and choose which verses are "iron-clad" and which aren't.  But would they say that either of these verses always comes true, that it's always the way it is?  Are all humble people wealthy and long-lived?  Do all children raised in the Lord remain in the Lord, never straying?
            I didn't think so.  And so why would they do that with Proverbs 21:1?  
            Answer: Because Calvinists think it supports their theology, that it "seals the deal."  And they use that verse to trick unsuspecting Christians into agreeing with them.  
            But instead of misunderstanding one poetic verse and then filtering the rest of the Bible through it, I would rather seek to understand the clear message of the Bible as a whole and God's character as He reveals Himself to be and then try to understand that verse (and any other confusing ones) in light of it.
            But that's just me.






7.  "The Bible clearly teaches predestination, and so we have to accept it.  There are only three possible responses to the truth of predestination: get angry about it, ignore it, or accept it.  Humble people have no trouble accepting it; it's just us proud, self-sufficient people who struggle with it because we are used to being independent, always concerned with having the right to choose."  
            Nice manipulation, ex-pastor!  You set up what you're saying as biblical "truth" and defined anyone who disagrees with you as "unhumble," as if they're disagreeing with God's Word.  Who's going to disagree with you now!?!  Way to keep people quiet and in their place!  Making them afraid to disagree.  It's brilliant.  Almost cult-like manipulation!  (And it would be funny to answer him this way: "Get angry about it, ignore it, or accept it?  Well, I wonder which one God predestined me to do.  I guess I'll have to wait and see.  Because, of course, I have no control over it.")


  
            And notice the one option the pastor left out: To disagree with him and to find out for ourselves what the Bible really says.  Disagreement in this church, with this pastor, was not an option!
            Another thing the pastor liked to say was that Christians in other countries don't have trouble accepting God's sovereign control over predestination; it's just us Americans who can't accept it because we like our independence and we don't like the idea of someone being in authority over us.  And he's said that when he tells kids about predestination, they have no trouble accepting it because they are humble and trust easily.  And that it's just us adults who have trouble accepting it because we don't like humbling ourselves, because we want to be in control and make our own decisions, but that God calls us to be humble like these children.  
            (Think about it: If you were a little kid, and some powerful preacher who was considered as a wise "man of God" told you that "this is what the Bible says and so you have to believe it," wouldn't you trust him too?)



            It's manipulation, that's what it is!  Shaming and manipulating people into agreeing with him, or at least into shutting up if they disagree. 
            But I wonder ... If his view of predestination is so "clearly" taught in the Bible, then why have theologians debated this for centuries but never yet come to a consensus on it?  Just wondering.



(The following is taken from the post: Predestined For Salvation?  Or For Something Else?)

Let's take a look at "elect" and "predestined," to see that the Bible is not as Calvinistic as Calvinists think it is:

1 Peter 1:1-2:  “To God’s elect . . . who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.”

Let's look again at this verse (because it is a verse that predestination hinges on), but let’s dig even deeper.

As I sought to understand 1 Peter 1:1-2 more accurately, I learned that the Revised Standard Version of this verse says this:  “... To the exiles of the dispersion ... chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling of his blood ...”

The NIV's "elect" is simply translated "exiles of the dispersion" in the RSV.

Maybe you won’t see it this way, but to me it sounds like Peter is not writing to the “elect,” as in “those predestined by God for salvation,” as Calvinists would view it  But it sounds like he is writing to those Christians of the day who have been scattered under the persecution they were experiencing, to “dispersed exiles.”

Calvinists make so much of the word "elect," but it might not be what they think it is.  And this might not be a "predestined to go to heaven" passage at all.


I covered this in the previous predestination post, but let's look at the other ways to read 1 Peter 1:1-2 than "God predestined certain people for salvation."

One way to read it is "God knows who will choose Him (they are foreknown by Him), and all true believers are destined to grow in obedience to Christ.  We chose a path that is destined to bring us closer and closer to Jesus."

Another way to read it is that it's simply talking about the dispersed Jews of that day, the exiles, saying that the scattered Christians of that day were chosen, by God foreknowing them as His own, to be obedient to Christ and covered by His blood.  This is basically the same thing as the one above, except it's specific to the exiles of that day.

But the point is that it's not "prechosen for salvation," but it's "God foreknows who His people are, those who willingly believe in and obey Him.  And He chooses us and destines us (true believers who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior) for obedience to Jesus and for being covered by His blood."


For further confirmation, read the Revised Standard Version of Ephesians 1:11-12.  The NIV version starts out with "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined ..."  And this is often used to say conclusively that it's predestination, that God predestines us to be believers.

But let's look at the RSV version:   "In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory."

This goes right along with what I've been saying.  We are not destined - specifically pre-chosen - to be saved.  But we who are believers are destined to live for His glory.  The path of a believer has been predestined, but who becomes a believer has not.

God predestined the destination of the path of a true believer.  But it's our decision to get on that path or not, to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior or not.


But Calvinists believe that "accepting Jesus in your heart" is works, that it's man working for their salvation, trying to earn it.  And since we can't do anything to work for or earn our salvation because salvation is by faith alone, then it must mean that we can't accept Jesus.  That God has to "force" faith on certain people.

Find me one verse that says "accepting or receiving Jesus is forbidden because it's working for your salvation."  This is purely man-made reasoning.

"Accepting" all the work that someone else did on your behalf is not trying to work for it or earn it.  It's simply agreeing to accept what they are offering.

"Oh, but 'accepting Jesus' is not in the Bible anywhere," Calvinists say.

Oh, yes it is, if you consider what the concordance says about "believing" and "receiving."

Consider "receive" in these verses:

Romans 1:5:  "Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship ..."

Romans 5:11:  "through whom we have received reconciliation ..."

Romans 5:17:  "... how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."

Romans 8:15:  "... but you received the spirit of Sonship."

This could almost sound like we received something from God, through no effort or response on our own.  That we simply did nothing, and God dropped these things into our laps.  It could sound Calvinistic ... until you look up "receive" in the concordance.

"Receive" in these passages isn't passive.  It's not "God gave it to me with no effort on my part."  According to the concordance, it's actually active, done by us.  It's reaching out and grabbing ahold of what is offered to us, taking it unto ourselves.  It is "accepting" what is offered.  Accepting Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf.  Accepting forgiveness, grace, salvation, etc.  These things are offered to all people, but we have to receive - accept - them.

And likewise, "believe" is about accepting what is told to us.

Ephesians 1:13:  "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promise of the Holy Spirit."

Acts 14:39:  "Through him everyone who believes is justified ..."

Acts 16:31:  "They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved ...'"

In the concordance, "believe" is not about passively sitting there while God shoves thoughts into your head.  It's about being persuaded by something we heard and, consequently, choosing to commit to it, putting our faith in it.  We can only be "persuaded" by something if we have the ability to hear things, to think through them, to make a decision about them.  And believe is about deciding to believe what we are told is true, and to put our faith in it.  It's about "accepting" the truth, and about choosing to believe and trust that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

"Accepting Jesus" is indeed in the Bible.  If you've got the eyes to see it.





Okay, so onto another possible way to read the 1 Peter passage:

To get even deeper, (hang in there, this is important!) this 1 Peter greeting sounds a lot like Paul’s greeting in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14:

“But we always ought to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This could definitely sound like God hand-picked who would believe and who wouldn’t.  And it would sound especially so if the verse simply said, “God chose you to be saved!”

But in various translations of the Bible, it doesn’t just say “from the beginning God chose you to be saved.”  There are translations that say something like, “God chose you as His first-fruits.”  This "first-fruits" adds a whole new meaning.  They were chosen to be the first to believe in Jesus, simply because their lifetimes coincided with His.

Maybe all along, it’s not saying that God chooses who to save from the beginning of time (that He elects certain people to go to heaven), but maybe it's saying that He chose that generation (Paul's and Peter's generation) to be the generation that would be the first of the “Jesus believers” - the first believers after Jesus’s death and resurrection, the first generation to have the Holy Spirit to help them grow to be more and more like Christ.

They were a chosen generation, chosen to be the first to see Jesus and have the Holy Spirit.

And maybe this is the same kind of greeting we see in 1 Peter.  Maybe Peter is saying not that they were chosen for salvation, but that they were chosen to be the generation that saw Jesus’ death and resurrection.  They would be the first believers of history to have Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

This makes it so much clearer to me.  These interpretations above make so much more sense than the Calvinist idea of "chosen/predestined," which destroys the Gospel message, God's character, Jesus's sacrifice, God's grace and justness and love, and conflicts with the vast majority of what we read in the Bible, of how God acts in the Bible, and what He calls us to do.


And this bit is from "According to the Concordance ... It's NOT Predestination":


So while, yes, predestination is a biblical concept, the way Calvinists define it is not.  

Any and all "predestination verses" can be read in one of these other ways:  God has predestined Israel's involvement in His plans and their salvation as a nation.  He predestined Jesus's death for humanity because He knew we would sin.  He predetermined that Jesus's death is the only way to salvation.  He predetermined to have a family of believers with Him in heaven (but we decide to be part of that family or not).  He predestined people in general to know Him and have a relationship with Him (yet He allows us to resist that plan and to rebel).  He predestined which generation would see the arrival of Jesus and be the first to be saved through His death.  And He predestined the path that believers walk once they choose to believe in Him (a true believer will be led by the Holy Spirit to grow to be more like Christ, to grow closer to Christ, to be more obedient, and to bring God glory).

There are so many other ways to understand "predestination" than "predestined by God to go to heaven or hell."  And unlike a Calvinist's view of predestination, these other ways do not contradict the rest of the Bible and do not change God's character into something horrible, irrational, and contradictory.  Contrary to Calvinism, these other ways keep the Bible consistent and keep God's character intact.













8.  "Man is oblivious to his sin.... People have tried over the years to make up for their sins in their own way, giving sacrifices to gods, following laws, etc..... God is not pleased with our attempts to make up for our sins on our own. "
            Question: If "unregenerated" men (as Calvinists define it) are so oblivious to their sin, how on earth could unsaved people try to make up for their sins on their own, when they are supposedly completely unaware of their sins to begin with?  (Calvinism is a self-defeating, contradictory theology!)
            And Calvinism believes that God causes everything that happens ... for His glory and pleasure.  So how can God be "not pleased" with the people's attempts to make up for their sins when He Himself is supposedly causing them to do it ... for His pleasure and glory?
            How can God be not pleased with anything we do, when He supposedly causes it all for His pleasure and glory?  
            Such as 1 Corinthians 10:5, when God says He wasn't pleased with the Israelites' rebellion and so He scattered their bodies in the wilderness.  
            So God caused them to displease Him ... because it pleased Him?  He caused them to rebel against Him, for His glory ... but then He is somehow displeased with their actions which He caused for His glory?  How can He be displeased by the things He causes for His glory? 
            What kind of schizophrenic god is that!?!  How can you trust a god like that!?!
            I'll tell you who it's not: It's not the God of the Bible, that's for sure!  Calvinism's god is NOT the God of the Bible, no matter how badly they want him to be.  (That's why I call him "Calvi-god" instead of God, so no one confuses the two.)





            One tactic Calvinists love to use is to say "We uphold the Scriptures above all!"  (Or to use the word "biblical" about all their ideas.)  
            My pastor loved to say (all the time), "I am only teaching right from the Scriptures.  We always have to go right to the Word.  Always ask 'What does the text say?'"  
            (This always made me start singing "What does the fox say?" in my head.)
            And this kind of reassurance lulls people into a false trust that a Calvinist preacher is truly preaching right from and only from the Word.  We shut off our critical thinking and absorb what they're saying.  After all, if they said it then it must be true, right?  But then they proceed to add their Calvinist spin to everything they say.  
            They change "the world" to "only the elect."  They change God's command to seek Him into "but we can't really seek Him unless He makes us do it."  They reverse the order of "believe first then receive the Holy Spirit" to "you (the elect) can only believe after you receive the Holy Spirit."  They say God doesn't love all people, Jesus didn't die for all people, and we can't do anything to be saved ... when they Bible consistently shows otherwise.  
            They constantly claim they are being true to the Scriptures ... while changing the meaning of words, adding hidden layers to verses, taking things out of context, etc.  (And they use the word "biblical" all the time: "It's the 'biblical' doctrine of election ... the 'biblical' doctrine of grace ... predestination is a 'biblical' truth."  The more someone has to stress that what they're teaching is biblical, the more you should consider and research for yourselves if it really is.  Kinda like how the more someone has to stress how "trustworthy" or "honest or "humble" they are, the more you should question if it's true.)

            But I agree with my pastor ... When a Calvinist tells you what a Bible verse teaches, go right to the text.  (Or if they don't provide a verse but just give you a general "It's what the Bible teaches," demand to know the verses they are referencing.  Don't let them teach you what they think the Bible teaches.  Let God tell you what He actually says.)  
            Go right to the text to see what it says, what it doesn't say, what they added or are assuming, how they are twisting it or taking it out of context, etc.  (It's amazing how easy it is to read the Bible through our own assumptions or misconceptions, and to not even realize we are doing it.)

            Example: My pastor loves to use Lydia, from Acts 16:14, as an example of God opening someone's heart and causing them to believe.  
            Calvinists love this verse and use it all the time because they think it "proves" their idea that God has to regenerate the elect before they can believe, all because it says "God opened her heart."  He'll say, "See, it says God opened her heart to believe."  
            But look at the text for yourself.  It does not say that God opened her heart to believe.  "To believe" is an assumption, added by Calvinists.  
            But what it does say is that she was already a worshipper of God.
            It says, "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia ... who was a worshipper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message."  That's it.  Notice that it does not say "to believe."  It does not say what the message was.  It does not say that Paul's message was the gospel's message of salvation, as Calvinists assume it must be.  
            In the letter we sent to the elders, I pointed out that Lydia was already a believer, and so the pastor couldn't use it to prove that God opened her heart to believe.  She already believed before her heart was opened by God.  But then when the pastor would preach on it after that, he would add something like "Yes, it says she was a worshipper of God, but she was not saved yet.  She was not a true believer until God opened her heart."  
            Where does it say this in the text?  Nowhere.  He didn't even have a verse to back him up.  He just proclaimed it like it was truth.  But he's adding something that isn't there.  It's basing what the Bible says on their own idea that a "totally depraved" person can't possibly seek God or believe in Him until God "opens their hearts," so therefore Lydia couldn't possibly be a true worshipper of God because God didn't open her heart yet.
            Even though the Bible itself said she was a "worshipper of God."
            So am I to assume then that God misspoke when He wrote the Bible.  Do we need Calvinists to tell us what God really meant to say, as if God doesn't say what He means or mean what He says?  
            And if they can't weasel out of what the Bible says in any other way, they simply deny it altogether with "Oh, yeah, it says that, but it's not what it seems."  My pastor also does this for God hardening Pharaoh's heart too.  
            The Bible says that for the first several plagues in Egypt Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and then God hardened his heart, making Pharaoh's choice permanent.  But our pastor said something like, "Yeah, the Bible says Pharaoh hardened his own heart ... but God really did it first, even though it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart first."  
            And yet it's sad how many in the congregation never notice or stop to really think about what he's saying.

            But do you know the best part of all this?
            The pastor's response itself (saying Lydia was not a believer yet) actually contradicts and defeats Calvinism, when you consider what Calvinists believe.  
            Because if she was a God-worshipper but not a believer yet - if she was, as my pastor calls all unregenerated people, "totally depraved, desperately wicked, rebellious sinners who can't do good or seek God" - then she was doing good things and worshipping God before she was regenerated, before God "opened her heart to believe."  She was still in her "depraved" state, yet she was worshipping God.  The highest "good" we can do.  
            This totally destroys the T (total depravity/inability) in Calvinism's TULIP, which says that men are so fallen, so wicked, so depraved that they cannot do, think, or want anything good, nor can they want or seek God, until and unless they were elected and God regenerates them first.  
            But this unregenerated unbeliever was worshipping God all on her own, before God "opened her heart."  
            Not so "totally depraved" now, are we!?!  
            This tears down the T in TULIP, effectively proving that there is no Total Depravity ... which means we are not so fallen that we can't think about God unless He makes us do it ... which means that we can think about and want and seek God on our own ... which means regeneration isn't necessary first ... which means there are no elect people that God has to irresistibly call to Him and to regenerate ... which means Jesus didn't die just for the elect but He died for all people.  
            This verse is a gift to anti-Calvinists because it effectively destroys Calvinism's TULIP.
            [But a Calvinist might reply, as I've seen one say, "Well, of course, un-regenerated people can seek God.  They do it all the time.  But they seek God as they want Him to be, not as He is."  
            Oh, so first they say "totally depravity" means you cannot seek God at all.  But then, because they know people will protest that idea, they change it to "Oh, well, yes, they seek God.  But they don't really seek HIM, just what they think is Him."  
            Once again, where is this in the Bible?  Show me the verse.  This is simply a Calvinist attempt to cover all their bases.  And once again, it's basing the Bible on their own views.]    
            And on the flip side, if Calvinists admit that she really was a believer then God didn't open her heart to believe through Paul's message.  Because she believed before her heart was "opened."  And this means they can't use this as a proof-text that God opens our hearts (of the elect only) to believe.  

            So then what was Paul's message?  What did God open her heart about?  
            I believe it's about the importance of believers getting baptized, because that's the next thing she does.
            And where in the Bible is there support for what I think?  
            Well, just a few chapters over.  What happened to Lydia is probably similar to what happened in Acts 19 when Paul met believers who did not yet have the Holy Spirit because they hadn't been baptized in the name of the Lord but only in John the Baptist's "baptism of repentance."  Paul convinced them to be baptized in the name of the Lord to receive the Holy Spirit.
            (Note: Acts is a transitional time-period as the church was forming, when the Holy Spirit was given to the people "in stages," before it was the standard that He entered each believer at the moment of belief.  I wonder if this delayed giving of the Spirit in the beginning was a way of ensuring that the new Christians didn't get the Spirit before the apostles and disciples could guide them in truth and discipleship, which could have led the new, untaught believers to run around in emotional and spiritual confusion.  In Act, the church was still in the process of forming a solid foundation.)

            Now pay attention here because this is important: Calvinists say we can't believe until we get the Holy Spirit, until He regenerates the hearts of the elect to make them believe.  This is what the T (Total Depravity) and the U (Unconditional Election) and the I (Irresistible Grace) of Calvinism's TULIP is based on.  This is essential for their theology - that man is so dead and totally depraved inside that we can't possibly seek, want, or believe in Jesus unless and until the Holy Spirit draws the elect with irresistible grace, regenerating their hearts and causing them to believe.  All of this has to happen before believing, for Calvinism to be true.
            But the Bible itself says these men were believers, but they hadn't yet received the Holy Spirit.
            Now how did they do that?  How did "totally depraved, unregenerated" people become believers before getting the Holy Spirit?
            Do you know how?
            Because Calvinism is wrong!  (Unless Calvinism only became true after the book of Acts.)
            We do not get the Holy Spirit to cause us to believe.  The Holy Spirit does not regenerate us (well, the elect only) before we believe, in order to make it possible to believe.
            We get the Holy Spirit after we choose to believe, in response to our belief.  He comes into the hearts of those who have chosen to believe in Jesus, and He regenerates our hearts to help us grow to understand God's Word, to be obedient, to convict us of sin, and to grow to be more like Christ.  (He convicts the world of its sins, too, and calls all men to believe, but most people ignore or reject it.) 
            In the face of so many Bible passages, Calvinism is wrong!
            (But they would rather make up alternative meanings for Bible verses/examples than to throw out their Calvinism and start reading the Bible the correct way.  Calvinists always read the Bible with "How does this fit with Calvinism?"  And many of them have invested far too much of their life and energy and pride and reputation into being a Calvinist to turn back now.  But I tell you, the deeper you study the Bible, the more wrong Calvinism gets.  And the deeper you study Calvinism, the more wicked you realize it is.)

            Lydia (and these believing-before-receiving-the-Holy-Spirit disciples) destroys Calvinism!  But they won't - can't - see it.  Many of them are in too deep.  And so they just keep using it over and over again, telling people it proves Calvinism, saying something like this (basing it all on their Calvinism), "Yeah, it says she worshipped God but she couldn't be a believer yet because she didn't have the Holy Spirit yet because God didn't open her heart yet."  
            And no one questions it because, after all, they said they are only preaching "right from the Scriptures."  

            FYI: Calvinists will come up with all sorts of rambling answers to try to cover for their theological nonsense.  Don't buy it!  It's hogwash!  Debating an educated Calvinist is like trying to wrestle a greased pig.  You'll never be able to get a grip on them because they're constantly shifting and squirming and doing anything they can to wriggle free.  But if they have to try that hard to spin their nonsense into "truth," it's because it's not truth.  Always go back to the text to see what it really says.  And the Bible's message is easy to understand.  So much easier than Calvinists make it.  And it makes sense.  So much more sense than Calvinism.


























9.  "God shows His love by saving the elect.  And He shows His justice by damning the non-elect to hell."  (From my pastor's adult son, not my ex-pastor himself.)
            That's strange, because my Bible says that God shows His love by saving sinners (Romans 5:8), that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and that God shows His justice by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins (Romans 3:25-26). 





Actually, what really happened was this (taken from another post of mine on this topic, edited a bit):

My pastor's adult son (the creepy guy, who stares over his glasses and slowly points at the congregation as he preaches that "no one should question God's sovereignty," meaning that "no one should question my Calvinist daddy's view of God's sovereignty") wrote a post on this once, essentially saying that God shows off His justice by predestining the non-elect to hell and that He shows off His love by choosing to save some people, the "elect."

But I say ... WRONG!   

God does not send people to hell to show off His justness or demonstrate His love by only choosing to save a few people.  

We end up in hell not because He sends us there but because He allows us to make our own decision about if we want a relationship with Him or not.  He allows us to choose heaven (life/eternity with Him) or hell (life/eternity without Him).  


In the pastor's son's post, he started from the premise that when the Bible says God hardens hearts and blinds eyes, it means that God arbitrarily does it.  That He does it all on His own, for some reason or other, with no influence from the person He's hardening or blinding.  (Question: Why in the world would God need to harden unregenerated people who are totally depraved, who are "so totally dead" that they can't even think about Him or seek Him anyway?) 

But biblically, according the Bible and concordance, when God hardens hearts and blinds eyes, it's because the people first did it themselves.  God just makes their decision permanent at some point, as punishment for their constant rejection of Him, and He uses it for His plans.  But it was their choice first.  (Also see "Prepared for Destruction/Hard Hearts?  A Look at Romans 9.")

But anyway, this guy started with his Calvinist view that God chooses whom to harden all on His own, through no fault of the people.  And then he wonders how God could do this.  How could God prevent people from understanding the truth when He says He wants them to be saved?  

You can't get to the right answer if you start with a wrong assumption.




And then, after "two weeks of processing it," alone and with others, this is the result of his "ponderings": 

God hardens people because His main goal, even above being famous (as you'll see his daddy say in a later point), is self-worship and self-love.  This guy says that people's salvation is not of primary importance to God, because His focus is on being worshipped.  (He's essentially saying that humans are dispensable, only worth the self-worship God gets through us.)  And predestining people to hell is how God worships Himself for how just He is, and electing some people to heaven is how He worships Himself for how loving He is.  And we should be singing God's praises even more for doing this, since it's all about God getting more worship.


[What kind of garbage is this!?!  And notice that it's his self-proclaimed "ponderings."  He's basing the Bible on his own musings.  

And apparently, Calvi-god is way more "just" than loving, because the vast majority of people are predestined to hell while only a very few got picked for heaven.  No wonder Calvinist pastors barely preach on God's love.  Because Calvi-god barely has any.  

I realized, after we left our church, that part of the reason my soul was dying there was because there was almost no preaching about God's love for us, no help in building our relationship with the Lord, no practical ways to apply the Bible's messages.  

It was all lofty, theological, incorrect garbage about how God is all about His glory and sovereignty, and how we are all so evil and wicked and rebellious and incapable, and how He can do whatever He wants with us, and how we had better just humbly accept it and praise Him for it.  

Frickin' dead, lifeless, soul-sucking, faith-killing, God-dishonoring garbage!  

And no, I do not apologize for my harsh attitude towards such a horrendous, evil, backwards theology that tries to pass itself off as so godly, biblical, and God-honoring.  I think it's demonic and deserves to be treated as such!





Also see "Is God Only Concerned About His Glory and Being Famous?" and "Are We Only Here For God's Glory?  What About His Love?" and "The Devil Made Me Do It."]


But biblically, God doesn’t exactly “condemn people to hell,” for any particular reason, whether to show off His justice or to show the elect how loved they are compared to the non-elect (as some Calvinists say) or to worship Himself more.  

But He does reluctantly allow us to go there ourselves. 

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath against yourself..." (Romans 2:5)


"But they were broken off because of unbelief ... And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in ..." (Romans 11:20,23)


The thing is, we are all born on the path to hell, already separated from God.  ("Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already..." John 3:18)  So He does not put any of us on the path to hell.  We are already on it.  But He has been desperately calling to all of us – to any who will listen and believe - trying to get as many of us off of that path as He can.  

It's like being caught in a rushing stream headed for hell - all of us - and we can't get ourselves out, but God Himself is reaching down and offering to pull out anyone who wants to get out of that stream.  


But we have to reach up and grab onto His hand!  


And if we don't, we inevitably end up riding that stream to where it's headed.  Hell!  


So He does not condemn people to hell in order to celebrate His love or justness (or even to "punish" us); He simply allows us to stay on the path to hell if we choose to, if we do not accept His help off of that path.  He's trying to spare us the punishment of hell because He's already paid for our punishment, and so we don't have to be punished anymore.


His desire is to have all people come to Him.  The penalty for our sins has been paid by Jesus for all people.  He reaches out His hand to all people.  But He does not force us to take it.  He knocks on the doors of all hearts, but we have to open the door and let Him in.

So, no, God does not show off His justice or love by sending people to hell!  (Find me the verse that says this!)  

And I can say this boldly and emphatically (as opposed to Creepy Guy's philosophical rambling as he attempted to make the Bible fits his Calvinist views, to shove his Calvinism in where it doesn't belong) ... because the Bible itself tells us what God did to show His justice and His love.  And it isn't predestining people for hell.

To demonstrate His justness and His love, He sent Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty that mankind owes for our sins.  

At least, that's what my Bible says!  

“God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it [sent Jesus to the cross for our sins] to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”  (Romans 3:25-26, emphasis added)

“God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8, emphasis added)

I see nothing in here about God demonstrating His love or justness by predestining people to hell or electing only some people for heaven.  Or about God doing this to worship Himself more.    

But Calvinists will say that Romans 5:8's "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" means only the elected sinners.  They'll say that Romans 3:26's "those who have faith in Jesus" means "the elect," meaning that Jesus died to justify only the elect.    

And where is the verse that supports this stuff?  Where is the verse that says there are two different classes of sinners, elected ones and non-elected ones?  Where is the verse that says "those who have faith in Jesus" means they have faith only because God elected them and gave them faith, instead of that they chose to have faith, that anyone can have faith?  (Jesus died for all men so that all could be justified, but only those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will be able to experience that justification.  Everyone else misses out, by choice, because they rejected Jesus' payment for their sins.)  

Guess what?  

There aren't any verses to support that nonsense!

But there is a verse about Jesus' death, about "justification," buying life for all men (coming up below).  

And there is a verse about who God loves.  It's called "John 3:16" and it starts like this: "For God so loved the world..."  And so, therefore, when God says He demonstrates His love, He means His love for "the world," for all people, not just some "elected" people.  For God so loved the world, and in His love, Jesus died for us all.

So Calvinists, you are WRONG!

God Himself says that He shows His justice by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins.  

And God Himself says that He shows His love by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins.  


And by this demonstration of His justice and love, we are now free to be justified, to have our sins wiped away in God’s eyes.  If we let Jesus’ sacrificial death pay the penalty we owe.  If we place our faith in Him.

And this offer is for all people!

"For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."  (Romans 11:32.  However, Calvinists will change the meaning of the word "all" to suit their views, saying "all men" are bound over to disobedience but that God only has mercy on "all the elect."  But is that what this verse is truly saying?  Can we change the meaning of God's Words to fit our whims?)

"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." (Romans 5:18) and "For as in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22)  (Same issue here.  Calvinists will say all men were affected by Adam's trespass, but that Jesus's death only bought life for all the elect.  It's the same word, but Calvinists give it different meanings, even in the same verse, to fit their cult-ish, heretical theology.) 

God's holiness and sense of justice demanded that payment for our sins be made.  But because of His love for us, He paid the penalty Himself ... so that we could live.  God's justice does not condemn people to hell.  God's justice spared us, putting Jesus in our place.  


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."  (John 3:16-18)

Jesus' death paid the price for all sinners.  Period.  And since we are all sinners, that means He paid the price for all of us.  Because of His justice and because of His love.  

Life has been bought for all people.  

But we have to accept it, the payment He made on our behalf.

And if refuse God's offer, then we choose to put our faith in ourselves and we will pay the penalty we owe, a penalty that is spiritual death.  An eternity separated from God.  Hell! 

But always remember that it is because of our own resistant, unbelieving hearts that we end up in hell, not because God predestined people to hell, trying to show off His justice and love.  


It is because of His justice and His love that we all actually have the chance to be saved from hell.  The penalty has already been paid.  

Will we accept it on our behalf?


[And if you need further biblical proof that God means "all" when He says "all":

"And he died for all ..." (2 Corinthians 5:15, emphasis is mine in all these verses)

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."  (Titus 2:11)

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men..."  (1 Timothy 2:3-5)

"He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  (2 Peter 3:9b)


I don't really know how the Bible could be more clear.  And I can't understand how Calvinists could be so blind.]  













            (The above point was taken from this post: "How Could A Loving God Condemn People To Hell?")









10.  "God is all about His glory and being famous.  That is His main goal in everything.  He loves Himself and worships Himself above all."
            "God's main goal is to be famous among the nations" is my ex-pastor's stated reason for evangelizing.  He wrote about how he never could get into missions work (and it's no wonder, because Calvinists don't really think they can have a real effect on whether someone believes or not, because they believe God predetermines it).  But when he came to believe that God's main goal is to be famous, well, then he got excited about missions work.  Finally, it had a purpose.
            And so missions work, to my pastor, is not really about calling people to believe in Jesus (because that's predetermined, according to them) or about helping them start a relationship with Him; it's about "making God known, making Him famous among the nations."  (Anyone can be famous ... for all the wrong reasons!) 
            Calvinists always talk of God's glory and fame.  But they seldomly talk about His love for us or His desire for a relationship with us.  Because to them, God is not a Relational Being (but in the Bible, He is).  To them, He is little more than the Supreme Ruler who does whatever He wants and doesn't really care about us, other than for the glory and fame He gets for Himself through us.  And if they can get you to "humbly submit" to (their view of) His sovereignty and His supreme pursuit of glory, then they can get you to buy whatever view of God they try to push on you.  All they have to do to get you to fall in line like a good little Calvinist is say, "It's for God's glory.  You don't think God can do whatever He wants for His glory!?!  Who are you, little human, to speak up against God or to question His right to be God and to do whatever He wants!?!"






  
            [I think this is why Calvinists over-emphasize God's self-love, because a God who loves Himself most can do whatever He wants for Himself and His glory, with little regard for His creation, even damning us to hell through no fault of our own, and we mere insignificant humans just have to accept it or else we aren't being humble!  
            But if we think He truly loves us and values us and cares about us (I'm not saying He loves us more than Himself, just a whole lot more than Calvinists teach), we might be tempted to think He would look out for us, do the best for our benefit, treat us fairly and justly and lovingly.  And Calvinists can't have us thinking that - because it would put their whole idea of God creating people specifically for hell and only loving/saving a few people in jeopardy.  But ... a God who loves Himself most and worships Himself above all doesn't have to be concerned with mere humans and can do whatever He wants to us if it brings Him glory!]



  
            How else do you think they can get people to accept the idea that God predestines people to hell and only saves elected people, even though the Bible clearly, consistently teaches that Jesus died for all and anyone can be saved?  That's right ... by saying "Predestining people to hell is for His glory!  Who are you to question God's right to get glory in whatever way He wants!?!"



  
            Yes, God's glory is tops and He is sovereign, just not in the way they say.  And contrary to them, God really does care about us, love us, and want a relationship with us.  It's His love that draws many people to Him.  And yet, sadly, Calvinists leave this part out so often.  So it's not just what they say that's a problem; it's also what they fail to say that's a problem!  That destroys people's faith and hope!  
            Oh, I want to cry.  I really want to cry about all this.  It's heart-breaking to think of the damage Calvinism does to people's faith, to Jesus's sacrifice, to their view of God, their view of themselves, and their relationship with God.  It breaks my heart.  And I think it breaks God's heart too.   
            After we left the church, I began to realize part of the reason why my heart and soul were dying there (besides the lack of truly biblical teaching): I don't remember the pastor ever talking to us about how much God loves us, how He wants a relationship with us, how He cares about us.  
            The thing is, Calvinist preachers can't promise everyone in the audience that God loves them because they believe God only really loves and wants a relationship with the elect, and they don't know who the elect are in the audience.  So they can't really preach on God's love and about how to grow your relationship with Him.  (Also see: "Calvinists, Altar Calls, and Evangelism.")  
            And as you listen to the garbage they do preach, while missing out on the things your heart really needs to hear, your soul dies a little more each week.



     
            People, you need to be very careful when listening to Calvinists, when trying to figure out what they believe.  You have to listen between the lines.  You have to listen for what they don't say.  You have to remember that when they say one thing (the thing we can all agree on), there is often a secret thing they are hiding which contradicts or negates the first thing they said (such as, "People freely make choices, according to their natures, so God can hold us accountable for our choices" ... but the hidden part is "But God Himself determines which nature we get - the repentant one or the unrepentant one - and anyone who gets the unrepentant one can only want to sin and rebel all the time."  How in the world do they call that "freely making choices that we can be held accountable for"!?!)  
            They will only tell you half the story, the good stuff, the stuff that forces you into "humbly accepting" whatever they tell you.  They will manipulate you into accepting their views.  They will hide or disguise the bad parts, believing you are not ready to accept them yet, while they suck you in more and more until you are ready to accept all of it.  (See my "Parody of John Piper's 'How to Preach and Teach 'Calvinism.'")  
            I have read Calvinist theologians who have actually said this, who have instructed pastors to hide the hard parts of Calvinism at first, to slowly and strategically introduce it, to slowly "brainwash" people, one by one, into accepting it, such as by starting small-group studies where everyone reads Calvinist Indoctrination books like Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.  (Our Calvinist pastor does a "Grudem group study" with prominent people in the church.  Calvinist-washing one brain at a time!)  
            I have read of Calvinist pastors who, when they are being interviewed by the search committee for a pastor's role at a new church, will deliberately hide the fact that they are a strong Calvinist, even when asked point-blank about it.  They will evade the question and say something like "Well, I believe in the doctrines of grace, don't you?  I believe God is sovereign, don't you?"  But they will never reveal that they are 5-point or 7-point Calvinist because "it might scare off the people who are not yet ready to accept it."  That is deceptive and wicked!  (And who might they scare off anyway?  If the elect are elect then they will come to the Lord with or without Calvinists "protecting" them from the bad parts of Calvinism, right?  And if they are non-elect then they will never come, no matter what.  So why exactly do Calvinists have to be careful about how and when they reveal the dark side of Calvinism?  Do they really believe they have an effect on what Calvi-god has predestined?)  And it is done with full knowledge that they are lying to the church, with the intention of sneaking in unnoticed and slowly, methodically "reforming" it with their Calvinism, even if the church didn't want it.    
            It's the slow "frog in the pot" trick, adding such a little bit of heat at a time that the people don't know they're boiling until it's too late.
            I hate to say it, but you have to think of (dogmatic) Calvinists as calculated, strategically-deceptive, manipulative, schizophrenic, natural-born liars.  Everything they say - unless they are bold enough to share all the bad stuff up front - is a cover for something else.  Everything has a different meaning to it.  They redefine words and phrases, use verses out of context, and have secondary layers of meaning for everything, even for Bible verses ... but you won't know it or realize it unless you know to look for it, unless you listen for it.  
            Such as, as I pointed out earlier, they say "God loves us," but they mean "God has two kinds of love.  He loves the elect with a saving kind of love, but He loves the non-elect by caring for them while they are on earth, before damning them to hell."  (Wow!  If that's 'love,' I'd hate to see what hate looks like!)  
            They say "God gives grace to all," but they mean "God gives saving grace to the elect, and a 'kindness' kind of grace to the non-elect."  And "unconditional grace" is "unconditional grace for only the elect."  It's not grace for everyone, as it sounds.  Or they might say "God offers saving grace to all and all people can find salvation," but they leave out "But only those predestined to accept it will accept it, and everyone else is predestined to reject it."  
            They say "God calls all people," but they mean "God calls the elect with an irresistible call that 'forces' them to come to Him, but He gives a general call to the non-elect that makes them accountable for not coming to Him, even though they can't respond to Him because He caused them to reject Him because He didn't predestine them for heaven.  But, hey, we don't have to understand how it all works; we just have to accept it.  Because it's 'in the Bible.'"  
            They say "God doesn't really predestine people for hell," but they mean "God just picked those He predestined for heaven, and everyone else was 'passed over,' meaning that they will go to hell by default.  But God didn't really 'predestine' them for hell; He just didn't predestine them for heaven."
            Calvinism is nonsense!  It is illogical, round-and-round, contradictory, manipulative nonsense!  (Also see "Why Is Calvinism So Dangerous?")  But if you don't know to suspect it, you won't notice it.  You'll trust what they tell you that you have to believe.  And you'll just think there's something wrong with you or your faith or your level of humility if you have trouble accepting it.  



This is how Calvinism gets you!  (I'm going to go cry now.)




11.  "God ordained everything that happened in your life, even all the tragedies, even childhood abuse.  It was His 'Plan A' for your life.  For His glory and His purposes and because He knew what it would take to humble you.  So you just have to trust Him."  
            This was the sermon when I decided I was done listening to that man!  Saying that God caused your childhood abuse for His glory and to humble you!?!  Wicked, wretched twisting of God's character!  My goodness, do I feel like crying!  (And I was not abused as a child.  But my heart hurt to think of those who were and who had to listen to this horrible, wretched twisting of God's character.  I could almost hear hearts and faith and trust-in-God breaking all over the congregation that day.  And I will include part of that post I wrote at the end of this point #11.)  
            Listen here to the weasely Calvinist James White (not sorry!) try to explain how God causes child rape for His glory, saying that if God didn't cause it then it would be meaningless but if God caused it then it has purpose.  
            So ... it's so much friggin' better to have a God who preplans and causes someone to abuse an innocent child and who then punishes the abuser for the abuse He forced him to do ... than to have a God who simply allows mankind to make decisions on their own, even bad ones, and who promises to work good out of bad and to hold us all accountable for our choices!?!  
            So says the Calvinist!  (And even if they won't say it, it's what their theology undeniably teaches when you carry it all out to its end.)  And that is the kind of God they want and worship and try to be like.  Scary.



            According to Calvinism, if you are one of the non-elect, it's because God has predestined you to hell ... for His glory!  They say that since He causes everything "for His glory," then He gets glory for predestining you to hell.  He gets glory for causing child abuse, for causing people to reject Him, for causing murder, for causing people to struggle with addictions, for causing abortions, for causing affairs or divorce, for causing Satan to fight against Him and to try to steal His glory.  All of this brings God glory ... because God causes everything for His glory ... so says the Calvinist.  
            So then ... why in the world would we try to stop any evil if God is causing all evil for His glory?  
            You know how one Calvinist answered this when I asked him.  He said "Because it brings God glory when we fight against evil."  
            So let me get this straight: God causes evil for His glory, and then He causes us to fight against evil for His glory.  And they are both equally glorifying to Him.  
            So then, taking a life is as glorifying as trying to save a life!?!  Aborting a baby is as glorifying as saving a baby!?!  Letting someone die in their alcohol or drug addiction is as glorifying as helping them overcome their addiction!?!  Having an affair is as glorifying as being faithful!?!  Punishing someone for a crime is as glorifying as committing the crime!?!  Rejecting Him and going to hell is as glorifying as believing in Him and going to heaven!?!  Because God causes everything that happens for His glory!?!
            Wow, how's that for a wicked, wretched, circular-reasoning, "turning darkness into light" teaching!  Just ... WOW!  Un-freakin'-believable!
            [Calvinists will look right at you and say (like my pastor does), "Of course, God does not tempt anyone to sin," but in the next breath they'll say, "But God ordains (read: preplans/causes) all the wicked things men do" (and we could not have chosen to do anything differently).  They trick themselves and others into thinking they aren't saying God causes sin when they really are, simply because they first acknowledged the Bible verse about God not tempting anyone to sin.  But that's as believable as someone saying "I'm not trying to hurt you" as he repeatedly punches you in the face.]






(Taken from that "Does God Cause Childhood Abuse?" post.)

It’s one thing to say that God causes a natural disaster or loss of a job or an illness, for His purposes.  None of those involve causing someone to commit terrible sins.  But it’s another thing to say that He causes people to sin or that He deliberately causes someone to do something as evil as abusing a child ... and that if you were abused as a child, it’s because God wanted it to happen, planned for it to happen, and caused it to happen (a Calvinist's view of "ordains"), for your own good and for His loving purposes for you.

Are you freakin’ kidding me!?!  (I’m using stronger language in my head!)









But I say "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"  I don't believe for one stinkin' second that God causes children to be abused.  

God might summon an evil nation to discipline rebellious people, such as God using Assyria to discipline Israel.  However, God did not make them be evil or make them choose to do evil.  He just worked their self-chosen evilness into His plans.  And He was dealing with Israel out of His justice – to discipline them and turn their hearts back to Him and make them want to restore their relationship with Him.

But I don’t think this example is comparable to causing someone to sin by abusing an innocent child, which is not an act of justice, nor discipline, nor restoration.  (At least to my way of thinking.)

And He might allow Satan to cause all sorts of tragedies, like what happened to Job.  But if you read carefully, you see that God did not decide which tragedies to allow.  He didn't cause the tragedies.  He let Satan do as Satan wanted, within boundaries.  He let Satan attack Job, but He didn't cause it.

Calvinists are all about God being "in control."  And we would all agree that He's "in control."  But Calvinists take it to mean, "God actively controls everything, even sin."  But this is taking "in control" too far, farther than God chooses to handle things in the Bible.  And saying that God causes someone to abuse a child for His purposes and for their good (and that we just have to trust His wisdom and goodness because He had His reasons) is taking the idea of “God is in control” too far.

What kind of God would He be if that was the case!?!  It might make Him a “fully in-control” God, but it wouldn’t make Him worthy of love, worship, respect, or trust.

Yes, God is “in control,” but I do not believe that He causes people to be evil or to choose to do evil.  He lets people make decisions.  He lets evil run its course, to a degree.  And He can work it into His plans.  And He is always available to hear our prayers for help and healing.

But He does not make people sin.

Abuse of innocent children happens NOT because God causes it, but because God allows people to make decisions, even bad ones.  God allowed Sarah to beat her maid, Hagar, but He didn’t cause her to do it or condone it.  God allowed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery and He worked it into His plans, but He didn’t necessarily cause it or condone it.

If someone sins, it’s not because God made them do it.  It’s because they chose to go down that path.

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  (James 1:13-15)

Just because He allows people to make their own decisions and He allows them to be evil doesn’t mean that He causes them to be evil or to do evil things.  God has the wisdom and foresight to orchestrate events to put someone’s sin to good use, but He does not make them sin.  God has chosen to give people the ability to make their own decisions.  And many people chose to do evil.  But it does not mean God causes it or condones it.

(However, Calvinists would say that "by his own evil desire" in that verse means that God predetermined which desires people would have through the natures He assigns them.  So if someone has the "unrepentant-sinner nature," then they can only desire to do evil all the time, which means they can only choose evil all the time.  And Calvinists act like that's "having a choice, according to our own desires."  But does that really sound like what the verse is saying?)

In no way do I think He causes children to be abused.  He has a heart for children and gives them special provisions.  Ephesians 6:4 says that fathers should not exasperate their children.  Matthew 18:6 says that if someone causes a child of God’s to sin (and doesn’t abuse oftentimes cause people to turn away from God!?!), it would be better if they were drowned in the sea.  And Matthew 18:10 tells us to not even look down on children because “their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

If people are not even supposed to look down on children because they are like the face of God, I would whole-heartedly say that we are not supposed to abuse them either.  God has put up special protections around children and they are especially close to His heart.  Abuse is NOT in His plan or Will for them.

Do you know how a Calvinist once replied to those verses when I brought them up?  "Oh, those are about the 'elect' children only."  They try so hard to make the Bible say something it doesn't say!  So desperate to not have to take responsibility for their actions or for their decision about Jesus!








And for the record, I was never abused.  So this isn't personal for me.  But my heart breaks for those who were abused and who have to hear this kind of nonsense ... for those who sat in the audience that day at my church, with their painful emotional scars and their broken spirits, being forced to think, My God made that happen to me when I was a child?  My God wanted that to happen?  He caused that person to do that to me when I was too young to defend myself, for my good and to keep me humble?  What kind of a God is that!?!

I think this kind of teaching is so damaging to Truth and God's character and people's faith, telling them that they have to trust that God knew what He was doing when He caused them to be repeatedly abused as a child, that it was for His glory and their own good and their spiritual growth, because He loves them and He wants the best for them and He knew what they needed to go through in order to be humbled.

No!  NO!  NOOO!!!

FRICKIN' NO!!!

It's one thing to encourage people to trust in a God who allows people to choose how they want to act, who even allows people to choose to do bad things He doesn't want them to do because it's part of allowing us to have free-will, a God who can and will bring healing and bring something good out of your pain if you let Him ... but it's another thing to tell people to trust in a God who orchestrated the abuse you went through, who wanted and planned for you to be abused, for His purposes, for His glory, because He knew you needed it to be humbled.

What the heck!?!

(Once again, I'm using stronger language in my head!  My blood is freakin' boiling!  Seriously ... what the heck!?!)

I think this kind of teaching goes against the very nature and heart of God.  I think it misrepresents Him terribly and that it is detrimental to people’s faith.

If Calvinists want to believe and spread the idea that God causes sin and evil then that's their problem (one that they will give an account for when they stand before God).  

But I will stand up for the God of the Bible, who is far different than Calvi-God!  

The Bible's God loves all, died for all, and offers hope, healing, grace, forgiveness, and salvation to all.  But Calvi-God causes evil and sin but punishes us for it, he only sent Jesus to die for the elect, and he predestines people to hell because it brings Him "glory."  Two totally different Gods!  

(Can you imagine being a Calvinist and standing before God one day, having to give an explanation for what you told others about Him and about Jesus's sacrifice?  Terrifying!  And I doubt "But I was trying to uphold Your sovereignty" is going to cut it.)

God doesn’t cause people to be evil or to sin, but He does allow people to make bad decisions and to do bad things.  And evil things are part of a fallen world where demons run wild.

But even though God didn’t cause it, He can work it into something good.  And He knew what was happening to someone who was abused as a child.  He knew what that person chose to do to you.  And I think His heart broke for you, that He wept for you.  Because abuse is never His plan for children.  And someday, the offender will stand before Him and give an account to Him for what they did.

But for you, God can help heal the pain – pain He never wanted for you, for humans, when He created the world perfect.  He can bring good out of it, if you will let Him.  He wants to heal you and to love you and to set you free.  And someday, He will make all things right again!

But do not, for one second, buy that crap that God caused your abuse for your own good or for His loving purposes!  That it was His "Plan A" for your life.  That’s pure crap!  (Goodness, am I getting fired about this one!  It’s just so damaging and so not what God is like!)

No!  Abuse and violence and hate was never God's Plan A.  God's Plan A was a life of peace and joy and wholeness and safety and security in the Garden of Eden where we walked with Him and knew Him intimately.  His Plan A was an eternity of peace and joy and fellowship with Him.  Not abuse and fear and violence and hate and brokenness.  God didn't introduce those things into this world, into our lives.  We did, through disobedience and rebellion.  We - with Satan's help - interfered with God's Plan A.  Through our choices and actions.

But we didn't destroy it for good.  We just postponed it.

God is still working His Plan A into history, into our lives.  Through Jesus' death, we can find salvation from our sins and from our brokenness.  God is still about wholeness and joy and life.  He's about peace and forgiveness and healing, about using our sins and mistakes and pain for good and working it into His plans, if we will let Him.

But He lets us decide how to live and how to respond to Him.  He lets us sin and disobey and hurt others and get bitter and self-destruct and reject Him and choose death.

But He is always beckoning to us, always offering us peace, joy, healing, wholeness, and eternal life with Him!

His real Plan A for our lives!















12.  "Depression is a sin ... and Job was a dimwit."

(Most of this is from the post "So Job Was A Dimwit, Huh?".)

            What would you call someone who lost everything - their belongings, their livelihood, their children, their health - and who, in their pain, pours out their heartbreak to God as honestly as they can, real and raw and unpolished and unedited?
            What would you call them?  What would you call Job of the Bible as he pours out his heartbreak to God, chapter after chapter?
            My Calvinist pastor, in a recent post he wrote, criticized Job for daring to question the Almighty, for speaking so harshly honestly to God about his pain and suffering and the "unfairness" of life.  He claimed Job was chastised by God, basically saying that Job got put in his place when God got all up in his face and blasted him for several chapters with the message of "Who do you think you are, Job!?!"
            And just what did my pastor call Job, for daring to speak to God the way he did?
            He called Job "dimwitted."
            A dimwit!

            Um, okay, sure, ... a "dimwit" is someone with limited intelligence.  And we humans are certainly "dimwitted" compared to God.  Our view of Him and understanding of Him is limited.
            But from the sound of it, my pastor didn't mean "dimwit" as a matter-of-fact description of us compared to God.  He seemed to mean it more as a condemnation against Job for daring to say the things he said, as if my pastor was trying to say "Who does Job think he is, talking to God so boldly and rudely!?!  I would never talk to God like that!  But he got what he deserved when God blasted him in the following chapters.  How improper Job was!  How unhumble!  How wrong!  What a dimwit!"  
            (And this pastor also read off a list of sins during a sermon once, and he included "depression" on that list.  No clarifications, no exemptions, no help.  Just basically "depression is a sin."  That apparently really upset at least one woman who has struggled with it for a long time.  And if I was there to hear that callous sermon, it would have bothered me too.) 

            Honestly, this criticism of Job bothered me.  Because out of all the people on the earth at that time, Job was actually tops, in God's eyes.
            "Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.'"  (Job 1:8)
            There was no one else on earth like Job.  He was probably the most righteous man at the time, the most God-honoring.  So much so that he stood out to God, that Satan asked to tempt him and to trip him up.
            And my pastor had the nerve to call Job a dimwit!

            [I have to stop calling him "my" pastor.  I refuse to listen to him preach and haven't listened to him for a long time.  In fact, I don't even really attend our church anymore because of this pastor's smug, dogmatic, Calvinist preaching.  And this example of him calling Job a "dimwit" is just another example of where this man's heart and mind is, and why he bothers me so much.
            The thing with Calvinists is that they elevate God's "sovereignty" so high, His glory so high, that they make Him almost inaccessible to humans, as if He couldn't dare to dirty Himself by getting too close to us.  And they shrink His love for us by saying that God is only really concerned about His glory and worshipping Himself and loving Himself, and so we humans and our pain don't really matter to Him, especially since the Calvinist God deliberately preplanned and caused that pain, for his glory.  And so how could we dare to pour out our pain to Calvi-god or think he actually cares.
            It's no wonder a Calvinist pastor would mock and shame Job for being so real with God, so honest.  (It's no surprise either that this pastor once admitted, from the pulpit shortly after becoming the pastor, that he has no patience.  This immediately made me realize that he would not be a safe person to talk to about problems and heartaches.  And this was even before I knew he was a Calvinist.  But now, knowing he's a Calvinist with little patience who shames people who pour out their pain honestly because he thinks they're talking back to God ... well, now I'm glad I never went to that man for help.  Ever!]  

            I can't imagine what would inspire a common, ordinary man of today - who has little problems compared to Job - to criticize the most righteous man at that time, especially given that he's never been in Job's shoes.  It's so easy to judge and criticize how someone else struggles in their faith and how they relate to God in their pain when we ourselves never experienced what they have.
            And this is why it kind of broke my heart, too.  This pastor has revealed how he really sees those who struggle deeply with faith-shaking heartache, like Job did. 
            After the tragedies came, Job sat in silence for a while, stunned, listening to all the "good" advice and "godly" lectures from his "righteous" friends.  But then he spoke up, and he began pouring out his heartache honestly - to his friends and to the Lord.  He didn't hold back.  He didn't polish up what he said.  He didn't edit it, trying to fool God, making it sound like he was doing better than he was.
            No!  He poured it all out at the Lord's feet honestly.  He opened his heart and bled his feelings all over the place.  Vulnerably.  He ripped off all the masks and stood before the Lord nakedly, even if it meant saying some unpleasant things.  No pretense.  No polish.  No phoniness.
            And my pastor called him a "dimwit" for doing so.

            It wasn't too long ago that I decided it was time to be more like Job.  I was going through a really hard emotional time, a test of my faith.  And after years of trying so hard to be so "proper" in my attitude, so "polished" in my prayers, so careful about keeping the ugly thoughts and feelings to myself so that I didn't offend God, I decided it was time to just try being real instead.  To be honest with Him.  To lay it all on the table.  To hold nothing back.    
            Doesn't He deserve that, after all?  He is our Creator.  He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows how best to handle our concerns and pain.  We aren't fooling Him anyway with our Pharisee-like efforts to polish ourselves up and look better than we are.  In fact, all that does is create distance and walls between Him and us, blocking Him off from parts of our hearts, preventing us from fully embracing His comfort and love and healing.
            But ... maybe I'm just too "dimwitted" to know any better!
            (For more on Job, see "Is Depression a Sin?")

            My pastor thinks Job was a dimwit for his honest cries.  But do you know what I think?
            I think Job did it right!  
            And I think God was pleased with Job, even as Job poured out the unpleasant things he said about God.  Because I think God is all about honesty, about realness.  Yes, He wants us to honor Him in our words and attitude.  He wants our respect, and He wants us to humbly submit to Him.  Those are great and proper things, when it all comes from a place of trust and love, our love for Him and His love for us.
            But when we aren't at that point of genuine love and trust yet - when we are still at a point of being too hurt to trust, too angry or heartbroken to love others, too insecure or broken to accept love and forgiveness, or maybe we are simply going through an unexpected hardship that's crushing our heart and faith  - then I think He just wants us to be honest and real with Him, no matter how ugly and broken we may be.  That's the only way to get to the point of genuine love and trust, to make it through the hardship with our faith intact.
            He doesn't want us to hide from Him in fear - fear that we might offend Him or repel Him or push Him away or the fear that He won't love us anymore if He sees "the real me."  I think hiding from Him and "protecting" Him from our real feelings dishonors Him more than our honesty ever could.  It shows that we don't trust Him, that we don't believe in His love and care, that we don't think He can handle it, that we don't feel He's worth getting close to, that we would rather protect ourselves than risk drawing near to Him.  
            And yet ... Jesus left heaven and put on human skin so that He could get dirty, so that He could feel our pain (not remove Himself from it), so that He could get close to us.
            Calvinism reverses what Jesus has done.  It puts Him back up on a "too high" pedestal.  It puts a huge gap between us and Him.  It reduces His love, His concern for us, and His desire to be near us, the know the "real us."  
            Jesus of the Bible meets us where we are, in our pain and heartbreak and messiness.  He got dirty.  He got bruised.  He bled.  He died a miserable, humiliating death.  So that we could draw near to Him. 
            But Calvi-Jesus is too glorious and sovereign and high and mighty to get his clean, white, holy clothes dirty with our tears.   

            But ... I hate Calvinism.  I believe it's a horrible theology.
            And I think, from reading the Bible, especially stories like Job, that if we are full of pain and doubts and bad feelings and ugly thoughts, God wants us to tell Him.  He wants us to let Him into our inner worlds, to open up to Him all the closed-off parts of our hearts, to trust Him with our deepest secrets and hurts.  So that He can draw near to us and help heal the painful things, fix the broken things, and make something good out of the bad things.  
            I think He would rather see our "ugly real selves" than our "pretty polished masks."  Everyone in the world gets to see our masks, but only a trusted few are worth showing our real selves to.  And God wants to be our most trusted "friend."  Because He loves us more than anyone else ever could.  He wants us to throw ourselves on Him, all parts of ourselves, even all the ugly things we think and feel.  Even about Him.  
            I think He would rather have us cry out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!?!" when we hurt, when we feel He let us down ... than have us force a smile and say, "Whatever You want, God, is fine with me, as long as You get the glory" while our hearts are breaking.  
            Because that's the only way to a real relationship with Him.  To letting down the walls we put up between us and Him.  To opening up our hearts and lives fully to Him.  To honoring Him as the Lord of our whole life.  
            King David didn't get to be "a man after God's own heart" by putting on a polished, shiny mask.  He was a man after God's own heart because he poured his whole heart out to God passionately, honestly, even when it wasn't pretty. 

            See, the thing is ... I think God values our relationship with Him, that He really does want a real relationship with us.  Because He loves us.  Because we matter to Him.  Because it touches His heart.  Because God is a relational Being, not an emotionless, antisocial hermit.
            But that's the thing about Calvinists though.  They don't put any emphasis on a relationship with God, on how God loves us and wants to be near us.  As I said, their highest, and just about only, emphasis is on God using us to get more glory for Himself.  They think God created us simply so He could show off His glory and get even more glory.  To them, we have no real value or purpose except for bringing God more glory.  And so the idea that God might actually want to be near us just because He loves us and wants a relationship with us is foreign to them.  Because it would put too much value on people.  More value than they think we should have.  More value than they think God attributes to us. 
            To them, God's glory is somehow lessened if He values us too much or loves us too much.  (As if anything about us can somehow change how glorious God is!)  And so Calvinists reduce humans to as low as they can reduce us, smooshing us into the ground, viewing us as virtually valueless and worthless worms, other than for the glory God gets through us.  
            It's sad.  
            (If someone doesn't want anything to do with God, it might not be because they don't like God or Jesus.  It might be because they heard about God and Jesus from a Calvinist.  And there's a big difference.)  

            I think Calvinism is extremely destructive to a genuine, loving, trusting relationship with God.  Because who would want to trust or love or get close to a God who (according to Calvinism) causes people to sin and then punishes them for it?  A God who causes people to be unbelievers so that He can send them to hell, supposedly for His glory somehow?  A God who only really loves the elect and who only sent Jesus to die for the elect  (Calvinist authors have outright said that God doesn't love everyone and that Jesus didn't die for everyone, but only for the elect)?  A God who is only concerned with His glory and who doesn't really care about us other than for the glory He can squeeze from us? 
            This is why I think Calvinism hurts God's heart too.  Because it contradicts God's own Word, about how He loves all men, wants all men to be saved, died for all men, and calls all men to believe in Him.  It destroys God's loving, forgiving, just, righteous, gracious character.  And because God Himself really does want a genuine relationship with us.  He wants us to love Him and trust Him and lean on Him and let Him love us and care for us.  Because we matter to Him, simply because we do.  Because He wants to loves us.
            I have been starving for some good old-fashioned "God loves you and you matter to Him" messages.  Some "God wants to help you because He cares for you" sermons.  But I don't get that from my church, so I have to look elsewhere (books from godly authors and Tony Evans' sermons online).

            I think this criticism of Job is just another result of my pastor's Calvinism.  Job dared to question God, to speak openly to God, even if it was "improper."  And this, in the Calvinist's mind, is horribly unglorifying to God.  And since God (according to the Calvinist) only cares about His glory and not about people or about His relationship with them, then a Calvinist must admonish someone who speaks to God the way Job did.  In their minds, they are "defending" God and His glory (as if He needs us to defend Him).  
            "Job, you are such a dimwit!  You are talking to God all wrong!"

            (But if, as Calvinists believe, God causes us to do everything we do, then God caused Job to say those improper things.  So then a Calvinist is only really defending God ... against God.  So why speak up against any wrong thing that anyone does, if God is the cause of it all for His glory and we can't control how we act anyway?  It doesn't make sense.  Calvinism doesn't make sense.)

            But ... as I said ... I think Job did it right.
            And I think my pastor is missing the whole point of the book of Job.  It's not just about God's glory and His magnificence, about Him emphasizing how He is the Creator of all and how He is so far above us humans, about Him showing off His glory.  The point isn't that God chastised Job, that He got all up in Job's face and put him in his place.
            The point is that ... God talked to Job!

            All through the first half of the book of Job, Job's friends gave lectures about God and about how to be a good, godly person and about what Job must have been doing wrong to deserve what he got.  They sounded like they understood God and His ways and what He wants, like they were speaking rightly about God and life.  They thought their advice was good and godly, that they were righteously correcting Job for how wrongly he treated God and how wrongly he handled his pain.  They did their best to defend God's glory from that dimwit Job.  
            And yet there was Job - the only one there who had lost everything but his wife and life, who lost his animals, his livelihood, his children, his health - shoving aside their nonsense, their "godly" admonishment, their super-spiritual lessons, pouring out before God all the ugly, improper, unacceptable thoughts and feelings he had.  Unpolished.  Unedited.  Real.  Raw.
            And the friends were horrified.  And my pastor was indignant.  And I can just imagine them saying ...  
            "How dare Job talk to God like that!  Who does Job think he is!?!  We must defend God's glory and honor.  We must protect His feelings and show how righteous we are compared to Job, how we - good, polished, proper God-followers - would never talk to God like that."

            But while my pastor views God's response to Job as a blasting, as God condemning Job and putting him in his place, I view it as "God talked to Job."
            Job had poured out his heart honestly to God.  Job related to God personally.  And so God poured out His heart back to Job, relating to him personally, chapter after chapter.
            The friends, however, who thought they were so righteous and godly and God-defending, barely even got a glance from God.  They had rambled on and on about God in their high and lofty and holier-than-thou ways, and they thought they were defending God's glory and honor, that they were speaking up for God, shaming Job for the things he said against God ... 
            ... and yet God barely said a thing to them, other than "I am angry with you and your friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.  So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves.  My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.  You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."  (Job 42:7-8)

            Job, the dimwit, had spoken rightly of God ... even though Job, the dimwit, poured out many ugly thoughts and feelings.  But the friends - who were so "righteous" that they would never speak to God like that - spoke wrongly of God.  And now they had to go to Job, the dimwit, for sacrifice and prayer so that God would have mercy on them.  
            Amazing!  And very telling about what God values, what He desires.
            He didn't want the "righteous" lectures of the holier-than-thou friends.  He wanted the honest cries of Job's hurting heart.  
            Yes, Job said some harsh things to God.  But Job poured his heart out to God honestly, not trying to hide things, not trying to trick God into thinking he was handling things better than he was.  He broke down the barriers between him and God.  He drew near to God and let God into his pain, instead of just pulling away in heartache and confusion.  He got real with God, instead of putting on a "good Christian" mask.  
            He talked to God, even if it wasn't pretty.  He talked to God, instead of just talking about God, like the friends did.  
            And so God talked to Job.  
            God drew near to Job.
            God got real with Job.

            (Counselors know that it's not the couples who fight that you need to worry about the most.  It's the couples who have stopped fighting.  Because at least the fighting couple cares enough to keep talking to each other.  But when they have given up on each other, when they don't care anymore, they stop talking and stop fighting.  Job and God "fought" with each other; but God would barely talk to the friends.)

            My pastor's post made me feel badly not only for Job, but also for those who are hurting deeply, for the ones who need to pour their pain out to God but who will now feel ashamed if they try to relate to God so honestly and openly.  Scolded.  Like a bad Christian.  Like a dimwit.  What deeply hurting person is going to want to go to a pastor like this for help with their pain, when a pastor makes them feel like a dimwit for being so honest about their pain.
            This pastor might think he's doing right, trying to defend God's glory, criticizing those who dare to be "improper" toward God, who are "too honest" with God about all the bad things they are thinking and feeling.  
            But to me, this pastor is no different than Job's friends.  The friends who scolded Job, who "defended" God with all sorts of lofty, righteous-sounding lectures, who were more concerned with criticizing than having compassion ... but who ultimately barely even got a glance from God, other than the scolding God gave them.  
            I do not think God is simply all about using us to get more glory.  I think God wants a real, honest relationship with us.  I think God values the relationships He has with us because He loves us, because we matter to Him simply because He made us and loves us and wants a relationship with us.  He is a relational being.  And that's why I think Job did it right.  Because he was real and honest in his relationship with God.  He drew near to God, even when he was hurting.  And so God drew near to him and eventually blessed him abundantly.
            Not too shabby for a "dimwit."

















13.  "The Bible says God loves people.  But the Bible is clear that God does not love all people and He doesn't love everyone equally.  He elected some sinners to salvation, and He predestined some for eternal damnation."
            Find me the verse that says God does not love everyone the same way!  Or a verse about how God's love is shown by whether or not He elects you to heaven.  Find me an actual verse that clearly says something like that, not just a mish-mash of verses, taken-out-of-context, about how God loved Jacob and hated Esau (the passage my pastor was using).  
            Because in my Bible, I see God's love clearly spelled out in this verse ... "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).  
            I see "But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).  
            And unless I misunderstand the Bible, we are all sinners: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  
            And if that isn't clear enough: "He is the atoning sacrifice for all sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).  
            Where is there room for misunderstanding here?  
            How is this not clear?
            "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous [Jesus] for the unrighteous [mankind]..." (1 Peter 3:18).  
            Yet Calvinists say that God really loves only the elect and that Jesus died only for the elect.  So then is God lying when He says He loves the whole world?  Is He lying when He says Jesus died for the sins of the whole world?  And if this verse says that Jesus died for the unrighteous, does that then mean, according to Calvinism's own theology, that only the elect are unrighteous?  Since Jesus died for the unrighteous?  What then does that make the non-elect?  Righteous?

            Do you want to know how my pastor explained away "For God so loved the world ..."?  
            He said that "world" means "cosmos."  
            So, am I getting this right ... that God sent Jesus to die not because He loved people, but because He loved the universe?  Interesting!  
            So then would my pastor also be willing to change "world" to "cosmos" in the next verse, which also has the same Greek word meaning as John 3:16?  Let's see how that would sound: "For God did not send his Son into the cosmos to condemn the cosmos, but to save the cosmos through him."
            I bet not.
            But Strong's concordance (with Vine's expository dictionary) says that "world" has several different meanings, one of which is "mankind, the human race," which it says is the correct interpretation of "world" in John 3:16-17.
            So which one makes the most sense?  
            "For God so loved mankind, the human race" or "For God so loved the cosmos"?  
            "Jesus was sent to save mankind" or "Jesus was sent to save the cosmos"?  
            Does this pastor's redefinition of "world" fit at all with the overall, plain, easily-understood message of the Bible?
            No!  It does not!


            [And since we're on the topic of John 3:16, Calvinists also say that "whosoever" ("whosoever believes shall not perish") doesn't mean that anyone can accept Christ.  They say "whosoever" means the "elect," as in "those who believe."  They will say that John 3:16 means "For God so loved the elect (or "cosmos," as some say), that He sent His one and only Son, that the elect would believe in Him and shall not perish but have eternal life."
            Interesting!  Because the concordance says that "whosoever" is made up of two Greek words, which are essentially "all/any/every/whole" and "the/who."  There is nothing about the "elect" or "believe" here.  "Whosoever" simply means exactly what we think it does: "Any who" or "All who" etc.
            And ... if "whosoever" in John 3:16 is talking about the elect, then "whosoever" (sometimes translated as "anyone" or "everyone") in these verses also has to mean "the elect" because the concordance says they all use the same Greek word meaning:

"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement ..." Matthew 5:22

"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Matthew 5:28

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery ..."  Luke 16:18

"Everyone who falls on that stone [Jesus] will be broken to pieces ..."  Luke 20:18

" ... a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God."  John 16:2

"Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father ..." 1 John 2:23

            Does it sound like it means "the elect" in these verses?  No?  
            Then it can't be said that "whosoever" in John 3:16 means "the elect" either.  "Whosoever" means exactly what we think it does - "anyone/everyone who."

            "Oh, but wait," says the Calvinist, "you have to include the 'believes.'  'Whosoever believes' means 'all the believers' - the elect, those predestined to believe."
            Well, that wouldn't work either because "believe" in this verse is not a noun, as in "the believers, the people who believe."  Nor is it an adjective, as in "the believing people."
            It is a verb, as in "to be persuaded by something and, consequently, to commit to it, to put your faith in it" (as the concordance defines it).
            "Whosoever believes" means exactly what the Bible says ... "Anyone who believes shall not perish but have eternal life."

            And yet, even after all this, Calvinists will still go, "Yeah, it might say 'whosoever believes,' but only the elect can and will believe."  And then they'll bring up all sorts of other verses that don't say that at all.
            Why ... WHY! ... must Calvinists keep twisting Bible verses and altering the clear, consistent, rational teachings of Scripture!?!  Why must they keep reading into it things that are not there!?!  Are they that desperate to think they are elected, that they are saved without any responsibility on their parts!?!]     

            Calvinists choose their own rambling, unclear, mish-mash theology over the clear, plain, consistent, easily-understood teachings of the Bible.  (For more about how the concordance disproves Calvinism, see this post.)  
            In fact, about John 3:16Calvinists might further argue that "mankind, the human race" doesn't necessarily mean all of mankind, all humans, just some out of the whole human race.  Just like they say that "God loves all people" means "God loves all kinds of people, some from all nations, but not all people."  Or they'll say, "Sure, God loves all people, but He shows His love in different ways, by saving the elect and by being kind to the non-elect, giving them food and water while they are alive on earth (before sending them to hell for being the unbelievers He caused them to be - Oh yeah, that's some amazing love!)."  
            They'll claim anything else - any other nonsensical and contradictory idea - just so they don't have to claim that God truly loves all people, that Jesus died for all people, that salvation is available to all people, that they were not elected to salvation, and that it's our responsibility to choose to accept or reject Christ!  

            If you listen to them closely, you'll notice that when it comes to every easily-understood Bible verse they say "Yes ... but ..."
            "Yes, the Bible says God loves people ... but He meant all kinds of people, not all people."
            "Yes, God loves all men ... but He has two different kinds of love, a saving one for the elect and a give-you-food-and-water one for the non-elect."
            "Yes, the Bible says God calls to all people ... but He has two different kinds of calls, one for the elect that they have to respond to and and one for the non-elect that they can never respond to."
            "Yes, God tells us to seek Him ... but He didn't mean we can seek Him, on our own.  He only makes it possible for the elect to seek Him, but the non-elect can never seek Him.  But God commanded them to seek Him and believe in Him anyway so that they would be guilty of rejecting Him and end up in hell, just like He predestined.  For His glory.  We can't understand it; we just have to accept it."
            "Yes, it says Jesus died for all sins and that whoever wants to can believe in Him ... but only the elect can and will want to believe in Him because God regenerates only their hearts.  But the non-elect will never be able to want to believe in Him because God didn't give them the regenerated nature.  The non-elect have to keep the unrepentant nature that can only and will only reject Him."
            "Yes, the Bible says God wants all men to be saved, that He wants no one to perish ... but God can want one thing while causing the opposite, for His glory and mysterious plans.  God will still be sad about people being in hell, even though He predestined them to be there."
            "Yes, the Bible says God never causes sin ... but God simply prevents the non-elect from being able to obey Him, leaving them, by default, as sinners who can only always want to sin and choose to sin.  So He doesn't 'cause their sin,' per se.  He just prevents them from being able to not sin.  Because He won't regenerate them.  Because He predestined them to hell."




            If you have to add "Yes ... but ..." to everything God says, then maybe you need to consider that your theology is WRONG!  
            I mean, seriously, does this sound like what God meant to say when He wrote the Bible!?!  Does God need the help of Calvinist theologians to "clarify" when He meant to say?








(Read about John Calvin's treatment of  Michael Servetus online, such as in this post.)






            The Bible is very clear and easily-understood.  God doesn't hide His Truth under layers of contradictions and double word-meanings that only the super-intelligent people can understand.  God doesn't play games with us.  
            The Bible is clear, makes sense, and is for all people.
            When read plainly and simply, the Bible clearly says that Jesus died for all, that we are all sinners, that salvation is available to all, and that we are responsible for whether we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior or not.
            But it's the Calvinists who do all sorts of Scripture-twisting, smoke-and-mirrors, double-layered, song-and-dance in order to make the Bible fit their theology, to make it say the exact opposite of what the Bible clearly says.
            They can't find verses that clearly say what they believe, such as "God does not love all sinners equally" and "Jesus died only for the elect" and "God has two Wills that contradict each other, one that wants all to be saved and one that predestines most people for hell" and "God has two different kinds of love for people, one that saves some people and one that just gives food and water to the rest" and "God has two different kinds of calls He gives people, one that is irresistible and one that is resistible" and "God causes people to sin but punishes them for it," etc.
            No!  They can't find verses that clearly teach their theology.  And this is why they have to take verses out of context, apply multiple layers to verses, mash other verses together, change the meanings of words, shame and manipulate people into not questioning them, and make up truths based on what a verse doesn't say (such as if I said I went shopping and bought chocolate ice cream because I love chocolate ice cream, Calvinist reasoning would infer that I must necessarily be saying that I didn't buy vanilla ice cream because I clearly must hate vanilla ice cream.  But no ... all I said was I bought chocolate because I love chocolate.  I said nothing about what I didn't buy or don't love.  But this is one of the kinds of backwards reasoning Calvinists use to get a verse to say something it isn't saying.), etc.
            It makes me sick!
            And besides, the whole Jacob/Esau thing has nothing to do with salvation, with electing some to heaven and the rest to hell.  It's about God choosing one race of people over the other to be the bloodline that brought Jesus into the world.  Big difference!

            [And for the record, the Bible itself tells us why God is kind to the unrighteous, and it's not just so that He can show them some love before sending them to hell like He supposedly predestined.  
            It's because of this:
            "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"  (Romans 2:4, emphasis is mine)  
            God intends for His kindness to lead the unrighteous to repentance, not just to show them a little love before He sends them to hell.  And this message isn't just for "elected" sinners.  It's for those who are stubborn and unrepentant and who are storing up wrath against themselves (vs. 5).  
            God intends His kindness to be what leads them to repentance.  He doesn't intend to save people through some sort of mysterious "election/predestined before time began/regenerated by the Holy Spirit so they can believe" thing.  He intends for unrepentant people to see His kindness and, consequently, to turn to Him, repent, believe in Him, and go to heaven.  
            This is His intention for those who are unrepentant.  He does not intend for them to go to hell.  He has not predestined them for hell.  How can the Bible be more clear!?!]







14.  (And most recently, on Mother's Day, this is what he said, practically word for word ...) "Christians love to believe that there is an age of accountability.  (My note: This is when someone becomes old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong.  And most Christians believe that children who die before this "age/condition of accountability" and mentally-handicapped people who can't understand the Gospel are covered by God's grace when they die, and so they go to heaven.  They were mentally incapable of being able to make a choice about accepting or rejecting Jesus, so they are not held accountable for being unable to make a choice.)  But nowhere in the Bible does it say there is an age of accountability for babies or children.  No one gets a free pass.  We are all wicked sinners from conception - sinners by birth, by choice (My note: It's deceptive for a Calvinist to use this word because they mean unregenerated people can only choose to sin!), and by nature, being cut off completely from God.  This is clear in Romans 3:23 which says 'for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,' and in 1 John 1:8 which says 'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.'  All of us are sinners, and all sinners are required to repent in order to get into heaven.  (My note: Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that babies who died before they could repent are in hell.  They were born predestined to go to hell.)"  

            Umm, first off, can babies "claim" anything about themselves?  Can they consider their moral condition and make a declaration like "There's no sin in me!"?  1 John 1:8 simply would not apply to those who do not have the mental capabilities to evaluate their conditions or make declarations about themselves.  
            A friend of mine who heard this sermon told me to look it up online.  (I wasn't there to hear it because I don't attend that church anymore.)  She was wondering if he was really saying what she thought he was saying.  
            He was!  
            And I have recently read of others who said their Calvinist pastors said the same thing.  That these men will look right at grieving mothers and say that there is no age of accountability, no saving grace for those who die before being old enough to respond to the Gospel.  That babies and young children who die before they repent are predestined for hell, because God requires us to repent to get into heaven.  And babies and young children didn't repent before they died.
            "Happy Mother's Day.  I hope you know your deceased baby is in hell.  Now let's give God some glory!"






  
            Did I mention that I feel like crying!?!  And I never even lost a child.  But my heart breaks for those who did, for those who had to listen to this pastor ... ON MOTHER'S DAY ... essentially tell them their baby is in hell.  Even if he seriously believes it, what the #@$% is wrong with his head that he would say this to mothers on Mother's Day!?!

            [And then very shortly after this sermon, he dared to write a post on the church blog saying that he's not sure what happens to babies when they die but that he leans towards thinking they go to heaven.  I can only assume he got hit with a lot of angry comments after his sermon and had to backpedal and do some damage control.  
            But I wasn't going to let him get away with it.  
            Since they won't allow comments anymore on the church blog (because of me, I kid you not), I emailed him directly and pretty much said, "You just gave a sermon where you clearly said that there is no age of accountability, that babies die as unrepentant sinners, clearly implying that they go to hell.  You said that NO ONE gets a free pass.  And you gave this sermon on Mother's Day!  But now you dare to say the opposite!?!  (And I said more, but I can't remember what.)"  
            (Can you see why they don't allow comments anymore?)
            I wanted him to know that we were listening, that we heard him clearly, that he couldn't pull the wool over our eyes now, trying to trick us into thinking that we misheard him and that he didn't say what he really did.   
            He also once did a blog post about how God commands - COMMANDS - spanking your children, and that it should hurt.  The whole "spare the rod, spoil the child" thing.  (You see, this is what his family does.  And he likes to regularly tell us what his family does, as if we should all be doing things his way.)  
            That's funny, because I see that God commands "disciplining" our children, but I see nothing about commanding us to SPANK our children.  And the whole "spare the rod" thing doesn't have to do with beating your children with it.  It has to do with a shepherd using the rod to guide the sheep.  It's about how if you don't discipline your kids, you don't really care about them and what kind of people they grow up to be.  (And remember that Proverbs is good "life advice," not biblical commandments.)  
            (And I told him all this in the comments too, before they stopped allowing comments.  I also told him that the picture they put with the post was creepy, that it looked like a scared child, huddled in a corner, curled up all alone, hiding the abuse that happens behind closed doors.  It really was creepy.  I have no idea what they were thinking picking that picture.)   
            And I wonder why he even bothers to spank his kids (and grandkids).  Does he seriously think he can have some sort of influence over what kind of people they grow up to be ... when, according to Calvinism, Sovereign Calvi-god alone is the one who causes people to be what they are?  Does he think he can help them be better people if Calvi-god determined they would be unregenerate monsters?  And if they turn out to be well-behaved people, will he take some sort of credit for it, as though his parenting helped them be good people?  So, according to Calvinism, people can't even decide what to think, do, or believe on their own because Calvi-god predetermines it all, but this pastor thinks he can somehow influence how his kids grow up.  Interesting!]


            For more on this issue, check out this "Age of Accountability" post from Soteriology 101, a blog by a former 5-point Calvinist who is speaking out against Calvinism.  Also be sure to look down in the comments section, particularly for the comments from FROMOVERHERE, after my (Heather's) comment, starting with "Heather, Perhaps the kind words of Mr. Calvinist Vincent Cheung will help ..."  This Cheung is a Calvinist who is being honest about his Calvinist views.  And it's HORRBILE!  You can also find it in this post: "Do Babies Go To Heaven If They Die: A Critique of Calvinism's Answer."

            In that post, I share and defend my belief that babies and mentally-handicapped people go to heaven if they die, that God's grace covers them.  
            And, in short, this comes from the Bible verses that say that Jesus's death paid the price for all men's sins (surely, babies and mentally-handicapped people are part of "all men," so their sins were paid for too), that we are held accountable for our decision to reject Jesus (not for being incapable of making a decision), and that God has special provisions for children throughout the Bible.  
            All in all, I believe the Bible shows babies and mentally-handicapped people are not held accountable for being unable to accept or reject Jesus.  Theirs sins are covered by God's grace, until and unless they get to the point that God can hold them accountable for their choices.
            But Calvinists essentially deny that Jesus' death paid for all people's sin.  They do not believe His death paid for the sins of the non-elect.  They believe God predestined them to hell for His glory.  So why wouldn't they say that Jesus' death did not cover babies or mentally-handicapped people either, that God also predestined them to hell for His glory?  
            Surely if it's okay for Calvi-god to predestine non-elect people to hell for his glory, even though they had no chance to accept Jesus, then it's okay for the him to predestine babies to hell for his glory, even though they had no chance to accept Jesus.  What's the difference, if Calvinism is true?  If a Calvinist allows one, they have to allow the other.  After all, "God can do whatever He wants for His glory, right?  Who are you, little Calvinist, to talk back to God and tell Him what He can and cannot do?"
            And even if they won't admit that they believe babies go to hell, their theology does, because in Calvinism "all people are totally-depraved, rebellious, wicked sinners at birth who have to be regenerated in order to repent/believe so that they can go to heaven."  And babies and mentally-handicapped people never got around to repenting.  So how could a Calvinist who believes in total depravity and in regeneration by the Holy Spirit before belief now say that regeneration is not necessary in the case of babies?  If they are going to allow "saved without regeneration" for babies who are unable to make their own decisions, why wouldn't they allow it for the non-elect who are also, according to Calvinism, unable to make their own decisions?  
            They can't pick and choose who Calvi-god is allowed to predestine to hell, based on their feelings of what's "fair."  
            If Calvi-god is so horrible as to predestine people to hell, never giving them a chance to choose, causing them to reject him but them punishing them for it, then he is indeed horrible enough to predestine babies to hell!


            [As I said earlier, Calvinists say that God causes everything and that everything He causes is for His glory.  Predestining people to hell, child abuse, divorce, addictions, idol worship.  Everything.  All for Calvi-god's glory.  But if God is glorified by evil then evil is essentially good.  So then, in Calvinism, there really is no difference between good and evil.  They are the same things and both as valuable as each other because Calvi-god causes it all for his glory.
            Wicked, wicked theology!  Turning evil into good, darkness into light, sin into something that glorifies God!


            I've said it before: Calvinist theology is like building a house of cards on a foundation of Jello.  But instead of reexamining the foundation of misconceptions and faulty assumptions, they just keep trying to make the building on top more secure!]  


            But back to the Calvinist idea that there's no age of accountability ...
            A Calvinist has to say this - that it is God's choice for that baby to die early and go to hell, for His glory - because if they acknowledge an "age of accountability," then they are acknowledging that there is an age where we are accountable for our choices, which would mean that we have the ability to make choices, which would mean that their view of "total inability" and of "God causes all things" is completely wrong.    
            According to Calvinist theology, we cannot make choices on our own.  It is a core, foundational belief in Calvinism, supposedly to honor God's "sovereignty" (their erroneous view of God's sovereignty, that is).  Man cannot make choices about God because man is "so dead" inside, and so God has to cause us to come to Him.  This means that God had to pre-decide who would come to Him, which means that He predestines us to heaven or hell.  All of this hinges on their view that we cannot make any choices on our own!  
            No wonder Calvinists have to deny an "age of accountability," because it implies that we can make choices and that we are accountable for them.
  
            [However, there are many Calvinists who won't admit to this and won't believe it, but when you connect all the dots of Calvinism, it is an undeniable part of their theology.  Anything less would contradict their Calvinist theology.  So a Calvinist that says there is an age of accountability, that there is saving grace for a supposedly "wicked and rebellious from birth" baby who dies before they can repent is denying their own theology!  
            Oddly enough, in Calvinism it's okay to deny what the Bible plainly says and to replace it with their obscure views, but it's not okay to deny Calvinism's unclear, illogical, contradictory, rambling nonsense.  Instead they excuse it with "But we can't really understand it anyway, so we just have to accept it."  
            But shouldn't they be doing that with the Bible instead?  Shouldn't a Calvinist go, "Well, the Bible tells men to seek God, so even if I can't understand it then I'll just have to accept that we can seek Him."  And "The Bible says God loved the world and Jesus died for all sins, so even if I can't understand it in light of my Calvinism, then I'll just have to accept it."  And "The Bible says it's our job to believe in Jesus, so I guess I should accept it even if Calvinism says we can't choose to believe in Jesus."  
            How truly backwards they are!  It's like being on the wrong side of a looking glass, always thinking that it's the other side that's backwards and not you.]

            Incidentally, this is also why they don't believe in altar calls.  Because calling people to ask Jesus into their hearts implies that we get a choice about it, that we can do something to "acquire" salvation, which would go against their beliefs that man can do nothing (not even accept God's gift of salvation, which they wrongly consider "working for salvation") and that God has to do it all.
            My ex-pastor once wrote that he doesn't do altar calls because he doesn't want people to wrongly think they are saved simply because they "walked the aisle."  (Umm, isn't it the pastor's job to tell those who came forward in an altar call that walking the aisle didn't save them, but that it's their belief in Jesus - the fact that they chose to put their faith in Him - that saves them?)  But I don't believe for one second that that's his real reason for not doing altar calls.  I think he just doesn't want people to think they have a choice about their beliefs, their salvation!  (And yet they wonder why people don't agree them.)




            With Calvinism in general, there are no altar calls, no "asking Jesus into your heart."  Because they don't want people thinking they have a choice.  Because that would contradict their whole idea that God chooses for us.  
            (And there's almost no focus on having a genuine, two-way relationship with God, because that would imply that humans have some sort of value to Him, that He might actually care about us for more than the glory He can squeeze out of us for Himself.  And they are all about reducing humans as low as they can in their sick, twisted attempt to elevate God's sovereignty and glory as much as they can.  But they end up doing it in ways that alter the Bible and destroy God's truth, God's character, the Gospel, Jesus' sacrifice, and people's faith and hope and joy.)  



   




15.  Our pastor never does altar calls and never asks people if they want to ask Jesus in their heart or choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Instead, Calvinists emphasize the need to "repent."
            As I mentioned in the last point, with Calvinism in general, there are no altar calls, no "Do you want to ask Jesus into your heart, to choose Him as your Lord and Savior?"  
            They say it's because they don't want people thinking they're saved just because they "walked the aisle" or "prayed a prayer."  But I know it's because they don't want people thinking they have a choice.  Because that would contradict their whole idea of election, that God decides for us and causes the elect to believe.
            Anyway, I just realized something interesting about a Calvinist's emphasis on repentance.  (You'll also see repentance emphasized in a Calvinist church's Statement of Faith, instead of any reference to accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.  And yes, for the record, my ex-pastor does say we need to "repent and believe," but Calvinists don't think believing is something we can do.  We can only do the repentance part, but "believing" happens to us, when Calvi-god causes the elect to believe.  That's why I am focusing only on them calling people to "repent," because their challenge to people to believe in Jesus is false if they don't think we can actually choose to believe.  They only say "repent and believe" because that's what the Bible tells us to tell people when we witness to them.)  
            I didn't really know why the Calvinist's emphasis on repentance bothered me so much, because, after all, repentance is a good, important thing.  But then I was reading Acts 19:1-5 this morning and it hit me like a bolt of lightning: 

            "... There he [Paul] found some disciples and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'  
            They answered, 'No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.'  [Note: Acts is a transitionary time-period as things shift into the Church Age, from before the coming of the Holy Spirit to after.]  
            So Paul asked, 'Then what baptism did you receive?'
            'John's baptism,' they replied.
            Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of repentance.  He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.'  On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus."

            While reading this, I immediately thought about the emphasis Calvinists put on repentance, as if it's what you do to be saved, the only thing you need to do.  They teach this instead of "accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior."  
            The thing is, Calvinists don't think we have a choice about believing or not.  They think it's ultimately up to the Lord if we believe or not, that God first elects those who will believe and then He gives them the Holy Spirit to regenerate them and then He makes them believe.  The elect cannot believe without the Holy Spirit first regenerating them.  And so Calvinists do not call people to "believe in/accept Jesus" because they don't think we have a choice about it.
            And so they stress "repenting" instead of "believing," as if repentance is our only responsibility, the gateway to being saved.  
            But Acts 19:4 says that John the Baptist taught the baptism of repentance, and this was before Jesus died for our sins.  And I think this means that repentance is what was required of people before Jesus died on the cross (along with the Jewish system of following laws and sacrificing animals for their sins, etc.).  This is what was required before the Holy Spirit came, before we had the option of believing in Jesus.
            But now, after Jesus, the "gateway to salvation" has shifted from repenting to believing, to choosing to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Mere "repentance" is not enough.  You have to believe.  The author of Acts even stresses this when he says that John told the people to believe in Jesus.  John did baptisms of repentance, but he said that when Jesus comes, it's about "believing."  
            So the Bible shifts it from repenting to believing, but Calvinists have shifted it back.  But one of the few verses in the New Testament that attaches repentance to salvation is Acts 2:38.  It says that the people were to repent and be baptized in Jesus' name, and then they would receive the Holy Spirit.  But I believe that the saving action here is not the repenting but the "being baptized in the name of Jesus," which is not just a physical water baptism but a "believing in Him, calling on Him" baptism.  This is when the Holy Spirit is given, after the believing, not just in response to repenting.  And this is seen in Acts 19 above when those particular believers did not receive the Holy Spirit until after being baptized in Jesus' name, even though they already went through a baptism of repentance.
            The thing is, when I looked up "repent" in the concordance, it simply says it's about changing your mind for the better.  It involves three steps: gaining new knowledge about something, regretting the course of action you were/are on, and changing your course of action for the better.
            Let me ask Calvinists this: Where, in any of that, is Jesus?
            And this is why it bothered me so much, even though I couldn't put it into words yet.  
            Repentance is a good, important thing, but it essentially leaves Jesus out.  It falls short of putting your faith in Jesus.  Repentance, on its own, is not much different than self-therapeutic behavior-modification.  
            Acts 20:21 even shows that it's two different things, and that both are needed: "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (KJV)
            And Matthew 3:7-8 shows us that even the Pharisees and Sadducees were known for their repentance and yet their repentance alone wasn't enough.  "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."  (And where does the ability to "produce fruit" come from?  From the Holy Spirit, given to those who are "baptized in Jesus" when they choose to put their faith in Him.  Galatians 5:22, Acts 2:38)  
            How clever of Satan to present only half the truth but not the whole truth.  To spread something that sounds so good, so close to truth, that we can't see how wrong it is or how much it falls short of true salvation, of true saving belief in Jesus!
            You see, Satan doesn't mind if we turn to "God," because that's vague.  He doesn't mind if we try to fix our lives and do better.  This is what even false religions do, with false gods.  This is what nominal Christians (those who are Christians in name only), the I-believe-in-a-higher-power-out-there-somewhere "Christians."  
            But "belief in Jesus"?  That's what Satan doesn't want us to do.  Because that's where the truth is.  That's where the power is, the salvation.  And it's detrimental to him.  And so it's no wonder he made sure to leave it out of Calvinism.  He doesn't mind as much if we "turn to God in repentance," but he does not want us choosing to "believe in Jesus."  And he definitely doesn't want us thinking we have a choice about it.  What an effective strategy of his - to trick people into thinking they don't have to do anything at all to be saved, that they can't do anything at all to be saved, not even what God told us we need to do, that mere repentance is enough, that there's no personal responsibility to or ability to believe in Jesus and accept Him as Lord and Savior because God does it for us.
            Calvinists say that we can't choose to believe.  (Yet they think we can somehow choose to repent!?!)  They call believing a "work" and say that since we can't do any works to be saved then we can't choose to believe. 
            I wonder, how many dogmatic Calvinists are truly saved if this is what they say of their conversion experience, as one famous Calvinist essentially said: "I just always knew from a young age that I was elected, that I was chosen to be a believer."  Yet they had no moment when they personally, consciously chose to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Instead, they just grew up "knowing" they were elected and went with it.  I believe there will be a lot of shocked Calvinists standing before God one day when He tells them, "I said that you were responsible to choose between believing in Jesus or rejecting Him.  And I meant what I said!"





            I just watched a video of one Calvinist preacher who said that it's unbiblical and dangerous to tell people they can "accept Jesus into their hearts."
            He says to his congregation, in a very creepy, wide-eyed, mouth-hanging-open, stilted way (paraphrased), "Shouldn't it bother us that we tell people to do this but that the phrase 'accept Jesus into your heart' isn't in the Bible anywhere?"  (Honestly, it was very creepy, almost like "the lights are on but no one's home."  Or like he wasn't really in control of his own mind.  Here is a link to that clip featuring David Platt.  Doesn't it seem like there's something wrong here?  Can't you almost feel it?)  He says it will mislead millions of people into thinking they are saved just because they "prayed a prayer."  (Millions?  Really?  How stupid does he think the average person is, accusing us of being unable to realize that our words aren't magic, that believing in Jesus has to be a genuine heart thing?  And once again, that's why you explain to them that it's not their words that save them, but it's their belief in Jesus that does.)
            Well ... let's see what else is "not in the Bible":
            1.  There is no verse saying that in order to be a sovereign God, God has to control all things.  (In fact, the word "sovereign" is not even in the concordance, the King James Bible, the Greek, anywhere.  It's the NIV that adds it hundreds of times.  And it uses it to replace the title "Lord."  The word "sovereign" is a title, designating that God is Lord over all, in authority over all.  It is not about how He has to use His power or authority to control everything.)
            2.  There is no verse saying that it's impossible to seek God unless God makes you do it.
            3.  There is no verse saying that "spiritually dead" means you are "dead like a dead body and cannot do anything but lay there all dead, that you are unable to want God or think about God unless God enables you to."
            4.  There is no verse saying that the Holy Spirit has to regenerate you before you can believe.
            5.  There is no verse saying that God only chose a few people to save and that He predestined the rest for hell.
            6.  There is no verse saying that God only loves a few people enough to save them or that Jesus only died for the sins of a few people.
            7.  There is no verse saying that God has two different Wills that oppose each other or that He has two different kinds of calls, one for the elect and one for the non-elect.
            8.  There is no verse saying that Adam and Eve lost the right to make decisions after they sinned.
            9.  There is no phrase "total depravity" or "unconditional election" in the Bible anywhere.  There is no phrase "limited atonement."  There is no "irresistible grace."
            10.  And my Calvinist ex-pastor once said something like "We tend to have a problem with the idea that God can choose who to save and who not to save.  We don't like it.  But the Bible clearly teaches it.  The Bible calls it 'the doctrine of election, the doctrine of predestination'."  (But the funny thing is, you won't find the phrase "doctrine of election" or "doctrine of predestination" in the Bible anywhere.  So ... NO! ... the Bible does not call it that.  But making it sound like the Bible actually uses those phrases and clearly teaches those "doctrines" is a good way to deceive people and get them to stop doubting it.)  
            And these are just a few.
            Should it not bother us that none of these essential Calvinist ideas are clearly laid out in any verse in the Bible?  That they have to fabricate support for these ideas by cobbling together other verses taken out of context and reinterpreted through a Calvinist lens?

            [And in fact, the opposite of Calvinism is in the Bible, when read plainly, as it was written, without filtering it through one's own assumptions first.
            In Genesis 1:26 and Psalm 8:6-8, we read that God sovereignly decided to give man a certain level of control, dominion, over His creation.
            In Amos 5:4, God tells His people who have rejected Him to "Seek me and live."  If they aren't spiritually "alive" yet then they are "dead," which means God is telling "dead people" to seek Him.  "Dead" men can seek God!
            In Acts 2:38, we see that the Holy Spirit enters a person as a result of their choice to believe, not before he believes in order to give him the ability to believe.  And this is evident, as we already saw, in Acts 19:1-6 when Paul found some disciples who hadn't yet received the Holy Spirit.  They were disciples, believers, before they got the Spirit.  And 2 Corinthians 3:16 tells us when the veil (of our minds) is removed - "Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."  After we turn to the Lord, the veil is removed.  But in Calvinism, the veil has to be removed before you can turn to the Lord.  Big difference!
            There is no verse saying that God only loves a few people, only wants to save a few people, or that Jesus only died for a few people, but there are multiple verses saying that God loves the world, wants all the be saved, and that Jesus died for all: John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, John 1:29, Romans 5:18, Hebrews 2:9, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, Ezekiel 18:32, Romans 10:13, etc.
            There is no verse saying that God has two different Wills, one that wants all to be saved and one that really wants most to go to hell.  But there is a verse -  Acts 20:27 - about how Paul preached the "whole will" of God.  And what was the thing he preached?  "Repent and believe to get eternal life."  And he calls this "the whole will of God."  Where is there room for a "secret, God-really-wants-most-people-to-reject-Him-and-go-to-hell" Will?
            "Election" in the Bible does not have anything to do with individuals being chosen for salvation.  In the concordance, it simply means to be picked out, chosen.  But there is no mention of what the "elect" are chosen for.  So "chosen for salvation" is not inherent in the word "election."  And when it's used in Romans 9 (a big "predestination" chapter for Calvinists), we see that it's not at all about individuals being chosen for salvation, but it's about Israel/Jacob being "elected" for a certain role/responsibility.  "Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad - in order that God's purpose in election might stand: ... "The older will serve the younger." ... Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"  (Romans 9:11-12, 21)  This election is not about God choosing certain people for heaven; it's about God choosing to use certain people for big purposes, to give certain people a big job/responsibility.  And in this case, when you read the chapter in context, you see that it's about God choosing Israel (Jacob) to be the bloodline that brought Jesus into the world.  This totally contradicts a Calvinist's view of election, that God decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.  Election is about being chosen for a certain responsibility, not about being chosen for salvation.  
            (Also consider "election" in Romans 11:28"As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."  This is important because it destroys a Calvinists idea that election is about being "chosen for salvation."  This verse is about Israel, and it's saying that they are elected but are basically enemies of the gospel right now.  How can "elected" people be enemies of the gospel if election means "predestined to be saved"?  Calvinists also say God only really loves those whom He elected and that He elects (predestines to heaven) those He loves.  But in this verse, the "elect" are enemies of the gospel (not going to heaven), yet still loved?  How can this be - how can elect people be unsaved and unsaved people be loved - if Calvinism is true?  Answer:  It can be so because Calvinism ISN'T true, because election isn't about the eternal salvation of individuals, about being predestined for heaven.  It's about being called to fulfill a role, a special job/responsibility.  This verse is saying that even though Israel is an enemy of the gospel right now, they are still part of the elect, the bloodline that was chosen to bring Jesus into the world.  And because of that election, that special call of God's, He still loves them, even if they are His enemies right now.  And because of His love, God will someday, in the end, soften their self-hardened hearts and bring them all to belief in Him.  Once again, election is about God choosing people to fulfill a special role, not to be individually predestined for heaven.  That's why Israel can be "elect" but lost, and lost but still loved.)
            And, yes, predestination is a biblical concept, but not the way Calvinists view it.  Notice how it's used in Romans 8:29"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son..."  It's not that people are predestined for salvation; it's that true believers (foreknown by God) are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.  Whether or not you get saved is not predestined, but if you become a believer, the ultimate path you take has been predestined, because the Holy Spirit leads us to reflect Christ more and more.
            If you pay attention carefully and get rid of the preconceived idea that "predestined" has to mean "predestined for heaven or hell," you'll see that any and all "predestination verses" can be read in one of these other ways:  God has predestined Israel's involvement in His plans and their salvation as a nation.  He predestined Jesus's death for humanity because He knew we would sin.  He predetermined that Jesus's death is the only way to salvation.  He predetermined to have a family of believers with Him in heaven (but we decide to be part of that family or not).  He predestined people in general to know Him and have a relationship with Him (yet He allows us to resist that plan and to rebel).  He predestined which generation would see the arrival of Jesus and be the first to be saved through His death.  And He predestined the path that believers walk once they choose to believe in Him (a true believer will be led by the Holy Spirit to grow to be more like Christ, to grow closer to Christ, to be more obedient, and to bring God glory).  (For more on this, see these posts: "Predestined for Salvation?  Or For Something Else?" and "According to the concordance, it's NOT predestination.")
            There are so many other ways to understand "predestination" than "predestined by God to go to heaven or hell."  And unlike a Calvinist's view of predestination, these other ways do not contradict the rest of the Bible and do not change God's character into something horrible, irrational, and contradictory.  They keep the Bible consistent, and they keep God's character intact.
           And these are just a few.
            Calvinists ignore what God plainly, clearly, repeatedly said, in favor of their "secret knowledge" of what God supposedly "meant to say," turning the consistent, easily-understood, available-for-all gospel into a contradictory, confusing, only-for-a-very-few mess.  And I think there will be a heavy eternal price to pay for this!]

            When a Calvinist criticizes the "accept Jesus into your heart" phrase, essentially it's because they don't want you to think you have a real choice about it.  That's what it's really about.  Because to "accept" something means to decide to embrace it, to let it in, to make a choice.  And they don't believe you can choose.  And they don't want you thinking you can choose.
            But while the phrase "accept Jesus into your heart" isn't in the Bible, the idea sure is.
            "That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.... Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  (Romans 10:9-13)  
            "Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3:20.  Is Jesus knocking on a literal door at your house?  Clearly not.  This is a metaphorical door - the door of your heart.)
            And on top of that, according to the concordance, "receive" and "believe" (such as in John 1:12"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.") mean that we take hold of something (we "receive" Jesus by taking ahold of Him, it is a "self-promoted taking," not passively acquiring something) and that we are persuaded by something, becoming convinced that it's true (we "believe") and, as a result, we commit to it.  These are both actively done by us, not done to us while we passively sit there doing nothing, waiting for God to instill this stuff in our hearts.
            So let's see ... "confess with your mouth and believe in your heart" ... "call on the Lord" ... "open the door of your heart to Jesus so that He can come in" ... "grab ahold of Jesus, be convinced that He is the truth and commit to Him" ... sounds an awful lot to me like we are responsible to make the choice to accept Jesus into our hearts, into our lives.
            This is what's behind "accept Jesus into your heart," and it's a much more biblical concept than any of Calvinism's nonsense.  There is more than enough support for "accept Jesus into your heart" if you don't get hung up on the exact wording of the phrase.  (And if they want to nitpick about that phrase not being in the Bible, I wonder what they'd do if they learned that "sovereign" isn't in the KJV, the Greek, anywhere?  Shouldn't it bother us that they built their whole theology on their wrong understanding of a word that isn't even in the Greek at all?)
            (Of course, we need to be careful about using the phrase "accept Jesus into your heart" with children, because they can't understand the "in your heart" part and it might scare or confuse them.  But we older people know what it means.) 

            And so let me ask this:  Which one is truly more dangerous ...
            Telling people they can ask Jesus into their hearts if they want to be saved, even though that exact phrase is not in the Bible ...
            ... or teaching people that they can't seek God or believe in Him on our own (even though He tells us over and over again that's what we need to do to be saved), and that we can only believe in Him after He regenerates us with the Holy Spirit and only if you are one of the few elect because Jesus never died for the non-elect anyway and God created the non-elect simply so He could hate them and send them to hell for His glory, even though He caused them to be the unbelievers they are and to commit the sins they did, never giving them a chance to be saved or to do right?
            One of these opens the door of salvation to everyone and makes them take responsibility for their choices ... and one of them closes the door of salvation to most people, reducing Jesus's sacrifice and God's love to only a very few lucky, randomly-chosen people who apparently have to do nothing to be saved except sit there and wait for God to make their choice for them.
            (I hate Calvinism!  And if you really understand Calvinism and God's Word, you would too!)

            But Calvinists will shame you into agreeing with them by saying that if you think you can choose to believe in Jesus, then it's because you are trying to work for your salvation, to take credit for it.  They mock you for "trying to save yourself."  And so they emphasize "repentance."
            But repentance is actually far closer to "working to save yourself" than believing is.  Repentance involves changing your mind and then, consequently, changing your course of action, leaving your old one behind and adopting a new, better one.  Repentance is a lifestyle of living better than you were.
            This is far more "works" than believing ever could be!  
            And it's a brilliant, subtle, satanic scheme, reversing what God said, replacing what He requires (believing) with a much greater "work" (repenting), while accusing believing of being the one that is "working for your salvation."  Brilliant!  Wicked!       
            But do you know what?  
            The Bible does say "believing" is a "work."  But it says that it's the one work God requires of us to be saved: "Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?'  Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent [Jesus].'"  (John 6:28-29)
            And contrary to Calvinism, God does not consider believing a "saving work" or "trying to save yourself."  
            "'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'  Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However, to a man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.  David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:" (Romans 4:3-6)
            Do you see how "believing in/trusting God" is not considered a "working to earn salvation" kind of works?  God is saying that believing and trusting are different than the other kinds of "works" people do to try to earn their way with Him.
            We can't do anything to earn our salvation, to work our way to heaven.  But God does require one thing of us in order to be saved: To consciously, willingly believe in Jesus, to make Him our Lord and Savior, to trust that He made the way and paid the way to heaven for us.     
            Question: If Calvinists say that we can't do the one thing God requires us to do to be saved, then how in the world can anyone be saved the Calvinist way?  
            (And I don't see how the action of "repenting" is any less of a choice than believing is.  Both are the responsibility of the one doing it.)

            Looking again quickly at Acts 2:38"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."
            Calvinism essentially reads this as "Repent and you will be saved."  They might not say it, but their emphasis on repentance, without belief, does.  But considering what "repent" really means in the concordance, that would be like saying this:  "Change your mind and the course of your actions, pick a better path, and you will be saved."
            Once again, where is Jesus in this?
            But being baptized in Jesus' name is to put your faith in Him, to identify with Him, to embrace Him as Lord and Savior.  And this is when the Holy Spirit comes, not just through mere repentance.
            Ephesians 1:13:  "Having repented believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit."  (my correction)
            Acts 2:38 is not meant to emphasize just repentance, but to emphasize the fact that we need to change our mind, to turn from our present course towards Jesus, to believe in Him and follow Him in obedience.
            But Calvinists make repentance our only real responsibility (changing our mind and course of action) while saying that we can't choose to believe in Jesus because it's "works."
            But you can't get to true repentance unless you go through believing first.  Because if you try to do that, all you end up with is man-powered behavior-modification, changing your course towards something better but not necessarily towards Jesus.
            But in Calvinism, believing does not lead to salvation; being chosen for salvation leads to believing.  In Calvinism, believing does not lead to getting the Holy Spirit; getting the Holy Spirit leads to believing.  
            (Question: When did the disciples believe in and choose to follow Jesus?  Was it before or after receiving the Holy Spirit?  Hint: Believing and following - John 1.  Receiving the Holy Spirit - John 20/Acts 1.  Amazing how "totally depraved" men who were not "regenerated" by the Holy Spirit yet could choose to believe in and follow Jesus!)    
            In Calvinism, it's get elected (chosen for salvation) first, get the Holy Spirit second, be drawn to the Lord by the Holy Spirit third, and believe last.  And somewhere before "believe" is "repent."     
            But in the Bible, believing is first, and then we are saved and get the Holy Spirit.  And repentance is simply choosing to change our mind and our path.  We do this when we choose to believe in Jesus, to change from our old ways and to choose to follow Him instead.  And we do this as believers when we continue to seek forgiveness for sins to restore our relationship with the Lord.  
            But repentance is not the "gateway to salvation."  Believing is.
            Now, I am not saying repentance isn't necessary, that it's not crucial for the forgiveness of sins.  Luke 24:47 stresses this: "and repentance and the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations ..."  But notice that forgiveness is found "in his [Jesus'] name," not just in repentance.  And this verse ties into another one: "Therefore, brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through him everyone who believes is justified ..."  (Acts 13:38-39)
            Once again, it all comes back to believing.  Repentance and forgiveness come back to believing.
            As I said, Acts is the transition between the old way and the new way.  And after the book of Acts come all the books that are intended for the Church, the Epistles.  And in these books, you find little emphasis on repentance.  And I found only one instance of it tied to salvation: 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.  
            "yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.... Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation..."    
            However, it's important to note that this letter is written to the Church, to Christians.  It's not about unbelievers repenting to be saved; it's about believers repenting to grow to be more like Christ, to restore their relationship with Him.
            But yes, it does say "repentance that leads to salvation."  And so I looked up "salvation" in Strong's concordance (with Vine's Expository Dictionary), but "salvation" has several different meanings and I couldn't find what was meant by this word in this particular verse.  But 2 Corinthians 6:2 also uses the word "salvation," and the concordance clarified its usage in that verse.  And since 7:9-10 comes hot on the heels of 6:2, it stands to reason that the writer is referring to the same thing.
            And the usage of "salvation" in 6:2 is not about eternal salvation, heaven or hell.  It's about the sum of all the blessings that a believer gets from God through the Holy Spirit.  
            So the most likely way to understand 7:9-10 is not that an unbeliever's repentance leads to salvation, but that a believer's repentance helps them keep all the blessings that the Holy Spirit gives to faithful followers of Christ.  It's about believers maintaining their relationship with the Lord.  
            Big difference!
            And like I said, this is really one of the only references to repentance leading to salvation in the Epistles.  And it's not even about the eternal salvation of your soul.

            But do you know what the Epistles do link to eternal salvation, time and time again?
            That's right: Believing.  Calling on Jesus as Lord and Savior.
            See John 1:12, John 3:16-18, John 20:31, Acts 16:31, Romans 1:16, Romans 3:22, Romans 10:9-13, Galatians 3:22, 1 Timothy 1:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 10:39, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 5:1,5,13.  
            And incidentally, 1 John 3:23 confirms the truth that God gave us the work of believing: "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ..."  It is a command.  Something God requires us to do.  
            Does God give us commands that He prevents us from being able to follow?  
            (Calvinists would say "yes."  They would say, "Yes, God commands us to believe, but only the elect can and will believe.  But God ordained that the non-elect would never believe because He didn't choose them.  But He still gave them the command to believe, even though they can't do it, to make them guilty for rejecting Him so that He could punish them in hell like He predetermined.  For His glory."  What kind of a horrible god is Calvi-god!?!  Once again, Calvi-god is not the God of the Bible!)
            And while repentance is a part of it (because you can't turn to Jesus if you don't repent of your old beliefs and lifestyle, if you don't "change your mind and your course of action"), believing is the one thing God requires us to do to be saved, the one work He gave us, that He won't do for us.
            And yet Calvinists insist that believing is something we can't do on our own, that He has to do it for us.
            And so I ask: Who's wrong?  God or Calvinists?
            Maybe this isn't interesting to you, but it is to me.  Because it shows the error of of Calvinism again, the folly of their emphasis on repentance while denying the one thing God requires us to do to be saved: Believe!





You want to understand how Calvinists formulate their theology?  

Then think like a Calvinist ... "Let's alter everything in the Bible and completely change God's character to fit our preconceived ideas about how God has to act in order to be the kind of God we say He is!"

There!  Now you're thinking like a Calvinist!









Conclusion:

Anyway, it's finally final.  We sent our resignation letter in yesterday, simply stating that "due to strong doctrinal disagreements with the head pastor, we are resigning from our membership here."  

We've been at that church for almost 20 years.  We've found some good friends there, raised our kids together, loved inviting people to visit our church with us, been part of some great programs, etc.  It's really been a great church.  One of the best and most biblical in the area.  

And then this pastor came in with his Calvinism.  And after several years of being angry with his manipulative tactics and his twisted-Gospel which turns God into an illogical, contradictory liar, we can no longer stand to be there.  We can no longer support that pastor and his twisted view of God and the Gospel.  We don't even want our names on the membership list, giving the appearance that we support him.  

Before we left, we sent a long letter to the elders about our concerns, clearly laying out why we believe he shouldn't be so dogmatic about about his views.  Yet since then, he's only gotten more dogmatic (which I guessed would happen).  And no one seems to be trying to reign him in or to keep things more "middle of the road," which is supposedly the official EFCA stance on this issue.  (Here's new info about that.  And apparently, most, if not all, of the elders at our church are Calvinists too.  So it's pretty much a losing battle for us.)


I don't want to give the impression that this wasn't a struggle for us, coming to the conclusions and the decisions we did.  It was a big struggle.  It was heart-crushing.  For both my husband and I.  We both were excited about the new pastor.  We trusted him.  Our friends were the elders.  And when we heard the little "alarming" things in the beginning, we brushed it off, giving him the benefit of the doubt, thinking, "No, he can't be saying what I think he's saying."  But then he'd say a little more and then a little more, slowly over time, and our hearts and minds were sending up little distress signals all the time, feeling like something wasn't right but we couldn't put our fingers on it.

My husband said that as time went on, he got more and more distressed, wondering if what the pastor was saying was really true and how he could have missed it all along, feeling like what he'd thought about the Bible, the Gospel, and God all along was being shaken up, crumbling.  He wanted to trust the pastor because the pastor was so intelligent and confident and well-spoken, but he couldn't wrap his head around what he was hearing.  It didn't fit with what he'd known about God all along.  And it was creating a crisis of faith.

I, on the other hand, started looking up everything the pastor was saying, every verse he was referencing.  And as I saw the difference between how the pastor used the verse and what the Bible clearly said, I started getting angry.  And the angrier I got, the more I researched.  I hadn't yet known what Calvinism was or realized the pastor was teaching Calvinism (because he never used that word or identified himself that way), I just knew something was wrong and that I couldn't agree with what he was teaching.  

At one point, though, as I got deeper into my research, the thought hit me, "Oh no!  What if all the theologians or preachers agree with him?  What if they all believe this stuff and I just missed it all this time?  What if I'm the only one who sees things the way I do, and there's no educated theologian to back me up?"

All of a sudden, I doubted myself, feeling like maybe I was way out in left-field all alone but didn't know it, especially as I would hear the moans of agreement and the "Amens" and "Hallelujahs" coming from the congregation in response to the very things that distressed me because they sounded so wrong.  And so I had to know if there was any well-known theologian/pastor who saw things my way, who would disagree with the views my pastor was preaching.  

And so I knew I had to look up some Big Name pastors to see what their theology was.  And of course, Big Name after Big Name turned out to be Calvinist.  (I never really listened to these pastors before, I just knew that they were Big Names in the field of theology.)

I was getting really concerned.  

But there was one pastor I was particularly drawn to, who I've always liked and respected, and I needed to know what he thought.  And if he seemed to teach the same things my pastor was saying, then I knew I'd have to start considering if I was wrong all along, if Calvinism was really true.  I was quite a bit freaked out at the idea of doing this.  Because I knew that if I found out he agreed with my pastor, then I'd have a real crisis of faith.  I knew my faith would crumble and that I'd never be able to trust or know for myself what the truth was anymore.  I knew I'd have to start swallowing the garbage I was hearing, even though it was repulsive.  

And so I dug down into his books and teachings - Tony Evans.  And - Thank God - I could tell that he didn't teach this stuff, that he had a different, truly biblical view of God and His sovereignty (that God works sovereignly in two ways, either by causing things, but never sin or unbelief, or by just allowing things, like sin and unbelief) and the Gospel Message (that Jesus died for all and that salvation is available for all, but it's our choice to accept it or reject it).

That one man gave me the spark of hope I needed, helping me trust that I was seeing things clearly, that the Bible made sense and was easy to understand.  He gave me the support and courage (even though he doesn't know it) to keep going forward with my research, knowing that the path I was on was solid and biblical.

When I get to heaven, one of the first people I'm going to seek out is Dr. Evans.  I want to give him a big hug and say "Thank you.  You helped me and my faith more than you'll ever know."  

[I'm also going to seek out the band members from The City Harmonic.  Their music is one of the biggest reasons why I didn't daydream about suicide during one of the worst time periods of my life, when I really wanted it to be an option and was distressed that it wasn't because I just wanted everything to be over.  (See "A Defining Moment.")  But their music kept me going.  I will be forever grateful.  And when I see them all in heaven, I'm going to give them all a great big hug, with tears streaming down my face.  Thank you The City Harmonic and Dr. Evans, for helping me more than you'll ever know!]

Of course, it wasn't easy to disagree with our pastor and friends and to know we had to say something.  But we knew we were responsible to at least make them aware of our concerns.  If we believed that the church was going off the rails but we didn't say anything, then that would be on us.  We couldn't make them see things our way, but we had to at least share what we were thinking before we abruptly left the church.

Unfortunately, it took us 6 years to do it, because we took a lot of time to carefully listen to the pastor, to research what he said, to really know what the Bible said and why we disagree with him.  All that took time.  Precious time, while the pastor was entrenching himself and his views into the church, deeper and deeper.  And by the time we spoke up, it was too late.

And it's not like we ran around bad-mouthing the pastor to everyone or anything like that.  We were very careful to only say a little bit to a few people, simply giving them a hint that we disagreed with the pastor.  And then if they wanted to know more, we would tell them.  But if they didn't, we would drop it.  We were very careful to not be divisive and to not ruin other people's enjoyment of that church.  I didn't want to distress anyone else or shake up their faith or their confidence in that church, if God was using it to help them.  After all, God can use anything, even heresy, to help further His Kingdom.  

And so we were careful in what we said and to whom.  (But this "don't be divisive" thing is used by Calvinist preachers sometimes to keep people quiet and to keep them from leaving the church.  It's not so much that they don't want to divide, it's that they don't want you causing trouble for them or sharing your views with others.  And I believe they hope that they can keep you there long enough, nice and quiet, until you come around to seeing things their way.  But some things are worth dividing over.  And a false gospel is one of them!)  

But it seemed that most people didn't want to know.  Most were getting more and more enamored with that pastor.  And so all we could do was let them be, simply making sure that they knew that we had reasons to disagree with him.  (It was really, really hard to have all this information but almost no one to share it with!)  

(And after we left, I did post a Yelp review for that church pointing out that it's being taken over by Calvinism, that the pastor doesn't seem to tolerate other opinions on it, and that people should research this theology for themselves to see if they think it's biblical or not.  I have done all I can to reasonably, politely share what I have to say.  I've feel like I've done what God's asked me to do.  Now it's up to the people.)    

And we weren't asking or hoping for much.  We weren't expecting them to change everything for us.  What we really wanted by bringing all this up was to get the people in church talking about this issue amongst themselves.  We wanted them to be able to discuss both sides, to research it for themselves, to have lively, friendly, thought-provoking discussions about it, digging deeper into the Word for answers.  We wanted them to know that someone disagreed with the pastor and that they had the right to disagree too.  We wanted them to realize that there was another way to look at this issue, which the pastor won't even acknowledge.  He always presents his view on this highly-debatable subject with an attitude of "my way is the only right way, and you can either get angry about it, ignore it, or accept it."  There is no room for disagreement.  And this is wrong!  Why not let the people discuss it?  Why not let them have friendly debates over it?  Why not let them disagree?  (If his way is so clearly accurate, it shouldn't hurt him at all.)


  


So, we tried.  But the handwriting's been on the wall for a long time.  And it got much more obvious when someone at church deleted a very biblically-based comment I left on the pastor's post on predestination on the church blog, where I disagreed biblically with his view of predestination.  It was there for a few hours and then it was gone.  That was the beginning of the end for us.  There is no room for disagreement or for discussion on this issue at this church.  And they clearly don't want the congregation being exposed to other ideas on this.  (Can you say 'cult'!?!)

And now, sadly, we must shake the dust off our feet as we leave, and let them be responsible for the church they want to have.  But we want no part of it anymore.  This is a big loss for us.  It affects our friendships, our kids' friendships, the programs they were involved in, the programs my husband volunteered in, our ability to worship together as a family on Sundays (we are all kinda scattered now, some stay home, some go to kids' classes, some don't know what to do), and the future that we envisioned for our family.


When we first sent the letter of resigning our membership, I was thrilled.  I felt light and free in a way I haven't in a long time.  I was floating on air as I walked the aisles while grocery shopping.  Honestly, I couldn't stop smiling.  And I still feel that way - light and free, thrilled to finally have it be over, feeling like a huge burden has been lifted off, like I don't have to fight it anymore.  It's been a long road, a frustrating journey with this pastor.  And I am immensely glad it's over.  I can finally breathe again! 

But I also want to cry.  I want to cry over what Calvinism does to the Gospel, to God's character, to Jesus's sacrifice, to people's faith.  And I want to cry over what Calvinism did to my wonderful church, the place we cherished and enjoyed and respected and committed to for almost 20 years.  I want to cry over how so many Christians are simply opening their minds wide to this horrible theology, unwilling to question it, failing to explore it more for themselves, because Calvinist pastors and theologians have shamed them into accepting it.  Or at least into keeping quiet about their concerns and doubts.  

And I want to cry for what Calvinism's done to my family.  I don't like changes and endings.  I've had enough of that with my family-of-origin, with losing three (soon-to-be four) dads to divorce, and having family members scatter everywhere, and no one gets together anymore.  I don't like changes.  I don't like feeling alone and misunderstood and like I don't understand the Gospel and like I am the problem.  I don't like not being able to worship with my whole family on Sunday, unable to attend church together.  (Some of us have been staying home and simply watching Tony Evans sermons online.  I love this man and his preaching!  I thank God for him!  I am more refreshed staying at home watching him with my kids than I am going to Calvi-church alongside a bunch of friends, listening to our soul-sucking and faith-destroying Calvi-pastor.  I can't even listen to his good sermons anymore because I know what his fundamental beliefs are, beliefs which negate the good things he says.)

But ... there's no other way.  This is the way it had to be.  If they want Calvinism at that church, then that's their problem now.  I tried.  I have been angry about it for years.  And I am done now.  No more throwing pearls to pigs.  (Hey, I didn't come up with that analogy; Jesus did!)


[Update July 2020: It's now been over a year since we left church.  And I don't miss it at all.  Of course, I miss the fellowship, but I don't miss the soul-sucking, heart-damaging Calvinism.  I don't miss seeing the congregation eating it all up.  I don't miss the frustration of trying to wake others up but having no one listen or care.  (The funny this is that if my church did listen to me, I wouldn't have started writing against Calvinism.  I started writing against it out of the frustration that no one there cared or would listen.  So their resistance actually helped spread anti-Calvinism.  Well done, Calvinists!)  And so I have been loving staying at home, watching Tony Evans online.  
            And now, because of the coronavirus, my whole family has been staying home and watching too.  And it's been wonderful.  To have us all snuggled up on the couch, watching the same message, being able to talk about it and about any new insights it brings up.  We didn't get that when we all went to our own separate classes at church.  And honestly, I have no intention of going back to a church building any time soon, not with either Calvinism or "watered-down, ear-tickling compromises" taking over all the churches out there.  I think I'd love to do church a little different from now on, to simply meet with one or two other families in our homes in a small-group fashion, watching and discussing godly, accurate, inspiring sermons online.  That would be wonderful!  Maybe someday.  But for now, I am loving just being home with my family, healing from the damage Calvinism has done.]


I've said this before and I'll say it again: If you don't see a problem with the Calvinist view of the Bible, then you either don't really understand Calvinism or you don't really understand the Bible!

There's no other way to say it!


At the end of the day, while I am still sad about how things turned out, I consider it an honor to be able to lose these things for the sake of the Gospel.  To have the chance to stand up for Truth and for God's character and for Jesus's sacrifice in a big way.  

When you really understand Calvinism and when you really understand what God's Word actually says, you'll know why it makes me want to cry, why I call it "brilliant satanic lies," and why I speak out against it so strongly!


And if I may say this to our wonderful Calvinist friends at this church, who are some of the sweetest, most humble, most God-honoring people I know: 
            We can still be friends even if we think each other's theology is heretical and not biblically-accurate.  Because neither of us has tried to force it on the other as "the only way to view the Bible."  It's just our pastor who's been doing this, sowing discord and causing division, making it seem as if his view of the Bible is the only view we can have, not allowing disagreement.  And it's such a shame.  It didn't have to be this way.  But he's forcing it to be this way, which is why we had no choice but to leave our church.  
            And sadly, as more of us who disagree with the pastor leave, your church will only become more Calvinist, more off-track.  But you won't know there's a problem with your theology because you silenced or scared off all those who disagreed with it.  It will seem like you have peace and consensus on the truth, but that's just because you didn't tolerate dissent and because no one is left to tell you you're wrong.  It'll be the blind leading the blind, all falling into a pit together!






Yes, it hurts and it's a loss for our family.  But it's an honor.  And I am thrilled to have been able to research this topic so very deeply and thoroughly so that I now have real answers for what I believe and for why I believe Calvinism is heresy.  So that I can raise my kids up in true Gospel Truth.  Before all this, I could only hope that Calvinism was wrong.  And I didn't really have much to back me up.  But now I know that it's wrong.  And I know how it's wrong and why it's wrong and how they manipulate and trap people.  And I have tons to back me up.  And because I know it's so wickedly wrong, I can boldly say, "I'd rather leave this church, even if it means never attending another one again, than look like I agree with the Calvinist garbage being taught here!"  

Some things are worth the sacrifice!

(Also see "Did Our Church Handle Is Wrong When We Left?")








(These "Inception" memes are taken from this post: Conversations with a Calvinist.
And all the others are from various other posts of mine, made on imgflip.)

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