John Calvin on John 3:16

Here’s a gem I ran across recently while reading the excellent book, Whosoever Will.

And indeed our Lord Jesus was offered to the world. For it is not speaking of three or four when it says: “God so loved the world, that He spared not His only Son.” But yet we must notice what the Evangelist adds in this passage: “That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but obtain to eternal life.” Our Lord Jesus suffered for all and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today, for we can obtain salvation in Him. Unbelievers who turn away from Him and who deprive themselves of Him by their malice are today doubly culpable, for how will excuse their ingratitude in not receiving the blessing in which they could share by faith.
John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ (London: James Clark, [1559] 1956), 141

A couple of observations here:

Calvin did not feel the need to restrict “world” to “the world of the elect”. In fact, Calvin appears to take great pains to maximize the scope here since it is apparent that He believes that the scope of the atonement has a direct bearing on the scope of the Gospel message.

Calvin curiously cited unbelievers who reject the Gospel as “doubly culpable”. This is a clear indication that Calvin believed satisfaction for sins to have been made for all persons otherwise one could not be “doubly culpable”.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16, NIV

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71 responses to “John Calvin on John 3:16

  1. Eh? What's this? Have you tried Calvin on Jn 3:16 proper? Here's a few snippets:

    "16. For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. …"

    • "… And this is still more clear from what follows; for he adds, that God gave his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction. This is also demonstrated by Paul from a consideration of the time; for he loved us while we were still enemies by sin…"

      • "…And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life. …"

  2. You probably shouldn't jump too quickly to this,
    "This is a clear indication that Calvin believed satisfaction for sins to have been made for all persons otherwise one could not be “doubly culpable”."
    It's not quite as clear as you seem to think, as probably more likely (due to other comments he has made on verses that obviously speak of the extent of the atonement) that he means that those who reject a clear offer of the gospel are "doubly culpable" because they have heard the truth and refused it, trather than those who have never heard the Gospel so as to reject it. Kind of like the parable of the two servants, the one knew more and received more stripes for disobedience, the other knew less and received less stripes for disobedience.

    • In both of those cases, though, the implication is that a choice was freely given and made. It actually makes for a stronger case for an unlimited atonement. In the case of the brothers, especially, we should note that they both share the same father and they are both called to do something, yet one does not and is summarily shown to be the unfaithful because of his actions (note, not because he was reprobate or chosen unto damnation).

  3. However, Calvin does say, "Our Lord Jesus suffered for all…." This doesn't necessarily have to be interpreted as "each and every" in this context (though I suppose that could be his meaning) as he goes on to say, "…there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today…" placing the word all in the context of categories.

    I still wonder why you throw this quote out with a tone of vindication.

  4. In Calvin's comment on I John 2:2 he writes,
    "He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.
    Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate…"

    That's why I think Calvin can't mean actually that "satisfaction for sins to have been made for all persons" as he writes explicitly here that the reprobate are not included under the propitiation of Christ.

    • "Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation."

      So, it is monstrous for you to think that God died for all mankind (your comment regarding Satan is spurious at best and reaching at worst)? Perhaps you should go and consult with Jonah about God's love for all mankind.

      As for your straw man regarding universal salvation I'll simply say that universal atonement does not logically lead to universal atonement. That particular theological warhorse has been ridden many times and every time it fails to get the rider very far.

      Additionally, your idea of reprobation strikes me as curious. The Bible tells us that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". Are you saying that we were different from other sinners? How? Is it because, in your estimation, some of us have won the divine lottery?

      I suppose what it all boils down to is this. Some of us believe that God loves the whole world as He said and gave His Son for the same (as He said) while some (you) apparently prefer a system of us vs. them where you take joy and comfort in the knowledge (though how you have such knowledge is beyond my understanding) that you have won the divine lottery of God's selective and particular love while the vast majority of people haven't and have no hope of ever doing so.

      You asked earlier why I posted this quote from Calvin. I suppose it is a plea from me to you to not limit God's love nor paint Him to be a monster. It is to say "even Calvin understood the horrendous ramifications of limiting God's grace, love, and atonement". My prayer is that one day you will stop viewing God as a vindictive monster with a view of sovereignty that paints God to be an overgrown child.

      God is love. He loves the world. There are no word games you need to play nor exegetical hoops you need to jump through to understand/accept that fact.

  5. Slow it down there. I didn't say those things, Calvin did. That's why they are in quotes. I am not going to try to defend all of *his* comments when the only reason I posted them was to shed some light on the things he wrote in the quote you posted above. Please read more carefully.

    I have posted several quotes from Calvin himself to help put the quote you have found in more light. I have not given any position of my own. You have no reason to be attacking me here on any theological grounds. If you have any reason that you can give for how Calvin's words ought to be interpreted differently, that's fine, but I had hoped to provide more context from Calvin's theological system so that you don't go making him say things he may not have meant.

    As for all the accusations you have applied, golly, man. I have shown many times that my interpretation of the word "world" in John 3:16 is very, very, very far from "world of the elect." I will not defend that non-sense. I have also shown that the idea of a "divine lottery" is a horrendous misrepresentation of my theology as I do believe that God is ultimate personality. I certainly do not view God as a "vindictive monster," And have no idea where you bring that picture from. Certainly God is no "overgrown child" in my view either, but far from it; he is completely other than us. I can't understand what part of my theology this resembles either.

    I had hoped that by posting several quotes from Calvin himself, which I basically agree with, you might be able to more accurately interpret the quote you had posted, which I basically agree with.

    It seems that you disagree more with what you think I believe than what I really do believe.

    I perfectly agree, God is love. Just so, God loves the world. By that I mean that world inhabited by men, or that is made up of inhabited men. I have not jumped through any exegetical hoops to get here other than a couple of lexicons and basic Greek grammar.

    • " I have shown many times that my interpretation of the word "world" in John 3:16 is very, very, very far from "world of the elect.""

      Oh, so we are in agreement with Calvin then that Christ died for all men in a glorious display of God's love?

      Of the quotes you posted, none of them have contradicted the quote from Calvin I've posted here. In fact, they go a long way in backing it up as they also indicate that Calvin believed that Christ's death was for all men, excluding one, Christ himself.

      "I have also shown that the idea of a "divine lottery" is a horrendous misrepresentation of my theology as I do believe that God is ultimate personality."

      Who chooses the elect based on….? Come on, apart from the libertarian belief we are both commanded and encouraged to place in Christ, there IS no other ground for election that would or could make it any less than an arbitrary, capricious choice on God's part. In short, a divine lottery.

      "It seems that you disagree more with what you think I believe than what I really do believe. "

      Or, it could be that you fail/refuse to see/acknowledge the logical conclusions of your stated beliefs. That's not anything new among Reformed adherents, as such intellectual dishonesty is unfortunately quite common.

      "I perfectly agree, God is love. Just so, God loves the world. By that I mean that world inhabited by men, or that is made up of inhabited men."

      By that you show that you really mean "world of the elect" and yes, you are stretching/butchering the text to uphold your man-made theological system.

      "I have not jumped through any exegetical hoops to get here other than a couple of lexicons and basic Greek grammar."

      No, you've just destroyed language itself to make it mean what it does not mean. In effect, your system makes it exegetically impossible for the Biblical authors to have EVER written the simple sentiment that "God love the whole wide world" you think is so detestable.

  6. "By that you show that you really mean "world of the elect" and yes, you are stretching/butchering the text to uphold your man-made theological system. '

    Sorry, man, but how? Seriously. "…that world inhabited by men, or that is made up of inhabited men." sounds pretty inclusive to me. Really, I am quite amazed. I can't find any notion of "world of elect" in the words or my own mind.

    God's choice is "capricious?" That is to say, " a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action b : a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes?"

    That is polar opposite of my personal position and Reformed in general. God, being ultimate personality governs all things by his own reasoning, not 'chance.' Proverbs tells us that even the lot cast in the lap is governed by him, quite opposite of God being governed by the lot cast in the lap. As Calvin points out in his comment on John 3:16, "And the words of Christ mean nothing else, when he declares the cause to be in the love of God."

    I don't think that the sentiment that God loves the world is detestable. And, again, by world, I mean the world or universe. Just like "kosmos" means. Check a lexicon; in the "Little Liddell" its definition 3. John 3:16 says he does. God proclaimed that the whole world was "very good" immediately after creation. He sends the rain on the just and the unjust. Etc. Far from my system making it impossible that God should love the world, rather it establishes it.

    Destroyed language itself? I looked up "kosmos" in a lexicon. (Actually I was quite liberal in my interpretation, oikoumene is actually the proper word for inhabited world.) Vine agrees with me (rather I agree with Vine) that the word "kosmos" means by metonymy "the human race, or mankind." That is also the way Calvin seems to read it, if I read his commentary right.

    As it stands, I do agree basically with Calvin in the comments listed above, but as I have furnished a greater theological context from which to interpret Calvin, I would hope you might stop assuming he applies the atonement to those who are reprobate.

    "Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate…" –John Calvin on I John 2:2

    • No, capricious as in (http://bit.ly/9VoNix): Characterized by or subject to whim; impulsive and unpredictable. See Synonyms at arbitrary.

      In other words, if your view of particular "divine lottery" election is true, then no one can ever really know whether they are in or out. Kinda shoots assurance in the foot and also manages to make evangelism spurious at best and futile at worst.

      "God, being ultimate personality governs all things by his own reasoning, not 'chance.'"

      Nice try, but the alternative to your view is actually order and purpose (in election) not randomness, capriciousness, and divine roulette wheels.

      "Proverbs tells us that even the lot cast in the lap is governed by him"

      So you think God causes all events? Including evil?

      "I don't think that the sentiment that God loves the world is detestable. And, again, by world, I mean the world or universe."

      Translation: I don't disagree with what I know I am supposed to agree with according to the plain words in Scripture. So, instead, to make them fit my man-made theological system I will simply redefine those words to match what I wanted them to say in the first place and then pretend to be shocked and annoyed when you don't follow me down my delusional rabbit hole.

      "Far from my system making it impossible that God should love the world, rather it establishes it. "

      Oh it establishes it alright. By "it" I mean a brand new theological system that is alien to what Scripture teaches.

      Yes, you do destroy language itself and hijack Calvin's words when you rip them out of their context and redefine them to fit your ends. It's almost as if you don't even care that your theology is driving your exegesis rather than the other way 'round.

      "As it stands, I do agree basically with Calvin in the comments listed above"

      Correction: You agree with what you've redefined Calvin to say. It's really almost as if you have a chronic disorder when it comes to redefining words and phrases to make them mean what you want them to mean and THEN affirming them. Are you sure you haven't been reading Derrida? I ask because you do a masterful job of deconstructing the text and then rebuilding it in your (theological) image.

      BTW: Calvin's commentary on 1 John 2:2 was specifically in regards to universalism. Not the extent of the atonement (which he commented on elsewhere, as I cited above). Or do you think Calvin held opposing views on this point? Or did he change his mind/theology mid-stream without telling anyone?

  7. Apparently you know far better what my own mind than I do myself (I Cor 2:11). So tell me, What am I thinking right now? Your accusations have become so very wild that there really isn't much of a way to respond aside from simple derrision. I have never heard of Derrida before, but I have been reading dictionaries and lexicons. However as far as deconstruction goes, I find it hard to believe that you actually find all of these propositions in my words. They are quite far from my mind, and nearly impossible to deduce from my words. Try reading the 1689 London Baptist Confession; try to get an idea for it's historical context (it helps in interpretation) and then you will have a basic framework for my theology. All the junk you have been asserting doesn't resemble it well enough for me to recognise it as anything other than a forced misunderstanding of 1689 LBC theology. I don't know what to say, dude, If I say anything you will reinterpret it to include malicious motives.

    • It's not that I "will reinterpret it to include malicious motives", it's that I desperately wish for you to be clear in your speech and thought. If you are merely unaware of where your thoughts ultimately lead when brought to their logical conclusion then at least have the intellectual fortitude to admit that your ignorance. If, however, you find the conclusions I've painted undesirable and wish to avoid the stigma/label of them then merely speaking your displeasure and disavowing adherence to the conclusions I've posed does not help you. In other words, your simply saying it doesn't make it so. I believe the particular logical fallacy is called "the fallacy of explaining by naming" or "nominal fallacy" (http://bit.ly/cCPNPO).

  8. "Calvin's commentary on 1 John 2:2 was specifically in regards to universalism. Not the extent of the atonement"

    What is universalism but an answer to the question of the extent of the atonement? Atonement is reconciliation with God. If all men are atoned for, then all men are reconciled. If all are reconciled to God, then God is unjust sending any man at all to Hell.

    Wes, are you okay?

  9. No, universalism is a possible conclusion given an unlimited atonement. As Calvin noted above, we can resist the free offer of grace, of a debt having already been paid, and if we do we are "doubly culpable". Thus, if the atonement is limited then those for whom Christ did not die are not culpable for accepting a gift that was neither offered to them nor are they in error for not recognizing a debt that was not paid on their behalf.

    For a good construction of how we can affirm both a monergistic view of salvation along with a libertarian view of man's freedom and responsibility to accept Christ I will use an illustration from Richard Cross (from his book Anti-Pelagianism and the Resistibility of Grace):

    Imagine waking up to find you are being transported by an ambulance to the emergency room. It is clearly evident that your condition requires serious medical help. If you do nothing, you will be delivered to the hospital. However, if for whatever reason you demand to be let out, the driver will comply. He may express regret and give warnings, but he will still let you go. You receive no credit for being taken to the hospital, but you incur the blame for refusing the services of the ambulance.

    Another good resource on the subject can be found here: http://bit.ly/94L0yr

  10. "Imagine waking up to find you…"

    Okay. Good. Help me square that with passages like:
    "Ah, Lord GOD! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?…And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God."

    and "no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,"

    and "All that the Father gives me will come to me…" and "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—"

    and " I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

    and "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,"

  11. Well, your system requires that it be in man's nature to choose to resist or to not resist. Yet, Jesus still says, for example, "All that the Father gives me will come to me." He never says "except those the Father gave who don't want to. "

    And when He says of His sheep, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." It's after saying that some disbelieve because they "are not part of my flock"; not that they're not his flock because of disbelief.

    Shouldn't it rather say "All who come to me, my Father gives to me." And, "You're not of my flock because you do not believe. If you believed, no one could snatch you out of my Father's hand." ?

    And, if we can resist or not resist, how can it still say that He is "able to keep you from stumbling"?

    In a separate vein, how does your system deal with people who never hear the Gospel?

    • "Well, your system requires that it be in man's nature to choose to resist or to not resist. "

      Not at all. All "my system" requires is a legitimate choice in order for the will to be considered a will and for a command to be something other than an exercise in futility (at best) or narcissism (talking just to hear yourself talk) at worst.

      None of the verses you posted provide a sufficient defeater to the notion that men have the ability, albeit in a limited sense, to freely choose between two alternatives. In fact, they offer hope to those of us who have chosen as they indicate that some choices, once made, can never be reversed later on so they offer further hope and encouragement as well "work out our own salvation".

      As for those who have never heard; I believe they go to hell, as the text clearly indicates. But I do not think that their punishment is necessarily as harsh, their blows as it were, are as severe as those who have heard and yet have chosen to reject the free offer of grace provided in full from the cross.

      • "As for those who have never heard; I believe they go to hell, as the text clearly indicates."

        And you contend your god is all-loving. Your powers of self-delusion are extraordinary.

        • I haven't been able to find anyone actually defend the idea of omni-benevolence, but a lot of people seem to just assume it.

          • I would, but what shocks me the most is that I would need to defend it against another Christian's theology.

            Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. -1 John 4:8

          • The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. – Psalm 11:5

            The term all-loving certainly doesn't apply to God in every sense. Whoever does not love what? If you care to check the context of I John (that is the entire book) John is exhorting us to love the bretheren in particular. The 'old' commandment that is also a 'new' commandment that John lays before us for our consideration is the we should love our neighbour as ourselves. The reason? All men are created in the image of God. We are first to love The LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, and might. What flows from that is to love those things that are made after the image of him that has made them. God never states that he loves the wicked, rather he claims that he hates them, he never tells us to love evil or the wicked (and David was never upbraided for hating those that hate God. Psalm 139:21)

            God does not love indiscriminately. To show that God is love does not negate the fact that he does indeed hate some things, or even persons. He seems to hate particularly the persons that hate the ones who can be properly designated as "His People."

          • "God does not love indiscriminately."

            The idea that God loves indiscriminately, along with the idea that all are drawn equally, seem to be attacks on God's personality, making Him a force. As though He's just some sort of unaware constant that we move freely in.

          • How can they be attacks when they are attributes claimed by God Himself and recorded by His prophets?

          • By virtue of the fact that they are not attributes claimed by Him or recorded by His prophets, they are attacks.

          • I suppose if you ascribe to an angry version of Christianity where God is tribalistic and more like a big child (ie. a projection of our inability to love properly) that would be true. But the fact is that God's love for the world is written throughout Scripture. In fact, I am absolutely shocked that you have somehow managed to miss this point. Tell me, why exactly do you think Jesus came to earth? Oh that's right, he only came for the cool kids..

          • I don't know what you are talking about. Please try to address the theology of the people you are talking to so we can have a productive conversation. Remember, to identify your conclusions which you have based on isolated points of another's system isn't actually addressing the system. Look at the whole of it and deal with the explicit doctrines. Show your footwork. How does God's impassibility render him childlike? How is God's immovable love for his Church and "angry version of Christianity"? Etc. Bare assertions are completely useless here, especially when they are so wild that they can only be flatly denied. I don't have to account for what is not mine.

          • The reason I say your view of God is like that of a child throwing a temper tantrum is because it seems to be a lot more like what YOU would do if you were elevated to the position of God. In other words, your view of God seems to be that of a man magnified as opposed to a transcendent being, slow to anger, infinite in love (hence, all loving), and not willing that any should perish to the point that He sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death on a cross to atone for the sins of the same.

            "Look at the whole of it and deal with the explicit doctrines."

            I have. Your failure to accept them and inability to sweep them away through bad rhetoric and logic is not my problem.

            "How is God's immovable love for his Church and "angry version of Christianity"?"

            Because you make God into god by minimizing His attributes (specifically grace, love, compassion, etc.) and setting aside a "special, privileged group" that somehow won the divine lottery and are thus now part of the cool kids group whereas everyone else is simply out of luck.

            "Bare assertions are completely useless here"

            Agreed. So why don't you try using another tactic?

            "I don't have to account for what is not mine."

            Sorry, but the world doesn't operate on word of faith principles. You simply cannot "speak it into existence". The fact remains that your theological system still has massive theological, philosophical, and logical holes in it.

          • So it was all just a personal attack. Okay. I fail to see how God's eternality and impassibility make him an emotional and unpredictably changing creature. Non sequitur. Again, I am not going to defend the notion of a God that I don't believe in, it doesn't matter how many you invent.

            "Infinite in love?" Where is that in the bible? Not Ex 34:6. Even then it's quite obvious that not all have his love when many are condemned to hell not to mention that God actually says that he hates them. Some he even confesses that he hates them before they had done anything good or bad that God's purpose of election might stand. The the infinite love would be poured out on a finite number of people, which would happen anyhow, sine there have never been, nor ever will be an infinite number of persons. To make up the phrase "infinite in love" and apply it to God doesn't establish any doctrine of God's loving every person in exactly the same way.

            What does you comment about "word of faith" stuff mean? I really don't have to account for what isn't mine. If you tell me that I beleieve that all brown dog is yogurt trees, I don't have to say anything more than a simple denial. The one making crazy claims is the one with the burden of proof. The 1689 messes up your outlandish claims every time, as the theological ideas that you present as mine bear no resemblance to the ones set forth in my confession.

            Please try to address the theology of the people you are talking to so we can have a productive conversation. You haven't said anything meaningful to date.

          • "Okay. I fail to see how God's eternality and impassibility make him an emotional and unpredictably changing creature."

            It's not his eternity and impassibility that make him emotional and unpredictable. Follow the argument. If God sets the majority of men aside for eternal damnation when He could have saved them (which alone begs the question of why He doesn't) then what was that decision based on? It couldn't have been based on their actions as this is the very thing such an eternal view of election is based on. You can say "God has his reasons" all you want but at the end of the day that appeal to mystery won't take you very far since the ultimate reason must logically be "because God wants to" and that is why I, and a host of others (lest you try and claim this is a conclusion unique to myself), say that Calvinism ultimately paints God out to be as capricious as Allah or the Greek fates.

          • You're gonna have to say something addressed in "Whosoever Will." Otherwise Mr Widner won't be equal to the task of answering. That book can only handle Calvin in nuggets that can be bent to sound like free-will-ism.

          • Where do God's prophets claim that God loves indiscriminately those he claims also to hate? The proclamations of his love for sinners is in a different context than the declarations of his hatred of wicked people, therefore they cannot be confounded as the same persons, thank God. If God loves those he hates then he must be a very confused person at the very least, or perhaps he is an impersonal force of called love, which love can only come from a person. I suppose then love must be a metaphor for the pleasantness we experience as a result of harnessing this impersonal force. I suppose it would be by a sort of name-magic which we do as we pray, calling on this force's name. If we refuse to call on this name then we get nothing but Hell. There isn't really any sort of plan here, just stuff happening, some "evil" some "good." We can be guaranteed of a particular outcome because this force is stronger than all others, but it makes no particular choice or plan of what will be done with all this power, we do.

          • This is claimed throughout Scripture. But if you've redefined the language to where the prophets and apostles couldn't say "God so loved the world" in the natural sense, then I don't suppose there is any verse or passage that would suffice. It's like you are using special glasses to read the text. Glasses that redefine words and concepts at will to match your man-made theological system.

          • it's like you are using special glasses to read Psalm 11:5. I can account for every verse quite easily where God says he loves the world. He does, though he may love his church in a different and more comprehensive way. You, however, have explicitly denied that he hates the wicked.

            The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. – Psalm 11:5

          • Sure. And I agree that God is love, but what do you suppose that to mean? In many years of reading Scripture, I've seen all sorts of omni-'s, but no omni-benevolence.

            You'd have to contend with passages like:

            " Arrogant people cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who behave wickedly. You destroy liars; the LORD despises violent and deceitful people."

            " The LORD said, 'Who will deceive Ahab, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die there?' "

            "You despise all who stray from your statutes, for they are deceptive and unreliable. "

            " The LORD says to Edom, 'I will certainly make you small among nations. I will make you despised by all humankind.'"

            "Esau was Jacob's brother," the LORD explains, "yet I chose Jacob and rejected Esau. I turned Esau's mountains into a deserted wasteland and gave his territory to the wild jackals."

            "But I will harden Pharaoh's heart…"

            "God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden."

            "What if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?"

            "What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it. The rest were hardened, as it is written, 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, to this very day.'"

            "I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you."

            I think it's odd that apologists on your side haven't really tried to defend an idea that is absolutely necessary to their emotional evangelistic method. I think the content of popular theology has been determined here by a desire to make God sound more agreeable to unbelievers.

          • How do any of those passages pose a sufficient defeater for the notion that God is all loving?

          • "you [referring to God] hate all who behave wickedly."

            Defeated.

          • How is God's hating those who freely choose to spurn Him and His love a sufficient defeater for the concept that God loves all men indiscriminately? Are you saying God is unable to love those who have made themselves His enemies?

          • Because the text says God hates them. Love isn't hate and hate isn't love. They cannot be exerted simultaneously by the same subject on the same object.

          • So, in your worldview, God can only have an eternal disposition of hate or love for particular individuals?

        • All loving does not mean God is required to prevent us from suffering the consequences of our choices. The real tragedy here is that in your system there is no real choice and those who go to hell could have been regenerated independently of any preaching/evangelism and thus are condemned to hell for nothing they did (before time began) and without having been given any real hope (apparently they were all reprobate).

          • "could have been regenerated independently of any preaching/evangelism"
            No one believes that.

            People are condemned to Hell because of sin. It's on another principle that grace is given.

          • Yes, sin that they freely choose to commit. Grace is similar in that it is freely given by God. In neither case is grace/sin compelled and in both case viable logical alternatives are available. Men are free to sin or not sin, God is free to grant or not grant grace.

          • Is God free to grant grace to whom He will? Or must it be to all or none? Must He be "fair"?

          • Oh he is free, that is not the question and no matter how many straw men you set up that will never BE the question. The question is what God has said about Himself and it seems pretty clear, at least to me and the vast majority of Christendom (no, not an appeal to populous, but I'm sure you will whine about that as well) that God has stated in His Word that He does love all men, desires all men to be saved, and takes no delight in their damnation/judgement. So I suppose the question could be asked of you; Is God not free to love all the creatures created in His image?

          • "…no, not an appeal to populous…"
            What is it then. If it's not then your argument is unclear.

            Yeah, God's love extends over all of his creation. His love goes far beyond all men. Yet that doesn't necessitate that he loves all men exactly the same. As is clear, some are allowed to sin their way into perdition while some are pursued until they repent and believe on Christ.

            God certainly doesn't take pleasure in the death of him that dies in and of itself. It is not a pleasant or good thing of itself. Yet what if God had a purpose behind it? Say you had a bad tooth that needed to be pulled. It may be a terrible thing in and of itself to grab the pliers and start yanking, but the purpose behind it makes it something good. So, what if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

          • "What is it then. If it's not then your argument is unclear."

            You continually charge me with being ignorant of the Calvinistic position. My appeal here is not a comment on the truthfulness of my position so much as it is an appeal to you to quit acting like my arguments have not been made for centuries.

            "Yet that doesn't necessitate that he loves all men exactly the same."

            Very true. But that is again avoiding the real issue. The issue is not what God can do, but what God has chosen to do. What has been revealed about God by God in God's Word. And in this case, we've been told quite clearly that God loves all men and does not desire any man to perish but all to repent and accept Christ.

            "As is clear, some are allowed to sin their way into perdition while some are pursued until they repent and believe on Christ."

            You seem to be equivocating on the word "pursued" here. I think the phrase you are looking for is "causally determined regardless of their will". The way you stated above sounds too much like my position which you've spend countless hours arguing against so I wouldn't want anyone reading this to be confused by your careless (or intentionally misleading) use of words which you define in a completely different manner than anyone else (btw, shame on you for not clearly stating your beliefs on this and other points).

            "but the purpose behind it makes it something good."

            So, the ends justify the means?

            "So, what if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"

            He has to make his power known through evil? There is no other way? He has to use something he elsewhere says brings him no glory or pleasure? Does God suffer from multiple personality disorder? Is evil necessary?

          • "…those who go to hell could have been regenerated independently of any preaching/evangelism…" This is explicitly impossible to deduce from the system of Calvinism.

            Romans 10:14 says, "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?"

            God establishes the means and does never save apart from a hearing and believing on the gospel of Christ.

            The 1689 LBC reads: "Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit…' note that God calls by his word. Your claim is an empty one.

            They are condemned for their own guilt. God certainly chooses one and not another, and indeed prepares some for perdition. God cannot be faulted, for He is not one of us. It may be in his purpose and his doing, but he is not one that can be considered culpable, for he is Creator and we are only creature; he answers to no one, we answer only to him. So, What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? What will you do? You can't turn his hand back or ask him what he's doing. It's none of your business.

            He did give them real hope. He told them (all who heard the call of the Word ministered) that they should come to him if they were weary and heavy laden, he would give them rest. He called to them that they might buy without money that pardon that they lack. Wisdom cried out from the high places and the streets that men should turn from foolishness and follow after Christ's righteousness. Should they do these, then they would receive every blessing that the love of the Father could bestow. But they refused. Therefore they are condemned. (This is a temporal sequence, not logical sequence. It shows primarily our duty in repentance and faith. Elsewhere God shows glimpses of the logical sequence [John 6:37, Ephesians 1 & 2, etc.]; this is to display the Grace of God in giving life to those who were dead.)

          • "This is explicitly impossible to deduce from the system of Calvinism. "

            Except for the doctrine of irresistible grace. Tell me, what does preaching have to do with the effectual call of the holy spirit? Is it merely a formality? A perfunctory grand ceremonial display that is required to proceed the real show?

          • "As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto."

            If God is stupid, then it's merely a formality.

          • Can you elaborate more on this post? Because as it stands it is rather incoherent.

          • The doctrine of "irresistible grace" isolated from every other doctrine…. Maybe if you make a couple of logical blunders along the way. Nope no Calvinist creed affrims or implies this one. We all seem to believe in intermediate causes and established means.

          • No creed does, mostly because Calvinists have historically been split on this among other points so that the creeds end up being softened. But hyper-Calvinists like yourself hold to this view by default since you do not believe in libertarian freedom which leaves only one other causal agent operating in the universe.

          • One causal agent besides all the intermediate ones, yeah. Since He created us and sustains us all it kind of affects the way we are top to bottom.

          • You are equivocating on causal agency here since, in your world, "intermediate agents" are really merely pawns of the supreme causal agent that is God. You would like to obscure the matter a bit I'm sure by stating that man is free to choose according to his desires. But then you would go on to say that man only chooses based on his greatest desire which collapses the whole system down into an thinly abstracted form of the same causally deterministic system you recognize as philosophically, logically, and theologically untenable. Sorry, but your errors in philosophy, theology, and logic do not give you a pass here. The contradictions remain whether you like them or not.

      • "Not at all. All "my system" requires is a legitimate choice"
        Oh. In other words, what I said.

        "None of the verses you …"
        I'm not sure what you mean by defeater. But those passages flatly contradict elements of your system, so I'd be intellectually dishonest if I just adopted your system without trying to understand how the opposition of God's Word can be resolved.

        I pretty much agree with the last paragraph.

        • "Oh. In other words, what I said."

          No, your powers of comprehension are apparently failing you.

          "Oh. In other words, what I said. "

          A defeater is a sufficient reason to reject a belief as being false. I'm not surprised you don't know what a defeater is, though, as such a concept is completely foreign to the presuppositionalist epistemology.

          "But those passages flatly contradict elements of your system"

          Where? Point those contradictions out rather than just making bare assertions.

  12. I thought that this blog post was about John Calvin's views on the extent of the atonement. That's why I was providing more quotes from his works on pertinent texts to add more theological context. I didn't know that this was actually about the conclusions you render from isolated Calvinistic doctrines. (By isolated I mean isolated from the rest of Calvinistic and generally Christian doctrines.) A lot of the problems you bring up come from such isolations, such as, if we are all predestined then we have no freedom at all. I think that the bible explains both God's absolute sovereignty and man's responsibility to choose well enough for all intents and purposes. (Please don't begin supplying a theology for me here. If you want to hash that out a better place would be where the subject is at hand; there I will supply my own theology without your help.)

    Identifying what you perceive to be the logical conclusions of certain points of my theology and what my actual theology is is a very useless practice. It is an untrue assumption on your part, and very confusing to me when you don't let on that that is what you are doing. Case in point: I labored to show that "world of elect" cannot be what "kosmos" means in the context of John 3:16. Immediately after I establish that you tell me that I believe that "kosmos" means "world of the elect," when in fact I don't. You may think that some other portion of my theology negates the way I understand the word "kosmos" in John 3:16, but that doesn't mean I actually think that "kosmos" means something other than I have said I believe it to mean. To say otherwise is only to accuse me of being a foul liar on no other authority but your own.

    I am quite aware of where you think my thoughts ultimately lead, but I don't think they do lead there ultimately. I have good reason to not think so. I will readily admit that if some points of my theology were isolated from all other doctrines then those points would run straight into those logical conclusions you have presented. But the absolute sovereignty of God is not a doctrine held apart from the free choice of man, and I don't explain them by presenting the word "mystery" for your consideration. (Certainly, the definitions of 'absolute' and 'free' not exactly the same as yours, but those definitions can also be accounted for.)

    The reason why here I have not done more than bare denials of your bare assertions is that they are entirely off the subject of what Calvin thought (which is what I thought you were blogging about). As well I have in other places at length shown that I do believe that "kosmos" doesn't mean "world of the elect," why then explain it again? After every time I have shown it, and from dictionaries, you have accused me of deconstructionism and told me that I believe that it means "world of the elect." It seems futile, when you won't acknowledge the words that I wrote anyhow, and off subject.

    So, really it wasn't so much the nominal fallacy, as it was trying to dismiss it and get back on the subject of understanding Calvin. If you want to nit pick on where my theology leads, try making that the subject of your blog. If that's really where you want this one to go here, then pick one thing at a time and we can work slowly through them. It never helps to scatter many premises into the ether, many of which are question beggers and false dilemmas, and then think you have won when your 'opponent' doesn't feel like wearing himself out after a long day at work by writing a systematic that you won't read anyhow.
    And concerning predestination and assurance, this is another case where predestination actually establishes the ability to have assurance. For extensive dealings on this matter Goodwin is excellent. Also Thomas Watson deals with assurance well and how it interacts with working out our own salvation with fear and trembling: http://www.fivesolas.com/watson/soldie_i.htm . I would also highly recommend the book "The Genius of Puritanism" by Peter Lewis http://www.amazon.com/Genius-Puritanism-Peter-Lew… It's a short book and shows the thoughts of the the Calvinistic Puritans on preaching, hearing, closet duties, and ends with their dealings with cases of assurance and spiritual depression, especially what was termed then as spiritual desertion.

  13. Define 'atonement.' The original meaning in the English language was kind of like "reconciliation." Though some are obviously not reconciled. The Greek "katellage" often translated "atonement" meant "exchange, profit made on exchange" or " a change from enmity to friendship, reonciliation." (from Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon)

    I understand this word to actually effect something, not merely create potential. If that be so, then unlimited atonement = unlimited salvation. If atonement means something other than an actual effect, then I suppose unlimited salvation can be only one of many logical conclusions from the doctrine of unlimited atonement.

    • You are equivocating on the extent and application of the atonement. Please stop being intellectually dishonest so we can have a productive conversation.

      • Explain how the extent and application can be different things. The idea of atonement is one the necessarily includes an effect. Please stop issuing personal attacks so that we can have a productive conversation. It is a very weak argument if it's foundation is that your opponent is a stupid liar. When I am not, then your argument becomes useless.

        • That\’s beyond the scope of this thread, perhaps I\’ll address it in another thread. Besides, I am pretty sure that someone as theologically astute as yourself is more than aware of the many arguments that have been made from the majority of Christendom (that is, the non-hyper-Calvinists) on this very point.

  14. How is it hard for you to accept that God loves all men and that through conscious rejection of God, we may merit His wrath? I find your use of a free-will based arguement here also to be quite odd. Are you now accepting a libertarian position or are you only using it when it is convenient?

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