Archive for the ‘Arminianism’ Category

Sincere Offer, Election, and Limited Atonement

August 24, 2011

My friend Paul has posted a response to David Ponter’s response to James Anderson’s comments on Limited Atonement and the Free Offer. It’s a very detailed and worth reading. Allow me to post some shorter thoughts on the topic, namely the objection:

Is the “free offer” of the gospel really “sincere” if Jesus only died for some men and not all? If there is no atonement available for them, the offer seems insincere.

This is a frequent objection, particularly from Amyraldians and Arminians. If you think that the gospel is “Jesus died for you,” then this objection makes a lot of sense. If we’re supposed to tell people indiscriminately that Christ died for them, but he didn’t, that doesn’t seem very sincere.

Scriptures, however, don’t present the gospel that way. In Scripture, the gospel is expressed in terms of repenting of your sins and believing on (i.e. trusting in) Jesus Christ for salvation. If you trust in Christ and repent of your sins, God will have mercy on you.

There is a world of difference between those two messages. One message makes an unconditional assertion regarding what Christ has done. The other message makes a conditional assertion about what God will do.

Yet, even among those who will grant to us that the gospel is not, “Jesus died for you,” some people still don’t like the idea of salvation being offered to those for whom God has not made any provision. Indeed, our Amyraldian and Arminian friends sometimes urge on us the idea that such a conditional offer is not “sincere” unless God has made preparations for those people.

The mere absence of enough provision for everyone to be saved, however, doesn’t explain this objection. Suppose a company offers to “anyone who is willing to come down here and listen to us explain the benefits of our new tractor,” an incentive of “$5, just for coming down and listening to the talk.” No one would consider it “insincere” if the company doesn’t actually have $5 times the number of people who will hear the offer, so long as they have $5 times the number of people that they think will accept the offer.

So, as long as the provision is sufficient for those who will “accept” the offer, we don’t view the offer as insincere. Since, under the Calvinist framework, God has made provision for all who will come to Christ, the offer of the gospel should also be considered to be sincere by this standard.

The intuition behind the objection that remains, however, is that an “offer” doesn’t seem sincere, if you have no intention of giving the offered thing to the person to whom you are offering it. For example, when a child offers to share an ice cream cone, it sometimes happens that this is simply an imitation of a parent’s offer to share the parent’s cone. If the parent were to try to accept the child’s offer, the child might greedily refuse to allow the parent to have a bite. So, the child has only offered to share the cone because the child thought the offer would be refused. Such an offer is insincere.

Of course, by this time we are now dealing with the kind of objection that an Amyraldian, or someone like Ponter, cannot consistently make. After all, the problem with the child’s offer is not that he doesn’t have a cone to share, but that he does not intend to give up the cone. The Amyraldian admits that God does not intend to save the non-elect. Therefore, whether or not a provision is made seems utterly moot.

Nevertheless, for those who insist that God must intend to save, we may still legitimately question the weight of this objection. Isn’t it enough that God intends to save everyone who “accepts” the “offer”? The idea that God must intend to save all those whom he knows will refuse seems absurd when expressed that way. Thus, we may conclude that while such an objection may have some limited intuitive appeal, it does not hold up to intellectual scrutiny.


Compare and Contrast

January 12, 2011

Jesse Morrell: “If it were up to God, everybody would repent and be saved.” (Facebook status on 11 January 2011)

Jesus: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

Nebuchadnezzar: “all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

It is truly remarkable to contrast the powerlessness of God in the synergistic system to the power of God in the monergistic and Biblical description.

The Wrath of Man Shall Praise God

February 11, 2010

Psalm 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

This verse fits marvelously well with the Calvinistic teaching that everything that man does, even the wrath of men, glorifies God. My question is, how could an Arminian agree with this verse? How does man’s wrath praise God in an Arminian worldview? I would think the best that could be said for the Arminian viewpoint is that God (according to them) manages to make the best of man’s wrath.


Arminianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Wes White, and the real Francis Turretin

January 22, 2010

Pastor Wes White has an interesting post entitled, “Calvinism and Arminianism: A Middle Way?” He points out that one supposed “middle way” between Calvinism and Arminianism is just a restatement of Arminianism (and he provides a quotation from the real Francis Turretin to make his point). Although (like Pastor White) I’m a fan of Turretin and although he’s right in noting that the argument of the classical Arminians is what these supposed “middle way” folks are making, I want to take the opportunity to point out that it is even an older error than that. It is the error of the semi-Pelagian opponents of Augustinians such as Prosper of Aquitaine, as one can see from the passage below in which Prosper is writing to Augustine regarding his semi-Pelagian opponents and their arguments. Read carefully and see if you

Prosper of Aquitaine:

The opinion they hold is as follows: Every man has sinned in Adam, and no one is reborn and saved by his own works but by God’s grace. Yet, all men without exception are offered the reconciliation which Christ merited by the mystery of his death, in such manner that whosoever wish to come to the faith and to receive baptism can be saved. God has foreknown before the creation of the world who they are who will accept the faith and with the help of further grace persevere in it. He has predestined for his kingdom those who, called without any merit of their own, He foreknew would be worthy of their election and depart from this life by a good death. Accordingly, every man is urged by the teachings of Holy Scripture to believe and to work, and no one should despair of attaining eternal life, the reward prepared for those who serve God freely. But as to the decree of God’s special call by which He is said to have separated the elect and reprobate, either before the creation of the world or at the very creation of the human race, and according to His own good pleasure, so that some are born vessels of honor, others vessels of dishonor, this, they say, takes away from sinners an incentive for conversion and gives the pious occasion for lukewarmness. For both of them, exertion becomes superfluous if neither diligence can save a reprobate nor negligence ruin an elect. Whatever way they behave, nothing can happen to them except what God has decreed. With such doubtful prospects no man can follow a steady course of action, since all pains a man takes one way or another are of no avail if God’s predestination has decreed otherwise. To teach that the decree of God anticipates the wills of men is to invite them to cast aside all diligence and give up the effort for virtue; it is, under cover of predestination, to set up a sort of fatal necessity, or to say that the Lord has made men of different natures, if it is true that no one can change his condition of elect or reprobate in which he was created. To put their opinions more briefly and fully: the very objections which in your book On Admonition and Grace you took from the idea of your opponents and proposed to yourself, and the objections of Julian also which in your books against him you relate in this matter and which you answered fully, exactly these our good Christians greet with loud approval. When we show them the writings of Your Holiness which abound in countless unanswerable proofs from Holy Scripture, when we ourselves try, after the pattern of your tracts, to construct some new argument to counter them, they take cover for their obstinacy by appealing to the ancient teaching. The text of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, which you quote to prove that divine grace precedes the merits of the elect, they say was never understood by any of the churchmen in the sense in which you take it now. And when we ask them to explain it themselves according to the meaning given by the authors they prefer, they answer that they have found there nothing which satisfies them, and they ask us not to speak about things whose depth no one is able to fathom. Finally, in their obstinacy they go to such length as to assert that what we teach as being of faith is harmful to the spiritual good of those who come to hear of it; and even if it were true, we should not come out with it, because it does harm to preach what will not be well received, and there is no harm in not speaking of what no one can understand.

– Prosper of Aquitaine, Letter to Augustine, Section 3, translation by P. De Letter, S.J., Ph.D., S.T.D. in “Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine,” pp. 39-41 (Newman Press, New York: 1963).

Notice, for instance, the allegations of universal prevenient grace, and the allegations that Augustinian theology will hurt evangelism. The answers from the real Turretin that Pastor White brings to bear are right on the money.

It’s also interesting to note that Prosper is relying on the authority of Scripture over against semi-Pelagian attempts to say that Augustine’s view was a theological novelty. We sometimes hear the same allegations about our views today – but ultimately we agree with Prosper that Scripture (not the forerunners of Augustine or even Augustine himself) is our rule of faith.


Lutheran Response to Arminianism

December 29, 2009

Steve Hays recently pointed me to a Lutheran response to Arminianism (link to response). While I am not Lutheran (I am Calvinist, which is virtually anathema to certain Lutherans), I pass this on as being “of interest” to my Arminian readers (as well as my Lutheran readers, few though they may be).


Arminius’ Impact on Calvinism

October 20, 2009

Dan (“GodIsMyJudge”) has an interesting post in honor of the 400th anniversary of Arminius’ death (link). One criticism I have, is that I think he overstates the significance of the infralapsarian wording of Dordt’s discussion of election. In fact, one could walk away from GodIsMyJudge’s post thinking that Arminius was an infralapsarian Calvinist who prevailed at Dordt against the supralapsarians, rather than having his errant views condemned by that synod. In context, the point of Dordt is to deny foreseen merit, something upon which both supralapsarians and infralapsarians agree.


John Knox on Free Will (Old Spellings)

October 8, 2009

Before I answer to the absurdities which of our doctrine ye collect, I must, in few wordes, put you in minde, that very foolishely ye joyn the free will of Adame with the free will of Christe Jesus, and with the libertie of God. For Adam’s will was never so free but that it might (as that it did) come to thraldom; which weaknes you be never able to prove at any tyme to have bene in Christes will. Further, the will of Adam was alwaies under the impire and threatning of a law; to which subjection I think ye will not bring God. But now to your absurdities.

“If (say you) I shall grante that all thinges of mere Necessitio must come to passe, according to the prescience and foreknowledge of God, then had Adam afore his transgression no Free will.” Your illation or consequence is fals, for the foreknowledge and prescience of God did neither take away free will from Adam, neither yet did compell it by any violence, but did use it as an ordinarie mean, by the which His eternall counsell and purpose should take effect. But for the better understanding hereof, we must adverte and note that which before we have touched, and promised after more largely to entreat the same; to witt, That God’s prescience and foreknowledge is not to be seperated from his Will and decree. For none otherwise doeth God foresee things to come to passe, but according as He himself hath in his eternall counsell decreed the same. For as it apperteineth to His wisdom to foreknow and foresee all things that are to come, so doeth it appertein to his power to moderate and reule all things according to his own will. Neither yet therefor doeth it folow that His foreknowledge, prescience, will, or power, doeth take away the free will of his creatures. but in all wisdom and justice (however the contrarie appere to our corrupted judgements,) he useth them as best it pleaseth his wisdom to bring to passe in time that which before all tyme he had decreed. To the which purpose and end, they (I mean the creatures and their willes), whatsoever they purpose to the contrarie, or how ignorantly that ever they worke it, nevertheles do voluntarely, and as it were of a naturall motion, incline and bow to that end to the which they are created.

To make the mater more plain, let us take the creation and fall of Adam, with the creatures that served in the same, for example. For what cheif end did God create all things (of Salomon and Paule we have before declared), to witt, for his own glorie to be shewed; the glorie, I say, of the riches of his mercie towardes the vessels of mercie, and the glorie of his justice and most just judgements towards the vessels of wrath. And that this eternall counsell of God should take effect, as he had purposed, man was created righteous, wise, just, and good, having free will; neither subject to the thraldom of sinne nor of Sathan, at the first creation. But sodanly cometh Sathan, ennemie to God and to man his good creature, and first poured in vennom into the heart of the woman, which afterward she poured into the heart of Adam; to the which bothe the one and the other, without all violence used of God’s part, dothe willingly consent; and so conspiring with the serpent, do accuse God of a lie; do fully consent to vendicat or challenge to themselves the power of the Godhead, of minde and purpose (so far as in them lay) to thrust downe and depose Him from his eternall throne. Here we see how the creatures and their willes, without compulsion, do serve God’s purpose and counsell. For Sathan was neither sent nor commanded of God to tempt man, but of malice and hatred did most willingly and gredely runne to the same: The will of man being free before, was not by God violently compelled to obey Sathan; but man of free will did consent to Sathan, and conspire against God. And yet was the fall of man not only foresene and foreknowen of God, but also before decreed, for the manifestation of his glorie.

Let us yet take an other exemple, that the mater may be more evident. The death of Christ Jesus for man’s redemption, was decreed in the eternall counsell of God before the foundations of the world were laid, as we were elected in him, and as he was the Lamb killed from the beginning; which death also was decreed in the same counsell of God to be in a certein time appointed; and that so certenly, that neither could the malice of any creature prevent the houre appointed of God thereto, neither yet could any policie or chance impede or transferre the same to any other tyme. For how oft Christ was afore assaulted, the Evangclistes do witnes; but alwaies his answere was, “My houre is not yet come.” And what impedimentes did oucure immediatly before his death, is also evident. The feast of Easter was instant, the fame of Christ was great, the favor of the people with publick voices was declared, and the counsels of the Hie Priestes and Seniors had decreed, that, to avoid sedition, his death should be delayed till after that feast. But all these were shortly overthrowen, and Christ did suffer in the verey tyme appointed, as he before had forespoken.

But now to the instrumentes which serve in this mater, and whether they were compelled by God or not. Judas, we know, was not one of the least; and what moved him the Holie Ghost doeth witnes, to witt, his avariciousnes. The Scribes, Pharisies, Priestes anil Seniors, and people, led, some of malice and envie, some to gratifie their rulers, and altogether of set purpose to crucifie Christ, do consent with Judas. Pilate, albeit he long refused, and by divers nieancs studied to delyver Christ, yet in the end, for fear of displeasure, aswell of the priestes and people, as of the Emperor, he willingly, without all compulsion of God’s part, pronounced an unjust sentence of deathe against Christ Jesus; which his soldiours also most willingly did execute. Thus, I say, we see that the creatures and their willes, without all compulsion, do serve God’s counsell and purpose.

Here I know, that ye think that either I write against myself, or els that I conclude a great absurditic: For, if I say that God did nothing but foresee these thinges, and so permitted them (as after you speak) to folow their own train; that he worketh no more but as a simple beholder of a tragedie; then do I agree with you. And if I do say (as in verey dede I do understand and afiirme,) that the eternall counsell and purpose of God did so reule in all these thinges, that rather they did serve to God’s purpose and most just will, then fulfill their most wicked willes; then will you cry, Blasphemie, and say that I deliver the Devill, Adam, and all the wicked, frome sinne, of the which I make God to be author. To the first I have answered before, that as I seperate not God’s foreknowledge from his counsell, so do I affirme that He worketh all in all thinges, according to the purpose of the same his good will; and yet that he useth no violence, neither in compelling his creatures, neither constreining their willes by any externall force, neither yet taking their willes from them, but in all wisdom and justice using them as he knoweth most expedient for the manifestation of his glorie, without any violence, I say, done to their willes. For violence is done to the will of a creature, when it willoth one thing, and yet by force, by tyranny, or by a greater power, it is compelled to do the thinges which it wold not; as if a pudique and honest matron, or chaste virgine, should be deprehended alono by a wicked and filthie man, who with violence and force (thoghe the will of the woman did plainely repine) did deflowre and corrupte her. This is violence done to the will, and she of necessitie was compelled to suffer that ignominie and shame, which nevertheles she most abhorred.

Do we say that God did (or doeth) any such violence to his creatures? Did he compell Sathan to tempt the woman, when his will was contrarie thereto? Did the will of Adame resist the temptation of the woman, and did he so hate and abhorre to eate of that fruite, that it behoved God to compell his will repugning thereto to eat of it, and so to break his commandements? or, did he not rather willingly hear and obey the voice of his wyfe? Consider, I beseech you, how plainely we put a difference betwixt vidlence, which you call mere Necessitie, and God’s secrete counsell and eternall purpose. But yet ye crie, “Wherein then did man offend? Who can resist the will of God ? Why doth he complein, seing that his counsell and purpose, by such meanes, is broght to passe?” Do ye not understand that these were the furious cries of those to whom Saint Paul imposeth silence, with this sentence, ” 0 man, what art thou that darest reason against God ?” &c.

But lest that ye complein (as your common custom is) of our obscuritie and darke speaking, I will even in one or two wordes declare, Why the creatures offend even when they serve most effectually to God’s purpose; to witt, becaus that they neither have the glorie of God in their actions before their eies, neither yet mynd they to serve nor obey God’s purpose and will. Sathan, in tempting man, studied nothing to promote God’s glorie; man, in obeying the temptation, looked not to the counsell of God; Judas, Ananias, Pilate, the soldiours, and the rest, had nothing less in mind then mannes redemption to be performed by their counsells and wicked workes. And therefor, of God’s justice, were they everio one reputed sinners; yea, and some of them reprobated for ever. If these reasons do not satisfic you, yet shall they be a testimonie what is our doctrine; and, as I trust, shall also be a reasonable contentation to the godlie and simple reader. More would I have spoken in the same matter, and so to have put end unto it at once; but becaus that after, by the reason of your most unjust accusations, I wilbe compelled to have to do with you againe, I abyde opportunitie.

Now to your reasons: Mannes will, I say, in the self remained free, notwithstanding that God in his eternall counsell had decreed his fall; and that becaus no violence, as before is declared, was done unto it. The will of our Master and Saviour Christ Jesus, notwithstanding the immutable decree of his death, appointed to be at a certein time, was so free, that albeit the power of nature might have given unto him mo yeares of life; and also that the humaine nature did abhorre the crueil and ignominious death; yet did he subject bothe his will and the power of nature unto the will of his heavenlie Father; as he doeth witnes, saying, “Not that I will, Father, but let that be done which thou willest.”

Wonder it is, that ye can not see how God’s will can remaine in hbertie, except that he abyde m suspence or dowte, and so daily and hourely change his purpose and counsell, as occasion is offered unto him by men and by their actions. If this be to make God bounde, and to take frome him libertie, to affirme that lie is infinite in wisdom, infinite in goodnes, infinite in justice, and infinite in power, so doeth he most constantly, most freely, most justlie, and most wisely, bring that to passe which in his eternall counsell he hath determined; if this, I say, be to take from God freedom, wisdome, and libortie, as ye do rayle, I must confess myself a transgressor. But if your cogitations and foolishe conclusions of his eternal Godhead, be, as, alas! too manifestly ye declare yourselves, so prophane, so carnal, and so wicked, that long, you abiding in the same, can not escaip God’s just vengeance; repent, before that in his anger he arrest, and declare that your justice, wherof so much ye bragge, is manifest blasphemie against his dear Sonne Christ Jesus! God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve his small flock from your vennom and most dangerous heresies, and stoppe your blasphemous mouthes, that thus dare jeast upon God, as if he were one of your companions, saying, ” Then is he a goodly wvse God; Then is God bounde himself,” &c.

(John Knox, “On Predestination,” 19th Section, as presented in the Works of John Knox, Volume 5 (1856), pp. 140-46) (I’ve presented here the old spellings which ought to be readable to the average reader. God willing, I will provide a modernized version at a later date.)(The work is a response, written in 1560, to an response to an Anabaptist.)

Does God Blind the Blind?

September 22, 2009

The title of this post is the title of a post by William Watson (“Billy”) Birch who thinks that he has found a weakness in Calvinism (though, as he admits, he’s not actually responding to a Calvinist)(link to his post).

His essential argument is this (I am paraphrasing): “Reformed theology says God blinds the reprobate. But Reformed theology says that everyone is totally depraved. Therefore, God is placed in the odd position of blinding the blind.”

But Mr. Birch cannot deny that God does harden the heart of some men. God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, for example. Furthermore, virtually every time we mention this to any Arminian who is opposed to Calvinism (there are Arminians who are simply ignorant of Reformed theology) they invariably insist that the man has to harden his own heart first. How exactly is this supposed to be different? God hardens the hard? God blinds the blind?

The argument may have a superficial appeal to Mr. Birch’s fan base, but it lacks substance as evidenced by how easily it is turned on his own argument.

The problem, of course, is that Mr. Birch fails to appreciate the way in which God blinds the blind. God refuses to open their eyes – refuses to provide them with a cause that would lead to the effect of their seeing.

Jesus explained:

Matthew 13:13-15
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Mark 4:11-12
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Furthermore, contrary to the theology of Mr. Birch, God is quite willing to take credit for concluding all in unbelief:

Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

How does one conclude (i.e. enclose or shut) in unbelief an unbeliever? The same way one blinds the blind. Without God’s grace we can do nothing:

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.


So Good Men Differ … so what?

July 20, 2009

One of the perennial comments one hears is that if either A or B were correct “it is doubtful that so many Bible-believing, godly evangelical Christians would have wound up on each side.” This flawed position assumes that “godly evangelical Christians” always tend to end up agreeing with correct positions.

That’s a flawed assumption. In fact, “godly evangelical Christians” often disagree over things of lower consequence than the gospel. Take infant baptism as an example, or the proper ecclesiology.

What’s worse is when people (such as Craig Blomberg) make the further leap of advocating something in-between those two positions as though this somehow bridged the gap created by the two positions.

In the case of Dr. Blomberg, the problem is worse because he’s not actually adopted a position in the middle between Calvinism and Arminianism (the two positions he originally identified): he’s adopted the Arminian position with a Molinistic explanation — which is more like a halfway point between Calvinism and Open Theism, not between Calvinism and Arminianism. In fact, the “Arminian” position he identifies is that of William Lane Craig, one of the leading advocates for Molinism.

Even if Dr. Blomberg had actually picked something between Calvinism and Arminianism (rather than just picking Arminianism), what Dr. Blomberg has overlooked is that as soon as you set up a third position, the original argument still stands, only now there are three positions instead of two: three positions that “godly, Evangelical Christians” hold to. So the truth must be a fourth, and then (once people find that), a fifth, etc. ad infinitum.

Finally, Dr. Blomberg overlooks the fact that “godly evangelical Christians” disagree (mostly) with his fundamental premise that if “godly evangelical Christians” disagree about something, both sides must be wrong. This creates something of a paradox, since Dr. Blomberg must now rethink his original synthetic premise by synthesizing it with the position that “just because ‘godly evangelical Christians’ disagree about something doesn’t mean both are wrong” position.

Truth is absolute, not relative. Just because “godly evangelical Christians” disagree about something doesn’t mean both sides are wrong (or, necessarily, that either side is right). We need to continually go back to Scripture and let that (not counting heads) be our way of determining truth.

Thanks to Josh Walker for pointing this out to me.


Choice and the Common Man

January 30, 2009

When I talk to people (average, ordinary people) they mean by choice just what Calvinism teaches about what choice is: people picking from among various options. They normally don’t impose much of a philosophical framework on it.

If I ask them, “What if someone forces you to pick A?” They would reply that this isn’t really a choice. Of course, that’s because there’s compulsion involved.

On the other hand, if I ask them how they got their now-spouse to pick them, they will have some kind of answer. Sometimes the answer is that they “just fell in love,” sometimes the answer is persistence on the part of one of the two spouses, but ultimately the person normally acknowledges some causal relation at play, although they still view the relationship as a voluntary association.

I could go further with the nuances (such as the fact that people buy advertising because they think they can influence choices), but the bottom line is that generally speaking every “average Joe” I speak to has roughly the same answers to the questions about choice, and they all line up either exactly with what Calvinism teaches about choice, or awfully close.

On the other hand, when I talk to folks who are “Arminian theologians” (of greater or lesser sophistication), I generally find them appealing to philosophical definitions of choice that (a) don’t matter to the common man, (b) aren’t readily intelligible either to the Arminians themselves or the common man, and (c) don’t come from Scripture.

Personally, I find (c) to be the most problematic of the matters. The truth is that Scriptures clearly teach that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass (see Acts 17:26, for example), that men make choices (see, for example, Isaiah 65:12), and that God has a purpose in evil the evil acts of men (see, for example, Genesis 50:20). These truths are compatible, whether people like it or not. Everything is part of God’s plan, even our choices.

Proverbs 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

This is the truth of Scripture. God has made all things for himself – even the wicked. He has a purpose in everything. That’s why he sets up as a test of deity that an alleged god explain the reasons for history and tell the future. God can do those things because History is written by God:

Isaiah 41:21-23
21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.

This is how great God is. He holds all of history in the palm of his hand – he turns kings hearts, whatever direction it pleases Him.

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

And if Kings’ hearts are under God’s control, don’t think that God only has a thought for them, but not for the lesser details:

Luke 12:6-7
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

This is what the Bible has to say, and we need to believe it.

But I was surprised and disappointed to hear of a counter-argument attempted from those who embrace the philosophical position of Libertarian Free Will (LFW). They have attempted to claim that their position is what common men hold, despite the great evidence to the contrary. However, Mr. Manata, employing his usual rapier wit, has provided a brief rejoinder to one of their claims (link). While I certainly find his point amusing, I hope the positive presentation above briefly provides the reason that I think the shoe is really on the other foot. It is the Arminian concept of LFW that is foreign to the average Joe. The average Joe can readily see that choices have reasons and explanations that go beyond the mere whim of the person making the choice. While the average Joe may not fully comprehend how choice and universal predestination can co-exist, this is often because of caricatures of predestination (such as the fatalism caricature) that are provided.

But let me leave you, the reader, on a more interesting note. People talk about the fact that the word “choose” is in the Bible. But did you notice who that is usually talking about?

Men Choosing

1. (Exodus 17:9) And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

2. (Deuteronomy 30:19) I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

3. (Joshua 24:15) And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

4. (1 Samuel 17:8) And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.

5. (2 Samuel 17:1) Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

6. (2 Samuel 24:12) Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

7. (1 Kings 18:23) Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:

8. (1 Kings 18:25) And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.

9. (1 Chronicles 21:10) Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

10. (1 Chronicles 21:11) So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee

11. (Nehemiah 9:7) Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham;

12. (Job 9:14) How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?

13. (Job 34:4) Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good.

14. (Job 34:33) Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.

15. (Proverbs 1:29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

16. (Proverbs 3:31) Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

17. (Isaiah 7:15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

18. (Isaiah 7:16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

19. (Isaiah 56:4) For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

20. (Isaiah 65:12) Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.

21. (Ezekiel 21:19) Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city.

22. (Philippians 1:22) But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

God Choosing

1. (Numbers 16:7) And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.

2. (Numbers 17:5) And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

3. (Deuteronomy 7:7) The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:

4. (Deuteronomy 12:5) But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

5. (Deuteronomy 12:11) Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:

6. (Deuteronomy 12:14) But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.

7. (Deuteronomy 12:18) But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

8. (Deuteronomy 12:26) Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose:

9. (Deuteronomy 14:23) And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.

10. (Deuteronomy 14:24) And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:

11. (Deuteronomy 14:25) Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:

12. (Deuteronomy 15:20) Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household.

13. (Deuteronomy 16:2) Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.

14. (Deuteronomy 16:6) But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

15. (Deuteronomy 16:7) And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.

16. (Deuteronomy 16:15) Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.

17. (Deuteronomy 16:16) Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

18. (Deuteronomy 17:8) If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;

19. (Deuteronomy 17:10) And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:

20. (Deuteronomy 17:15) Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

21. (Deuteronomy 18:6) And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose;

22. (Deuteronomy 23:16) He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

23. (Deuteronomy 26:2) That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.

24. (Deuteronomy 31:11) When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.

25. (Joshua 9:27) And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose.

26. (1 Samuel 2:28) And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

27. (2 Samuel 16:18) And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.

28. (2 Samuel 21:6) Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.

29. (1 Kings 14:21) And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess.

30. (Psalms 25:12) What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

31. (Psalms 47:4) He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.

32. (Isaiah 14:1) For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

33. (Isaiah 49:7) Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

34. (Isaiah 66:4) I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

35. (Zechariah 1:17) Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

36. (Zechariah 2:12) And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.


I know that this is just statistical data, but there is an emphasis in Scripture. The emphasis in Scripture is on the works of God. The central focal point of the Scripture is the Gospel of Christ, the glad tidings of the sacrifice that He has made for the redemption of his people. It is by Christ’s death that sin has been conquered: that was God’s choice, not ours. And even though men chose to crucify God, this too was ordained by God:

Acts 2:22-24
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Praise be to God!


%d bloggers like this: