Saturday, June 24, 2017
Why We Can Choose God!
I came across the above video clip, recently published by Ligonier Ministries, and taken from an older teaching material by RC Sproul, in which he discusses the doctrine of freewill from a Reformed or Calvinistic point of view. The title of the clip is, “Why We Can’t Choose God”. I think, however, that we can choose God! And I will be happy to show him how. The video contains the typical Calvinistic theological errors dealing with the subject of freewill. The video, plus a written transcript of it can also be seen on the Ligonier website here. But the transcript appears to have been taken from YouTube’s automatic transcription algorithm without proper editing, and therefore contains a number of errors that I had to correct. It is a short video clip, so I will quote the entire transcript as I discuss it. This is what he says:
“I was interviewed yesterday for a series of programs that were being presented about Reformed theology, and the person who was running this program asked me what the basic issue was between Augustinian theology or Reformed theology and historic semi-Pelagianism? I said I think it comes down to a different understanding of freedom and of freewill. I think the principle problem that people have with divine sovereignty, with divine election, is immediately they say, ‘Well, we believe that man has freewill.’ Well, I don’t know any Augustinian in all of church history who didn’t strongly affirm that we have freewill. We are volitional creatures. God has given us minds and hearts, and He has given us wills. And we exercise that will all the time. We make choices every minute of the day, and we choose what we want. We choose freely. Nobody’s coercing us, putting a gun to our head—we’re not robots. Robots don’t have minds. Robots don’t have wills. Robots don’t have hearts. We’re human beings. We make choices.”
That is a disingenuous, if not less than honest statement. The Calvinistic idea of “freewill” is nothing more than a pretense. It is a fake freewill. It pretends to be freewill, when it isn’t. The Calvinistic idea of freewill (as articulated by RC Sproul himself; see my most recent previous posts) is that people are free to make choices; but their choices are driven by, and hence limited to, those which they have an “inclination” towards—which is another way of saying that they don’t really have a choice! There are two kinds of choices that people can make: moral choices and a-moral choices. Moral choices are those which have moral implication: they are either “right” or “wrong”. A-moral choices don’t have moral implications, such as which tie I should wear when I go to work this morning. This discussion is about moral choices. RC Sproul’s argument amounts to saying that people are incapable of making moral choices. The choices they make are determined by their “inclination” towards that choice, rather than based on a moral judgement of the “rights” and “wrongs” of the case—which is another way of saying that they don’t have a choice at all. They don’t have a moral compass which tells them which choice is morally “right” and which is morally “wrong,” and decide for themselves which one to take on that basis. They go by whichever choice they are “inclined” towards. That amounts to a denial of moral agency of the creature altogether. It means that they are incapable of acting as free moral agents—which is a complete negation of “freewill,” and contrary to both experience as well as the teachings of the Bible.
Calvinists are not honest in the presentation of their theology. They try to paint a respectable picture of it by hiding its true character. The truth is that in Calvinism there is no freewill at all, not even of the a-moral kind! It is predestination and predetermination all the way through. Its tenets demand absolute predestination at the most basic level. That is what Calvinist theology inevitably leads to when carried to its logical conclusion. The Calvinistic doctrine of “divine sovereignty” and “divine election” necessitate predestination of the most extreme kind. RC Sproul knows this, but he doesn’t want to admit it. He wants to sugarcoat it to make it more palatable rather than present it in its true colors. He continues:
“That’s why we’re in trouble with God, because the choices that we make in our fallen condition are sinful choices. We choose according to our desires which are only wicked continuously, the Bible tells us; and that we are as it were dead in sin and trespasses, even though biologically we are very much alive. And we are walking according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air—fulfilling the lusts of the flesh is what the Bible tells us.”
That is what Calvinism teaches, but not what the Bible teaches. What the Bible teaches is very different from what Calvinism teaches. This is what the Bible teaches:
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law [i.e. pagans, unbelievers, like the Greeks and Romans of his day], do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;)
16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation [and religion] he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
That does not square with Calvinism which RC Sproul is articulating. It is a complete negation of it. He continues:
“And so the Bible makes it very clear that we are actively involved in making choices for which we are responsible, and which expose us to the judgment of God. And yet at the same time, the Bible teaches us that we are enslaved. We are free from coercion, but we don’t have what Augustine called “royal liberty.” We are not free from ourselves. We’re not free from our own sinful inclinations, and our sinful appetites, and our sinful desires. We’re slaves to our sinful impulses. That’s what the Bible teaches us again, and again, and again.”
That is what Calvinism teaches “again, and again, and again,” not the Bible. Confusing Calvinism with the Bible is not a good idea. He continues:
“The humanist doctrine of freewill, the pagan view of freewill, says that man is free not only from coercion, but man is free in the sense that his will is indifferent. It has no predisposition, or inclination, bias, or bent towards sin because the pagan and the humanist deny the radical character of the fall.”
That is just a slander against those who have a different theological perspective from him. He is basically saying, “If you disagree with me theologically, you are a humanist or a pagan!” Not so! I don’t have to be a humanist or a pagan to disagree with his false theology. I don’t know what the “pagan” or “humanist” doctrine of freewill is, and I am not interested either. What I do know, and is obvious to see, is that If you strip the slander out of that statement, what you are left with is a statement that says: “Mankind are fallen, therefore they are incapable of making right moral choices.” If that was true, nobody in the world would be making any right moral choices—yet we know that they do. The majority of mankind for the most part are making right moral choices. If that statement was true, Rom. 2:6–16; Gal. 6:7–10; Acts 10:34–35 could never be true; yet the Bible says that it is true. James says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) To sin, you must know that you are sinning. You must sin wilfully. If you don’t know that you are sinning, then you are not sinning. If you don’t know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and choose the wrong, then you are not sinning. That is what James says.
All mankind are endowed by their Creator with a moral compass which enables them to discern good from evil, right from wrong, moral choice from immoral choice; and which makes them accountable before God for the choices that they make. It is the “light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9). If that were not the case, they could not act as free moral agents, nor could they be held accountable before God for the decisions that they make. Their ability to make right moral choices can be impaired by their upbringing, or by their cultural environment. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). But it cannot be completely lost. In general, most mankind have a basic understanding of right and wrong which enables them to act as free moral agents, and which makes them accountable before God for the choices that they make. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (see Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Mark 12:31). That is known as the “Golden Rule” that everyone instinctively understands; a variation of which exists in every major culture and religion. He continues:
“But the Bible teaches us that we are fallen creatures who still choose and make decisions, but we make them in the context of our prison of sin. And the only way we can get out of that prison is if God sets us free.”
That is not true. The Bible belies that statement. It is a negation of Rom. 2:6–16; Gal. 6:7–10; Acts 10:34–35, and of everything else that is taught in the Bible. If that statement was true, nobody would be making right moral choices. Throughout the Bible, however, mankind are enjoined to do good and refrain from evil, with the assurance that God is “no respecter of persons,” and that he will judge everyone on an equal basis according to their “works”: “they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5: 29). That is written all over the Bible. The underlying implication of that is that mankind are capable of making such moral choices, otherwise the exhortations become hypocritical and deceitful, and make out God to be a dishonest hypocrite. Calvinists have to disregard 99% of the Bible in order to arrive at their heretical false theology based on a few misconstrued passages of Paul.
Going back to the title of the video clip, however: “Why We Can’t Choose God,” I think we need to examine some biblical passages with reference to that:
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
That “seeking” (choosing), and “finding” is available to everyone without exception. No one is exempted or excluded. There is no “partiality” with God. He does not have any “favorites”. He is “no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34–35). But seeking and choosing God is not something that happens in a vacuum. There has to be some preliminary introductions. Before you get to know somebody, you normally have to be introduced:
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent?
To be “sent” in verse 15 means sent directly by God. Nobody “sends” himself. No one “taketh this honor unto himself” (Heb. 5:4). There are no “self-appointed” ministries here. Those who are thus ordained and “sent” from God speak with power and authority from God, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of their message. That instils faith and conviction in the hearts of those who hear—unless they choose to “harden their hearts” (Heb. 3:8). But the choice is entirely theirs. There is no coercion, compulsion, or predestination. And everyone can choose God. There is absolutely no bar to anyone “choosing God”. It is the abominable heresy of Calvinism which says that nobody can “choose God” unless God makes them to.
Calvinism is the greatest perversion of the gospel that has ever been invented since Christianity came into existence. It is Satanic. It leads to utter ruin and damnation of anyone who goes anywhere near it—unless they repent of the evil, and never go back to it again.