Hyper-Calvinism and Charismatic overlap

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by timfost, Apr 11, 2015.

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  1. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Admittedly, I used to be a staunch hyper-Calvinist, although as is typical for most hyper-Calvinists, I thought I was just Reformed. Since hyper-Calvinists tend to shy away from saying to the lost "repent and believe and you'll be saved," what they seem to look for is some kind of experience or revelation of election, hence the overlap with the Charismatics. Peter Toon writes that some hyper-Calvinists believed that the Spirit had to whisper in one's ear "you are elect." Of course, this is not a mark of all hyper-Calvinism, but it does highlight a significant problem, that instead of proclaiming the simple promise of the gospel (whoever believes will be saved), they often look for some evidence of election. This seems to manifest itself is some kind of experience, normally a conversion experience, at least in my case. Some in my church said that they knew that they were converted when they realized that there was nothing they could do to be saved. That is in part true, but faith and repentance were left out of the equation. The knowledge of our inability by itself doesn't save. Such doctrines led many in my church to promote a conversion experience that was not a simple trust in God, but an intellectual assent to the five points of Calvinism (plus a host of other doctrines that were later added to the list).

    Thoughts, especially from former hyper-Calvinists?
     
  2. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    I believe it is scriptural to look inwardly to determine if there are, or are not, evidences of being elect.
     
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Experience is a legitimate source of knowledge, just not the ultimate norm of knowledge (cf. William Alston, Perceiving God, Cornell University Press, 1993).
     
  4. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree, once one has repented and believed the gospel. As the OP said, hypers can emphasise this in the place of preaching the gospel promise.
     
  5. aadebayo

    aadebayo Puritan Board Freshman

    Will Gospel Standard churches be regarded as hyper Calvinists?
     
  6. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    You would have to decide that from their articles of faith:

    GOSPEL INVITATIONS

    XXIV We believe that the invitations of the Gospel, being spirit and life*, are intended only for those who have been made by the blessed Spirit to feel their lost state as sinners and their need of Christ as their Saviour, and to repent of and forsake their sins.

    Isa. 55. 1; John 7. 37; Prov. 28. 13; Matt. 11. 28-30; John 6. 37.


    DUTY FAITH AND DUTY REPENTANCE DENIED

    XXVI We deny duty faith and duty repentance – these terms signifying that it is every man’s duty to spiritually and
    savingly repent and believe1. We deny also that there is any capability in man by nature to any spiritual good whatever. So that we reject the doctrine that men in a state of nature should be exhorted to believe in or turn to God2 of themselves.

    1 Gen. 6. 5; Gen. 8. 21; Matt. 15. 19; Jer. 17. 9; John 6. 44, 65.
    2 John 12. 39, 40; Eph. 2. 8; Rom. 8. 7, 8; 1 Cor. 4. 7.


    INDISCRIMINATE OFFERS OF GRACE DENIED

    XXIX While we believe that the Gospel is to be preached in or proclaimed to all the world, as in Mark 16. 15, we deny offers of grace; that is to say, that the gospel is to be offered indiscriminately to all.

    Mark 16. 15; 2 Cor. 4. 3, 4.


    PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL (APOSTOLIC UNIQUENESS)

    XXXII We believe that it would be unsafe, from the brief records we have of the way in which the apostles, under the immediate direction of the Lord, addressed their hearers in certain special cases and circumstances, to derive absolute and universal rules for ministerial addresses in the present day under widelydifferent circumstances. And we further believe that an assumption that others have been inspired as the apostles were has led to the grossest errors amongst both Romanists and professed Protestants.


    PREACHING TO THE UNCONVERTED

    XXXIII Therefore, that for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them to savingly repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and, on the other, to deny the doctrine of special redemption.


    PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL (EXHORTING THE UNREGENERATE)

    XXXIV We believe that any such expressions as convey to the hearers the belief that they possess a certain power to flee to the Saviour, to close in with Christ, to receive Christ, while in an unregenerate state, so that unless they do thus close with Christ, etc., they shall perish, are untrue, and must, therefore, be rejected. And we further believe that we have no Scripture warrant to take the exhortations in the Old Testament intended for the Jews in national covenant with God, and apply them in a spiritual and saving sense to unregenerated men.
     
  7. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    With respect to the OP, yes, Tim, the hyper-Calvinism out of which you came, and others of us have come, does have this interesting overlap with charismatism and all sorts of hyper-experientialism.

    And, in answer to Andrew, Paul clearly demonstrates, simply by quoting from the Gospel Standard articles of faith, that it is hyper-Calvinism.

    It is quite true, as Tim has noted, that hyper-Calvinists typically regard themselves as simply Calvinistic or Reformed. In fact, they regard themselves as the only sort that are truly Reformed and look warily on other Calvinists (who are not of their ilk) as suspect and not really consistently Calvinistic or Reformed.

    How wonderful it is to be delivered from this into what the gospel truly is!

    Peace,
    Alan
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  8. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    I have a general question for anybody. Just from reading about hyper-Calvinism in this thread would it be considered associated (or a form of) Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism? If there is no gospel call for repentance and faith due to the righteousness of Christ, but this general focus by hyper-Calvinism on the question of 'Am I of the elect or not?', then what about original sin or actual sin? Is hyper-Calvinism pitting grace v. perfectionism? That might be simplistic of me and a lousy effort of mine in trying to convey my question, but maybe somebody could help me understand or clear-up my line of thinking on this.

    What I am trying to understand side-by-side with what Tim mentioned about hyper-Calvinists in the OP may not fit and therefore I am going at this wrongly.

    help? thoughts?

    thanks
     
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Hyper-Calvinism shares with Arminianism the belief that God's commands imply an ability to obey. They also agree in making the warrant to believe in Christ something which lies behind or beyond the gospel call. At that point they part ways. The Arminian bases his warrant on an universal love of God whilst the hyper-Calvinist founds his warrant on the secret election of God. In neither case is faith the simple receiving of the gift of salvation. For the Arminian faith is a working condition of salvation whilst for the hyper-Calvinist it functions as the assurace that he is elect.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Yes, I was so surprised how much Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism have in common. They are both the product of applying human logic apart from biblical premise. The Arminian can't reconcile God's decretive will, so he throws it out. The hyper-Calvinist can't reconcile God's revealed will do he throws that out. To both the Arminian and the hyper-Calvinist, the Calvinist is a "compromiser."

    From my experience, we were never against evangelism. However, we reasoned that God was going to bring all of His elect to Himself regardless of what we do, so it's great if there is an opportunity to tell somebody about election but one doesn't have to go out of his way.

    In many ways, we didn't speak to people and offer Christ but rather spoke at them about election and reprobation. To speak to them, we feared suggesting to them that they had an ability to come to Christ. We also feared commanding faith and repentance because it assumed a universal promise, which doesn't work in hyper-Calvinist theology.

    John Gill illustrates the absence of a promise in his commentary on Acts 3:19:

    "Though no other repentance and conversion may be here meant than an external one; and the blotting out of sin, and forgiveness of it, may intend no other than the removing a present calamity, or the averting a threatened judgment, or the deliverance of persons from national ruin..."

    His distinction between legal and evangelical repentance got him off the hook, in his own mind at least
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  11. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Quite right, Tim.

    And as for this, it is true of all errors and heresies: they all privilege reason over revelation, ending in rationalism, defining the truth not by the whole counsel of God, but by some part of God's Word de-contextualized and made controlling for the whole. So the Arian absolutizes the teaching of the Word on Christ's humanity and reads all the Bible through that, denying the deity of Christ (even as the monophysite does the opposite). While the Arminian and the hyper-Calvinist come to differing conclusions, they both allow their reason to predominate and shape the way that they read God's revelation. This is the ever-present peril for us all and why we must receive God's revelation and not walk according to "our wisdom."

    Peace,
    Alan
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  12. Mr. Bultitude

    Mr. Bultitude Puritan Board Freshman

    It's also confessional.

    WCF chapter 18:

    Synod of Dort head 1 article 12:

     
  13. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Not sure if I follow. Although I don't see the relationship to Pelagianism, there is often a good framework for antinomianism, though not all hyper-Calvinists are antinomian. The link below was the first article I read that opened my eyes to start to see that I was not a Calvinist. In fact, I would have called Calvinism Arminianism in my ignorance.

    Reformed Theology Vs. Hyper-Calvinism by Michael Horton | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
  14. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    Again, I agree, but is this assurance of election to be sought before one believes the gospel or after? That is the point the OP was making - that hyper-Calvinists can often make seeking assurance of election prior to and a condition for then coming to Christ, rather than simply taking God at His Word that whosoever believes will be saved.
     
  15. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    When I started to realize my error, the overlap between charismatic experience and hyper-Calvinism became overwhelmingly obvious in my Sunday school class (I teach the young teens). I asked them "how do you know you're a Christian?" Their answer was unanimously, "we can't really know if we're Christians because we don't know for sure that are elect." However, their parents would speak confidently that they were elect. It later dawned on me that there was a marked difference between the "conversion experience" of a first and second generation hyper-Calvinist. The first generation had an obvious intellectual change that gave them assurance. However, the second generation could not report such a dramatic change, having grown up in this line of thinking, and consequently had no assurance because there was a lack of experience.

    I am very happy to say that in the past year my church is like a different church, although a number of people ended up leaving our numbers over this issue. I've made it a point to spend a lot of time in my class on the promise of the gospel and the fruits of the Spirit so that, possibly for the first time, they understand that they don't have to passively wait for some kind of experience before they can have assurance.

    I'm thankful that God has been gracious to us!
     
  16. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Tim:

    This is what happened in New England, in which the second generation often could not give the required "narrative of grace" that characterized the first generation, leading to the Synod of 1662 (the "Half-Way Covenant") and the innovations of Stoddard, against which Edwards inveighed. Here is something that I wrote on that: http://www.midamerica.edu/uploads/files/pdf/journal/14-strange.pdf

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  17. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for sharing this article. I just finished reading it. It's amazing how many similarities there are in the "narratives of grace" and the hyper-Calvinist conversion experience that my church looked for. We prioritized doctrine over life as evidence of conversion. This stifled spiritual growth and sanctification because our Christianity was mostly in our heads.

    I've just been reading through 1 and 2 Tim. with my wife and we were constantly struck by the overlap between doctrine and life. In many ways, doctrine is the easy part. The job of a Christian is to look to the Spirit for the strength to put the doctrine into practice so that it permeates the whole person consistently and permanently. I am forever thankful for the grace that sustains us.

    Thanks again for sharing. A very well done and relevant article.
     
  18. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry Tim, computer has not been working or I would have responded to this more timely.

    I had wondered about Pelagianism because if the call to repent and believe is not given, then is there repenting specifically, and what does an absence of the call to believe in Christ additionally do to the outcome of a congregation member or hearer of a sermon absent of this gospel call? In other words if repent is not called upon, then no repenting? No repenting then no idea of a need to repent from original sin and actual sin which is the path of Pelagianism.
     
  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    There is kind of a call to repent in hyper-Calvinism... It's confusing, I know. They believe there is a universal call to repent, which ultimately holds men accountable before God. They fear, however, that by universally calling men to repent that this would give the impression to the unregenerate that they also have the ability to repent. They reason that since men do not naturally have the ability to repent, it is false advertising to promise remission of sins universally (it's actually the reverse logic of the Arminian). They fear the idea of salvation by works so much that they believe to universally call people to savingly believe when they don't have the ability, in essence that would be calling people to salvation by works. They use the terms "duty faith" and "duty repentance." They reason that if faith is universally commanded, then it is a duty, if a duty, then a work. For many of them (John Brine, John Gill, etc.), they get around this by promoting "eternal justification" which states that the elect are justified before faith. Faith is only the recognition that they are already justified.

    I am fine to call faith a duty. In this sense, faith is a work. In fact, Scripture calls it that (1Thes. 1:3). However, Paul's intent in stating that it is not a work in Rom. 4:4-5 is to say that it does not merit. Nowhere does Paul deny that faith is obedience to a command, but this obedience does not merit salvation. Faith ingrafts us into Christ so that we receive His merits.

    In summary, the hyper-Calvinist reasons backwards from God's decree and looks for signs of election prior to any offer of Christ. The Calvinist offers Christ indiscriminately and looks for faith as evidence of election.

    The hyper-Calvinist promotes the doctrine of original sin, but emphasises the inability for a person to repent and therefore guards commanding it out of fear that they are promoting works. The Pelagian desires to omit original sin to downgrade our depravity and uphold freedom of the will.

    I am certainly no authority on the matter, so if anyone has anything to add or correct, please do so.

    Hope this helps...
     
  20. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    On Arminianism: (1)The warrant to believe in Christ is based on mankind's (universal) love of God. Love is a work. Arminianism conflates love and faith to be the same. Correct? (2)Or is the universal love of God falsely perceived as a prevenient grace with an additional work of faith falsely originating in man to complete the salvation is what Arminianism is?

    On Hyper-Calvinism (H-C): The warrant to believe in Christ is based on God's secret election. The H-C faith is thus on being aware (not secret), thus assured, on his election?

    Arminian's evidence of their warrant to believe in Christ founded on universal love for God therefore their love?

    H-C evidence of their warrant to believe in Christ founded on obedience's that only God's elect perform or is it simply on being aware they are elect and thus being assured of that? That awareness and assurance being the evidence for them to know they are right (in their own eyes)?

    I might be coming at this wrong. I do not know if I know the right questions to ask to ascertain clarification so please excuse me in considering this about my approach.
     
  21. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    A universal call from the gospel (scripture preaching)?

    A Hyper-Calvinist (H-C) equates the universal call (from scriptural preaching of the gospel I am assuming) with the actual act by God in the person's remission of sins. Thus the hearing of 'repent and believe' in Christ equates an automatic salvation?

    So faith is not rested in Christ (faith being a gift of God in the first place) to a H-C? Faith is simply an assurance that their idea of salvation is correct, meaning, they rest their faith on God's secret election (his eternal justification)? In other words, faith not in Christ but a faith that rests in their recognition that they are saved because God, according to a H-C, said they are saved before the foundations of the world?

    I can see in what you wrote how an outcome for an H-C would be antinomian because to avoid an semblance of works is that (antinomian).
     
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It seems the use of the genitive has created confusion. I apologise for that. It is not man's love to God but God's love to mankind for which Arminians plead.

    Yes, that is a clear summary of the Arminian contention. They argue that God, out of universal love to mankind, gave Jesus Christ to die for each and every man, and this is thought to give warrant to every man to believe that Jesus Christ died for him in particular. The love of God and the gift of Christ are thereby made non-saving in nature. Faith is then regarded as "doing" something towards salvation.

    Yes.
     
  23. aadebayo

    aadebayo Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Paul.

    This is what I read from a gospel standard church web site (based in Luton) that prompted my question. I must add though that we have many acquaintances who fellowship at this Luton gospel standard chucrh.
     
  24. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    Ah! I am understanding. Thank God! Just to make sure on the H-C point above. The H-C does not rest their faith in Christ, but rather their faith is defined as such: the awareness of being elect? If so, then where does Christ fit in for the H-C?

    For example, Christ gets the Arminian (in their own eyes) a measure closer to salvation but the Arminian has to finish the job. What does Christ do for the H-C? For the H-C is faith in Christ (as a Reformed would define faith) after in accord with time, their faith in knowing they are elect. Therefore their faith in knowing they are elect is a prior faith to their faith in Christ. And thus that is where Christ fits in for them?

    Thank you for teaching me. I appreciate this.
     
  25. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    [/QUOTE]

    Ah! I am understanding. Thank God! Just to make sure on the H-C point above. The H-C does not rest their faith in Christ, but rather their faith is defined as such: the awareness of being elect? If so, then where does Christ fit in for the H-C?

    For example, Christ gets the Arminian (in their own eyes) a measure closer to salvation but the Arminian has to finish the job. What does Christ do for the H-C? For the H-C is faith in Christ (as a Reformed would define faith) after in accord with time, their faith in knowing they are elect. Therefore their faith in knowing they are elect is a prior faith to their faith in Christ. And thus that is where Christ fits in for them?

    [/QUOTE]

    The gospel for many hyper-Calvinists consists in the five points of Calvinism. It quickly becomes simply intellectual assent to certain doctrines rather than faith in Christ. Speaking for myself, my assurance was in what I thought I knew about God rather than simple, childlike trust. My Christian life was stagnant because there was an emphasis on knowledge, not conforming to Christ in life. Prayer was nearly non-existent because I figured that God was going to work out His decree regardless of what I petitioned. When I did pray, I made sure to add "if it's Your will" since I didn't understand God's revealed will. In other words, I was afraid to ask for the things that God says please Him because in many ways His decree "trumped" what He has revealed.

    This also severely affected my family. My daughter, about five years old at the time, said to me after doing something bad, "God made me do it." I knew her reasoning was wrong, but it was fairly consistent with my theology.

    Yes, the fatal error of hyper-Calvinism is that it often times places faith in the wrong place. When faith is one of the most fundamental attributes of the Christian religion, hyper-Calvinists straddle a dangerous path. In fact, I think many Arminians (I use the term loosely) are in a slightly better place spiritually.

    When I started to seriously read reformed theology about a year ago, I found the doctrine of justification by faith alone to be so comforting. As a hyper-Calvinist, the knowledge base that I had was where I derived my assurance, but when that was shaken up, all I had was a simple, childlike faith. I no longer had to look beyond a life of faith/repentance for assurance. Not only was the simplicity of the doctrine of justification by faith comforting, but I now had a recourse to deal with doubt: prayer, knowing that God is faithful to answer and He keeps His promises. (Luke 11:9-13) In short, such transformation in my theology made Jesus my friend, not the masochist.

    I've also attached another good article below.

    A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The article states: 'some critics unthinkingly slap the label "hyper" on any variety of Calvinism that is higher than the view they hold to.' The article has done the very thing of which it complains.

    The "fivefold definition" is far too broad and makes hyper-Calvinists of many sound Calvinists. It is only the first two denials which are properly hyper-Calvinist -- that is, "that the gospel call applies to all who hear," or "that faith is the duty of every sinner."

    The last three points are based on the Arminian concept of universal love. The gospel makes offer of Christ to men "indefinitely" as sinners, not to men as "non-elect." As to points 4 and 5, common grace and a general love to the non-elect are irrelevant. The gospel does not call a sinner to believe in common grace for his salvation. A general love for the non-elect is not a saving love whereas the gospel reveals the love of God for the salvation of sinners.
     
  27. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Inconsistency is exhibited in this regard. True faith in Christ often overcomes the tendencies of the dogma. It is not uncommon to see an adherent defend actual eternal justification and still insist on the traditional doctrine of justification by faith.
     
  28. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Matthew,

    Thank you for your response.

    However, I would respectfully disagree with some of what you wrote: "The last three points are based on the Arminian concept of universal love." These last points are very reformed. I could supply many quotes from Calvin himself to validate this claim. It is not fair or accurate to say that they are based on an Arminian concept.

    The author of the article was very careful to say that some may disagree with some aspects of his "fivefold definition" and he would not consider them hyper-Calvinists.

    Further, even his definition of love had qualification. He was careful to distinguish between "redemptive love" and "love of compassion." An Arminian does not make this distinction. Some prefer not to call His relationship to the reprobate "love of compassion" and they would prefer to use "benevolence" instead. Though I think it is a meaningless qualification, I would not label someone with this conviction a hyper-Calvinist.

    Lastly, I don't believe that a hyper-Calvinist is only defined in issues having to do with soteriology. Therefore, points 4-5 are relent to the definition.

    Hope this helps.
     
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    You are welcome to supply the quotations and open it up for examination. The fact is, "universal love" is the first pillar of the Arminian system. Electing love is the first pillar of the Calvinist system. When so-called Calvinists require "universal love" as the basis for the gospel call they are building on an Arminian pillar, and this is true regardless of the structure they build upon it.

    The basis on which "some" disagree with the fivefold definition is the fact that they make these denials which the author states are characteristic of hyper-Calvinism. If these dissenters agreed with the author on what constituted Calvinism they would agree with him on what constituted hyper-Calvinism.

    The Arminian does in fact make this distinction. It is to be found in the antecedent/consequent distinction of the will of God.

    The difference between the Calvinist and Arminian view of general love is the realm in and extent to which it is exercised. For the Calvinist it is confined to the temporal realm, is non-saving in nature, and effects exactly what it seeks. For the Arminian general love operates in the realm of salvation and fails to effect what it seeks. Now, compare the article with these two systems, and it is clear that it falls on the Arminian side. It maintains there is a general love which desires the salvation of all men and fails to effect what it seeks. That is the Arminian tenet.

    Your "meaningless qualification" is the difference between affirming and denying that God has passions.
     
  30. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks again for your reply. I will attempt to be somewhat brief, though this is a large topic. Even though I stand by what I will expound on, I am certainly not beyond error and will seek by God's grace to hear sound reason from Scripture.

    1. You said: "The fact is, "universal love" is the first pillar of the Arminian system. Electing love is the first pillar of the Calvinist system. When so-called Calvinists require "universal love" as the basis for the gospel call they are building on an Arminian pillar, and this is true regardless of the structure they build upon it."

    I agree that the idea of universal love is an Arminian pillar. However, the Trinity is a Roman Catholic pillar. I would rather not throw out the pillar, but be sure that it is understood biblically. Do you argue that there is only one kind of love (electing) from God. Along with many other reformers, I distinguish different kinds of love. For example, I love my wife differently than I love my children and differently than I love my next door neighbor or my enemies. Therefore, universal love is not unique to Arminianism but it is certainly applied differently. (See Calvin, Charles Hodge, John Bunyan to name a few.)

    2. You said: "If these dissenters agreed with the author on what constituted Calvinism they would agree with him on what constituted hyper-Calvinism."

    Hyper-Calvinism is not a definition that everyone agrees on and is therefore somewhat subjective, so I believe your point is mute. In fact, I know of no one who is a hyper-Calvinist that would say that they are. However, I think it can be easily proven that Calvin taught all five of the points that hypers, according to Phil Johnson, come against. If we are going to call the Reformed faith "Calvinism," I think Calvin is a good place to start.

    3. You said: "The difference between the Calvinist and Arminian view of general love is the realm in and extent to which it is exercised. For the Calvinist it is confined to the temporal realm, is non-saving in nature, and effects exactly what it seeks. For the Arminian general love operates in the realm of salvation and fails to effect what it seeks. Now, compare the article with these two systems, and it is clear that it falls on the Arminian side. It maintains there is a general love which desires the salvation of all men and fails to effect what it seeks. That is the Arminian tenet."

    If you are advocating the Calvinistic understanding of general (universal) love, how did the article espouse the Arminian concept? Please correct me if I've misunderstood your point, but you seem to link "desire" with "intention." I think you will be hard pressed to consistently link the two in the Scriptures (consider Psalm 81:11-16, Hosea 6:1-6, Ezek. 18:19-32). Certainly God's decree is not frustrated by the human will. However, I think the difficulty in resolving this seeming paradox is easy when we make a proper Creator/creature distinction.

    I don't think a long discussion on this point would be profitable. I believe Travis Fentiman very sufficiently, biblically and historically laid this out. http://www.puritanboard.com/f48/john-3-16-gods-love-world-83941/

    4. You said: "Your "meaningless qualification" is the difference between affirming and denying that God has passions."

    If we define love as pop culture does, yes, I agree with you. However, "agape" as defined and applied in Scripture is not in any way synonymous or inclusive of "passions." When we look at Paul's definition of love in 1 Cor. 13, we see how Christ actually perfectly demonstrated this indiscriminately in the incarnation as our example. We should look at God's kindness (Luke 6:35), and longsuffering (Rom. 9:22) as demonstrations of His love even on the reprobate, as both kindness and longsuffering are listed as attributes of love in 1 Cor. 13.

    Furthermore, if we are to love our enemies, which in part fulfills the second table of the law as Christ gave us command (Matt. 5:44, Luke 6:35), how is Christ our perfect example and substitute when He did not Himself fulfill the second table?

    I hope this is helpful.
     
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