Calvinists Claim that Jesus Christ, a Dismal Failure?
I happened to come across this site this morning (not really, because I clicked on a link on another site and I was taken there) and could not help but smile again at how yet another Calvinist tries to demolish free-will. No matter how hard he and other Calvinists try to do that, their childish arguments lead them into a deadly cul de sac again and again. The main thrust of their argument runs as follows.
1) If Jesus loves all men and died for all men to save them all alike, then He was a useless failure because not all men are saved.
Success, in the Calvinist’s view, is not determined by Christ’s perfect obedience to his Father but by the redemption of all his people whom He purportedly has unconditionally chosen unto salvation from all eternity. This poses somewhat of a problem. Of the more than 220 times the phrase “my people” appears in the Bible the majority refers to Israel. Hence, it is rather odd to say that God has unconditionally chosen all his people unto salvation and that every single one of them will be saved when most of the nation of Israel will not be saved (Matthew 8:12; Romans 11:28-29), unless, of course, Israel has been replaced by the so-called elect among all the heathen nations. Then, however, Calvinists would be trespassing their own rigid fortitude to defend God’s sovereignty because they are wilfully (excuse the pun) denying that Israel is still God’s chosen people despite their continued enmity with the Gospel (Romans 11:28-29).
2) If Jesus offers salvation to all mankind and desperately tries to save all of them, then He is again a dismal failure because man’s choice stymies his will to save them all.
Calvinists don’t seem to understand or refuse point-blank to acknowledge that God’s sovereign will is being stymied every single day, not only by unbelievers but also by the elect. Each time an elect person sins he is frustrating God’s will. Indeed, if his sovereign will was being done on earth as it is in heaven his saints would not have needed to pray the “Our Father who art in heaven” prayer any longer. Nevertheless, Calvinists have found a very nifty way to circumvent this problem. God’s sovereign will is being done every single day, they dare say, because “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass . . .” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III; Of God’s Eternal Decree). God ordained and sovereignly willed Adam an Eve to sin but they are held responsible for their sins? Really? Similarly God ordained and sovereignly willed Satan and his hordes of angels to rebel against Him so that He could blame them and hold them responsible for their sin? Really? Yet they have the nerve to say “ . . . yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” In simple layman’s terms, what the Westminster Confession of faith actually asserts, is that God said the following: “Ok you guys, listen up. I decreed even before the foundation of the world that each and every one of you should sin against me. However, should anyone of you dare to point a finger at me and accuse me of being an accomplice in your sins, will bite the dust. You are responsible for your own sins which I decreed you to do.”
This vile and infamous doctrine emasculates God’s righteousness. The Psalmist says: “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. (Psalm 145:17). What kind of righteousness is there in a decree that ordained everyone to sin and then hold them responsible for their sin?
3) If man’s choice (free-will) is the decisive and conclusive determinate in his salvation, then Jesus’ will is bound by man’s will and therefore yet again a failure.
Calvinists refuse to acknowledge that it is God’s will that all men should be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2), the result being that they cannot see that God’s will is not violated in any degree when someone is willing or unwilling be saved. In some of my debates with Calvinists on the internet I asked whether they forcefully coerced their wives to marry them or honoured their freewill to either choose or reject them. They never answered me because none of them would dare to say that they forced their wives into a loving marital relationship with them. There can be no lasting relationship between two consenting individuals when love is divorced of free-will. It is impossible to love someone without a free-will. Free-will and love go hand in hand. If so, why would a God who created man in his own image violate the natural partnership between love and free-will and force someone to love Him without them having to exercise their own free-will? That’s preposterous.
4) If Jesus Christ died on the cross to make it possible for everyone to be saved through faith, then He was a dismal failure because multitudes have perished and will perish in unbelief.
Jesus Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10) and no one can benefit from Christ’s substitutionary death for sins without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9) but every man is not saved because of unbelief and not because Christ did not die for them. The Calvinist’s view stems from the notion that the cross saves the elect automatically without them having to put their faith in Christ IN ORDER to be saved.Christ’s death is only propitiatory for those who believe: He is “the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). Vance points out the obvious problem if the death of Christ automatically procures salvation for those for whom He died:
But if the nature of the atonement was such that it actually in and of itself provided salvation for those for whom it was intended, then the “elect” could never have been born “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). And consequently, how could men who were saved, redeemed, reconciled, and justified be “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:5) … ?
I have yet to find a Calvinist who can explain Isaiah 49:4 to me.
Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. (Isa 49:4)
At the first reading of this verse the Messiah seems to lament his failure as a Saviour. Although He knew even before the foundation of the world that the majority of his chosen people, the nation of Israel, would reject Him as their Messiah, He steadfastly remained obedient to his Father and died for their sins (Hebrews 10:6-7). He never measured success by the number people saved and neither did he measure it by making certain that all the so-called elect were saved. Success, to Him, was to obey his Father even though he laboured in vain, and spent his strength for nought and in vain.
He came unto his own, and his own received him 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 1:11-12)
Referring to the pronouncement of this doctrine at the Synod of Dort, England’s King James of King James Bible fame, though he was no Arminian, expressed his repugnance:
This doctrine is so horrible, that I am persuaded, if there were a council of unclean spirits assembled in hell, and their prince the devil were to [ask] their opinion about the most likely means of stirring up the hatred of men against God their Maker; nothing could be invented by them that would be more efficacious for this purpose, or that could put a greater affront upon God’s love for mankind than that infamous decree of the late Synod. (King James I; in Jacobus Arminius, The Works of James Arminius, trans. James and William Nichols (Baker Book House, 1986), 1:213).