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Thread: One on Two - Calvinism: Knight with assuranceagent and Ask Mr Religion

  1. #46
    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    Here is my next question... this might be one of those questions that seems like I am being argumentative or possibly taking a "shot" at your theology yet I don't know any other way to learn other than to ask all the questions that come to my mind so please understand my intentions are not to debate but just to get your clarification.

    When we look at the first three petals in the TULIP we learn...

    TOTAL DEPRAVITY
    UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
    LIMITED ATONEMENT

    Which all seems great unless of course you are not one of the elect. If you are not one of the elect you are born with no hope of going to heaven. Your destiny is determined through God's decree an eternity ago and there is nothing you can do about it. Jesus love and forgiveness is forever out of reach.

    That notion offends my sensibilities.

    I can't think of any other way to put it.

    Yet even a casual reading of the Bible could/should make one aware that God has given all men hope to repent and turn to Him (2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:2, 1Timothy 2:5, John 4:42, Romans 8:32, John 3:36 come to mind).

    Therefore my question(s) is...

    I am having a hard time understanding why in the theology of Calvinism God would create men and women that are doomed to eternal damnation. How can that notion fit within the character of a loving God? My question is two-fold...

    1. Why would a loving God create beings that have no choice but to suffer eternally in hell?

    2. What's the point of evangelism if the elect and non-elect have already been chosen in advance?


    Ok, those are biggies and I would be lying to you if I didn't tell you that those issues kinda sicken me a bit. But I am committed to carefully reading your responses and giving everything that you say the most fair and open minded review. I meant it when I stated I respect both AA and AMR therefore I want to learn from them and test what I believe and not just reject it out of hand.
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  2. #47
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    Knight,

    Just wanted to acknowledge I have seen your post and will respond later today.

    AMR
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  3. #48
    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    Knight,

    Just wanted to acknowledge I have seen your post and will respond later today.

    AMR
    No rush, I have a ton of things going on as well.
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  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    Which all seems great unless of course you are not one of the elect. If you are not one of the elect you are born with no hope of going to heaven. Your destiny is determined through God's decree an eternity ago and there is nothing you can do about it. Jesus love and forgiveness is forever out of reach.
    Knight,

    Yes, our destiny is determined. It is the execution of the decree that determines your destiny. The decree determines the certainty of all future existence of all things. But, as I noted in my earlier post, these things are comprehended in their causes, conditions, successions, and relations. This includes free actions of moral agents. God has decreed to move or to permit free moral agents to act in the exercise of their free moral agency. This is important and might be getting lost in the discussion.


    With that, letís get two things on the table concerning the Calvinist view of the elect and the non-elect:

    1. God has graciously chosen His people, the elect, out of a mass of already fallen humanity. Those He has chosen, will be saved, for the elect will respond to both the outward call, via the proclamation of the gospel, and the efficacious inward call (via the Holy Spirit). The elect, using their free moral agency, will so respond because God will actively work to bring them to their regeneration, a quickening from spiritual death to life by the Holy Spirit, and subsequently to their free moral choice of faith.

    2. God has left the remainder of the fallen mass of humanity to their own means and their justly deserved ends. These are the reprobate. From the total inability of their sinful natures, the very efficient cause of reprobation, the reprobate will reject this outward call, all the while using the very same free moral agency that the elect possessed. In short, God is not forcing people who want to go to Heaven to go to Hell!

    With respect to your comment about hope and love, we may never fully understand how God reconciles reprobation with love. And we do not have a warrant, using merely our own counsel, to declare that God should work this way or that way. Instead our warrant is found by examining what God tells us about Himself. Scripture often tells us the why of things that God does, but Scripture does not always tell us the how of what God does. Spending time speculating or even demanding to know the how, when Scripture is virtually silent, is basically attempting to understand the secret things of God (Deuteronomy 29:29).

    Nevertheless, there is much warrant from Scripture that teaches us that God is free to not extend mercy to everyone. For example, Paul speaks to the matter in Romans, and we need only look to God speaking to Moses. God makes it plainly clear that He is not a universally merciful God for everyone, for He retains His prerogative to distribute mercy, without any pre-conditions other than the counsel of His own will, that is, where He sees fit to do so: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.

    I think it is quite clear that when God spoke these words, He was also claiming being merciful does not mean He must extend mercy to everyone. A holy God confronted with fallen mankind owes it nothing but His justice of eternal damnation. God could have extended mercy to but one person, refusing all others, and yet we would still call Him merciful. This is because there is nothing about being merciful that requires mercy to be always or universally dispensed.

    Which brings us to the matter of predestination, or the unconditional selection of some from an already fallen mass of humanity, to eternal life. Note that the term predestination is always associated with election. We see this from Scripture where the word is never used with respect to the reprobate. We also see the word used in the Scripture in the context of Godís foreknowledge, in that God had an intimate, loving, (as in the Scriptural, ďhe knew herĒ) knowledge of specific persons that He graciously decided to elect. This is why the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter III) reads:

    III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels (1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:41) are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death (Romans 9:22-23; Ephesians 1:5; Proverbs 16:4).

    V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory (Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 5:9), out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto (Romans 9:11, 13,16; Ephesians 1:4,9); and all to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12).

    VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice (Matthew 11:25-26; Romans 9:17-18, 21-22; 2 Timothy 2:19-20, Jude 4; 1 Peter 2:8).

    Also observe from the citation above, that God is glorified in both instances. His predestination glorifies His grace. His passing over of the non-elect glorifies His justice.

    For the remainder of the discussion of predestination, I am going to quote from R.C. Sproul from the following source:

    Double Predestination. This source is an extract from Sproulís excellent little book, Chosen by God. Sproul does a fine job clearing up the matter of equal ultimacy, and the notion of double predestination.

    Denouncing double predestination, Sproul begins by noting that according to this view (emphasis shown is my own):

    There is a symmetry that exists between election and reprobation. God WORKS in the same way and same manner with respect to the elect and to the reprobate. That is to say, from all eternity God decreed some to election and by divine initiative works faith in their hearts and brings them actively to salvation. By the same token, from all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative. In the case of the elect, regeneration is the monergistic work of God. In the case of the reprobate, sin and degeneration are the monergistic work of God. Stated another way, we can establish a parallelism of foreordination and predestination by means of a positive symmetry. We can call this a positive-positive view of predestination. This is, God positively and actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to bring them to salvation. In the same way God positively and actively intervenes in the life of the reprobate to bring him to sin.

    At this point, we should carefully note what Sproul has written. In other words, according to the double-predestination minority view, God works equally well to directly and solely (monergistically) intervene in the lives of both the elect and the reprobate to bring about His ultimate ends.

    Sproul continues:

    This distortion of positive-positive predestination clearly makes God the author of sin who punishes a person for doing what God monergistically and irresistibly coerces man to do. Such a view is indeed a monstrous assault on the integrity of God. This is not the Reformed view of predestination, but a gross and inexcusable caricature of the doctrine. Such a view may be identified with what is often loosely described as hyper-Calvinism and involves a radical form of supralapsarianism. Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.

    In the Reformed view God from all eternity decrees some to election and positively intervenes in their lives to work regeneration and faith by a monergistic work of grace. To the non-elect God withholds this monergistic work of grace, passing them by and leaving them to themselves. He does not monergistically work sin or unbelief in their lives. Even in the case of the "hardening" of the sinners' already recalcitrant hearts, God does not, as Luther stated, "work evil in us (for hardening is working evil) by creating fresh evil in us."

    Sproulís view represents the majority view among Calvinists. Unfortunately, we encounter the minority view in many discussion forums, and these views are assumed to represent the majority of Calvinists by the uninformed. They do not!

    At this juncture, some will ask, why did God choose to unconditionally elect some and not others? Scripture teaches us that it was solely according to the counsel of His own will. We do not know how, but we certainly know that He did exactly this. God chose the elect from an already fallen race, all of whom were rightfully on their way to eternal condemnation. From Scripture we read that God gave some persons to Christ:

    John 6:37-40 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

    John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    Clearly, if all that God the Father gave do indeed come, necessarily those who do not come were not given, for God is certainly not impotent. Further, outside of the Father's giving (drawing), no one is able to come.

    The very reason Paul introduces the topic of predestination and reprobation in Romans was to assure the saints (the elect) that their very salvation was not begun in themselves, but in the decision of God. We do not have the same quantity of Scripture saying much about reprobation, how God chooses the elect while passing over the reprobate. It is hidden from us. We therefore cannot speak with the same level of certainty about reprobation as we can about the elect. But Scripture gives us plenty of assurances of Godís intentions to save His elect to the very uttermost. This is why Paul introduces the topic.

    Predestination guarantees the salvation of those God has called. Predestination exposes manís true nature as rebellious and sinful. Predestination means God is in control, as He should be, and the ability of man to take credit for his own salvation is removed, as Scripture teaches. Finally, predestination permits the saved to be assured in their knowledge that God made their salvation sure.


    1. Why would a loving God create beings that have no choice but to suffer eternally in hell?
    He didnít!

    I would hope that we all agree from Romans 5 that man is fallen by the moral actions of one man, not God. I also hope we agree that original sin is real. And, unlike the way we choose our elected officials to represent us, that our perfect God selected a representative for all of us to put to the test. None of us could have selected someone better than whom God selected to covenant with. Adam exercised his own liberty and failed the test. He was morally free to choose to sin or not to sin. He sinned and we all sinned in him and are under judgment for it. We are guilty before existence by the imputation of Adam's first sin, his representative, federal act. In addition to the guilt we bear with Adam's sin, we are also guilty of our many sins, as Romans 3 teaches.

    Godís ordaining of the reprobate does not prohibit them from acting according their desires and intentions. They are still morally free agents, with the liberty of spontaneity. They choose to hate God. No one is going to hell who wants to be in Heaven.

    As a refresher, the decree renders the future sinful act absolutely certain, but the decree does so in a manner in which God determines

    (1) not to hinder the sinful self-determination of the finite will; and
    (2) to regulate and control the result of this sinful self-determination. (See Psalm 78:29; Acts 14:16; 17:30.)

    2. What's the point of evangelism if the elect and non-elect have already been chosen in advance?
    If you can point them all out to me we can probably eliminate evangelism.

    Seriously, we donít know who the elect are and God commands that we preach the gospel, for it is by generally from the hearing of the gospel (one of the ordained means of the decree) that the elect are ultimately regenerated.

    Ok, those are biggies and I would be lying to you if I didn't tell you that those issues kinda sicken me a bit.
    This kind of takes the joy out of the discussion we have been having and the effort spent in crafting these responses.

    AMR
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  5. #50
    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    This kind of takes the joy out of the discussion we have been having and the effort spent in crafting these responses.
    I phrased it that way intentionally so you would know that these issues are the pinnacle of why I reject Calvinism.

    There is no sense in me "sugar coating" my feelings. I now have your response which appears to be well organized and complete. This gives me the full opportunity to determine if my strong feelings against these notions are in error or well placed.
    Last edited by Knight; February 2nd, 2010 at 03:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    Clearly, if all that God the Father gave do indeed come, necessarily those who do not come were not given, for God is certainly not impotent. Further, outside of the Father's giving (drawing), no one is able to come.
    And yet who does God say that He draws?

    John 12:32 ďAnd I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.Ē

    He was lifted up, therefore God draws everyone to Him. Those that reject Him do so on by their own freewill. I don't see that as God's impotence, I see that as our own shortcoming. God draws us all to Him (because He was lifted up) yet not everyone is saved because some people choose to live apart from God. That seems to me like such a simple, common sense, biblically sound way to see it.

    If God doesn't draw all people to Himself what does John 12:32 mean?

    Again, I don't ask this to debate but instead to get you to comment so that I will have a better understanding of how Calvinism would address such a response. As I had mentioned earlier some of these issues must be addressed otherwise you will not get a chance to make a full-rounded case for Calvinism.
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  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    And yet who does God say that He draws?

    John 12:32 ďAnd I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.Ē

    He was lifted up, therefore God draws everyone to Him. Those that reject Him do so on by their own freewill. I don't see that as God's impotence, I see that as our own shortcoming. God draws us all to Him (because He was lifted up) yet not everyone is saved because some people choose to live apart from God. That seems to me like such a simple, common sense, biblically sound way to see it. ÖIf God doesn't draw all people to Himself what does John 12:32 mean?
    Knight,

    Granted, such a verse taken in isolation from the testimony of Scripture about the atonement of Christ, the spiritual state of the unsaved, the efficacious grace of God, the nature of election, or even the eternal security of the believer, would necessarily lead to such an interpretation. Since the context is related to the atonement, letís just look at that aspect.

    The Calvinist holds that Scripture teaches that the atonement was limited to Godís people, the elect. We believe Scripture teaches that Christís atonement did not merely make salvation possible, but made salvation certain for those God has given to Christ. In other words, Christís atonement was wholly efficacious. The very word atonement is by nature efficacious. There is no such thing as atonability!

    Now to assume faith is required on behalf of someone to make Christís atonement efficacious, that is, to add some sort of humanly merit to Christís work of atonement, means the atonement was not sufficient, not really finished. Yet we do not find Scripture making these sort of claims about the atonement.

    For example, Matthew 1:21 does not say Christ came to bestow a potential on man to be saved. Luke19:10 does not say Christ came to make salvation possible. Acts 20:28 does not say Christís blood made the church savable. Hebrews 9:12 does not say that the blood of Christ makes redemption possible.

    Indeed, nowhere does Scripture teach that in Incarnation event was to merely make man savable, or to somehow give man some potential to be saved. Instead Scripture teaches us that the Incarnation was the will of God to secure the salvation of His people.

    The majority of Calvinists view the atonement from the voluntarist perspective. This perspective is that Scripture teaches that the atonement is necessary for salvation only because God willed it. As weíve discussed elsewhere herein, the Calvinist also holds that God willed the faith of those, the elect, who would partake of the atonement. Thus, the atonement and faith are intricately bound together in the counsel of God. It follows then that where there is no faith, there is no atonement. Only the elect will come to faith. The non-elect will not come to faith. Hence, the atonement was for the former, not the latter, or the counsel of God conflicts with Godís own testimony on the matter.

    So, when considering the testimony of Scripture as we have done on the nature of the atonement, we now come face to face with a passage, John 12:32, that, according to your view of the passage, appears to teach something that conflicts with what we know about the nature of the atonement. Clearly then we are not at liberty to ignore the other testimony of Scripture and press onward assuming all peoples means each and every human being that has ever existed or will exist. Instead we must reconcile the passage with others to resolve the contradiction.

    When we take the time to do this we will learn that in John 12:32, all peoples means that Christís atonement was for the sins of all kinds of elect people all over the world, because the body is not some localized group of people, but a church that extends throughout all the world, Jew and Gentile, a church that is united in His blood (see also John 10:16; 11:52; compare 12:20Ė21).

    AMR
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  8. #53
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    It's AMR's birthday! W00t w00t!

    Thanks for taking the time to explain your position. Clearly you have put great effort into your posts. Folks reading this thread can now have a much more full picture of what Calvinism teaches.

    Later today I will add a new question to the thread but I recommend you take today off and relax on your birthday! Maybe AssuranceAgent can chime in (where did he go anyway?)

    Again thanks for all the effort and attention to detail, have a great birthday and have a ice cold beverage for me will ya??
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    It's AMR's birthday! W00t w00t!

    Thanks for taking the time to explain your position. Clearly you have put great effort into your posts. Folks reading this thread can now have a much more full picture of what Calvinism teaches.

    Later today I will add a new question to the thread but I recommend you take today off and relax on your birthday! Maybe AssuranceAgent can chime in (where did he go anyway?)

    Again thanks for all the effort and attention to detail, have a great birthday and have a ice cold beverage for me will ya??
    Knight,

    Thanks for the kind words and the well wishes. I will definitely try to enjoy a day off.

    AMR
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    Ack! I've fallen behind!

    Sorry guys, I've been on vacation this week. One would assume that would grant MORE time to devote to the thread...but apparently not so much.

    I'll try to catch up today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by assuranceagent View Post
    Ack! I've fallen behind!

    Sorry guys, I've been on vacation this week. One would assume that would grant MORE time to devote to the thread...but apparently not so much.

    I'll try to catch up today.
    I am officially shunning you.

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    By way of quick intro: I think AMR did a fine job of answering some of the core issues raised by your post. What I'm going to focus on, then, are the specific scriptures you posted, and my understanding of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    Here is my next question... this might be one of those questions that seems like I am being argumentative or possibly taking a "shot" at your theology yet I don't know any other way to learn other than to ask all the questions that come to my mind so please understand my intentions are not to debate but just to get your clarification.
    Don't sweat it. Honestly, I think I speak for both AMR and I in saying that we have no problems debating the actual tenets and positions of Calvinism. It's when we get into manufactured charges that it gets frustrating.

    When we look at the first three petals in the TULIP we learn...

    TOTAL DEPRAVITY
    UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION
    LIMITED ATONEMENT

    Which all seems great unless of course you are not one of the elect. If you are not one of the elect you are born with no hope of going to heaven. Your destiny is determined through God's decree an eternity ago and there is nothing you can do about it. Jesus love and forgiveness is forever out of reach.
    Again, I'm not going to focus too much here, since AMR already largely and artfully covered it, but I think there are still significant differences between the way you and I perceive what is meant by "God's decree."

    Were I to elaborate on the emboldened portion, above, I would change it slightly to say that "God has decreed to allow the reprobate to determine their destiny through their own fallen choices." It isn't that God caused them to choose as they do, it is that God hasn't caused them to choose otherwise.

    That notion offends my sensibilities.
    I can understand why you would say that. In fact, there are some areas in which my sensibilities are offended as well. (not necessarily related to Calvinism, but more in a general sense).

    In times like these, we do well to remember that our sensibilities are fallen.

    Yet even a casual reading of the Bible could/should make one aware that God has given all men hope to repent and turn to Him
    Yet we don't necessarily want to be too casual in our reading. Let's discuss the verses you posted:

    2 Peter 3:9 - Whenever you read a text, you must always consider it's context. In this case, the entire clause of the verse is important to it's understanding. To understand the verse as it was meant, you must recognize that the antecedent of "all" is clearly "us." "All" does not reflect unfettered universality, but rather is rightly understood to be "all" of "us." So the question is, who is "us?" And I think a very strong argument can be made that "us" refers to Christians -- the elect, as the broader context of this passage is the epistle itself, and its intended readership: Christians. In this case, the passage makes a strong argument for predestination and the will of God.

    There are a number of other ways to understand this passage, but none of them strongly supports Arminianism or the universal application of the word, "all." If you want me to further that case, let me know and I'll be happy to.


    1 John 2:2 - Jesus was the propitiatory sacrifice that holds at bay the wrath of God against sin. For the believer, who accepts said propitiation and the redemption and justification it brings, this appeasement of wrath is eternal and permanent. But there is benefit even to the reprobate, in the sense that God's wrath against their ungodliness is able to be delayed for a time so that He shows forebearance even in the face of their rejection. (Romans 9:22)


    1Timothy 2:5 - I'm not sure what this verse has to do with the points mentioned. The verse doesn't bear any reference to a universal atonement... It merely says that Jesus is the mediator between God and men. A fact no Calvinist would dispute or even bear an understanding of that differs from an Open Theist.


    John 4:42 - Again, I'm not sure how this verse speaks to (or against) the issues you presented.


    Romans 8:32 - Again we have "us" and "all" used in conjunction with one another. Who is the passage written to? To whom will God give all things? To the unrepentant sinner who dies in his rebellion? Or to the Christian joint-heir of Jesus Christ? "All" cannot be understood universally in this passage.


    John 3:36 - And again, this one doesn't really speak for or against the issues specifically mentioned herein. It is a statement of fact for which you will find no difference in understanding between an Open Theist and a Calvinist.



    1. Why would a loving God create beings that have no choice but to suffer eternally in hell?
    I think AMR answered this one well. I would only sum up by saying that it isn't that the reprobate have no choice. It's that they choose sin and rebellion.

    2. What's the point of evangelism if the elect and non-elect have already been chosen in advance?
    God has chosen to call out the elect by the preaching of the gospel to all men. Since we do not have knowledge concerning the identity of the elect prior to their profession of faith, we preach to all (universally), confident that the elect will respond at the appointed time. For the elect, faith comes by hearing.
    Last edited by assuranceagent; February 4th, 2010 at 07:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    I am officially shunning you.

    How many points is an 'official shunning?'


    I'll get to the drawing issue as soon as I can. Also, I didn't have time to proof that last post, so if there're any spelling errors or weak doctrinal positions, that's why.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    When we take the time to do this we will learn that in John 12:32, all peoples means that Christís atonement was for the sins of all kinds of elect people all over the world, because the body is not some localized group of people, but a church that extends throughout all the world, Jew and Gentile, a church that is united in His blood (see also John 10:16; 11:52; compare 12:20Ė21).
    He said what I was gonna say.

    He just said it with more words and depth of thought.

    I literally have nothing to add to that. I think it was an outstanding explanation, AMR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by assuranceagent View Post
    Were I to elaborate on the emboldened portion, above, I would change it slightly to say that "God has decreed to allow the reprobate to determine their destiny through their own fallen choices." It isn't that God caused them to choose as they do, it is that God hasn't caused them to choose otherwise.
    So... as for those that enter the wrong gate... God doesn't decree that they choose the wrong gate, instead He merely doesn't decree that they choose the right gate. To be honest... I can't see how that is even the slightest bit different than God choosing the wrong gate for them.

    Imagine God telling you... "I am not going to force you to make the wrong choice but I am going to prevent you from making the right choice."
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