T – Total Depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints
What it means to Calvinists: An unsaved person is spiritually dead which means they have no ability to understand or respond to God. Sin has destroyed the ability to receive salvation and has destroyed the human will.
What it does not mean to Calvinists: An unsaved person can still be socially good. This is called “horizontal” good between men and is possible because of “common grace” given to all men. Unsaved are totally incapable of “vertical good” between God and Man which includes receiving God’s plan of salvation.
Verses Used by Calvinist to prove and support Total Depravity:
Ephesians 2:1 –
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”
· Calvinist Point: Dead men cannot walk, think, or believe. They are dead and cannot respond. Dead men cannot even know enough to receive the free gift of life. It must be forced upon them.
· Refutation of Calvinism: “Spiritual Death” needs to be defined by scripture not Calvinist’s philosophy or eisogesis. Spiritual death, like physical death, means separation not annihilation. Death never means the total destruction of the ability to hear or respond to God. James says death is the separation of the soul from the body: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)
Jesus makes it clear that a person who is both spiritually dead and physically dead can respond to spiritual things when he describes the rich man in Hades as recorded in Luke 16:27-31 -“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Also, note Abraham’s response places the brothers' hope in the revealed Word of God and in their response to the Word of God, not in their predestination.
The book of Revelation calls eternal damnation the second death (Rev. 20:10), yet this is not the total destruction of the human nor is it annihilation. Isaiah says, “your iniquities have separated you from your God.” (Isaiah 59:2) A spiritually dead person can perceive the truth of God: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) Even after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden they were fully aware of their sinful state and fully able to communicate with God. Adam in his fallen state heard the voice of God and carried on a conversation with him. He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10)
The Bible also uses words besides “dead” to describe the sinful state of the natural man such as “sickness,” and “wounds.” In Mark 2:17 Jesus said, “"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." A sick man and a wounded man are not irresponsive, but can be aware of their disease or injury and be looking for (seeking) help. Man was created in God’s image and that image was not lost when man fell otherwise murder would be wrong for different reasons: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” (Genesis 9:6) Part of the image of God given to man is free will and self-determination. Divine judgment becomes a strange, irrational concept if individual men are not free to choose and take responsibility for their own decisions. Insight can be gained from Colossians 2:12-13 concerning Paul’s words “you were dead in your transgressions and sins” found in Ephesians 2:1. Colossians 2:12-13 describes the faith that saved us as “your faith” that you had “when you were dead in your sins.” It says: “you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.” Jesus says in John 5:25, “An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Here Jesus says the spiritually dead can and will hear him. Details of man’s responsibility when they hear God’s call is found in the preceding verse in John 5:24, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” In this case not only do the spiritually dead hear Jesus’ voice, but they must also believe the message to have eternal life. This is by no means a radical concept nor is it a strange New Testament theological position!
John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Calvinist Point: The new birth does not occur because of any “human decision” or because of the human will desiring to be saved. Salvation and the decision and desire for human salvation come only from God. Salvation happens to a man. A man has no part in that salvation.
Refutation of Calvinism: Verse 12 says clearly “all who did receive him” which clearly indicates a free will response from the man who received Christ. Verse 12 also says that it is to “those who believe” God “gave the right to become children of God.” The Calvinist make a big deal about the phrases that say children of God are not born of “natural descent,” “human decision,” or “husband’s will.” Are these phrases placed here in scripture to emphasize the complete inability of man to respond to the gospel? Are these phrases trying to communicate the concept of total depravity? Or, are they saying mankind has no hope of salvation outside of:
- a new spiritual birth,
- God’s decision to offer salvation through his one and only Son,
- God’s will to save people.
Man’s ability to respond is confirmed elsewhere: “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) If man could not respond why is our faith for salvation continuously referred to as our personal faith? “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 6:65) Realize that in every one of these cases the Calvinist has to first teach you the Calvinistic theology before you can “correctly” interpret this verse according to their views. Who would read “whoever believes in him shall not perish,” and then think that it actually meant, “no one can believe because they are all perishing?” How about these other verses?
Philippians 1:29 – “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” (“granted” is from the word “grace” and means here “to give graciously.” We have all been given the opportunity to believe and to suffer. But, we are not forced to suffer for Christ nor are we forced to believe. We can reject the offer.)
Philippians 3:8-9 – “That I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Notice that the righteousness comes through faith in Christ and that Paul says explicitly that this righteousness comes from God. The righteousness comes from God, not the faith. The faith is our faith. Our faith is an expression of our wills.)
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Calvinists want to say the “it” that is the “gift of God” is the “faith” to be saved instead of the grace offered to us for salvation. Mr. John Calvin himself wrote that Paul “does not mean that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God.” In the Greek “that” (touto) is neuter and cannot refer to “faith” (pistis) which is feminine but instead refers to the act of being saved by grace. If Paul was thinking about “faith” being the gift he would have needed to use the neuter. The Greek scholar A.T. Robertson said that concerning this verse that “ ‘Grace’ is God’s part and ‘faith’ ours.”
Romans 10:17 – “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (First comes the Word of God to the unregenerate heart. Second, the unregenerate heart hears and believes the Word of God and salvation occurs. Faith being a gift in this verse is neither explicit nor implicit. It is eisogesis. Clearly not everyone who hears the message responds with faith. But, at the same time, it is clear that every one who would have faith must first hear the Word of God.
|Galyn Wiemers reloading camera batteries while sitting above the rubble of the 70 AD Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple with Herodian ashlar stones of the western retaining wall of the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem.|
Verses used by Calvinist that have nothing to do with supporting Calvinism:
1 Corinthians 4:7 – “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (This is a reference to receiving spiritual gifts, not everything
1 Corinthians 7:25 – “I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.” KJV (This verse is not talking about salvation faith, but living the Christian life and remaining faithful. Augustine used this verse to support his belief that faith is a gift of God given before we can be saved.)
1 Corinthians 12:8-9 – “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit..” (This is the spiritual gift of faith, not the gift of faith for salvation.)
Acts 5:31 – “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” (If repentance and forgiveness was given to Israel then all of Israel will be saved.
Acts 11:18 – “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (If God granting the Gentiles repentance is understood in the Calvinistic way then all the Gentiles are also saved!? So, between Acts 5:31 and Acts 11:18 all Jews and all Gentiles are saved? Or, is this saying that both Jews and Gentiles have been given the opportunity to respond? The word “granted” is “hedoken” which is aorist indicative active of “didomi” and means “to give.”