T-shirt annoyance

The T-shirt design pictured here, though it’s been out awhile now, is (I think) becoming more rather than less popular. Based on the people I’ve seen wearing it and the people who think that it’s cool, the point of wearing the T-shirt seems to be that people are trying assert that Calvinism and Arminianism are really two ways of looking at one truth. Notice, however, that the shirt is actually making an argument for Arminianism (to say that “this shirt chose me” is ridiculous). Notice, also, that this T-shirt is appropriate-

ONLY IF-

  1. You are very Man-centered
  2. You believe God is as impersonal and impotent as a T-shirt
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26 Comments on “T-shirt annoyance”

  1. Howard Says:

    “to say that “this shirt chose me” is ridiculous”

    If this shirt actually doesn’t demonstrate that Calvinism makes far more sense, I don’t know what example would. Pots and Potters do not seem to persuade these people either.

    Would these people deny themselves the freedom to choose of their autonomous free will which shirt they will wear and do so sovereignly?

    Perhaps the next time I choose to wear a shirt I will look down the corridors of time and see if it be ammenable to my choosing it.

    God Bless

  2. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Great T if the wearer is solidly grounded in Reformed doctrine and is able to explain the mutually exclusive truth claims of two oppositional theologies that define different gods.

    Isaiah 44,45 has much to say about those who create and command idols. They become the potter, God the clay.

    A great verse in 44.22 demonstrates the error of the Arminian claim. Redemption preceeds the command of man’s repentance and when linked with Ezekial’s new heart passages and the Lord’s declaration that he writes the commandments on our hearts and “causes” us to walk in his statutes then, if God were a T, he would dress is own in himself.

  3. Andrew Says:

    I truly appreciate the fact that though my post today was rather off-the-cuff, the comments so far have been substantive.
    Thanks guys!

  4. Carla Rolfe Says:

    I’ve seen this t-shirt several times, and I must say – coming from someone who designs Christian t-shirts every day and is also a solid 5 pointer – I really don’t like this design at all. The message (to me) borders on making God’s sovereign election a trivial matter. Of course this is one person’s opinion, and not everyone likes my t-shirts either. :-)

  5. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Andrew,

    At least with T-shirts you don’t have to worry about cuffs.

  6. Barry Says:

    Andrew,

    Is this quasi-light hearted or just how deeply cut is the rift between the two schools (if the word be permitted)? And, if as you say, there are approximately 10 percent of the Calvinist position in the movement as a whole, how does that affect your stance? I’m really interested in this and I’d like to know more about the scripture that you embrace to delineate between the two. Would you be kind enough to clairify this for someone who is not competely in the know?

    Many thanks.

  7. Jim Pemberton Says:

    It’s a rather false analogy. To be apropos, it should be worn only by the tailor of the shirt and read:

    Calvinism – I made this shirt and chose to wear it.
    Arminianism – This shirt chose to be worn by me.

  8. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Barry,

    Rift is a good word. But you might want to consider Luther’s comments concerning this. He understood the breach between Augustianism and Roman Catholocism to be the difference between darkness and light. They have no fellowship. The issue between the depravity of man and the bondage of his will Luther called the hingepin. Remove it and the entire reason for the protestations falls apart. This is also the dividing line between Calvinism/Reformed theology and Arminianism. Luther’s comment reminds us of the theses that he posted. Ninety-five against the practices and doctrines of the Catholic Church. The issues between the Arminian and the Calvinist is just as varigated, perhaps more so. It is not so much to do with practice, as it has to do with the essential doctrines of the Gospel. Along with the five points of the TULIP we also have the five Solas. Both of these have many declensions that fall under various sytematics. Primarily it is in these first two division that the more commonly known differnces exist. Starting points are all important, though and they will affect all other doctrine.

    The only reason that you see cooperation between the two schools is due to an alliance of convenience that has mostly to do with historic shared needs. Other wise, the irreparable differences remain. Though the average evangelical may or may not be aware of the distinctions and are often unconcerned, the engaged on either side of the gorge are very definite and adamant about their differences.

    I think the 10% that was mentioned by Andrew is within the SBC. Evangelicalism across the spectrum– I would guess that the percentage is smaller. I do not know if anyone has done such a survey. It would be interesting to find out. The desparately small numbers though are not without their historical significance. The waning of Reformed Confessionalism is most remarkedly recalled in the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and fascism throughout Europe (See, Veith, “Modern Fascism”) I am not making a parallel here. I am noting, that the decline of Reformed traditions tends to go hand in hand with the decline of the social conditions within the nations where it had once been in prominence. It is a phenomenon that has been noted by many historians. The rise of the Reformation bore freedom, moral revival, and prosperity across Europe and was the foundational ideological outlook in the founding of America. Its decline in those cultures is reflected by the cultures decline. But, I drone on…

    I’m sure Andrew and others have lists of online resources but for a good compendium of doctrinal differences and attitudinal disclosure try James White at :

    http://aomin.org/

  9. Gary (aka fool4jesus) Says:

    It’s difficult to summarize the differences quickly, but I will try. Let me first say that “Calvinism” and “Arminianism” are not the best terms, because they imply you are following men, either Calvin or Arminius. In fact, many (most?) people who fall into these two camps don’t completely follow the man their camp is named after. Better terms are “monergist” and “synergist”, and better for two reasons:

    1. They don’t imply you’re following a man, they imply that they are a summary of how you read the Bible.
    2. They really get to the crux of the matter.

    Following #2, as I’m sure you know, “mono” means “one” and “syn” means “together,” and that is the real difference between the two. Monergists believe that God alone is responsible for the salvation of men, and synergists believe that some combination of God and man are. Typically they will say that it’s 99% God and 1% man, but 1% is a world apart from the 0% of the monergist view.

    Does this seem to you a small difference? Not at all! It is the difference between giving all the glory to God, and being able to take some amount of glory to ourselves, no matter how small. It is the difference of saying that “God is ultimately responsible for my salvation, I did nothing” verses saying “God did all He could, He tried His darnedest, but ultimately it was me who made the decision because I was smart enough/spiritual enough/etc.” It’s the difference between Paul saying “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9) and us saying “Although God started it all with His grace, I was able to come up with one work to contribute to my salvation – accepting His grace.”

    Here’s a more detailed comparison of the two views:

    http://solochristo.com/theology/Salvation/comparison.htm

  10. Barry Says:

    Thank you TT and Gary.

    You don’t think the rift is so severe, though, that one side doesn’t think the other side is resisting grace or salvation by their respective stances do you?

    Also, can you comment on the number of places where deeds or conduct is spoken of as how we will be judged? As example:

    James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
    James 2:17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
    James 2:26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
    Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds.
    Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon. I will bring with me recompense I will give to each according to his deeds.
    Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man will come with his Angels in this Father’s glory, and then will repay everyone according to his conduct.
    Romans 2:6 who will repay everyone according to his works.
    Romans 2:10 But there will be glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good.
    2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm; the lord will repay him according to his deeds.
    Proverbs 24:12 If you say, “I know not this man!” does not he who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each one according to his deeds.

    While we are aware of Ephesians 2:8-9 can we not also be aware of the other contra-indications on how we are judged by God and do any of these contra-indications play a role in the two schools?

  11. Gary (aka fool4jesus) Says:

    Resisting grace or salvation? I am not sure what you mean by that. Hardly anybody (certainly not me) would say that a person’s salvation is determined by whether they are a “Calvinist” or not. (Many hyper-Calvinists believe this, but hyper-Calvinism is completely different from classical Calvinism/monergism.) So, if you are a pure Arminian, I would not say that you are not saved. I believe that Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a monergist’s monergist, called John Wesley the holiest and godliest man he had ever known.

    As for the relation of faith and works, this is not a problem for monergists only, it is a problem for all Christians. Passages like these no doubt add to the Roman Catholic idea of purgatory, where you can pay for your sins. (I am reminded of the old Fr. Guido Sarducci skit where God puts money into you account for every day you live, then after you die you literally “pay” for your sins; if the balance is negative, you get reincarnated to try again.)

    It seems to me that there are three points here. First, the question of what “repay” means, second the question of what the “deeds” are, and third the question of where good deeds stand in the course of a believer’s life. If you take “repay” to mean that you will lose your salvation, and you take “deeds” to be the actual things you do as seen by an outside observer, and (most importantly) that deeds are some cause of your salvation (no matter how small a percentage you wish to assign to it), then these passages seem to teach salvation by works. All orthodox Christians should have a problem with that, although it leads directly to the meritorious works idea in Catholicism.

    However, if you take “repay” to often mean loss of glory, “deeds” to mean not just what people see on the outside but also more importantly the heart attitude inside, and (again most importantly) deeds to be the outworking and RESULT of your salvation rather than any kind of CAUSE of it, then you get a completely different picture. Namely: if deeds are lacking in a person’s life, then you have good cause to suspect that they are not actually regenerate. This is exactly what most of 1 John is saying as well as James and the others.

    And more to the point, if good deeds (not just externally good, but deeds with a heart attitude of obedience and thankfulness rather than vanity or trying to earn points with God) are lacking in MY life, then I may want to ask if I myself are saved. As I often tell my son, the Bible is primarily written to me for how to live my own life, not to satisfy my idle curiosity about God or the salvation status of other men.

  12. Gary (aka fool4jesus) Says:

    I just wrote this really long response explaining the fact that I was not attempting to proof text by the mention of Ephesians 2:8-9; if I had been, I would have mentioned Ephesians 1, Romans 9, John 5 and 6, John 3 (the whole chapter not just 3:16), Titus 1:1, and in fact I would submit the whole tenor of Scripture: God is in charge and we are not, and He ordains everything for His glory. But this stupid blog threw away my text because I forgot the security code. So, I just don’t have the heart to type it all in again right now. :(

    Those who are in charge, is there any way to make this blog carry forward the text if you forget to enter the security code? I’ve never seen a blog that does this before.

  13. Barry Says:

    Gary,

    Thanks again for your input.

    I think you meant to say that Spurgeon thought Wesley the holiest etc., that he knew of. You make it sound like he actually knew him (different centuries).

    The codes can be frustrating but I think they serve a good purpose as they are supposed to prevent automated spamming.

    If you don’t mind my saying so, I think that the message in Matthew 25:31-40 is speaking precisely to merit. Whether Jesus is speaking directly as this being a license for heaven when he says “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” I cannot say, but I do believe he makes it obvious in the entire passage that we are judged by how we treat others. I think he lays it out pretty clearly.

    Thx.

  14. Howard Says:

    Barry asked, “While we are aware of Ephesians 2:8-9 can we not also be aware of the other contra-indications on how we are judged by God and do any of these contra-indications play a role in the two schools? ”

    Sam Waldron (a big mean Calvnist) deals with this in somewhere to some extent (eschatology series? if I remember correctly). He basically agrees that a lost teaching among Evangelicals is that works will be how the Elect who are saved by faith alone are known. In other words, works demonstrate who the elect are but they do not justify them in the salvific sense. They are the fruits of the tree that demonstrate if the tree is good or evil.

    Is this what you are asking?
    God Bless

  15. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Barry,

    I cannot even begin to answer all the Scriptures that you have given. Let’s just look at James. Deeds are indeed indicative of the attitude of the heart but not determinative of that attitude or the condition of the heart.

    James 2:21 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Issaac his son on the altar?”

    First, we are not justified by works. So, the term here signifies something else, which most Reformed writers agree. This use here has to do with what Reymond would call declarative justification, or the actions in real time that give evidence to the reality that is in the Spirit, all ready accomplished, completed in the past and perfect thoughout eternity future.

    Second, now what “good deed” was it that Abraham did? It was the offering of Isaac. Returning to Genesis we find that this passage is a declaration of the Gospel. So, what Abraham did was to bear true testimony to the Truth. That is, in his sacrifice he was preaching the Gospel.

    James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me you faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

    First, we must note that the men James was adressing had “good deeds.” He was not speaking about charity, necessarily. His challenge is for them to show their faith, without them. Namely, James 3:12 referencing Mathew 7:15-20, (back up to James 1.27) descibes for us what the tongue should do as a good deed, it should keep the Truth. And what it performs should set its world all around aflame with like kindedness. James is attacking the fact that these men are discriminating against the brethren, rather than doing what Jesus commanded of his church, to become servants to the least of these my brothers.

    Second James is willing to show them his faith by his works. And, what are those works. He points to Abraham, whose works of faith were not charitable deeds, or really anything that we might conceive as a deed per se, but it was Abraham’s demonstration of the Gospel. Likewise he says of Rahab, who received the brethren, tended to their need, and sent them out safely. He further cautions these braggards, who have good deeds of charity, but they are not in keeping with Truth because they use them as a tool of self engrandizement and by them look down upon the poorer brother. Now, what is meant by the poorer brother. Since these men like to dress it appears in their “spiritual” fine clothes and look down upon the less “spiritual” dressed in rags, it would appear that James is not speaking of not doing deeds. He is speaking of the heart, that even if the deeds are evident as they were with these men, 2:18, those works mean nothing if they are done out of the wrong motivation. Such that, these men, if they truly looked into the mirror of the perfect law of liberty, then what they would see is their natural face. That face is the face of sin, the natural man. If they then turn away and forget that they are dressed in filthy rags themselves, and that it is not because of anything that they do that they are made righteous, but it is because of the law of liberty, the imputed righteousness of Christ, that they have been set free and “spiritually” dressed in robes of Christ’s righteous deeds, then they are vain and forgetful of the great gift they have received. And, if they turn away and bridle not their tongue but boast against their brethren, they are not acting in accord with the Gospel. The world seeks such admiration of men, forgetting that it is God who sets kings on thrones. But, in the Church the servants of Christ do not lord it over one another, 1 Cor. 4.7.

    So, as to rewards and punishments. A Christian has already appeared before the judgement seat. He was found guilty and deserving of nothing but eternal damnation. But, according to the riches of His mercy and by grace through the finished work of Chirst, we have already been made full heirs. Ephesians 2:6-10, …raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus…For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them…Eph 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavely palces in Christ… Eph 1:4, …He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love….

    If it is an inheritance, Eph 1:14, then, rewards cannot be earned or lost, my dear prodigal. It is earned not by the children saving up for the parent, but the parent saving up for the child. Further we have this, Phil. 2:12-3, …as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    In the end it comes down to this. Obedience to Christ cannot be accomplished apart from Him, and if he dwells in you then, the Spirit of God is empowering and willing the doing of any deeds that will stand in His presence. For those works accomplished by Him, and those alone, will we be rewarded. But, they are not due to us, for Jesus said that when we do all that we should, we are to consider ourselves unworthy servants. They are due to him. His righteous life has been given to us, works prepared for us to do, that we should walk in them. It is not optional. A brother, rich or poor in the giftings of God is still operating with gifts that have come down from the Father of lights, determined and distributed according to the working of the Spirit who works all things in all men, and they are good and perfect. Everything that is not of faith, is sin. And faith is a free gift. Psalms 139 gives us a very important perspective. Each day of our life, every word, every thought has been given to us by God. The anxieties come when the enemy gets us to thinking otherwise. To this Jesus answers, “do not worry, you Father knows what you need.” To this he added, “Pray this way,’”Our Father…Give us this day our daily bread….”‘ The word “Give” is in the imperative mood. What could this mean except that it is the Father’s will that our daily provisions, all that we do, is received from his hand because it is commanded in heaven such that it will be done that way on earth. To which we can say, “Amen, Thy will be done,” having full assurance, peace and rest, that it is God, and not us that has perfected us forever in Christ, Heb 12.

    The bottom line. It is no longer I who live, but Christ. And, Christ echoed this when he said, “The works you see are not mine, but the Father…” And also, apart from Christ we can do nothing, because it is His Spirit, His power, his will, by which we do anything. Unless He does the works, we will not be rewarded for it. Even he was not seeking his own glory when he was on earth, but as the servant of Isaiah 45.13, he did it “Not for price nor reward.”


  16. Barry, I don’t think Matthew 25:31-40 is speaking of earning your salvation. The problem is that, if it was speaking of that, it would go against the vast majority of the rest of the Bible. You have to interpret Scripture with Scripture. I think the point here is the same as before: if you didn’t do those good deeds, then you are not regenerate. You don’t do the good deeds in order to be regenerated: you do them as a result of being regenerated, out of gratitude and awe for what you’ve received.

    It’s like the logical statement: R (regeneration) implies G (good deeds). You can turn that around (the contrapositive, if I remember my logic terms from way back in college): ~G implies ~R.

    The rub, of course, is that both R and G are not wholly visible from the outside. Somebody may appear to you to be ~G but actually be G; or conversely they may appear G and really be (because of heart attitude) ~G.

    What works salvation attempts to do is say: G implies R (and in fact causes R). Again, I would submit that this goes against the bulk of Scripture.

  17. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Gary said:

    “But this stupid blog threw away my text because I forgot the security code.”

    You don’t know how many times I’ve done that. Infact I just did it again, argh!

    I have taken to copying to a word pad usually, before hitting the submit button.

  18. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Barry said: “You don’t think the rift is so severe, though, that one side doesn’t think the other side is resisting grace or salvation by their respective stances do you?”

    I am not sure what you are asking here. Let me know if I get this right.

    Arminianism is not within the historic Christian orthodoxy. I consider it, as I said, as Luther did, antithetical to the biblical message of grace. So, if you are asking do I believe that Arminianism resists grace, yes. It denies it, summarily, precisely because of its free-will doctrine. In doing so it denies the need for God’s “begetting” us into a living hope.

    The Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace defines grace as that which is given to all men. It is given to enable man to receive the grace of salvation. In other words it is given to enable the flesh to “choose.” The problem is found in many places in Scripture. Let me mention a few, that unequivocably puts to death any hope that the flesh can respond even with assistance.

    Romans 8:6-8 makes it clear that the “flesh cannot please God.” And, 1 Corinthians 2:14, says that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them…”
    Then 1 Cor. 2:16.

    Beside these, Jesus in his discourse with Nicodemus in John 3 says emphatically, …unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And, in John 17, he says that his own are not of the world just as he is not of the world and John 8:47 with 8:23, and back to John 3. The word “see” that Jesus used speaking to Nic, is eido. It means to comprehend with the mind. We might say in colloquial speech, “do you see what I mean.” He also used anothen. Which means from above. It can mean from the beginning or even again and all these are accurated concerning the truth of salvation. The first meaning though fits what Jesus said of his disciples. We are not of the world. We are born from above. Now the other two meanings put with this gives us born again from above from the beginning. Now, link this together with the idea of God begetting us. The word born means to be carried. It actually means to conceive. So, to be born is to be conceived and carried. The idea conveyed by Jesus is that we are conceived in the “secret place,” by the Holy Spirit, without the participation of the conceptus. Just like a conception in the flesh, the baby does not beget itself in any sense. We are conceived, born again, from the beginning, from above, not below, not of flesh, but of Spirit.

    The result of Arminian theology is that they usurp the place of the Spirit in the conception and the justation of the child born of God. Jesus closes the subject by saying that we do not see it happening. The only thing that we see is the result. This may seem a little raw, but the idea is that of a man with a maid. The offspring is the result of something that takes place in secret. The child only knows that he is born because he grows into that understanding at a point in time after the conception. Adressing this subject Jesus corrects the disciples who thought that they had chosen to follow him by telling them that they did not, but that he chose them.

    We are born, not because we participated in our conception along with our parents. And, just like that we are born again without our participation in our “begetting,” by the Spirit.

    So, Arminianism denies the peculiar grace that is spoken of in Scripture. It denies the means by which a person becomes a child God.

  19. Barry Says:

    Gary,

    I’m not sure I agree with the view that doing good (as spoken in Matthew 25:31-40) as a path to “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” does go against the bulk of the bible as a way we are judged. If anything, the OT, especially with the Mosaic Laws is precisely layed out to show people how they are to behave. Certainly our actions, our deeds, our conduct is what the bible is rife with. I am not arguing for or against faith as a basis for salvation. I am pointing out that there are many contra-indications throughout the bible and WE are the ones who choose to follow what we like (when I say we I speak not only of individuals but of course the movements themselves).

    My friends this is what sets the different movements apart.

    The interesting, and key thing, is how we interpret and translate the Bible.

    The Greek adverb “anothen” means both “from above” and “again”. Scholars have argued that Jesus meant “from above” but Nicodemus misunderstands it as “again”. And vice versa, scholars have argued the other way around.

    And, then there are many who think that they are from God since the very beginning and so they don’t buy into the need to be “born again”.

    Differing views. That’s what we’re all about.

    Thx.


  20. Barry, there’s no doubt that the Bible does give you a set of commands for how to live. I don’t think anybody disagrees with that (well, nobody here anyway – I am excluding any hyper-Calvinists that may have stumbled into the forum). The question is whether these deeds have an effect on our salvation; whether our salvation is in any way dependent on us doing these deeds, or whether the deeds are what should be an inevitable outworking of the salvation we received as a free gift from God. That is what I submit that the Bible does not support. Certainly, God gives us freedom to obey or disobey Him; again, nobody disagrees with that. What we monergists insist (based on our reading of Scripture) is that no matter what we do, we cannot choose to follow God on our own due to the effects of sin on our will.

    The concept of the two wills in God may be useful. Both monergists and synergists agree that there are two wills in God (a secret and a revealed will), though in my experience synergists usually have not thought it out well enough to realize they believe that. Furthermore, we all agree on what God’s revealed will is: that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we shall be saved, that we are to feed the hungry, visit the sick, etc. The thing we disagree on is God’s secret will. The monergist says God’s secret will is to bring himself glory by saving some though we don’t deserve it and would not choose Him on our own; the synergist says God’s secret will is to respect the free will of the sinner. Here’s John Piper’s well-known paper on the subject:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1995/1580_Are_There_Two_Wills_in_God/

    As far as “anothen”, you see both translations in different versions of the Bible. I don’t know that there’s a real difference, though. The first time you are born, you are born of natural means, by the will of man; the second time, you must be born from above, by the will of God. Born again = by the will of God. Either way, you have the same story.

    You’re right also that there are many who don’t think they need to be born again; but we are speaking of orthodox Christians here. There are people who think they need to kill infidels to make it into heaven and collect their 72 virgins, too, but they’re not the subject of the current discussion.

    Finally: “Differing views. That’s what we’re all about.” Respectfully, I disagree with you. Just because you and I cannot come to a final agreement on the basis of salvation (though I may wish we could), does not mean that there isn’t a single right answer. We may not agree on the best way to drive from DC to Pittsburgh, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a best way, and that both of our ways are equally good. I may be right, or you may be, or neither one of us may be; but it’s not true that our views on the best way to drive are equal and just different.

  21. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Barry said: “I am not arguing for or against faith as a basis for salvation. I am pointing out that there are many contra-indications throughout the bible…”

    It is not a matter of whether or not man makes decisions, it is how those decision are made. Proverbs 19:21 says There are many plans in man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel that will stand. Proverbs 16:1 says The prepartation of the heart belongs to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 21:1 say The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it whereever He wishes. Proverbs 16:33 says The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Ezekial 36 contains, I will take you from among the nations…sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them. Isaiah 57:19 says, I creat the fruit of the lips… and Isaiah 63:17, O Lord, why have You made us stray from Your ways, and hardened our heart from You fear?

    Throughout Scripture, you are right, there are commandments that are cast into the lap of man. The question is not whether a man makes choices. It is how. The answer is according to the Lord.

    Let’s put this together. A stone heart is incapable of love. Also, the heart is understood to be that root place of thought. A stone is dead, and therefore its thinking is death, yet the stone still chooses, but what can it choose? Can a stony heart love God? Can it choose to? Can it even know God so that it might? Its thoughts are continuously death. Jesus said this of the Jews who had believed on him. Their hearts were filled only with murder and lies like thier father the devil. The heart of man in his fallen state is only evil continuosly, and Paul tells us that the flesh cannot submit itself to God, it is impossible for it to do so.

    Now we need something to happen to us that we cannot effect on our own. Even if God was to send forth His Spirit into our stony heart (which is what Arminianism teaches by prevenient grace) and strengthened us, that heart would be what it is, evil, only stronger. Scripture has clearly said that the flesh cannot please God. So, the only thing that a sinful heart could do, even if empowered by God to choose Him, would be to choose God sinfully. An unacceptable sacrifice, for God demands perfection in holiness to come into his presence

    The Scripture I listed puts it this way. First out of Isaiah. It is God who causes (through chosen means) that man should go away from Him and not follow his commandments. From Ezekial we have God who works unilaterally to cleanse from sin, excise the heart of stone, put a new one in and cause the new man to walk in the statutes of God. From Solomon we have that it is God who works circumstance, guides the heart, and renders the decisions that are made. Isaiah then tells us that the Lord creates the fruit of our lips. Now, think of it. The Scripture says that “If you will confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” First of all it is God who gives us a heart of belief, and then it is God who gives us the words of our mouth. From beginning to the end it is a work of God. Yes, we are alive and make choices. The difference between the two theological systems is who is the Lord and creator of your beliefs and words, you or Jesus?

  22. Barry Says:

    TT and Gary,

    Thanks again. I’m learning fast here. I feel like I’m playing chess with Bobby Fischer and Boris Spasky. I’m going to take some time to digest what you’ve both written. Both of you are good at crystalizing your thoughts.

    Thx.

  23. Rhett Kelley Says:

    I agree. That shirt IS ridiculous.


  24. Man, cant you arm-in-e-uns take a Joke?
    Man, cant you arm-in-e-uns take a challenge?
    Man, cant you arm-in-e-uns take a Pill? (euphemism for calm down beavis)

    The inanimate t-shirt cannot choose. Just like a DEAD man cant bake chocolate chip cookies, or ascend to God.

    It is a joke, funny and by the way it provided opportunities for evangelism of the lost.


  25. I think the “conversation” (oops, didn’t mean to go emergent on y’all :-) is good. I don’t know about you, but until less than a year ago, I was an uncomfortable synergist. Uncomfortable, because I believed in eternal security, but the whole basis of my being a synergist (free will) didn’t fit with eternal security. If God respects my free will so much, when I became a Christian, why all of a sudden does He take it away? That led me to investigate the whole question, which led to me becoming a convinced monergist.

    I’m sure I still get things wrong – God’s not done with me yet. :-)

  26. LovestheLord Says:

    Good grief!!!


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