Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

Does God Send People to Hell? – #2 Post of 2009

Post Author: Bill Pratt

God wishes every person to avoid hell and be saved from it (2 Pet 3:9).  Christians do not believe God sends people to hell.  Hell is freely chosen by those who reject God.

God gave every person the power of free will and the most important decision we will make with that power of free will is whether to embrace or reject God.  Since heaven is a place where we spend eternity with God, then for those who reject God, there needs to be a place where they can escape him.

If you are a person who wants nothing to do with God in this life, then wouldn’t it be hell for you to be in heaven with God forever?

C. S. Lewis summarizes this issue well, as usual.  He says, “The door of hell is locked on the inside.”  All those who go to hell will to be there and to stay there.  He adds, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’  All that are in hell choose it.”

Why doesn’t God force everyone to ultimately choose him so that all people go to heaven?  After all, some might say, that is the right thing to do.

The problem with this solution is that God created free human beings, and if he forces them to do anything, then he is violating their freedom.  If God forces people to choose him, it comes down to a kind of “divine rape,” a coercion.  God’s love demands that he offer people a place where they can freely reject him, forever.


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Comments

  • Carl Gobelman

    A very well written and succinct answer to a tough question. How do you answer the fact that due to the fall, our ‘free will,’ along with everything else in our make up, was corrupted? We are certainly free to choose in the sense that our choices are uncoerced, but clearly in our fallen state, we don’t seek after God until he first quickens us.

    Blessings,
    Carl

  • Bill Pratt

    True enough, Carl. But God calls on every person to receive him, so we all have a chance, regardless of our fallen nature. Even though our free will is corrupted, it is not destroyed, and God still holds us responsible for the choices we make.

    Thanks for your comment,
    Bill

  • theoraclemag

    Very well put. GOD does not send any man to Hell. That was never his goal. We send ourselves to hell when we reject the truths in GODs word. Hell Was created for Satan and his army of fallen angels.

  • Jessica

    Excellent post! Love your response, too, on the question of whether or not our free will was corrupted by the fall. Some people will point to John 6:44 as a proof text for the belief that no one can come to the Father unless they are drawn, but Jesus said He would draw ALL men unto Himself! (John 12:32) As you said, everyone gets a chance. Jesus is drawing, but people have the freedom to choose to resist Him. Jesus grieved over those who rejected Him, stating that He longed to gather them under his wings but they “were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).

  • Jessica

    oops – slight typo in my last sentence: Jesus said He longed to gather people, like a hen gathers chickens under her wings

  • Tye

    I love the CS Lewis quote. it’s one of my favorites

  • http://www.nine-moons.com Seth R.

    Actually Darrell,

    I have no beef with any of that.

    Guess we can’t disagree all the time.

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    Seth,

    As much as I would like to take credit for this post, it is Bill’s. Nevertheless, I am in agreement with him on it. Nice that we see “eye to eye” on some things!!

    Darrell

  • Rick Godfrey

    Where in the bible does it say that God gave us a free will. The people that will spend eternity with God are chosen by God. Those people who are not chosen by God will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will be consumed or annililated. The people that God has chosen are eternally secure in him, no man can pluck them out of his hand. All people are either of God or of the devil. Our will cannot override Gods will for our life. It is God that makes us a vessel of honor or dishonor, for God is in control of all things to fulfill his divine will and purpose.

  • http://www.nine-moons.com Seth R.

    I keep forgetting this isn’t a solo blog. Sorry Bill.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    I wondered when the 5-point Calvinists would respond. :) The entire Bible assumes that humans have free will. Otherwise, the Bible becomes nonsensical. Why?

    First, if humans are not free to make their own choices, then something or someone else is responsible for human moral choices. If you say God is responsible for all human moral choices, then God is causing humans to choose both evil and good. That presents a nasty problem for you, because the Bible is clear that God is good. How can a good God be forcing people to choose moral evil?

    Second, the entire Bible teaches that humans are morally responsible for their choices. But it is nonsensical to hold someone responsible for their choices if they have no ability to choose.

    Third, the Bible repeatedly asserts that humans ought to choose certain things and not others. But ought implies can. It is nonsensical to tell someone they ought to do something if they can not do it.

    Fourth, the Bible praises some people for their good choices and condemns others for their bad choices. It is nonsensical to praise or condemn someone if they have no ability to choose between right and wrong.

    Thanks for the comment,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill,

    Let’s look at Jeremiah chapter 1 and we will see that before Jeremiah came out of his mothers womb that God had sanctified and ordained Jeremiah to be a prophet. This decision was not based on anything that Jeremiah had done.

    Also the apostle Paul, in Galatians chapter 1, states, “But when it pleased God, who seperated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.” In both instances God chose these men to fulfill his divine will and purpose. His choice was not based on anything they did or did not do.

    God is the potter and we the clay. Read Romans chapters 8 and 9. This speaks of the election of God. Some are chosen and some are not.

    No man comes to Jesus unless the Father draws or calls him. It’s not our choice but our response to God’s choice that really matters for we do not choose our father. Nice talking to you.

    Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the response. I am very familiar with all the teachings of the Bible on election, predestination, and the sovereignty of God. I strongly affirm all of those doctrines.

    The question is whether God chooses us in coordination with our free choice or against our free choice. You seem to be saying that man cannot be free and God sovereign at the same time. It is either one or the other. I deny that this is a choice we have to make. I believe that both are true. God is sovereign and man is free. Both doctrines are taught throughout Scripture. It is a mistake to agree with one and deny the other.

    I agree that that God must draw any man to him or the man will not choose God. But God may draw us to him persuasively, but not coercively. God does not force people, against their will, to choose him.

    Do you believe that God regenerates people without their will? Also, do you believe people freely choose to reject God? If so, where does this choice come from?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • http://www.nine-moons.com Seth R.

    What’s stopping a reader of the Bible from concluding that Paul’s statements on predestination are directed more at the Church as a whole and not at individuals?

  • Bill Pratt

    That’s a good point, Seth. You always have to read verses in context with the passages they are in. For example, Rom 9, 10, and 11 are speaking of the nation of Israel primarily. So verses like Rom 9:13, “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,’ are more likely referring to the nations of Israel (represented by Jacob) and the nations of Edom (represented by Esau). In fact, Rom. 9:13 is referring to Mal. 1:2-3, which seems to be clearly referring to nations and not individuals. Biblical writers often used people’s names to represent nations. This was a common practice that you see done all over the Old Testament.

    Having said that, I do think there are other verses in the Bible which teach election of individuals, and not just nations. When you think about it, God is ultimately sovereign and so everything is predestined by him. But, that doesn’t mean people aren’t free.

  • http://www.nine-moons.com Seth R.

    Which verses are those?

  • Bill Pratt

    Matt. 22:14; Mark 13:20, 22, 27; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus. 1:1; 1 Peter. 1:2; 2 Peter. 1:10; Eph 1:4-5, 11; Rom 8:29-30

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hey Bill let’s take a look at the life of Paul before he was born again. Paul speaks of his past life in Galatians chapter 1:13-16, “For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God and wasted it. And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who seperated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me that I might preach him among the heathen”. According to Paul in Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; whom he called, them he also justified, whom he justified, then he also glorified”. When Paul was Saul he was antichrist or against Christ. He claimed to know God through the teaching of Moses but if he truly understood the teaching of Moses and the prophets then he would have known that Jesus was the Messiah that was to come. Even though Saul was not born again, he was chosen of God from the foundation of the world. He was an unborn Son of God waiting to be born. When he came face to face with the Word of God (God’s call to Saul), he responded with a yes in his heart and was obedient to the call. He was then born from above. God changed his name and he was now God’s son. The call is the preaching of the Gospel. This call is to go to all mankind, though only the chosen of God will heed the call and be drawn by the Father to Jesus. Jesus told the scribes and pharisees in John 8:43,”Why do you not understand my speech? I’ll tell you why, it is because you cannot hear(understand) my word. In John 8:47, Jesus tells them,”He that is of God heareth(understands)God’s words: ye therefore hear(understand)them not, because ye are not of God. So these men were never going to be born again because they could not understand the word they heard. That was the call to them and they responded not. Do you really think that God would put the responsibility of salvation in mans hands. If God would do this it would not be by grace. Salvation is all about God sovereignly saving some of mankind. It is Gods’ choice. Sincerely Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    I understand exactly what you’re saying and I appreciate your points about God’s grace. I believe God unconditionally offers salvation and calls all men to Him. He doesn’t offer salvation based on what man will do, as if God is waiting on men to make their decision and then he ratifies it. However, men are free to accept or reject his offer. You said yourself in your comment that Paul “responded with a yes in his heart and was obedient to the call.” If Paul responded with a “yes,” didn’t he have a choice?

    I want to ask the same questions again, from my last comment, because you have yet to answer them, at least I can’t tell that you have. Do you believe that God regenerates people without their will? Also, do you believe people freely choose to reject God? If so, where does this choice come from?

    Please try to answer these questions for me so that I can better understand your position.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Good afternoon Bill! You asked me if I believe if God regenerates people without their will. My answer would be no. God predestines, chooses, preplans, predetermines, or whatever word you want to use, those people that he wills to be born again. He made this decision before the world was formed. He also determined that Jesus would be slain for the sins of the world before the world was formed. God set the time when Jesus would be crucified and when the fullness of time came it happened. The same thing happens when a person that is chosen by God to be his son is born again. God determined they would be his and set the time when it would happen. When that time comes, they are born again. How does regeneration happen? God sends his word or calls them. This call is the preaching of the gospel or good news about what Jesus did for us on the cross. This call goes out to all people. Only the people that God has chosen or elected will hear or understand the message of the call and obey it. The call is the Word of God. The Word of God is a seed. An incorruptible seed. When a chosen person receives this seed, by hearing, believing, and obeying it, the seed is then planted into their heart and from this seed God births a holy spirit is us. This is being born from above. The chosen of God are truly in this world but not of it, just as Jesus was not of this world. I would not say that people choose to reject God but if they are not chosen of God they will not hear or understand the call of God and will not believe and obey the call. Jesus said that if a person was not of God that they could not hear God or the call of God. Bill, if you need scriptures to explain what I just said, please let me know. Later, Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the reply. I’m a little confused by it, though. You said in your first couple sentences that God does not choose people without their will. But then you described the process of a person being born again, and all throughout that process, as far as I could tell, the person’s will actually played no meaningful role. God decided they would be elect, He made sure they would hear the word, and when they heard the word, they automatically responded to it, as if they were pre-programmed. If I have mischaracterized what you said, please correct me, as words often fail us in these discussions.

    But if the elect person if pre-programmed to respond positively to the call of God, then where is their will involved? And why didn’t God pre-program the non-elect to respond to his calling? Is the non-elect person responsible for not believing in Christ?

    Great discussion – thanks for having it with me.
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    It’s another day the Lord hath made I will rejoice and be glad in it. Hi Bill. I don’t know if I am explaining myself to where you can understand me, so I’m going to list some scriptures for you to read. Let me know when you have had time to read and study them, then we can discuss them. Here are the scriptures:Jeremiah 1:4-10, the entire book of Jonah, John 6:22-71, John 8:21-47, John 10:22-30, John 14:6-11, John 15:16-21, John chapter 17(all of it), Acts 7:54-60, Acts 8:1-4, Acts 9:1-22, Romans 8:28-33, Romans chapter 9(all of it), Romans 11:25-29, Galatians 1:11-17, Ephesians 1:1-14, II Thessalonians 2:13-17, II Timothy 1:8-11, I Peter 1:1-5, I Peter 2:9, Revelation 17:14. Enjoy studying these passages of scripture. Think about the process of election or being chosen. Here is an example: you and I are captains of a basketball team. Both of us are going to choose 4 people to join us on our team. We are in total control over who gets chosen. There are 100 people to pick from, so you see that not all will be chosen. Our choice is not based on what they have done but is strictly our choice. They did not have to do anything to be chosen. We are in control. This is God. Either he is in control and sovereign or he is not God. Have a good day! Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    I have read all of those passages and some of them many times. Our friendly disagreement is not based on the fact that you have read the Bible and I have not. Our disagreement stems from our interpretations of these texts.

    Given your example of the basketball team, you are arguing that man’s will is not involved in his salvation, however you said the opposite in your previous post. Which is it?

    And why didn’t God choose everyone for the basketball team? Are those who weren’t chosen for the basketball team responsible for not being chosen? Is it their fault they weren’t chosen?

    If you’re not comfortable answering these questions, that’s OK. But these are the exact questions you need to be able to answer to convince people that your intepretation of the Bible is correct.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, In response to your three questions, my answers are: God chooses who he will, those that are not chosen are not responsible for not being chosen, and it is not their fault for not being chosen. Let me bring up a different scenario since we are talking about a persons will. Do you have any children? I have two. Let’s say you were having company over for the weekend and you wanted your house to be clean. You tell your children to clean up their room and you will come back in an hour to make sure that it is clean. An hour later you enter their bedroom and see them sitting on their bed playing video games. The room is not clean, in fact, it is a bigger mess than it was before. What do you do? A. nothing B. You discipline your children and make or force them to clean it or C. do something else. With this thought in mind; can God, or better yet, would God, in order to accomplish his will, make or force someone to do something against their own will? Yes or no. Does God’s will override our will or vice versa?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    If God chooses who will be saved and those who are not chosen are not responsible for their not being chosen, then how do you explain hell? It seems that God absolutely holds people responsible for not being chosen (they end up in hell, which is not a nice place). In essence, you seem to be arguing for a God who arbitrarily chooses some to go to heaven and some to go to hell, and those who go to hell have nothing to do with going there. Do you really mean to say this? Do you mean to say that those who go to hell have done nothing wrong and are not at all responsible for their destination? It was just God’s choice?

    God Bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Glad to here from you again Bill. If it were not for Gods’ grace all of mankind would perish in hell. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Man was in a hopeless situation until God stepped in. God did so because of his love for mankind. With his love, grace, and mercy he had a plan before he ever made this world. Gods’ love extends only to those that he has chosen from the foundation of the world. Did God choose all people to be saved? I say no. If he did then all people would be saved. Gods’ will and purpose will be accomplished with mankind. If I walked into a crowd of twenty people and chose to give one hundred dollars to five of the people would the other fifteen people be upset. Probably but they have no right to be upset. I did not owe anyone anything but it was out of my grace that I gave the five the money. It was my choice who would receive or not. I was reading one of your other articles and you said that unsaved man could not choose God. That is correct. Salvation is a gift from God to people that God chooses to draw to himself. God paid the ransom price for man by giving his son Jesus to die on the cross for man. God then chooses the people that he wants to be his sons. He then gives them the ability to hear his word or call. He then calls them or draws them to himself through the preaching of the word. He gives to them the gift of faith so they can hear, believe, and receive his word. All of this is done by the grace of God and has nothing whatsoever to do with the man. Why did God choose to do it this way. So he would get all the glory. If man chose his own salvation then man could brag about it. It has nothing to do with what man does. All the glory of salvation goes to God who is worthy of all praise. Good night! Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the response. I would still like to understand the fault of the man who God does not choose. The man who is not chosen is going to hell, so do you think that man deserves to go to hell? If so, why? Also, do you believe God is all-loving? If so, how do you reconcile the fact, under your system, that he could save everyone, but he does not?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, I am not sure what you mean by an all-loving God. Does God hate anything? Psalms 5 states that God hates the workers of iniquity. Even Jesus told the workers of iniquity to depart from him. Do you not believe that God can do to man whatever he chooses to do? He hardened Pharoahs’ heart in order to get him to do what he wanted him to do, so he could show forth his glory. I am not trying to say that God is a hateful God but simply a God that is in control of his universe. Whatever God has set and planned to happen will happen. God may not get the response he desires from us at first but he will not stop until he does. He will simply put us in circumstances that will work us until we see things his way. He did this with Jonah until Jonah obeyed him. If God chooses you, he will conform you through the circumstances that he puts you through. Trust me, I know! Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    The Christian church has always held that God is all-loving (omnibenevolent). 1 John 4:16 states that God is love. Your view states that God only chooses some and not others. He could choose all, but he does not. But why does he not choose all if he is all-loving? How do you explain that in your system?

    Rick, I also don’t understand whether you think the man who is not chosen deserves to go to hell (after all, that is where he is going). If he does deserve to go to hell, then why? I’ve actually asked this question a few times, but I can’t get an answer out of you! :)

    Thanks so much for our conversation. I enjoy learning other people’s views!
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, Your question was,”Why does God not choose everyone if he is all-loving? I still do not know what you mean by all-loving. God chooses whom he will. What did you or anyone else do to deserve to go to heaven? What did anyone who goes to hell do to deserve going there? All of mankind at one time was deserving hell because of the iniquity of Adam. God chose to redeem a remnant for himself. Let’s look at Romans 9:11-23. This is not my view but Gods’ view. 11)For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; 12)It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13)As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15)For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16)So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. 17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18)Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19)Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20)Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21)Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22)What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23)And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory. I think this says it all. Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    I am very familiar with Rom. 9, but you are using it out of context. Paul is speaking of national Israel in Romans 9, 10, and 11. He is not talking about individual salvation. Paul is explaining to Jews in Rome how it is that their once-chosen nation could be set aside for the Gentiles. Again, Paul is not speaking about salvation of individuals. Jacob and Esau refer to the nations of Israel and Edom, respectively, as is clear when you go to Malachi 1.

    Additionally, you still have to deal with the rest of Scripture that over and over again holds men responsible for their acceptance or rejection of God. By your system, not only is man not responsible for heaven, but he is not responsible for hell. Let me restate that. Men are sent to hell, a place of eternal damnation, for no fault of their own! Doesn’t that bother you??

    I think the reason 5-point Calvinism seems so wrong to many people is that it has God arbitrarily choosing some for heaven and some for hell. How can an all-loving God choose some people to go hell and never give them a chance to accept him? 5-point Calvinists deny that God is all-loving. He loves some and he hates others.

    John Owen (5-point Calvinist) bluntly confessed, “God, having ‘made some for the day of evil’ … ’hated them before they were born’ … ‘before [He] ordained them to condemnation.’ ”
    Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 567.

    Puritan theologian William Ames (1567–1624) affirmed, “There are two kinds of predestination: election and rejection or reprobation.” He added, “God hates them (the non-elect; Rom. 9:13). This hatred is negative or privative, because it denies election. But it has a positive content, for God has willed that some should not have eternal life.”
    Ibid., 567.

    I cannot understand a God who loves some and hates others, who sends men to hell without giving them any chance to even choose him. It is not biblical and it does not make rational sense.

    Having said all that, I still consider you a brother in Christ, although a misguided one. :)
    I pray that you will continue to think about these issues and try to deal with the many problems I’ve raised.

    God bless and good night,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, How do the following scriptures fit an all-loving God? Psalms 5:4-6)For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. Psalms 28:3-5)Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up. Psalms 37:1,2)Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Psalm 59:5)Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah. Psalm 92:7) When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever. Proverbs 10:29)The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. Once again, what do you mean by an all-loving God?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    See quote below:

    ‘If “love” is defined as “willing the good of its object,” then for all practical purposes “love” and “goodness” can be treated synonymously. Literally, the word omnibenevolent means “all-good.” Biblically, the basic Hebrew term for “love” (chesed) used of God means “goodness,” “affection,” “good-will,” “loving-kindness” or “tender loving-kindness.” The Greek word agape used of God’s love means “benevolence,” a self-less “sacrificial” love. Theologically, God’s omnibenevolence refers to His infinite or unlimited goodness.’

    Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 367.

    The church has always held that God’s love is totally compatible with his hatred of sin. As a parent, I unconditionally love my children, but I hate their sin. There is no issue with a God who is loving and just.

    A God who loves all people would not choose some people for hell, and never give those people a chance. Additionally, Calvinists believe that God irresistibly draws the elect to himself, against their will. Forced love is a contradiction. You cannot force a person to love you.

    By the way, if you would like Scripture or church history to back up the all-lovingness of God, let me know. I can provide them.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    It’s me again Bill. I have only one question for you this time. What is the difference between forcing someone to love you or commanding someone to love you. The expectations are the same. God commands that we love him. Jesus said that if we loved him we would keep his commandments. He said that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. This was not a suggestion and there were no options. We, the chosen of God, have been commanded to love God. I am just glad I have the privilege to have been called through the preaching of the gospel which to those not chosen is foolishness. You are chosen to, Bill. Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    A command is a way of one person telling another what to do, or what is expected of them. God does, indeed, tell us to love him, as he tells us to do many other things (although that command is the most important).

    But telling us what he wants us to do and forcing us (without our cooperation and against our will) are two completely different things. If I command you right now to stop believing 5-point Calvinism, you are not forced to do it. I may try to reason with you, show you that I care about you, and try other ways to convince you. But, at the end of the day, you are free to decide as you will, and I cannot force you to believe.

    In the same way, God’s grace moves in all men to convince them of their sin so that they will believe in his Son. God woos us to himself, but he never holds a gun to our head, and says “Believe or else!”

    There is a huge difference between forcing someone to do something and telling someone to do something.

    One additional point. You said: “We, the chosen of God, have been commanded to love God.” Don’t you really mean that all men have been commanded to love God, not just the chosen?

  • Nick

    How is it gods words? Im pretty sure the book (the bible) was written by men, over periods of time that are so vast.

    Isn’t it mans word?

  • Bill Pratt

    It’s both a human book and divine book. God inspired the human writers to write the books in the Bible, so they cooperated in its creation.

  • Joe Salas

    This is a very simplistic way to look at this, it does not consider the “why” we were born at all. It’s not at all easy to choose God when your life has been plagued by misery and sorrow from the start. Forced into world full of hatred and pain, disease and SIN.. A world which he created, knowing well what the outcome would be, for millions of innocent people, rape victims, the murdered. etc etc… God , created lucifer, he knew that lucifer would turn against God, God knew Eve would be deceived by him, causing Adam to fall, causing every human being to be born under a curse. God also knew that many people would live everyday of their lives in frustration for being put into a world allowed to be ruled by God’s own creation the devil, who hates God and Us and has so much power, God and the devil even had their bet on poor JOB who was the object of their game,, when GOD allowed the devil to destroy JOB’s life just to prove to the devil that JOB loved GOD.. Who cares about all the pain JOB went through all his family killed just to show the devil that he loved GOD……. Come on for some people Hell is not a choice it’s God’s creation to put people who could take all the abuse from God’s experiment..

  • Bill Pratt

    Joe,
    Do you recall Job’s response to God at the end of the book, even after all he had been through? If you miss this, you miss a major teaching of the story.

  • Satnam

    Hi folks, A shame this conversation seems to terminate at this point.

    I wonder if the answer is to remove MAN and SPACE and TIME from the equation and then ask the question, “DOES MAN HAVE FREE WILL”… isn’t this where we need to start? Before Man, Space and time and ask for whom did Christ says “Here am I send me”? Isaiah 6:8

    Just my opinion, but God is sovereign first right, so man being Gods creation is used to Glorify God. God weaves his will into mankind to draw elected persons to show his Grace (otherwise if all them what is grace?)… So we are ALL corrupt/evil/destined for Hell through the corruption of sin inherent in us via Adam (unless you are saying you are without sin), except God causes some to be saved for His Glory.

    Dont we also acknowledge that in the first instance, Jesus died to satisfy the Justice of God. It is only once Gods Justice is satisfied that Man has any chnace to be born again into a righteousness of Christ.

    So in a sense, God chooses (by his free working grace causing events to be weaved into our existence) NOT to send some to eternal Godlessness (ie Hell).

    In Christ…. Satnam

  • Charlee

    divine “rape” You are kidding, aren’t you? I really hope you are kidding.

  • Charlee

    Make it simple guys.
    The all mighty powerful all knowing all loving God will redeem every human and they will bow to Him. In this life or in death. All men will bow to him

  • asdf

    if you don’t pray to someone he will torchore you for ever.

  • Luke
  • Paul

    Brother you are decieved.
    You may even be a false prophet, without being aware of it.
    Your first mistake is in the pressuposition that men are innocent.
    We are born in to sin.
    The natural man is dead in his sins and transgressions Eph 2:1
    There is no life spiritual or otherwise in a corpse.
    Dead men choose nothing.
    You deny this in the face of overwhelming Scripture proof.

    To place one of Gods attributes over the others is to deny Gods sovereign perfection in all things.
    His total authority in all matters of soteriology.
    And in doing so you prevert Grace.

    God is love, and he loves himself first and formost.
    All things are to the glory of God, your emphasise is on the glory and self righteousness of man.
    God is Holy and Just and will not overlook evil or sin.
    He will not comprimise himself anyway and will not overlook even one atom of sin.
    In this sense he is perfect.
    God is sovereign in whatsoever comes to pass.

    There is no distinction is saying God allows a thing to happen or decrees a thing to happen, either way it is Gods sovereign choice.
    You are leading people away from truth, away from the fear of the wrath to come.

    I pray you will see the error in you doctrine before it is to late.

  • Bill Pratt

    Paul,
    I do not deny that God must initiate salvation; I just did not want to get into that detail in this particular post (you may want to read other posts where I discuss this issue). Man, cannot, under his own steam, choose God. As you said, the Bible makes that clear. However, God grants common grace to all mankind and convicts them of their sin toward him. With that common grace, all men are then able to accept or reject God of their own free will.

    God is sovereign through this process as he has infallbily decreed what will occur, but he decress this through our free will, not without it. He is the primary cause, but we are secondary causes. He has granted the fact of freedom, but we are responsible for the acts of freedom. The Bible teaches that man is responsible and free, and that God is sovereign. Both are taught, and the denial of either one is unbiblical.

    Having said all that, do you believe God sends people to hell without their choice in the matter?

    Thanks,
    Bill

  • Paul

    In order for any communication to have an impact on the listener it must go through a series of steps.
    Attention, Comprehension, Acceptance, Retention, and Action.

    Right now I have your attention, let’s see if we can’t progress to comprehension.
    Until you are able to comprehend you will not accept.
    And I see this as your first and most fundamental deficiency.

    Let’s begin with your opening proposition and eisegesis of using 2 Peter 3:9 as your normative verse to substantiate your claim.

    I can only assume you know the definition of eisegesis: the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own ideas, reading them into the text.
    (I’ll just imagine that you are nodding your head up and down and mouthing the word “yes”.)

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    First let’s examine the audience that Peter is writing to.

    (This is called exegeting, I’ll once again have to assume, in that you understand the definition of exegesis and have some knowledge of the laws of hermeneutics, but in case you do not, I’ll try to be fair and give you the definitions)

    Exegesis; is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text.

    And I’ll just sight Cooper’s Law as the golden rule of hermeneutics.
    “When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context,
    studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.” ~ Dr. D.L. Cooper

    So then let’s get back to 2 Peter 3:9

    Who is Peter’s audience?

    Let’s look at the context of the chapter.

    2 Peter 3:1-18 1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

    The context of this chapter is obviously clear in that the topic is primarily eschatology and not soteriology.

    Sound exegesis requires that we recognize context first and foremost.

    Context! Context! Context!

    It is certainly obvious in this and the other preceding 2 chapters that Peter is speaking to Christian Believers.

    But in order that you might comprehend this, let’s look at the normative verse that makes this clear.

    2 Peter 1:1-3 tells us specifically who the audience is to which Peter is writing:

    Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

    Peter is specifically writing this epistle to the elect, to believing Christians who were being threatened by false teachers.

    When Peter does address unbelievers in chapter 3
    2 Peter 3:3-7 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

    He specifically refers to them in the 3rd person as “they”
    But everywhere else thought the epistle he speaks directly to his audience as the “beloved” and “you.”

    The “all” and “you” here does not refer to all mankind or unbelievers.

    Peter is writing to a specific group and not to all mankind as the proponents of conditional election (such as you) twist this passage in such a way as to make their case, ignoring what Peter is really saying.

    ” 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” This not only refers to faith as a gift, but it most certainly limits the context to the saved, because only they have received this faith “by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”.

    There is nothing in chapter three that indicates that there is change in audience, and it most certainly tell us that the audience has remained exactly the same.

    Now assuming that you have arrived at a comprehension, the obvious should be painfully clear.

    The “you”, “us” and “all” is specifically speaking towards Gods Elect and saved Christian Believers and not universally to all mankind.

    In essence Peter is saying, that the coming of the Lord has been delayed so that “all” the elect of God can be gathered in.
    All Christians live and know Christ exclusively because God’s purpose has been to gather His elect down through the ages to this present time.

    There is no sound reason to inflate the context of the passage into a universal or libertarian declaration of a desire on God’s part that every single person comes to repentance.

    Instead, it is clear that His plan and His sovereign will is that all the elect come to repentance, and they most assuredly will do so.

    Once again, if the sense of it makes plain sense there is no reason to seek further sense.

    I will allow you an opportunity to present your exegete on 2 Peter 3:9 before I give you an answer to your own version of the Epicurean Riddle in whether or not God sends people to hell.

  • Paul

    Bill,
    Left a comment instead of a reply, my bad.
    I’m sure you’ll find it.

    In His service,
    Paul

  • Paul

    Bill,
    Any intention of answering my exposition on 2 Peter 3:9?
    You do answer the “tough questions” do you not?
    I would expect more from someone who comes from an institution which is arguably “the premiere apologetics seminary in the world”.
    I’m not sure what I find most offensive.
    The glory you attest to yourself and your institution, or the glory you are willing to accept from others.

    In His service,
    Paul

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Paul,
    I partially agree with your exegesis of 2 Pet 3:9. You are no doubt correct that Peter is addressing believers in this letter. I think you have made the case well. But where I disagree is your reading of the phrase “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

    Believers do not need to come to repentance as they already have. So Peter is now referring to another group of people, the unsaved. The simple answer is that those who are unsaved need to repent, so they are who he is referring to. God does not wish anyone who is not saved to perish.

    Peter is saying, “God is delaying the day of judgment to give the unsaved a chance to believe, and aren’t you believers (to whom he is writing) glad?!”

    Bottom line: only unbelievers need to repent and the verse says God does not want anyone to perish and wants all to repent. This would include all unbelievers.

    For you to load the word “any” and “all” in the phrase “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” with the notion of the predestined, future, and unconditional elect is not exegesis; it is the importation of your 5-point Calvinistic theology, a theology that the original readers of Peter’s letter would have little understanding of.

    There is no doubt that only the elect will believe and be saved, but that certainly does not imply that God does not desire all men to be saved. You are saying that God does not desire the un-elect to be saved, and I don’t believe you can find that teaching in 2 Pet. 3:9.

  • Bill Pratt

    Paul,
    If you are going to write hateful comments like this one, please do not sign with “In His service,” because when you are composing these nasty-grams, you are definitely not in His service.

    Bill

  • paul

    Bill,
    I’m dissapointed.
    Where are your intellectual powers of apologetics.
    Is this how you contend earnestly for your faith?
    With a delete button.

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    Paul,

    Given the fact that you don’t know Bill, I would really recommend backing off a little. You are ascribing thoughts and intentions to him that are not accurate.

    Having spent ample time with Bill, I can testify that he is an incredibly humble man who is earnestly trying to serve the Lord. You may not agree with all of his beliefs or positions, and if so, that is fine. However, there is really no reason to be so nasty about it.

    Please, look a little closer at your comments before you hit the submit button. You are coming across rather arrogantly and that attitude will do nothing but bring reproach upon the name of Christ. It certainly won’t make anyone desire to take your comments seriously.

    Darrell

  • paul

    I’m assuming that by “arrogant” you mean that it appears that I am more educated in scripture than Bill.
    Then I will accept that as true.
    But if you want me to play nice because Bill has good intentions then forget it.
    Rat poison is 99% food, how much poison are you willing to eat?.
    Look at your “About Us” page. How much credit do either of you give to the Lord?None..your doing this for your own glory.
    Where’s your faith statement, what do you believe?
    I know what you used to believe…but thats it.
    Your not mining for truth, your raking leaves.

    Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
    That’s what I found here, no man willing to stand in the gap.
    Get off the web and stop telling people what “you think” Christians believe.

  • Bill Pratt

    Paul,
    The comment from you that I deleted crossed the line. Your initial comments had some interesting points to make, but with each successive comment you have become ruder, nastier, and more aggressive – to the point that I just won’t deal with you any more. I haven’t experienced such hatred from someone in a long time.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ Darrell

    I’m assuming that by “arrogant” you mean that it appears that I am more educated in scripture than Bill.

    No, I meant exactly what I said… you are coming across as ARROGANT, which means YOU THINK you know more about scripture than Bill. Whether or not you actually DO know more is an entirely separate point and has absolutely no basis in what you THINK you know. In addition, I would add that your attitude is rude, nasty, self-congratulatory, assumptive, etc, etc, etc.

    To come on a blog and call someone you barely know a fool and an idiot certainly does not demonstrate that you are walking in the Spirit. My friend, the attitude you have demonstrated here is not at all Christian. As I said before, you are bringing reproach on the name of Christ.

    I agree with Bill. I think our time conversing with you has come to an end. Should you decide to come back on and actually have a civilized conversation, you are welcome. Until then, I say God bless and I hope life treats you well.

    Darrell

  • JNColwell

    You know the thing that always puzzles me about Arminian theology is the attempt to make Roms 9 refer to national Israel in order to avoid the force of Paul’s argument pertaining to God’s sovereign choice in election. I am unmoved by the Arminian argument for a number of reasons, which I won’t bother posting.

    I’ve found by debate that most people have not really looked well at both sides of the issue. But one thing is clear, or should be clear, to anyone looking at this without blinders on, and that is that everything hinges here on how you view free-will; whether one holds to a libertarian view of freedom, or to a compatibilistic view of freedom.

    Someone believing in compatibilistic freedom (which I do) believes that people are ‘free’ to determine their own actions, and that they make such determinations based on their own nature; for the will — and what is the will but the mind choosing? — always chooses what it most desires at any given moment. If you haven’t read Edward’s on the will, you certainly should. Or even Luther on the bondage of the will. One should be completely aware of the argments of those they disagree with; many only know the other view by the straw arguments kicked around within their own camp; sad. This argument is “old.” One thing I’ve found is it’s very hard to switch sides on this issue!

    I’ll throw a few things out there just from logic (I seriously doubt it will phase you.) If God chose an “entity” called the “Church” and it contains no individuals, then it is an empty set, a non-entity. Pure mathematical logic. Yet, if there is no one in it when God decreed it, and to be a member of the “church” set one has to elect themselves in it by exercising faith (which is an individual choice), it should then be clear logically, that God doesn’t chose (elect) anyone; people elect themselves to salvation and all God does is ratify their choice. God actually elects no one. If one tries to say that God knows who is in the set because he looks into the future and sees who will choose to have faith, then: 1) God picks who is in the set based on his forknowledge of their choice to exercise faith (which looks like the choice of “individuals” to me, how about you), and; 2) God doesn’t elect; rather, people elect themselves, God merely ratifies their choice.

    Sort of like this: I’m God and everyone that chooses to have faith, I choose to be saved. This is decreed in eternity past…how many people are actually in that set when decreed? None! It is only a potentiality. It is conceivable that no one would chose to be in that set. And does God actually choice anyone to salvation then? No, they choose themselves by exercising faith.

    That kind of Arminian logic really falls apart when you apply it to a passage like Romans 8:29-30, which says, “Whom he called them he also justified.” So then, all that are called are also justified. This call is based on God’s predestination and foreordination, but let’s not divert into that argument. Verse 29 affirms what I just stated, without going into the how and why. Point is EVERYONE that is called is also justified, etc.

    Do they “choose” God? Yes they do! Question you should now be asking is “why.” THAT is the so-called “million dollar question.” The Bible answers that question as well, but many find the straight up Biblical answer flows against their human reason in areas such as fairness, etc. Fallen human reason, I might add.

    This whole debate has gone on for nearly 2 millennia because it is hard to bring finite human understanding in line with God’s sovereignty. I know people rarely change views on this. I just thought the point should be made that there are two conflicting schools of thought here, basically centered on how one views free-will. They really both can’t be right; no, one has to be wrong, unless they are both wrong and there is some other possibility! I leave you to ponder this:

    Romans 11:33 says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

    Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi JN,
    Actually there aren’t just two schools of thought about how to reconcile God’s grace and man’s free will; there are many more options than 5-point Calvinisism and Classical Arminianism. I just wrote a post about four of the major choices as they have occurred in the history of the church.

    Thanks for the comment,
    Bill

  • Dan

    “The problem with this solution is that God created free human beings, and if he forces them to do anything, then he is violating their freedom.”

    Did we have a choice to not be born into this Earth human life? If we didn’t have a choice to exist and if we have no choice to opt out of God’s “game of life”, then we really do not have freewill.

    Did we have free choice to define our own sins? I see no reason for homosexuality to be immoral or considered a “sin”. Are we free to make up our own minds about these issues and be left in peace?

  • Bill Pratt

    “Did we have a choice to not be born into this Earth human life? If we didn’t have a choice to exist and if we have no choice to opt out of God’s “game of life”, then we really do not have freewill.”

    You can’t have freedom if you do not exist, therefore it makes no sense to complain that you couldn’t choose not to exist. Nobody has that choice, even God.

    “Did we have free choice to define our own sins? I see no reason for homosexuality to be immoral or considered a “sin”. Are we free to make up our own minds about these issues and be left in peace?”

    Obviously you are able to make up your mind about homosexuality, because you already have. You cannot choose to be left in peace, however, as you would then be infringing upon everyone else’s freedom to disagree with you. I assume you don’t want to cancel out everyone else’s freedom?

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Let me ask you this…do you pray that people will repent?

    Who are you praying to?

    Do you want God to violate their “free-will” and save them?

    If a man has a free will that God will not violate…then why do you pray to God?

    Hasn’t God done all he can?…what more can he do?

    Why don’t you pray to men?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Greg,
    I do pray that God will convict people of their sins. I believe that God can pile on the pressure, so to speak, up to the point where a person still has the ability to say “yes” or “no.” I am praying for that conviction, that pressure to be applied.

    Even John Calvin wrote that God applies special grace unequally across mankind. This is not a regenerating grace, but a grace that draws out the best in men. I don’t see anything incompatible with asking for God to draw someone to him, and still believing in free will.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    “Even John Calvin wrote that God applies special grace unequally across mankind. This is not a regenerating grace, but a grace that draws out the best in men.”

    This is a misinformed and simplistic interpretation of the reformed doctrine of common grace.

    Common grace is indeed God’s continuing care for his creation.
    But it is his restraining human society that keeps it from becoming altogether intolerable and ungovernable God makes it possible for mankind to live together in a generally orderly and cooperative manner by maintaining man’s conscious sense of basic right and wrong behavior.

    Calvin never agreed with the Pelagian view of common grace, and I think this quote from Calvin’s Institutes makes his view of man clear.

    For God, in providing for the human race, often endows
    with a heroic nature those destined to command. From this workshop have
    come forth the qualities of great leaders celebrated in histories. Private
    individuals are to be judged in the same way. But because, however excellent
    anyone has been, his own ambition always pushes him on—a blemish with
    which all virtues are so sullied that before God they lose all favor—anything in
    profane men that appears praiseworthy must be considered worthless. (Calvin, Institutes, 2.3.4.)

    Louis Berkhof sums up Calvins thoughts even better..

    It is understood, however, that these privileges can be called common grace only in the sense that they are enjoyed by the elect and the reprobate indiscriminately, and that they do not constitute special, in the sense of saving, grace. In distinction from the more general manifestations of common grace they, while they do not constitute a part of the grace of God that necessarily leads to salvation, are nevertheless related to the soteriological process. They are sometimes called “special” grace, but then “special” is not equivalent to “saving.” In general it may be said that, when we speak of “common grace,” we have in mind, either (a) those general operations of the Holy Spirit whereby He, without renewing the heart, exercises such a moral influence on man through His general or special revelation, that sin is restrained, order is maintained in social life, and civil righteousness is promoted; or, (b) those general blessings, such as rain and sunshine, food and drink, clothing and shelter, which God imparts to all men indiscriminately where and in what measure it seems good to Him.

    Common Grace does not draw out the best in men but suppresses the worst in men.

    I also find your theology to be superficial not very well thought out.
    I would expect more since you advertise you blog as answering the “Tough Questions”

    In what sense can god pile on enough pressure but still leave an unregenerate neutral in his own will.

    Your suggesting coercion, in that God pressures a person against their will to see it his way.
    Where does God end and man begin?

    Again you place God in control of drawing out the best in men, but still leave the ultimate evil of denying God in the sin of unbelief up to man.

    Again a contradiction, there is no good in choosing hell over God, do you consider this the “best in men”.

    At what point does God stop piling on pressure and at what point does God resist drawing out the best in men.

    These views are incompatible with each other and appear to be doctrinally Schizophrenic
    This is not an answer to a “tough question” but a confusing dance around a very important theological doctrine.

    The issue is not whether we can do good in the sight of other men, because admittedly we can; the issue is whether we can do any good in the sight of God.
    I doubt you will see the error in your own doctrine but I am fascinated by your ability to ignore the tenor of Scripture.

    “Your thoughts of God are too human”. ~ Martin Luther

  • Bill Pratt

    Greg,
    I’m sorry that you don’t understand my soteriological views. My guess is that, like most 5-point Calvinists, you believe that a person is either 100% Augustinian or 100% Pelagian, that there is no middle ground. But that middle ground is where the vast majority of Christians are today and where the vast majority have always been. Instead of assuming that all those who aren’t 5-point Calvinists are schizophrenic, you might want to study their views a bit more.

    I understand Reformed soteriology quite well, and I understand the other views also. While I think that Pelagius went too far, I think that semi-Augustinian views have a lot of merit. Even Arminius and Wesley made some great observations about how we are saved. Each of these views has its strengths and weaknesses.

    It hardly seems helpful for you to attack those who don’t hold 5-point Calvinism as superficial. There are a great number of brilliant Christian theologians who don’t hold to 5-point Calvinism. Even R. C. Sproul acknowledges this fact and claims to have a lot of respect for the other side, even though he thinks their wrong.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Bill,
    Your reply is very convenient.
    I would much rather you reply with facts instead of subjective opinions such as “But that middle ground is where the vast majority of Christians are today and where the vast majority have always been”..
    These are merely assertions put forth as truth.
    It seems that you are merely defining and asserting, then accepting your own assertion as the conclusion and then congratulating yourself.
    I’m not attacking you I am debating you with argument, there is a difference.
    A difference of opinion does not necessarily necessitate an attack.
    You refer to me as 5 Point Calvanist, I never made a claim that I was any such thing, yet you make an assertion without any facts to back up your claim.
    Your view seems to be one of complete tolerance, yet when it comes to an opposing view you do not tolerate opinions that differ from your own.
    This is non-tolerance under the guise of a subjective tolerance.
    I presented you with a counter argument to your theology and you in turn went to the matt with the “you hurt my feelings” rebuttal.
    Contentious argument comes with the territory when dealing in apologetics.
    You failed to appropriately address the premise of my first set of questions and you entirely ignored my second post.
    If you are going to make claims and warrants that suggest what the majority of Christians believe then at least have the courtesy to back it up with sources and facts.

    Counting noses in no way represents an accurate way to measurer truth.
    But you have not even gone that far, you give no authority from which you have deduced your assertion.
    Wrong is wrong even if everybody believes it, and right is right even if no one believes it.

    900 people died in the Guyana Peoples Temple suicide, I would say that each one of them (children exempt) believed in what they were doing.

  • Bill Pratt

    Greg,
    It’s the words you use to describe my views. Words like “superficial,” “schizophrenic,” “misinformed,” “simplistic,” “confusing dance.” When I read these kinds of words in a comment, I consider you to be attacking, not merely disagreeing. I have interacted with hundreds of people on this blog, and I know, from experience, the difference between people who are out for blood and those who want to discuss in a calm manner. I frankly don’t spend much time with people who use the kinds of words you do, as it’s usually going to be a one-sided discussion where you ridicule my views and don’t try to understand what I’m saying. Unless I’ve misread you, that seems the way we’re headed.

    BP

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Bill,
    Are familiar with the fallacy of “poisoning the well”?
    Basically it gives a person a false sense of license to avoid producing any evidence of his own while giving the illusion of providing a rebuttal; and, it creates the false impression that the position you hold is held in good faith while the position you oppose is held by corrupt or compromised people like the one you pretend to be refuting.

  • Bill Pratt

    Greg,
    You’re right. I am absolutely declining to further argue my theological views with you because I do not like your style of argumentation. You use words that produce more heat than light, as I pointed out in my earlier comment. When you are ready to change your methods, I will be glad to have a discussion with you.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    Well,
    This brings up a new question.
    What would satisfy your demand?
    What exactly in my last two post offended your senses?

    “Humility is often only feigned submission which people use to render others submissive. It is a subterfuge of pride which lowers itself in order to rise.” ~
    La Rochefoucald

    What does that mean?
    What it means is that when someone pretends to lower themselves in humility…
    It is not humility…it is pride and arrogance in self righteousness intended only to bring you under their control.
    It is a false front they will employ to gain power over you…
    And it is applied anytime you take a bold stance on the Gospel that is not tolerant or inclusive or offends the senses of man.

  • Bill Pratt

    Greg,
    My suggestion is that you ask a wise friend of yours, who will be truthful with you, to read the comments you’ve written and explain to you why they are off-putting. I can’t show you, evidently.

  • DiscipleoftheWord

    I know my friends, and I can speak for their wisdom.
    The first thing I’m sure they would ask me, is why I am even wasting my time here trying to light wet wood.
    Secondly your condescending and patronizing tone is an offense.
    What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.
    The problem with superficial religiosity is that it cannot consistently suspend itself in the lofty place it has set for itself.
    Your true colors show in flashing neon brightness.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Bill, as I have read this thread, I was first surprised that I had not stuck my oar in; it is a bit of a bet topic for me. Then I was glad I left it alone, perhaps for the same reason.

    As much as I revere the Holy Scripture as God’s Word, written to me and edited so as to accurately convey God’s Word for my edification, comfort, conviction and direction, there is a great danger in “chapter and verse only” use, and I think it is shown here.

    One of the things I would like to attest is what I would call your “confident humility” by which I mean that you aren’t afraid of saying what you understand to be truth, but you seem comfortable with the idea that “truth” arises from God, and not from Bill (Darrell, same to you, but your work doesn’t run as often to my hot-button issues, so I don’t see as much).

    I have found a number of times that we are not fully on the same page (and I have read others who disagree with you) and can affirm your graciousness in streanght; it is one of the things that makes this work worth subscribing to.

    To speak more directly to the point, I think that rounding back to Lewis may be appropriate. While pondering the issue of Divine Soverignity and human freedom, time and eternity, he makes the observation that in this life, perhaps the best we can do is to hold both scripturaly valid and reasonably nessesary truths in tension. “Perhaps we can only see choice and time rightly when we are beyond both” (Quoting from memory)

    I don’t think the pure 5 pointers are wrong, but I also don’t think them complete. The same for the Arminians. The danger comes when we refuse the tension. Fully God AND fully man, even if I can’t understand it. Three persons in One entity and essence. Don’t water down either idea, but hold their incomatability as residing in me and my limited wisdom, not in the ideas.

    In my private and partial view of at lease some of the underlying principals hold some frightening implications for those like me, and you, and some of your correspondants. That is, since God is Truth and light, in whom there is no darkness, sin and falsehood being darkness; you and I will “on that day” know as we are known.

    Will I be willing to enter the truth, unity as a bride with the One who said He is the Truth, or will I insist on my life-long pet understandings? Do I choose Truth, when the Holy Spirit unveils it to me, or do I choose “my understanding” (“ Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’…”)

    Probably best to be in practice for that choice!

    Blessings!
    -R. Eric Sawyer

    BTW, for a probably laughably ignorant meditation on “irresistable grace” from someone who admires the tulips in other folk’s gardens, I invite you to mine at
    http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com/2006/05/03/irresistable-grace/

  • Bill Pratt

    Eric,
    I always appreciate your comments, even when we disagree. You have a very gracious way of getting your points across and I truly admire that about you. The question of free will and God’s sovereignty is indeed one of those issues where we must hold scriptural truths in tension. I have tried to find a middle ground where I affirm both God’s total sovereignty and man’s free will. I deny neither, and I am skeptical of views that deny either one.

    Thanks for the comment,
    BP

  • Margarita

    I was led to tears when reading through some of these posts. I am not a person who would ordinarily write a comment on a site such as this but reading through I felt compelled to leave a comment.
    I am someone who loves the Lord, I am not worthy to receive his gift of salavation. I am not worthy of anything at all. I am a sinner and I am nothing without Christ.
    I am thankful for being able to breath, just for being given the gift of life alone. Why are we arguing about whether we are chosen or not chosen. I am not saying it does not matter for Gods word does matter and we should preach the truth of Gods word. We are to stand in righteousness and teach people the truth about God and not allow false doctrine to stand in our way. However what I have witnessed that has drawn me to tears is brothers in Christ beating each other up and what for because they disagree with each other over something that in the whole grand scheme of things does not change the way we love Christ. You are not disagreeing that Christ is our Saviour, your are not disagreeing that Christ died for our sins and freed us from the bondage of the law. You are not disagreeing in things that should cause so much division between you. Why are we allowing this little difference to cause divison and for it to allow so much hate to come between you. We are called to love one another, to bear with one another and to be peaceful.
    We are all on different levels in our faith, we are all on a different level of understanding. It doesn’t mean we will remain there. God has his own timing in which he will reveal things to us what we need to know or learn. If we are walking in the spirit in the truth of Gods words and bringing our will in line with his then in his timing we will understand and come to a better knowledge or truth of who God is.
    I myself do beleive we are chosen, we are Gods elect that is where I stand in Christ at this present time. I also beleive that many people God invites into his kingdom but they reject him. God knows all things. God knows the beginning and the end. God knows who will follow him and who will not. God is a just God, he is a merciful God, a gracious God. I trust in God in all things. I do not beleive that God wants people to burn in hell but God does not want people to sin either. God hates sin. We are to fear the Lord, we are well aware of Gods judgements to those who disbeleive. We can not see hearts, only God can look into someones heart. As I said God knows who will follow him and who will not that is why I believe we are chosen, we are elect because God knew from the beginning before we were even born that we the elect of God would follow him just as God knows those who will not follow him. It is not that he wants people to burn in hell. God does not make people sin, he hates sin. These people were blinded from the beginning. We can’t save people who cannot be saved. There will be an ingathering.
    God chose ISRAEL as his chosen people to be set apart. Why ? because he wanted to. Abraham was the Father of faith, he was chosen not because he knew God it was because of his faith in God. As I said I beleive we are chosen because God knows our hearts, he knows what we will become. That is not to say we don’t have free will because I beleive we do. When we come to Christ we have to take up our daily cross and that is a free will choice. We have the choice to live in the spirit or live in self. obviously there will be a consequence to our choosing taht either being blessing or dicipline. Either way we have a choice. It is not as simple as giving our life to Christ and thats it. It takes sacrafice, we have to run the race, we have to endure to the end.
    I have not quoted scripture because my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not write this to debate with you. I write this because I wanted you to know that Christ loves you whether you beleive at this present time whether you were chosen or not. God wants us to share his word, fellowship with each other in compassion and understanding knowing we are all in different places at different levels in our faith. Forgive each other so God can forgive you. Do not hold a grudge against each other. Come together in unity when sharing the word, we are one body in Christ. Let there be no divison among us. God bless you all.

  • Bill Pratt

    Margarita,
    Thank you for the unifying words you’ve written. Although it may seem like it from time to time, my goal is never to beat up other Christians or to cause division. My goal is always to host courteous and informative exchanges among people who may disagree. I hope you hear my heart in what I’m saying.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Margarita

    I hear your heart my friend.

    May God bless you greatly.

  • NickyMac

    Hi Bill,

    First I’d like to counteract some of the things people have said about you and your arguments because I didn’t think it was fair – or true. I have found reading your (and Darrell’s) posts refreshing and insightful. You offer short and easy to understand theological arguments that are perfect for this “I want everything NOW” generation. It’s obvious you have done all the research and hard work and we get to read your conclusions. Thanks! Not that I’m not going to do the reading too… :)

    As to your post, I agree with what you wrote about how heaven would be hell for a person who does not choose God. I guess it’s like how a person who isn’t a Christian doesn’t enjoy going to church. My Pastor used to say that hell is an absence of God, just like evil is an absence of good. If you choose to reject God, then you are choosing hell. People tend to want PART of God, as in the blessings, but not the submission that comes with it. It’s the mistake that the devil made…

    I don’t think God wants anyone to go to hell but it’s improbable to assume that every single person created would all choose Him. God created the tree of life AND the tree of knowledge of good and evil which represents the choice that man has to make.

    Where I get stumped is with a question that, unfortunately, I always get asked: why did God even bother to create people who He knew wouldn’t choose Him?
    Have you attempted answering this tough question? I’d be interested to hear your answer.

    Sincerely,
    Nicky

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Where I get stumped is with a question that, unfortunately, I always get asked: why did God even bother to create people who He knew wouldn’t choose Him?
    Have you attempted answering this tough question? I’d be interested to hear your answer.

    Nicky, I too will be eager to hear Bills response. In the mean time, I’ll take a minor-league shot at it.
    I think that, at least from one perspective, the answer lies in the creative power of God, itself. God is not the god of the imaginary. God is total reality – He does not have thoughts that are not “real” That comes from the our limitation, not from our magnificence. We think that we “imagine” because we can mentally “create” things that are not so, and may never be so. But that is in part because our imaginings are impotent. God does not treat in hypotheticals. I think that is a necessary corollary of omniscience.

    That being true, then for God to think it is for things to be. If God were to create a being with free will, well then, some would choose badly. For Him to refuse to create those who would choose badly requires Him to see a future that will not happen (because of the non-creation of that person). The net effect of that would be that He will have created a world who all choose “yes”, and is thus no different from a world where free will does not exist. I know there are some universalists, who when tied with the idea of God’s sovereign nature and omnipotence, will say that this is exactly what God has done, but I don’t believe them. (And that is another question!)

    But if God imagines alternatives, then alternatives there will be. If God “foresees” Abraham’s willingness to obey Him over the sacrifice of Isaac, then it will happen.

    This leaves a lot in the mist, particularly about how prayer “changes” anything, etc. but I see it as unavoidable given what we do know about God.

    Blesssings!
    -R. Eric Sawyer

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Nicky,
    Thanks so much for your encouraging remarks. You have asked a great question – “why did God even bother to create people who He knew wouldn’t choose Him?”

    I don’t think we can know the answer for this question with any certainty, but there are some possibilities. It may be that in order to create humans who would choose him, and who would choose him freely, God had to create people that would also freely reject him. In other words, as soon as God determined that he wanted to have relationships with free creatures, the inevitable outcome was that some of those free creatures would choose against him. There may be no possible way to create free creatures and have absolutely all of them choose God. The other alternatives would be to create a world of automatons (no freedom) or a world where no creatures at all exist.

    In almost every case, the very people who complain that God created a world where people can go to hell are the same people who are unwilling to give up their freedom or to cease to exist. They want their freedom and they want to exist, but they don’t want the consequences of their free decisions.

  • NickyMac

    I’d say that that is an answer that makes a lot of sense, Bill. The answer that I normally give to people is just that we need even the unlovely people to make us who we are because people can’t choose good if there is no alternative. Mine is an inadequate response though. I’m glad you have taken the time to think about it.

    Rick, I had never thought before about God in the way that you have described – that He is a God of reality and for Him to think is for things to BE. That’s pretty deep.

    “For Him to refuse to create those who would choose badly requires Him to see a future that will not happen (because of the non-creation of that person

    ).”

    I’m still getting my head around that one ^

  • David

    There is no such place as hell; you need to investigate why the bible translates four different words with different meanings – one Hebrew word and three Greek words – into the same “hell”. Also many of you need to look at the orignal words that the KJV gets “forever” from; hint: it does not mean forever. Man does not have “free will” i.e. the ability to make uncaused choices remember He is the potter and we are the clay read also Isa 10:15. Jesus is the saviour of the world just as He said He was Jn. 12:47. Believe what God says regardless of what the clergy tells you!

  • FireSpeaks

    That was very enjoyable to read. I hate blogs where i agree with everything the writer writes. You have given a simple answer to a question that is sometimes made difficult. Thank you for this post.

  • God (from a Calvanistic View)

    Hey John Doe, I created you with a very special purpose. Do you know what that is? Well by no fault of your own or by your ancestors fault (because I pre-planned man would fall) ; you are a guilty sinner. Ya I created you to be a sinner, sounds funny I know but let me explain. See by you being a fallen sinner I can show my glory by saving you through grace : )

    Hey Jane Doe, I created you with a very special purpose. Do you know what that is? I’m going to allow you to have a life on Earth then I will see to it that you are tortured in Hell for the Rest of eternity. I am a good God and this Displays my Glory : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000161755747 Joel Hurlbert

    I can’t help but noticed you did not list any scripture that spoke of free will. But that’s okay, because there isn’t any. The idea of free will did not come about until later versions of the bible. I have yet to see a verse in KJV, which is the oldest translation I know of that’s not in Hebrew or Greek, that says anything to suggest that we have free will. But plenty to say we don’t.

    “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory”
    -Romans 9:18-23

    God is good and a great judge because he is sovereign. We cannot be predestined and have free will. The forementioned verse clearly points out that we are predestined. Also, we are not free. We are called to be bondservants. That is an english word derived from slave. Please correct me if you have found something that I haven’t, but your lack of scriptural reference in this article worries me. You claim to preach the gospel yet barely mention it.

  • Patty

    God sends unbelievers to DIE in Hell. No one gets to LIVE there forever. (2John 5:12) The wages of man’s sin is death (Romans 6:23)… and death is the absence of life. See John 3:16- two choices, believe and live or don’t believe and PERISH. Perish means to die and exist no more. Humans are mortal (Genesis 6:3 and Romans 6:12 and Isaiah 51:12) which means they are NOT able to live forever. BUT, they can become immortal by being born again; believing in Jesus. (1Peter 1:23)The devil has been telling this lie since the Garden of Eden times when he told Eve “Thou shalt not surely die.” and sadly, Christians, even those who write this site, are still believing his lie till this day. Eternal life is only for believers.(1John 1:17) Hell is real, that’s for sure, but it’s not a place where unbelievers will live forever and be tortured or tormented for eons of time. It is a place of fire where God destroys the unbelievers (Matthew 10:28 and Psalm 73:27) and they die and perish. (Romans 2:12) You DO NOT want to go there, for your life will be over. It’s the DEATH sentence.

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