There are things I am sure of. I am sure I am saved. I am sure God created the earth in six literal days. I am sure that you aren't supposed to have sex before marriage. There are tons of things in scripture that I am 100% sure of, and have no doubts in how I believe. Yet with this, I am still leaving a lot of room for me to be completely wrong and not of God in my beliefs. I am not saying I'm right. I'm not saying I have the answers. Because honestly, I'm lost. But what I am saying is that I don't believe something that causes so much hurt, confusion, separation from God, distortion of God, and lostness could be of God. Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way, though. I'm just not sure.
I don't know how I'm going to organize this. I'll just go with it. I'm only going to be looking at two of the five points of Calvinism, and why I'm not so sure they are biblically accurate. I disagree with at least one other, but if you disagree with the first two, then you have to disagree with the third (which is limited atonement; the believe that Jesus died only for the 'elect' and not for every person in the world.) I might end up sounding harsh through how I word all of this, I'm not sure. But that's not the case. I'm just so lost and confused, that passion explodes and I become so anxious and excited (not positively) in my mind and through my fingers on the keyboard. I don't know how all of this is going to come out. I'm typing this all prayerfully and openly.
According to Wikipedia;
The doctrine of total depravity (also called "total inability") asserts that, as a consequence of the fall of humanity into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.)
Bolded is the part I am uneasy with. I'm perfectly okay with the fact that we are all sinners. That's biblical. I was born with a sin nature, and engulfed in sin before I met savior and He pulled me out. That's perfectly and biblically acceptable. But was I really incapable of choosing Christ on my own? Did Father really draw me in and make the decision to accept Christ for me? You see, all my of my 'new life' in Christ I've believed that it was I who came to Christ and accepted His offer of eternal life. You'll always hear in church at invitation "accept God's gift of eternal life." But according to this first doctrine of Calvinism, that's simply not correct...we cannot choose God's gift, if it's really even a gift at all - more of something that was forced upon us.
In the garden of Eden, God created Adam and Eve in innocence and without sin. He looked at them and was well pleased, calling them 'good'. He gave Adam and Even one rule, and that was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I've known this to symbolize free will. God created us because He desired to have us. He wanted us. But He wanted us to want Him too. He didn't want robots. He didn't want anybody to feel obligated to follow Him. So He gave Adam and Eve the one rule to show them that they had a choice. They could either choose to follow Him or choose to go their own way. If this is incorrect, as it would to be any Calvinist believer, then we have to love God. We don't choose Him, we are forced towards Him. That's not love. We can only love if we choose to love. Love is a choice, an action, not a feeling. Therefore, if we are incapable of choosing God, then we are incapable of truly loving God. God chooses us, and chooses to love us. He is the epitome of love. So we must love as God loves. If that is the case, then our love must stem from a choice. Unfortunately, according to Calvinists, it is impossible for us to choose God.
That's where I get lost.
A few side notes;
- If, in the curse, we lost free will (which it is apparent in scripture that Adam and Eve had free will...as God created them, desiring a relationship with them, and then they left Him, showing free will), why did not God tell us that we lost free will? He gave His spill on how man and woman were to be cursed on the earth because of their sin, so why was not our inability to choose not mentioned in there also? This is a big thing; the biggest. It's way bigger than childbirth or toiling the ground. So why is it that God doesn't even mention it? Where is it at?
- Acts 17:30 states "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent". According to Calvinism, all men everywhere cannot repent and come to God unless God draws them to Him. And, also according to Calvinism, God does not draw everyone to Him, only His elect. Yet the words here are clear when they say "all men everywhere". This is obviously, undoubtedly referring to every man on the earth. Why would God give a command to men that was impossible for them to obey? Is not God just? God commands all people to believe, yet created them to turn Him away, and then punishes them for not obeying a command He gave that was impossible for them to follow. Though God is powerful and can do as He pleases, and to be fair would send us all to hell...He is also love, and mercy, and grace. And a God that is the very epitome of those good things, I believe, would never intentionally create people to turn Him away, command them to come to Him even though it were impossible, and then send them to hell for not coming to Him. That sounds complete opposite of loving and caring. God does not contradict Himself - ever.
- Joshua 24:15 - "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Sounds like a choice to me.
- Acts 2:40 - And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation."
Peter pleaded with them to do something they were completely incapable of doing?
- Mark 6:6 - Why did Jesus so often "marvel" that people would disbelieve? He knew it. He was with God in the beginning and chose who was going to believe and disbelieve. So why did it come as such a shock to Him? He's the one that made them to disbelieve in the first place, according to this Calvinist doctrine, correct?
According to Wikipedia;
The doctrine of unconditional election asserts that God's choice from eternity of those whom he will bring to himself is not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people. Rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy alone.
The doctrine of unconditional election is sometimes made to stand for all Reformed doctrine, sometimes even by its adherents, as the chief article of Reformed Christianity. However, according to the doctrinal statements of these churches, it is not a balanced view to single out this doctrine to stand on its own as representative of all that is taught. Unconditional election, and its corollary in the doctrine of predestination are never properly taught, according to Calvinists, except as an assurance to those who seek forgiveness and salvation through Christ, that their faith is not in vain, because God is able to bring to completion all whom He intends to save. Nevertheless, non-Calvinists object that these doctrines discourage the world from seeking salvation.
I had to read this over and over and over again to find something I disagreed with. I couldn't really find anything. I mean, God's grace and his salvation of people is not based upon faith in people or anything of that sort. But what I do disagree with is the belief that God chose people that would come to Him, and chose people that would go to hell. Calvinists will often tell you (from what I've read on the Internet) that it is the pleasure and will of God that His 'elect' whom He chose from before the earth was created will come to Him and the others will not. So, according to this doctrine, it is pleasing to God that people stay in their sin, love their sin, never turn to God, and burn in hell for eternity.
Pleasing? That people burn? That the very people He created to love on and love Him will be eternally separated from Him for forever? This seems as though it almost, if not does, contradict the very character of God and His desires to not see that any man perishes;
2 Peter 3:9 - [God is] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
God. Not willing that any should perish. But willing that all should come to Him in repentance. This doesn't sounds like a God that desires some to go to hell.
Matthew 23:37 - "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."
Again, God desires for us to come, yet we have the choice to either be willing or not be willing to come to His grace and take it when He extends it towards us.
Ezekiel 18:23 - Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants and wills. He is above all things, all men, all decisions, all choices. He was powerful enough, from the beginning of the world, to choose that all men would go to Heaven and never encounter separation from Him. It would contradict His very character and power for Him to desire that all men live with Him, for Him to decide that some would not. However, the only way He could not play out this power to save all men and not have His desires succeed were if He gave man the ability to choose Him. If that were the case, which I'm pretty sure I believe it is, then God's desire would not be lived out in all men because they would turn from Him and choose their own ways. Like I said, God was powerful enough to decide that all men would be saved and come to Him, and this was obviously His desire according to the scriptures...yet that would require that He force us into a relationship with Himself, which would not be a love relationship at all (because as stated earlier, love is a choice). Instead, He gave us the free-will to choose to love Him and accept His grace, and therefore His desire for all men to repent and come to Him would not be played out.
Two other things I would like to discuss are the words 'elect' and 'predestination'.
Elect: According to Calvinists, the elect are the chosen ones that God decided beforehand were to be saved. These were the ones that were guaranteed salvation from the beginning of the world. I, on the other hand, could say that I believe the elect simply refers to the people that chose to receive salvation. Maybe when the Bible talks about the 'elect of God' it is simply referring to the people that come to salvation. Why does it have to mean that God decided beforehand that they would be saved? Where is this supported in scripture? Okay, it's supported many places. Yet so much scripture can be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
Predestination: This is a tough one. Here's what I have to say about it; The Bible uses the word predestination a very little amount of times. Like, three or four times. I was shocked when looking through my concordance to only find a few references in scripture. I don't believe that predestination fully means what either extreme will define it as. I don't believe that it's defined perfectly by the Calvinist side, and I don't believe it's defined perfectly by the Armenian side. I believe that it's one of those "God mystery" things that we should even try to touch. That might be considered an easy way out. And maybe it is. You know what, it probably is. But it's my answer. I don't have an answer. Ha. I lean more towards predestination meaning that God simply knew who was going to come to salvation rather than God choosing those who would. Yet I don't think it's fully one extreme or the other. It's a God mystery that I'd really rather never even try to touch again.
For the past few days I've been broken, torn, upset, confused, angry, frustrated and bothered. These are not things from God.
After the study, research, prayer, and seeking, I think I've finally come to my conclusion.
It was probably one of those things that should have taken me weeks or months to figure out and come to a conclusion about. I could have studied more, talked to more people, prayed more. But a few days without the relationship with God that I had before broke me completely and set me on a quest to figure this stuff out and restore my view of my wonderful Father before anymore time passed. I wanted my relationship with Him restored and back to what it was when I viewed Him as a Savior of the world with a broken heart for the lost. Not a powerful being that picks favorites. God doesn't show partiality, from what I've always believed about Him. He is just and righteous, amazing and wonderful. These things do not go hand in hand with Calvinism. Prove me wrong, if you will.
This took me hours. I've been studying and writing since this morning. It's now 1:44 PM and I'm just now finishing.
And I feel like an entire load has been taken off.
Wow. I feel so much better.
God, you are God. And no matter how you saved me, you saved me. I see you clearly again. Mainly because I'm back to my old beliefs. I like it that way, and though that's not a reason to believe something, simply because you like it, there's more than that. I feel restored with you. I feel like Satan is gone. I feel like you're back in your entirety of the way I knew you days ago. I never ever ever want to see you as anything different or less than amazing, wonderful, beautiful, perfect, loving, gently, kind, and outstanding. Please always give me discernment. Please always give me understanding. Please always help me to see you clearly and correctly, through spiritually sound eyes. And if what I've been writing all morning was wrong, show me and correct me. But always give me the spirit to help, and never let me take from man anything I believe about you. You are bigger and better than that, and have promised to give me wisdom in any area that I lack. I love you my Father. I'm so in awe of you, once again. Thank you for your blood, and thank you that in some way, some how, by whatever choice or predestination or whatever else you or I did, I was saved and secured in eternity.