Posts Tagged John Calvin
Many years ago I read ‘The Sovereignty of God‘ by A. W Pink. This book is a well written work presenting the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God from the the Calvinistic perspective. It is well worth the read.
In this book the author affirmed the doctrine of ‘Once Saved Always Saved‘. Because of the sheer weight of Scriptures Pink presented, I believed the doctrine as very Scriptural.
A. W. Pink was from Nottingham and in my opinion, Pink was the most consistent Calvinist I have ever read. He was a brilliant man and an excellent Christian Theologian. He proclaimed the doctrines of Calvinism to the fullest with no weakness on his part. Obviously it is not difficult to realise that a man of such Scriptural knowledge would have his collisions with the Church of his day. His biography shows us examples of that. But most of it may relate to his Calvinism.
A. W. Pink should be admired, even by his Theological opponents, because he did not shy away from the proper logical conclusions to the clear teachings of Calvinism. These observations (in my opinion), separate him from the more common, inconsistent and unconvincing Calvinist revisionist preachers and writers of our day.
When I read Pink, it would not be long before I became persuaded by the doctrine of ‘Once Saved Always Saved’. Over time however, and through the clear lens of openly reading Scripture, the impact of Calvinism lost its flavour with me. I began to see too many Scriptures contradicting the system and Calvinistic apologists failing to explain the contrasts with proper exegesis or convincing argumentation.
In answer to my title, the reason I once believed in ‘OSAS’ was because of the selective Scriptures which Calvinists use to affirm their doctrine. I am convinced, if people simply read the Bible and never listened to Calvinistic preachers, they would see that eternal security is conditional and apostasy is possible for true believers. Christians have the duty to abide in Christ and no one can abide in Christ if they never were truly saved to begin with.
As a person who once believed the doctrine of ‘Once Saved Always Saved’, I understand it, not merely from knowledge, but from experience too. It is a very persuasive doctrine. However, over time I could see the natural progression of doctrinal bondage developing. Fear of departing from accepted doctrines and the teachings of popular preachers became easy to break when I digested and trusted the words of Christ “the Truth will set you free“.
The truth be told, people who believe in ‘Once Saved Always Saved’ very rarely arrive at that conclusion by simply reading Scripture alone, but by listening to their favourite preachers or their pastors, or biblically external books. For many people and preachers, the doctrine of ‘OSAS’ is Scripture itself and for an individual to deny it either makes a person a half Christian or simply not born again. These opinions however are absolute none sense. No one need accept such attitudes or permit themselves to be bullied into beliefs that contradict Scripture.
Obviously I would not regard those who teach the doctrine as false teachers, but I would say that without their rhetorical skills, the doctrine has little Scripture to authenticate it. The facts remain, as I have written in a previous article, the doctrine of ‘OSAS’ is a historical anomaly and was not taught in the church until the 16th century. John Calvin was probably the first person to have properly taught the doctrine. As I have previously argued in an earlier article, the doctrine likely has Gnostic origins rather than Scriptural foundations.
Over recent years I have repeatedly re-examined the doctrine and the more I read the New Testament from this perspective, and explored the contexts and the Greek, I saw an overwhelming amount of Scriptural evidences to claim the doctrine has little weight to it at all. In fact, there are so many Scriptures that contradict the position, many Calvinistic apologists and preachers are left scraping the barrel for argument, so much so that they are in danger of getting splinters under their finger nails.
The truth be told, there are over sixty or so verses in the New Testament which speak as warnings to Christians to remain loyal and in the faith and to abide in Christ.
It seems quite clear that the Calvinist claim that any believer who departs from the faith, was never truly saved in the first place, may well have some accurate Scriptural examples, but the majority of the doctrine is a violation of the plain reading of Scripture.
On Friday 24th January from 9pm, Revelation TV, Dr James White and Dr Michael Brown will be in debate concerning the most excellent topic of Predestination.
This debate has raged primarily since the 16th century through the interpretation of predestination by John Calvin and still continues to this day. However, in any debate it is important for the listener, reader, or viewer to understand the doctrine first and to listen carefully to both sides of the argument.
I am presently writing a book on this very subject, so I am very interested in the subject.
It may be helpful firstly to recognize some points before joining the debate;
- The doctrine of ‘Predestination’ is an interpretation of Biblical texts which claims that God has predetermined the salvation of particular people whom He has revealed to be His elect. That through the cross of Christ, God has chosen and effectively redeemed a people for Himself. A people of whom their effectual salvation does not depend upon the ‘free choice’ of man, but the elective purposes of God. In other words, the elect are not elect because they believe, they believe because they are elect.
- The Bible communicates ‘Predestination’ as something predetermined by God.
- The early Church fathers (1st -3rd centuries) upheld the freedom of human choice.
- St Augustine (354-430 AD) was probably one of the earliest Theologians to deny the doctrine of ‘Free Will’.
- During the 16th century reformation, most reformers denied the doctrine of ‘Free Will’. This was affirmed by Martin Luther and also the ’39 articles’ of the Church of England.
- The Calvinistic interpretation of ‘Predestination’ is generally associated with the Theological position and scriptural interpretation of John Calvin (1509-1564).
- The Arminian interpretation of ‘Predestination’ is generally associated with the Theological position and scriptural interpretation of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).
- If the Calvinistic doctrine of ‘Predestination’ is true, the doctrine of ‘Free Will’ must be seen as untrue or denied.
- If the Arminian doctrine of ‘Predestination’ is true, the doctrine of ‘Free Will’ or ‘Free Choice’ must be upheld.
I personally regard John Calvin as one of the finest Theologians known to church history. I also find Jacobus Arminus’s works of great worth. However, I also recognize that people are only human and the Bible is like a piece of wax, it can be interpreted or molded this way or that.
The question remains; are these positions true or important? If they are true, then surely they are most important. If they are wrong, then surely it is important to show why. What do you think?