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The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

...e above. Many are comfortable in saying that God is sovereign over earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis and human life generally, but they have difficulty in saying that God is sovereign and ordains human evil—evil done by volitional agents. It is understandable in a certain sense. The big difference between these two is the fact that moral agents (humans) are held accountable for their evil deeds, while nature is not. It is humans who will stand before the throne of God and give account for every deed (Eccl. 12:14). “Creation” or “nature” will not give an account for the tornados, tsunamis, and earthquakes that were brought forth from it. Those who oppose Calvinism think that if God were absolutely sovereign, as Calvinists insist, then that would mean that people are “robots” (as they like to say) and God is the author of evil (because He is in absolute control of evil). We obviously reject that. We believe in a micro-managing sovereign God and believe that humans are responsible for their actions. We do not believe that just because men do not have libertarian free will that they’re freed from responsibility. Neither do we believe that because human actions are ordained by God and under His rule that men are excused of responsibility. We believe that the Bible teaches both things side by side. I don’t understand how it works, but I see it in Scripture and thus I’m bound to accept that my knowledge is limited.

Our presuppositions

We certainly cannot believe that God, by Him being God and thus sovereign over all things including evil, makes Him the author of evil or makes Him an approver of sin and evil. That’s absolutely outside the bounds of Scripture. So we first establish that God is sinless and blameless in all that He does and then we look at the passages which describe His sovereignty over the evil acts of men.

Deut. 32:4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

Ps. 92:14-15 They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 15 to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Ps. 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

Hab 1:13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?

Job 34:10 “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.

Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

I think that these verses speak loud and clear on the fact that God is absolutely holy and there is no way for Him to do something unholy—sin, which is evil. “All his ways are justice”, yes, even when He has decreed sin and evil. “His ways are justice” and He “is righteous in all his ways…” If we only look at the passages which speak of God’s sovereignty over evil and conclude that God actually causes sin and wickedness in the hearts of men and this reflects His nature, then we have not taken all divine revelation into consideration. Likewise, if we conclude from the following passages that God cannot have a purpose in ordaining evil, then we’re not taking the whole of divine revelation into consideration.

Does God Have Two Wills?

Now that we’ve ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...bsp;(Ps. 110:1-2; Col 2:15 ). It is Christ Who works in us by His Spirit to mortify sin and works that which is pleasing in God’s sight in us. This He does not wonderfully and in accordance with His sovereign decree and plan. From the beginning until the end it is all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure (Rom. 9:11) this amazing redemption and the manifold blessings of God.


Particular Atonement/Redemption or as it is most commonly known, Limited Atonement, is one of the most confusing doctrines about Calvinism to non-Calvinists. Honestly, it was not a difficult point for me to accept the L in TULIP, since it logically and naturally followed from the other points. If I believed that we were all dead in sin (Total Depravity), God has chosen from the world particular people to be saved (Unconditional Election), how would I reject Limited Atonement and remain consistent?

Some find the phrase “Limited Atonement” confusing as it may suggest to some the effect of the atonement itself was limited, but that is not the intended meaning, so they prefer to use other phrases as Particular Atonement/Redemption. That is fine, but as with every big theological term, we cannot simply assume the meaning. We must learn and try to understand what is being conveyed through the use of the term.

Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith, which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.[28] 

By saying that the atonement is limited, we are not saying that it is limited in its power, rather it is limited in scope. The Father’s will and desire is for Christ to be a perfect Savior for those whom the Father has given to Jesus (John 6:37-40). It was not the Father’s will or intention for Christ to be the substitute for all sinners, but only those whom the Father has given Him. This is what we mean by Limited Atonement or Definite Atonement.

Both Calvinists and Arminians limit the atonement but in different aspects. The Calvinist limits the atonement in its scope, the Arminian limits it in its power. Charles Spurgeon rightly observed:

We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it, we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question-Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They say, “No.” They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say, “No; Christ has died so that any man may be saved if”-and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say then, we will just go back to the old statement-Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He? You must say “No;” you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace and perish. Now, who is it tha...

Preservation of the Saints - Scripture List

...s content is taken from this document

[1] I have used Preservation instead of Perseverance as the first title because of the doctrine teaches that God is the one who works in us and also that it does not destroy the TULIP acrostic.  For the Perseverance of the Saints see “Perseverance of the Saints.”

[2] James White, The Potter’s Freedom (New Revised Edition 2009) p. 40

[3] “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” Ed. 2, pp. 7-8.

[4] This section shows us that the believers are also active in their perseverance, but we’ve already seen that God is the one who preserves us. The verses are taken from “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” Ed. 2, pp. 150-3.

[5] Taken from “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” pp. 153-5. Not all Scripture from there are quoted.

[6] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved..


A Review of RC Sproul's Willing to Believe & Thoughts on Free Will
RC Sproul Willing To Believe The Controversy Over Free Will Free Will Predestination Election Sovereignty Compatibilism Calvinism Arminianism Pelagianism Semi-Pelagianism Augustine Martin Luther John Calvin Jonathan Edwards Book Review

...stion of human freedom and sovereignty. I remember that it was not much later than that I was studying Jonathan Edwards’ The Freedom of the Will, which was somewhat difficult.

In this great work this master theologian gives a historical theological study of important theologians throughout the history of the Christian church on the question of human freedom. He goes through some Christian heroes and giants of the faith like Augustine, Edwards, Luther and Calvin. Also some who were non-Christian and anti-Christian in their theology and thinking like Charles Finney and Pelagius. Lastly, theologians who belong more to the in house debate between Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism and Calvinism, like Jacob Arminius himself.

The Pelagians

Pelagius was a British monk living in the fifth century and he is known to have a huge dispute with Augustine on the nature of man and free will. Pelagius reacted to a seemingly harmless prayer of Augustine which said: Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire. Harmless doesn’t it? Well, that’s not what Pelagius thought. He thought it outrages, because it showed man’s total dependence on God to graciously grant the ability to obey Him. Pelagius believed that commandment presupposes ability. What many nowadays believe. He said that God would never command something that man was not able to do. Therefore, everything that God commands man is able to do. So, away with Romans 8:7-8.

He further taught that Adam was in no sense the federal head of the human race. Adam was created mortal and would have died even if he didn’t sin. All men are born in the state that Adam was in. Adam gave man bad influence, not a sinful nature otherwise known as Original Sin.

He taught that the nature of man was basically good and that sinning didn’t effect that basic goodness of man.

Man has a free will to do good or evil and to obey God in all things.

Jesus’ death was not substitionary, but it was as an example for us.

People can live sinless lives, and in fact some have lived sinless lives.

The grace of God is important, but not essential. What I mean is that it would be awesome if one uses the grace of God for obedience, it will make things much easier, but it is even possible to obey without the grace of God.

This among other things are the things that he believed. I think, for any serious Bible student, they must conclude that this places him outside of Christian orthodoxy. Pelagius and his teachings were condemned in 418 and you would think that it will be the last thing heard of Pelagius, but then arises Charles Finney many centuries later in America.

Charles Finney

Charles Finney taught things very similar to Pelagius. In fact, he was more Pelagian than Pelagius.

He rejected the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which is the heart of the Gospel message.

He rejected the penal substitionary atonement of Christ in place of the believers. He posed the Governmental and Moral Influence theories of the atonement. He taught that all that was needed for conversion was good argumentation and persuasion. His influence is seen in the decisional evangelism/regeneration of our day, when people are told to make a “choice” for Christ. Or to make to choose Christ to be born again.

It is interesting to observe that this is the vision of the secular culture. That man is able to do anything possible. We think we are not bound by nature to anything. We think that we are the...

A Review of Perspectives on the Doctrine of God
Theology Proper Arminianism Calvinism Open Theism Review

...he devil” (p. 154). Thus, the only way that God can remain good and show His loving-kindness is to give humans libertarian free will. This is problematic in my opinion to subject God to our standards and to judge Him as if He is a creature. Here, I worry, as does Dr. Ware, “deeply for Olson and others who think the way that they do when it well may be the case that the view of God they find indistinguishable from Satan turns out to be the true and living God of the Bible” (p. 195).

Throughout the chapter, Dr. Olson also uses the fact that God created people Whom He could save but does not and who will spend an eternity in hell as if it is only an argument against Calvinism (e.g., pp. 154, 160-161; on p. 161, he even compares hell to a concentration camp!). This is an object against any self-respecting Christian theist position which does not deny God’s comprehensive foreknowledge. If God doesn’t want them to go to hell, then He could have struck down their parents or not bring them into being better than allowing them to be born, trying to save them and ultimately being eternally disappointed. I’m sure anyone in hell would have preferred to not exist rather than having their free will “violated.” The Calvinist is satisfied in his conviction that nothing happens outside or without God’s will and those who are in hell, God wanted them to be there because of their sin and He will be glorified in their damnation. This is indeed a horrible decree, but it is nonetheless for the glory of the triune God. Either God had a purpose in their destruction and brought them into being or He did not. Dr. Olson’s answer is “People determine themselves for hell by their free choices and especially by their rejection of God’s offer of salvation (whether through the explicit preaching of the gospel or through the light of God present in every culture and in conscience)” (p. 161). There is no offer of salvation in natural revelation, but his theology has ventured off so far based on his conception of goodness and love that he would perhaps be an inclusivist? The gospel comes to us by special divine revelation (e.g., Rom. 10:14-17).

Another point which Dr. Olson mentions is that “God limits his power in relation to creation and especially in relation to human persons” (p. 155). One should not wander that Calvinists have often accused of Arminians of not being as God-centered as Calvinists when such statements are made. God is adjusting Himself just to make room for His creatures. God does not need to restrict Himself or His power in order for His creatures to be responsible. He also says that “For free will theses, God’s glory is not might but goodness” (p. 155). Why such a dichotomy? As if His power is contrary to His grace and mercy. This is in nowise the case.

According to Olson, libertarian free will is simply presupposed in the Bible (p. 159). It is “the Hebraic view of persons as possessing free will” (p. 159). I’m not sure if we can paint with such a broad brush. There are interesting indications about the Essenes and divine determinism. In the rest of the chapter, he goes on to substantiate more claims about libertarian free will and some tenants of Arminianism like prevenient grace. All in all, a fine but an unconvincing case for classical Arminianism.

The open theist position

The last essay is for the Open Theism view by Dr. John Sanders. Dr. Sanders is a fine and gracious gentleman who better represents the “theological determi...

Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist
Calvinism Absolute Sovereignty Of God Reformed Theology Reformed Baptist 1689 Baptist Confession Calvinist Baptist

... Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism) ...

God's Absolute Sovereignty: Resources used
Calvinism Election Predestination Limited Atonement Mercy Sovereignty Verse List God Is In Control Theword Modules

...+Critical+and+Explanatory+on+the+Whole+Bible.cmt.exe">Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (direct link)
  • Albert Barnes New Testament Notes
  • ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 9 Chapter Nine Free Will Libertarian Free Will Determinism Fatalism Compatibilism Incompatibilism Moral Agency Jonathan Edwards The Freedom Of The Will

    ...RC-Sprouls-Willing-To-Believe-Thoughts-On-Free-Will/942"see review)
  • Thaddeus J. Williams – Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will?
  • Scott Christensen - What about Free Will?: Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty
  • Calvinists have always been leveled the charge that our understanding of God’s absolute micro-managing sovereignty makes men as puppets and robots. One wonders what the reason was for the Westminster, Savoy and 1689 to offer a chapter on free will if they thought that people were merely puppets and robots as many critics like to mock Calvinism.

    In section 1, we will have our longest discussion of the will. There, I hope, with Edwards’ Freedom of the Will, to lay the understanding of the human will as believed by many Calvinists, which I believe happens to be biblical and logical. I have chosen to do this for two purposes: 1) I want to understand Edwards’ position better first hand from him. Edwards is difficult to read and understand and sometimes you have to read sentences and paragraphs over and over or look somewhere for an explanation to understand what he’s getting at. 2) And I would like you to understand Edwards’ position on the will which is the commonly held view by many Calvinists. Edwards is obviously not without critique, especially on his speculations about the Fall. But some Reformed people also disagree with him on free will, claiming that his view is too mechanistic and deterministic. His discussion clarifies many things for me and from the people I benefited from, who are mentioned above, I’ve not read their criticism on Edwards beside his speculations on the Fall. I mention this so that you know that not every Calvinist agrees with Edwards, though a majority does. Some resources on this subject are found at Reformed Books Online.

    In the following sections, we will try to lay some things concerning man’s will in the four states, from innocence until glory.

    §1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice

    1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forcednor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
      1. Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19[1]

    The will of man, by definition and nature, is endued...with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice. This is also one of those things which set us apart from the lower creation. Paragraph 1 does not speak about Adam’s will before the Fall; paragraph 2 will do that. Rather, in paragraph 1, the will of man is spoken of generally without reference to it being enslaved to righteousness or sin. It is by nature free. What does this freedom consist of? That is is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. Man is not a robot as many non-Calvinists like to caricature Calvinism. No one has done something because they were forced by God in their wills to do so. Rather, they acted with that natural liberty of will which we are endued with. The second thing that the Confession mentions in connection to this natural liberty is that the will is not determined by nature. By nature, the Confession is referring to the natural world or what we call the laws of nature. There are no physical or natural laws forcing man to do good or evil. But as we will soon discover, another kind of nature is important for the will, that is, the nature of man.

    God Ordains Huma...

    Unconditional Election, Sovereign Grace - Scripture List
    Calvinism Election Predestination Mercy Sovereignty Verse List God Is In Control Unconditional Election Sovereign Grace

    ...ong>those who have obtained[7] a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

    This content is taken from this document

    [1] James White, The Potter’s Freedom (New Revised Edition 2009) p. 39

    [2] “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” Ed. 2, pp. 6.

    [3] C.f. Ps 41:9

    [4] C.f. 1Kg 22:1, Mal 1:2

    [5] C.f. Isa 65:1


    • G2975 λαγχάνω lagchano (lang-khan’-o) v.
    • 1. to lot, i.e. determine (by implication, receive) especially by lot
    • [a prolonged form of a primary verb, which is only used as an alternate in certain tenses]
    • KJV: his lot be, cast lots, obtain
    • Jonathan Kristen Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries. Taken from the Bible software The Word.

    [8] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved..


    Limited Atonement, Definite Redemption - Scripture List & Case
    Calvinism Election Predestination Mercy Sovereignty Verse List God Is In Control Unconditional Election Sovereign Grace

    ...the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

    This content is taken from this document

    [1] James White, The Potter’s Freedom (New Revised Edition 2009) p. 39-40

    [2] “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” Ed. 2, pp. 6-7.

    [5] Lit. For this is how God loved the world; “whoever believes”, πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων is literally “all the believing”

    [8] The recipients were fellow believers, Tit 1:1-4.

    [9] The recipients were the “elect exiles,” 1Pet 1:1.

    [10] C.f. Mk 9:43; Lk 3:17

    [12] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Chapter III

    [13] “Kinds of” is not found in the Greek text.

    [14] NASB “For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.”

    [15] 1 Cor 6:9-11 lists sins that people who practice those will not inherit eternal life.

    [16] The Gospel was not preached in the whole world literally at the time Colossians was written, which is around 62 AD. And the Gospel is still not preached to the whole world, if by “whole world” we mean every single individual living or nation.

    [17] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved..