Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, November 21, 2005

TULIP … Unconditional Election, part 2

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.”
(Job 38:4)
A personal note:
I am a believer and I know I have been born again. If this is because I was selected to do so, that is wonderful for me … but what about the rest of humanity? All of us are born in sin, utterly corrupted. What about those who aren’t “elect”? The perfect, untainted, sinless God-man died for the sins of a chosen special group of individuals they were not part of, and they will burn in Hell for eternity for God’s glory. They cannot EVER believe and be saved because they were not chosen. How’s that? I didn’t like this doctrine from the moment it was explained to me. It flew in the face of what I had understood the gospel message to be: …whosoever will (believe), not whosoever is (elected). How does this glorify God? That’s just my human reasoning, but if the Bible clearly spells out that this is the way God does it, then I must accept that. However, I don’t have to accept a doctrine from men if I can’t find it clearly defined in the Scriptures.

Unconditional: not conditional or limited, absolute, unqualified, not subject to, implying, or dependent upon a condition.

Election: to make a selection of, to choose (as a course of action) especially by preference.
The concept of election is found in the Bible, so anyone who believes in the Bible must address the issue. Usually, if the person is not a Calvinist, he may say, that God foresaw the person’s faith and chose Him. In other words, God looked through time, saw that you would believe when presented the gospel, and therefore He said, “I’ll pick that one.” I don’t think a choice between unconditional election and forseen faith is necessary. A lot depends on your concept of election. But this truth is not deniable by Bible believers: faith is necessary for salvation.

Even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Ephesians 1:4)

This verse says that we were chosen in Him, not just as ourselves alone.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood … (1 Peter 1)

Does this say that individuals are chosen to receive salvation without the condition of faith? The Bible contrasts faith and works, not elect and non-elect.

… born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has
(Romans 9:16 )

Is the “will of man” and “exertion” here talking about “faith”? No. Faith is contrasted many times in the Bible with the "will of man" and "exertion". Faith is necessary for salvation and if you’re not saved, you’re predestined for hell. Predestined…in other words, your destination is chosen before you arrive, unless something happens and your course changes. You can’t will yourself to be saved, but the Bible says that whoever calls upon the name of Lord will be saved, so the “will of man” spoken of in these verses cannot be speaking of belief in the gospel or by faith recieving the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins.

I love the word “unconditional”. When I think of how the Lord doesn’t require works for righteousness, I think of this word, “unconditional”. When I think of how I am accepted in the Beloved, this word comes to mind. Before I was saved, when I had not the imputed righteousness of Christ, I was not, however accepted in the “Beloved.” I was fit for wrath. So what is the difference in the before salvation me and the regenerated me? Salvation is not conditional upon works, but comes to us through faith. The difference is faith in Christ (all He is and all He has done.) I believe that this is the condition for salvation and therefore it is the condition for election.

…They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2)

This passage is speaking of corporate Israel, not individuals ... and the same is true of Romans chapter 9. In fact, I don’t see anywhere where ordinary people are chosen individually for salvation. The Bible clearly says that certain prophets and apostles have been chosen for the specific message that God wants them to deliver, but it never says that every individual has a mark on him from birth that determines whether God will “grant” him faith or not.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17)

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; my elect one, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him: he will bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:1)

We only become chosen when we are “in Christ” because He is the chosen one. I was nothing before I was “in Christ”. How can we discount the difference between being “in Christ” and not “in Christ”? Are unregenerate sinners “in Christ”? No. Then, they are not chosen. My Calvinist friend, if you are elect (and you know this because now you are saved) were you “in Christ” before you believed? The answer is no. Therefore, did not the wrath of God abide on you before you believed? How can you apply Ephesians chapter 1 to the unregenerate you? How could it be possible then that such an faithless person is unconditionally elected?

When reading the first chapter of Ephesians, it jumped out at me. The phrase “in Christ” is there at least 14 times. Every time it speaks of chosen or predestined, it is in conjunction with this phrase. The chapter ends up in reference to “His body”, the church. I submit, if you look at the idea of election and think of it as the church, it makes so much more sense with the rest of the Bible. There are no conditions upon the church. They are elected. But there is a condition to become a part of the church, Christ's body, is there not?

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)

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)

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. (Romans 9:30-32)

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
(Romans 10:9)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9) Look at the sentence structure.

So, in the Calvinist mindset, “unconditional” means that there is no responsibility, no condition to be one of the elect. We don’t have to consent or believe in Christ to be elect. He will breathe new life into us, regenerate us and then we WILL believe. There is no decision card here ;~) ... no groping for God, no seeking Him, no persuasion of men, just the playing out of God’s perfect plan for individuals that He already had predetermined from the foundation of the world.

Let me say this will all due respect to my Calvinist friends: it almost seems to me that they have redefined the words faith and belief.

Believe: to accept as true, genuine, or, to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something, to hold an opinion, to think, to consider to be true or honest, to accept the word or evidence of.

Faith: allegiance to duty or a person, loyalty, fidelity to one's promises, sincerity of intentions, belief and trust in and loyalty to God, belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion, firm belief in something for which there is no proof, complete trust, something that is believed especially with strong conviction.

These words require something in our heart and mind, a response from us. (They are not something done to us.) Not from our will, but from our soul and innermost being. Our parents cannot believe for us. A minister cannot believe for us, and God does not ever say that He will believe for us. (Does God invade our mind with faith when we are running from Him and when we won’t listen to His word?) People must hear the gospel and believe to become a part of the elect.

Here is just a little musing … What if God, has made provision for all of humanity like it says in the Bible. (Romans 5:18, 1 John 1:2) What if there are two “you”s out there. (Two you’s is not a concept foreign to the scriptures). Two contingencies, if you will … There is a version of every person “in Christ” destined for God’s presence and there is a version of every person that is not “in Christ”, destined for hell and eternal separation from God. Your response to the Gospel determines which “you” that proceeds into the future. Is that impossible for the mind of God to hold? Must we say that God’s mind is somehow limited to only one plan for each individual person on this earth?

Finally, I say this in regards to my musing and to TULIP: God is not like us, His ways are not our ways, His mind is certainly nothing like our mind. We can't understand what it is like to be Him. I don’t subscribe to open theism, but I think the Bible makes it clear that the ways things are playing out at this time are largely affected by human decisions and response, albeit, it is never out of God’s sovereign control.

In our zeal to recognize the eternality of God, let us not speak in terms that are outside of the model for salvation that has been given in the Bible. He is the never-changing One. He is eternal. God lives outside of time. The Bible speaks of conversion as an event that takes place in real time. Let us not think that we can rise above our understanding of it in this way. We are not God! Look at all the years of needless strife this doctrine has caused in the church and it is all because we are trying to see into things eternal. We must not try to lift ourselves above the understanding and the truths that God has given us. This is a dangerous area to enter and I think God is not pleased when we try to lift ourselves up in this way. When people start trying to define the infinite, we really screw it up. Whenever God gives us a glimpse into eternity, it is to see Jesus Christ, not ourselves. Christ is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The condition for being part of the elect is being in Christ through faith.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Romans 11:33)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55)


  • What a wonderful post, yet I am sure it will be a tempest in a teapot to many.

    Your musings are right on, and no Calvinist can give adequate response except to claim "mystery" or "paradox"...

    why not just say "contradiction"?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/21/2005 10:32 PM  

  • “It flew in the face of what I had understood the gospel message to be: …whosoever will (believe), not whosoever is (elected).”

    I have yet to see a logical demonstration that “whosever wil”l implies that God did not unconditionally choose His people. I’ve even discussed this with one Christian that held a PhD in Philosphy who disagreed with Calvinism. This is because if God has unconditionally elected someone, that person will eventually be the “whoseover will” that will believe. Furthermore, the inverse logical inference also holds, that whosoever will believe is one whom God has previously elected. Where is the contradiction? Where is the problem? Actually, this isn’t rocket science.

    Is it because you are told that Calvinists believe that those people are in some way created or forced not to believe? This is contrary to what the London Baptist Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith state, which are documents that many confessional Christians subscribe to.

    What I would like to see is the sequence of logical steps that show, based on either the London Baptist Confession of Faith, or the Westminster Confession of Faith, that leads to the contradiction of whosover will.

    By Blogger Earl, at 11/21/2005 11:09 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    It will take some time to review, digest, and think about your post. I have to do something else now, but here’s a few quick comments.

    When people teach that God foresaw our faith and that’s why He chose us, it really wasn’t explaining anything at all -- it was explaining it away. God’s election was reduced to a formality since we would have believed even without it. It was simply a way of skirting the issue. Much better to look for the election in Christ.

    The gospel is the power of God to salvation for the one who believes (Rom 1:16). This power is not found in the election, nor is it found through predestination. If someone is preaching that salvation can come in any other way than believing in the gospel, that ‘other method’ would be considered ‘another gospel’ (as in Gal 1:8; 2:21-3:1).

    Traditionally, both Calvinism and Arminianism have placed election before all other soteriological; subjects (except foreknowledge), when speaking of a chronological procession of events. But throughout Scripture, election is actually shown to follow such topics as foreknowledge, sanctification of the Spirit, (I Peter 1:2), abiding in Christ (Col 3:11,12), predestination itself (Eph 1:4,5), calling (2 Peter 1:10), hearing the gospel (I Thess 1:4,5) and others.

    Have to go, but I am very interested in reading this posting again.

    p.s. who says God had no criteria for whom He would choose, and not choose? Think about this in relaitons to Jesus, from 1 Cor 1:27-31

    By Blogger loren, at 11/21/2005 11:30 PM  

  • I read Dave Hunt's book, "WHAT LOVE IS THIS" and I feel that I am reading it all over again. I am so sorry that people have such a hard time grasping the fact that, if not for election,nobody would be saved. I'm so sorry that people can't grasp that Lazarus could not call out to Jesus from the tomb to come and raise him from the dead. I'm so sorry that people can't see that the Father Elects,(1Pet. 1:2), gives to the Son (John 6:37), draws people to Him(John 6:44),Teaches people's hearts about the Son(John 6:45)and grants that people be able to come(John6:65).

    It is the Spirit that separates us from the world to obedience to Christ(1Pet.1:2), and regenerates us Titus 3:5. It is God Who initiates salvation-Eph. 2:4-5; Col.1:13-14,2:13-14. It is God Who causes the ground to be good in the parable of the sower.

    If we are so willing to accept that "All men have sinned" why can't we also accept what God tells us about us in the very same train of thought in the very same chapter..."There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God". That spells spiritual death. How can anybody not see that the human race, without the enabling of God, can't come to Him.

    There is NO scriptural basis for the idea that there is some intermediate place between God's drawing to His Son and that person coming to Him.See John 6:44"and I will raise him up at the last day"

    Five hundred years of debates all ended in a few blog posts- purty good!

    By Blogger bluecollar, at 11/22/2005 12:22 AM  

  • Excellent stuff, Rose. You make a really good case.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/22/2005 3:43 AM  

  • 'There is none that seeketh after God'. This is a quotation of Psalm 14:2 which was written before the preaching of the Gospel.

    Yes, man who has had no revelation of grace does not seek. However, God is calling men and women through the preaching of the Gospel. They are not seeking, but He is seeking them. The Gospel is the mediating instrument of regeneration, by which men may be enabled to believe and be converted.

    1 Cor 4:15
    'For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.'

    Ephesians 3:6
    'That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.'

    Ephesians 3:8-9
    'Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ;
    And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ'

    Ephesians 6:19
    'And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.'

    1 Peter 1:23
    'Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of gOd, which liveth and abideth for ever.'

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/22/2005 4:05 AM  

  • John 3:16
    For all chistain this is the first verse that we know. Why , it show the Love of the Father. The election is here in this verse and the foundation of our belief lies on the verse.
    GoD so love the world ..The world here includes all mankind. God not willing for any should perish. The extent of His love shown by His sending His Son. It is a way out of damnation not election as much as foreknowing our reation to His Love . He first loved us. Great Writing it show that you are so in love with Jesus. Thanks Rose

    By Blogger forgiven, at 11/22/2005 5:04 AM  

  • Earl,
    You are smarter than I am. I didn't even go to Bible collge, I only have a BA in Graphic Design!

    I'm going to look at 1 Cor 1:27-31. I usually find your comments very fresh in perspective and this is no exception. Thanks.

    I do not think I can end the debate!! It sure would be nice if it was not everlasting, though, wouldn't it?
    Dave Hunt's book - I have never read that book, but I have heard people say that it is a "straw man" charicature of Calvinism. I guess that means that they would think my attitudes in this post are also incorrect. I'm just trying to see the logical conclusion of the doctrines.
    BTW, I think God HAS DONE IT ALL! This is what kind of bugs me about the attitude of the Calvinists toward the non-Calvinist. You always seem to think that the other side wants to limit the power of God in our theology. Not true. If anyone is saying things are limited, it is TULIP... limited to a few favorite people. God is awesome and He is so merciful toward us, why must we think that His mercy is limited. The onus is on mankind. God has made a way. When individuals go to hell, they will be responsible for it and it will be just! This is what I am fighting for, Mark, the mercy of God that is shown through Christ without partiality and is therefore just. I wish that wouldn't make you sorry. I'm glad for your comments though, thanks for listing those scriptures. I will look at them today again. Your friend, Rose :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 7:10 AM  

  • ANOTHER MUSING thought.... I was thinking about the Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Election. Some have characterized it as being like a box of chocolates that God arbitrily picks, not caring what is inside ... as though he randomly picks.

    But really, after reading a certain post on Buddhism it got me to thinking ... the condition, for unconditional election is the identity of the person. In other words, YOU must be YOU to be elected ... or else did the Lord decree that person #78653708459867359 that comes into the world will be saved etc... and chose those who would believe based on some arbitraray system. (like the box of chocolates ill.) No, according to TULIP (or the confessions that Earl has listed) God has chosen CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, so then how can they say that the elction lies with God? The reason for the elction is still within the ELECT people, their particular identity.

    I like the "in Christ" model for election that I have come to, because the reason for election is then Christ, not my identity alone.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 7:20 AM  

  • Yes, I think their is a lot of merit in the model of election you are advocating, Rose.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/22/2005 7:42 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    I Peter 1:2 tells us we are

    Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

    The same foreknwledge He knew for his Son

    Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

    Act 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

    Election because of foreknowledge of God. We can go around and around just on this.

    By Blogger forgiven, at 11/22/2005 9:18 AM  

  • Rose, my apologies for being a big bag of wind. That was an awful comment I made. What I was trying to say is that within the doctrines of Calvinism, there are no logical contradictions with a person responding by faith and God's soveriegn election of the person. Whenever I talk to people about it, and walk though the logical steps, we discover there is no contradiction. I've done this scores of times, with people of all sorts of educational backgrounds. The logic is actually straight forward. This is why I found people who supported unconditional election, like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the confessions to be so compelling.

    Again, my apologies for my abysmal comment. That's what you get from a "Totally Depraved" Calvinist. :o)

    I try to walk though some of this in my blog, but I see I am unsuccessful in being getting this across.

    By Blogger Earl, at 11/22/2005 11:52 AM  

  • Yes, I do agree with earl that there is no logical contradiction in Calvinism as to the relationship between faith and election.

    However, just because it is consistent does not mean it is true.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/22/2005 12:20 PM  

  • Rose,
    Its good to someone trying to take a scriptural look at things. So many people just take their stand and go with it. I have a few scriptures I want to share and few comments to make. Also I apologize if some of my remarks are redundant I did not thorougly read all the comments or all or the preceding posts.

    Acts 13:48 (ESV)
    48When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

    This verse clearly show that those who believe do so because they were appointed to. Even though I believe this clear in the english translations I went to the Greek to look at the tense of the word that is translated 'had been ordained" and its 'tetagamenoi' (lexical form is tasso) Its a participle and its tense is perfect. The pefect (which is simular to the pluperfect in latin but not simple past in english) tense is used to signify that something happened in the past that produced a lasting result in future. I say all this be also more strongly refeinforces that God's election in the past is why we come to faith in the future.

    Another verse to consider is John 10:26, "You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep." He does not say, "You are not my sheep because you do not believe." This time showing a negative example of people not believing.

    We in our sinful natures do not choose God but ourselves always over God. (Total Depravity) So if we were given the chose without God working in us we would always choose ourselves over God. Thats why Grace is so amazing its something we do not deserve.

    I also think they way you use hell and talk about the non-elect in your opening paragraph almost looks like it presupposes that people don't deserve hell and its not fair if they don't get a chance to go to heaven. This plays on emotions but I think looks at it from the wrong point of view. The reason people go to hell is not because they are non-elect but because they are sinners. God in heaven is never going to say to someone you are in hell because you are non-elect he will have a long list of sins that need to be rightly punished because God is holy. Again when we freely choose to do something its sin. Look at Romans 1 on how ALL knew God by denied him and of course Romans 3 for the consequence. The default position for sin is God's holy, perfect, just wrath against it. So when people don't accept Christ they do get what we deserve. John 3:17 its says that Christ did not come to judge the world because it is already judge. Christ came to save us out of our default position hell. Where were already going because of our sins. The reason someone goes to hell is because they are a sinner. Not because they did not have a chance to hear the Gospel. That is the position of all man kind. But what a great and marvilous thing grace is that we all dont get what we deserve!

    Lastly your idea that in everybody there are two potential states one of person elect and one non and what you do deteremines what they will be is an interesting philosophical idea (as well as those who God saw will come to him are elect) But it is foreign to scripture. It almost also suggests that God does not know the future until we choose which future will be realized. This is very close to being open theism.

    Anyway those are my thoughts. I hope they did not come off as harsh, I did not intend them to. Keep searching and as Dave Mullins and Johnny Mac would say Grace to you.

    By Blogger John, at 11/22/2005 1:08 PM  

  • Dyspraxic,

    I agree, logical consistency does not mean it's true. There are two things in Rose's series of posts on TULIP. One is the question of Biblical fidelity of Calvinism. That is the central question. But Rose has also been taking various ideas, also explicitly contained in Calvinist doctrine as defined in the confessions, and stating these are logical contradictions. I've been concentrating in this area because these are stawmen that I would like to see removed so that the real issues can be dealt with.

    But again, I agree with you.

    By Blogger Earl, at 11/22/2005 1:09 PM  

  • That whole "God looking forward into time and seeing who would choose him, so that God could elect only those people " thing falls apart pretty quickly when we consider how the Apostle Paul was converted.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/22/2005 2:27 PM  

  • Time is a function of space - physical relativity has already demonstrated this - Time is not only relative to space - it is inseparable from space. That means that outside of creation there is no time. God therefore looks on every moment and every place from an outside reference point. Not before or after - but outside. God exists even if time does not.

    The image therefore of God looking forward in time is ridiculous - it suggests that God is somehow locked into the present as though he were bound by limitations of creation. God however is most certainly "holy" - that is, set apart from creation.

    In fact, one could say there are only two things Creator and creation - all that isn't Creator is Creation, and vice versa.

    So a more correct way to look at it is to say that God sees the future, the present, and the past with equal clarity in the same glance. God knew (and was utterly sovereign in) all every event that would ever happen the moment creation came into being.

    So the picture of God looking forward into time is as laughably myopic as it is naive. God doesn't look forward - He sees all time and space in the same glance.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/22/2005 2:36 PM  

  • Daniel, thank you for reading. I didn't say that I subscribe to the idea of foreseen faith, I only mentioned that it was there.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 2:38 PM  

  • John,
    I have to mull that over. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for writing all that! Let me think about it.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 2:46 PM  

  • Daniel,
    Recognising God's eternal perspective, His complete knowledge and Hi sovereignty need not lead us to conclude that God ordains all things. God's eternal, timeless perspective can allow for both a Deterministic model of sovereignty or a general, permissive model of sovereignty.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/22/2005 3:06 PM  

  • John,
    I think we should be careful about using that narrative text in Acts 13 to build a theology of election. Plenty of Calvinists are critical of Pentecostalists for using the narrative of Acts to support their theology. It surprises me that Calvinists pull out that verse so readily.

    As for John 10:26, regular readers of this blog will groan, but I will say it again. John's Gospel needs to be understood in its dispensational context. The Gospel had not yet been offered and the Jews hearts were being hardened so that they would go ahead and crucify Jesus.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/22/2005 3:12 PM  

  • Clumsy Fundie - awesome handle by the way - I am persuaded that the weight of scripture supports the deterministic view over the permissive view.

    Notwithstanding, my everyday life demonstrates that I have free will to do whatever I want.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 11/22/2005 4:39 PM  

  • dyspaxic fundamentalist,

    The fact that Acts is a narrative does nothing to nullify that verse. There is so much to say to respond to that but time restraints me. You do have to becareful in intrepreting narratives. There are right ways and wrongs ways. THe way I did is not an example of a wrong way. Most of the BIble is narrative and some is didactic, some is peotry you can not say you can not take theology from narratives. That would disqualify the book of Gensis and the Gospels etc. So do you then discount the doctrince of creation? Of course not! Because some people missusse narratives is neither here no there. It seems to me you are trying to sideline the force of that verse by bring up something that is neither here nor there. Neither is my doctrine base on that verse. I was using that to respond to Rose's original post. Not writting a systematic theology on the subject. If I said something like everyone should march around buildings 7 times and blow trumpet to take down buildings they want to demolish that would be an example of misusing a narrative. I did nothing like that. So you brush the verse away because it comes from a narrative.

    On your comment you have to intrepret in is its dispensentional context is wrong. For I am not a dispentionalist( nor covenantlist either btw Dispentialism and Coevenatalism are not the only two options)
    2.THe sheep clearly in context are the church. thats in the same passage where talk about how he will protect his sheep from theives and robbers and later he talkes about being the good sheperd (of the sheep the church)
    I then went to look what John MacArthur had to say on it who is more dispentionalist and he does not agree you and says the sheep are those who follow Christ. There is no reason make that refer to Isreal rejecting Christ I dont think even most dipensationalist would read it that way. If you read the whole chapter I dont think its natural whatsoever to come to that conclusion.


    By Blogger John, at 11/22/2005 5:10 PM  

  • If we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will." (Institutes, III, xxii, 11)

    Note we are not to seek any CAUSE beyond God's will. This is very important to note in John Calvin. Obviously this contradicts some other things he says, but it is important to note this statement!

    If we were to take this statement as true, then depravity, the sin of Adam, the fall of man, and all personal sin is not the cause for man going to hell. The CAUSE for man going to hell is quite simply the will of God.

    This is consistent with the Calvinistic view of sovereignty. For to be a single predestinarian, you would have to say that God is sovereign in the choosing of the elect, but checks His sovereignty at the door when he damns the reprobate. This is inconsistent. But Calvin, at least in this respect, was not inconsistent. He knew his view of the sovereignty of God and his view of election necessitated that God choose by His will, apart from any consideration of man whatsoever, to reprobates.

    "... he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction...God ... arranges and disposes of them at his pleasure... all events take place by his sovereign appointment" (Institutes III, xxiii, 6)

    The will of God is necessity, and God's will is to doom the reprobate. This He did in the secret counsel of His all-encompassing decree whereby, He chose, apart from any consideration of man whatsoever, those who would glorify them by their destruction without any hope of remedy at all.

    "...the divine will... is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists ... God, whose pleasure it is to inflict punishment ... no other cause can be adduced... than the secret counsel of God..." (Institutes III, xxiii, 4)

    It is the divine will to inflict punishment on the reprobate, for this is the pleasure of God. No other cause can be adduced! Not sin, not depravity, not the fall, only God's will stemming from His secret counsel.

    "Paul teaches us that the ruin of the wicked is not only foreseen by the Lord, but also ordained by his counsel and his will... not only the destruction of the wicked is foreknown, but that the wicked themselves have been created for this very end -- that they may perish" (Commentaries Romans 9:18)

    God ordained and created the wicked for the purpose of destruction, this for the very end that they may perish: all to His glory.

    "I... ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy unless it so seemed meet with God [sic]? ... The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree... God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it." (Institutes, III, xxiii, 7)

    It was meet with God that the reprobate infant children suffer eternal death, and this without remedy. Calvin attributes this decision to God's "dreadful" decree. God does not "know" because He foresees! He foresees because He has ordained! He arranged and ordained the fall of man (maybe as a way to "justify" man's reprobation that came about solely by His sovereign and free choice determined in the secret counsel of His "dreadful" Decree?

    No we can't blame Adam's sin, depravity, the fall, etc! All that can be adduced is the will of God!

    "...each has been created for one or other of these ends, [therefore] we say that he has been predestined to life or to death" (Institutes III, xxi, 5)

    The reprobate has been "created" for eternal death. This was the purpose that the Sovereign God determined for them.

    R.C. Sproul:

    "It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the 'elect or chosen ones.' It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case." (R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God, 36)

    ("Not all that loving toward them" may be one of the greatest theological understatements of all time!)

    My Free Grace Theology Blog


    By Blogger Antonio, at 11/22/2005 5:10 PM  

  • rose: I really appreciate your post.

    What I have difficulty with is how many people hold different viewpoints so vehemently!

    It's my way or the highway.

    It's "surely someone as bright as you can see that I'm right."

    Like you, I am saved. I remember the event.

    I did not know about the virgin birth, or election, or pre this or post that. None of that was explained to me BEFORE I was saved.

    Someone had the audacity to tell me that my sin separated me from God and that trusting the finished work of Christ at Calvary would bring God and me together eternally.

    I trusted. He saved.

    I always thought that was enough.

    The rest of my theology developed over time AFTER my salvation.

    And I'll bet many of our readers would not agree with some, most or all of what I espouse.

    Oh, well.

    By Blogger Joe, at 11/22/2005 7:10 PM  

  • Hi everyone,
    Rose~ your readers are communicating at a very good level! What depth of insight, knowledge and care each has put into it! What further impresses me is that no one has made the others look or feel illegitimate. Here is the true fellowship! Bible centered conversation. Way to go sister!

    Lord, continue to illuminate my finite mind. I ask that you would draw me closer to you,dear Jesus. I believe, help thou my unbelief.

    Keep coming back all,
    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 11/22/2005 7:15 PM  

  • Joe~
    Great remarks! Since I am a Baptist I will give your comments a hearty AMEN!

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 11/22/2005 7:59 PM  

  • John,
    Methinks the verse you quoted from acts is a favorite of Calvinists. Jonathan Moorehead brought it to my attention when I was thinking over Total Depravity. I think it COULD mean that the salvation was broader than the Jews wanted to think ... in that it was also appointed that the Gentiles would hear the gospel and could receive salvation at that time. Isn't that the point of the passage? It can't mean something that contrdicts other portions of scripture. And yes!!! Isn't it beautiful that God had foreordained that any man could come to Him by faith, JEW OR GREEK. That is what is being talked about in that passage, John.

    Same with the other verse you brought up. All Israel are not His sheep. He was telling of the turn of events and the New Covenant about to begin. As He is being challenged by the rejecting Jews, he speaks of His Sheep, the church. Just because He doesn't say "They hear my voice and therefore they are my sheep", doesn't mean it is not what is meant. "My husband loves me." Does He love me because He is my husband ... or is He my husband becuase He loves me? Both could be true, either could be true. Reading too much into the structure of a sentence can be slippery.

    Believing the Gospel doesn't make you deserve Grace any more than the joy of opening a present on Christmas morning is because you bought and paid for it. Ah, but you must open the present. Is this a work? No, it is obtaining the contents of the package. Come unto me... Christ calls mankind, all those who labor and are heavy laden ... there are so many.

    People deserve hell. It just seems to me that the Calvinist paints a portrait of a merciless God who offers no salvation. HE IS WAY MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THAT TO ME! This is why I fight over this issue. I love the Lord and His wonderful redeeming love and glorious redemptive power. I don't like it when it sounds to me like PEOPLE want to put limits on it that are not in the Scripture.

    Also, I stated that I was MUSING about the "two you's". But you're wrong John, there is a Biblical idea for that. (The old man/new man). That is what inspired my musing. But ... my musing is just that...musing. I just wish that we could exhalt the musing of these theologians a little LESS.

    NO OPEN THEISM HERE. God is not waiting to see what happens! But...He calls on all men everywhere to repent and we need to think about our own time and not imagine we can understand how the Lord works all this out. That is all I am really trying to say in this post.

    John, you are not harsh. I hope I don't seem harsh to you. Thank you for the challenge. You got me thinking and looking at those portions of Scripture and that is always good! Come back again and challenge me some more. D. Mullins and I used to fuss with eachother over this, but now he is too busy. Bless you!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 10:22 PM  

  • Joe,
    When you come to my blog and post a comment, I feel so validated! Thank you.

    J. Wendell,
    Thank you for saying that to me. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 10:26 PM  

  • Antonio,
    I think what you say is very well thought out and you raise a lot of the same issues I have, but you say them better, albeit a little longer than I think most people read as a comment. Thanks for coming over!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/22/2005 10:28 PM  

  • Rose,

    Awesome post. This one is good. I should we keep it.

    I think you view of Ephesians 1 is really good as it seems to be helping out. You are seeing the election "In Christ" which is so critical to our understanding. I think this is what Loren is getting into, thought I might not agree directly with his interpretation I think we are seeing and showing him praise to the Glory of His name through viewing this. We are really elected Father and given to the Son (In Christ) and sealed with the Holy Spirit. We should delight and see the work of our Glorious God.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/22/2005 11:44 PM  

  • Rose,

    On another note where God is referring to election you seem to be applying that to only the specific body of Christ or Israel. There is plenty and I mean plenty of evidence that it is for specific people. I would agree with some that we should consider John in light of it not being part of our dispensation, etc. Let's start a side discussions about the validity of dispensational presuppositions in our soteriology. I guess I could say my presuppositions might need to be put to the test against scrpiture as well, but I'm noticing quite a lot of soteriology based on dispensational thought here.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/22/2005 11:51 PM  

  • Rose,

    Okay back to election, Consider the foreknowedge of God texts referring to election, it refers to intimate knowledge as God would know a person intimately, not just foreseeing future faith as you rightly indicate. God is very personal with his election, it's all over the bible, just like Adoption and justification is very personal and for you as an individual. Can we say that justification is not for us personally because it applies to the body of Christ. I can see why you are taking that view, but I think you are applying and "Israel" card to election.

    You said "So, in the Calvinist mindset, “unconditional” means that there is no responsibility, no condition to be one of the elect. "

    No, the problem is calvinists are defending God's sovereignty and not man's responsibility as well with their statements. Election doesn't nullify our responsibility to trust Christ alone, and logic dictates that calvinists don't always put an emphasis on all scripture the way they should.

    "We don’t have to consent
    or believe in Christ to be elect. He will breathe new life into us, regenerate us and then we WILL believe. There is no decision card here ;~) ... no groping
    for God, no seeking Him, no persuasion of men, just the playing out of God’s
    perfect plan for individuals that He already had predetermined from the foundation of the world. "

    All of those things happen with the elect, except the decision card and consenting idea. Decisionism is not biblical.

    Some more two cents. When we are talking about "decision cards", consider this. God doesn't throughout scripture make salvation just merely a decision, it's a total heart transplant or resurrection of the heart. I think american evangelicalism has got this way wrong, it's not just making a decision, but trusting in Christ alone, it's considering loving Christ more than anything else willing to lose your life to save it. All that you have is all that is now Christ.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/22/2005 11:55 PM  

  • Shawn, are you saying that to be saved you need to love Christ more than anything else and be willing to loose your life? Does this not sound a bit like a gospel of works at all? Maybe I am misunderstanding you. But if my salvation depends upon my loving Christ, then I am a lost man.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/23/2005 5:05 AM  

  • Shawn I read the last paragraph of your most recent comment and would like to give you an amen.

    "When we are talking about decision cards consider this...it's not just making a decision but trusting in Christ alone."

    Emotional decisionalism doesn't seem to lead to disciples of Christ just big numbers that you can flaunt to other Christians. I've heard too many people say I've saved 50 people this year, God is going to reward me. But it isn't "I" that does any saving, it's the Holy Spirit.

    By Anonymous mas, at 11/23/2005 8:09 AM  

  • Dyspraxic Fundamentalist,

    Decisionism is just not biblical.

    Those who confessed Christ as Savior and Lord did so by faith alone, however our true faith is such that we want Christ more than any other idol in our life. Having faith in Christ in the new testament was more about a total life change. Confessing Christ as Lord and Savior in the first century meant that you were giving up hope for salvation except in Christ alone.

    Here's my view of the work of grace in a person's life as revealed in all of the scriptures about salvation.

    The Holy Spirit works in a person's life works to such a degree that it convicts of our sin to such a degree, we know we will be damned if we don't find mercy from God through faith. This will cause sorrow for our sin, and then we realize all of our idols are there. Our sorrow produces within us and through the gospel the absolute necessity of having Christ and coming to him for life and hope.

    When this happens we hunger and thirst for Christ and we find Christ. True repentence leads to a desire to serve him and holy love for God more than anything.

    Repentence in the bible is clearly about heart surgery of casting away all of our idols and putting our hope in Christ alone.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/23/2005 8:37 AM  

  • HELLO?! The "Decision Card" reference was a joke! That is why I put a smile next to it. I was referring to this purgatorio: Decisions, Decisions... and I do think the ones shown are mostly pretty silly, although the idea of filling out a card to ask for counseling or help is not altogether useless. My point in that sentence was that if all is predetermined, no one then comes to the valley of decision, where we can either kick against the goads and yield to the Holy Spirit or cast ourselves on the Mercy of God. That does begin with a decision. As far as people bragging about how many people they have led to the Lord, I have never heard anyone do that. That is foreign to the Christian culture I am involved in.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2005 8:44 AM  

  • Maybe I am drifting in the Antonio/ Zane Hodges direction, but that idea makes me very uncomfortable, Shawn.

    It seems to make salvation not depend upon simple trust in Christ to satisfy one's need for salvation but on the pureness of one's heart. I am not sure that I have ever had sufficent sorrow for sin. I certainly do not think I have much love for Christ.

    Every Blessing in Him


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/23/2005 8:52 AM  

  • Shawn,
    I really appreciate your commenting so much. You have a lot of good things to say.

    Matthew and Shawn, do we not agree that salvation is by grace through faith? Salvation is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God so no one can boast?

    Faith is jumping off the diving board into the water and God transforms our lives. He does the transforming. We are not saved because of our great love for God. We are saved because in His great love, He laid down His life for us to take away the barrier of our sin. Praise God!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2005 8:58 AM  

  • You don't have to travel very far down I-23 from Emmanuel to encounter the decision culture. The church we left had a large board up on the wall in the sanctuary one year listing everyone who had made a decision for Christ either at the altar, through visitation or whatever. I don't remember what the goal number was or if they even reached it.

    By Anonymous mas, at 11/23/2005 9:05 AM  

  • I think shallow decisionsim stinks. But I think Shawn's articulation of a Lordship salvation view of repentance seems very problematic. It seems to make salvation dependant on having a purer heart.

    I have never really spent a lot of time thinking about the Lordship Salvation debate, but maybe I seriously need to sort out my position on this.

    I just do not think my own faith matches the criteria that Shawn has set out. If that be the case, how can I possibly have assurance that I am saved?

    I know that I am saved because I have called on the name of the Lord, recognising that only through Christ's death and resurrection can I be declared righteous. But I do not think I have much love for the Lord and as I have not been in such a situation I can hardly know if I would be willing to lay down my life for Him.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/23/2005 10:30 AM  

  • Wow, gone for a few days, working overtime, and I see that a book has grown up here in comments. Fascinating discussion. Now I'm away for the holidays.

    By Blogger Earl, at 11/23/2005 4:20 PM  

  • Rose wrote:

    Matthew and Shawn, do we not agree that salvation is by grace through faith? Salvation is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God so no one can boast?

    Rose, many people claim by grace through faith, but their theology betrays a shallow allegiance to it. Please read my second to last post on my blog to see how they do it.

    Rose says:
    Faith is jumping off the diving board into the water
    I have a real problem with this illustration. Faith is not like jumping off a diving board, or sitting on a chair, or crossing a bridge. Faith is assurance, faith is conviction, faith is taking God at His word.

    Saving Faith is the passive result of being convinced about the gospel. When you are persuaded by the testimony of Scripture, in conjunctoin with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, in line with the drawing of Christ, you believe as a passive result.

    About the decisionism stuff:

    This is a straw man to the Free Grace gospel. No one in my camp believes that raising a hand, walking an aisle, turning in a card, saying a prayer, or even saying something with your mouth is a true conversion experience.

    We say that it is an absolutely free gift by grace through the intermediate agency of faith in Christ for the purpose of eternal life. It is believing in Jesus for eternal life!

    A huge difference lies between the straw man of decisionism and faith in Jesus Christ as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    I like where dyspraxic fundie has gone with this conversation.

    If we get saved by some kind of commitment on our part we are in essence believing that some kind of work saves us, that it is some kind of contract between the sinner and God.

    No one can love God enough to receive eternal life.

    No one can repent well enough to receive eternal life.

    And if we have these set forth as some kind of determining factor for salvation to come, then absolute assurance becomes impossible.

    Did I love God enough? Did I repent enough? Etc...


    By Blogger Antonio, at 11/23/2005 5:00 PM  

  • Antonio,
    Can you give me a better illustration? Really. I have been looking for one.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/23/2005 5:08 PM  

  • Dyspraxic Fundamentalist,

    I'm sorry you don't feel you have enough love for God and hatred and sorrow for sin. Read the scriptures about repentence and Jesus' many statements about the gospel.

    I think the christian life is a life of repentence. Just look to Christ and seek Him and plead for mercy. In Christ there is mercy.

    My personal feeling is that Zane Hodges is wrong when you compare what he says with the words of scriptures about salvation. My biggest problem with Zane is that he seems to believe that if you have had faith in the past and reject Christ now you are still saved. Zane Hodges seems to think you are front loading the gospel if you tell the lost to repent and find your mercy in Christ alone. Repentence is not just words saying "I changed my mind", it's more like
    heart surgery. This is not contrary to the scriptures. I would love to get more into this but won't.

    To me the best thing is to get our heads in the bible more than what I say or Zane Hodges says.

    We need to get away or verbal ascent mean you have faith. The demons believe that same way in God and shutter, but the difference is they are not born again and love God.

    For the born again, having God is greater than anything in whole world and Jesus makes it clear through the whole gospels.

    I'm not talking about how pure our heart is before we can be saved, but I'm talking how much we want Christ is really part of the converted heart.

    We are saved by Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone and this is a faith that only puts it hope in Christ for salvation and mercy and grace.

    Rose you said

    On the topic of being saved by grace alone through faith alone. There is a wide variety of what faith alone means in evangelicalism. I think there is a tendency in some circles to call this "Free Grace" and then that totally contradicts what others mean by talking about "Free Grace". There are those who believe faith alone is verbal ascent to facts and only a change of mine, but I don't see that in scripture the repentence verses throughout scripture indicate much more like a heart transplant.

    Yes we are saved because of grace and through our faith and trust in Christ alone. We trust in Christ's righteousness alone, but that faith is a faith that loves him more than any other love.

    (Jesus made this clear if you aren't able to leave father or mother or sister or brother or idols or lose your life to find it).

    So in the words of scripture we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works and those who have genuine faith God is working in them as his workmanship.

    This is the topic of repentence in the new testament. I believe as you do that this is because of the work of Grace in a believer.

    More later.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/23/2005 5:22 PM  

  • Dyspraxic Fundamentalist,

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving and blessing to you and your family!!!!!


    Blessing in Christ my sister. I hope you have a great thanksgiving!!!!!

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/23/2005 5:25 PM  

  • Antonio,

    How in any way is saving faith passive???? It's a total work of Free Grace from the Holy Spirit but human responsibility is clear as well.

    Here's some aspects of saving faith I can think of are talked of in the scriptures.

    1) Our heart is totally made into a heart of flesh when it was once a heart of stone opposed to seeking God and his ways.

    1) God convicts of sin and proclaims Christ to us through some means of Grace (example, a friend telling us the gospel)

    2) We see the wretchedness and horrendousness of our sin and our depravity when being away from him and away from his grace (obviously using different words)

    3) We hunger and thirst for God and our only hope is found in Christ. We put our hope in Christ alone and abandon all hope to get to heaven apart from Christ's Righteousness and Grace (obviously using different words)

    4) We plead for mercy and seek Him and put out put our hope and trust in Him alone.

    These are all aspects of saving faith and no they aren't passive.

    We don't just say "I believe", "I know change my mind about who Christ is".


    ps. Our definitions of free grace might be much different

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/23/2005 5:36 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Have a great thanksgiving

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/23/2005 5:37 PM  

  • Shawn, thanks, but being English I was not planning on celebrating thanksgiving.

    How can I plead with God for mercy when I already know that I am saved? I have faith in Christ that I am justified through Him. Nowhere are Christians, justified in Christ told to ask for forgiveness, the Lord's prayer is on Jewish not Christian ground.

    If saving faith is intrinsically connected to loving Christ, then it must involve obediance. What we then have is salvation by works.

    Shaw, I am afraid your clarification made me even more concerend about the doctrine that you are bringing.

    Jesus' teaching about sacrificing fathers and mothers again occupies Jewish legal ground. It msut be understood in the light of the Kingdom imperative for Israel's repentance. I do not think this can be raised as effecting saving faith.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/23/2005 5:41 PM  

  • Dyspraxic Fundamentalist,

    Sorry didn't realize you were english. Blessings anyway in Christ.

    You said, "Nowhere are Christians, justified in Christ told to ask for forgiveness, "

    Shawn : It's all over the bible. Here's one example : 1 John 1:8-9.

    Shawn : You seem to be advocating ultra-dispensational thought, meaning that different books of the new testament were not for us as they are for a different dispensation so they don't apply to us.

    Shawn : This is confusing all of this emphasis on who the intended audience was and then totally glossing over the words of our Lord as not for Christians today.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/23/2005 5:47 PM  

  • Rose,

    I went back and reread the passage (not verse, but chapter and well as consult outlines of Acts to see it in an even more broader context) considering what you said. After this I still do not see how that would change the plain reading of the verse. The text does say that gentiles are part of God salvation (which is being illustrated by the conversion of gentiles and fulfilling Isaiah 42:6 which is quoted in Acts Act 13:47) All that being true the verse not only says gentiles came to Christ during Paul's missionary trip in Antioch but also HOW. The gentiles as believers were able to come to Christ because they were drawn to father. The broad point that gentiles are including in God's plan of salvation does in no way negate the meaning of the verse. For example the point of 1 John is that believer can know they have assurance but chapter 1 John 3:7 says “he who sins is of the devil.” Now since the point of 1 John is to that the believer can have assurance mean that verse can not possibly mean that some people should not have assurance because of their sin? because the whole point of 1 John is that you can have assurance(1 John 5:13) Well obviously not. So if we know better to interpret scripture that way we can know better than to use that same sort of reasoning with difficult passages. That point of the passage showing that gentiles came to Christ and are included in the salvation of Israel does not change the fact the verse also tells how they came to faith.

    I thought this quote was interesting “It can't mean something that contradicts other portions of scripture.” The verse obviously does not contradict scripture and no innerantist would say that scripture contradicts itself. It does how ever show what presuppositions we have. If shows it contradicts how I understand what scripture says but not scripture. To say that it would show you already having an interpretation of scripture which it would contradict, that you are using to evaluate other things.

    With John its is not defiantly same with the other verse. Christ is not talking here about Israel. He is talking about any who would come to faith in him. Not just Israel. Chapter 10 verse 1 says”I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” This sets up the context. The sheep pen is the kingdom of God . There will be people who try to enter other. The soteriorological context is shouting! It describes people who will and will not be in the kingdom. The Lord Jesus himself even explains what he means using the shepherd terminology. John 10:7 7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. Let is not the church who comes the Jesus. Those who get saved are the sheep. It’s true that Jews rejected Jesus but that does mean the sheep he is talking about is Jews. Jesus is the gate for the sheep. The sheep are anyone who comes to Jesus. So when Jesus says you are not my sheep it means you are not believer whether Jew or not. John 10:26 So when some does not believer its because they are not going to believer because they are in the sin and not will to Christ on unless they are drawn to Christ by the father. Since they are not the sheep they will never enter the sheepfold.

    “ Reading too much into the structure of a sentence can be slippery.”
    I don’t want to come off insulting but that sentence shocks me. For one the grammar in the sentence is not ambiguous to the point that it would be slipperly. The hypothetical question is “why don’t they believe?” because they are not his sheep. The phrase in Greek is : alla umeis ou pisteute, (h)oti ouk este ek town provatown town emown. I know that won’t mean much to most people but there is no ambiguity that would make interpretation and meaning slipperly. We need to be very careful about the grammar in interpreting scripture. The way we understand the meaning of sentence is with grammar the structure changes everything. Mormons base false doctrine by not looking carefully at grammar. You need to understand something through the sentence structure. The way evangelicals interpret scripture is historical-grammatical as innerrantists. I did not make the verse say anything the verse is not saying. You can’t brush the verse aside by saying you are relying too much on the sentence structure.

    Anyway these are not the only scriptures that teach unconditional election look at John 6 for example. Here is John 6:63-65
    63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me UNLESS the Father has enabled him."

    “People deserve hell. It just seems to me that the Calvinist paints a portrait of a merciless God who offers no salvation. HE IS WAY MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THAT TO ME!” I think a God who does certainly save a few is much more merciful that a God who might save. With out election and universal offer of the Gospel means that there is a potential that none would come to Christ. That is a lot more limited than a God who has a potential to save all but can’t because people do not come to him versus a God who certainly saves those who he draws near to himself. I believe when Jesus died on the cross he did actually save some people not make the potentiality of salvation possible. Christ did far more than to make salvation possible for those would come to him. He made salvation sure to the saved. Not just possible to the unsaved. Which is worse a God who could potentially save all or potentially save none? Versus a God who certainly save his sheep. When Christ died on the cross he gave us more then the potential to get saved but salvation itself. Also who are we to question or judge God’s ways?

    Lastly, I don’t want to spend too much time on your musing but your idea of two potential states is different for the states we have of an old nature we have in our flesh and new nature we have in the Spirit.

    Ok well just review what I said I realize I come off condescending and heated. I apologize for that. I also don’t mean anything personally. Its not personal its business…Ok bad quote but its not personal.

    By Blogger John, at 11/23/2005 8:44 PM  

  • Rose,
    Has it occurred to many of your readers (not all) that utter sinners in and of themselves can do nothing to earn or deserve a gift, whether the gift is salvation, or grace or faith? Salvation is not about what man offers to God, but it is all about what God offers man …for His own purpose and glory. Man has a responsibility in view of God’s offer. What does one do with a gift? One must receive it or reject it, there is no work here.
    BTW – Thanks for your hard work on the Thanksgiving dinner. I am going to enjoy it, though I did nothing to deserve it!

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 11/24/2005 8:50 AM  

  • J Wendell,


    I'm referring to the work of Grace revealed in a converted sinner and I believe all of this is a work all of Grace by our gracious Lord.

    Those who advocate saving faith is nothing more than affirmation or assent of the faith of receiving of the gift are misrepresenting the gospel message.

    We are missing out on the fact that true repentence/conversion/regeneration is very much part of the gospel message. It's all over the scriptures and those who say our love/passions don't have anything to do with the effects of the work of Grace are mislead as the scriptures are clear on this.

    God convicts of sin, we see our sin and and reminded of the greatness of God and plead for mercy and will stop at nothing in seeking God and finding Him. God sets before us Christ in many means of grace through the preaching of the gospel and we love him more than any other love in the world and stop at nothing to find Him. When I think of love and passions I believe this fits with what we seek. What we seek is what we love.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/24/2005 10:05 AM  

  • >What I have difficulty with is how many people hold different viewpoints so vehemently!<

    Joe, fact is they are both right, just as Paul and Barnabas were both right.

    Yes we do need to grasp what Blue Collar says. God raised us as He did Lazarus and dead men can,t chose. It is impossible for them to. It is impossible to understand. Yet Jesus said, "I would and Ye would not!" I have yet to hear a Calvanist explain that portion of Scripture. The only response can be "Well I think!" That is not Scripture exegesis. We are not given the luxury to think for God. Jesus also said to Pilot, "You would have nothing were it not given to you!" This is why I am monergistic and would be labeled a Calvanist yet do not consider myself to be a Calvanist. (Thank you Antonio for at least being honest about Calvin's inconsistencies)

    Bottom line? In Mark 11 Jesus cursed a fig tree when *it was out of season* for bearing its own fruit. Peter took note of it being withered as they passed by it again. "Have faith in God!" was Jesus' response. IOW you must bear fruit and respond when it is *out of season* and immpossible for you to do so, but with God all things are possible.

    I believe regeneration and faith occur at the same time and as a result of God' quickening power like electric paddles applied to the chest of a clinically dead man. Faith is a response of the electric charge of Gods Word and His Spirit alone. An Arminian would say that regeneration comes after faith while the Calvanist would say regeneration pre-cedes it. Both groups seem to want to seize what belongs to God's understanding alone. You can invent all kinds of traditional ideals in order to bring this to past. Padeo Baptism seeks to induce this regeneration and get it rolling for Calvanist while Finneyism and Methodology try to bring faith to pass in humanistic means. I just simply am at a lost of understanding this as the words of of Yeshua echo in my mind, "You would have nothing!"

    Enter the unfairness of Him becomming a curse for us and the example of the Fig tree. This will never be hammered out on the human anvil in the same way the Triune nature of God cannot be fathomed. It is heresy to think otherwise. So in one sense both Calvinist and Arminians are wrong as well. What belongs to God alone belongs to Him. Proverbs 30:6

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 11/24/2005 11:34 AM  

  • Hi Shawn,

    I have heard some brothers say that one can not seek God.

    I have two dear, but distant friends. Both are, in my view, brothers in Christ by simple childlike faith in the finished work of the Redeemer. However, one belongs to a free will Baptist church (I will call him Socks), the other to a sovereign grace Baptist church (I will call him Berry). I will use these brothers as an illustration at the end of my brief diatribe.

    Socks went forward after a service with the understanding that he was a sinner in need of the gift of salvation. He asked God, “…the best way he knew how” to forgive his sins and become a part of his life.

    Berry stayed after a service confused with what to do with the message he heard. He was urged to plead with God to have, “mercy [on him] a sinner”. He began to cry asking and pleading for mercy and that God would grant him repentance. “This went on for a long time”, he told me, then finally God granted him repentance… he turned from his sin and trusted Christ alone for salvation.

    I asked them why they would now make this a point of separation… I asked Socks to consider how God in His divine providence and sovereignty appointed him to his church. I then I asked berry why he made the conscious decision to join his church.

    You see this is an endless discussion if both can only see one side of the silver dollar.

    Shawn, what is so different between what I have said in the previous comment and what Rose and others are trying to say?

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 11/24/2005 11:45 AM  

  • Being a Calvinist Shawn holds that faith ias a gift of God. But his position seems incredibly close to predestinarian forms of Catholci theology such as that of Thomas Aquinas. By making a purer heart and a love for Christ a condition of salvation, what he essentially presents is a gospel of works righteousness based on predestination. The vital distinction between faith and works is broken down. It becoems necessary for the sinner to be pleasing to God. This is so close to the Catholci notion of infused righteousness.

    I am sorry to keep on with this line of argument, as it is a slightly different issue to election, but I am really concerned about this.

    Shawn tells me I should plead with God for mercy, but I already know that I am a sinner who is justified in Christ, through His acceptable offering to God. To ask for forgiveness is a denial of this truth. What I am being presented with is a kind of Predestinarian Arminianism, I cannot be sure of my salvation unless I have enough love for Christ and enough sorrow for my sin. All grounds of assurance in Christ are broken down and the test of salvation lies in what I do and what I feel and think. Whether my meeting God's condition is by grace is irrelevant. An Augustinian or Thomistic Catholic would say that God gives grace to a man to find salvation through works; Shawn would presumably say that God gives grace to a man to find salvation through a change of heart attitude.

    If this is orthodox Calvinism, then I think perhaps Catholiscism and Calvinism are even closer than I suspected.

    The passage Shawn cites in 1 John 1 concerns confession of sin not asking for forgiveness and results in parental, disciplinary forgiveness, not a question of eternal salvation. To teach otherwise is Arminianism.

    Rose, please forgive me for being so confrontational, but we speak of things of eternal significance.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 11/24/2005 11:59 AM  

  • Hi John! Thanks for dialoguing with me.

    … the plain reading of the verse?

    “As many had been appointed unto salvation believed.”

    It says nothing about election. The word is appointed. You have entered some Greek, but I have already heard something about the Greek of that passage:

    The Greek verb used here is not the one which means to choose or to elect. If Luke were making a point about election, why didn’t he use that verb? Nowhere else in the entire Bible is this word used of election! In fact, not only does the word not refer to election, it is even possible if not probable that it doesn’t mean appointed here either. (Note: the Greek puts “they believed” before the words “as many as…”)

    Either way, I have a suspicion (and this true in my own mind) that we often read this idea into these kinds of passages because we have these ideas in our heads already (TULIP). I sometimes read a passage and I think Oh, is that it? Is that the doctrines of the Calvinists that I see? I open my mind and look into it … all the while trying to be objective … and I come out on the other side feeling a little irritated at TULIP for clouding my understanding of the original intent a bit … because those ideas (TULIP) has been put in my mind and they are easily read into a few passages.

    Also, I tend to agree with Matthew (Dyspraxic Fundamentalist) about the statements in John. Reading those makes it clear that Christ was not making a clear gospel presentation. The gospel wasn’t being offered yet. He was mainly dealing with His people, the Jews and it is most easily understood with this in mind. I really appreciate the dispensationalist approach to the Bible. It causes the Bible to be so much clearer when I understand that the Lord is dealing with different issues in different contexts before, during, and after His earthly ministry. I believe He had a very specific purpose in that Chapter of John and it wasn’t to tell us the gospel and how He elected some and others were not chosen. BTW, John, since you are quoting John so much, what do you do with the verse that says “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” Does this mean that “chosen” people reject Christ? I imagine you would say it was speaking of the Jews. I would agree and would say that much of the material you have presented has to do with God’s dealings with His covenant people before His gospel went into the rest of the world.

    I said that if it contradicts other passages of scripture, it can’t be the right interpretation. I stand by that statement. I want to post this quote again:

    “Since the Bible does not contradict itself, the verses that can be interpreted in more than one way must be understood in the light of those that cannot.” (Norman Geisler)

    Now I don’t know what you think of N. Geisler, but his idea is sound. So think about the clear teaching of scripture … the invitations, the commission to go and preach the gospel into all the world.

    “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

    So many passages that speak nothing of this limited idea.

    I am not going to list them all! But you really have to contort all of them (so many!) to fit into the UE model. On the other hand, looking at the few “problematic” texts that you bring up, it is really not all that difficult to come to an interpretation that embraces it all.

    John, I think you are right about us having our presuupositions when we look at scripture, but I always try to have an open mind about it, do you?

    Also, you said ...the verse obviously does not contradict scripture and no innerantist would say that scripture contradicts itself.

    I understand that the Bible is inerrant and I defend the fact that it really has no contradictions. We have to adjust our interpretation, not ignore the rest of the Bible if we find a “problematic text”.

    You said:
    When Christ died on the cross he gave us more then the potential to get saved but salvation itself. Also who are we to question or judge God’s ways? I am not questioning God!! I am questioning TULIP!! How come you Calvinists always pull out that card, it really kills me!

    Finally, thanks for the challenge. You brought scripture to mind and caused me to think some more and I appreciate that! You are a lot like our mutual friend, but less ….. oh, never mind! Have a good weekend and come back and tell me why I am wrong some more – my mind is open.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/24/2005 7:42 PM  

  • J. Wendell,
    Interesting exchange!

    Brian Hedrick,
    What you have said here:

    ". . .trying to seize what belongs to God's understanding alone."

    is really the underlying point of my post ... and this whole excercise for that matter. I have been troubled by the way some folks act as though it has all been perfectly established as a theological system just how God thinks! How about let's fight for defining the gospel message and delivering that to our friends, relatives and neighbors. The only reason I am doing this is to see if there really is any basis for being so dogmatic about this stuff. Also, I appreciate the clarity of your comment...I understood it very well. I agree ... how can we grasp the mind of God?

    Shawn and Matthew (Dyspraxic), I must say that I share Matthew's sentinents here. Christ is the perfect sacrifice and we must look to him, not ourselves. Maybe I am misunderstanding you, Shawn, but I share the concern of Matthew. That doesn't mean I don't want your further challenges and explanations, friend. I appreciate your open-ness.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/24/2005 7:57 PM  

  • Rose-
    As you know I have no hefty knowledge of scripture to weigh in with here but HELP! Could you please clear up for me, and maybe others, who is coming from what direction in this discussion? I've figured out, I think, you're not a Calvinist, Earl and John are Calvinists, but I'm getting lost with everyone else. Can one be a dispensational Calvinist? If a person is dispensational and the text in question wasn't for me the 21st century Gentile do I just ignore that part of my Bible? I know none of my questions have to do with your original post on unconditional election but I, like you, am really trying to sort this all out. Happy Thanksgiving!

    By Anonymous mas, at 11/24/2005 8:12 PM  

  • Rose,

    I hear ya. John 16:29. Lol!

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 11/24/2005 10:16 PM  

  • I do wonder though if some of you indeed understand what Shawn, Blue Collar, Antonio etc. understand. It is impotant in the sense that we see Who is doing the work. I am unsure that their side of the coin is grasped by some.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 11/24/2005 10:20 PM  

  • Hi Mary~
    I do my best to stay away from labels when it comes to Augustine, Pelagius, Arminius, and Calvin, but to answer your questions, “Can one be a dispensational Calvinist? If a person is dispensational and the text in question wasn't for me (the 21st century Gentile) do I just ignore that part of my Bible?”

    1st “Can one be a dispensational Calvinist?”
    Yes! I personally know there are many who are both and this to varying degrees. It can be confusing, but with diligent Bible study we begin to form our ideas… may I suggest, that is what the four mentioned above did. We have the same Holy Spirit in Christ that they did. Now I’m getting exited… I love Pneumatology (the doctrine or study of the Holy Spirit).

    2nd “If a person is dispensational and the text in question wasn't for me (the 21st century Gentile) do I just ignore that part of my Bible?” Someone has said, “All Scripture is for us, but not all Scripture is to us.” Think about that one… I do not recommend ignoring the Bible or any parts thereof … the Bible is God’s Word! We must pay the strictest attention to it. That is what Rose is trying to do on this topic, but since it has been debated for centuries par the Lord’s return it will go on for centuries more. I don’t like getting hung up here.

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 11/24/2005 10:58 PM  

  • Note : sorry so long everyone. I'm a total nutcase when it comes to talkative and passionate, but hey wouldn't it be so much better in a bible study session together. (someday....)


    John Macarthur is a dispensational Calvinist and much more consistant. His dispensational view shows that he a big seperation between Israel and the church, but doesn't let his grid over the bible affect his theology when it comes to the gospel. His book on the "Gospel according to the apostles" and the "gospel according to Jesus" are some great reads. John Macarthur would agree with me that Matthew's soteriology is more like ultra-dispensationalism where certain parts of the new testament don't apply to believers in their understanding of salvation.


    This is an election post but now it is turning into a Zane Hodges theology debate.

    I think Zane Hodges theology is against what the bible says about the gospel. I know you don't as well. The real issue we all need to pray for each of us is to get our theology from the bible. NOTE : I need it most of all and I'm no spokesman for calvinism but someone who loves the bible and am fascinated with it and God is such a great savior to us sinners. That's my prayer in my own heart and life as well. Blessings to you in Christ. May God give you grace upon grace.

    J. Wendell,

    Soteriology is important and I think central to the bible just like a Christ centered gospel is central to the bible in my opinion. However at the same time I love all the Body of Christ even those I disagree with in my soteriology.

    I think the right view on soteriology is a great benefit to our witnessing and also to keep from those who have a false hope. I'm not talking about your view on election. I think election is important but not as critical as the gospel and clearly understanding the work of grace in justification/regeneration/repentence/sanctification/etc.

    I do believe within evangelicalism there are some who are false converts and we should pray and help and work to that end so that we can see the gospel of Christ throughout the whole bible.

    I don't think Zane Hodges and his theology are not helping the body of Christ in any sense of the word and are giving people a false hope also I think they don't reflect the bible. Those who seperate faith from repentence are not helping the body of Christ and are headed toward a false gospel. You can't receive Him as you Savior and reject Him as Lord. That's why I'm very passionate about it. I'm passionate about God's Glory and his great salvation.

    God has much to say about salvation more than anything and it is very salvation centric book. I'm very passionate about it, all Christians should be. Just because believers have difference of opinion on salvation and both are converted doesn't mean little concern over biblical teaching is a problem and getting the gospel right is a problem.

    Most of all let's glorify God in our love for God by being true to his Word and passionate about it.


    See my note above to your husband. I love you in the Lord and thank you for our conversation. I would consider reading more about this topic from John Macarthur "The Gospel According to Jesus" and the "Gospel according to the apostles" (My favorite of the two). And then compare this and read Zane Hodges book "Absolutely Free". You don't necessarily need to read it in that order.

    I may continue this discussion on my blog as we go along if you have the time.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/25/2005 12:15 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/25/2005 12:29 AM  

  • Matthew,

    How do you believe the Lord's prayer is for the jew alone?

    How do you believe that believers we don't cry out to God for mercy?

    One of my personal favorite scripture is when the tax collector who cries out for mercy from God.

    Sinners who have been justified by Christ still cry out to mercy and pray the Lords prayer because it is how we follow Christ and what Christ has called us to do in the gospels and apostles.

    You told me you don't love Christ and aren't sorry for your sin sometimes, I told you like the apostles tell me to cry out for mercy and see and delight in Christ because I believe that when we don't love Christ as believers it is spiritual adultery. The bible makes this clear that we put our hope in something else in some other idol and we must repent of our wickedness and see and delight in Christ and see our sin, but also delight in Christ. This is the life of a Christian and how we live because of the work of grace in us.

    Do you believe that Paul's Gospel is different from Jesus' Gospel?

    Never forget that there is only one gospel. It's the same gospel which saved Adam, Eve, Stephen, Moses, David, the Apostles.

    Do you believe intent and will and passions is seperate from saving faith?

    Jesus said "those who know Me, love Me, and love my Father, and We love them"

    Jesus says those who love me also know me. I would also agree that those worshippers who seek him seek him in truth and spirit.

    Saving faith is not seperate from love and affection and worship and seeking.

    I believe that salvation is all the work of God. When God saves someone he produces repentence and faith and love in them of Christ. These are not works, but a work of Grace in their life.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/25/2005 1:53 AM  

  • Matthew says:

    Shawn tells me I should plead with God for mercy, but I already know that I am a sinner who is justified in Christ, through His acceptable offering to God. To ask for forgiveness is a denial of this truth. What I am being presented with is a kind of Predestinarian Arminianism, I cannot be sure of my salvation unless I have enough love for Christ and enough sorrow for my sin. All grounds of assurance in Christ are broken down and the test of salvation lies in what I do and what I feel and think. Whether my meeting God's condition is by grace is irrelevant. An Augustinian or Thomistic Catholic would say that God gives grace to a man to find salvation through works; Shawn would presumably say that God gives grace to a man to find salvation through a change of heart attitude.

    I share his concern and I don't understand how, as born-again Christians we wouldn't all agree that salvation is not of ourselves ... it is a GIFT!

    He says:
    To ask for forgiveness is a denial of this truth.

    Forgiveness unto salvation is GUARANTEED because of His work at Calvary ... not that we shouldn't confess our sins, but we don't have to wonder continually whether we are saved or not, or whether He will forgive or not ... He is faithful even when we are not.

    Shawn, I wouldn't jump in again, but you have gone on so long about Matthew and I think He has simplified the issue very well.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/25/2005 8:32 AM  

  • Rose,

    As you wish, for another topic then.

    I don't believe Matthew has simplified the issue, other than say my theology is more like catholics.

    As a firm believer in justfication by Grace Alone through Faith Alone, I of course believe that salvation is a GIFT of God.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/25/2005 9:46 AM  

  • This has all gotten very confusing...

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/25/2005 10:43 AM  

  • Rose,

    I'm sorry Rose. I'll continue this discussion on my blog in the next month or so.

    Plus, I have gone totally off topic as you were hoping to discussion election.

    I wish not to confuse people. :-)

    Blessings to all in Christ,

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 11/25/2005 10:50 AM  

  • Shawn,
    Earlier you said:
    On the topic of being saved by grace alone through faith alone. There is a wide variety of what faith alone means in evangelicalism.

    I think this is sad and I believe from reading all of this, that is a big problem ... definition of terms.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 11/25/2005 10:52 AM  

  • Just a few thoughts.
    Because that verse does not use the word election does not mean its not relevant to the doctrine of election. That would be like saying since the Bible does not use the word trinity means the Bible does not teach the trinity.

    Anyway I wont such much more on the other subjects because I still stand by what I said. You quoting Geilser reminded of book. He wrote called Choosen But Free. James White (a reformed Baptist)wrote a book to respond to it calld the Potter's Freedom. If you have not read these books already itd be a good resource for futher study.

    By Blogger John, at 11/25/2005 1:18 PM  

  • I typed this today on my blog:
    To all those who have been frequenting my blog: I thank you very much. My next installment of my series in James is halfway done.

    Sickness has hit my family very hard. I had contracted the influenza virus and it hit me like I have never experienced in over 12 years. My little children have been hit also. Your prayers are appreciated.

    I am still recovering from the dread effects, yet I haven't missed a day of work, and it is taking its toll.

    So I am with you all in Spirit, and I will be with you all in writing very soon!

    Antonio da Rosa

    I have not read all the comments, but I have heard some troubling things about Zane Hodges.

    Shawn, with the due respect of a brother, I would challenge you to discuss any finer points of soteriology in a MacArthur vs Hodges mold.

    MacArthur has backed out of at least one (and I think several) debates with Zane Hodges on soteriology, our friend H.K. Flynn can give you more of the details on that.

    But the bottom line is that MacArthur has not been paving a road back to Wittenburg, but back to Rome.

    Will post more within a few days, tentatively if I feel better.


    By Blogger Antonio, at 11/25/2005 9:53 PM  

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