Does Calvinism Create God Robots?

 

This was one of my early objections to Calvinism. I could not see how Calvinism did not lead to this conclusion. I no longer have this as an objection. My objection was a result of a misunderstanding of Irresistible Grace. Click here to read how I worked through this issue.

 

I found a post over at Classical Arminianism by Billy Birch entitled The Robots of God where he discusses this issue from an Arminian perspective. Interestingly, he addresses the issue from the Total Depravity argument not from the Irresistible Grace argument.

He starts out by saying

“Does depravity effect every area of a human being? We would answer, “Yes.” Arminians, however, do not believe that depravity renders an individual helpless in trusting Christ Jesus for salvation.”

What does the Bible have to say about this? Romans 3:10-18 says: “(10) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (13) “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” (14) “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (15) “Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) in their paths are ruin and misery, (17) and the way of peace they have not known.” (18) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This paints a pretty clear picture of the condition of man. It would seem that the depraved man is not righteous, does not understand, does not seek God, has turned aside, become worthless, does not do any good….and does not fear God. How can any person who fits this description trust is Christ so they can receive salvation?

Next Billy discusses the ability to persuade someone to accept Christ. He says

“Persuasion only works on those who have the ability to reason. If people are in the state as Calvinists believe, then persuasion and reasoning are rendered moot.”

I believe that persuasion and reasoning is all a waste of breathe until God does a work in the heart of the hearer. Until God allows the lost person the ability to understand that they are lost and to respond to the Gospel once they hear it. I think some Arminians call this prevenient grace. I used to teach people that God had to remove the blinders so that the person could see their true spiritual condition. I have come to believe that another name for this is regeneration. In other words, God must regenerate a person so that they can understand and respond to the Gospel once they hear it. Until they are regenerated they cannot and will not respond to the Gospel because they are still slaves to their sin nature. John 8:34 says “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

Billy said

“Jesus pleaded with myriads of people to trust in Him for their salvation. If we are to think as the Calvinists think, then Christ was actually pleading for people in vain. And not only so, but Christ Jesus knew full-well that people COULD NOT trust in Him for salvation unless His Father first regenerated them!”

This has given me a few problems in the past and probably still does a little. It sounds right but is it. This is the real question. Who was Jesus really pleading with – everyone or the elect? I am beginning to think it is the elect. It was that way from the time of his birth. Matthew 1:20-21 says “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Billy says

“Since no one loves God “naturally,” as they would have it, then God was also choosing who would love Him as a result of being regenerated. That, to me, is one of the most odd aspects of Calvinism: God chose who was going to love Him. This, among many other oddities of Calvinism, is something foreign, not only to Scripture, but also to the human psyche.”

This is not foreign to Scripture, it is in complete accord with it. In regeneration God changes the nature of the person. The nature goes from one at enmity with God to one the seeks God. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it this way “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

To sum things up: All people are totally depraved. This is to the point that it affects every aspect of their lives. It is a result of being slaves to sin. Sin taints every part of the person. As such, people cannot (and don’t want to) trust in Christ unless God first frees them from their slavery and gives them a new nature. Some would call this regeneration. Once regenerated, a person is ready to respond to the Gospel when it is proclaimed to them. It is all an act of God from start to finish. But this does not mean that we are robots….our choosing God is a natural response to His freeing us from our bondage and giving us new life.

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40 Responses to Does Calvinism Create God Robots?

  1. Tim Kurek says:

    Very interesting blog! I am a 3 point calvinist, but in all reality I am just a Christ-ian, and I love the Lord and try to do His will the best I can. Good blog.

    http://uriahministries.wordpress.com

    please check out my newest blog. I just posted it a minute before you. And let me know what you think.

    tim kurek

    Like

  2. Christian says:

    What happens to the non-elect?

    Like

  3. Tom says:

    Christian,

    The non-elect are judged for their sins at the great white throne, found guilty, and must pay the penalty themselves. The penalty is eternity separated from God in Hell.

    Like

  4. David Hewitt says:

    Brother Tom,

    Good post. 🙂

    SDG,
    dbh

    Like

  5. Billy Birch says:

    I certainly understand what you are getting at; and have held to the same views years ago.

    Question: Can you give me some Scriptures which suggest that one must first be regenerated in order to believe in Christ Jesus? What I am looking for are explicit statements which anyone (Jesus, Paul, or any other person) taught that one must first be regenerated in order to place his faith in Christ. Because if the bible does not teach it, and it is merely something which one’s systematic theology demands, then should we believe it?

    Just Curious.

    Billy

    Like

  6. Billy Birch says:

    But, one thing you did cause me to realize is my own inconsistency — I did not realize it until you quoted me. I actually do not believe that anyone can believe in Christ without the aid of the Spirit of God; I DO believe in total depravity/total inability. I must now amend my post. Thank you for pointing that out. I am grateful.

    Billy

    Like

  7. Christian says:

    Tom, did non-elect have any other have any other destiny?

    Like

  8. Christian says:

    Tom, did the non-elect have any other have any other destiny?

    Like

  9. Tom says:

    Christian,

    No. The destiny of the non-elect is to spend eternity separated from God.

    Like

  10. Tom says:

    Tim Kurek,

    Which two of the points do you disagree with and why? I started out also believing 3 but now I am at about 4.5.

    Like

  11. Tom says:

    Billy said

    “But, one thing you did cause me to realize is my own inconsistency — I did not realize it until you quoted me. I actually do not believe that anyone can believe in Christ without the aid of the Spirit of God; I DO believe in total depravity/total inability. I must now amend my post. Thank you for pointing that out. I am grateful.”

    Please understand my disagreement with your position is not personal. I truly hope it did not come across that way. You did not indicate that you took it that way but I want to make sure.

    Like

  12. Tom says:

    Billy,

    How far along are you at Southeastern? Do you plan to Pastor when you graduate?

    Like

  13. Billy Birch says:

    No, I did not take it personal. It is funny–I used to take all criticisms personal (lol), but I had to get over myself. I tend to take myself too seriously. I also keep reminding myself that I could be wrong!

    I am a sophmore at Southeastern. I was saved in May of 1995 at age 27. I began a singing ministry and did that for years. Over the last four years or so, I have wanted a formal education. I am 39 now and am in need of a life-long ministry.

    I believe I do want to pastor. There are a lot of hurting people in this world and they need the gospel and the Lord. I want to offer them hope for their desperate plight. Believe it or not, my heart’s desire for people to come to know Christ is one reason I shun Calvinism. I cannot have this nagging thought in the back of my mind while ministering to people that God might not “love them enough” to have elected to save them. Does that make sense? I know it is emotional–I am trying to cope, that’s all.

    I listen to a lot of Reformed preaching and teaching. I love John MacArthur, Tim Kellar, R. C. Sproul, and the works of Jonathan Edwards, B. B. Warfield and many others. I am not a total Anti-Calvinist, even if I may come off that way.

    God bless you man.

    Billy

    Like

  14. Christian says:

    “The destiny of the non-elect is to spend eternity separated from God.”

    So God created these people for the sole (soul?) purpose of being separated from Him, an eternity of torment. Where is the Biblical support for that?

    Like

  15. Tom says:

    Christian

    The Doctrine of Election is taught throughout the Bible. Here is just one.

    Ephesians 1:3-14 says Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (7) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ (10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (11) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, (12) so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (13) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    Like

  16. Christian says:

    But perhaps the elect are those whom God chose to serve him and serve his kingdom. As Jesus did when he called out his apostles. Not everyone within the sound of his voice took up the cause to the extent that they did. I would wager that many of todays Christians do not fit this bill.

    That being said, if your interpretation is correct (and of course I wouldn’t be the only one to question it) what does happen to those who God pre-ordained to be separate from him?

    Like

  17. Tom says:

    Christian said

    But perhaps the elect are those whom God chose to serve him and serve his kingdom. As Jesus did when he called out his apostles. Not everyone within the sound of his voice took up the cause to the extent that they did. I would wager that many of todays Christians do not fit this bill.

    You seem to be trying to imply there is a difference between being a Christian and being one of the Elect. There is no difference. The Elect are all those who were chosen to be saved from eternity past. The Elect are all called to serve Jesus and His kingdom but each has different gifts and different tasks.

    I readily agree with you that there are many Christians today who are not really Christians at all. Our churches are full of deceived people. This is a problem that we must address.

    Christian said

    That being said, if your interpretation is correct (and of course I wouldn’t be the only one to question it) what does happen to those who God pre-ordained to be separate from him?

    I have already answered this question. They will spend eternity in Hell paying the price for their sins.

    Like

  18. Christian says:

    So this speaks to the idea of limited grace and limited atonement, right.

    Please bear with me here, I am not too familiar with Calvinism. I do occasionally listen to RC Sproul on the radio, but am not always in agreement. For example, how do you square your philosophy with these verses?

    “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the “world, but to save the world through him”

    “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”

    Are we saying that, since God is omnipotent that he cannot fail? There fore anyone he wants to save must saved and therefore anyone who resists him he must have intended for this. (I see that Robot peeking out.)

    “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”

    Every man. Not only those chosen, but every man. God must choose not to void our free will, or everyman would be saved. The light is revealed to all and all are permitted to turn away.

    That’s how I see it. Sort of. 8)

    Like

  19. Tom and Christian, hope you don’t mind my butting in but it is important to note that there is not A doctrine of election. There are a few perspectives on divine election, all scripturally sound with solid exegesis to back them up. I’ve created summaries of these views over on my site that might be helpful in discussions such as this. God Bless.

    Like

  20. Tom says:

    Hi Pastor Warren,

    No doctrine of election? I will have to check out your information on this. I think election is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments…starting with God choosing Israel to be His people. Texts like Ephesians 1:3-14 seem pretty clear that God has chosen a group to be elect.

    I will check out your summaries.

    Like

  21. Christian says:

    Perhaps it was God’s plan of salvation that was pre ordained. It was predestined that some of us would accept the gift of salvation through God’s gift of grace, through Christ’s sacrifice.

    You know, we seem to have pretty much accepted the idea that God knows the future. What if there is no such thing as ‘the future’? That perhaps it is only a mental construct of limited minds to get a handle on existence? And if there is no such thing as the ‘future’ then we need not be plagued with this question of God knowing (or fore ordaining) who would be saved and who would not.

    Like

  22. Tom says:

    Future is a time related concept. Humans live within it but God exists outside of time. He created it after all so He has to be greater than time.

    From His position outside of time He can see the past, present, and future simultaneously. That is one reason the argument that God looks down the corridor of time and elects those that He sees will choose Him fails.

    Like

  23. Sorry Brother – what the capital A meant to signify was there is not a SINGLE doctrine of election, but a variety of sound interpretations of this doctrine. Perhaps in 10 point Arial it lost its impact! 🙂

    Like

  24. Tom says:

    “I see” said the blind man. I did not read you comment correctly. Sorry for my confusion. Now, your comment and your Calvinism / Arminian page makes much more sense.

    Like

  25. dianarn says:

    Religion makes “God Robots.”

    Like

  26. Tom says:

    Dianarn,

    Please elaborate. All religions or just Christianity? Does God brainwash the people or are they created that way? Etc…….

    Like

  27. Christian says:

    That is one reason the argument that God looks down the corridor of time and elects those that He sees will choose Him fails.

    Yes, that makes sense. But then perhaps ‘electing’ and ‘choosing’ are unfortunate word choices. I don’t know what the original Greek was but these English words season the recipe a little differently than how you just described it.

    God sees all hose who do not choose him, and not wanting ‘robots’ he allows them to hold to their choices and face whatever the consequences are. This is decidedly different than the idea that he ‘created’ some to be saved and some to be damned.

    Like

  28. dianarn says:

    All religions are a control mechanism. Religion and spirituality are two different things. All of them try to manipulate their perception of God in such a way as to make their followers obey and follow them. All of them try to fit God into a tiny little box so they can “understand” him.

    Like

  29. Creek says:

    tom,

    this is a great post. very helpfull.

    Like

  30. Tom says:

    Dianarn said

    All religions are a control mechanism. Religion and spirituality are two different things. All of them try to manipulate their perception of God in such a way as to make their followers obey and follow them. All of them try to fit God into a tiny little box so they can “understand” him.

    For most religions, I would agree 100%. But there is one that is different. It has the historical, archeological, and philosophical facts on its side. Nothing it claims has ever been proven false. It allows God to reveal Himself to His creation. It is……..CHRISTIANITY.

    Like

  31. dianarn says:

    If you think Christianity is unique, then you should watch Zeitgeist, if you are open-minded enough to get past the first 15 minutes.

    Like

  32. Diana, did you know that if you fold a dollar bill EXACTLY in eighths and then point the ALL SEEING EYE on the back toward the sun at NOON, nothing at all will happen? Watching Zeitgeist is one hour and fifty six minutes of life that cannot be returned. Based on the ramblings of Gerald Massey, a mesmerist, spiritualist, and self proclaimed Egyptologist, the entire foundation of the Horus myth is faulty and easily disassembled.

    On the other hand, the records of the life of Jesus, by eyewitnesses and corroborated by independent historians of the era, do not appear to fall into the category of myth but of historical fact. Christianity is archeologically, philosophically, historically, and teleologically verifiable, contra the claims of the mythologists and other persons who seek to undermine it in order to make excuses in support of their own broken souls.

    For you to come into this forum and speak into a terribly complex theological argument such as this indicates good things, that God (the only one there is) is working in your soul to question what you believe and He’s putting you in a place where the truth can be discerned. We’ll pray for you.

    Like

  33. panoramia says:

    Quoting: “… religions are a control mechanism. Religion and spirituality are two different things. All of them try to manipulate their perception of God in such a way as to make their followers obey and follow them …”

    Amen to that. It takes an open mind, and I’ve found that Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses etc ad infintum cannot be reasoned with. Their leaders have shut their minds, discussion is heresy or blasphemy. Praise the Lord and pass the shackles.

    All of the above are Christian, and ALL of them are the only True way to Christ.
    Christ, of course, is the ONLY true prophet (profit?) of the ONLY true god.

    God of course, is only true for Christianity, all others are false, as are Allah and the Jewsh God (who is also shared by those false Christians).

    Actually, named religions are just brands and Catholicism, Baptism (ouch), Protestantism, Episcopaleanism (poop, spelling) (okay, Church of England—I can spell that) are nothing more than franchises.

    Tom, I think I may need some more praying for? While you’re at it, could you pray for ‘world peace’? Should I hold my breath?

    Like

  34. panoramia says:

    ********, (Edited by Tom – No foul language please) I left a bit out — God, of course, is only true for Islam, all others are false.

    God, of course, is only true for Judaism, all others are false.

    God, of course, is most only true for Christianity, all others are false.

    Gods, of course, are only true for Wicca, Hinduism, Shinto … etc etc ad infintum all through recorded history and beyond, all others are false.

    Yeah, right — I think I see a pattern here?

    Like

  35. Tom says:

    At what point did having an open mind mean that you were able to turn your back on everything you believe because someone has questioned it? Having an open mind means listening to the evidence and then making a decision based on the evidence….the decision could be to continue with your beliefs. This in not being closed minded

    Like

  36. panoramia says:

    Good heavens! That was “foul language”? Intended entirely as an amusing euphemism but never as “foul”.
    Swearing simply isn’t my style. if offence was caused, then I apologise without reservation; generally I hate to unintentionally offend someone. Put it down to a cultural gap …

    I haven’t turned my back on anything I believe; but when better evidence comes to light I reserve the right to alter my conclusions … keyword, “better”.

    But do you see the pattern I’m trying to illustrate? No?

    The pattern is that all cults, sects, religions etc are the only path to the divinity and all others are false. Ouch!

    Like

  37. creek says:

    pan,

    i think that fact is great evidence that there IS a God. It is in all people that there IS a God and not only that almost all religions have man redeeming for something we have done against that god(s). ouch!

    the truth of the matter is that God is, and it is proven times over in the very creation He made. You may deny it, but you know there is and that you have done wrong.

    sin separates us a great deal from knowing the true God and it is a great act to draw us to himself. My conversion was not some one throwing evidence at me or facts and figures. it was an ACTION of the God of Abraham.
    it is emotional,mental, and a spiritual work. which brings us to the cross. Have you ever noticed that all those other religions seem to have some kind of salvation for man? I wonder why……

    Like

  38. panoramia says:

    Gentlemen, I have to bow out.
    It’s been nice meeting you, and I truly hope that at the final reckoning it is you, not I, that proves correct.
    AMEN

    Like

  39. Darryl Flood says:

    I used to believe in the justice and love of God until I realized much to my abject horror, that God, at least in the Calvinist sense, was neither “just” nor “loving”, unless we’re willing to change our descriptions of the terms. Condemning people for all eternity for actions they had no choice but to make, actions that you MADE them do is lower than low. It’s God, not human beings who should face condemnation if that was indeed the case. Mocking the prenatally damned with demands they can in no way undertake and a “Gospel” that has no real power to uplift or encourage them is wrong. Telling us not to play favorites in His law, but defying that very law to love his “elect” favorites while condeming the rest of humanity is absolutely unacceptable and hypocritical. Telling us to pray for positive outcomes when those prayers are completely inert in a pre-determined universe is the utmost of stupidity yet God would not have it any other way. Punishing those unfortunate reprobates who try to maintain righteousness to the best of their abilities yet rewarding those lucky elect who have no respect for God’s law is unjust. The Lord’s Prayer (“thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”) is completely pointless and redundant is always done. The admonition to preach to all creatures is now unimportant, suicidally dumb, and completely optional. What Calvinism has taught me is not to be a servant of God but rather a distrustful insubordinate always second-guessing God’s distorted and bigoted form of “justice”.

    And the worst part of it all is that with no free will and no ability to control our actions, our sins are actually God’s sins projected on to us, only he’s protected from all blame, even as he compels us irresistibly to sin. Every sin, from the Satanic rebellion in heaven to the rape and murder across the city last night was all God’s doing, as part of his inscrutable plan. Calvinism makes God the “author of sin” no matter how many times you try to deny it. I know it may go against the Biblical proscription of idolatry but I’d rather worship a deity of love, mercy, forgiveness, and justice than the unfathomably dark and wrathful god of Calvinism, to whom Satan himself seems as well-behaved as a choir boy in comparison.

    Like

    • Tom Shelton says:

      Darryl,

      What you have described is not Calvinism. It is Hyper-Calvinism. There is a huge difference and Hyper-Calvinism is heretical.

      Your whole rant seems based on your belief in libertarian free will and fairness. All people are born with a sin nature and the will, of every person, is enslaved by that sin nature ( John 8 ) until God sets it free. While in that state of slavery, the will of those people (who are all unsaved at that point) is free to make any choices it wants to that are in compliance with the sin nature. No person can choose something not that is contrary to the sin nature that the will is in . This means that no person can choose to follow God while the sin nature rules. They would not even want to because they don’t know that they are enslaved by sin because Satan has blinded them of that fact. If they remain in this state, God is justified in sending every one of them to Hell for the sins they choose to commit. That is fairness and justness. All people (except Jesus) since Adam and Eve have this sin nature and will sin but that does not mean the God made them do it.

      But, the loving God that He is chose to save some by freeing them from the sin nature and giving them a new nature that would allow them to choose God. Once a person has the new nature, through regeneration by the Holy Spirit, they can see where they were headed (eternity in Hell) and they willingly choose God who then cleanses them by the atonement of Jesus and reconciles them to Himself so they can go to Heaven.

      Your said

      I know it may go against the Biblical proscription of idolatry but I’d rather worship a deity of love, mercy, forgiveness, and justice than the unfathomably dark and wrathful god of Calvinism, to whom Satan himself seems as well-behaved as a choir boy in comparison.

      Many people today prefer to worship a god of their own creation (idolatry) rather than the God of the Bible. It is easier. Cults are born this way. False converts are misled in this way. We have to take all that the Bible teaches and not pick and choose the parts we like or want. The Doctrine of Election (Predestination) is explicitly taught throughout the Bible and all true Christians must accept it or reject the Bible. The only true debate is how to interpret Election and how it fits into our theology. I encourage you to reexamine the issue.

      Like

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