Wow, was I astounded to find that PaulPavao.wordpress.com had been taken. It’s not even being used! I am making an attempt to move here because I have struggled so much with getting a design I like it with wordpress.org software. Over my head, I guess. If this blog gets any traffic, I’ll pay the yearly fee and get the ads taken off it.
Okay, first post is a question my wife asked me!
Acts 13:48 – It says, “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Luke [writer of Acts] preceded Calvin. It sounds like there’s a doctrine here that Luke believed. Is there more in the early church writings that gives us a clue on just what was passed down from the apostles on this subject?
Here was my response, by email, to my wife who is downstairs homeschooling our children.
Oddly enough, there is not a single reference to that passage in the first five volumes of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The index says there’s no references to that verse in the entire 10 volumes!
Well, here’s my answer to Acts 13:48, if not theirs. The early Christians talk all the time about “the number of the elect.” There are a certain amount that will be saved.
That sounds like Calvinism, but the early Christians speak against predestination often, very often.
The way to reconcile that is to realize that while they didn’t believe in predestination in the sense of God choosing what each individual would do, he did foreknow everything they would do. The elect are those that God foreknew would respond to the Gospel. There’s a number of those, and once we find them all and preach the Gospel to them, by preaching the Gospel to everyone, the Lord will return.
That was definitely not their only criterion for the Lord returning. They liked to tie it to 6000 years, though their 6000 years is long gone, though it was marked by a very significant event, the fall of Rome–of at least the city itself. The last emperor to rule in Rome was deposed by Goths right at the 6,000 year mark.
Anyway, way off subject there.
Oh, here’s an example in the second chapter of the first writing in the ANF series:
Clement says first that the Corinthians, after they repented because of Paul’s letters, used to pray and be anxious day and night “for the whole brotherhood” that “the number of God’s elect might be saved with mercy and a good conscience.”
In chapter 46, he says, “Let us cleave … to the innocent and righteous, for these are the elect of God.”
On foreknowledge from Justin’s First Apology 28:
And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold. For the reason why God has delayed to do this, is His regard for the human race. For He foreknows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.
I could find at least a dozen passages like these on both subjects.
I then added a sentence about loving her that didn’t seem appropriate to write to any of you, so I left that out.
I do want to add that I think the greatest difficulty that non-Calvinists have when confronted by a Calvinist is their use of Romans 9. Because it is true that Paul said God can do anything he wants without answering to us, they argue that he predestined only a few to be saved, and everyone else is eternally tormented because that’s his will.
Romans 9 says nothing of the sort. He did choose Pharaoh to be an instrument of wrath. He did choose Jacob over Esau. Paul uses that at argue that it was okay for God to harden the Jews temporarily so that the Gentiles could obtain mercy now and the Jews would all be saved in the future. He does not argue, or even mention, that God decides in advance who will receive grace, and thus be saved, and who won’t.
The Scriptures say that God wants everyone to be saved, and it says it repeatedly. The Calvinist response that “all men” and “the world” mean “only the elect” is really just too silly to refute. If you believe that, go on with your believing. I can’t refute that kind of logic because it’s not logical.
I am convinced that those who make such terrible arguments already know they are not true. I am making it a policy not to waste my time or raise my blood pressure trying to prove their arguments are false when they already know they are.