Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What is Actual Preterism?

So you have heard of Partial-Preterism, Full-Preterism, Hyper-Preterism, Realized Preterism, Preterist-Universalism just to name a few but what is Actual Preterism?  This is a label being used to describe the kind of preterism that takes the "all was fulfilled in AD70", the "audience relevancy", and the "time texts" premises to their logical conclusions.  Maybe God was wrapping up His dealings with His people.

ACTUAL PRETERISM BASICS:

1) God's plans/promises were to His people only.
2) God's people are Abrahamic people (Israel/Judah/Jews)
3) Gentiles are wayward Abrahamic people (not "non-Jews")
4) God's plans/promises for His people culminated in AD70.

Listen to this 68 minute podcast done back in 2013 with an advocate of the view.


Upload MP3 and download MP3 using free MP3 hosting from Tindeck.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What's Up?

Every once in a while someone contacts me via email or phone to discuss articles on this site or full preterism in general. Recently, a fellow from Alabama contacted me and we spoke on the phone for about 30 minutes. He expressed how the idea that the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24/Mk 13/Lk 21) is really about the soon/at hand/about to be COMING to the Father/Ancient of Days (Dan 7:13-15) was very helpful to him.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pretersite/PreteristBlog No More

As reported earlier, the former "anti-preterist" site PreteristBlog.com ceased operation. I say "former anti-preterist" site because after the owner teamed up with Sam Frost and Ken Talbot; the site was no longer really "anti-preterist" as Talbot was really promoting a form a Full Preterism-lite he was calling "Realized Preterism". Well, it appears to be official now.  In a posting by the owner; "Dee Dee Warren", we read:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hyperpreterist VS Hyperpreterist

In the last few years, full preterists have been attempting to pivot the label of "hyperpreterist" onto others. The main object of this label transfer is a fellow who goes by the name "RiversOfEden" because he takes the prime premises of full preterism to consistent conclusions.  The prime premises of full preterism are as follows:
  1. All has been fulfilled
  2. Audience relevancy - application mainly to 1st century audience.
So, when RiversOfEden applies the prime premises in a consistent manner, he concludes that all has been fulfilled in the 1st century. That, there is no more salvific application to people beyond the 1st century besides a positive effect for people who live in a "Christian" manner.  For this, RiversOfEden has been a target by his fellow full preterists who label him a "hyperpreterist".


ANOTHER GROUP OF HYPERPRETERISTS

However all is not unified in the full preterist movement. There is a group of full preterists called "Covenant Creationists" who advocate the teachings of Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn. Martin and Vaughn wrote a book in 2007-2009 called "Beyond Creation Science" wherein they advocate that the Bible doesn't really speak of the physical creation of planet earth and that the Flood was a localized event.  This caused a split within the full preterist movement as those views were considered "hyper" or beyond (which is the definition of hyper) the scope of full preterism.  Some history of the split can be read about here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Are Full/Hyperpreterists Damned?

This article was prompted by a thoughtful email I received from a former full preterist whom is concerned that people often call full/hyperpreterism a "damnable heresy". The claim implies that a full/hyperpreterist person is destined for hell. A further question is whether a person who is a full/hyperpreterist will go to hell if they die while still a full/hyperpreterist. But before we get to the answer, we should figure out what is meant by "damned". Does it mean "going to hell"?

The word damned is found 3 times in the KJV; all in the New Testament. (ref) However, the Greek origin is κρίνω/κατακρίνω which is used over 130 times in the New Testament and translated as condemned/sue/judge/determine/ordained/sentence/conclude/question/esteem/decree/avenge (ref). The point is, "damned" doesn't mean destined for hell. Generically, it just means "considered wrong".  But wouldn't this be redundant to call something a "damnable heresy" since heresy also generically means "considered wrong"?  The Bible often utilizes redundancy for impact (pleonasm).  For example using the word "abominable" when referring to sin.  Isn't sin sin?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What The Church Believes About the End Times

This very important article was prompted by an impassioned plea for help. A commenter going by the name of JG wrote on Jan 29, 2014 --

"...where can I find out more about what the church has believed about the end times? I mean, true, orthodox beliefs. I guess I'm desperate, I feel trapped in something that I don't want to believe but cannot find a way out when it comes to my understanding of how the Scriptures fit together." -- source
It is heart breaking that I can't just point to some instant remedy. The reason I cannot is because Full/Hyperpreterism slowly and methodically overtakes a person. I mean, when you compare the Full/Hyperpreterist interpretation of Mt 24 / Mark 13 / Lk 21 to the Left Behind/Dispensational interpretation; YES, it does sound very "logical" and correct. There seems no way to get out of what seems like the logical conclusion. After all, those texts do speak to the 1st century audience. Those texts do clearly indicate a soon/about to be/shortly/at hand coming of Christ. There really is no way to stretch those texts into the future.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Missing Jesus Again

An argument used by Full Preterists is that the Jews missed Jesus' first coming and we Christians have missed His Second Coming.  The argument often goes that the Jews were looking for a physical king to rule over a mere plot of land and that since Jesus' fulfillment of the Messiah was larger than that, the Jews missed it.  See for example, John 12:34.  In the same way, the Full Preterist claim that we Christians misunderstood the timing of Jesus' Second Coming.  Well, they used to say we only misunderstood the timing but now they also claim we misunderstood the nature.  As a matter of fact, Full Preterist leader, David Curtis has said:


"I submit to you that either Scripture is wrong about the TIME of the second coming and thus not inerrant or our paradigms are wrong about the NATURE of the second coming. Which one of those are you more comfortable with, an incorrect paradigm or an uninspired Scripture?...The Lord said clearly that he was going to return before they had all died-- why is it that we don't believe Him? We could believe him if we made a paradigm shift in our understanding of the nature of his return. Remember, time determines nature." - source

Do you see the continuing error of the Full Preterists on display in Curtis' quote? Mt 24/Mk 13/Lk 21 -- the Olivet Discourse NEVER speak about Jesus' "RETURN".  Indeed these texts speak of His soon/about to be/at hand/shortly "coming" but it isn't a return or coming back.  It is a coming before the presence of the Ancient of Days/The Father/The Power as we see in Dan 7:13-15 and Mt 26:64.  So, the Full Preterist uses a FALSE premise to create a false paradigm.  There is no issue with the timing OR the nature of Christ's words in the Olivet Discourse about His "coming" because He did NOT say what the Full Preterist claims He said.

Friday, January 17, 2014

FP Leaders Making Money Off You

Something that is overlooked by followers of Full Preterism is that its "leaders" are making lots of money off them. For example in his 2007-2008 tax return, Don Preston claimed a $91,956.00 income for his "Preterist Research Institute" (source). If Full Preterism is such important news, then why are men like Preston and John Noe constantly hawking books, videos, and other money-making schemes instead of doing like the apostle Paul who had a "day job" (1 Cor. 9:15-18)

But but but..isn't a "labourer worthy of his reward"? Why shouldn't an author get paid for his work? After all, it costs money to produce these books. We're forgetting that Paul mainly sustained himself through his day job as a tentmaker even though he said he had full right to be compensated. If the APOSTLE Paul didn't think he should take advantage of compensation, what makes these Full Preterist "presidents" of single-man ministries think they are "worthy of reward"?  They aren't even preaching the Gospel but rather something OTHER than Christianity.

Don't get me wrong (or purposely misrepresent me as some folks have), I'm not saying a person shouldn't be paid for writing books and producing study materials. But when a person claims to be a "Christian" and is making most of their living off their supposed "Christian" work that they claim is extremely important for everyone to know, we have to wonder what their motivation might be. Don't give me a list of theologians who have sold materials and then compare them to Preston. Preston is nothing but a used car salesman but instead of cars, he dons his plaid suits, sips his coffee and delivers his shtick to sell his customers on his clunker theology.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year In Review: 2013 Preterist Movement

Another year passes and here at UNPRETERIST.BLOGSPOT.COM we've kept you informed of all the events within the preterist movement. But 2013 may have been the most important year yet. In 2013 we saw the decline and eventual collapse of the so-called "anti-preterist" groups. We say "so-called" because these groups were in fact very friendly to full or hyperpreterism while pretending they were opposing it. We'll get more into that in a moment. 2013 also was perhaps the most lackluster year yet for the full preterist movement, with no notable conferences or book releases or debates.

SIGN-O-THE-TIMES
The high-profile "anti-preterist" website; PreteristBlog, administered by "Dee Dee Warren" ceased operation without warning. The site is still online but all the content is gone and replaced only by a simple message referring visitors to a Facebook page...a page that also doesn't offer any update. While I don't want to speculate as to what happened, I am hopeful that this is a sign that Warren is backing away from her association with hyperpreterist enabler, Kenneth Talbot.  But I doubt it.  PreteristBlog's departure also shows it outlived its relevance anyway. Once it started cozying up to Sam Frost, it was doomed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Heresy Threat Assessment

In my line of work I have been issued a Security Threat Assessment or an STA number. Supposedly there was some criteria to determine how much potential threat to national security I might or might not be, thus allowing me to enter certain secure areas of the facility where I work.

What if there was an assessment that determined how likely your faith might be susceptible to heresy? I've designed a 10 question "test" to help gauge this susceptibility or "threat" to your faith. The questions come from years of interacting with heretical groups and even having been part of the heresy of hyperpreterism for some time. Had someone helped me to understand how to avoid heresy, rather than just telling me to obey a pastor, I might have never gone into hyperpreterism. However, being a "predestinarianistic" Christian, I believe even so-called "bad" things happen for a reason. Without this experience, I most likely would not have been able to develop this test much less even understand what people go through to fall into heresy.

Simply answer all 10 questions with either AGREE or DISAGREE. Do not over think the statement. Then press the SUBMIT button and your HTA-Heresy Threat Assessment will be displayed. The higher the number, the more likely you could fall into a heresy.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Redirectionalism Revisited: A Reprise

In November 2013 I was contacted by a gentleman named Donald Perry. He wanted to interact with me about Full/Hyperpreterism. He supposedly left it and wanted to talk about where he had landed after he left. Now, I try to be gracious and extra gentle toward former full preterists since there is often lots of latent hostility. Perry had written a book about his personalized "ism" he was calling "Redirectionalism". I agreed to read and review the book. (see here: http://unpreterist.blogspot.com/2013/11/redirectionalism-alternative-to-full.html) In everything I do, I attempt to be honest, fair yet forthright and it was no different with this review. However, Perry has become very hostile since the review and has made some rather puzzling and dishonest statements. First, let us look at the title of my initial review. Notice it is called: Redirectionalism: An Alternative to Full Preterism? This is how Perry promoted it to me.

Again, I'm always leery when some former full preterist espouses some "alternative". Why not simply embrace historic Christianity. Why create some new "ism". Anyhow, Perry so much didn't like my review that he immediately went and published a response to it...oddly enough on a Full/Hyperpreterist website. Now, part of my review stated that I believe Perry's Redirectionalism is still too much like Full/Hyperpreterism. He disagrees yet publishes his response on a Full/Hyperpreterist website...HUH??? Doesn't that kind of prove the point. I would have been willing to either publish his response in full here or link to his response IF he had published it any place other than a Full/Hyperpreterist website. Not only that, but shortly after my review, Perry signed up on yet another Full/Hyperpreterist website; called "Sovereign Grace Preterist". He isn't too convincing in trying to show his personal "ism" isn't akin to Full/Hyperpreterism.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Age to Come

Every time I get a question by someone either involved with the Full Preterist movement or affected by it, I feel it is my duty to respond in a thoughtful and detailed way. Writing quick, pat replies does not do honor to the person asking the question. Besides, as a believer in God's sovereignty, I must conclude there is a reason beyond the inquirer that the question has been asked. Also, I often get questions posed as "What is your view/position/opinion on XYZ". This is how we have been conditioned to think in America...that everything is subjective and merely a matter opinion. So, I don't fault the person for asking the question that way, BUT I do want to point out that I DON'T care what my personal view/position/opinion on a theological matter may be, and neither should anyone else. We, as Christians need to get to the crux; WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT XYZ?

 If we think it impossible to determine what God says about something, are we saying God is a poor articulator of His ideas/plan? After all, Full Preterism is BUILT on the premise that for over 2000 years, just about every Christian that has lived has been terribly wrong on eschatology. Full Preterism is BUILT the on the premise that the day after AD70, Christians were so stupid that they didn't realize Jesus supposedly already "returned" and instead we supposedly have been believing a falsehood for 2000 years. What does that say about how well God/the Holy Spirit/Jesus, the hand picked apostles and every other Christian has conveyed God's eschatological plan?? As a training supervisor for 8 years, I would have fired my trainers if they so poorly conveyed the material that people came to the exact opposite conclusions. However, that is exactly what Full Preterists want us to believe happened...that people just didn't get it and had to wait until THEY came on the scene to straighten us all out. With that said, we get to the point of this article.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The End of Physical Death

A Full Preterist friend asked me a question today...yes, I'm still friends with some Full Preterists. The question then branched off to more questions, all of which were text messages to me. Well, it wouldn't do justice to shoot off a quick text reply so I decided to write a more detailed reply here with documentation. The original question was:

"Do you believe Jesus takes away physical death at His future coming?"
My initial texted response was: "No, nor does historic Christianity. Not until "the end" of everything is physical death (and birth for that matter) no longer active."

He followed up with some more questions: "The Last Enemy is Death is spiritual then? What is the resurrection of the death then, physical or spiritual? Also explain what you mean by no longer active versus your disagreement with taking away physical death. Both sound like the exact thing. And is Baptist Confession, Westminster Confession historic Christianity to you or Roman Catholicism?"

As you can see, this does require a more detailed response than texts back and forth.  Let's start with the last question first since it frames what I mean by "historic Christianity".

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Larry Siegle the Dapocaginous?

Larry Siegle is a Full/Hyperpreterist known within that movement as kind of squishy, in that he normally presents his beliefs so vaguely that it is almost impossible to pin him down on anything. He is also known as a passive aggressive -- in that he comes off as the grandfatherly voice of reason and then lays it on you that you are the aggressive and rude one. Siegle has also been known for trying to present himself as a "seasoned" Full Preterist; one who is on the inside with men like Don Preston.  At any rate, I wanted to give a little background on Siegle before I get to the meat of this article.

As the readers may know, the movement hasn't been faring too well lately. It has lost a lot of "big names" over the last 10 years and is merely a shadow of its former self. There is much more infighting than there has been in the past. Well, even Siegle seems to be ready to rumble with his fellow Full Preterists.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Redirectionalism: An Alternative to Full Preterism?


 Redirectionalism

Every so often, a former Full Preterist will contact me to discuss where they landed after they left the movement. This is always difficult because I want to be mindful and tactful. After all, they left the heresy of "hyperpreterism". But the problem is, is that they don't always end up in a better place. Just look what happened to the Talbotites with their lives in ashes. A fellow by the name of Donald Perry wrote me a few weeks ago to discuss a book he wrote called Redirectionalism Volume 1-2. Perry warned me that his writing style is difficult to follow, but he graciously sent me his book anyway. When I received the book, I was eager to get right to it. But Perry wasn't kidding about the difficult structure. Unlike most books, where the context builds on the pretext, which builds on the table of contents; Perry's book has no discernible table of contents. It isn't until page 27 where I could follow some amount of structure in his Question/Answer format. Apparently, these are questions he has been asked throughout the years. But even here, there is no sequential order.

WHAT IS REDIRECTIONALISM

 But let me leave off critiquing the structure; after all, Perry warned me. I sifted through the first few pages to see if I could find a summary of what is meant by Redirectionalism. From what I could gather, Perry is trying to say that even if some or all of the prophecies in the New Testament were originally for the audience of that time, we Christians in this time and times since AD70 should redirect or apply much of that to ourselves. Perry says as much on pages 27-28;

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Man Full Preterists Hate the Most

While in June of 2010, then full preterist circuit speaker, Sam Frost said that I am "one of the most abhorred persons in the history of full preterism, it is now 2013-2014 and that honorable title has been passed to a new recipient. There is a fellow who has been a full preterist since the early years of the movement...that's the 1970 for you newbies. Because of the nature of his federal work, he chooses to use an alias. He currently uses the name "Rivers Of Eden" He consistently posts under this name so there is no attempt to hide his identity otherwise. Hey, it's not like he was a seminary president who went on a full preterist site using the name "superpreterist" and told his friends not to tell anyone it was him...oh yeah, that was Kenneth Talbot, the fraud of frauds (that's for you Jason Bradfield, you need a post to steal and repost on your cowardly site). Anyhow, back to the point.

WHY? 
Why do full preterists hate this guy so much? Well, first off, let me demonstrate the kind of hate they show him.  Full Pret, Dave Green often calls Rivers' "Rivers of Evil". (ref)  Although I'm not certain who first coined this name for Rivers, Green's buddy and fellow full pret, Michael Sullivan claimed it was "seasoned" full preterist, Larry Siegle. (ref)

Another fellow on Facebook, presumably a full pret named Joe Simpson even took to the Vaduva-Bradfieldesque approach of trying to elicit violence against Rivers by posting over and over, in what state Rivers supposedly lives.  How is this relevant? It is just bully tactics to try to get someone to shut up.  I've had bullies like Phil Nassens do this to me before, even posting the city where I live and where my daughter went to school.  Why?

But as for the reason these folks hate Rivers so much; it is because he is demonstrating what full preterism is if applied consistently. And if applied consistently, full preterism destroys a person's faith...or at least their ability to claim they are Christian in any historical sense.

CONSISTENT FULL PRETERISM 
To understand what is meant by consistently applied full preterism we must understand full preterism premises


  • It's all about audience relevancy
  • All is fulfilled


These two points sum up, beyond just "Jesus already came back" what it means to not only be a full preterist but how to think like a person who can become or is a full preterist.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just Can't Get Away

Everytime I think I'm done with interaction with Full Preterism and can put the mothballs to it, along comes something else the Lord brings. A gentleman who had been a full preterist for many years contacted me, and we had about an hour phone call. He wrote a book back in about 1999 and wants me to review it. I'll keep you posted when I receive it and read it. (p.s., it's supposedly a REAL book, not an 80 page pamphlet)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Jason L. Bradfield Is Obsessed With Me

As you may know, Jason Bradfield is/was the P.R. man for Sam Frost. And as you may know further, Frost recently went through or is going through some marital issues -- but that is neither here nor there, we all have our problems. The point is, Jason has a lot of free time on his hands. Since he doesn't know what to do with himself he spends time STEALING articles and images of me from my site.  This from a supposed "Christian" and "deacon-in-training".  I've tried a couple of times complaining to his pastors but since that is just as much a fraud as Sam and Jason ever were, it fell on deaf ears.  I guess they have no problem with thieves among them.

Jason is so obsessed with me that he actually had taken the time to set up an anonymous website and then copy/change the font and page coloring to try to match this one.  Yeah, he's THAT weird folks.

Further, Jason has tracked down my place of work and called my boss trying to get me fired. He also called my home and tried to talk to my wife -- even using her name, which as far as I know I have never given it out publicly on the Internet so he had to do a little REAL "stalking" to find all of this information. (I have no idea what his wife's name is, nor am I eager to find it out)

You know, now that I think of it; when I started my first theological website, I called it THEkingdomcome.com.   Do you know that a few years later Jason also started a theological website, and you know what he called it? THE******.com  Yeah, no veiled envy there. The guy is nothing but a follower; whether it has been moving his family from state to state following his "leaders" or trying to mimic people (even STEALING from people) instead of coming up with his own ideas. Sad really.

So, next time you hear the name Kenneth Talbot, or Gary DeMar just know that they endorse and promote men like Jason Bradfield...AND THAT'S why I want nothing to do with those frauds.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do Babies Automatically Go to Heaven?

Infant SalvationDear reader, before you attempt to read this article please take a moment to pray, meditate, & ask yourself this question, “Am I willing & ready to accept that God can & does do things for His own purposes & His own glory...even things I may find difficult, painful, & maybe even repulsive?” Dear reader, if you are unable to accept this, then this article may not be for you. God certainly endowed humans with emotions but when approaching such topics as this one, we should not approach with emotionalISM. We should & we MUST allow the Scriptures to speak & go no further.

The question of the salvific state of infants is fraught with emotionalism. Who wants to think that a baby, whom we think as innocent being consigned at death to any other place than heaven? Surely, we say to ourselves that God will not...cannot hold anything against a baby. The argument goes, that to think of God as doing anything but giving babies an automatic pass into heaven would be to think of God as some sort of monster. What does the Bible say, if anything on the state of babies in death?

Perhaps the most referenced text is 2 Sam 12:22-23.

And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.


This comes from the account of King David who God said was being punished by having his child die because David stole another man's wife & the baby was the result of David's relationship with the woman. David held out hope by fasting & praying that God might not take the child, but in verse 22 David tells his servants why he stopped his supplication upon hearing that the child had died.

The point we are supposed to get from this, so says the advocates of automatic infant salvation is that David says, “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me”. The inference is that David is going to go where the baby is & that since we are to understand that David will go to heaven when he died, so the baby must have gone to heaven. It seems logical enough.

But is that what the verse is actually saying? And if it was, does it mean ALL babies go to heaven automatically? Rather, the Jews had a concept much like Roman Catholicism's concept of purgatory – a temporal state BEFORE heaven, before the judgment. We see this in the parable Jesus related about the Rich Man & Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.

So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom...And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Lk 16:22-23, 26

This is an account of a rich man & a poor man that upon their mutual deaths, one goes to a temporal place of torment & the other to a place to be with father Abraham. Neither were in actual “heaven” but rather in a place called “Hades” & a place called “Abraham's Bosom”. (see reference links)

So, understanding the Jewish concept of what happens at death, we can see that David could easily say that he will go where his dead child is, even if the child goes to one place & David to another -- the concept of death was to “go to the grave” -- the place of death.

Another text I've seen used to say that infant salvation is automatic is 1 Cor 7:14

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

We are supposed to infer that children are made holy or “sanctified” automatically. First, there is a problem with how some people understand sanctification, it is NOT a synonym for being saved. Otherwise reading the text again, we could suppose a non-believing spouse is automatically “saved” by the belief of a believing spouse. The verse is not saying that. Sanctification is a position of grace. An unbelieving spouse & the children of a believing spouse will share in the benefits & extended grace of the believer. Just being around the believer will bring benefits to the unbelieving, BUT it does not save the unbelievers – neither the unbelieving spouse or children.

So, is there any place in the Bible that tells us what happens to babies who die? No, not specifically. When addressing the inherited sinful nature of mankind, the Bible doesn't classify people as babies, toddlers, teenagers, & adults. The newborn baby is as “guilty” of the sinful nature, even if not of individual sins as is the 120 year-old. We must keep in mind the Bible when addressing sin is not usually addressing individual actions as much as it is addressing the overall nature of mankind.

Some texts that talk about this are:

The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.-- Psalm 58:3

This verse shows that at least someone is considered wicked from the womb, even before they are born & as soon as they are born they are wicked as well. So the least we could say if this were the only verse, is that not all babies are born innocent. But there is more.

God speaking of an entire group of people says,

Surely you did not hear, Surely you did not know; Surely from long ago your ear was not opened. For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, And were called a transgressor from the womb. -- Isaiah 48:8

The “innocent at birth” concept isn't looking so accurate when the Bible is opened upon the topic. Perhaps the pivotal verses are found in Romans 9 in the account a woman giving birth to twins & the state of the twins even before they were born:

...when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” -- Romans 9:10-13

How can this be? How can God favor one person over another before either was born & had done anything “good or evil”? Even that is answered in the following verses:

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. -- Romans 9:14-16

It is clear from the Bible that at least not ALL babies are automatically “innocent” & that God can & does have plans & purpose for people even BEFORE they are born.

But to open up the issue more, for the people who claim all babies automatically go to heaven at death, think about what this means. It means for one, that perhaps abortionists have sent more people to heaven than all the evangelism in history. It means (as despicable as it sounds) that the way a person could insure their children go to heaven would be to kill them before they reach some fictitious “age of accountability”.

Historically, the Church has taught differing things about the state of babies at death...differing only in degree, but not scope. The Roman Catholics taught a “limbo” for infants who were not baptized before death, often referred to as limbus infantium but have recently been declaring that there is no such place. (see link)

Augustine, whom has influenced much of our Reformed Christian heritage took the approach in the 418 Council of Carthage that babies shared in the misery of mankind's fallen state – meaning babies DIDN'T automatically go to heaven at death. Ambrose & Aquinas also advocated that babies do not automatically go to heaven but that if they did go to hell, they didn't suffer as much or any pain as would an adult.

The Reformed view, which has been strongly based on the Falleness of mankind & the rejection of some neutral state has moderated over the years but originally held that the children of the Elect (Christians) automatically go to heaven.

Since we are to judge of the will of God from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they, together with the parents, are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy. (1619 Canons of Dort 1:17)

Or from later, the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646,

Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. (WCF 10:3)

The overall sentiment by the Reformers is that while the infants of non-believers MAY go to hell, the children believers do automatically go to heaven.

In conclusion, though many people & even Christians presently have trouble believing that God might consign ANY infant to hell, the Bible & Christian theology has shown that not ALL infants are automatically saved...but that Christians have, either out of emotionalism or/& out of a desire to see God as merciful in this regard, at least give deference that people dying in infancy are most likely automatically saved. The matter is ultimately speculation.


See also:
  1. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1245734/posts
  2. http://homepage.mac.com/macfhionn/FREUMH/Cubaid/NMF/BEURLA/Caochla/InfancySaved.html

Salt of the Earth

The famous passage by Jesus reads: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." (Mt 5:13)
Further references to salt in the Bible (link) would show that salt is considered to be a good thing, as seasoning and covenant (Lev 2:3, Num 18:12) and a bad thing as a herbicide and poison (Judges 9:45, Jer 17:6).
The value or destructiveness of salt has entered even modern English vernacular with such phrases as, "take it with a grain of salt", or "worth your weight in salt", or "pouring salt into a wound".  These expressions have an etymological history behind them.  For instance, Rome's major highway was the Via Salaria, or literally Way of Salt.  The payment for transporting the salt via this road eventually was called "salarium" from which comes the English word, salary, or pay.
There is a superstition that if you spill salt it is bad luck (since it was worth so much, to spill it is a waste & to counter-act the ill fortune, you are to pinch the remaining salt, toss it over your shoulder and let it "fall where it may".  Further about this superstition, we can see in the Leonardo da Vinci painting, The Last Supper, where the artist placed an overturned saltshaker in front of Judas, thus depicting an omen of his ill fate. (see link)
So, while the Bible accurately depicts salt as a valuable thing, some even with which we should season our words, it also depicts it as destructive.  A salt without seasoning properties is good for nothing.  Salty language without purpose, salty doctrine without foundation, salty character without glory to God is good for nothing but to be thrown out into the road & crushed underfoot.
But Christians are supposed to be the good part of salt -- the seasoning of life, where otherwise people's lives are humdrum & really have no meaning, no flavor.  Christians are supposed to be the salt and light of the world.

Sin and Eruvin Loopholes

Eruvin LoopholesOften, when a non-Christian approaches the Bible they want to simply know what they can & can't do & still be considered “saved”. It is like the rich young ruler account in Luke 18:18 wherein the man asked Jesus: Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Did Jesus spout off a list of do's & don'ts for the man to follow? Not exactly, but Jesus did tell the man what the man wanted to hear...sort of.

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’Honor your father and your mother.’” (Lk 18:19-20) Notice that Jesus DIDN'T tell the man all he had to do was keep the commandments. Hint: Jesus prefaced His answer by comparing Himself to God & saying no one else is good. The man should have picked up on the inescapable inference Jesus was making – No one can do anything to gain eternal life, not even keeping the commandments. Yet the man, being as dense as we all are falsely answered Jesus: “All these things I have kept from my youth.” (Lk 18:21) Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight, then why did Jesus die on the Cross? Anyhow, Jesus continues to play along with the young man's “self-justification”.

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Lk 18:22)

How does the young man respond?
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. (Lk 18:23)

Ah-ha!!!! The gig is up. Jesus exposes the REAL issue behind the young man's inability to be “saved”. It wasn't simply that the man was rich, but that he just wanted a quick list of do's & don'ts. He didn't want to bother with a nature change.

This brings us to the title of this article. Perhaps the first thing is to explain what Eruvin means.

Pharisees would equivocate about obeying God by doing such things as placing objects less than 1 mile apart before the Sabbath so that they could "technically" travel MORE than a mile on the Sabbath & not break the "letter of the law" (since it was permitted to travel from possession to possession, or within the confines of ones own property) .

Ex 16:29b
Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

Eruv refers to the legal aggregation or "mixture" under Jewish religious property law of separate parcels of property meeting certain requirements into a single parcel held in common by all the holders of the original parcels, which enables Jews who observe the traditional rules concerning Shabbat to carry children and belongings anywhere within the jointly held property without transgressing the prohibition against carrying a burden across a property line on the Jewish sabbath. (source)

The Eruv acts as a sort of “loophole” around Ex 16:29. Some of the Jews were masters at this type of equivocation. For example, we see this “loophole” mentality on display during a discussion Jesus was having with a group of Jews about loving one's neighbor.

LUKE 10:29
But he [the Jewish responder] wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In modern Israel almost every Jewish community is enclosed by an eruv. Outside Israel there are over 150 community eruvin, as well as thousands of private ones enclosing only a few homes, or linking a synagogue to one or more nearby homes. (source)

Even we Christians sometimes create or look for Eruvin loopholes in how we deal with sin. For instance, I have actually debated homosexual Christians (an oxymoron?) who claim that the Bible gives no specific prohibition against homosexuality but merely against sodomy & therefore if the homosexual doesn't engage in that specific act, they are “technically” not in sin just by being homosexual.

Christians in general may justify away sin by claiming it was a “joke” or that it is really no big deal as long as you privately repent to God. Sin is often not taken too seriously even among supposed Christians. It is as if they too have established Eruvin zones around them & their friends so that they may broaden the acceptance of what would otherwise be considered wrong.

Perhaps the classic N.T. Biblical example of this is found in 1 Cor 5 where we see a community of Christians accepting & shall we say “being tolerant” of a man among them in open sin – apparently carrying on a relationship with his mother or step-mother. The Corinthians see themselves as “proud” of it (1 Cor 5:2). Oh how “loving”, how “non-judgmental”, how “generous” & “gracious” they thought of themselves. Yet Paul quickly dismantled their Eruvin loophole.

Ultimately, an Eruvin loophole is anything that tries to “technically” avoid or get around the intent of God's/Jesus' commandments. This is seen even more clearly in how Jesus would constantly use the phrase: “You have heard it said...but I say...” & then go on to not contradict the things that were said in the past, but to explain the original intent of those precepts.

In conclusion, the best example of this is found in this exchange between Jesus & some Jews about divorce:

Mt 19:7-9
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Jesus explains the ORIGINAL INTENT was for a man & woman to be married until death do they part.
Now, people use all sorts of Eruvin loopholes around the original intent – some even try to claim that polygamy is okay since they can cite some biblical persons who practiced polygamy.

Let us be careful that we are not setting up Eruvin loopholes in opposition to God's original intents.

Wild Child: Was Jesus a Subversive?

Some people, even people claiming to be Christians want to portray Jesus as a man on a mission to shake up the status quo. They make him out to be the hero of their continual class warfare. They see him as a sort of 1st century version of a “wild child” -- indeed the Doors lyrics to the song Wild Child begin:

All right, wild child full of grace
Savior of the human race, your cool face
Natural child, terrible child
Not your mothers or your fathers child
You're our child, screamin' wild

The socialist, communistic depiction is of a Jesus who comes into the world to challenge everything – the established religious institution, the political powers, & the social structures. They depict Jesus as sort of a Jewish Che Guevara -- the 1960s symbol of counter-culturalism. But was Jesus really an ancient hippie wandering the Judean countryside trying to bring everyone lovvvvvvvvve while dissin' “the man”?

Let's actually examine the biblical account.

  • Did Jesus advocate overthrowing the established religious, social & political structures?

When some of his opponents tried to get Jesus to speak against the Roman government, especially against its taxation (a perfect chance to show himself as the hero of the underclasses), what was Jesus' response?

Mt 22:15-21
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Nope, Jesus didn't advocate sticking to the big bad government in that exchange. What's more, right after giving the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-16), perhaps the only part of the Bible some liberals believe is true, Jesus says:

MT 5:17
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Well, that certainly doesn't sound like a radical overthrow of the religious establishment to me. Rather, it sounds like Jesus was redirecting people to the original & real meaning & coming to fulfill.

Jesus did indeed come to do something very important but it wasn't so shallow as just to overthrow the societal structures of a culture – JESUS CAME TO SAVE. Rich men, poor men, olive colored men, white men, black men, men of any sort of color & women as well. All classes of people. Even in the earlier account where we saw men trying to trick Jesus into being subversive, we see them trying to butter Him up first by saying things that were true about Him:

You do not regard the person of men.

I would say this means that Jesus isn't out to be some hero of the underclasses.

Most of Jesus' correctives were not some radical overthrowing of any established belief, but rather He would bring out the true FULFILLMENT – not uproot & cast out the original. We see this most clearly in Jesus' often phrases that began, “You have heard it said....but I say...” (Mt 5:21-22, Mt 5:27-28, Mt 5:31-32, Mt 5:33-34, Mt 5:38-42, Mt 5:43-44) These verses had to be a real downer “dude” if people really were sitting around Jesus as if it was an ancient Woodstock, because these verses come right after the Sermon on the Mount. And in these verses Jesus even tells people to NOT BE SUBVERSIVE:

MT 5:38-40
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

Yeah, that certainly sounds like Jesus was instilling riotous behavior. Yeah, stick to people before the stick it you. Is that the message of Jesus?

Whereas the heroes of socialism are tyrants like Che “who unhesitatingly shot defectors” & encouraged armed violence, Jesus' message was one of true peace. When Jesus was betrayed, Peter attempted to defend Jesus but Jesus said to him,

MT 26:52
Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

There is even speculation that the reason Jesus was betrayed by Judas was an attempt to get Jesus to take up the role of revolutionary leader. Thinking that if Jesus was faced with arrest, He would rally the people & finally overthrow the Roman occupation. When Jesus didn't do this but instead humbly submitted to the Romans, Judas became distraught & hung himself.

As a matter of fact, there was a time when the masses DID want to make Jesus a king. Here was His grand opportunity to be the hero of the populace.

JOHN 6:15
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

What? Why didn't Jesus take in all the applause of the throngs? He could have had it all. Because it was NEVER JESUS' INTENT TO BE AN UNDERCLASSES HERO. His purpose was more important than the fleeting overthrow of a single government or the passing fancy of cultural icon, or the futility of changing men from the outside in.

Jesus didn't come to subvert & overthrow, but rather to SET MEN FREE. Not merely free from the bondage of other men, but from the bondage that they placed themselves under – whether they be rich men, poor men or otherwise. (John 8:36)

So, next time some “weekly shirt” wearing sycophant comes trying to remake Jesus into some postmodern hero of hippiedom – know that the true purpose of the Jesus of the Bible was way more important than wild child fantasies.

Great Reformed/Calvinist Christian Quotes

  1. Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture --Martin Luther
  2. In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends --Martin Luther
  3. Peace if possible, truth at all costs --Martin Luther
  4. You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say --Martin Luther
  5. I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels --John Calvin
  6. We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else --John Calvin
  7. I would rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of men be added to it. --C.H. Spurgeon
  8. The bounden duty of a true believer towards men who profess to be Christians, and yet deny the Word of the Lord, and reject the fundamentals of the Gospel, is to come out from among them --C.H. Spurgeon
  9. Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it. --C.H. Spurgeon
  10. At any rate, cost what it may, to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not alone our liberty, but our duty. --C.H. Spurgeon
  11. For there is some danger of falling into a soft and effeminate Christianity, under the plea of a lofty and ethereal theology. --C.H. Spurgeon
  12. The religion of both Old and New Testaments is marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case may be sentimentalism, but it is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness. --C.H. Spurgeon
  13. I know that charity covereth a multitude of sins; but it does not call evil good, because a good man has done it; it does not excuse inconsistencies, because the inconsistent brother has a high name and a fervent spirit; crookedness and worldliness are still crookedness and worldliness, though exhibited in one who seems to have reached no common height of attainment. --C.H. Spurgeon
  14. Free will does not enable any man to perform good works, unless he is assisted by grace; indeed, the special grace which the elect alone receive through regeneration. For I stay not to consider the extravagance of those who say that grace is offered equally and promiscuously to all --John Calvin
  15. But if the whole man is subject to the dominion of sin, surely the will, which is its principal seat, must be bound with the closest chains. And, indeed, if divine grace were preceded by any will of ours, Paul could not have said that 'it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do,' (Philip. 2: 13.) Away, then, with all the absurd trifling which many have indulged in with regard to preparation. --John Calvin
  16. We shall now have a full definition of faith, if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit --John Calvin
  17. By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man --John Calvin
  18. We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment --John Calvin
  19. It is not the glorious battlements, the painted windows, the crouching gargoyles that support a building, but the stones that lie unseen in or upon the earth. It is often those who are despised and trampled on that bear up the weight of a whole nation --John Owen
  20. Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers --John Owen
  21. A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent --John Calvin
  22. No true Christian is his own man --John Calvin
  23. Wherefore all theology, when separated from Christ, is not only vain and confused, but is also mad, deceitful, and spurious; for, though the philosophers sometimes utter excellent sayings, yet they have nothing but what is short-lived, and even mixed up with wicked and erroneous sentiments. --John Calvin
  24. Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God --Martin Luther
  25. A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing --Martin Luther
  26. Riches are the pettiest and least worthy gifts which God can give a man. What are they to God's Word, to bodily gifts, such as beauty and health; or to the gifts of the mind, such as understanding, skill, and wisdom! Yet men toil for them day and night, and take no rest. Therefore God commonly gives riches to foolish people to whom he gives nothing else --Martin Luther
  27. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason -- I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other -- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen --Martin Luther
  28. Anything that one imagines of God apart from Christ is only useless thinking and vain idolatry --Martin Luther
  29. It is the most ungodly and dangerous business to abandon the certain and revealed will of God in order to search into the hidden mysteries of God --Martin Luther
  30. If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly --Martin Luther
  31. There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage --Martin Luther
  32. If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there --Martin Luther
  33. They who truly come to God for mercy, come as beggars, and not as creditors: they come for mere mercy, for sovereign grace, and not for anything that is due --Jonathan Edwards
  34. Seek not to grow in knowledge chiefly for the sake of applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls, and in order to practice --Jonathan Edwards
  35. Any sin is more or less heinous depending upon the honor and majesty of the one whom we had offended. Since God is of infinite honor, infinite majesty, and infinite holiness, the slightest sin is of infinite consequence. The slightest sin is nothing less than cosmic treason when we realize against whom we have sinned --Jonathan Edwards
  36. A church has no right to make anything a condition of membership which Christ has not made a condition of salvation --AA Hodge
  37. No one truth is rightly held till it is clearly conceived and stated, and no single truth is adequately comprehended till it is viewed in harmonious relations to all the other truths of the system of which Christ is the centre --AA Hodge
  38. No more soul-destroying doctrine could well be devised than the doctrine that sinners can regenerate themselves, and repent and believe just when they please --Charles Hodge
  39. The doctrines of grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt a man without inflating him --Charles Hodge
  40. Original sin is the only rational solution of the undeniable fact of the deep, universal and early manifested sinfulness of men in all ages, of every class, and in every part of the world --Charles Hodge
  41. Rome makes the church ultimate, the Anabaptists make the conscience ultimate and the Reformers made the Word of God ultimate --Greg Price
  42. It holds almost universally in the history of the church, that until a doctrine has been fully discussed in a controversial way by men of talent and learning taking opposite sides, men's opinions regarding it are generally obscure and indefinite, and their language vague and confused, if not contradictory --William Cunningham
  43. Where the God-centered principles of Calvinism have been abandoned, there has been a strong tendency downward into the depths of man-centered naturalism or secularism. Some have declared, rightly, we believe, that there is no consistent stopping place between Calvinism and atheism --Ken Talbot
  44. If the Scripture has more than one meaning it has no meaning at all --John Owen
  45. God works to over throw the ungodly, and increasingly the world will come under the dominion of Christians, not by military aggression, but by godly labor, saving, in vestment, and orientation toward the future... This is where history is going. The future belongs to the people of God, who obey His laws --David Chilton
  46. The modern [endtimes] notion has greatly damped the zeal of the church for missions, and the sooner it is shown to be unscriptural the better for the cause of God. It neither consorts with prophecy, honours God, nor inspires the church with ardour --Charles Spurgeon
  47. If an abridged gospel is presented, in which all is bright & beautiful, then the respect for God's Word diminishes automatically. Insight into the consequences of the Word concerning the broader matters of state, church & society, suffers as a result --Cornelius Van der Waal
  48. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man --Greg Bahnsen
  49. Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the gospel --Gresham Machen
  50. [It is] essentially wholesome and necessary, for a Christian to know, whether or not the will does any thing in those things which pertain unto Salvation. Nay, let me tell you, this is the very hinge upon which our discussion turns. It is the very heart of the subject --Martin Luther
  51. There can be no tolerance in a law-system for another religion. Toleration is a device used to introduce a new law-system as a prelude to a new intolerance... Every law-system must maintain its existence by hostility to every other law-system and to alien religious foundations or else it commits suicide --RJ Rushdoony
  52. The unhistorical are usually without thinking about it, enslaved to a fairly recent past --CS Lewis
  53. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men --Westminster Confession
  54. Unless we learn the unwelcome art of repressing the forward, and rejecting the unworthy - as well as the more pleasing task of encouraging the modest and the timid; we shall, in the midst of all our honest zeal for the cause of Christ, be in danger of filling the Church with drones and pests, with clerical ignorance, imbecility, heresy, and carnal ambition, while we fondly dream that we are preparing faithful laborer for her service --Samuel Miller
  55. The English word 'creed' is derived from the Latin 'credo', which simply means 'I believe...' ...Anyone who thinks of God in a particular way has a 'encreeded' a view of God, whether or not this 'creed' is put in writing --Kenneth Gentry
  56. Our Lord never called His people to help build the tower of Babel in the hope of getting a Bible study in the basement. He commanded us to build our own city on a hill. --David Chilton
  57. The Holy Spirit is no Skeptic, & the things He has written in our hearts are not doubts or opinions, but assertions -- surer & more certain than sense & life itself. --Martin Luther
  58. When a certain shameless fellow mockingly asked a pious old man what God had done before the creation of the world the latter aptly countered that he had been building hell for the curious. --John Calvin
  59. There is no erratic power or action or motion in creatures but they are governed by God's secret plan in such a way that nothing happens except what is knowingly and willingly decreed by Him. --John Calvin
  60. So great and boundless is God's wisdom that he knows right well how to use evil instruments to do good. --John Calvin
  61. They babble and talk absurdly who, in the place of God's providence, substitute bare permission -- as if God sat in a watchtower awaiting chance events , and his judgments thus depended upon human will. --John Calvin
  62. Surely in Judas' betrayal it will be no more right, because God both willed that his Son be delivered up, and delivered him up to death, to ascribe the guilt of the crime to God than to transfer the credit for redemption to Judas. --John Calvin
  63. If people mean that man has in himself the power to work in partnership with God's grace they are most wretchedly deluding themselves. --John Calvin
  64. In vain people busy themselves with finding any good of man's own in his will. For any mixture of the power of freewill that men strive to mingle with God's grace is nothing but a corruption of grace. It is just as if one were to dilute wine with muddy, bitter water. --John Calvin
  65. All the more vile is the stupidity of those persons who open heaven to all the impious and unbelieving without the grace of Him whom Scripture commonly teaches to be the only door whereby we enter into salvation. --John Calvin
  66. To be Christians under the law of grace does not mean to wander unbridled outside the law, but to be engrafted in Christ, by whose grace we are free from the curse of the law, and by whose Spirit we have the law engraved upon our hearts. --John Calvin
  67. The human heart has so many crannies where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood works, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself. --John Calvin
  68. Some make man God's co-worker, to ratify election by his consent. Thus, according to them, man's will is superior to God's plan. As if Scripture taught that we are merely given the ability to believe, and not, rather, faith itself! --John Calvin
  69. Peace and friendship are an amiable thing among men. They be so indeed, and we ought to seek them to the uttermost of our power. But yet for all that, we must set such store by God's truth, that if all the world should be set on fire for the maintenance thereof, we should not stick at it. --John Calvin
  70. Let us be peaceable as near as we can: let us relent of our own right: let us not strive for these worldly goods, honour and reputation: let us bear all wrongs and outrages, rather than be moved to any debate through our own fault. But in the meanwhile, let us fight for God's truth with tooth and nail. --John Calvin
  71. Whensoever God’s truth is defaced or when any man turns away from the pure simplicity of the Gospel, we must not in any wise spare him, but although the whole world should set itself against us, yet must we maintain the case with invincible constancy, without bending for any creature. --John Calvin
  72. Humanism or atheism is a wonderful philosophy of life as long as you are big, strong, & between the ages of eighteen & thirty-five. But watch out if you are in a lifeboat and there are others who are younger, bigger, or smarter. -- William Murray
  73. If Church history teaches us anything, it is that we cannot afford to be a vacillating Church. We minister to a people who are in great need of hearing truth, we dare not make any attempt to soft pedal that glorious truth. -- Martin Luther
  74. Let that ethical philosophy therefore of free-will be far from a Christian mind. -- John Calvin
  75. They go and set up free-will with the heathen philosophers and say that a man’s free-will is the cause why God chooseth and not another, contrary to all scriptures. -- William Tyndale
  76. Free will is corrupted nature's deformed darling, the Pallas or beloved self-conception of darkened minds. -- John Owen
  77. Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness. -- Martin Luther

The Best Calvinist Proof-Text In the Bible

God From HeavenThe theological perspective often called “Calvinism” can be summarized as the view that God is completely sovereign or in control of EVERYTHING that happens. That God doesn’t just “allow” things to happen, but He actually DECREES, WILLS, or DECLARES them to happen…yes even the things we consider bad or evil. This view of God is based on several texts but perhaps the main one would be Isaiah 46:9-10 which reads:
Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’
But this ISN’T the text that I consider the best Calvinist proof-text in the Bible. If you have ever interacted with a Christian who holds to the Calvinistic/Reformed view, you may have seen them using verses like Romans 9:10-23 wherein the account is related that God loves Jacob over Esau even before they were born & had done good or evil & that God is like a potter who has every right to form clay into vessels (cups, bowls) He intends to use for honor & ones he intends to use for other purposes…but all for His own purposes. Yet, this is also not the text I consider the best Calvinistic proof-text.
Further, you may have heard Calvinist Christians citing the many verses that talk about predestination & election, showing that God chooses people BEFORE they are even born & have done any good or evil. (see references) Yet, not even these verses should be considered the best proof-text for Calvinism.
The account I’m thinking of is one where God basically makes a bet with the Devil that one of God’s faithful will not curse God no matter what happens to him. Of course I speak of the Jobian account, which after introducing us to Job himself, reads:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:6-12 NKJV)
This is the classic situation people use when they question the idea of God being in control of everything. They claim like Satan here, that when bad things happen a person will blame/curse God or even give up their faith…especially if it is considered that God actually “allows” those bad things to happen let alone actually DECLARING those things to happen. Look again at the text above. Satan says for God to “stretch out His hand” against Job. God isn’t just “allowing” Satan to torment Job, but even so, by God “allowing” Satan to torment Job, some would find God at “fault”. After all, Job didn’t deserve this did he?
Over the course of this torment, Job loses all of his family members & his all of his possessions (Job 1:13-20). Note how he loses them. Does Satan have the power to send down “fire of God” or “great winds”? Yet in Job 1:22 we see Job does NOT curse/blame God. Wow! A lot more faith then most of us.
Well, Satan comes to up the ante & we read in Job 2:3-6
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”
So, Satan is given leave & begins to torment Job with boils all over his body (a plague). But notice again how Job 2:3-6 is worded. God says Satan incited God against Job…so again we see these things that are happening to Job are at God’s hand. After all, if Satan had the ability to torment Job on his own, why is he coming before God to get the deed done? Now, even Job’s wife thinks he should curse God for what is happening yet Job does not. (Job 2:9-10)
Job’s “friends” come to “comfort” him in his grief but you can tell they really think he must have done something to deserve all of this wrath. Job begins to feel sorry for himself. (Job 2:11-13, Job 3) As a matter of fact, it looks like his “friends” are kind of playing a gottcha game with Job – since Job had a reputation as an upright man & now it appears he is getting his due, as if he is suffering from secret sin that deserves to be corrected. (Job 4-5) This back & forth between Job & his friends continues for several chapters until a young observer named Elihu chimes in:
So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. (Job 32:1-3)
Notice what’s happening. Job was “righteous in his own eyes” – this means Job thought it was unfair for God to “allow” all these things to be happening to him. Elihu is also depicted as being upset with Job’s “friends” because they were missing the point of what this was all about. Elihu wants to deal with the OVER-ARCHING PREMISE of God’s nature instead of Job’s individual experience. After all, Job’s “friends” were using “logical” arguments…but for all the “logic” is ignored the OVER-ARCHING PREMISE of God’s nature.
In Job 33:8-12, Elihu recounts Job’s argument/complaint & then Elihu begins his answer which reads:
“Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words, saying, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me. Yet He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy; He puts my feet in the stocks, He watches all my paths.’ “Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, For God is greater than man.
So, Elihu correctly relates that Job’s problem is that he thinks it is unfair that God “finds occasions against” him & then Elihu tells Job he is not righteous to be thinking this say & that the issue is that God is greater than man. Elihu spends the next few chapters laying out the case that God as the Creator can do what He wants with His creation AND it is still “fair”. Elihu sums up his case by saying:
Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost, Because his answers are like those of wicked men! (Job 34:35) Moreover Elihu answered and said: “Do you think this is right? Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s’? For you say, ‘What advantage will it be to You?  What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?’ (Job 35:1-3)
What??? Poor Job was minding his own business & had his entire family wiped out, his possessions destroyed or taken, & is suffering from boils from head to feet & yet Elihu is so cold (might we say “mean” & “hurtful”, or “unChrist-like” -- comments like this against Elihu we would often hear even from the mouths of so-called Christians) that he is saying that Job is behaving like a wicked man in his answers. How could Elihu be so insensitive?
Then God comes into the picture & basically backs up everything Elihu had been telling Job. In Job 38-40 God makes the distinction that He is God the Creator & we are mere creatures. Then God asks Job to answer:
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.” Then Job answered the LORD and said: “ Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me: “ Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? (Job 40:1-8)
Notice how Job finally realizes the OVER-ARCHING PREMISE of God’s nature – that God is God & we are not. God then asks Job if man’s judgment should be put in place of God’s judgment so that man can decide what is & isn’t just/fair.
God continues to make the case that He is the Creator & can do what He wants with His creation & by the time we get to Job 42, Job now understands & repents. God goes on to correct Job’s friends for not speaking “what is right” of God. Then God restores & even increases Job’s possessions & gives him new sons & daughters. But even had God NOT restored Job’s possessions & family, God would STILL be righteous & just.
To conclude, this is the best proof-text in the Bible for relating God’s sovereignty & complete control. It answers every objection coming either from a non-believer or a believer concerning God’s nature. Even so, some believers will have a difficult time worshiping a God like the one depicted in Job. They instead want to envision some grandfatherly God that would never impose His will upon His creation. People who will not accept the God depicted in Job are like Job who was “justifying himself when he should have been justifying God” (Job 32:2)