(video) Debate: Who Makes The Final Choice in Salvation, God or Man? — “Scripture says: choose whom you will serve. You’ll be commended for choosing rightly and condemned for choosing wrongly. This is God’s sovereign choice” – Michael Brown | Calvinism is the great cop-out, giving those who aren’t overcoming false comfort in their willful sin

Normally, I listen to the entirety of what I post, but Michael Brown, a former Calvinist so nails it in his introductory statement that I don’t have any reservations of posting this now, and try to listen to the rest when I have more time.

I read the Bible on my own before I heard about Calvinism. Man’s responsibility is so completely consistent throughout that when I heard about Calvinism it seemed like a bad mathematical deductive reading of Scripture. I was blown away that anyone could come up with T.U.L.I.P. out of what is written. This is nuts!:

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved) (source)

In this debate, Bruce Bennett may actually give away why Calvinism is popular with so many. Calvinism gives those who aren’t overcoming a false sense of comfort in their willful sin. Calvinism is the great cop-out:

“If it comes down to my walk, a lot of people are in trouble — if it’s dependent upon me.” – Bruce Bennett (at the 2-hour 16-minutes mark)

Calvinists celebrate the idea of God’s sovereignty to the point of absurdity, claiming they are giving God more glory, but they’re really demeaning God’s character, His fairness. They believe God alone decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. God choses us. We can’t even respond. He does it all. It’s all up to Him. Yuck!

I had a professor in seminary who actually taught us that we think we have a free will, but we really don’t. That’s how sovereign God is. I would say that’s how wrong the theology is, when what is clearly stated in scripture is trumped by hypothetical theory that makes no sense, as Michael Brown fully points out.

jeff

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“From Genesis to Revelation, the Scripture says: choose whom you will serve. You’ll be commended for choosing rightly and condemned for choosing wrongly. This is God’s sovereign choice.”

– Michael Brown

* * *

Gets good at minute-30[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR4SVqj04kg]Who Makes The Final Choice in Salvation, God or Man? Dr. Michael Brown vs. Pastor Bruce Bennett

Published on May 15, 2013

13 thoughts on “(video) Debate: Who Makes The Final Choice in Salvation, God or Man? — “Scripture says: choose whom you will serve. You’ll be commended for choosing rightly and condemned for choosing wrongly. This is God’s sovereign choice” – Michael Brown | Calvinism is the great cop-out, giving those who aren’t overcoming false comfort in their willful sin

  1. Thanks for this post and link. I love Michael Brown’s work on Messianic Prophecy – very edifying.

    I think there is a confusion about “Free Will” that needs to be clarified. I will be upfront: I am a “Calvinist.” Most of the supremely influential theologians in my life are Calvinist, including Calvin. Noting that, I have never once heard one of them say that we do not have “Free Will” – that it is, say, “a mere illusion.” That is horrible reasoning. I would suggest that you read Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Freedom of the Will.’ You can find my reflection on the book here: http://taylorterzek.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/reflections-on-edwards-freedom-of-the-will/

    I would point you to Ephesians 1, Romans 9, John 3 – the whole nine yards – but I suppose that you have heard all of these before, and know other “proof-texts” to line them up with. I respect that, and honor that. However, the crux of calvinism vs. arminianism, God’s soveriegnty vs. human responsibility (whatever you call it), for me, “resolved” with one section of Scripture: Acts 4:23:31 (cf. Acts 2:23). In Acts 4, it talks of how God predestined the death of Jesus Christ. The greatest sin ever to be commited on earth – i.e., the unjust murder of the perfect Son of God – was predestined by God. Nevertheless, the people mentioned – e.g., Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, Jews – were all ‘held responsible’ for that sin. I see God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, and the mysterious depth as to ‘how’ that works out, I need not to worry my small little brain about. I accept both happily, because not to is to do serious damage to the atonement of Jesus Christ.

    Those are just a few thoughts in regards to my experience with Calvinism. I hold them very dear, but not as dear as the gospel – and I hope that we can both celebrate the gospel despite our soteriological perspectives.

    Grace to you,

    TT

    1. Taylor,

      Thanks for the link and thoughts. I’ve wondered about Edwards’ view on limited atonement and free will, because he preached as if people did have free will and that Christ died for all, which is obviously true.

      To me, it’s absurd that we’re even debating such a subject, but for some reason man has chosen to make this a big issue, and seminaries and churches are full of nonsense by which many are going to hell, thinking they are going to heaven because of extreme doctrine that is based upon a few verses. They then have to throw out many dozens (Michael mentioned many) to keep their theology intact.

      The truth is that if dozens of verses all agree on a subject but seem to disagree with one or two, it’s the one or two that are wrongly interpreted, not the dozens.

      I did find this on Edwards, just now. Edwards seems more sensical than most Calvinists I know: http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/question-theology-jonathan-edwards-34938

      And most Calvinists I know don’t seem to have much of a prayer life or victory over sin, either. I would like to know more about Edwards, because his message on fearing God in order to overcome sin so we don’t have to fear (my interpretation) is so right on and applicable today.

      Once-saved-always-saved and “it’s hard to lose one’s salvation” is the prevailing doctrine today, true among non-Calvinists too. It gives people the license to willfully sin and still be in right standing with God to go to heaven.

      So when people lust, for example, and feel guilt, “no worries.” Somehow, magically, we can feel guilty now, which they say is only ‘conviction,’ but we’ll be guilt free when we see Jesus face to face.

      Hogwash! That’s a misread of Romans 8. We need to have clean consciences now to have clean hearts and consciences then. Those who are in Christ Jesus walk by the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

      If you’re interested in the Third Great Awakening happening today, you may find this article I wrote interesting:

      False, revival-killing, salvation doctrine at IHOP continues from IHOPU president, Allen Hood at the Awakening meetings 🙁

      I talk about Edwards, and in some of the comments, I talk about how Shelly had a dream about Jonathan Edwards, and how IHOP needs to learn something from him regarding revival. IHOP refused to, so revival didn’t happen, in my opinion.

      Regarding John Calvin, I don’t believe he was a real, going-to-heaven Christian. He was not a Spirit-led man. No one should follow him or call themselves by his name. Check this out and the three articles linked here:

      John Calvin Had Servetus Burned at the Stake for Having Doctrinal Differences — His Ashes Cry Out!

      “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24)

      Calvinism should be a dead issue that we’ve seen through, so that we make sure we live in Christ and overcome daily, but it’s one of the great deceptions in the last days, sadly.

      We need to fight the good fight to win!

      jeff

      1. Well, thank you Jeff. I appreciate the time and effort you exerted in producing a stirring reply. One item of advice that will benefit us both: please address one thing at a time. As we are limited in our communication by the blogosphere, conversation takes on a different form. The form of communication makes it very difficult to convey propositional points, being that they are often coupled with other propositions, and can easily be ignored. In order for them not to be ignored, each must be individually dealt with, which can require quite the amount of labor. There are dozens of things that I want to address in your post, and it would be better if I could address one thing at a time. So I would appreciate your discretion there.

        “[Many people think] they are going to heaven because of extreme doctrine that is based upon a few verses.” This statement astonished me. Pardon my ignorance if this is the case, but I have never heard of a Calvinist using their Calvinism to stall from sanctification. This brings me to an important point: let us deal with each other as we present ourselves – not our systems. I will not throw extreme stereotypes on you, and I hope you will give me the same benefit. The Calvinism that you expressed in your post is not anything like the “Calvinism” that I love and cherish as Biblical doctrine. So be careful with that, as I seek the same caution.

        Regarding your point, the distinction is that Calvinists assert both (pressing on and eternal security) just as Paul does in Phil. 2:12-13. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling… for it is God who works in you.” There is obviously an imperative for the Christ follower to continue in their faith, to press on towards the goal; nevertheless, the believer is comforted by the fact that God is indeed working in them. Hopefully that clarifies a few things in regards to my Calvinistic position.

        “They then have to throw out many dozens (Michael mentioned many) to keep their theology intact.” I am aware of the many dozens of “proof-texts” for “debunking” Calvinism. I hope you do not see me as one who has not wrestled with this subject, because I certainly have. Arminianism is certainly easier to preach, but I cannot get around the authority of Scripture. Regarding the texts that Michael mentioned, there are many coherent responses from Calvinists. The essence of hermeneutics is to allow the Bible to interpret itself, not combat itself. Those texts are not in opposition to “Calvinistic texts.” So I want you to know that I do not have to “throw out” these texts. I keep the texts, I love them, and I take them in their literal meaning, but I also allow the Bible to interpret those texts – not me. Calvinism is a grand or hidden perspective, one that incorporates imperatives, free will, and anthropomorphic perspectives. These Arminian texts do not deny the grandeur of Calvinism, but are parts of the whole.

        “And most Calvinists I know don’t seem to have much of a prayer life or victory over sin.” Ouch. I wish I could talk to those Calvinists and reprove them. I am sorry that these bad misrepresentations have governed your view of Calvinism. I know that I can testify regarding my own life that prayer is the very crux of my spiritual life. Prayer is the essence of my communion with God, and I do this as a Calvinist, really because I am a Calvinist. But like I said, please do not typecast Calvinism by its sorry followers, but rather by its Scriptural precedent. I know a many repugnant Arminians, but I do not automatically assume that this is because of their soteriological perspective.

        “Once-saved-always-saved and ‘it’s hard to lose one’s salvation’ is the prevailing doctrine today, true among non-Calvinists too. It gives people the license to willfully sin and still be in right standing with God to go to heaven.” Scripturally, the “seal” of our salvation seems to be boldly attested in Romans 6-8, as well as Phil 1:6 and Hebrews 12:1-12 – i.e., God authors and finishes our faith. Nevertheless, the strongest Scriptural teaching, for me, comes from 1 John 2. Proposition 1: “They went out from us…” – We see that people do indeed leave the fellowship of the church body, for it is well noted in the scriptures, and does not call for doctrinal alarm. Prop. 2: “…but they were not of us…” – Here is an important distinction to chew on; one can be from what they are not of. Fellowship does not constitute factual authenticity. Prop. 3: “…for if they had been of us…” – Notice John’s revisit to of, the latter preposition, which is most likely purposed in enforcing the already made distinction. Prop. 4: “…they would have continued with us…” – Would have expressed the inevitable perseverance forsaken upon the deportee’s leaving from the church, all the while affirming that continuation is an absolute for those of the church, whereby John also inserts us into the passage as a possible dedication of sorts. Prop. 5: “…But they went out that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” – to its ultimate end, the purpose was to edify the church body in exposing the false and shallow apes of the faith. The “seal” of the Holy Spirit does not occur outside of us – extra nos – but within us; it transforms us, therefore giving no license or permission to stall, because our motives are now spiritual not carnal.

        Romans 8 is a great chapter of Scripture, probably my favorite. The most edifying exegesis of that chapter has come from John Owen (Mortification of Sin), whom I highly suggest for you to read. He presents a Calvinistic perspective in pursuing the mortification of the flesh – by no means stalling because of our justification.

        Your article on IHOP (which I was thoroughly confused until I realized that you weren’t referencing the restaurant) is odd to me. I do not see a Biblical purport to dismiss eternal security. That can be a discussion for another time.

        “Regarding John Calvin, I don’t believe he was a real, going-to-heaven Christian. He was not a Spirit-led man.” This is where I got a little upset with you Jeff. Not only did you judge the heart of another man, but you used false and bad history to do so. Have you ever read Calvin? Have you ever read one scholastic biography on the man? I can answer “Yes” both to those questions, and strongly contest your claims. Servetus was put to death, but not by Calvin. Calvin was not the pope of Geneva. Calvin was governed by a council, and that council put Servetus to death for his non-Trinitarian heresy, against Calvin’s judgment! Servetus and Calvin exchanged several letters between each other, all of which are noted in T. H. L. Parker’s biography. Servetus even stayed in Calvin’s house when Servetus was “running from the law.” These facts have been communicated to me from real historians, scholars, and I would take the opinion of these men rather than those who have never even read Calvin. I would suggest that you do the same before you make the rash decision to make Calvin out to be a murderer and unbeliever. Nevertheless, even if I found the man to be such, it would not change my theological position. I call myself a “Calvinistic” simply for your benefit. It communicates a theological identification for you about myself. I came across my theology from Scripture, then I started reading men like Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, Spurgeon, etc., and they systematized the thought for my organizational convenience. The system was organizational, not foundational.

        Brother, I hope I do not seem arrogant or prideful. I do not hold these truths to be the result of my increased intellect or my own efforts. I simply see these things in Scripture, and I desire to declare the truth of God and His gospel, which is contained within the revelation of His word. I do hope that we can both love each other within the union of the gospel, and not belittle each other’s faith for the sake of our own interests.

        Faith, hope, and love.

        TT

          1. I read the article, and I respect his opinion – especially his critical opinion. I’ve read a lot of Calvin (his institutes, commentaries, personal letters, etc.) and I came to a different conclusion than your friend – as have many many other Bible-believing, PhD-having, intelligent Christians. My point was this: you are making a judgment about someone you never knew, and you are simply relying on other people’s far-sighted opinion to determine your damning conclusion. Your friends respectable opinion does not change that fact.

            I won’t repeat anything I had said previously, but this item of Calvin’s character is really beside the point. Thanks again for your response.

            TT

          2. I totally trust my friend’s opinion, who I know very well, and he’s probably read just about everything Calvin wrote.

            You can continue to believe Calvin was a good guy, but real Christians don’t burn people to death because they disagree with them.

            And real Christians apologize to those they’ve hurt (Matthew 5).

            I don’t want anything to do with Calvin, whose strange teachings are still leading people astray.

            jeff

          3. Understandable Jeff. I wouldn’t want to align myself with someone who truly did such things either, so I hope that testifies to my skepticism regarding those things.

            Jeff, if you do not have time to read my comment, I understand. But I would ask, if you may, please address those things in my comment before you make blanket statements like your last paragraph – e.g., “strange teachings.”

            Like I said, this is not a Calvin issue, this is a biblical, hermeneutical issue. Let’s discuss the latter, as that is where I derive my “Calvinism” from.

          4. Taylor, I do believe Calvinism is strange. If one was to read a Bible on their own, having not been taught by anyone else, there is close to a 0% chance that someone would come up with a Calvinist perspective.

            Luther’s “only believe” is also a huge stretch, but I see how he knee-jerk reacted, when he saw in Paul’s introduction “the just shall live by faith,” and then he had to throw out dozens of verses that disproves his thesis, because we should read the entire books of the Bible, letting the authors lay out their arguments for which they generally have conclusions at the end, not at the beginning. But “the just shall live by faith” is also in Hebrews 10:26-39, which context shows it doesn’t mean “only believe.”

            I have never been interested in debating Calvinism, because it makes no sense. I don’t know how anyone can listen to Michael give all of those conditional verses and still believe TULIP.

            Apparently, you’re partly right regarding Calvin and Servetus. Calvin wanted Servetus murdered, but he wanted decapitation, not being burned alive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Servetus

            And I did now read your entire comment.

            jeff

          5. “If one was to read a Bible on their own, having not been taught by anyone else, there is close to a 0% chance that someone would come up with a Calvinist perspective.” That is an amazing deduction and one that completely contradicts my experience.

            “Luther’s ‘only believe’ is also a huge stretch, but I see how he knee-jerk reacted, when he saw in Paul’s introduction ‘the just shall live by faith.’” Once again, have you read Luther? Luther was not a promoter of “easy believism.” Faith was active, and he simply exegeted the Scripture. You do realize that the book of Romans is a treatise on ‘the just shall live by faith,’ correct? Luther’s treatment of that verse is his treatment of the epistle. I do hope that you have read 20 pages worth of Luther before claiming that he simply asserted “believe.” If so, you are horribly misguided.

            “I have never been interested in debating Calvinism, because it makes no sense. I don’t know how anyone can listen to Michael give all of those conditional verses and still believe TULIP.” Jeff, it appears that you are not interested in a discussion, and more so, you are not interested in interacting with my arguments. I am sorry that is the case, but I respect your time. I hope and pray that we both exert true humility, and allow the Scriptures to guide our thoughts as to worship God more truly.

            Blessings,

            TT

          6. You read the Bible on your own having never heard of Calvinism, and you came up with TULIP too?

            I’m not interested in mathematical interpretations of the Bible based on deductive reasoning, etc.. I’m interested in what the straightforward narrative has to say.

            Regarding Luther, this article also has a lot of links to other key articles on Luther:

            Martin Luther: Sin Boldly — “No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day”

            I’m interested in Jesus’ kingdom coming — ‘ONE’ happening (John 17). We don’t have much time left, the way that most Calvinists, Lutherans, the partysville evangelicals, and others have not been salt and light, so we’re really going to have to be Spirit-filled in these very last days.

            jeff

          7. This is what I believe, by the way, which no one has been able to refute. This is the only way the scriptures make total sense, without having to do hermeneutical gymnastics. But most people don’t want to think that the way really is narrow and few find it, what Jesus actually said.

            Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way | Who are the Children of God? — “There is therefore now *no condemnation* to those who are IN CHRIST Jesus, who don’t WALK according to the flesh, but ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT.”

            jeff

          8. Christianity is actually quite simple. Jesus died for everyone, desiring that everyone come to the knowledge of the truth, giving everyone the grace to respond to His call. Some of us do, and then He gives us the grace to overcome, according to what the NT really says. Jesus upped the ante in Matthew 5. Now that we have the Holy Spirit, our hearts must be clean, not just our outward actions. So if we feel guilty now we’ll feel terror when we see Jesus face to Face. We can’t keep on willfully sinning and go to heaven or we’ll be spit of Jesus’ mouth, having our names removed from the Book of Life if our hearts aren’t pure when we die, no matter what K-LOVE and the Ph.D. doctors say. It’s about relationship, having a right relationship with God and all people. Then He will say: “well done…. Enter.”

          9. Thanks Jeff.

            I appreciate your time and clarity. I would agree with a lot of what you just said. But also, I would disagree on a lot of what you said, simply because I believe in the Bible’s authority, and it doesn’t teach what you have proposed there. To be honest Jeff, you seem to be completely close-minded – to the point where I no longer have the time to respond to your comments, being that I have to repeat myself.

            Thanks again.

            TT

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