This is me, thinking, about theology, philosophy, and anything in general not related to my main blog about everything else..

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

this is here for my sake not yours

well, you can read it if you wish, but i'm putting this here, because i read it and i thought it was great and wanted to keep it, so this is just a simple cut and paste, the writer was some "Martin Zender". if you don't want to read something about free will don't read this. and feel free to comment, but remember, i didn't write it, and that's not why i'm putting this here either. i'm not even saying i agree with all of it! but it's nicely put together. this is just for me to read again and keep basically

Free Will & The "Oh Well" Creed

What is free will? Free will is a doctrine that teaches that man can act independently of God. This should already ring sour to the spiritually-attuned ear. The doctrine of free will teaches that man has the freedom to choose or reject God, never mind the verse that says no man is seeking God (Rom. 3:11).

But I remind you that we’re talking about free will; Scripture has nothing to do with this.

In other words, in the doctrine of free will, man becomes the deciding factor in his own salvation. Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, according to this doctrine, was only a potential salvation, not an actual one. According to this doctrine, the cross of Christ never saved anybody; the cross only saves those who decide to be saved. What about the verse that says no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him? (Jn. 6:44). Never mind it. What about the verses that say God is the Savior of all mankind (1 Tim. 4:10), and that the blood of the cross will reconcile all to Him (Col. 1:20), whether those on the earth or those in the heavens? Never mind them. Then what about the verse that says God is operating all things in accord with the counsel of His will? (Eph. 1:11) Again, never mind. I have already told you. Scripture has nothing to do with this. We’re talking about free will.

Scripture is strong medicine

Reader, if you believe in the free will of man, please investigate the ninth chapter of Romans in any version you please, come back, then tell me if you still believe in it. If you still do, then read Romans 11:32. If you still believe in free will after that, take a little tea, massage your temples, and read John 6:44. You say you’ve read these verses and you still believe in free will? Very well; perhaps your neck needs cracked. If you do not know a good chiropractor, try it yourself. Place one hand on your head, another on your chin and yank. Ah! Now read Ephesians 1:4. Still? Perhaps bed is the answer.

Go to bed, rise tomorrow with a clear head, then read Proverbs 16:9, 19:21 and 1 Kings 22:22. If, for whatever reason—medical or otherwise—you still believe in free will, take Daniel 4:35, Jeremiah 10:23, Proverbs 21:1, Proverbs 20:24 and Isaiah 10:15 and call me in the morning. As long as you are neither pregnant nor nursing a baby, take two readings of Ephesians 1:11. Caution: do not exceed this recommended dosage. At higher doses, unbearable relief may occur.

Warning: these verses may cause excitability in theologians and seminary students. Avoid operating a motor vehicle while reading these verses. A persistent reliance on orthodox tradition may be a sign of a serious condition. If your belief in free will persists for more than a week, tends to recur, or is accompanied by rash, pride (or rash pride) and a general looking down on others, accompanied by a false estimation of self, consult your Savior.

Who chose who?

Don’t take my jolly humor the wrong way. I used to believe in free will myself. But then a brother asked me to exercise it by deciding not to sin the following day. I was determined to do it. My alarm clock went off and I reached for it, but it wasn’t there; Melody had moved it to her side of the bed. The day had hardly begun and already I had missed my alarm clock; the word sin, in the original Greek language of Scripture, simply means "to miss."

So much for my vaunted free will.

Deep down, many Christians believe that there is something about them that makes them smarter than others, able to make a better decision concerning God than others. Wouldn’t you agree that Christians who think this way would have something to boast in? They would if an account of their salvation began with the word "I."

Yet Paul says that, in the true gospel of grace, boasting is debarred. That’s Romans 3:27. "Debarred" means: shut out, excluded. Do you realize what this means?

This means that a believer cannot even claim credit for his or her ability to believe! (Quite true, I’m afraid. Read Philippians 1:29 and Romans 12:3. The first verse says that our belief in Christ is graciously granted us, the second that our very faith is a gift. You’re disappointed; I can see it in your face. But now you know the truth: You are no different than anyone else. If God hadn’t chosen you, you’d be an unbeliever, too, just like your stupid Uncle Harry. Take heart. Once your pride has recovered from this, you will exult in your Savior as never before; you will need Him as you never have. (If God has used me to save you from a fall and soften your opinion of Harry, I am happy.)


Now think about it. If a person begins an account of his or her salvation with the word "I," then he or she is boasting. That person may say they’re not boasting, but denial doesn’t change facts. Yet if they begin an account of their salvation with the word "God," they are practically repudiating the doctrine of human free will. What about you? Does an account of your salvation begin with the word "I" or with the word "God?" I hope that it begins with the word "God." If it does, then you have rejected the false doctrine of the free will of man and now believe in the free will of God. This is a good thing.

For who makes you different from anybody else, and what have you got that was not given to you? And if anything has been given to you, why boast of it as if you had achieved it yourself? —1 Cor. 4:7

But here we run into an apparently insurmountable problem, which also appears quite impossible to overcome. We now understand that God has given us the belief and faith necessary for salvation. But this leads us to a startling and seemingly troubling conclusion: He has not given this belief and faith to others. While this may be a hard pill to swallow at first (I recommend a little orange juice), it is nonetheless true. As I will show, this is not a problem. No, truth is never a problem. Discarding error is the problem.

Matthew 13:11 records these words Jesus spoke to His disciples: "To you has it been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of the heavens, yet to those (the throng) it has not been given."

Hear Him in Matthew 11:25- "Jesus said, ‘I am acclaiming Thee, Father...for Thou hidest these things from the wise and intelligent.’"

What does the Master say of Jerusalem in Luke 19:42? "If you knew...what is for your peace! Yet now it was hid from your eyes."

Could it be that God purposely kept some from believing His Son? You may be tempted to think that the "wise and intelligent" nailed their own coffins, or that Jerusalem got stubborn apart from God’s influence. Resist this temptation. I challenge you to read what these verses say, not what the "wise and intelligent" tell you they say. God is a causer, not a reactor. Consider the above in light of the following:

Romans 11:8- "Even as it is written, God gives them (Israel) a spirit of stupor, eyes not to be observing, and ears not to be hearing, till this very day."

Romans 11:32- "For God locks up all together in stubbornness."

Romans 9:18- "Consequently, then, to whom He will, He is merciful, yet whom He will, He is hardening."

To the mind unprejudiced by traditional teaching, these verses say one thing: God is responsible for unbelief. Don’t shoot the messenger! This truth is probably causing yet another seemingly inescapable problem to trouble your mind. That is why I am about to place that problem on a sturdy table in front of you and offer a solution to it in the plainest possible language. I choose English.

Divine-inspired stubbornness

If you believe in either the annihilation or eternal torment of Uncle Harry, then you have encountered a serious problem. I have just shown from the Scriptures that God is responsible, not only for withholding Himself from Uncle Harry, but also for locking up Harry in stubbornness. Now look around you. The world is an oblate spheroid from the weight of people like Uncle Harry; the spiritually stubborn account for most of humanity. My question to you is: what happens when these people die in this condition?

You say everyone gets an opportunity to believe before they die? Let’s test this theory. Pause to consider Israel.

In Romans 11:8, Paul writes that, "even as it is written, God gives Israel a spirit of stupor" that remains "till this very day." Paul was quoting Isaiah 29:10. Israel’s divinely-inspired stubbornness, then, dates at least to Isaiah’s time. (See also Isaiah 63:17 and 64:7-8.) Paul wrote Romans around the summer of ‘58 A.D. Isaiah lived around 750 B.C. Here alone are approximately 800 years of God-inspired stubbornness. And what of the nearly 2000 years of stupor since? Folks, a lot of Jews have died unbelievers in 2800 years. And God, Who has not only made them stubborn (Rom. 11:8, 11:32) but also holds the keys of death (Rev. 1:18), is responsible.

I wonder if your theology has an answer for this. I’ve been staring at that throw rug over there by your rocking chair. All this time I thought that was your dog lying under it. Now I see that Boscoe is chewing on the sofa. That lump under your rug is all the verses I’ve just quoted that you’ve been sweeping under there for most of your Christian life. I think it’s time for a little spring cleaning.

The "Oh well!" creed

Calvinists (those folks belonging to a religion invented by John Calvin) ran into the same problem; they simply put their dogs outside. But besides this, they also had trouble with the idea of a sovereign God bringing billions of people into the world, only to send most to an eternity of torment. You see, the Calvinists at least saw the truth of the sovereignty of God; give them credit for relatively flat rugs. They acknowledged that members of Christ’s body are predestined for it long before birth, apart from personal merit. That’s easy enough to see; Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 8:29 say as much. So hooray for the Calvinists again.

But what of the billions of people who aren’t predestined for heaven? What about the horrible problem of a God who purposely feeds hellfire with divinely-hardened flesh? Well, the Calvinists finally devised a "solution" to that: they no longer considered it a problem! Today, one of their shortest creeds is: "Oh well!" This creed is repeated a great deal at funerals. Calvinism so infuses the heart with Christian love that its founder, John Calvin, once had a disagreeable Spanish theologian, Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in Geneva in 1553. Doesn’t that hurt? I guess only if you hold onto the match for too long.

Song and dance

At the other end of the problem stand the Arminians. These folks followed Jacobus Arminius, who rejected Calvin’s predestination teaching of pure grace. Arminius believed salvation was available to everyone—if they exercised their free wills and took it (i.e. "works"). The Arminians’ rug resembled a beret on the Matterhorn. But at least they relieved God of responsibility for His creation. God sent them a large "thank you" card, which can be seen at the National Free Will Museum in Meesavemyself, New Mexico. This museum is open only if you believe that it’s open.

"If you go to hell, it’s your fault!" is the Good News of the Arminians. This bogus gospel, passed down to the present, is believed and preached by millions. It even makes some people want to wear robes.

But the doctrine, "if you go to hell, it’s your fault!" does have an even more sinister side-effect than making people want to wear robes. That side-effect is: If you go to heaven, it’s your credit. This deduction is unavoidable. If going to hell is one’s fault, how can staying out of it be anything but one’s credit? I give up. If I can be stubborn enough to lose my salvation, it is self-evident that I can be savvy enough to gain it. This little song and dance is also called "salvation by works." But I wouldn’t tell people that this is what they really believe. Well—I guess I would. But they won’t like to hear it. And they sure won’t believe it.

So you say you want to get persecuted? That’s awesome. Then walk into your average evangelistic church today and suggest to them that the blood of Christ was shed for—and will ultimately save—everyone.

For some reason, this news will stab their hearts and they will hate your intestines.

Want to hear some sense?

Now I’m going to solve the problem and relieve your troubled mind. Don’t credit me—give God the glory. (But I do accept Red Lobster gift certificates.)

The problem, restated, is: 1) No one can believe in God unless God gives belief 2) He refuses to give belief to most of humanity, hardening hearts to boot, and—here comes the problem— 3) He allegedly sends those whom He has hardened (without the proper clothing, one would assume) to an eternity of hellfire.

You will notice that the Calvinist and the Arminian viewpoint have one common point: a belief in eternal torment. The Arminians ducked this horror by making God not liable for sending folks to orthodox hell. The ticket out? Free will. Free will is one of the easiest heresies to disprove from Scripture—but it doesn’t matter. Arminian-types who believe in eternal torment are in the embarrassing position of having to stare sovereignty-of-God verses in the face and deny them; I’ve witnessed the phenomenon. But at least, unlike Calvinists, they resist a God who damns people on purpose. Calvinists, delicate souls, simply recite the "Oh well!" creed and go home.

The common problem with these two errant beliefs is—eternal torment. In my next book, I will put together the correct part of Arminianism with the correct part of Calvinism (discarding the rest), to show you the truth.

ALL things © copyright 2001-2006 by Martin Zender. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

This essay was wonderful! Thank you for posting it. Finally some truth!

Paul Eilers said...

Yes, it was good to read this truth again.

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Andrew and Alice Brown said...

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