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Calvinists only: How do you interpret these passages?

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Kilk1, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Kilk1

    Kilk1 Member

    Mar 28, 2019
    For many months, maybe a year, I've been studying debates for and against Calvinism. While passages such as Romans 9 are argued to support Calvinism, I'd like to hear your view on at least one of the passages challenging Calvinism. (Quotations are from the New King James Version.)

    Luke 8:4-15

    This is the parable of the sower. Calvinism holds that everyone is born totally, inherently depraved. In this state, they cannot receive the word of God. The only way out of this, it's believed, is if the Holy Spirit performs a direct operation on sinners, switching their hearts from being completely sinful to permanently faithful. However, Jesus' parable comparing the word of God's effect on different hearts to seed's effect on different types of soil suggests that human nature is more complicated than this.

    The first type of soil, the wayside (vv. 5, 12), is the closest to sounding totally depraved in the sense that it doesn't receive the word. Furthermore, the good ground (vv. 8, 15) is similar in effect to the Calvinistic view of a regenerated heart in that it remains faithful. However, there are four, not just two, hearts. The rocky ground (vv. 6, 13) is the most challenging for Calvinism. Those with this heart aren't totally, inherently depraved because they receive the word--"receive the word with joy" (emphasis mine), in fact. But they aren't permanently converted either, as Calvinists say the regenerate are, since they only "believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away" (v. 13).

    Does this suggest that not everyone is totally depraved and that once you're saved, you're not necessarily always saved?

    Jeremiah 18:1-10

    Here, God discusses how a potter begins "making something at the wheel" (v. 3). However, the vessel "was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make" (v. 4). Notice that while the potter was going to make one thing, the marring of the vessel led him to remake it "into another vessel." In the same way, God says that if He decrees to destroy a nation (i.e., make them into a vessel of dishonor) but they repent, then He'll change His plans for them (vv. 5-8). The same works in reverse as well (vv. 9-10).

    Does this mean God can decree something without it coming to pass if freewill decisions on the part of man cause Him to change His mind?

    Romans 11:16-24

    While Romans 9 talks about election, Calvinists and non-Calvinists commonly argue about whether it's an election of specific individuals (what Calvinists believe) or an election of a corporate entity (Israel or the church). Chapter 11 compares God's people to a cultivated olive tree (vv. 16-24). Many (but not all) Israelites (i.e., the branches) were cut off from the tree. Instead, new branches from a wild, non-cultivated olive tree (representing Gentiles, the class who weren't God's people) were grafted into the cultivated one.

    The individual Gentiles (i.e., the branches that were grafted into the cultivated tree) could have become thrilled for being in at the expense of natural branches (v. 19). However, Paul explains: "Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear" (v. 20, emphasis mine). The new standard of becoming God's chosen people would be determined by faith vs. unbelief, instead of being a Jew vs. a Gentile.

    Paul clearly intends this to warn those grafted in. "For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either" (v. 21). Again, they were grafted in "by faith" (v. 20), and yet there's a possibility that they wouldn't be spared (v. 21). God will only bring "goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (v. 22). And those who were cut off could become believers and be grafted in again (vv. 23-24).

    Does this suggest 1) that God elected the body, the cultivated tree, not individuals and 2) that it's possible for individuals (branches) who stand "by faith" (v. 20) to lose their faith (and thus, salvation), not being spared (v. 21)? Again, you don't have to respond to all of these, but if you post, please give your thoughts on at least one of the three above passages. Thanks!