“Jesus didn’t die for Muslims”

Or for Jews.   Or for Roman Catholics.   Or for Buddhists.   Or for many professed Christians.Jesus Saves Wept by Dubtastic

That’s what some folks on another blog are telling me.

One of the gents is a Lutheran, nonetheless.

‘He only died for the elect.’    ‘Period…end of  story.’

Does that sound like the Jesus who prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” ?

Does that sound like the Jesus who wept over Jerusalem?



OK…Calvinists…’splain yourselves.

All others…what say you?




51 Responses

  1. I’d say He died for sinners.
    That seems to cover all the above.

    Shamefully, William Ames (puritan famous for the Golden Chain) wrote in ‘The Art of Prophesying’ a little syllogism of the gospel in which he said: “Christ died for the godly”

    Now there’s a logic that spins you 180 degrees from gospel truth. And many of my kind (Calvinists) are guilty of it.

  2. My Lutheran friend (I hope he is ok with my referring to him as that) on the other blog http://defendingcontending.com/2009/09/30/quotes-614/ ,
    Jeff is his name, was upset and said that I misquoted him.

    Just to clear matters up, Jeff never said what I have quoted there in the post.

    It was meant as a general belief posited by Calvinists as a reflection of the limited atonement theology.

    Sorry for any confusion.

    – Steve

  3. One word Steve, the poison of cryptocalvinism.

    Sasse wisely warns Lutherans, “Perhaps never has a more dangerous enemy of the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper appeared than this pure crypto-Calvinism. It is dangerous because this time it has taken hold not only of Electoral Saxony but of a great part of world Lutheranism. It is dangerous because there is scarcely a Lutheran church leader – with or without a bishop’s cross – who grasps its theological significance. It is dangerous because the modern Lutheran Church no longer seems to know how to wield the weapon that alone can overcome this opponent: the Scriptural witness of the “It is written”. Here lies the fundamental reason why the Formula of Concord is today coming under such heavy attack. In it Luther’s doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is formulated in such a way that one cannot give it a new interpretation.” –Herman Sasse, The Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran Church, Letter to Lutheran Pastors, No. 6 – May, 1949

  4. I think my friend, a youth pastor at a Lutheran church, explained limited atonement pretty well: http://bryanmcinnis.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/four-of-five-part-3/

    “Does that sound like the Jesus who wept over Jerusalem?”

    First of all, finish that verse where He wept over Jerusalem… “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

    Also, it does sound like the Jesus who in John 10 said that His sheep know His voice and He lays down His life for them.

  5. @theoldadam – I’m a Calvinist, too, and find such unfair characterizations by Arminians to be pretty common (it’s just as common the other way, I might add).

    IMO, the whole limited atonement thing is a lot of fruitless semantic quibbling, and the Calvinist position is intended to A) preserve logical consistency for purposes of explaining soteriology and free will, and B) prevent a slide into Pelagianism or Universalism. That’s all it is.

    I personally have no problem at all with true Arminians (classical Arminians). I don’t even consider them “confused and wrong” as one prominent Calvinist has. Even he agreed that Arminians are saved, so it’s really a stupid debate, IMO.

  6. Joshua,

    Certainly Arminians can be saved, but it’s despite their Arminianism. It seems to me that any form of synergism is, on its face, not Christian.

    Arminians must trust in their own choice for their salvation. It’s inherently self-centered, which is the opposite of Christ-centered. This choosing is in the every-other-religion camp, the law-based camp, the salvation-by-works camp, not the trust-in-Christ camp.

  7. Well. You certainly caught my attention with your title! Jesus saves. … .
    If there is some secret knowledge as to who the “elect” truly are than you might as well toss the good book into the fire.
    John 3:16-18
    The whole salvation thing is between you and God, not us and we-who-think-we-have-it-all-figured-out.
    The individual, regardless of culture,ethnicity, etc., will stand before God and, like (someone) mentioned, in that Day, we will be surprised to see who is in heaven and who isn’t.
    Don’t waste your time now trying to figure who is the elect and who isn’t ,instead live out the Truth and Love of Jesus Christ in the present.

  8. Steve,

    You may well note the language of the Calvinist religion when they talk, especially of Arminians. They will throw them a “salvation bone” in spite of their error. So one hears the Calvinistic gospel (not to be confused with Luther) in process terms as if Christ never came, like, “…X CAN BE saved…”. Note how they speak alien to Luther who spoke of salvation as an utter objective reality already done for the entire world that is in the present as well and delivered without fail every single time via the sacraments. That men reject it means nothing to the Gospel.

    Similarly over on Radical Grace a few weeks ago they pick this reality up nicely with a story of this older lady who lay dying in a hospital. Some “evangelicals” (Calvinist or Arminians, six one way, half a dozen the other) come to her and ask, “How are you doing?” She replies, “Oh, I pretty much dying.” They ask, “We don’t mean to scare you but have you made your peace with God?” She replies, “No.” They ask further, “Would you like us to help you make peace with God?” She replies, “No.” Perplexed they ask further, “Don’t you want to make peace with God?” She replies in true Gospel language, “No, God has already made peace with me when His Son was crucified on the Cross.”

    Both calvinist and arminians (and Rome for that matter) remove the paradox that faith demands, the atmosphere in which faith must breath where there is only the Word to the chagrin and utter offense to reason, affections and experience. They do this with fallen human logic in order to subdue the Word of God, so they think, to that logic. But the Word of God demands not to be interpreted away but heard particularly in the face of a paradox.

    I’ve quoted this before in “Law and Gospel – Foundation of Lutheran Ministry”, by Robert Koester, he makes a very good and nice distinction between the religion of Calvin (and Arminius and Rome) on one side versus Luther on the other side.

    Koester points out that, “For Luther, justification began as an objective fact. In other words, the basis for his hope was not that Christ justified Martin Luther by faith, but that God justified the entire world before anyone actually received the benefit of Christ’s work by faith.” We see this in Luther’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer fifth petition (very eye opening – this is just how faith creating and powerful the Lord’s Prayer is though said very infrequently among Christians), “This is why there is great need here again to pray and cry: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses, not that He does not forgive sin even without and before our prayer; for He HAS GIVEN us the gospel, in which there is nothing but forgiveness, EVEN BEFORE we prayed for it or ever thought about it. What we are concerned about in this petition is that WE MAY RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT THIS FORGIVENESS.” Thus, Luther would and did say, “Where there is forgiveness there is salvation and life”. Calvin (double predestination) would say, “Where there is salvation and life, there is forgiveness”.

    The key to understanding the connection between Rome, Calvin and Arminians is that underlying their systems was a different system than Luther’s. We can see this in the sinner asking what his/her problem is? Surely most would say, “sin”. All would generally say, “Sin is my problem”. But what do you mean by “sin is my problem?” Is it “that I need power to over come it?” OR is it “that I need it forgiven!” A very BIG difference in sin being a problem and thus the differing systems. Here equally we see Rome, Calvin and Arminian thought. In that this power to choose comes to bear somewhere in the system and the “choosers” are the saved. Grace is seen as this “power” in some form or another, Rome officially called it “infused grace”, Arminians would see as that “natural ability to choose God”, and Calvin just simply moved it to the naked immediate operation of the Spirit on the person. All see it as this power for more or less “a faith” whose ultimate goal is a moral reform of some sorts with forgiveness at best tangential to it For Rome it was via the sacraments, this infused grace is given, ex opera operato. For Arminians it is that created reality within all men. For Calvin it is this secret operation immediately upon the soul. For Luther, however, and here is the BIG difference, grace is that utter objective before all things reality and disposition of God toward the sinner, not a force. So when Luther spoke of “means of grace” he was not interested in the reforming of the sinner but rather ‘the assurance that God has forgiven me”. Not a “power” given through the sacraments (Rome) nor nakedly (other protestants), but that the sacraments actually give and deliver the Gospel point blank. To reject the sacraments is to reject the Gospel. Thus, the sacrament, Luther said, is the Gospel.

    Again, Koester goes to show how this plays out in the two’s (Calvin versus Luther) concept of the kingdom of God. For Luther the Kingdom is nothing less than the forgiveness of sin. This is why the Gospels open with the saying, “the Good News of the Kingdom” and why men cannot normally see it being blinded by their concept of “God” and Kingdom being more or less law and morality. Luther makes this clear in many places. For e.g. in his commentaries on Genesis discussing Abraham’s home, “Consequently the Word of God is continually heard there, and Abraham’s home is nothing else than a kingdom of forgiveness of sins and of grace, yes, a very heaven in which dwell the angels of God, whom he receives reverently. In short, in Abraham’s home there is nothing but grace and life.”

    Again it shows up with Calvin, Arminian and Roman thought on one side and Lutheran on the other concerning election in which both Calvin and Arminian thought reject the paradox that is required of faith against fallen sinful human reason. Arminians attempt to resolve the tension by putting ability in man to believe and Calvin attempts to do so in speaking that God only elects some and gives, ironically, that power to believe after conversion (Rome of course has this same idea only calls it infused grace via ex opere operato sacraments). This is why all three are ultimately purely synergistic and Luther is purely monorgistic.

    Koester writes, “In addition to rejecting our own powers in coming to faith, we believe that if a person rejects God’s grace, the fault lies completely with that person and not with God. Lutherans also reject the error of Calvin who limited the scope of God’s salvation. Indeed God wants all people to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).” Koester continues, “These BELIEFS (emphasis mine) create a paradox. <> According to our logic, there has to be a difference either in (1) how people use their power of “free choice” or (2) how God deals with people. But faith accepts both “conflicting” truths of salvation by grace alone, and God’s intent that all be saved (in the face of the fact that all are not)…Lutherans have realized from Scripture that the teaching of “by grace alone” must stand secure or Christianity will fall. If the door is left open to our efforts or works (on one hand – ldh), we are back under the dominion of the law. The paradox, which is part of the teaching of grace, must remain intact also. To doubt God’s will for me (on the other hand – ldh), or to rely on my own strength to contribute to my faith, will ultimately led me away from God.”

    Koester asks, “Why do Calvinists and particularly Arminians (and for that matter, Roman Catholics) reject the paradox? Is it because they cannot understand that words of Scripture? Is it because they are less astute than Lutherans? The answer to both questions is no. The reason they reject Scripture’s emphasis on “by grace alone” is that their initial focus prior to their “conversion”, their conversion itself, and there subsequent Christian focus lead them away from grace and ultimately from the gospel. How and why does it do this? Simply put, whenever anyone shifts his focus of Christianity (the shift is from singular forgiveness of sins to moral development somewhere down the road – ldh), as the Evangelical/Reformed do, his “faith” is no longer a miracle the Holy Spirit works through the gospel. We must realize that there is in man a natural desire to want to keep the law. While most consider this desire to be an example of the innate goodness of man, or the “prevenient grace” of the Holy Spirit, the Bible tells us that in the true spiritual sense, no one yearns for the law or for the true spiritual sense, no one yearns for the law or for the true spiritual means of fulfilling it in their lives (Rom. 3:10,11; 8:6,7). What, then, is this yearning that so many experience? Lutherans have called this the opinion legis, or the natural (and sinful) desire of a person to gain something for himself by keeping the law, whether that happens to be heaven or God’s temporal blessings on earth. We hold that even the desire to be moral is a sin-unless that morality is fostered by a love for the Lord. But such love can only come when a person first knows that God has loved and forgiven him.” –End Quote, Koester


  9. Calvin and many others (as noted by Nothcott) held to an understanding of redemption entirely informed by a Nominalist world view (in the same fashion in which naturalism holds sway today).
    Because of this, his view of salvation is primarily focused upon that of the predestined human soul – only there does he see ‘an unambiguous reflection of the original divine light in the universe’.
    The entire value of creation becomes, at best, indifferent, essentially minimizing the whole scope of Christ’s work of reconciling the world, (and, in consequence, of the Lord Himself originally inhabiting this realm on the seventh day after creating it and delighting in it and sanctifying this). Nominalism arises from a leaning towards Platonic dualism, and as such, was renounced in the polemic of early Christians (Irenaeus) for its allowance and furnishing of Gnostic heresy – a soteriological sphere which totally removes us from the immediate ‘physical’ spirituality of the redemptive work of Christ declared both in the Gospels and the Apostolic writings. The scope of nominalstic salvation is actually alien to New Testament Christianity and equally the Incarnational nature of the work of Christ. If nominalism is essentially correct, the Incarnation must be rejected in the manner vocalized by the Greeks at Mars Hill (Acts 17), for the proposal of material redemption is nonsense.

    • Howard,

      Bullseye, that was the best short description of the underlying gnosticism in Calvin and others I’ve read.

      Very well described!



  10. Acts 13:48 – When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

    I know, Larry – I’m a Calvinist heretic…

    • Arius quoted scripture to.

    • I’ve never said you yourself were. Heresy applies more to teachers and the doctrines of the heretics (e.g. The Pope, Zwingli and Calvin) laymen are simply taught by the heretics. The message is another gospel and thus damned.

  11. Christ died for Muslims, Jews, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, professed Christians and in fact people from every tribe, tounge, people and nation. We will find all of those people in heaven.

    Christ did not die for them in some vauge, theoretical way. His death paid for their sins. They will come to faith in Him and prove that He died for them by doing so.

    If Christ died for a person’s sins, then that person’s sin has been paid for. So it seems to me that your system has allot of people who have never nor will every place their faith in Christ going to heaven.

    I see God’s Son paying a real debt in an exact way.

    That’s Calvinism. Deal with it.

    • Who said anything about going to Heaven?

      I said, as the Bible says (that’s where I got it from), that Christ has died for all. He forgives everyone sin. The sins of the whole world!

      But that forgiveness needs to be accessed through faith.

      Therein lies the sticky wicket.

  12. @Xan – It’s not really fair to lump Arminianism with “works-based”. I used to think that way until I actually studied what Arminius said, including what the modern systematic Arminian theologians say. For example, Arminius held firmly to total depravity and perseverance of the saints — total depravity almost moreso than Calvin.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of “Christians” today, including some self-professed Arminians, who would match your characterization.

    • Joshua,

      In a way I agree with what you are saying and agree. It’s funny you say this, because that is inadvertantly the point I’ve been discussing with a friend of mine. Calvin, Arminius and Rome on one side and Luther on the other. Synergism is fundamental to all three.

      Most Calvinist would find the use of the term “synergist” especially pinned to them an offense and say, “Not me!” And some Arminians and RCs would openly embrace the term, most would not just like a Calvinist would not. But that’s just so much empty wrangling over words. A rose is a rose even if I insist upon calling it a chicken. And likewise synergism is synergism even if I deny its part of my belief system in name. In other words true doctrine calls a spade a spade and false doctrine always likes to play word games.

      It’s similar to the battle Luther and later Lutherans had with the “real presence” crowd (Zwingli and especially Calvinist), which you still hear of today among Calvinist. They will say word games like, “We both believe in the real presence just different modes”. Luther called such tricks the same tricks Arius used. Because the issue there was not “the real presence” but the very body and blood presence, that which was born of the virgin Mary, lived, crucified, resurrected – not just the “real presence” or “just another mode”. Calvinist STILL speak that way to get a wedge in on the argument. Luther quickly picked up on this trick and said point blank, “ask that pastor what it is that he puts into your mouth that he has in his hand” (paraphrase).

      So while a Calvinist doesn’t like the term “synergist” itself and they disdain that, most actually dearly love synergism otherwise named or taught – and you picked up on it in the last post with their over emphasis on so called sanctification. This is also rooted in their seeing the Gospel serve the Law as opposed to Luther who said the Law serves the Gospel, AND to no small level Calvin’s view of the Kingdom versus Luther.

      Calvinist know well the “right answer to the question” of synergism, “no”. But they are blind to the fact that the confessions and doctrines actually teach it, albeit it in a “hinting” way rather than openly.

      Also in another since Arminians and RC ALWAYS will attach credit to God, I’m sure there are exceptions to this, so that while they don’t mind the term “synergist” they can “credit God” for the power of synergy. And that’s the common ground.

      That’s very different from Luther’s confession, “I confess that I cannot believe by my will or power in my faithful Savior Jesus Christ but am called by the Gospel by the Holy Spirit”. A calvinist at first blow might agree with that but they don’t fully understand Luther (as evident in their “sacraments” – again Sasse was right, get these wrong and you will get the rest wrong). Luther means this in a continuum of the baptized, I can’t believe even right now, the Word must continually come to me in Word and Sacrament, I can fall away! Not due to a lack of works, Arminianism, but because the bondage of the will lay in the old man, the religious pious doer’s, bondage to refuse free grace – indeed free grace is the death of his ENTIRE being as a “doer”. When the “doer” has nothing to do (because of Christ), he is crucified and being killed! That’s why the Cross is the odor of death to him, yet the odor of life to the new man. Same “odor” but to one death the other life. Much like carrion on the road side stinks of death and revulsion to us, but is a salivating dinner time to a buzzard.



      • Thanks, Larry. I think both sides play this game: “Those other guys refuse to admit it when questioned directly, but their theology leads inexorably to _insert_bad_thing_here_”

        FWIW, I still have a hard time getting excited by people who use “Romanist” as a slander. As I said, I prefer the Calvinist explanation (while saying “God forbid!”, like Paul, to the slippery slope). But I really don’t see anything wrong with the Arminian explanation, so long as they say “God forbid!” to the semi-Pelagian slippery slope and stay far from it like Arminius did. And what’s worse, I find a lot of the stuff that Pope Ratzinger says to be very reasonable. Honestly, since reading about 15 books by modern Catholic leaders in the past couple of years, I’ve realized I was misled in my Protestant upbringing. The Papists are not nearly the evil beast I had been raised to believe. Of course, some of their theology may be wrong, and I still stick with Calvinism, but they are a lot more right about more things than I expected.

  13. If a Lutheran says Jesus died only for the elect, that Lutheran must be a racist.

    1 John 2:1-2.

    Atonement and Justification are not the same, to collapse or equate the two will pull the other in its direction, either you become a functioning universalist or a functioning calvinist.

    The first is universal and objective, the other is particular and subjective.

    The first is imputation of sins of the sinner to Jesus, the latter is imputation of Jesus’ righteousness to the sinner.

    What bridges the gap between the first kind of imputation to the second kind of imputation is the Means of Grace.


  14. This is also rooted in their seeing the Gospel serve the Law as opposed to Luther who said the Law serves the Gospel, AND to no small level Calvin’s view of the Kingdom versus Luther

    right on Larry.

    In actuality, Calvin’s view of faith and repentance are not the same as that of Luther’s. Calvin’s is more rational and accomodates the language of Rome.

    Calvin considers faith as obedience.

    In a sense, when faith is not trust, it is extracted from its object, Jesus work.


    • Hey LPC,

      That is spot on the money. It’s subtle but Calvin, especially later day Calvinist actually revert “faith” back to Rome.

      What many fail to see that in principle what led much of Rome to apostacy of doctrine was following the same fallen human reason, the mass, transubstantiation, etc… Calvin re-started that process. He may of at times and places “picked up some of Luther” but ran back to Rome’s principle which always leads to error.

      That’s why the defense for double predestination always boils down to a form of “but the LOGICAL conclusion…”. Right there the old devil’s whore is showing a lot of leg so as to be glanced at and thus enticing men away from Christ to itself. This is to be tempted away from the naked Word. The issue of the Lord’s Supper functions the same way.

      The irony of “limited atonement” is that it is said to “protect” against the use of “free will”. NOTHING could be further from the truth, in fact it inflames it to the point that the will which thinks its free says, “Why I’m not free will”. It’s the ultimate form of self induced delusion, I’m not an addict.

  15. Well that is one way to kick start the old blog stats and comment numbers…………..chime into the ol’ limited atonement debate.

    Lots of discussion both lengthy and brief. I’ll try and remain in between.

    Jesus did die for the church. Not for those outside of the church. Jesus died for the sheep not the goats.

    Jesus died for those whom died in Him.

    It is that simple and yet so incredibaly profound.

    Forget the silly notion that Jesus died for everybody. He did not die for Judas. He died for Paul.

    This is not an essential issue, it does not warrant non fellowship. You are entitled to believe that Jesus died for a muslim if you like, but that is not biblical.

    Blessings in His glorious name,

    Matthew Johnston

  16. Howard and Lito are making the BEST connections here:
    Picking back up on the Gnosticism Howard brought up before and hooking it up with Lito’s point about “In actuality, Calvin’s view of faith and repentance are not the same as that of Luther’s. Calvin’s is more rational and accomodates the language of Rome. Calvin considers faith as obedience.” – both are critically connected!
    This begins to show how Calvin, and many others like Zwingli have injected into the sacraments a “Gnosticism”. There’s a reason behind Luther’s very earthy real and true body and blood concerning the sacraments. It does INDEED go all the way back to the incarnation itself. As a bit of a teaser; many of here across the board would say Arius, for example, was a heretic and taught heresy. But why was it heresy? The first answer is, “Well it’s against the Word of God.” Many get this. True it is, but what is the faith killing answer? Why is it deadly and by extension why God does not want us tinkering with His Word? This part is what many have lost. They might know it’s wrong because in letters and syllables they know the right answer and the wrong answer (like “we are not saved by works”), but why IS IT?

    In our SS class we’ve been studying the church fathers and the heresies they dealt with. One of the earliest was simply a continuation of the Apostle’s dual battle between the Judiazers and the Gnostics. Gnosticism was growing by leaps and bounds. Our pastor gave us the observation that one has to look ultimately in a teaching or doctrine where salvation is placed. All other than Christ alone ultimately put it in works, the form just changes. The Judiazers ultimately put it in the Law, but in a Jesus + Law way. The Gnostics on the other hand where always playing down the incarnation and the two natures in some way. For example the doecetics said Jesus only APPEARED to be like man. That’s where the term comes from “to appear”. Why is this? Pastor told us for the Gnostics they increasingly eschew the incarnation and the two natures in some way so that in the outplay and out come of their doctrine the emphasis of what Jesus did in His body is down played, even at length thrown out. With that goes all that Jesus did in His body, either entirely or partly or just as tangential. Then the emphasis comes on the “sayings of Jesus”, Jesus becomes “Jesus the wise”, “Jesus the guide”, “Jesus the philosopher”, etc… Thus, the place salvation there, in Jesus the wise guide and the sayings of Jesus, not what He DID in His body. Now one may begin to SEE what the issue is with heresies like Arius, no real body and blood in the Lord’s Supper and other such Gnostic like heresies. As pastor said, “It is always faith killing” (which gets back to Lito’s point about Calvin and Rome’s faith).

    If this is beginning to sound like a LOT of American Evangelical doctrine there’s a reason, it is! American Evangelical doctrine, whether it be Calvinistic or Arminian is really deeply rooted in Gnosticism and the sacraments show it. This is what Luther saw in the connection of the Lord’s Supper and the incarnation and the two natures and to how it is faith killing. Thus, most of Evangelicalism’s doctrine is works based but not like the Judiazers who returned to the Torah + Jesus kind of law works based salvation, but rather an increasing de-emphasis, vary from group to group as to its severity, of the work Jesus did IN HIS VERY BODY for us, and an increasing emphasis on “the sayings of Jesus”. And salvation is, thus, put there.

    Thus, it should be of no surprise whatsoever that in denominations (i.e. confessions) in which the bread and wine are just that bread and wine as only memorials (Zwingli), or some only spiritual other mode presence (Calvin), the rest of their doctrine emphasizes to lesser and greater degrees, depending, the sayings of Jesus over what He did IN His body for us. And thus placing salvation in something other than Jesus. One does not have to openly deny Christ alone to actually deny Christ alone. In fact one can affirm and confess “Christ alone”, because we all know that is the right answer. BUT a doctrine shows its true colors in its emphasis.

    And now we see more clearly why Sasse said if you get the sacraments wrong you will get the rest of Scripture wrong. Because there’s a hidden yeast of works righteousness somewhere in the mixture poisoning the entire well.


  17. I belive if you pressed a Lutheran purist they would say that
    (1) Yes Jesus died for the elect and
    (2) Gods grace is universal

    They allow it to be a contradiction and a mystery but both are supported in scripture.

    The difference between Calvinism and Lutheranism is Lutherans allow this to be a mystery and sola scriptura where Calvinists believe in a form of double predestination (some people are damned to Hell and some are predestined for Heaven). Lutherans believe in the universality of Grace as I do so they dont believe anyone is predestined for Hell part of it

    Steve I mentioned you here:

  18. I want to repeat Howards words:

    Because of this, his view of salvation is primarily focused upon that of the predestined human soul – only there does he see ‘an unambiguous reflection of the original divine light in the universe’.

    A Lutheran, on the other hand does not see going to heaven through the idea of Gods predestined sovereignty… HE SEES IT THROUGH THE CROSS and THE GOSPEL.

    In Christ only I have assurance (predestined or not!!!) I am going to heaven!

  19. CoG,


    It’s also critical to see how Calvin versus Luther sees election in eternity. Because Calvin sees election in eternity “with a temporal component as to steps” if you will both “elections” are outside of Christ, the Son of God and the Word itself. It’s a necessity of asserting and insisting upon an election unto damnation. Something like this: In Phase I God chooses whom He will and will not save (out side of Christ, the Son of God and the Word – which is really non-sense). Then in Phase II Christ, the Son of God, the Word is set to the task to accomplish the selection/election in Phase I. Here we see Calvin outside of Christ and reaching up to see naked things of God. Once you necessitate an election to reprobation, which occurs outside of Christ of necessity, then you also drag the elect of salvation so chosen as well outside of Christ. And nothing could be further from the witness of Scripture.

    Luther sticks with Scripture on the other hand and philosophy or rationalizations. The Word says election is IN Christ alone and nowhere else. Christ, the Son of God, the Word is not “Phase II” to procure for “Phase I”. Christ is all in all from eternity, there is no temporal step wise assertions (the Phase I, Phase II) that in essence tears the Trinity apart like Calvin does in his logic. You see Luther literally stuck to the Scripture and the early church confessions on this: “the only begotten Son, begotten not made…being of one substance with the Father…”. A limited analogy; a beaver MAKES a damn, but a beaver begets another beaver (kind, type and nature). The same applies, albeit way above our reasoning abilities, to things eternal (without time and space, not an infinity, more how Calvin thinks, of things but eternality, how Luther thinks, of things…a BIG difference). And of the Holy Spirit, “…Who proceeds from the Father and the Son…”. Proceeds, like begotten, also is without temporal or spatial import (and infinity) but eternality.

    This is why Calvin struggled with the Lord’s Supper and his now famous, “the finite cannot contain the infinite”. He’s already off on the wrong foot with the term infinite which is a temporal/spatial expression and not an expression of eternity or the eternal. Simply put the eternal is not infinite time forward and backward, nor is the eternal merely infinite space.

    This concept seems to permeate Calvin’s thinking with election and the sacraments.


    • “Here we see Calvin outside of Christ and reaching up to see naked things of God. Once you necessitate an election to reprobation, which occurs outside of Christ of necessity, then you also drag the elect of salvation so chosen as well outside of Christ. And nothing could be further from the witness of Scripture.”

      That makes total sense and it should make total sense to the Calvinist. It is the reverse of the argument they make for needing logical consistency. But in the cross there is only “foolishness”.

      Good stuff, here.

    • Absolutely bro.

      If people will only open their eyes, Calvin was truly humanistic in his take on Scripture.

      Take these streams EO, RC, Calvinism, Lutheranism. All the first 3 have no such thing effectively as the means of grace, only the latter is unique in its idea of means of grace. Hence, it is no wonder why today Lutheranism is so a minority. It is because it is not intuitive.

      The Gospel is like that, not from human thinking.


  20. Correction:

    NOT, “Luther sticks with Scripture on the other hand and philosophy or rationalizations”

    BUT, “Luther sticks with Scripture on the other hand and NOT philosophy or rationalizations”

    Sorry about that!

  21. Two scriptures come to mind. The first is quite possibly the most basic of verses giving the gospel (okay, and I’m tacking on the 2 verses that come after, as well):

    John 3:16 – “For God so loved *the world*, that he gave his only Son, that *whoever* (I’m pretty sure that means whoever) believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that *the world* might be saved through him. *Whoever* believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

    And also 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that *any* should perish, but that *all* should reach repentance.”

    Seems very clear to me that Jesus came and died for anyone who would believe in Him as Lord and Savior.

    I don’t know, maybe the point of the people on the other blog is not that Jesus did not die for those people, (Muslims, Buddhists, etc.) but that they have not received His gift of salvation.

  22. Dorci,

    You will, upon exegeting the text notice that the word “you” and in other translations “us” is referring to the elect.

    Peter’s letter was written to the elect. (See 1 Peter 1:1-3). In his second letter he reminds them of his first letter. Thus it is written to the same elect.

    In turn the meaning of “you” and “us” in that verse you citied; 2 Peter 3:9, is talking of the elect.

    ‘God is not wishing that any of the elect (‘us’) perish’.

    And they wont.

    in Him,


  23. Dorci,

    To a hammer everything looks like a nail. Do not let enthuised spirits lead you away from Christ.

    Peter’s letter was written to the Baptized which is perfectly clear from the context and import of the entire letter. Get the sacraments wrong, Calvinist, get the rest of scripture wrong.

    You will note well how Calvinist interpret Scripture rather than let Scripture speak and stand. Like the Lord’s Supper, they have what they confess they have nothing but bread and wine one can easily have at a restaurant.

    Even John Calvin himself said when the Scriptures speak of the the world, they mean the sins of the entire world are expitiated and he goes further to say for this to not be true one would have to take a person “out of the world”.

    Don’t let them drag you away from Christ, there’s a very real reason orthodox confessions cannot, do not and must not attend nor promote heterodoxy in any form. There’s a very real reason Concord not only positively confirms certain doctrines but by name condemns negatively false doctrines including those of the Calvinist. It’s not for “legal accuratacy” of the doctrine but to keep the Law and Gospel pure – which is the only way it can be. Eschem them as Luther did.

    Always remember there is a way of robbing a man of Christ while appearing to affirm Christ.

    In Christ’s Sufficiency Yours,


  24. Dorci,

    As Larry said.

    The catch word in Calvinist circles is “exegesis”.

    Exegesis meaning to draw out, not to add in.

    Lutheran exegesis lets the text speak, Calvinists reason with the text.

    Compare the addition of “us” to the actual text at the portion cited…notice how it becomes eisegesis.and constrains what the text actually says.

    2 Peter 3:9 (English Standard Version)

    9(A) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise(B) as some count slowness, but(C) is patient toward you,[a](D) not wishing that any should perish, but(E) that all should reach repentance.


  25. LP nails it better because the Calvinist often “sneak in” reason into exegesis where reason remains king but is called exegesis. It’s usually more accepted because yes it is more erudite, not lazy and sloppy as is the rank eisegesis we see say in Joel Olstean or Rick Warren. Due to its scholarly gloss (Reformed exegesis) and very hard work it’s often seen as true exegesis. Calvin was by far and large no bumbling person but exceedingly talented, but so was Erasmus and Zwingli (a point that in fact Luther makes, to Erasmus he likens it to carrying dung on fine silverware). None of these men were a couple of lazy hay seeds claiming biblical insight, neither was the Pope for that matter.
    So they don’t let the text speak and stand as the Word of God demands, they, as Lito points out “reason with the text”. They give it a rational massage if you will so it can be formed and fashioned to mean what they will. A more gross example of this is the Baptist or even Reformed like Baptistic interpretation of Acts 2: 38-39, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”” Right there where it says, “…and the promise is for you and your children…”. As a reformed Baptist pastor friend of mine said to me once, “children means spiritual children”. Of course that’s not in the text at all and so we see that principle of ‘reasoning with the text’, giving it an intellectual and philosophical massage in order to spit something else back out. They don’t let the Word of God stand even or especially when it offends fallen human reason, not at all unlike some of the better Islamic apologist do with the Trinity.
    So at length they end up to greater and lesser degrees with another gospel. They retain some Gospel in their preaching, but it is mingled with poison. General Gospel, “Christ died for the world”, of which you and I are in is no help since only the elect are saved, says the doctrine. So the general Gospel is no avail to you. The pretend sacraments of Calvinism are no help whatsoever because you have to first be saved/reborn/elect etc…to make use of them and then they only point to something elsewhere like a bird dog. That’s very different than Luther in which the sacraments actually give what the Word puts into them.
    Thus, we see right out of the gate that Calvinism in all its forms makes up sacraments according to fallen human reason by making their definition one of the wisdom of man, philosophy, for a philosophical sign is the sign of something absent. You see Greek Gnosticism point blank here. Platonic dualism permeates this kind of thought in which the perfect arch type is in “heaven” and only imperfect shadows are here on the earth (This kind of goes back to Howard’s point above). It’s the very essence of the fall, Adam didn’t like the earthy which was very good indeed in which God came to dwell with them…so he looked up and above (and we with him).
    Luther on the other hand defined the sacraments according to the Scriptures and realized that a theological sign, as opposed to a philosophical sign, is the sign of something actually present! If someone told you God was in the following place at the following time forgiving sins carte blanch, you’d think the world and religion would flock there. But they do not. Every Sunday in orthodox churches around the world that’s exactly what’s going on. When the bread and wine is consecrated and the very real incarnate God is their, giving that which was actually given for the very forgiveness of our sins – it’s a great miracle hidden under suffering hidden under mundaneness. But men and heterodoxy does not flock here. Why? If it was reported that Mt. Rainer in America was floating 100 feet in mid air, everyone would come to that display of sovereignty and power as being from God. If physical healings were going on for real under a certain ministries, millions would flock to it. But announce the forgiveness of sin actually and truly with the incarnate God present, the very flesh and blood in mere wine and bread, the numbers fall off drastically. Yet that’s where God is and the miracle is.
    Why? Because at such liturgical worship you are being asked to bring nothing whatsoever but your sin which is all you actually have. And with nothing in hand you are being told and given everything, even the very faith to believe it. And men simply will not abide to be such true poor beggars. The reason such worship is considered nothing is the same reason most of us would not go eat at a soup kitchen, we think we actually have. And this is the same reason the sacraments by the sacramentarian doctrine wars against the Lutheran confessions and why men disdain them for strange fire. Laughter and mocking comes to these lowly sacraments because they are of the Cross truly, and as Luther points out the closer the world is to final judgment the more this laughter and scoffing will increase for in such, judgment approaches more and more, the more brazen are men.


  26. They don’t let the Word of God stand even or
    especially when it offends fallen human reason, not at all unlike some of the better
    Islamic apologist do with the Trinity

    That rationalistic method is no small thing. In fact it is fatal. Hence, the quip goes : Today’s Calvinist is tomorrows Socinian(Unitarian).


  27. Does Jesus advocate the use of ‘Aristotelian logic’ in evaluation of prophecy in Matthew 16:1-4?

    If so, should we use the same approach to evaluate the rest of Scripture that we do to evaluate prophecy?

    • Luther’s way ahead of you,

      Thesis 29. He who wishes to philosophize by using Aristotle without danger to his soul must first become thoroughly foolish in Christ.

    • Not to mention thesis 30. Just as a person does not use the evil of passion well unless he is a married man, so no person philosophizes well unless he is a fool, that is, a Christian.

  28. JK,

    The Lutheran exegetical practice is use the hermeneutic of Law and Gospel after exegesis. Also Scripture interprets scripture.

    So for Matthew 16:1-4 we know now that the sign of Jonah was Jesus himself, buried died and raised from the dead.

    Today as we have the Scriptures, we cannot interpret them anymore without the knowledge of what Jesus said – that he is the subject of Scripture and his Atoning work. We cannot interpret a section of Scripture now without the rest of it being there.

    The question is not whether or not we use our minds. Rather, the question is priority – is it text or rationality?

    That is why the Lutheran idea of the Lord Supper is absurd to the rest of Protestantdom because it is not intuitive, but the Gospel is that way too.

    Though Calvin tried to be the via media between Luther and Zwingli on the Supper, all of Calvin’s progenies, wind up levitating towards Zwingli.

    Either IS is is or IS is not. It cannot be in between.

    Here is Calvin:
    “We must not suppose that there is some latent virtue inherent in the sacraments by which they, in themselves, confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon us, in the same way in which wine is drunk out of a cup, since the only office divinely assigned them is to attest and ratify the benevolence of the Lord towards us; and they avail no farther than accompanied by the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts, and make us capable of receiving this testimony, in which various distinguished graces are clearly manifested…They [the sacraments] do not of themselves bestow any grace, but they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon us.”
    John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 volumes, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970, I, p. 503. Institutes, IV, XIV, 17.

    This confusing language suggest Calvin did not believe the HS accompanies the means of grace – sacraments, as a guarantee.

    So he detached the HS from the Sacraments. Thus you are not assured that something has been bestowed. To imply that the HS may or may not be in it is a terrible suggestion. Calvin’s logic is similar to Islam, since he is sovereign he does not bind himself to anything and he is free to do anything. Yet this is countered by the humility of God in that he allows men to handle him in the bread and wine, in the water of baptism, in speaking the Word.

    Since the HS is not necessarily in it, you are not sinning then( by carrying Calvin’s logic further) when you reject it! Thus the gift may be rejected without repercussions.

    If this is not weakening the promises of God, I do not know what will.


  29. LP,

    Jesus said, in effect:

    If A, therefore B. (Red sky at night, therefore fair weather.)

    If C, therefore D. (Red sky in morning, therefore stormy weather.)

    Is that logic, or not?

  30. By the way, in Boy Scouts it was:

    Red sky at night, camper’s delight.

    Red sky in morning, camper take warning.

  31. JK,

    Ah I read the text again and Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees for their logic of being able to discern the weather but fail to see the time – that the Messiah has come. So this was a rebuke of their unbelief. Jesus in fact was replaying back to them their logic (not his logic but theirs) and followed by a rebuke.


  32. Jesus assumed their logic in order to make his point.

    If they understood the propehcies, they would recognize him as the Messia. But since they didn’t, he’ll prove it by rising from the dead.

    He does not rebuke their logic. He assumes its validity.


  33. If their logic was valid as you said, then why did they miss the Messiah?

    I find it hard to be called a hypocrite by Jesus and not take that as disapproval of the way their reasoning work.

    I do not see in the text that he was approving of their logic, he was stating a matter of what they do. I do not think Jesus was saying – well if you simply applied the same logic, you would have believed in me. Logic will lead to faith? The Bible says it is a gift.

    But another thing is coming out in this discussion.

    Logic in as much as it is a human activity is tainted by sin. Luther called reason (as much as logic is implied) as the devil’s whore. The only thing we can trust is not our own understanding but the text itself.

    Children’s faith I observe is implicit, they believe you simply because you say so. They do not reason.


  34. LP,

    You can’t even understand the text itself without logic.


  35. Is cognition the same as logic?

    The two are not the same. Reason does something to what one has perceived. In the case of Calvin, he explained the HS’ activity in the Supper – away.


  36. LP,

    You explain the presence of the Lord in the Sacrements in different ways than we Calvinists.

    Logic requires that either you or us are wrong because our views are contradictory.

    We can’t even disagree without logic. Words cannot be interpreted without logic.

  37. Here you see logic is indeed the calvinist God. While it is a creature of God it is not God. Logic cannot distill the Trinity yet the Trinity is. Why? Because the Word of God says so. You also assume fallen human logic can reach up to God and that logic can more or less own God, which is the very essence of trying to be like God.

    The Scriptures also speaks of God’s ways being higher than man’s and that indeed we do not know what we should pray so the Spirit prays for us with moanings and crys beyond our understanding, and that includes man’s creaturely gift of logic.

    In many parts of Scripture, in fact at every point where faith is required fallen human logic and sensory perception is on purpose offended. To name a few: the Trinity, the Virgin birth, the Incarnation, the dividing of the Red Sea, the Creation ex nihilo, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Cross, the revealed God Who suffers, the revealed God Who dies.

    In fact in the OT numerous times under the types and shadows OT Israel is asked to fight battles in which they are ridiculously out numbered and no normal hope of victory is obtained or to destroy a city by the most unexpected means (e.g. horn, a worship service, blasts at Jericho; the three times wetting of the sacrifice which is later consumed against the prophets of Baal; multiple baptismal passages of healing in the OT; etc…). In cases in which Israel did not obey the Word of the Lord the first time and then make it up later by “obeying” in their own strength (having sinned against the Lord), they failed. Why? Because God wishes His Word to stand as is and trusted as is.

    It’s not that logic and language are not used in communication of these things but that they cannot subdue nor be above God, which is a rank violation of the first commandment. Many people talk a blustery wind about loving the Law of God, but do you really when you let your logic subdue it committing idolatry? For God said, “I AM you God…you shall have no other gods before Me…neither of heaven above, the earth below or the sea beneath.” Thus, to make logic, a creature, above the Word of God is in fact idolatry and honing an image in the place of God as Paul says in Romans 1, “…thinking themselves wise they honed images of birds, reptiles…etc…”. Honing an image or an idol does not always mean a rock statue to worship. For the first commandment says nothing in creation (not in heaven above, the earth below nor the sea beneath) may be your god, I alone AM your God. And that includes the creature logic, and logic IS a creature, no more. Thus, if the Word says the Trinity is, it IS, in the very face of the creature logic. If the Word Incarnate Son of God speaks and breaths His God breath saying, “This is My body/blood…take…eat/drink…for the forgiveness of your sin”, it is purposefully so in the face and affronted to the CREATURE logic. EVERY knee shall bow to the Word, not just some. EVERY creature is under God, no creature encompasses Him. The irony of Calvin’s “the finite cannot contain the infinite” is that he himself uses a finite creature (logic) to contain the infinite (God), without a Word of God to say in the case of logic “it is so”. To use Calvin’s lingo the miracle of the infinite contained in the finite is most clear in the incarnation and Lord’s Supper, where God has given a Word to the fact. But to allow logic (the finite) to contain God (the infinite, eternal is more appropriate but that’s another discussion) is to take a finite creature where no Word of God says, “this will contain God”. Thus, Calvin, unwittingly pulls the infinite God from the finite in which He is given by the Word (i.e. the incarnation and the Lord’s Supper), and puts Him where no Word is given to do so (i.e. in the finite creature fallen human logic).


  38. Larry said:
    Luther’s way ahead of you,

    Thesis 29. He who wishes to philosophize by using Aristotle without danger to his
    soul must first become thoroughly foolish in Christ.

    A great quote Larry.

    Yet this is exactly what Calvin did not do, instead he philosophized as a wise man in Christ , not as a fool.


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