©Answers in Action, 1996
Although our primary focus as an apologetics ministry is to combat false belief and and alternative religious systems, stimulating discussion regarding various positions within orthodox theology is an important way to become familiar with the complexities of biblical theology. Over the last few months, several non-Calvinists in our Mars Hill Club have developed some questions that can help get the discussion ball rolling with Calvinists. We welcome contributions of suggested answers, further questions, and questions for non-Calvinists, too (whether Arminian, Lutheran, or any other orthodox position). From time to time we will print additional “quiz sheets.” The Socratic method sees questions as opportunities for growth, not as threats. We’re sure you will “grow” your mind with these questions.
1. It is often said by Calvinists that dead men can’t respond. As you say, “you are dead in your trespasses & sins.” Eph. 2:1.
In Romans 6, it says that “in the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
If being dead in sin means one can’t respond to God then does being dead to sin mean that the Christian cannot respond to sin?
2. Even though God does perfectly know all human thoughts, can man have thoughts that have never been thought before (i.e. ex-nihilo thoughts)?
If these thoughts are not free (e.g., they are determined) then has God caused all thoughts, including evil ones, which would make God the author of sin and evil and man not responsible?
If, on the other hand, these thoughts are free, then how can God remain sovereign according to the Calvinist definition of sovereignty?
3. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:4, “God our Savior wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”
It also states that God wants all men to be saved in 2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 23:37 and in Ezekiel 33:11 and 18:30. Obviously not all men are saved.
How does Calvinism explain this? Does the God of Calvinism have two wills that are in direct contradiction and hence have a multiple personality disorder?
4. Calvinism excludes individual faith from the salvation process, classifying such faith as a work.
How can Calvinists classify faith as a work when Paul specifically excludes faith from works in Romans 3:27-28 and 4:5?
5. Jonah 2:8 says that “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
If, as Calvinism teaches, God determined before time began who would be reprobates, and therefore does not extend the grace to them by which they could be saved, how logically can we understand this verse’s statement that these reprobates, “forfeited the grace that could be theirs.?”
6. The Bible says in John 6:44, “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” The same word “draw” is used in John 12:32 which says, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto myself.” Matthew 23:37 says that men can resist God’s will.
How do you answer this problem in Calvinism?
7. You say that even the “good” acts of sinners are “bad” because they come from a completely depraved nature. Is it a “bad” act to rationally apprehend the truthfulness of apologetics?
If so, why has God commanded us to practice apologetics to sinners, which causes them to do a bad act? Doesn’t that mean that God causes sinners’ bad acts?
If you say “yes,” doesn’t that make God a bad guy?
8. When Calvinism is shown to have logical contradictions, Calvinists usually reply that God’s thoughts are unsearchable, and therefore the logical problems that Calvinism has, for example divine election and human responsibility, exhaustive sovereignty and human free will, and God’s having two contradictory wills, are solved by invoking the phrase, “well that’s a mystery.”
If you can solve your logic problems by copping out with the term mystery, why can’t the Arminian types, atheists and others pull the same move?
9. The Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 that reprobates “perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
From your Calvinistic worldview, how can it logically be said that a reprobate refuses to love the truth and so be saved, when your God determines that the reprobate can’t love the truth, can’t be saved, and therefore doesn’t refuse God at all?
10. You have said that nothing thwarts the will of God, and you also have said that a man’s will cannot be free or else God would not be absolutely sovereign.
Doesn’t this mean that God determines (or is the cause of) evil and the evil acts of men for his sovereign pleasure?
11. In Romans 9 where God says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” why do you automatically assume that God does not want to have mercy on all but only have mercy on the select few when God clearly tells us in Romans 11:32 that, “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all?”
If you say that all means all classes of men, but not all men in every class, then why does it not mean all classes of men but not all men in every class in Romans 3:23 where it says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?”
Does this mean some have not sinned? Perhaps, for instance, the Virgin Mary?