The Dangers of Redefined Faith: Why Calvinism Undermines the Gospel

Calvinist Theology FAQ


1. What is the central issue regarding how Calvinists use the Epistle of James?

The central issue is that Calvinists redefine faith as a virtuous work, undermining the doctrine of justification by faith alone taught by Paul.


2. What is the Calvinist view of predestination?

Calvinists believe God chooses some individuals for salvation and others for damnation, irrespective of their choices, based on a mysterious decision.


3. What is the biblical view of predestination according to the chapter?

Biblical predestination focuses on God bringing His foreknown sons into their inheritance in Christ, not just individual salvation.


4. What is the distinction between predestination and election?

Predestination refers to the Church’s inheritance in Christ, while election relates to God’s sovereign choice of individuals in time to fulfill His purposes.


5. How does the Calvinist view of predestination portray God?

It portrays God as arbitrary, unloving, and unjust, undermining the free gift of the gospel.


6. How do Calvinists redefine faith?

Calvinists redefine faith as a virtuous work or a gift given only to the elect, rather than simple belief in the gospel.


7. What is the biblical concept of the heart concerning faith?

The biblical concept of the heart encompasses the mind, will, emotions, and conscience, not separating “head faith” and “heart faith.”


8. What is the basis of assurance according to John’s writings?

The basis of assurance is the testimony or record God has given concerning His Son, the gospel message.


9. Why is the Calvinist insistence on visible fruit as evidence of faith problematic?

It fails to account for God’s pruning work and varying seasons in a believer’s life.


10. Can the natural man believe the gospel according to the chapter?

Yes, the natural man can respond to the gospel by believing it, as a cry for deliverance from sin and death, not a meritorious work.


11. What is the distinction between believing the gospel and seeking God in righteousness?

Believing the gospel is a cry for deliverance, not the same as seeking God in the righteous requirements of the law that the natural man cannot fulfill.

“The desperate cry for deliverance that one may live and not die is not virtuous work. It is not the same as “seeking God” in the sense of loving Him with our whole being or pursuing the excellence of the knowledge of Christ, which are the righteous requirements of the law that the natural man cannot fulfill.” “A philanthropist and a mafia hitman can both go to the hospital and seek treatment for fatal cancer. The Philanthropist’s pursuit of his cure is not more virtuous than the hitman!” “Remember that Paul tells us in Romans 4 that justification is for him who “works not” but believes in him that justifies that “ungodly” and that this person is blessed, as David said because his sins are forgiven. His iniquities are not imputed to him. The regenerated new creation of God does not have sins and iniquities to be forgiven. The new creation is out of God. It is the ungodly man, the sinner, whose sins are forgiven in justification, and it is that man that believes and is justified…


12. What is the root problem with the Calvinist view of justification?

Calvinists void justification by faith, instead establishing election, since faith is redefined as “work” out of reach of man and a “gift” only for the elect.


13. What is the problem with the Calvinist doctrine of “double predestination”?

It suggests God created some people for damnation, making Him the author of evil, contrary to His revealed character.


14. Why is redefining faith as a work dangerous according to the chapter?

It undermines the essence of the gospel, shifting the focus from Christ’s work to the believer’s performance, robbing assurance.


15. How does the chapter contrast the Calvinist view with Paul’s teachings?

Paul repeatedly emphasizes justification by faith apart from works, while Calvinists add works to the equation of salvation.


16. What is the significance of James 2:26 (“faith without works is dead”) in Calvinist theology?

Calvinists use this verse to redefine faith and make it unquantifiable, undermining the assurance of believers.


17. How does the chapter describe the Calvinist arguments as a “closed loop”?

Calvinist arguments are predictable, rehearsed, and never change, never leading to new light or edifying discoveries.


18. What is the chapter’s view on God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability?

Both God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability before the gospel are presented in Scripture but held in tension without being resolved.


19. How does the chapter contrast the Calvinist view with the Scriptural view of God’s character?

The Calvinist view presents a God with a secret, inscrutable will, while Scripture reveals God’s character in Christ’s redemptive work.


20. What is the danger of engaging in debates with heretics?

Heretics are moved by a spirit of error and can quickly shift the ground of truth and reframe fundamental concepts through assertions.

Calvinists confuse natural and spiritual things by claiming that the gospel is a mystery that the natural man cannot receive, asserting that it is hidden except for the elect. This misunderstanding arises from their interpretation of passages like 1 Corinthians 2:14, which states that the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. They apply this to the gospel itself, suggesting that only the elect, who are regenerated by God, can understand and believe the gospel.

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However, the Bible makes a distinction between what the natural man can know and what is known only by revelation. The natural man can understand the basic, earthly aspects of the gospel: that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (John 3:14-15). This is akin to the Israelites looking at the bronze serpent in the wilderness and being healed—it required no deep spiritual insight, just a simple act of faith (Numbers 21:8-9).

The spiritual or heavenly things are the deeper truths of the kingdom of God, which require revelation and are only understood by those born of the Spirit. These truths include the understanding of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the deeper aspects of our inheritance in Christ (John 3:3, 1 Corinthians 2:10-12). The natural man can receive the gospel message and believe it, which leads to salvation and the reception of the Holy Spirit, who then reveals the deeper spiritual truths (Ephesians 1:17-18). The Gospel contains both the things that the natural man can receive and the spiritual things that must be revealed by the Father. When man understands that he is a lost sinner and does not know God, he is positioned to be able to receive the message that God put a man in his place, promised in the scriptures, who died for his sins and rose from the dead. When man believes this same message, which is spirit and life, it shines in his heart to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He sees that Christ is the Son of God. This is a revelation from the Father, and by it man is regenerated of the incorruptible seed of the word and becomes a child of God. Man looks away to the bronze serpent, and as he gazes at it in faith, he sees that the remedy for his terminal “illness” and the salvation of his soul is a Person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God manifested in the flesh!

Calvinists mistakenly use the differentiation between natural and spiritual things to argue that the gospel itself is a mystery that cannot be understood by the natural man. This leads to a redefinition of faith as something out of reach for the ungodly, contradicting the scriptural teaching that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17).

1 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV): “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

John 3:14-15 (KJV): “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Ephesians 1:17-18 (KJV): “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”

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