The content of this post was authored by J.C. Thibodaux and is posted on his behalf.
I came across a writing some time back by Pastor Greg Elmquist called, ‘Four Unanswerable Questions,’ which I’ve seen copied and pasted by Calvinists on forums as evidence that the doctrines espoused in Arminianism could not possibly be true. I decided to examine each of these supposed unsolvable Calvinist conundrums for myself and find out if there was a scriptural and logical answer to them. I’ll be going over his essay, which will be in italics, and my thoughts and commentary will be in normal type.
Greg starts out,
“There are four lies being told in Orlando today.”
I’ve been to Orlando, I’m pretty sure I counted more than that; but Greg is about to add a few more to the list.
“Modern, man-centered, Christ dethroning religionist would have us believe…”
At least he’s not poisoning the well….he then goes on to tell what those lies are:
“God loves everyone;”
Oh! How awful!
“it is God’s will for everyone to be saved;”
“Christ died for everyone;”
The horror! The horror!
“and the Holy Spirit draws the saved and condemned alike.”
Eeeeeeek!!! Hide the children (at least the condemned ones)!
“These are well established suppositions, rarely questioned for their truthfulness.”
For rather obvious reasons.
“To call them into question is to unmask the faulty foundation of a false gospel and kindle the wrath of those desperate to protect their traditions.”
Or possibly reveal the terrible logic Elmquist employs in trying to harass other Christians with his bizarre doctrine and incite widespread laughter as it is refuted without any difficulty. He then gets to the questions:
1) “What sayeth the Scripture?” “The Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness” (Ps. 11:7). “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Rom. 9:13). God’s love is a holy love. He can no more love unrighteousness than He can cease to be holy. God’s love is for Christ, in Christ, and through Christ. Everything outside of Christ is under the condemnation and wrath of God. He has loved His elect with an everlasting love, having chosen them in Him before the foundation of the world.
Question #1: If God loves all men, those who receive eternal life as well as those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the love of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?
Answer: Everything, for without the love of God no one could be saved, but God’s love for men does not preclude the fact that He requires sinners to receive Jesus Christ to be saved.
Additional problems with Elmquist’s logic: God does hate unrighteousness, yet still does have love for sinners, else He could not love the elect while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
2) What does the Bible say about God’s will and salvation? “Having predestined us according to the good pleasure of His Will” (Eph. 1:5). “Having made known to us the mystery of His Will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” “I will have mercy upon whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, or of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Rom 9:15-18). “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wills” (Jn. 5:21).
Question #2: If God wills for all men to be saved, what does the will of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?
Answer: Everything, for no one can come to Christ apart from the will of God. Yes God is willing that all be saved, yet is not willing to do so apart from Christ; and so He, foreknowing that not all would believe, did not choose everyone.
3) What do the Scriptures say about the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross? Did He die for all men? “I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people” (Titus 2:14). “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:4). If Christ purposed to die for all men, did He not have the power to accomplish His purpose? God forbid! Did He die to make men savable or did He die to accomplish the salvation of a chosen people?
Question #3: If Christ shed His precious blood for all men, what does the work of Christ on the cross have to do with anyone’s salvation?
Answer: Everything, for Christ’s blood is the only way to receive forgiveness of sins, but receiving pardon by it is conditioned on faith.
Additional problems with Elmquist’s logic: He cites scriptures that say that Christ died for the elect (which is obviously true), yet none of them say that Christ died for only the elect and none else. In his disgustingly biased proof-texting frenzy, he simultaneously ignores numerous passages that testify to the fact that Christ died for all men (1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Romans 5:6, Hebrews 2:9). He also raises the old canard about Christ only making men savable, not factoring in foreknowledge.
Do the math: men now savable by the grace of God + foreknowledge that they will believe = accomplished salvation
4) What does God say about the work of the Holy Spirit in redemption? Are sinners dead (Eph. 2:1) in need of regeneration, or just sick in need of a little reformation? “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). “The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Cor. 3:6).
Question #4: If the Holy Spirit draws the saved and the condemned alike, what does the Holy Spirit have to do with anyone’s salvation?
Answer: *SIGH* Everything, since no one can come to God otherwise. This has no bearing on the fact that some men resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51) and refuse to believe.
Additional problems with Elmquist’s logic: He makes an indirect appeal for the need to be regenerated before one believes, which is simply absurd. Grace is needed before one believes, yes, I believe that, but spiritual life comes by faith through the name of Christ.
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)
“The Truth: Salvation is of the Lord!”
Thanks…I don’t think anyone is arguing that point.
“Don’t believe a lie, it will damn your soul.”
It can also make you into a ranting, paranoid dogmatist with awful critical thinking skills and no discernment for sound doctrine.
Elmquist’s supposed Gordian Knot is easily sliced with the sword of the Spirit. The logical fallacy that he consistently employs is assuming that if some salvific operation of God (His love, His will, the death of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit) does not irresistibly produce salvation, then it can have nothing to do with salvation at all, which is simply begging the question of irresistible grace coupled with extreme all-or-nothing thinking. His reasoning here is akin to saying, “If suicide prevention counseling ever fails to prevent a suicide, then the counseling can have nothing to do at all with preventing suicides.” Such painfully oversimplified logic and excessively dichotomized thinking is the hallmark of cults everywhere, said mentality showing itself further in pastor Elmquist’s other teachings, such as that if you believe that you were saved as an Arminian (even if you’re a Calvinist now), then you aren’t really saved at all (What is the Gospel?, para. 4).