Fixing "TULIP" to fit Scripture, and much more

This series purports to FIX what's doctrinally wrong with TULIP, yet at the same time preserve the acronym, for easy adjustment. Keep that fact in mind as you read, so you don't make the mistake so many readers have, of thinking that I'm a Calvinist or that I'm misstating TULIP. This is a CORRECTION series, not an endorsement nor a restatement of the classic or modified-by-Calvinists 'TULIP' doctrine. That doctrine in all forms has fatal flaws, but the idea behind it can be corrected to fit the Bible. That such flaws have gone unattended for 500 years, is a travesty. Hence a caustic presentation of the correction, rather than a polite one, becomes necessary. Billions of dollars, hours, and lives have been wasted on slipshod scholarship. This must be admitted and correction must be made. Else, the dying believer will be very ashamed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Current folks living really need the correction to be given them. Until it is, sites like this one will continue to be necessary.

NOTE WELL: the content of a critique is alone important. So evaluate the content, don't take the slipshod route of going by 'credentials'. God used Balaam's donkey when Balaam was too stubborn to listen to God, so the 'mouth' used to say a thing, matters not. Many disregard centuries of apt critique in the name of respecting only what an 'expert' says. But the 'expert' has an agenda, a paycheck, so will cater to whatever denomination he belongs. I can hire anyone to say what I want them to say, simply by choosing someone who already agrees with me.

So the expert should not be the only one heeded. Rather, a claim should be evaluated on its own merits, not on the merit perceived or real, in the speaker. Sadly, Calvinists never heed anyone but other Calvinists. If you are among that group, just stop reading now. You cannot understand what follows. We who are trying to help Calvinism fit Bible have tired of reasoning with the deaf who are still fighting demons from 1610. There: now you see what I meant by 'caustic'.

To a much greater extent, the Youtube videos below, explain the TULIP errors and how to correct them. They were done a decade or so after the webpages were written. Video descriptions have vital added links to back up claims. So too, do the many comments. You can always send me anonymous Feedback on any video whose comments you want to unlock. (Youtube won't allow read-only display, so to stop more comments the extant ones must be disabled.)

In particular, Bible verses misused by Calvinists are 'answered' in the videos. The first three videos present Bible terminology for the same ideas as in TULIP, stressing the properties of TRUTH God ordained: it then becomes readily apparent that TULIP compromises the Sovereignty of God (which is anathema to Calvinism). Fourth video shows how that compromise is compounded by Calvin's own anti-semitism. Its video description has many links to demonstrate his anti-semitism. I tried to be 'roasting' funny in that 'Calvin's Poison' video, to soften what can only be a serious flaw permeating all he wrote. My ancestors were Calvinists (back to when Calvin lived); so I wanted to lighten, the critique.

The Excel spreadsheet shown in the fifth video can be downloaded here: GeneYrs.xls. The purpose of that video is to present the BIG picture. So, that video briefly begins with the history of Christianity, and how it has violated what Paul warned about in 1Corinthians Chapters 1-6, of splitting into denominations which thereafter focus on each other rather than on God, and then fighting with each other, no one learning God Himself, at all.

This, in essence, is what's wrong with Calvinism: it, like Catholicism, remains stuck in the past, never advancing theologically. Like Catholicism, Calvinism gets many doctrines backwards, as the displayed verses in the fifth video, demonstrate. Even so, every Calvinist has the right to be wrong, even as every Catholic. We will all be judged for how we learned the Word at the Bema. So Calvinists will be judged for not taking advantage of technology, to CLEAN UP the errors from the past. It's fine that past errors were made. It's not fine to claim them right in the name of 'tradition'. A tradition of error deserves only to be tossed out with yesterday's news, the kerosene lamp which always caught fire, and grandpa's moldy socks...

The sixth video explains my purpose, and the purpose of this webpage. Subsequent videos explain how to correct what's wrong with TULIP, as also this webseries (links above). Hence both video and webpage focus is on how TULIP can be corrected. So the original webpage content, can be accessed by the links above, and starts with 'Purpose', below.

I. Purpose

The root purpose for this webseries is to test my own knowledge of Scripture, so to learn it better. Further, to answer my chatroom friends (and enemies, I guess) who have expressed curiousity about how I see the Bible, and why I see it the way I do, especially since my routine answer to such folks is that I can't reply adequately in a chatroom. (Of course, even here I can't adequately summarize 30 years of daily study in the original languages under my pastor-teacher, so must resort to statements which might sound dogmatic in tone.)

Folks wonder why TULIP is being used as the format for my reply. Answer: I have a lot of sympathy with Calvinism, but there are things in it which do not fit the Bible. Rather than merely say so, it seemed more constructive to correct the misfitting ideas TULIP espouses. After all, the acronym was born from a hasty formulation in 1610 to put down a faction of Calvinism, so needs refining. Further, the acronym is a handy way to organize one's understanding of Scripture, and it correctly names the essential elements of salvation (though the meanings need to be revised and expanded to fit the Bible). In short, each letter of TULIP is too small in scope, and too man-centered in meaning, but these problems can be corrected.

You don't have to "buy" TULIP to profit from its structure, therefore. In fact, it's not a good idea to stand pat on ANY formulation of the Bible, whether it contains right understanding, or not. Open-mindedness is essential, for only God and the actual Bible are infallible. We all are groping, learning, and hopefully listening to the Holy Spirit in the state of 1Jn1:9 used.

Having said all this, it is necessary for me to conclude that Bible Doctrine and Calvinism are distorted by the "TULIP" traditionally espoused. So, this is a proposed rewrite, which attempts to correct: a) TULIP's insufficient emphasis on Sovereignty (a too-small understanding of God and salvation, really), and b) TULIP's misdiagnosis of what's "depraved". As a result, all of TULIP must be reconstructed, a version of which is also proferred here.

You can't believe what you don't see for yourself, and you can't see for yourself what you don't mull over. So, I leave out a lot of explanation"behind" the things said in this piece. So, I leave out a lot of Bible verses which apply. Therefore, to understand what's written here, you have to mull it over. Also, if you don't want to mull it over, by not saying too much I've wasted less of your time.

Finally, if what is said here is true, and you want to investigate the matter, I firmly believe God will prove it to you Himself, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, whenever you are in the state of 1Jn1:9 used, versus 1Jn1:8, or v.10. The idea: testimony of more than one witness. God corroborates any truth in the statements/testimony of anyone, for He loves the Truth. God forbid that anyone merely "buy" or "reject" what is said here for any other reason!

Calvinists and non-Calvinists should, as a result, have a much clearer idea of what "free will" is and is not: a refined understanding is critical, and the "T" here is the crux. More about "T" is in X, and X contains a summary of what is wrong with Traditional TULIP. Comments of particular interest to Calvinists are in blue fontface. Comments of maximum importance overall are in red or dark red fontface. More about the purpose of this site is at the end of VI.

Your collaboration, comments, and criticisms about this site are truly welcome! Please do e-mail me.

    Also, for awhile you'll see that whole sections of "S" are incomplete or missing: I'm still trying to figure out how to word those subtopics, i.e., since some trinitarian Christians can't navigate the vocabulary of Trinity, viz., the idea of Three Gods of Identical Essence. Even though that's what "Trinity" means, trinitarians mistakenly view the wording as somehow polytheistic or otherwise heretical. So I have to figure out how to reword "Trinity" to allay their unfounded offense. ("Trinity" is a Bible concept, not the invention of some theologian: See 2Cor13:14 in the Greek. "God" is not hydra-headed, but of SAME ESSENCE, kinda like Triplets.."united" ("one") in Their Mutual Love for Each Other.)

    For those of you who deem IV or V too short: if you're curious (or masochistic, heh), you can peruse the epic version of those two sections: click here.

    I've gotten a lot of comments from people on this site. Some have grasped the real meaning of the site -- to turn over, comprehend, enjoy, the structure of our so-great salvation and our Legacy in Christ. On the flip side, I was amazed so many folks considered me a Calvinist simply because I had a site named "TULIPS?". Thirdly, some folks don't understand my words: so, I've tried to reword parts which stumped people. This site's language must be succinct, though: that way you can turn it over better in your brain, under the Teaching Ministry of the Holy Spirit. It's not about what "I" say, but how God uses anything you read or hear, for YOUR own benefit. So what "I" say should ideally be as succinct as possible (keeping "me" invisible, ideally, since this is a thing between God and the reader, and not about "me" at all). Better still, if you're not under a pastor, go to "VI", check the links there, and ask God to show you your right pastor.

    CAUTION, please: don't use this site as a substitute for studying under your right pastor. This site's purpose, like all my sites, is merely adjunctive. Like fellowship, it's to USE what you've been learning, for recreation and further enjoyment in the Lord. (To spurn God's gift of right pastor incurs Divine Discipline upon the spurner. I am NOT a pastor, but merely a studied believer.)

    Calvinists, of course, generally dislike this site, and not one of them has really read it (I've quizzed them). So, they don't realize its subpurpose is to help them see the problems folks (and the Bible!) have with today's Calvinistic dogma, rather than to bash Calvinism. Calvinists routinely block out definitions which don't fit their dogma, even the Bible's (viz., "all"). I can't help such Calvinists realize that 1610 TULIP's babyish, unintentionally-heretical definitions need to 'grow up', by writing more than what is here. God enables, anyway, not me: so I can only witness that I have an empathy for Calvinists, hence this site. What God does with it for them, is His Sovereign Affair.

Again, any truth in here obviously means the Holy Spirit banged it through to my pea brain, and out onto the page, or I'd not have the courage to write it at all. Any falsehood obviously means I'm an idiot and the Holy Spirit will later bang the truth through to my pea brain in a moment where I won't die from the shock, since He causes me to remember to keep on using 1 John 1:9 when I sin!

II. The TULIPS Acronym, Restructured

  • T = Total Depravity (despite free will -- Fall depraved knowledge, not will)
  • U = Unlimited Atonement (by Christ's Work on the Cross, toward GOD, so that God is Propitiated)
  • L = Limited access to Salvation (Christ is Sole Mediator; must believe in Him to be saved)
  • I = Inalienable Grace (God's monopoly)
  • P = Predestination (Provision in Christ; includes Election, unbelievers)
  • S = Sovereignty (God-ness;Sovereignty and free will co-exist by Divine Decree)

III. The Tulips Acronym, Glossary

Total Depravity

(For He has redeemed us from our corruptible manner of life, 1Pet1:18)

TOTAL DEPRAVITY means man is totally helpless. If God doesn't save man, he can't be saved.  

Before explaining how man is totally helpless, we first have to realize that, even if we were perfect, we would have no merit before Almighty God. One will never understand the Beauty of Salvation, its extreme permanence and scope, without a grasp of this essential fact: man, even were he perfect, has ZERO merit. Why? because whatever "good" we have, HE must have given us. We are finite, He is Infinite. So, even if perfect, it is a FINITE perfection -- and still, not as good as GOD. The Lord Himself, speaking from His Humanity, stressed this point, saying,"why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone" (Mk10:18). (Of course, He was also testing the rich young man's recognition of the Diety of Christ, but that is another issue, not germane now.)

God creates us in His "shadow image", as Genesis puts it. The essential "person" is the soul, which GOD alone! creates. Free will is thus one of the attributes of the human soul, which God creates at birth. (You thus become human at the moment He creates & imputes your unique soul to your fully-formed body; repeating the pattern of His creation of Adam, who became "a living soul" after God formed all of Adam's body. That is why no human being is evolved, and why, as many Bible verses in OT attest, no human being is "formed" by anyone BUT God.) [1]

The soul is immaterial, not material -- materiality cannot create, add to, or harm immateriality. Any harm, then, which can be done to the soul can ONLY be done BY the soul; however, the soul cannot be killed. By Divine, not human, design, the soul is ruled by free will, aka "volition" or "sovereignty". That is why the Lord warns in Matt10:28 not to worry about those who can kill the body, but not the soul, but to worry about those who can "destroy the soul in the location of hell." [Sidenote: "destroy" is NOT "obliterate/kill", which this verse makes clear in the Greek (in the Greek, He's making a play on words between "kill" and "destroy", which play basically means it would be BETTER to be killed than to go to Hell); "location of" is the meaning of "in", because the Greek uses the locative case, which means "in the location of, located in". In short, this is one of the verses proving Hell exists There are seven kinds of "death" in the Bible; this verse negates the interpretation claiming the soul can die. Since "soul" is often used as a synonym for a human being who's not yet physically died, verses like Ezekiel 18:4, which reference physical death or capital punishment, are often misunderstood.]

Free will is merely an indestructible, nonmeritorious power of choice (more will be said about free will in the "S" section, too).

You can see that free will is without merit pretty quickly. Think about what CHOICE actually is. I go grocery shopping: I may choose tomato can "A" brand, or can "B" brand. Naturally, I'll want to choose what seems like the better brand of the two, based on what I KNOW about both brands. I make a choice. So: where was the merit? In the tomato can (allegedly or really), NOT in my choosing it.

NOTE WELL: free will is DEPENDENT on knowledge. It has no merit of its own. It can choose, but the effect of the choice DEPENDS on the quality of the item chosen; but the choosing depends upon the quality of the KNOWLEDGE of the item. So, a good choice can be made by mistake, from ignorance, or from accurate knowledge. Likewise, a bad choice. All free will is, is the faculty of wanting, choosing. It can be used for good OR bad, so obviously CAN'T have any inherent merit. If you don't have free will, you are not human. God, angels, and humans are persons. Free will is an either/or thing of personhood.

The faculty of thinking, of believing, are functions DEPENDENT on volition. Volition is dependent on things external to it (e.g., knowledge); however, since God made volition an attribute of the soul, man is the product of the quality of what he knows, and what he knows is the product of what he's chosen to know; the quality of the knowledge affects the quality of the person. However, since God made volition an attribute of the soul, one always retains the nonmeritorious faculty of being able to reject or accept previously-obtained knowledge. Again, such a faculty is inherent to personhood. It alone thus has no merit at any time, whatsoever.

Now, we humans mistakenly attribute self with merit because we get mixed up about the value of the thing or person chosen, sorta thinking that, well, I made a good choice (e.g., someone compliments you), so I must be a good person.

The Arminians were mixed up like this: they erroneously believed that since man had the choice of being saved or not, he must have merit, and the act of faith in Christ was some kind of gift(!) to Holy God! But faith is a faculty of the soul, a part of volition, another essential requirement of BEING a person. God made it, so there is no self-merit in its use (one can't take credit for what GOD did, can one). You can't even BE a person without the use of faith; in fact, at all times you are always believing or disbelieving something. Again, merit is in the object of what (or WHO) is believed, not in the FUNCTION of believing.

The Calvinists who wanted to put down the Arminian errors likewise were mixed up; so, instead of saying, "Hey, Arminians, there's no merit in your having an indestructible volition (and faith, which is a subset of volition) created by God?!", they countered that man's corruption meant he had no free will. As if what God created, man could kill! Thus, they erroneously thought man's volition meritorious, too.

Let's put it another way. If all God was, was Will/Faith, would even God be God? No, obviously. What makes God God are His Other Attributes. What makes God a Person are attributes like Self-consciousness, Free Will (including the believing faculty, which is believing IN/ON), etc. In short, God has to be more than "just" a person, to be God. It isn't the mere fact that He is a Person which makes Him meritorious.

See? The merit was in the tomato can, not in my choosing it. In fact, its merit was the reason for choosing it. My choosing it was ITS VALUE, not mine. But, to total depravity, because "I" chose it, I must have merit. 'Baloney. I chose it based on what I knew about it, and the faculty of being able to learn is ALSO something God authored -- not me. So where is the merit? As always, in GOD!

But Total Depravity is always about "me, me, me". So, it appropriates to self, gets mixed up, whenever there is perceived merit in anything. It's a constant subroutine of the brain, which is physical. (T.D. is genetic..read on.)

This irrationality about the self and merit is a classic sign of TOTAL DEPRAVITY. You can get a good picture of how irrational thinking works by reading the Bible's book of Romans, Chapters 1-9. There, the apostle Paul shows the ludicrous twists and turns in our depraved minds, to illustrate the need of salvation and how God accomplished it. (You may have to read the book over 20 times while using 1Jn1:9 for the material to sink in: don't feel discouraged.)

So, the volition, which itself is neither good nor bad, dependent as it is on the quality of known information, has only BAD information from the sin-ruled body/brain. So it naturally yet freely chooses based upon that bad information...until and unless it gets good information, which it can only get from God.

T.D. is a genetic condition (per Romans 5:12 and 1Cor15:21-22's Greek constantive aorist tense). We are totally helpless, totally ugly to God's Righteousness, and TOTALLY UNABLE to comprehend God. Obviously, we can't do a thing to earn salvation. Bible uses words like the '"old man", aka "the old sin nature", "flesh" and derivatives, to describe this hapless condition. Sin rules the body, which includes the brain. We are soooo bad that even our "righteousnesses are menstrual rags" ("filthy" in English is a euphemism). And, we "come short of the Glory of God" and, "no one is righteous..no, not one." You can probably think of a dozen other famous verses the Bible uses to condemn our hapless state.

See the conundrum, here? God must condemn such a state, or He is not Righteous. Yet, the state is not our fault: we are born in it. How, then, does God solve this problem? Does He recreate us? Yes! But, not like the first Adam, for that story would just repeat itself. Rather, He recreates us in the 2nd Adam (Christ), due to salvation. ('Which is why Romans 6 explains that we died in Christ; Rom5:15-21, 1Cor15:22, 1Cor15:55-56, 2Cor5:17 are some related verses). In short, we get to CHOOSE how we want to be recreated. We couldn't choose to be created the first time, because we didn't exist. We CAN choose how to be recreated the 2nd time, because we do exist!

In short, you can choose to have God recreate you, or you can choose to recreate yourself, your own way. That's the heart of the matter: "what think ye of Christ?" Because you have this choice, it doesn't matter that you are born in a state of Total Depravity. God preserves your free will.

You are not "contributing" squat to God if you believe in Christ; and you are responsible to God for NOT believing in Christ. He did all the work. You can believe in Christ or reject Him, but your acceptance benefits Him not at ALL; your rejection hurts you and you alone totally. He offers you an option. You accept it or you reject it, your nonmeritorious choice. God is just to cause you to be saved if you accept it (your acceptance doesn't cause your salvation, God does); God is also just to send you to the Lake of Fire if you NEVER believe in Christ. Every decision has its Divinely-ordained consequences, and as always, the OBJECT of the faith has the merit/demerit, never the faith itself. So: be CAREFUL what you believe...

Hopefully it's now clear that the choices you make "program" you, because learning means your choices will be affected by what you know, and to learn anything you must CHOOSE to do so.

Knowledge, not free will, is what is corrupted by Total Depravity. Eating "knowledge", Adam lost his ability to know God (lost his human spirit), and also passed down the genetic corruption of "good and evil" knowledge urges, to all progeny, which results in: inchoate ("fuzzy") thinking, non-sequitur (disjunctive) thinking, emotion-driven thinking. T.D. is thus in the thought pattern of the brain, which is part of the T.D. body. The brain has been programmed by total depravity to constantly tempt the soul. Temptation is NOT sin; because you have free will, you can reject the temptation. Unbelievers and believers do so often. However, we all give in to the temptation, too; and the FIRST time we give in, we have repeated Adam's sin. So it doesn't matter that we inherited his corruption; we are still responsible for our own sins. And when we sin, we corrupt ourselves by means of that same always-free volition. As it stands written, "the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Sin, though, is not the root problem of Total Depravity, but rather an evidence of it. The root problem: the soul cannot know God so cannot choose God, EVEN THOUGH man has free will, because there is no knowledge of God upon which to MAKE a choice. It's the worst possible situation: to be responsible, thus liable to Hell, and yet unable to have the knowledge free will needs, to choose! [The human spirit is the interface needed to get knowledge of God -- but even then, God has to transmit knowledge, as illustrated by the daily Bible classes to Adam and the woman, in the Genesis quotes of things God said to them, and Gen3:8. (Gen 3:8 in the Hebrew says that He habitually visited them at that time of evening.) So, when they both ate that fruit, they lost their human spirits, and could no longer process what they had learned. So, when a believer sins, he enters a carnal state, is off-line from the Holy Spirit and his human spirit, and can't "eat" even the doctrine he's learned.]

What, then, happens to free will? It looks at what it "knows", which is "good and evil". Look at Adam and Isha: right after the Fall, even though they HAD known God, they "know" only that they must adjust to the "evil" of being naked. Their memory of God was disconnected, off-line, unusable, a partition on a hard drive which can no longer be accessed. Well, actually WORSE: the SAME data in their memory now shows up in Genesis 3 as guilt (the figleaves), fear (the hiding), and REJECTION (accusing God before admitting sin). SAME DATA, but now 'depraved', hateful: every attitude is REVERSED. So now, volition takes the OPPOSITE choice, despite the memory of their former fellowship with Him. How much more we, who are born with no prior knowledge at all..! So no wonder we are predisposed to guilt, fear, accusation when "God" is anywhere near even the background of any topic in life. It's always popular to make "God" the bad guy, to say He doesn't exist, to be DISINTERESTED in Him (you know, nod to God on Sunday, and have the colossal GALL to think that works for people should 'count' with God, thus REPLACING GOD with people as the First Commandment). Socrates was right: we are all Glaucons, preferring, with our indestructible free will, the dank caverns of our fractalic arrogance.

So how does the will become depraved? By means of successive ACTS of free will freely ACCEPTING depraved information. Temptation is not depravity, ACCEPTING temptation is depravity (remember James' description on how one "gives birth" to sin). Even the Lord was tempted, so we know that to be tempted itself is not depravity.

"Depraved" is NOT "deprived", either. The central fatal flaw in TULIP is that it equates "depraved" and "deprived". The two are very different, and will was NOT deprived in man due to the Fall. Let's go through the mechanics, to see what really happens.

We saw that Adam suddenly got goofy due to the Fall, and grabbed onto the insane idea that his and his wife's nakedness was evil. Clearly, his former knowledge of God became unusable, because he lost his 'spiritual processor', his human spirit. His old knowledgebase was in a 'language' he could no longer properly read. Adam's nonetheless trying to RESTORE the relationship with God by means of an act he considers "good". It is not an act of sin, here. So, what's really happening?

Adam is using his volition; it is still free, because he's CHOOSING something; no one's coercing him. But what is the object he chooses? A "good" thing! So, the desire to choose "good" remains. However, his "good and evil" knowledge base, is depraved, not merely "deprived" of knowledge of God. It is sending up options from the brain; the soul is choosing based on corrupted information, instead of asking the question, "is this information valid?" It is still choosing and believing: here, among all the other choices Adam could have made, he chooses to cover his and his wife's loins.

In making that choice from his soul, he has just depraved his soul slightly, for he has assigned a "truth" value to a lie (the idea that covering nakedness "buys" something with God). So YES! he has caused his own depravity, analogous to stomping down grass. The next time, it will be easier to travel that same path, for he has programmed himself to want that choice; so, when next something analogous to it occurs, he will be more tempted to accede to it. HOWEVER he still retains the ability to say "no". It will be harder, that's all.

Thus, an unbeliever may have some sin habit (say, alcoholism) and can transcend it, a fact which occurs often in such folks. It's difficult, but doable. Does the person who does this have merit? NO -- he has done something which God enabled him to do, and he has done something due to the POWER of the object: the inherent benefit of abstention. Not the man's merit, but the God-given nature of benefit in abstention. God set up how life would be; God created morality for man's benefit. For man to use it, what merit is there in man? None at all. He didn't invent morality. God did. Man didn't invent the advantage; God did.

So "depravity" is sourced in body/brain knowledge, but is ONLY programmed into the soul BY FREE WILL as the soul accedes to the depraved temptations. That and that alone is the mechanism whereby man becomes depraved in his soul. GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR of a soul so weak the body can superimpose its urges on the soul. To say otherwise is to give God too little credit, especially since He foreknew the results.

By contrast, the free will choice to believe in Christ, or to get Bible doctrine, doesn't have this programming power, because knowledge of God can only be provided BY God. It's a supernatural power, so must be run by a supernatural God. So that same God must GIVE a supernatural power to cause the inherently-good knowledge of Him to program the soul into Quality. That is why Christ learned Bible Doctrine. That is why we need it.

We are born spiritually-brain-dead. Our souls, of course, remain alive; We have free will, in our souls, and physical life in our bodies. But until God saves us, we have no human spirit, which we would need to be able to GET information about God. So, we are interested in the things of the soul and the body, but have no basis for being interested in the things of God, so we are NOT naturally interested in God. So, even our morality is totally-depraved: God is not our motive; being "good" (merit-me, merit-me, merit-me) is the motive. No wonder even our "good" is so ugly to God! (1 Corinthians 2 is a sample passage which explains this situation in some detail. The "who keep on thinking about earthly things" verse, and Romans 7&8 elaborate on the 1Cor2 passage.)

God, being omniscient, knew this problem would happen in advance, before He made the universe. God is SO SCRUPULOUS in His Justice, that, in eternity past, He took responsibility for ordaining His allowance of this terrible condition. He chose to become the Unique Human Mediator. ("God" here is the Lord, who in His Diety is Creator of all things, per Hebrews Chaps 1,2, and Col 1, etc.) 1Tim 2:5 dramatically records His eternity-past decision to add Humanity to Himself (Phili2:5-10) and thus pay for all sins and be Mediator (do a bot search on "Mediator" to see those verses). Since He took the responsibility for solving the problem, and DID solve it, we have nothing to do but to believe in Christ, just once, during this lifetime. Further, NO ONE ELSE solves the problem: "there is no other name given among men whereby we MUST be saved." No religion, no works, no other Savior can substitute for Christ.

As the "I" subpage on this website will explain, the Holy Spirit, acting both as a human spirit and the Teacher, is the One who enables EVERYONE without exception to get knowledge of God sufficient to nonmeritoriously change his mind about Christ, and nonmeritoriously believe in Him. Even so, that nonmeritorious faith, a faculty of the soul, is spiritually dead! So, when someone believes in Christ, God the Holy Spirit causes him to be saved, because of Christ (NEVER because of man): He picks up that spiritually-dead faith and makes it efficacious for salvation, and creates your unique human spirit: you are THEN regenerated "born again", NOT before. (More on how He causes you to be saved is or will be explained in "I".)

Summing up...

Our being-born-in-sin causes a knowledge-and-body/brain depravity due to spiritual-brain-death. Salvation is the permanent acquisition of a human spirit, created by the Holy Spirit (1Pet1:23,Tit3:5), to which God the Father imputes His Own Righteousness, and His Own Eternal Life (well, also the Son's, but I'll find the verses and put them in these parentheses later). God, after all, is a spiritual being, so you have to be of compatible Life to be able to live with Him. You thus, at salvation, are enabled to be fed information from Him (see V), so you can know Him, and thus have a fantastic relationship with Him -- forever.

Your body, however, remains totally depraved, so you still sin. 1Jn1:9 handles that condition to put you back into a spiritual "on-line" status. Learning Bible Doctrine gradually reduces (restricts, really) the effects of total depravity. At death, you lose the corrupted body, and get a new heavenly one. So, no more sinning is possible after death. Your soul's personhood attributes (free will, memory, etc) of course remain intact; best of all, you take your accumulated believed-Bible-Doctrine "with you", because believed Doctrine is accumulated in your soul, not (thank God!) in your brain. (Look up the "epignosis"(Greek), "wisdom", "grow" and "enlarged..soul" verses to help see this fact, if it is news to you.)

The mechanics of the post-salvation life are or will be covered in V. If Total Depravity is still unclear to you, Click here for a MUCH more detailled explanation. Else, hit the "End" key, if you want to bypass the footnotes and go to the link for the next page.

Lastly (for now), I should write how this description of Total Depravity differs from "TULIP". (A full-blown answer is in X.)

Not all Calvinists would disagree with the foregoing, but many would say that to equip man with free will as described is Arminianism, which is supposedly an old heresy that somehow man's free will can affect God's.

When they say this, they are defining free will incorrectly. Calvinism is not to be blamed for this incorrectness. The incorrect idea of free will says that somehow free will has to mean man can make good on his will, which is a way of saying man has merit. Man has no merit, so Calvinism must thus conclude that man has no free will, or a restricted free will, given that incorrect definition of free will.

The incorrect definition of free will has plagued Christianity ever since Scholasticism hit it.

The Bible's definition of free will, as anyone can see from the context, is simply the free ability to choose.
Merit is not an issue, and is not present. As said above, the ability to choose is an attribute of the soul, and God Himself creates each soul, not man.

The ability to make GOOD on that choice is a separate issue. The Bible does not mix up free will (the ability to choose) and freedom (the ability to make good on a choice).

Free will is merely a free ability to choose: the "merit" of the choice is always in the object chosen.

Freedom, by contrast, always depends on knowledge of the options. The ability to know God was what Adam lost. The Holy Spirit provides the ability to know the Gospel, so anyone can believe in Christ. Then, post-salvation, since we have been regenerated (given a human spirit, which is the "born again" act He does), by transmitting spiritual information (Bible Doctrine) through that human spirit He enables us to know God -- just as Adam was so enabled, pre-fall and post- his salvation.

"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free." There are hundreds of verses in Scripture saying that knowledge, not free will, is what makes or breaks you. Just do a verse search on "know" and synonyms, and antonyms, to see this. Also, metaphorically, "light" and "darkness" are used.

Man is condemned for freely REFUSING the knowledge he is given -- Romans 1-3 describes the awesome result. "My people perish for lack of Doctrine", Hosea 4:6 ("knowledge" there means knowledge-of-God, in context, hence the word "Doctrine"); also, the "because of the darkness which is in them" (and like) verses.

One of the main purposes of the Book of Romans is to show how free will rejection causes condemnation, and how free will acceptance is made efficacious by God. The "merit" of the knowledge one gets by rejecting God is darkness and death; the merit of the knowledge of God one gets is light and life.

As always, merit only is in God.

God is GOD: no one and nothing defeats Him. Man's having free will in NO way constricts the Sovereignty of God or even touches His Sovereignty. TULIP undervalues Sovereignty -- unintentionally, of course!

[1] -- there are MANY verses on the fact that the soul is created and imputed at birth. Many key doctrines (like Essence of God, Hypostatic Union, nature and essence of hell) are related. Sadly, emotional clouding on "abortion" today blinds a lot of folks, so they miss the critical importance of this doctrine. The Holy Spirit can and will rectify that blindness, over time. (Hopefully He will start to do so with the realization that what follows is NOT an endorsement of abortion!)

Most of the verses proving the soul is created and imputed at birth contain the Hebrew words "mi beten" and "me rechem". You could skip the "mi beten" and "me rechem" OT verse-search for the moment (French translation is right, so is Romanian -- English trans. is not) and just use common sense to prove life begins at birth: obviously God would not be so stupid as to impute a complete soul to a zygote. It's a fundamental mismatch. Illogical. Is God illogical?

Also, if fetus not born, then God is a murderer; also, even animals aren't alive until they can breathe independently of the mother; also would God the Father subject His Son to being trapped in a totally-depraved womb? Would God make the Son human in the womb, when His brain is not yet even formed? How then would the Son be able to avoid sin? How then could we have salvation? Why did Christ say you must be BORN again, rather than "conceived" again? What, should a person be automatically saved merely because he has heard the Gospel, its contents being "conceived" in his brain? See, folks just don't think through the non-sequiturs.

Moreover, the fetus is not a legal person in the Bible. So, abortion is not murder. That doesn't mean it is "okay" to get an abortion, it just means the state has no authority. In short, God did not grant Caesar authority over this issue. The issue would be a spiritual one (does God want me to carry this fetus to term), and state is separate from church. To therefore advocate making abortion murder is to say the state should have authority God has not granted to it. (Think how the state tends to make antichristian decisions! Do you want the state to follow its aggrandizing tendency and jerrymander an antiabortion law, like it does with so many others?....THINK..)

Even the Roman Catholic Church, the proponent of human-at-conception, never made secular anti-abortion laws (which I can find, anyway). My understanding of the RCC position is that God has the right to determine whether the fetus should come to term. That view makes sense, to those of us who are concerned about God's will. It is a spiritual issue.

Then just what is in the womb? Why does the fetus move, etc.? Contact any ob/gyn physician and ask about "reflex motility", which is the organic knee-jerk like reactions of the developing body parts, to the mother's moods, emotions, foods, etc. through the placenta. The brain waves, etc. are autonomic functions, software-in-development, as it were. It is, in short, developing (not yet complete) biological life.

Modern technology can sustain a "preemie" outside the womb, so in today's world the issue of a "viable fetus' is indeed problemmatic. Even so, if the state is granted the rule over who must have children, then a fundamental freedom has been given away which even God Himself never assigned to secular government.

Is God thus unjust? Perish the thought! So, maybe God knows all those "evil aborters" and punishes them Himself? Does He need our advocacy, when He Himself doesn't grant legal status to a fetus anywhere in the Bible?

"Please Note: in the traditional Calvinist "TULIP", this "U" would be called "unconditional election": I've moved its contents to my "P" here." Further discussion on the traditional "U" is in X.

Unlimited Atonement

..."God our Savior, Who desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth...(1Tim2:3b-4)

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT means that Christ paid THE FATHER for ALL sins on the Cross

...using His Thinking, under the Power of the Holy Spirit (NOT His own Deity) while alive -- it isn't His physical death which paid for sins.

That payment for sins would be needed seems to trouble folks. Think of it this way: you buy something at the store: say, some canned tomatoes. You open the can, and what do you find in it? Maggots. Don't you want the store to at least refund your money? So: should God, who went to the expense, as it were, of making us, be entitled to compensation for any defects in us? Shall we who are merely human be paid better than God? Perish the thought!

Notice how it doesn't matter that the maggots probably got in that can by mistake. Notice how it doesn't matter that the person who could be "blamed" for that maggoty can is in fact a really nice guy. Notice how it also doesn't matter that you yourself didn't eat those maggots, so YOU suffered no harm. Notice how it doesn't matter that a can of tomatoes is cheap, compared to your own worth and assets (even the poorest person can afford a can of tomatoes). It's nonetheless a judicial requirement that you be compensated for the loss. So also, with God.

Atonement is that compensation, to God. Atonement is needed, not because we are vile child murderers who engorge ourselves on baby's blood. No: the problem is that GOD is infinitely perfect. Even if the only sin anyone ever sinned was to get angry even once in his lifetime, a total "atonement" must be paid, because the whole person is thus damaged. It's the damage of sin, not some nasty deity looking for sadistic fun. The "wages of sin is death". ("Sin" in the singular refers to the result of Adam's Fall: death is its "wage", what the "work" of that Fall "earns".) So, see? We are spiritually dead due to Adam's Fall. That's why we have this genetic predilection to sin, just like we have eye and hair color. Atonement pays for that damage, which of course includes all the sins we will sin in our lifetimes. (God is Infinite, never partial.)

Salvation is thus made available to all men, fulfilling the desire expressed in 1Tim2 above (and similar passages). God is Infinitely HOLY. It is a complete affront to His Righteousness to SEE even one "teeny" sin. It is a complete affront to His Righteousness to see even one corrupt act or thought (i.e., human good or evil). Since all such corruptions come from sin or the body of sin, Unlimited Atonement is a prerequisite for any person's EXISTENCE; PROPITIATION must be made for EACH SUCH SIN that will be committed, or that person's existence must be forbidden to occur. The FULL "damages" judicially occurring against God's Holiness must be paid. Not partial payment, but all the way to the full redemption value, or God's Integrity is not fully compensated.

    "Atonement" is a Bible term (you've heard of Yom Kippur: it sorta means "The Day of Atonement"). So is "Redemption". "Atonement" is paying the person wronged for damages deemed due the person wronged. "Redemption" is the use of the paid damages to restore (aka "redeem") the damaged item. So, "Atonement" only provides the funds, as it were, for "redemption". Absent the funds, we couldn't be justifiably created, because there would be no funds (as it were) to accomplish our restoration. [See also the "Salvation Components" link on the Home Page. It is a chart; at the bottom are the Bible's definitions of these and other key terms (all sourced in the Old Testament.)]

Man's receipt of redemption is not even available until and unless GOD HIMSELF is first compensated. NOTE WELL: God is under no obligation to "spend" this compensation on any man. That He chooses to do so illustrates the Infinite Integrity of His LOVE for Christ. (May none of us ever be so arrogant as to think God chooses us for any other reason whatsoever.) God's Genius in making Christ the sole criterion for our even breathing is a source of complete comfort, i.e., assurance about salvation's permanence: see 2Cor5 (whole chapter).

Crux: So no individual exists whose sins aren't FULLY paid by Christ's Atonement. So, all are equally eligible to get the same grace, the same Gospel, the same Redemption, because everyone born is fully atoned for, too. You can quickly prove this by looking at 1Jn2:2, and at the Great White Throne Judgement in Revelation 20:11-12(KJV is best English translation of that verse). People are then judged based on their WORKS, not based on their sins. ["Works" is Greek "ergon", and always has the connotation of good-deeds, as in Modern English (well, sometimes the Bible is sarcastic); "sins", by contrast, is "hamartia"(only in the plural form). "Ergon", not "hamartia" is used in Rev20:11-12.] So: NO ONE IS JUDGED FOR HIS SINS. Why? Because Christ paid for them all, atoned for them all: 2Cor5:21 shows that He was IMPUTED with AND JUDGED for all the sins of mankind. [The Greek SHOUTS it -- English translation ADDS verb "to be", to try to convey the shouting. So, if you shout "to be!" you get the flavor of the Greek, which shouts by omitting a verb.] So, no human is ever judged for his sins. (Divine Discipline to humans is corrective, not atoning. Thus you know God is NOT compensated in any way by letting you be hurt, or punishing you. Thus you know Hell doesn't compensate God -- contrary to the crazy lie that God is somehow sadistically benefitted by folks burning forever.)

If you now understand that "Atonement" was paid for EVERY sin, EVERY person, to justify one's existence so he could become eligible for salvation; and you understand that God is never compensated in the slightest for any kind of suffering or "hell", then skip the text between the brick-wall tables, below.


If one does not understand the INFINITE Righteousness of God, he'll misunderstand the meaning of Atonement, too. God's Infinite Righteousness (aka Holiness) MUST be Propitiated. God, not man, is the center of the universe. To say that God would allow even ONE sin to be unpaid by Christ is to say God is UnHoly. Even logically, think: if God didn't assure His Own Propitiation for His Own Righteousness, can you trust Him? If He can't "do" for Himself, then relationship with Him would be...um, not good. If He can't get paid fully, how could He be Omnipotent, let alone, Righteous? Moreover, if Christ had to pay AT all, but not FOR all, then why did He have to pay AT all? It's all or nothing. Else, God is UnHoly, UnLoving -- TO CHRIST, as well as to Himself. (Think over "Righteousness" sufficiently, and you will find proof of "who" God is, and why our salvation is through Christ. 'Why it is such Genius-Perfection. "Does God Exist" link at the Home Page plays out some of the logic, if you're seeking a catalyst for your brain...)

As noted above, Bible says "Atonement" is payment to GOD. "Propitiation" is the result of Atonement being sufficiently made: it means God is "satisfied" with the Atonement. ("Propitiation" is English translation of an OT Hebrew term for what in English is sometimes called "the Mercy Seat" of the Ark, on which animal blood, depicting Christ's yet-future payment, was sprinkled.)

"Atonement", in the Bible, ONLY covers the toward-God problem of our sins. God is Infinite Righteousness. So, any sin would be offensive, and subject to total legal penalties. On the Cross, Christ was imputed with our sins and judged for them -- yet He Himself did not sin, not even during that most-horrible imputation and judgment. So, the "Lamb of God" took "away the sins of the world." NOTE: even if NO one believed in Christ this payment is due God. God is thus Propitiated ONLY by Christ (satisfied, compensated). That is why, at the "Great White Throne Judgment" of Revelation, no one's sins are the basis of condemnation. Rather, one's good deeds are valued -- and always add up to less than God's Righteousness.

Only ONE Person has ever qualified to make atonement. Codex II of the Mosaic Law (which is an old theological title for those OT verses relating to the laws of animal sacrifice, basically) made that fact clear (sacrificing the animal associatively-taught the yet-future work of He Whom the Jews knew then as "The Redeemer"). Likewise, in NT, Scripture has verses which say He is the Atonement/Propitiation, "for all". The "for all" construction only has one meaning: for all people, whoever, everyone. NO exceptions. ["All" is Greek "pas". In the plural, it becomes a noun, and is all-inclusive. Calvinist Greek scholars "spin" the noun to all-within-a-group, and that "group" to them, is ONLY the "elect". Never mind that the Bible says it applies, for example, "to the entire world" (i.e., in 1Jn2:2), "all men" (i.e., 2Cor5:14,15,19,21). The fact that "pas" means "all men" even without the word "men" being needed, in the Greek, is proven from its use in ancient Greek texts within and outside of the Bible. Poor scholarship alone accounts for a slanted definition of "pas" in the plural.]

There's thus only one "sin", as it were, for which one can go to Hell: "concerning sin, because they have not believed in Me." (John 16:9, corrected translation -- Bible's Greek "not" comes in two flavors: the stronger of these two is "ouk", used in the verse here. "Ouk" tends to be shout-y. It has English connotation of "not ever!" "never!", "not-to-date!") The works also don't make up for that "sin", because it is a free-will issue: God accepts Christ's payment, not man's works.

    Man can do NOTHING to propitiate God. The mistaken ideas about what Atonement means, and its scope, all stem from a man-preoccupied viewpoint, which of course is a hallmark of total depravity, heh. The T.D. dissociative brain-genes we all inherited from Adam's "Fall" keep sending up genetic merit-me signals to the soul -- brain's program can't help but do this. That's why anyone feels queasy about "doing nothing", especially as respects God. So, man comes up with the goofy idea that he can "do" something to "count" before God; that he can "do" something to "lose" before God.

    Man is constantly prone to thinking his good deeds count for something, or -- just as idiotic -- that his bad deeds count for something. Scripture is so often seized on and distorted, so that man can feel right about himself (the sin nature's drive to regain perfection!) -- which urge, we all have -- such a mindless ant's blasphemy, against the Infinite Righteousness of God, often in the very name of being respectful to Him! (That God disciplines sin is NOT related to salvation. We have to be told that sin gets punished. Careful reading of Scripture shows that punishment is never atonement, hence is not what makes one gain salvation, lose salvation, or partially-gain/lose salvation.)

    This depraved misunderstanding leads many Christian denominations to have different definitions of what falls under the "Unlimited Atonement" rubric. For example, some treat Atonement AS salvation, which it is not. Some treat Atonement as mere forgiveness, which it also is not. Hence the petty ceremonies, the punctiliar taboos and observances, foods, days.. endless wood, hay, stubble. Like Elihu said in his discourse (book of Job) -- these things help you and your fellow man, maybe-- but WHAT do they do for God?! Nuttin' (Job4:6b compared to 35:1-7,36:21-33).

Again: God does not get any compensation from human suffering at any time whatsoever. Certainly not from Hell! Sheer common sense tells anyone that much. "Not willing that any should perish" in Peter is but one of many ways the Bible has of stressing that God gets nothing out of any human suffering, and certainly gets nothing out of Hell. The Calvinist argument that He is somehow compensated by Hell in any way at all, is -- against their own precepts! -- to say man can "contribute" something to God -- clearly a depraved idea. (If I can suffer and that does something for God, then I "contributed" to Him. Calvinism disavows entirely the idea that man "contributes". In this, it is correct. So how come the Calvinists write articles about how the unelect, suffering in Hell, somehow are recompensing God for their allegedly-unpaid sins? Is this sanity? They are trying to account for the "waste" of people not being saved; trying to explain what God "gets" for it. This, because they refuse to accept that "all" in the Bible's verses on Atonement mean exactly what the Bible itself says: all WERE paid-for. So, no "waste".)

    Man's suffering would and does only add to the "cost"! of God bearing with us. If you doubt this, ask yourself the question, what good does someone's suffering do for even you? Don't all our problems in society come from someone's suffering? Would anyone steal if he weren't suffering from evil thoughts? How painful is it, to be around some else who is suffering? So, where do we get the goofy idea that Hell, or other suffering, does a thing to compensate God?

    Christ did not compensate the Father due to His Suffering per se, but due to His Perfect Thinking, even under maximum suffering conditions. So, as it were, God the Father 'looks' at Christ's Thinking way back then -- when He sees our sins (which, to us, are "now").

    Let's focus on this suffering issue for a bit longer, since many folks have trouble seeing God as Loving, when they look at Christ's Suffering, God's Sternness and Punishing -- and, especially, when they look at "Hell". How can a loving God send His creatures to Hell?

    Love without Righteousness cannot be love, except in the transient emotional sense -- conditional, subject to whim, certainly not the kind of love anyone wants! "God" by definition must be Righteous -- else, how could "God" have true meaning as a word? ("God" is not really but "god" if not absolute -- so, He must be Absolute Righteousness, or He couldn't even be fair to Himself, much less, us.) So, because the integrity of a thing depends on its rightness, and because love has no value if no integrity, one can hopefully begin to fathom the vitalness of God's being Righteous -- of His NOT being compromised by even one teeny sin --- He MUST be paid, and He MUST be paid as HE --- not us -- dictates. And what does He dictate? 'Believe in My Son.' So, even the most handicapped person, the youngest, the oldest, the healthiest, the smartest -- all can be saved. By simply ONCE believing in Christ. Then, and only then, is Love, Love: for is it love to FORCE someone to believe in Him? Definitely not.

    So, what is left over, to those who reject God their whole lives? They don't WANT a universe of which God is a part, so to speak. What kind of universe, then, must God make? One "apart" from Him. But God is GOOD. So this separate universe (called "hell", in common slang, because at present it is merely a compartment under the earth, not yet a separate universe) -- well, it must be the OPPOSITE of "GOOD". So, what must be its characteristics? See the grief? Like the Lord said at the end of Matt5, even 'tax collectors' (an epithet for a repugnant person) love their own children: how much more, God? (Free will and the-problem-of-hell is the central issue in the Trial conflict with Satan. Mammoth site on that topic is "Thinking Out Loud" on the Home Page.)


What does please God, then? What DOES please God is perfectly-compatible Thinking: "For God is a Spirit: they that worship Him must Worship Him in Spirit and in doctrine" -- John 4:24+Heb11:6(parallel verse:"faith", when the word is used alone, nearly always means doctrine, what-is-believed, in the Bible). This Thinking was Bible Doctrine (then, the OT, as evidenced by Matt4, for example), in Christ, built by the Holy Spirit over time, into the Lord's Humanity, by His Humanity's continuing discrete CONSENT. This point is CRITICAL: under the doctrine of TRUE Kenosis, He did not use His Own Knowledge as God -- no mixing of Attributes! -- to grow as a Human. His pattern of depending on the Spirit, rather than on Himself; His Pattern of learning is our legacy (i.e., per Eph1 and 3, 5-6; 1Cor Chaps 2,4,5; Hebrews end 1, beginning of 2; Chap4, Heb5:8-9, Chaps7-10, 11:6, and 12; all of 1Jn and Peter's epistles)-- why we get the Holy Spirit to Indwell us, to Fill us, and as a Teacher -- as part of the doctrine that believers share in all He (Christ) is and has. The NT is His Thinking in His Humanity, "the Mind of Christ" (1Cor2:16, Heb4:12 and many other passages).

"True Kenosis" (theological term taken from use of verb "kenoo" in Philipians 2) means Christ did not USE His Deity to stay Perfect, or provide for His Humanity in any way (i.e., learning). Matthew 4 is a good place to see briefly this fact: first two Temptations are temptations to USE His Deity. (Fix the "if" in Satan's 1st two temptations to say "since", to get the right meaning of the Greek particle "ei" when used with the indicative mood.) The "L" section will explain briefly why it was necessary, as Mediator, for Him NOT to use His Own Deity to train for and provide Salvation.

Nowhere is the fact of God's Righteousness only being propitiated by Compatible Thinking (under MAXIMUM pressure!) so dramatically illustrated, as at the Cross. The Absoluteness of His Righteousness, which His Love loves FIRST -- this is what is so shockingly demonstrated. As the last phrase in Psalm 138:2 puts it, "For You have magnified your WORD above (even) Your own Name (person, reputation)!" How much more, then, are we commanded to think like Him! Beware, then, a too-light emphasis on learning Bible Doctrine.

In SUM: Perfectly-Compatible Thinking, Divine Thinking, Perfectly Executed, is what Atones -- not man's works, not partial thinking, not even "cheating" by looking into His Own Deity for the information. The Mercy Seat, Christ, must be Perfect in His Humanity, to be an acceptable sacrifice: that is why He was and is the Unique King-Priest, as the Book of Hebrews explains. Note that this Perfect Humanity was only a shell, even so! It was His Thinking which Propitiated the Father, paid for sins (which also come from thinking)!

-- and thus Righteousness is Propitiated by His Priestly Unique Sacrifice, which such Thinking alone can produce. Not by anyone or anything else.

So, the question is, will man accept Christ's payment, since God the Father did so? One party in the Mediation, God, is propitiated by Christ's work on the Cross (Gal3:20 -- NASB is excellent, here). The other party, actually the one causing the offense, man -- well, he has free will and might NOT accept Christ's work as removing the brick-wall barrier between God and man.

Please NOTE: In the Traditional "TULIP","L" stands for Limited Atonement. However, under closer examination of the actual doctrine, sophisticated Calvinism teaches unlimited payment for sins toward GOD (so GOD's Righteousness is not compromised), but LIMITED application to man, from the standpoint of Election (see my "P", below). You'll hear of the sophisticated Reformed or Calvinist call this "unlimited atonement, limited redemption": "limited" means limited to the elect, not a partial salvation.

By contrast, the unsophisticated Calvinist, and the "TULIP" "L" mistake Atonement for salvation. which is why some contend that Christ only died for the "elect" (the "U" and "L" in this site explain why that saying is incorrect). Further, the parallel claim that somehow a Holy God is compensated by the suffering of the non-elect in Hell. Such a claim, needed to explain how only the elects' sins are paid, unwittingly denigrates God's Love and Holiness-- ah, God is a sadist? Really? Of course, no Calvinist means to say that....but the "L" in traditional TULIP says EXACTLY that. 'So, needs to be fixed! More in X.

Limited Access to Salvation

.."that whosoever believes in Him shall never perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, corrected trans. from the Greek)

LIMITED access to Salvation thus results.

Everyone who has ever been or will be born has been given a lifetime's worth of rights to access salvation. God bends over backwards, so to speak, to make sure no one refuses Him -- He stops just short of coercion.

Why a right of access, rather than automatic salvation? Because, as we saw under "U", agreement to the payment is required. God agreed, says Gal3:20(NASB). But, do we? That's the question. Hence, "access", as with a computer, means one must WANT access. Otherwise, the availability of access just sits there, like a computer cursor: click on the "yes", and you're "in".

Calvinists don't understand that Adam's depravity affected his body, not his soul, for the body is material, and the soul can't be procreated. They thus can't tell, from Romans 5:12 (one of their favorite verses, and a true verse on man's depravity), that "depravity" is genetic. "Depravity" is a blind-brain signal constantly pinging, "me-be-good, merit-me, me-be-god", over and over: dementedly, dissociatively. This genetic program-run-amok (and the reason physical life terminates) results in man being constantly tempted. Temptation, though, is not sin; temptation is but a signal our congenitally-crazed brains send our souls. "Sin", by contrast, requires volition to agree, and volition remains free, because volition is a faculty of personhood, and the "person" is his soul, not his body. We saw all this in "T". So Calvinists depravedly conclude that man lost his immaterial free will as a result of Adam's "Fall" -- which loss is then procreated by sex(!), in all Adam's progeny. This, even though Calvinists KNOW it's laughable to claim the material can ever "beget" the immaterial. This, even though Calvinists KNOW that the human spirit never had volition in it, and even though they KNOW the human spirit was lost by Adam when he sinned.

Don't you make that same mistake. Free will, and free will only, is the issue: do you want God, or not? It's not an issue of your sins; it's not an issue of your works; it's not an issue of any human factor, past, present or future. Do you click on the "yes" or not, at God's 'prompt' of the Gospel? If "yes", you're permanently saved, since you chose what GOD did for you. God won't force you to choose what He accomplished in Christ apart from your consent. To force you would be UnRighteous, Unloving, dishonoring to the terrible price Christ voluntarily paid on your behalf. It's up to YOU.

Making that choice is a choice to "be reconciled to God", as Paul puts it in Timothy. "Reconciliation" is another Bible term. It's more commonly translated "peace", in English. "Peace", as in "no-more-war". Your "yes" concludes peace between God and you, by means of Christ. So, obviously, the choice is based on HIS merit, not yours. Why else would you believe in Him? You just agree. In that very second (per the ingressive aorist of 2Cor5:21's "become") you "become the Righteousness of God in Him." That is part of what the Bible calls your "redemption".

The Bible uses the term "Redemption" to stress the result of salvation. "Ransom", "bought with a price" are synonymal terms. From these synonyms we can see what "redemption" means: we were kidnapped, enslaved, to sin (in our bodies). We are now, having clicked on that "yes" -- FREE! -- to live toward God. 2Cor5 is a beautiful chapter to read, as are Romans Chapters 5-8, on this topic.

Technically speaking, Atonement is Unlimited, but Redemption is limited only to those who have been "reconciled" (believed in Christ). God is not satisfied with any other payment except Christ's. Christ is thus the High Priest and Mediator of Salvation (and of everything else: see the "S" subpage). So salvation is FULL, but of "limited access": limited to those who accept the Mediator's payment, just as God did (see Gal3:20, NASB). When you believe in Christ, that's a "yes" clicked on God's prompt of the Gospel. So, you are reconciled. So, you have accepted the Mediator. So, you are redeemed, free: Galatians 5 is a beautiful summary of this fact.

If you're still having trouble with the above Bible terminology, go back to the Home Page and click on "Salvation Components" chart. Following the chart are the Bible's definitions of key salvation terms. (Using 1Jn1:9, you should be able to prove they are defined correctly by looking up every verse in the Bible with the term in it, and reviewing the context of every such verse.)

"Mediator" is yet another term in the Bible. The flagship Bible book on Mediatorship is Hebrews, because "Mediator" is a central concept of the Old Testament's sacrifices (as illustrated by the Mercy Seat). Job 9:2,30,32-33; 1 Tim 2:3-6 ties in, as does Galatians 3, among other cites. It's a legal issue, that we need a Mediator between God (the Father) and ourselves, to be saved, and to live with Him forever. Christ is that Mediator. Hence, 'limited access' -- limited to Him.

    What is a "Mediator"? In the ancient world, a "mediator" was the person or country (often a king) who reconciled two or more warring parties (countries) so they could conclude and maintain peace. The "mediator" wasn't just some nice guy: he had clout. He had the power to ENFORCE the concluded peace upon the agreeing parties, should one of them later violate the peace terms -- for example, he could perhaps invade the violator and take over that whole country.

    Why a Mediator? Due to Total Depravity, we are in a state of hostility with God, from physical birth onward. We are thus positionally and, given the fact that we personally sin, we are also functionally at war with God. Romans 8, and 7, help explain the problem.

    So, we are warring parties: God, and mankind. As is true in any mediation, naturally, the warring parties would want to be very careful who was empowered to be mediator, since all sides would CHOOSE to be BOUND to the Mediator. ONE choice binds the parties irrevocably. It's legally binding. Until that ONE choice occurs, there is no mediation, and the war continues.

What does it take for everyone to trust the Mediator, so to make such a momentous choice? Well, in the case of Christ, He has to be both God and Man: so, has the necessary "stake" in both sides, judicially speaking. (GOD-Man can be quickly described analogously to the fact that you are at least a soul and a body: the two can "talk" to each other but body is never soul, and vice versa.)

    Christ must be fully God, in order to be Mediator, because the Father is fully God, and to be Qualified as a Mediator, Christ must have the same Nature as the Father. You see His "Decision" to take on Humanity in 1 Tim 2:5. The Fact that He is God is stated repeatedly in Scripture. Phillipians 2:5-10 is fairly clear in English, if you understand that v.6's "thought it not robbery" (KJV) means He already WAS God, so He wasn't threatened in any way by adding Humanity to Himself; neither was His Humanity threatened, such that He'd need to 'grab' His Deity like a weapon.. or, a prize. (Other versions translate this phrase "thought it not gain", or the like.) For, the WORD was more important: the Truth is "always becoming"; the Truth "will always be becoming" (quotes from a Seder verse praising Him). Another passage folks use to show His Deity is John 1, so long as it's understood that "Word" is also an OT term for His Deity, stressing His Righteous Truth (cf Ps138:2, 89:14-15, compared to John1's Hebraisms and "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" passages in NT). My favorite passage is Hebrews Chapters 1 and 2. That passage also covers the fact of His Hypostatic Union: 'meaning, God-Man nature. God is Omnipotent. To "add" Humanity to Himself is easy. That He would want to do it -- THAT is hard to understand. It's His shockingly Righteous Love. (The more you seek to understand His Motive, the more you will "see" Him. The "seeing" never becomes boring.)

    Crux: how is the Mediator to be trusted if He is not EQUAL to God the Father? Of the same Nature, therefore of the same Thinking and Abilities to enforce? As Creator (cf Col1:16-18), Christ is sufficiently qualified -- co-Equal with God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. However, since man is the one causing the offense which needs Atonement, This Mediator must also BE Perfect Humanity -- to both be qualified to pay the damages, and also to be qualified to MEDIATE the reconciliation. Hebrews' main theme is to review Mediatorship with Jewish believers. ('Many of whom had fallen back into Pharisaical Judaism, and needed the reminder -- for it was commonly known that Israel was soon to be destroyed, per Isaiah's "bilauw bilauw" prophecy.)

    In short, the Mediator must also partake of the nature of the warring party -- humanity. However, being the Payor, and Perfect, this One is thus GREATER than humanity, so obviously is also trustworthy in His Humanity, in the "eyes" of the Father -- to mediate the relationship without compromise to Righteousness.

So, His Humanity may NOT use the Deity to provide anything toward the sacrifice. Humanity may not be compromised. If Humanity even once uses Deity to provide for Humanity, it would be a sin -- and there would be no salvation. This, because for Humanity to "call upon" Deity, as it were, to provide some personal benefit means that the Power of God the Holy Spirit would have been rejected. In short, the idea was "Do it the Father's Way" -- using the Holy Spirit -- or, fail. Even one usage would have been failure. If you look at Matt4, you'll notice that Satan was trying to get His Humanity to sin by accessing His Deity in a manner contrary to the Father's Plan. [Again, "if" in Matt4 should be translated "since", in English. If you were a Greek reader you wouldn't need to use different words to get the "since" meaning.]

    Notice how even learning would be excluded: no admixture of Attributes between the two natures could be allowed, lest Humanity be not-quite human. If not quite human, then payment for humans is not just: the one making the substitutionary payment MUST share the same nature as those being paid-for.

    Such a unique rule constitutes the very worst of pressures. Imagine being able to do anything at all, no matter how big, with a single thought! yet instead submit to the worst of torture, crushed like a worm (Ps22). Our closest analogy to such unique horror, which only His Happy Love overcame (Heb12:2+2Cor5:14-15), is the rule we are to refuse our 'power' to sin (a far smaller pressure): no matter what. Who of us could ever do that? No one.

    (As we know, He perfectly fulfilled this rule by not using His Deity to provide for Himself at any time whatsoever -- even while on the Cross! -- or we'd not even BE here to talk about it.)

    Therefore, He is qualified to be Mediator -- and, we can trust Him also because He paid our ransom (for war damages) on the Cross -- obviously, He loves us and wants us to go to heaven, since He paid for us to even BE born!

So, one Mediator. So, Limited access, in the sense that He is the ONLY "Way, Truth, and Life: no one comes to the Father but by Me." Yet, ANYONE can be saved. Believing in Him is a simple act, which even a child or a primitive tribesman can do. And -- think -- if He went to so much trouble to pay for us, surely no unbeliever is allowed to die until he has rejected God and/or the Gospel many times! (God will not waste his time, or yours!)

    Also -- if the person's mentality is too low or too young, due to brain insufficiency Gospel can't be communicated without gerrymandering reality, so the person who dies in such a status is automatically saved (this, because Christ DID die for all). God is Fair.

We know God's will about whether we are saved: "For God loved the world so much, that He gave His uniquely-born Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall never perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, corrected trans from the Greek). and...

    "God demonstrates His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for us." (Romans 5:8, corrected trans from Greek)

So, do we also choose to believe in the Mediator, in Christ's atoning work? If "yes", we are forever saved. For that "yes", is our password to salvation.

ENDNOTE for people still confused about the Hypostatic Union (hit the "End" key if you don't want to read this section, and wish to skip to the next page).

"Mediatorship", once understood, clears up a lot of confusion folks have about the Hypostatic Union. That Christ would be One Person of TWO full natures makes some folks scratch their heads, wondering, "Well, Divine Will is different from human will, isn't it?" The problem most folks seem to have is that they don't understand the meaning of "will". "Will" is "Will". Ability to want, or refuse. Will is an attribute of personhood. By itself, it has no quality, but is just an attribute. So Christ's Personhood consists of His Will, consciousness, etc. These personhood attributes are true whether God or man. However, Quality, by contrast, is measured by other attributes, and it's the quality issue which requires distinguishing between His Two Natures. That's why you'll see theologians make distinctions in what's usually called the doctrine of the "Community of Attributes" to show the interaction. They subdivide the doctrine into "Attributes of Deity", "Attributes of Humanity", and "Attributes true for the Whole Person" (for some reason, "Entire" is eschewed in the nomenclature). "Whole Person" Attributes being used are, for example, in Ps31:5 (last sentence He uttered on the Cross, in its entirety -- last two Gospels only reference it), and Heb10:5. Whole Person, but speaking from Deity, would be, for example, John 8:58; Whole Person, but speaking from Humanity, would be, for example, John 19:28. [Biblio note: 92SD,L1239.]

This "community" structure really isn't so hard to understand. Deity is Deity; Humanity is Humanity. So Humanity, although capable of accessing Deity, is still Humanity. Kinda like how your body can send signals to your brain, and your brain, to your soul -- but the components, as it were, are all separate, still. So, Humanity's "will" is but a subset of the WHOLE Will of Christ, the God-Man Person. This structure makes His Life in 1st Advent the absolute hardest, for it was a constant option available, for Humanity to access Deity. Which, would have been for Him, a unique sin, had he accessed Deity contrary to the Father's Will at any time, awake or asleep.

Omniscience is an attribute of Deity, never Humanity. So, when He's using His Omniscience, He's God. His Human knowledge, though, remained human. It's easier to understand this fact, when you realize that human knowledge is "smaller". It's not mingling. Attributes of Deity adhere to Deity, as it were; of humanity, to humanity. So: as a Whole Person, He never willed for His Humanity to access Omniscience for the benefit of His Humanity. In short, He kept on willing to shield His Humanity from Omniscience. He kept on willing from the "human side", as it were, to be unaware of that knowledge. It required Him, as a Whole Person, to keep willing that, 24 hours a day! That's why it was the worst of all pressures, to BE both God and Man. Satan was counting on leveraging that pressure into sin, in Matt4.

It's very easy to overthink His Personal Structure. People become confused mostly because they are trying to get an understanding of how His Dual Nature functioned, and they can't fathom how He could compartmentalize His Awareness (i.e., keeping Omniscience away from the human "side"). The following analogies for how His Nature worked might help you, although all of them are incomplete metaphors. (It's actually harder to describe how His Dual Nature functions, than to understand how it works!)

    Here's the analogy which made me understand the Hypostatic Union. His "Will" is the 'hub', as it were, of ALL His Attributes, both Divine and Human. Each Attribute is connected, as it were, to Will. ONE Will, because One Person. He can will thus to use any attribute at any time. So the question was, would He will to use His Divine Attributes to help out His Human ones? See, a person can "will" without "looking" at one of his attributes. The other "attributes" respond to will, since will is the hub of personhood. And that's the danger! One slip of the "will" and it's all over -- for Christ. That's what Satan was angling for, in Matt4: to get His Human nature to will a use of a Divine Attribute. Which, since Christ is One Person, inseparably Divine and Human, was always possible! What a pressure, to keep restraining self from using such power!

    Another analogy: you know that you have a conscious mind, and an unconscious one. The latter you glimpse upon waking, if you remember a dream. Now, pretend that, instead of being UNABLE to access the unconscious, you had to keep willing to SHUT it out of your conscious mind. That's kinda like what He had to will for His Humanity's awareness: 24 hours a day.

    Another metaphor: His Humanity could have accessed the knowledge, but had to keep refusing to do so. Kinda like ignoring a continually-horrible pain.

    Another metaphor you can use to aid understanding: think of how you can cut off some desire or knowledge, in favor of something else. By an act of will.

If you ponder this topic, you will gain the glory of seeing how truly magnificent is His Love, how truly magnificent is His Legacy to us. It takes time to understand His Structure. Many people have died over arguments as to how His Nature worked, so don't think yourself stupid for not "getting" it, right away. Use 1Jn1:9 -- that will greatly speed up the understanding process. Here's a sampling of some of the historical debates on His Nature:

  • Did Christ have Two wills? NO. Two 'natures' means something like two components-of-will, slightly analogous to two halves of the brain, so some denominations might explain the Will as "two" in a figurative sense only, to make clear One Person with Two Natures.

  • Was Christ somehow two Persons? Folks in the Middle Ages (if I recall correctly) came up with this goofy idea. Maybe they had no Bibles, for the Bible's description of Him is always ONE Person, ONE Will. Bible always describes "Will" as singular, because "Will" is an essential component of personhood, as we saw in "T". So, Christ is NOT Two Persons, but One, which the Bible says repeatedly. So, Christ has ONE Will, which Bible says repeatedly.

  • Somehow He wasn't really God until He finished His Work on the Cross. How does one "become" God? God has no beginning. Similarly, He didn't divest Himself of Godness, either, for God has no ending. Again, folks who believe this probably don't have Bibles, or don't know how to read their Bibles. Godness "adds" Humanity, never the other way around. God makes a tree. The tree is made, but is in addition to God, in the sense that the created tree has its own existence. So, it's not too hard to understand that God can bond His Godness to Humanity, is it? So, it's not too hard to understand that "God" never gets "subtracted" or "added", but rather the created thing is the addition/subtraction.

  • The famous Latin maxim, "non posse peccare+posse peccare=posse non peccare". Translated, it means "Not able to sin[Deity]"+"able to sin[Humanity]"="able NOT to sin{Humanity]". This formula was derived to explain how He could remain sinless. Unfortunately, it sounds like He used His Deity to enable His Humanity to stay sinless, which would have been cheating. That is NOT the intent of the maxim. Rather, its intent is to show why it is not evil to "add" humanity to Deity (to counter Judaic arguments).

  • Is God just One Person, and Christ's Godness is but a "manifestation"? Again, folks who can't read Bible too well get bolixed, here. So, use logic, then: if there was only One Person involved in the reception and judgement of sins, salvation is a sham, a shell game. It requires TRINITY for salvation to work: 1) Father imputing and judging; 2) Son having full God Powers of His Own to refuse at any time to do what the Father wanted; 3) Spirit enabling Son's Humanity to keep sinless, even on the Cross, without "cheating". Only TRINITY makes possible a full and free voluntary EXCHANGE OF GIFTS among Three Equals. Absent a full and free voluntary exchange, "salvation" is just so much propaganda. Think it over yourself.

  • Did His Deity bleed into His Humanity? No. Could/Did His Humanity have full access His Deity? Yes -- but He only accessed it for prescribed reasons the Father set up, which were non-bleeding (non-mixing): to keep the universe together, for example (the Person, Christ, had to keep on willing His Deity to hold the universe together -- Sovereignty is so total that God doesn't put anything on 'automatic pilot' and then 'forget about it').

If you still have trouble understanding the Hypostatic Union, search for the "Fixes" link on the Home Page, click on that link, and then read ALL of the "Nature of God Topics" section. Or, from the Home Page, search for and click on the "Part II" link, then read that mammoth page (the page's end covers His Nature, but the background beforehand matters a lot).

Please note: Traditional Calvinism's "I" is called "irresistible grace", the root idea being that the elect can't help but respond to the Gospel. This phrasing is used to stress Sovereignty, but unintentionally implies that Sovereignty is coercive and arbitrary (so, God is somehow less than Omnipotent, Righteous, etc. -- any of these would be anathema to Sovereignty). God's Sovereignty and other attributes are too powerful for Him to have to coerce. More on this in X.

Inalienable Grace

.."but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.." (Rom5:20b)

INALIENABLE GRACE means nothing stops God's grace. Nothing.

Two concepts here are critical to one's understanding of this doctrine.

FIRST CONCEPT: God's Righteousness is TOTAL, ergo He gives Grace (the Cross is what justifies Grace).

Were He less than total, his Righteousness could be compromised, and Grace could not be given. The very fact that creatures of free will can even exist demonstrates the TOTALness of God's Righteousness. Think this over: to the extent a person can be threatened by something, to that extent, the person's integrity is lacking, because he cannot withstand the threat. For example, if a building's integrity is too weak to stay completely intact in an earthquake, the earthquake is a threat to the integrity of the building. (Traditional TULIP's fatal flaw is that it deems free will a "threat" to Absolute God, as if God shouldn't/couldn't create free will to withstand the ravages of Total Depravity.)

God's Integrity cannot be threatened by anything. So, shall He not glory in this fact? Shall He restrict what He creates? Why? Nothing can attack His Integrity. Human will, what is that? If it is free, can it threaten the living God? If it sins, what is that to the Holy God? Nothing, really. If it produces "good works", what is that to God? Cannot God do any "work" perfectly? So what does God need with man's works? Nothing. What does God need with man's sins or evil? Nothing. So what does God need with man at all? Nothing.

On the other hand, why should God WANT man at all? Well, if man's existence could be made to praise God, then it would be right to make him. God, after all, should receive every type of glorification and praise which could exist! That is demanded. What, shall God restrict Himself?

God doesn't have to restrict Himself because He is total Integrity. God also doesn't have to "put up with" man's sins, human good, or evil. God can do something about that, to realize His Personal Desires.

So, as we saw in "U", we can ONLY exist because Christ paid for everyone born. Even so, God is under no obligation whatsoever to apply the payment of the Cross to us. He could have just chosen for us all to die anyway. What does God owe anyone? So, it's pure Grace we exist, and it's pure Grace if God decides to extend the salvation offer to anyone. Anyone at all.

So, why does He bother? Ah, here's the Glory of it: Grace praises all God's Attributes. It is a policy of His Integrity, therefore. Righteousness demanded reparation for the corruption; Justice executed the imputation and judgement of our sins upon Christ, Who voluntarily received both in His Own Human Body, without sinning even once in reaction, and instead thought pure Bible Doctrine, which glorified the Father. So, Love, a third Attribute of God's Integrity, chose to honor Christ by a policy of Grace, in the complete salvation offer to mankind.

Grace praises and GLORIFIES all God's Attributes: Who is Like the Living God? That He is so TOTAL as to be uncompromised by any free will, any act of failure, any freedom which does not meet His Standards? So much so, He is not "threatened" in even the remotest way for allowing them to occur? Who is like Christ? Whose Humanity, depending upon the Power of the Holy Spirit, used Divine Thinking (Bible Doctrine) to actually PAY for all the sins of mankind?

Shall not God thus extend total Grace to all mankind, to praise and honor Himself, His Son? It glorifies Both utterly, to do this. Shall such Grace be given in the form of "irresistably" forcing those to be saved to Heaven, then? Shall such Grace be given in the form of denying Grace to those who will go to Hell? NO! Grace would then no longer BE grace. For Grace is not compatible with works, since works create debt, and debt creates an owing. But the Cross ERASED owing. Therefore Grace. Shall Grace thus be a forcing, which is the result of owing? NO!

Rather, the Glory of the Cross is Free Will! God the Father freely imputed and judged the sins on His Son's Humanity; the Holy Spirit freely empowered the Humanity of Christ as His Humanity freely desired; and that Humanity thus freely paid for all the sins of all mankind, justifying their existence, and...full restoration. At all points, Free Will expressed itself; at all points, Righteousness expressed itself. At all points, Justice expressed itself. Most of all, at all points, LOVE expressed itself. Shall Grace not be free? Perish the thought!

So, shall full restoration of anyone be accomplished apart from that person's free will? A "yes" would mean a forcing, which is anathema to the Glory of the Cross. If God was free, if Christ was Free, if They are Sovereign, forcing is NOT Glory. Forcing is anthema to the entire nature of the Godhead, to Christ, to the Cross...and to LOVE, the motive of All Parties in providing salvation in the first place.

Such full restoration, then, likewise MUST be freely offered and accepted, or Grace is no more Grace. What, does it Glorify the Holy, Omnipotent God to force anyone? What, does it glorify the Free Payment of His Son to receive forced subjects? Perish the thought!

Further, there would be no need for Grace if there were no free will, or a compromised free will. In fact, it would not be right to even judge such persons, or to CREATE them. Hence there would be no need for the Cross, either, nor any need for God the Son to even take on Humanity.

Grace also could not be justifiably extended absent foreknowledge. What, shall God brush aside His Veracity? Shall Justice be Justice, if it ignores facts? If Grace were extended apart from facts, then God is not Just, is He? So how could Grace be Grace? It would be incompetent, or ..a forcing, to the extent it is not consonant with the facts.

Thus, if the facts of who would freely choose to believe in Christ were not taken into account, those who did not want the Son would be forced into Heaven. Likewise, those who would freely choose Him would be left out. Does it honor Christ, to accept those who would not choose Him? Does it honor Christ, to reject those who would? Perish the thought! Righteousness would be offended! for Christ paid freely and God accepted the payment freely. Truth would be offended! for the facts would be ignored! Justice would be offended! for Justice was not served in the policy of such "grace". Shall God go against His own Nature? Perish the thought!

To recap: God is TOTAL. That He allows, or seems to allow something which is contrary to His will in no way even remotely signifies a lack of control (e.g., Sovereignty) on His part. No one defeats Him in even the smallest thought, not for a nanosecond, not ever. For "even the wrath of man shall praise" Him. 'Including the wrath of Satan&Co., for that matter. To even think that God could remotely be anything less than praised, even by evil, even by disobedience, is to anthropopathise God (unwittingly, of course).

See? Grace is free, and requires free will, so to praise All of God's Attributes. Period.

SECOND CONCEPT: You and I can't understand the smallest thing about God unless He Alone empowers it, and unless He completely and totally runs the information processing.

Humans are merely conduits. God uses non-human agency as well. Whatever "format" of communication God uses, that "format" is of no consequence; Grace (and probably humor!) chooses who or what is the visible agency, if any. God the Holy Spirit nonetheless communicates DIRECTLY to the recipient.

So, the "common grace" of communicating the Gospel to everyone is Sovereignly run by the Holy Spirit. People freely choose to believe in Him, or not. As we saw in "T", belief is merely an attribute of personhood, and has no merit, because merit resides in the object, not in the act of belief...even if the person believing were perfect. The merit of Christ is total, and the merit of anything else is zero. So, since the merit believed "programs" the person's knowledgebase and desires, the person's quality is affected by acceptance or rejection, but the person's ability to believe remains neutral, in and of itself (aka "nonmeritorious").

Likewise, salvation is also something totally done by God. One's faith in Christ, as we saw in "T", is that of a spiritually-dead person; it has no merit, and of course of itself has no power to save. However, in His Grace, God the HOLY Spirit takes that dead faith and makes it alive (aka "efficacious"), creating a human spirit; then, the Father imputes His Own Righteousness and Eternal Life to that human spirit. These two Ministries of the Holy Spirit and the Father are the ones which make you permanently saved ("reborn"). Theologians call this "regeneration". (Notice, the cart is not before the horse; you are regenerated AFTER you believe in Christ, NOT before. Acts 16:31 and John 3, among other passages, make this order clear.)

One's post-salvation spiritual life is likewise totally done by God. Even the faith of a spiritually-alive person, what is that? It also has no power to "grow" the person spiritually. It has the power to believe, but, as we saw in "T", even if a person (say, Christ) is perfect, the merit of the choice resides in the object, not in the subject. Belief by nature is a choosing BASED UPON the merit of the object. That is why Christ did not depend even on His Humanity to stay Perfect: He instead eschewed works, and depended on Bible Doctrine (then, the OT). So, Christ being the model, what conclusions must we draw?

All we have is our God-given (by grace!) free-will consent to the GRACE MANDATE to learn Christ, at any given moment. (2Pet3:18; "until Christ may be formed in you"; "that Christ may be at home in your hearts";"that Christ..may be glorified in my body";"..learn Christ". These are but a few of the passages. More will be said about this mandate in V, as I've time to write it up.)

Note well: GOD SETS THE CONDITIONS HE WANTS. You either accede to them via your nonmeritorious free will or you do not. 'With all the attendant consequences. God wants to see His Son's thinking in YOU. Not your "works". He provides the entire mechanism for this Thinking to be transferred to you, to program you..but only as you freely desire. Just as it was for Christ. Christ is the Standard, not you, not your works, not me, not my works. Just Christ. And, as we know, the resultant Quality of Him was so high, even the "earthquake" of all our sins being imputed and judged upon Him did not cause Him even the slightest lapse. 'Due to His THINKING, THINKING, THINKING..which thinking He received in the form of Bible Doctrine from the Holy Sprit.

So, we know God's Sovereignly-chosen "work" conditions: "learn Christ". Run by God, so total grace, not works of man. Not wood, hay, stubble, but gold, silver, and precious stone. After all, what "work" is competent if the thought behind it is not? Thought, not doing, is the rule. And Christ is the Model, the "Author and Finisher of Our Doctrine", as it says in Heb12:2. (Greek word "pistis" has either an active or passive meaning, just as in English: active meaning, the mental act of belief; passive meaning, the object believed, like in the English phrase, "articles-of-faith", meaning "doctrine".)

See? Everyone, angel or human, saved or unsaved, is always totally DEPENDENT on God's Grace. Every moment, any sort of knowledge about Him comes from and is run solely by HIM (the Holy Spirit, here). We merely use our power of choice (nonmeritorious free will) to assent to or reject learning about God. God is free, and God takes responsibility for His own freedom.

He has equipped us to do the same: and that is why He runs the system, so our finite depravity cannot restrict our freedom -- or, give us an excuse.

If you're still having problems jettisoning the idea that you "contribute" something, or that God's Grace should not be extended in accordance with His Own Standard of free-will acceptance, the following paragraphs might help.

People often mistake knowledge of any subject as indicating the person's own merit. Knowledge is solely gained, even secular knowledge, through God's grace system: free will, plus faith perception (more on this is in "T" and VIII's "1."). The things you learn you obviously did not know before you learned them: you had to BELIEVE the person who taught you. If you did not believe in that person's teaching, you did not learn it. The merit thus was in teaching, not in you. Further, your ability to do this came from God's gift of free will (as well as faith), because you did not invent your own power to choose or believe.

How much more, then, is the knowledge of God Himself strictly a grace gift from God?

God the Holy Spirit makes the Gospel perspicuous to spiritual brain death: that's "common grace" (Gospel communicated). He also makes one's belief in that Gospel efficacious for salvation ("efficacious grace" -- being "born again").

Thus, the "TULIP" explanation, which implies man can't help but go with the Gospel, if "elect", is false. Calvinists here often resort to using certain verses which have the verbs "draw" or "drag" in them to claim proof that man has no free will, and that the "elect" can't resist the call of Grace, as if men were robots. Review those "draw" and "drag" verses, and you'll quickly see there's no connotation about the will, in either the Greek texts, or in the English. They have a structure like the following sentence: "He dragged her to safety." Now, you don't know if she was conscious, unconscious, whether she WANTED to be dragged to safety or not. Thus, the "drag" and "draw" verses some Calvinists use to claim will is not free do NOT prove their claim. All those verses prove is that one's will cannot CAUSE salvation; the verses merely indicate helplessness to make good on it, as the "T" explained. Since man's always trying to EARN salvation, and these verses prove he can't, it matters a GREAT deal to get the interpretation here correct!

After salvation, the same dependence continues: "they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in doctrine ("aletheia" there is the "truth" of the Word)". "Carnal" Christians can't really use the learned doctrine, as per 1Jn1:8, 10. So, still helpless. 1 Jn 1:9 puts such a Christian back "on-line", as it were, with the Holy Spirit.

In short, we can reject this grace, either before or after salvation, and we all do. It's a concomitant result of continuing total depravity, as Romans 7 through 9 so aptly illustrate. Such rejection, however, was foreknown; so, cannot be nullified, since Grace, as we saw in the FIRST CONCEPT, is totally free to begin with. In short, God is not compromised, there is no "waste" to Him, because we reject His Grace. Rather, we and we alone are hurt by our own soul's rejection. God is NEVER affected.

IN SUM: Grace takes into account everything: sin, evil, good, rejection, acceptance, and works all things together for God's pleasure. There are so many verses attesting to this fact, one probably sprang to your mind as you read this sentence. 

Nothing evades Grace, even when rejected! So, "inalienable" is really a better word, to describe the nature of this Grace.

(If you turn over these core concepts in your brain for awhile, you'll discover that the old TULIP "I" of "irresistible grace" was way too narrow, and misleading!)

Please Note: traditional Calvinism calls this "Perseverance of the saints", which basicaly means salvation is permanent. The "P" here includes that concept, but also holds much of the tradtional Calvinist "U" as well. More in X.


...Eph1:1~14! (too long to quote here)

PREDESTINATION is Insurance of Freedom, NOT -- repeat, NOT -- Restriction.

Predestination, like Election, is a "decision" in God's eternity-past DECREE: that doctrine (DECREE contents) will be written up under the "S", once I have the time. Core to Predestination: you don't exist, you don't have any ability to do or get anything without God insuring it, since He is the Creator and sustainer of all things, not man or angels. And, since the Son paid for Everyone, and God the Father TOTALLY loves the Son; and, since we saw from John 3:16 that He "so loves the world", just what motive do you think is behind Predestination? Love. Freedom.

Due to Christ's universal Payment, EVERYONE, but EVERYONE is a potential "heir". The Mediator is THE ONLY ONE "elected" and "predestined", aka "the Seed". [(Some key passages: Heb 1, Col 1:16-17, Gal3:16 (English might call it "Offspring").] He is the Inheritor of all the Father is and has (too many passages on this to quote them). All "call" and "elect" verses in the Bible are underneath His, and DUE to His. See, it's Christ, not man. So no man is too good, none too bad. No handicap is too great, and no one has a reason to boast. Galatians 3 is the flagship passage on the SOURCE of our election, though Hebrews 1-10:14 is also centered on His primacy. Christ is God's heir, and we are potential or actual heirs of Christ. You might want to review His John 17 prayer and Hebrews 9:14-28 to see how it's Christ's will-and-testament which is the source of our election and inheritance. (There are MANY other passages too: check out all verses with "footstool" in them, for example.)

So, what did you do to become a potential heir? You got born, a "work" you could not influence or prevent or cause. That's all.

Anyone who believes in Him not merely receives a permanent vacation from Hell, but, such a person becomes a "son", an "heir", a "child of God". So, every human being has been given a right to "elect against the will" (a legal term..see an attorney) of God. You "elect against" that Will by NEVER believing in Christ. If you do believe in Him, you become "predestined" to an inheritance beyond comprehension. You will be thus repeatedly asked, in essence, "Do you want this inheritance? Do you want this inheritance? Do you want this inheritance?"

See, with every bit of grace extended to you, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are saying to Christ, "I love you." So, every such repetition honors CHRIST, because the inheritance you'll get under Him is designed by the FATHER to honor Christ (Eph 1:1-14). It is not due to your merit, but due to Christ's. He chose to pay for you. You had no say in that matter. You weren't even BORN yet. You can only choose to say "no" each time...all the way to your grave.

So the "call" of the Gospel is a legal issue, and like ALL legal issues, your CONSENT must be freely obtained! You are being told you have an inheritance prepared by God in Christ, do you want it or not? The Holy Spirit acts as the sole legal agent of this most-important legal notice, the Sole Executive of it, no matter who He Wills (through His sense of humor, maybe) to "pass it on" to you. You'll hear human voice, maybe; you'll read human words, maybe..but make no mistake, the Holy Spirit is talking to you DIRECTLY to notify you of this inheritance, with every accurate word going into your ear or eye!

With this much at stake, God will do EVERYTHING short of coercion, to maximally encourage you to believe in His Son. For the Love of His Son He will do this. Your sins, your good deeds, your personality or attractiveness, are all inconsequential. But you yourself...you matter! again, because of Christ. You couldn't have a more-secure promise that no unbeliever anywhere, anytime, will die before having maximally said no to the God. You couldn't have a more-secure promise that, because of Christ, God is totally interested in your welfare!

In fact, the next time you feel pain, ask yourself, "Am I saying 'no' to God in some way?" Because, God is so vitally interested in your getting your inheritance..due to His Love for Christ..that He spares no expense, even down to providing maximum suffering all the way through and in dying..so to completely and utterly maximize your opportunity to make that one, weak, "yes" to the Gospel!

The main theme of Ephesians concerns the content of our predestined blessings in Christ. There are many levels of inheritance. They all begin with a permanent salvation. In short, not only is your consent necessarily solicited concerning salvation per se, but ALSO the level of inheritance. God provided in eternity-past "every spiritual blessing", but you might not want all God chose on your behalf.

Again, it's a legal issue. Do you want ALL that God wants for you, or only some of what He laid up for you before creation? The "yes" to the Gospel is a consent to be permanently saved. But salvation, though permanent, is only the "floor", the beginning; to receive the additional layers requires spiritual growth via Bible Doctrine, which trains you to have the capacity to enjoy your inheritance. After all, it's not fair for God to grant to you what HE wants, if you'd not enjoy it. It's never fair to give a gift to someone who hasn't learned enough to enjoy the gift given. God will not coerce..again, out of Love for Christ. Again, it's not your merit, but Christ's which is the cause of this unimaginable inheritance...which is TOTAL (Eph 3:19 summarizes it shockingly)..if you want it all.

Predestination is God's Integrity, saying, "I back you, in your freedom, I will make good on your freedom, even as I am Free. I will build you in my Son, to the extent you consent to the Holy Spirit teaching you, by giving you KNOWLEDGE of Him" (see Eph 3). It is a promise, a guarantee. ('Not a way for some believers to say I'm-better-than-you-are, nyaahh nyaah!)

Calvinists note well: GOD IS SETTING THE CONDITIONS HE CHOOSES. If He chooses to make conditions of freedom, free will, they are STILL HIS CONDITIONS HE CHOSE. (Whoever came up with the goofy idea that man's having free will would impinge on God's Sovereignty, that person needs ..um.."help". Then again, Total Depravity frequently makes such insane conclusions...)

To "get" what Predestination means, then, 3 concepts need further explanation.

the root idea behind Predestination/ Election: God chose YOU beforehand. You wouldn't even exist unless He personally chose you to exist. God knew you COULD exist. Question was, would He create you? He could have said "no". He CHOSE to say "yes", or you'd not be here. And so it is, with anyone, anything.

YOUR OWN choices were not influenced by His Choice. Further, God is not influenced by your choices, not even a little bit. Your free will is not curtailed, because HE chose to have your choices be free.

Sovereignty CHOOSES that you should have a right to choose: that is compatible with God's Own Sovereignty. To limit free will in any way is incompatible with this Attribute of God's.

You are thus responsible for the choices you make, even though totally depraved.
Romans 5 covers the interplay of this responsibility to show the genius of the Father's Plan of Salvation through Christ. Had Sovereignty NOT chosen for man to have free will, no one could be justifiably made, because then even Christ would not have had free will, and salvation would have been a sham, a waste of time. (Remember, Christ must FULLY be human. So man must have free will also. Obviously Christ would have to have free will..if not, the Cross would be "rigged Justice", and God would not be God!)

Because Sovereignty chose for free will to be free, Christ's free-will substitionary spiritual death is acceptable, and efficacious. The fact that He paid, though, is an act of His Free Will, not yours. Thus, the legal requirement for your consent. His payment DID pay for you to be born the FIRST time (physically), and is sufficient for you to BE born the second time (spiritually, see John 3)...but now that you ARE born the first time, you HAVE choice. And you won't get what God chose for you absent your agreement to the Mediator He chose (see the "L"). Once you've said "yes" to the Gospel (believed in Christ, no more is needed), then Christ's OWN Will for you applies: that is how you become an actual heir, and that is the ONLY way you can become one. No works, no tears of repentance, no walking down aisles, no "inviting Christ into the heart" and all that other emotional folderol. Just Christ. Just believe in Christ. God CHOSE this as the only method, and will do everything it takes to make sure you understand this is the option you have...except coerce you to believe in His Son.

Why do you think the Son mandated killing so many people in the Old Testament (and even will kill many Himself directly at the 2nd Advent, i.e., see Isa 63:1-6)? So to maximally give those poor folks enough objectivity to reverse their life-long negativity to the Gospel! After all, He was going to later take on Humanity and pay for them all..He would do everything short of coercing their wills, even to the point of slow or painful dying, to make them able to choose past their self-imposed barriers of negative volition. It's an awesome God, Who goes to so much trouble..who "hardened" Pharoah simply by giving him judgment-miracle after miracle after miracle, chance after chance after chance, to respond positively to the Gospel.

As we saw in both "U" and "L" above, there are two groups choosing: God, and us. So, obviously He must have decided in advance how He wanted to respond to our choices in time. That's what Predestination and Election are about, conceptually: God's choices in light of the ones He foreknows will be ours.

Foreknowledge does NOT mean God's Free will is somehow "conditioned" on or affected by our choices. Nor does it mean we are forced to make choices. Foreknowledge does mean God is ABSOLUTE INTEGRITY. He is so Scrupulous about His Integrity that He insists on making His Choices only from the REALITY (truth) He foreknows will occur. Foreknowledge means God did NOT..repeat, NOT..gerrymander reality, i.e., interfere with your free will. No stronger statement of His Integrity can be made, but the statement that He chooses based on what He foreknows reality (versus nonreality) will be. That's why it says, "those whom He foreknew, He also predestined", and "those whom he predestined, he also called". (Rom 8:29-30)

Folks have trouble grasping "foreknowledge". Here's an illustration of it. You're the parent of an adult son, who no longer lives under your care. In conversation with him he tells you he's going to take a certain job (or girlfriend) you know will be a "bad" experience. You could force him to not do it (pretend), but you DON'T -- because you don't want to restrict his freedom of choice. You COULD force him: but you of your OWN free will choose not to. Your choice is thus NOT conditioned upon your son's choice, even though YOU choose to choose in light of the foreknown facts. AGAIN NOTE WELL: YOU are setting the conditions YOU choose. YOU choose to LET your son make his choice and reap the consequences. So..

SECOND CONCEPT: God's "Election" and "Predestination" components of what theologians call the "Decree" are His CHOICES, based on the foreknown facts (here, creature choices). He chooses to base His choices on the facts, because He is Veracity. In a sense, He creates those facts, because nothing would exist unless He Himself says "yes" to it. The facts He creates are what would be reality: which He knows from Omniscience and Veracity, IN ADVANCE. It would be against Veracity to gerrymander reality, and against Righteousness -- so, creature choices are truly free.

Why then does God have to make choices based on what He foreknows? Simply put, because our choices have no power to get us anything with God (see "T", above). It's up to Him to decide what He wants to do in response to our choices. He could choose to ignore our choices, for example. Or, to override them. Or... you name it.

See, our choices don't affect God's choices at all.

So, what are those Choices He makes, based on the facts of our choices?

    (A) That those who will believe in Christ shall be "chosen", "elect", both meaning, "saved". Since this is GOD's CHOICE, it is UNCONDITIONAL, still, because He's making this choice before time existed. Election is not "conditional". God WANTS to elect ONLY those who freely believe in His SON. Period.

    [Election is not "conditional" simply because some goofy person insanely assigns man's free will a power equal to God's ('required, in order to be capable of affecting Divine Sovereignty..think about it). This class of total-depravity thinking is the classic black/white error: if man has a choice, God must have "lost" His. 'Like saying, if it's not a cat, it MUST be a dog!]

[In any period of time, whether pre- or post- Cross, "saved" is always the same method: faith in Christ (the "L", here). "Election" means you are "chosen" by God to have a relationship with Him, forever (permanently -- you can't lose salvation). He was known by many other names in the Old Testament, even as He is given many additional names from His Birth onward. "Nicks" don't alter salvation method. Some folks just haven't learned this fact yet, so there is some false teaching out there that somehow salvation is different, in different "ages" of historical time.]

    (B) That those who believe are "Predestined", in Christ to a maximal inheritance..the "every spiritual blessing" clause of Eph 1, subject to their consent. [The prayers of Eph1 and 3 are but two passages which illustrate the conditions of receipt: note that Paul is praying for them to get Bible Doctrine, which fulfills the necessary conditions. The whole Epistle covers this in detail, and Eph1 shows that we have a maximum provision we CAN get, laid up in eternity past, all given to Christ at the Session. So, if we don't grow enough, we lose, but Christ does not. So, no "waste". So, growth doesn't depend on our merit, but on the Holy Spirit teaching us Doctrine..which He only wills to do as we consent.]

Predestination means, basically, that you have an inheritance, which over time you can start to receive even while still in this body. The particular benefits of salvation vary in one's lifetime and afterwards, based upon the age in which one lives, and how one progresses in spiritual growth. This variance is partly due to the fact that there are interrelated "covenants" which apply to given groups at given times -- and, in eternity. ("Dispensation" is a Bible word which identifies a covenanted group with its particular "age", generally speaking.) And, even within each covenant, one must first develop the spiritual capacity to ENJOY the inheritance, prior to receiving it. (Example: money is a terrible thing to have, if you don't know how to use it!) Ergo, much of the promised benefits occur AFTER death, because you need to be in a perfect body, to get full enjoyment out of those benefits! So, your own predestination assets are thus ALSO tailored to you personally. You are potentially EXTREMELY rich.

The Biblical term "in Christ" is the flagship legal term, the basis of your inheritance position. (Theologians used to call this position "positional sanctification." More on the three types of sanctification will be discussed in V, as I have time to write it up.) Other Biblical terms are many: "heir", "adult son", "child", son, "saint", part of "Bride of Christ", even "priest". (Remember, priests are priests forever, because He is the King-Priest forever, as Heb 5 - 7 explain. See also 1Pet2:5,9, Rev 1:6.) There are many similiar-meaning words, verses. "Inheritance" is a favorite term in Hebrews, and of the apostle Paul's. (A full list of the terminology way long to list.)

In any event, as even the verses containing these few terms attest: you are forever saved. A person can't become unborn, once born! ["Inheritance" is one of many ways the Bible teaches the permanence of salvation. If you don't know what the word means, ask an attorney. "Inheritance" is a legal term. Legally, a "son" remains a "son" even if dead. True, inheritances are often conditional (and so is God's, in Christ), but sons ALWAYS have some legal rights under law, simply by virtue of being BORN (or adopted) as sons. So also, under God's law. (1Cor3:12-15 is a good summary; verse 15 makes it clear even the worst believer remains saved). You'd have to NEVER have become a son, to have no rights. Ergo your sonship status is permanent. More on this topic is in IV and V, passim, since the Bible has many, many different ways of explaining the permanence of salvation..always due to Christ's merit, NEVER man's action.]

Remember, it GLORIFIES Christ that you collect your inheritance; the Father awards Christ a people who are maximally attractive to Him. That is why you have the inheritance laid up for you. So, it isn't wrong to receive, or somehow selfish. God chose FIRST, remember: He is the one who CHOSE to benefit YOU. (Shouldn't Christ get beings to rule who are rich and attractive? That's the criterion, so you can relax about being rich..and be CAREFUL not to miss out on learning HOW!)

Teachers seem to agree that we will all live with Him forever, and that while still in this body we are protected by Him; a sort of "kingdom" on earth, within the "world", which Satan rules. They agree that the protection and the spiritual life accoutrements are many and RICH, and you don't have to wait until you die, to begin collecting! In fact, all the chance you have to choose how much of the inheritance you'll receive from Him...is in this lifetime, only.

There is, however, great variation among Christian teachers here concerning what on-earth and in-heaven benefits you have, how you should live/use the benefits you have, and when they are conveyed. [Example: not all teachers believe in the "exanastasis" (Greek word in Phillipians 3:11, "exit resurrection".."rapture" is taken from the Latin translation of a different verse). The much-maligned "Rapture" is in fact a warning to not neglect growing up in your "so-great salvation", never the spiritual baby's "escape" from the pain of this life!]

Which phrasing of these particulars will suit the individual reader, I don't know. Therefore, it is best the reader go to his own pastor for details. V. will cover only the commonly-accepted benefits, as I have time to write them up. (Teachers disagree on the particulars, the difference being usually stress on some things, and a glossing-over of others. VIII's "3" and "4" offer a short explanation of why-the-variance, in passing.)

THIRD CONCEPT: Those who will not believe are allowed to go to the Lake of Fire (aka "LOF"), because they do not want Him. To disallow this is to be coercive, which violates Sovereignty, Righteousness, Truth, Love, -- in short, all of His Attributes. To force it is likewise obviously coercive -- and not His will, as many verses attest (the "not willing that any should perish" verse in Peter springs to mind, for example).

Note Well: God Himself predestines NO ONE to Hell. Man predestines himself, by programming himself for it.
(Careful examination of the so-called "double-predestination" verses will reveal that God is not! the subject of the sentences in those verses -- so, it is a mistake to say God predestines anyone to hell, and many verses contradict that interpretation, as well.)

Man only goes to LOF because he rejects Heaven, and LOF is the only other place left. Man has to program himself to get there: God won't do that.

This point is extremely important. Romans 9 is often misunderstood. The person programs himself into a "vessel of destruction".
(Paul is setting up a straw man "complainer" who blames God.) Many other verses explain this horrible and sad process: Romans 1-3, 7, Revelation 1-19, the plagues in Egypt verses, the behavior of the Exodus generation -- these are but a few cites, which also cover how believers program themselves for misery on earth! Pattern is the same, in other words: we do it to ourselves: God doesn't force us, doesn't will it.

God foreknows man's choices, and chooses Himself how to respond. For the unbeliever, God's chosen eternity-response is "separation".

Here's an example of how "separation" does not coerce or "predestine": someone is repeatedly hostile to you. You try, over and over, to make peace, to accommodate that person. Yet, the person just will not cease to be hostile, and, rather than the situation improving, it becomes worse. Remember how Pharoah hardened his heart? With each plague miracle, he got more and more negative; so, by God continuing to "witness" to Pharoah by means of continued plague-miracles, God is said to have "hardened" (it's sarcasm) Pharoah's heart.

So, as with Pharoah, it gets to the point that any further dialogue with that person only succeeds in "making" the person yet MORE hostile to you. So, what do you do? You cease to have contact. So -- did you force the person to be continually hostile? Did you force the person to reject you? NO. The person kept on being irrevocably hostile to you. So, the only KIND thing you can do, is -- to cease contact.

Now -- since He is God, He has to provide a "place" where there is no contact with Him. What must be the characteristics of such a place? LOF.

..... after all, it's not as though God made salvation too difficult for even the most-remote or most-handicapped human to obtain!

Let's circle on this point a bit more. People who reject the Bible, and even those who don't, have a real tough time here. They look at unbelievers they know who are "nice" people. Surely, God would not let such a nice person go to Hell? (Conversely, some self-righteous people look at "nasty" behavior and say "Surely, so-and-so is not a Christian!")

The problem is, "nice" by OUR standards isn't "nice" by God's standards. And, a person who rejects such an EASY way to be saved, how "nice" is such a person, really? I mean, it's not our right to adjudge (besides, one can forget he believed in Christ, but God doesn't forget, so that alleged-unbeliever might actually be saved and "forgot").

Still, if someone rejects a gift over and over and over which is in his best interest, the rejector has some kind of a problem. Maybe it's an honest misunderstanding (we all started out as unbelievers). Maybe it's reaction to goofy Christians (who are indeed annoying). And maybe it's something else...arrogance. We just don't know. But God knows. Think it over: people who until death NEVER believe despite a boatload of offers (God, Who we remember from "I" has a total monopoly on revealing Himself, so ALONE is Responsible for making Gospel known, won't let them die until they are TOTALLY informed yet TOTALLY hostile), how "nice" are they? They must not be very nice by that point, however nice they SEEM to be to other people. After all, if the Father's Son is being rejected countless times, it's certainly not gratitude for His Payment...

Two important verses may help you see that a person ONLY goes to LOF for NEVER believing. Let's look at them: 1st one is John 16:9 "concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me" (RSV). If you'll look at it in context, even in English, it's clear Who's doing the convincing: the Holy Spirit. So, human failure to communicate is no barrier. So, the spiritual death of the unbeliever is not a barrier. Most importantly, it is NOT sin but unbelief in Christ which is the object of the Holy Spirit's "convincing". Sin is not the issue, because it was nailed for EVERYONE to the Cross.

Notice also, "do not". The Greek makes it clear that "do not" means "never"; "not-to-date", actually, meaning, "not so far". So, if by death still "not so far", then it means "never".

2nd one is even stronger: John 3:18 "is condemned already, because he HAS NOT believed in the name of the only Son of God." The context makes it clear salvation is in view. I capitalized "HAS NOT" to stress it.

Logic tells you right away that if you had EVER believed, "has not" is no longer true for you. Again, it's a "not-to-date" meaning. So, if not-to-date-of-death, then the person is an unbeliever. (The obverse meaning also is true: if "has not" is NOT true, then the person is PERMANENTLY saved. Think that one over, if you worry that salvation can be lost.)

(There are MANY other verses, but these two are pretty clear from the English.)

We can't tell who's saved, and we can't tell who isn't, but logically, it takes a LOT of arrogance to continually and KNOWINGLY reject the Gospel by the time of death. Arrogance toward God. We know such total arrogance exists, because we know Satan is like that. And who would know more about God than the highest angel ever made? Yet, this same one is also the most personable and beautiful person ever made (lots of verses on it -- ask your pastor. I don't want to get too far off-topic).

No one likes the idea of anyone going to LOF. Least of all God. Remember, He's Omniscient, and long before there was a creation HE KNEW ALL THAT PAIN, more than any creature going to be in it will EVER know. And He had His Son PAY for it all. So, don't you think, if there were a better way around it, He'd have created it? Since the pain of knowing is so infinitely greater than the pain of any one person? It's not as though God shuts His Omniscience "off", so every pain of every person ever, HE BEARS first..and it NEVER goes away, for Him. So He must love us, even when we totally reject Him forever. (Lots of folks try to say, "Yeah, therefore Hell doesn't and will not exist." I'd love to go through the verses and conclude the same, but the evidence against such a wonderful wish is too strong. There's much on the web re the existence of LOF, so I'll not try to prove it here.)


  • First, God chose YOU, freely, and for you to be free.
  • Second, He also chose you to be saved if you want to be saved; He chose to give you maximally-rich benefits in Christ if you say "yes" to the Gospel (meaning, believe Christ paid for your sins) --- permanently. After salvation, your level of inheritance in heaven is also a matter of your consent to the legal requirements: "grow in grace and in the knowledge of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2Pet3:18).
  • Third, If you NEVER CHOSE to believe by the time you die, you've chosen to be separated from Him. You will be thus "blotted out of the Book of Life" (two "blot" verses which relate are Ex32:32 and Rev3:5, but there are many others which in English don't have "blot" as the translation). In other words, EVERYone born is initially in that book. You must DIE as an unbeliever to be taken out of it. So YOU ALONE, not God, can will to go to Hell. And, even then, you can ONLY go to Hell if you have never ONCE believed in Christ. Your choice, for God predestined your freedom. YOU and YOU alone can choose to take Him up on His EXTREMELY rich offer, in Christ.


..."The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of the God[Father], and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit [be] with all of you"
(2Cor13:14, literal trans; emphasis added because the bolded words separately identify each Person in the Greek)

SOVEREIGNTY is an attribute of God. TOTAL free will, because INFINITE. For Sovereignty to go against Sovereignty is incompatible with His Essence. For Sovereignty to go against any of His Attributes is incompatible with His Essence.

This will end up being the longest section on this site, because to explain Sovereignty, one must first describe God. [2]

Scripture is very detailed on the topic of God's Attributes. Only once those Attributes are seen TOGETHER will it be clearer why free will in man or angel never defeats God, nor is Christ's Atonement somehow "wasted" (e.g., because not all are saved).

God-ness is Qualitative

God is TOTAL. His Being cannot be separated by His Attributes. This "TOTAL"ness is QUALITATIVE, not quantitative.

If you can grasp the Qualitativeness of God, you will be shielded from a plethora of false ideas about Him (from which all false doctrines spring). Abstract thinking is a must, in grasping the real nature of God. One needs to repeatedly go over the information, because Satan&Co. do NOT want you do understand God. They will interfere with your thinking. Keep using 1Jn1:9 repeatedly, doggedly, even -- keep pressing on to learn His Structure. Go somewhere to be alone, and think about this topic "out loud", talking with Him about it, to help your thinking stay focused. Don't give up. Take breaks when you tire, then resume. This is the MOST IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL TASK you can do!

Personhood, Personality, Attributes -- these are all Absolutes in QUALITY. Therefore God does not "possess" attributes, but IS them (see the Attributes, below). Personhood and Personality can be (and are) multiple, yet Identical Essence, because Personhood (etc.) is qualitative, not quantitative.

The difference between "IS" and "has" is the difference between Infinity and finity. God IS Life; we "have" life. God IS Love, Happiness, etc.; we "have" happiness. Is-ness is qualitative; have-ness is quantitative. Qualitativeness is SUPERIOR to quantitativeness. The latter can change -- the former cannot, if ABSOLUTE.

God thus either is or is not. One cannot say God has or has not: God is not bound by space-time characteristics, but rather created both space and time by just willing it to be! at a given "point".

So, for example, because God is Qualitatively Infinite, God is Immanent and Transcendent (the space-time subset word for this, as language of accommodation -- is "Omnipresence", to convey God as being "beyond" space and time ("beyond" being itself a spatial concept)). So, for example, God cannot be "emotion" -- which is inherently space-time bound. (Only finiteness can have feeling/emotion. Remember also that emotion is devoid of reason, a feeling reflex -- to say that any aspect of God is without reason is very clearly NOT true!)

It is space-time characteristics which limit us, and limit our thinking into quantitative terms -- so much so, we define quality in terms of maximum quantities -- which leads to all kinds of tangled notions about God, eventually.

Let's circle on this issue of emotion for a minute. Emotion is a state of having, not a state of being. We have emotions. They change in every possible way. We associate these feelings with "being alive", yet our highest-valued codes have to do with BEING (honest, virtuous, loving) -- not with emotions. To say one "is emotional" is usually not a compliment. Likewise, to say one "is unemotional" is also unflattering -- why? Because emotions are to be possessed, not too little, not too much.

    Further, one is alive with or without these emotions. E-motion. 'Affective state of consciousness, as distinct from cognitive or volitional states (to paraphrase Random House Dictionary's definition of "emotion"). So, to BE emotion isn't even desirable in humans!

    We have life, but we AREN'T life. Our is-ness is dependent (all having is dependent on the thing had, or on the giver of the thing possessed). God, by contrast, is INDEPENDENT: the very Sacred Tetragrammaton stresses His Absoluteness, His Absolute IS-ness. He doesn't need emotions: He IS Life. He doesn't need to "feel", to enjoy, because He IS Glory. He is Love; we have love (and thus need the emotional-reflex 'enhancer', as it were, to go with it). 

    Due to our finiteness, of course, we keep learning; our living fluctuates. He doesn't need to learn anything. He is Infinite. So, His Living does NOT fluctuate. So, His GLORY, His LOVE, HIS HAPPINESS do not fluctuate, are never less than MAXIMUM (Infinite!), do not waver, cannot be diminished, nor increased, etc.

    In short, emotion is too small, for God-ness: God IS Pleasure, doesn't merely "have" pleasure. 

    So, obviously, God is not a computer, because He is Absolute, nor is He a computer because He is way bigger than emotion. So, obviously He is MORE PERSONAL, not less, due to His NOT being emotion, not having emotion. [3]

    Again, as language of accommodation, Scripture uses emotional terms metaphorically, to help us finite humans "relate" and understand God; similarly, God uses physical body parts to communicate. These two metaphorical uses are called, respectively, "anthropopathisms" and "anthropomorphisms". They are frequently employed throughout Scripture, to help us realize how God is -- yet always one will find Absolute definitions as well (i.e., "God is Love") -- so we don't mistake the anthro-metaphors for being God's real Nature! (You can trace all denominational differences to misunderstandings about the Nature of God.)

God's Attributes

To properly understand Him IS possible, because He runs the system. However, no one learns quickly: God is Infinite. It takes time for the information to be put in our finite, depraved, pea brains!

We humans try to logically categorize His Attributes, which Scripture shows, so to better understand Him. In doing this, we can't but use anthropopathic concepts to describe God...

Scripture reveals God is (at least) these Absolute Attributes: Sovereignty, Veracity(Truth), Righteousness, Infinity, Perfection, Love, Justice, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Eternal Life (no beginning, no end). No Attribute is unaffected by the others: no Attribute, therefore, can be taken out of context from the others, in the interpretation of how God is, or the Scripture He writes.

Such TOTAL Being-ness, TOTAL Personality means that nothing can even remotely change, influence, hurt, etc. His Choices, Goals, Desires, Plan. Why? Because God chooses in advance what will exist! 

Question is, how is this choosing done, and why? [4]

The answer to this two-sided question is also two sided: a) God is Triune, and b) Each Member's Essence "results" in certain attitudes, and therefore, certain "decisions".

Before elaborating on a) and b) above, we first have to remember -- again -- that "God" is QUALITATIVE -- therefore, there is no "movement": nothing is learned, or decided -- the Nature of God is one BIG "IS". This is-ness means that every choice always was choice; every bit of information about what could be or what couldn't be or what might be is "on-line" in God's "RAM", as it were. There is no processing, no accessing. Thus, in what follows, anthropopathic language must be used, to convey the idea of these Attributes in human language of accommodation.

a) "God" is Triune: Three Separate Persons, Who Indwell Each Other, due to Love

Folks have long been confused about Trinity. The fact is, we humans are so limited by time and space that we misconstrue "oneness" as SOLELY a quantitative term despite the clear meaning of oneness as qualitative term in both Scripture and even in common modern English usage. Let's see if the confusion here can be alleviated.

First -- do a word search on all verses with the word "one" or "unique" or "only" in them. Also, do a search on words like "united", "agreement", and synonyms, because the words "echad" (Heb.) and "heis" (Greek) have these meanings, too.

Next, look at all the "in God", "in Christ", "in the Father", and "in the Spirit" NT verses. These are usually formed by the Greek preposition "en" plus the locative (meaning, place of dwelling, being 'in' something or someone). These verses all reference the fact that believers are Indwelt by All Three Members of the Trinity. This Indwelling is thus obviously a pattern, obviously something God can do and does do. Now, if God can and does Indwell us, so, as John17 puts it, we can be all "one", how much more would Each Member of the Godhead Indwell Each Other Member? Would God deny Himself?

The analogy to the "oneness" of marriage is very clear, isn't it? You will want to explore the Scripture on marriage, too. "Oneness" is always given for the reason why divorce is, absent a few exceptions, wrong; why sex was invented; why sex outside of marriage is wrong.

Modern English also has a number of "oneness" expressions: "to be of one mind", meaning two or more SEPARATE persons are of so similar an opinion as to be identical. You can think of other expressions..see that "one" is not a quantitative word in all cases?

I notice that religiously-trained folks turn colors at the very mention of certain words, and then blast the words with names of religious controversies of the past, as if any use of the offending word(s) can ONLY be defined one way: the heresy they have in mind. Such folks will not understand readily, for example, that "separate" does NOT mean that the Godhead are apart from each other. THEY CHOOSE to be united.

    Let's go over this point. Were this choice not possible, then God would NOT be God. Think this over: how sovereign is someone who can't choose to be separate? Not sovereign at all! Same for omnipotence: is God omnipotent, if He CANNOT separate? How would Love Love to be trapped? How Righteous is that? You can cycle the same question through the Attributes -- and see that no, God could not BE God if not Separate. Likewise, if God, would God ever want to be separaTED? Never! Thus: They Indwell each Other by CHOICE, and that choice never will change. So, to use the figure of "oneness" is apt.

    They are Separate Persons who ARE NOT separaTED, by CHOICE. They have Exactly the SAME Attributes: QUALITATIVE Infinity means there can be more than "One" God. Yet, One -- in that they are Identical in nature, yet Distinct as Persons. Triplets, as it were. But, because they Choose to stay United (and never CHANGE), they are "one". It's really that simple.

    Why is it, that some folks don't think through the "oneness" usage in scripture, instead throwing up their hands and saying, "It is a mystery"? Well, maybe Deut30:11-14 is their problem: giveup-itis. God is too high, etc.?! Granted, the knowledge of God by man's mind is impossible: "but for God, nothing is Impossible", so "we have the Mind of Christ" (1Cor2:16), via the Holy Spirit (1Cor2's on that topic; also Jn14:20ff, and all of 1Jn). So it IS possible, with HIS Brains, to understand. Not too far away/too high, after all. 'And not an "instant", soundbyte, here's-the-verse "quickie" understanding, either.

What Trinity is, and is NOT

[Triunity paras. go here, once done: overlapping-circles metaphor, Trinity not hydra-headed, Personhood as Qualitative (with more elab on meaning of "absolute" and stasis, attribs, to develop parallel for analogy); "God" as a collective noun in Heb or Grk, examples (and other examples to show how "God" distinguished); the generic "He" and its play-on-unitedness; community-ness, corporateness; monadic definite article and the separative, "familiar" use; the "one" verses in scripture, Indwellingness, esp John 17 and the "cleave..become one" verse in Genesis to show "oneness" is a quality of Identical Essence and total rapport; review of the use of "one" in the languages as "unique", "united", not necessarily one-in-quantity. Also, the paras. proving why 3 Gods, versus other ideas, alone is correct, even if from sheer logic (as validation-check) about God's Attributes of Sovereignty and Justice/Mediatorship/Majority Vote, salvation's juridical independent judging; the GREEK of 2Cor13:14,1Jn5:7-8 showing how mistrans'd: that Hebrew juridical concept of "2 or MORE" SEPARATE Witnesses in v.7-8 are depicted. How when Christ used terms like "Father" and "Spirit" in the Gospels, everyone knew what He was talking about; so, the touted meaning of "one" as SOLELY quantitative depicts Satanic clouding, and depravity's negative attitude toward God.]

b) God's Attributes and Tri-unity show in Their 'Decisions' 

Here is an (anthropopathic) explanation of the interplay of Their Attributes (each Member of the Godhead has the same Attributes, in Deity). NOTE: For a much fuller explanation of Their Decisions and Plan -- to see how They interrelate to Each Other throughout history -- click on the "Thinking" link at the top of this webpage. (It's extremely long, because it takes a lot of explanation to illustrate the Relationship.)

Sovereignty WANTS to do what is compatible with Sovereignty's STANDARDS (which the traditional TULIP fails to recognize). That is, the STANDARD OF COMPATIBILITY with i) all other Attributes, and ii) the Sovereign Wills of the Other Members of the Godhead. So, Righteousness and Justice and Omniscience and Veracity and Love say, "Create free will creatures, because they ought to be enabled to enjoy God's Beauty!" So, creatures are created. This pleases Sovereignty. 

Let's go over the "why free will" from the viewpoint of God's Standards. God is SOVEREIGN. If God did not have TOTALLY Free Will, He'd surely not be omnipotent; He'd surely not be able to be totally RIGHTEOUS (maybe "couldn't help" being wrong); He'd surely not be Veracity (because not totally free to be able). One begins to see how TULIP was formed: since God is TOTALLY Free, only TOTAL Freedom can make for "free will".

  • Ah, but then is God omnipotent, if He can't MAKE free will creatures? Of course He wouldn't be.
  • Ah, but then is God omnipotent, if He can't MAKE free will "stick" despite the sin-taint He foreknows will occur in fallen man? Of course He wouldn't be.

It's that last rhetorical question about protecting fallen man's free will which TULIP somehow forgot to consider. God's STANDARD of SOVEREIGNTY demands total compatibility. For Him to allow free will to be compromised in anything He makes is to violate His Own Righteous Standard. In fact, that is why Christ had to go to the Cross: Galatians 5:1.

Since God foreknew the free outcome of the Cross, it was no compromise to "in advance" of that day make creation. Since God foreknew the free outcome of the Cross, it was no compromise to "in advance" make free will an attribute of the soul, indestructible, because all the possible free decisions of creatures were foreknown, provided for, and all Justice required would be implemented..no matter what.

See...the CROSS `financed' freedom for ALL mankind, paid for Justice, paid for all consequences. Slavery thus is free to be man's bodily nature, but is NO compromise at all. "For ye have been bought with a price.." remember that verse? He paid. Think of it like an escrow account, one per person born. (Bible actually uses the term "deposit" in the sense of escrow, and similar concepts, in Rom, Eph, Heb, Peter, and Tim..but I digress.)

But wait! Fallen man is totally depraved, spiritually DEAD, unwilling and unable to know God! Ah, yes..but the Holy Spirit handles that problem (see "I"), so it doesn't MATTER than man is totally depraved (free will is in the soul, not in the human spirit, so it also doesn't matter that man is spiritually dead). Man has ZERO excuse, the Holy Spirit ENABLES Him to know enough about God, so NOTHING prevents him from freely choosing Christ. THAT's GRACE! (see how TULIP makes "Grace" too small?)

But wait! Isn't God then the Author of sin, for allowing man to be born fallen? Ah, but Christ paid for sin, so even if God truly were responsible, He paid for it...yet not He, but Christ's Humanity, via use of the free power of the Holy Spirit to that Humanity (which was to PAY for sin, so it was not a compromise to provide that never-before-granted Power). Further, how could man choose God, if not born? You can't have free will until you exist (and notice how you are at no disadvantage, versus Adam pre-fall).

..So, again, how is God unfair? To Himself, or to His Creatures? Nothing is left. Free will is preserved. Freedom is provided. It matters not that man is spiritually dead, and, best of all: salvation is ONE simple act of nonmeritorious faith in Christ (you merely believe it)..so no handicap, no social status, no gender conditions, nor any other of the natural inequities attendant to Total Depravity can interfere with salvation. That is why "no works, lest any man should boast"...or, "lest any man" be left out.

So, without compromise to a single Attribute, the Sovereignty of God and the free will of man can co-exist. THAT is how INFINITE God is. (See how the traditional TULIP makes God too "small"?)

What about sin, and hell? The existence of these things do not please God. Nor do they pay Him anything. Ah, but Christ DID pay: that's why Atonement is "unlimited". The fact that man is not restored absent his free-will consent is thus no loss to God, NO MATTER WHAT man chooses. It's man, not God, who loses by saying a perpetual "no" to the Gospel (or to learning Bible Doctrine, for believers). Most Importantly, the STANDARD OF FREEDOM (inherent in the Attribute of Sovereignty) is preserved with no compromise. God is Free, man is free. All consequences are free to occur. Grace is Free, and Inalienable to everyone, without exception (greek word "pas" in the plural, is a substantive, and means "everyone/anyone/all ..without exception").

Let's now move on to the more general issue about how and why God wants what He wants.

Many of the questions folks have about God are rooted in a confusion over how God "decides" a thing. For example, the question is asked, "Can God make a stone too heavy for Him to lift?" Sovereignty looks first at Righteousness (a Standard Sovereignty WANTS met), and `asks', "Is it Righteous to make such a Stone?" If Righteousness answers "Yes", then such a Stone is made. All questions, as it were, go through Righteousness. God will NOT violate His Essence, His Standards, His Own Integrity.

Such as Stone was made: Christ. See, there are truly TWO things God "can't" do: 1. Make man free yet prevent him from sinning via coercion. Why? Because it's not RIGHTEOUS, to fetter. "Free" must include free-to-sin (see Part I of "Thinking" link at top of page for a LOT more detail on this topic.) 2. Paying for sins is the another thing God "can't" do, because for God to pay for them would not be Righteous. Christ was lifted up so that we could be created in the first place. Omniscience knew that Christ would be efficacious, if created, so -- all of us, from Adam to the last human born, could be justifiably created. (Again, the "Thinking" links have a LOT more detail on this topic.)

The Godhead enjoy Each Other Totally, and always have -- and always will. They are free to separate, but will never choose to do so. They are free to act independently, but never choose to do so. Thus They are, in Their very Essence, and Voluntary Unity, perfect Freedom -- so Their enjoyment is limitless!

They do not want to keep this enjoyment to Themselves! It would not be Righteous! says Righteousness (and all other Attributes "agree", as it were, each from the standpoint of that Attribute's nature). For example, Omniscience would be deprived having the reality of what it knows realized; Truth would be deprived of the reality of Truth becoming True. There would be no Jesus Christ?! Unacceptable!

Jesus Christ is the ENTIRE reason for the Godhead even wanting creature existence, from the standpoint of Righteousness being satisfied: see the "for Him" phrase in Colossians 1:16-17, and the entire Book of Hebrews. (By extrapolation, the entire world benefits from the Christians in it, because we are "in Christ": the "remnant" and "salt of the earth" and "Jeshurun" verses are but a few categories of verses illustrating this fact.)

The Attributes 'say' to "create free will creatures", because it is FOREKNOWN how such creation will GLORIFY God (which Righteousness demands, along with the other Attributes) -- which Sovereignty "next", as it were, chooses, and chooses the responses only God can make -- to GUARANTEE that this Glorification will be total, without compromise -- for Sovereignty's "good pleasure".

The Godhead enjoy Each Other Totally, and always have -- and always will. They do not want to restrict Their GLORY! It would not be Righteous! says Righteousness (and all other Attributes "agree", as it were, each from the standpoint of that Attribute's nature). For example, Omniscience would be deprived having the GLORY of what it knows realized; Truth would be deprived of the GLORY of Truth becoming True. There would be no Jesus Christ?! Unacceptable!

Using the Personality Metaphor of the verse, "Is My Arm too short???": What, is Sovereignty so small, is Righteousness so small, that it can be threatened??? By giving man free will? Is not God GLORIFIED by ALLOWING what is not compatible? Is not the Majesty MORE demonstrated by ALLOWING free will? Does not Sovereignty thus CHOOSE free-will creatures? Does not Righteousness thus INSURE, via Justice, Love, Grace, and all other Attributes, free-will creatures -- and INSURE the free consequences of their decisions? 'ALWAYS.

Notice, too, how STRONGLY Love is demonstrated: Romans 5:8. God is Free to Love. Man is free, too. Man's judicial, unpayable debt for the self-murder called "personal sin" was completely and utterly NAILED to the Cross. THAT is the "good news"! ("gospel" means "good news") Sin is NO LONGER an issue. THAT is LOVE. Man doesn't owe God, because Christ paid FOR us.

    KEY==> Thus: God, who from Love would be totally unwilling to "collect", and instead wants only a FREE relationship, gets what LOVE wants: uncoerced beings who freely choose Him. THIS IS WHY WE WERE MADE! THIS IS THE GLORY WE CAN RECEIVE! Not the mere pettiness of human living, with its frustration, its tit-for-tat relationships and constant mending of the world, but an ETERNAL and INVIOLABLE intimacy with God forever!

Christ CHOSE FREELY to PAY...because He so loved the Father, He so loved Himself, he so loved all of us. ALL of us. No one forced Him to do it. No one forced the Holy Spirit to empower His Humanity. No one forced the Father to judge Him. FREE FREE FREE. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Even no human wants something forced. How much fun is "love", if the person only marries you for your money? So if we, mere humans, do not want a relationship which is forced, how much more God! THAT is LOVE. (See how the traditional TULIP makes "LOVE" too small?)

THAT is why Paul WANTED to suffer (Philli3:8,10). That's why Christians WANT to be tested. For Love. Not for owing. Owing is now an excuse, a handmaiden of Love. THAT is FREEDOM.

Hopefully the foregoing dramatization of Their Attitudes (the tone of which was borrowed from the tenor of many OT passages where He speaks to Israel) has helped you see how Their "decisionmaking", as it were, functions.

In Sum: God's SOVEREIGNTY DECREED inviolable Free will

In short, God creates what is compatible with His Attributes, which are HIS STANDARDS. So, man has free will. Man thus having free will is God's choice: so no use of free will can remotely do anything but praise God. So, it is a question of whether man chooses to ACCEPT God's STANDARDS. God is not compromised whether man accepts or rejects, because of the Cross. THAT is His Standard. So, it is a question of whether man wants relationship with God -- not sin. Man can do nothing to compromise the Integrity of God. No creatures, even all put together, even remotely affect the smallest "fingernail" of even One of God's Attributes.

In any and all creatures, free will is thus NONmeritorious. God ENABLES free will to be free, and insures it so -- by making free will an attribute of the Divinely-created soul. (Why do Calvinists have the goofy idea that free will, which is immaterial, can be destroyed or corrupted by what is merely material?)

The Total Depravity of the body, being genetic, exerts an insistently-depraved impulse, alright, but its mindlessly-material congenital defect canNOT hurt free will, because God made it. The soul's contents can only be trashed, and even THEN only because free will, BECAUSE inviolate, agrees to the depraved-brain's impulse. Free will is NOT soul content, but an indestructible soul attribute. So, Hell must be allowed to exist, and must be created, so that free will is not denied the free consequences of its choices.

Let us remember: God SEES all. This freedom standard is God's! He would not tolerate a lesser standard for His Creatures -- He would not allow a lesser standard to be SEEN by Himself: He will not tolerate VIEWING a lower standard. Thus, Sovereignty wills to ENABLE all angels and men to know the Gospel, to know the Godhead: that such creatures are free to reject such knowledge, and thus receive the free consequences of such rejection, whether punctiliar or in aggregate, is His Choice. We are truly free: that is Sovereignty's Choice.

When Adam lost his human spirit at the Fall, he lost the ability to know and comprehend God. God the Holy Spirit makes up for this deficiency, by:

  1. ENABLING everyone to know the Gospel (He functions as a human spirit for the unbeliever, and as Transmitter of ONLY the correct info) and 
  2. CREATING the human spirit the moment one believes in Christ (which is the fundamental reason why salvation cannot be lost), and 
  3. RUNNING the spiritual-perception system (accessed by use of 1Jn1:9) which ENABLES one to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Pet3:18) and all the way up, to "all the fullness from God" (Eph3:19). The person thus growing is "transformed by the renovation of thought (bible doctrine)", as Romans 12:2a puts it.

Adam's loss, due to his "fall", of the ability to know and process information of God is thus restored, and -- much, much more. One learns of this "much, much more" as one "grows up in Christ".

The thing Adam 'gained' in his fall was the "knowledge of good and evil", which, as Romans 7 and 8 depict, constantly war with the knowledge of God that the Holy Spirit enables. Such fallen knowledge is what accounts for the slavery: a pushy, addictive proclivity to human good, sin, and evil; plus, the degeneration of the body, since the sin nature is genetic. ('Want an easy, big clue that free will exists? We aren't ALWAYS engaged in human good, sin, or evil; we eat and sleep, for example.)

The believer, of course, is still in the same body; so, the proclivity remains -- however, he now has the freedom to learn Christ -- a freedom which, as he learns, increases, thus breaking the addiction, eventually. However, one never totally stops sinning -- as is demonstrated even in Moses' sin at 2nd Meribah, or Paul's trip to Jerusalem.

Thus, God's standard that Freedom be! is met: thus, it pleases the Godhead, even though the uses of that freedom are not individually each pleasing to Them. The Godhead will not sacrifice the Standard of Freedom, even at the cost of sacrificing the Christ, Our Mediator and High Priest: Gal5:1.

So, as Paul likes to say, in the Greek of Romans 6-8, "to what conclusion are we forced? Shall we sin, that grace may abound? Hell No!" (the Greek words 'me ginoito' have the force of the English "Hell, No!") Sin refused is the 'glory of the unused', as it were. So, here we see that even sin has a compartment of glory (refusing it), which, absent freedom, could not exist.

See how God takes everything, even sin, into account and makes Glory from everything, without gerrymandering? How can anyone say either God or man has some sort of restriction on free will?


Let us look now, at the Decree of God, to see how Glory is displayed -- how "decisions" are structured. Theologians use the term "Decrees" for the sake of logically categorizing -- but, as we have seen, God doesn't have to go through any processing: all His Views, like His Omniscience, are 'on-line" at all times.

This categorizing of theologians is the subject of much debate over the logical ORDER of the Decree. Scripture has the word Decree in it, but doesn't lay out all the Decree in one place in one order. So, folks extrapolate, and guess what is the logical order, in an attempt to better understand God. Obviously, the incorrect order would lead to misunderstandings about God.

[Decree paras. go here, once finished.]

[2] The heart of what's wrong with the TULIP explanation is that, while it means to praise and stress the Sovereignty of God, it short-shrifts that Attribute. So, TULIP needs to be rewritten or discarded, because surely Calvin did not write it, and surely Calvin had no intention of his own teaching being distorted to discount God's Sovereignty!

Traditional explanations of TULIP seem to hold the view that Foreknowledge is somehow LESS sovereign (e.g., as if God's choices were somehow conditioned upon man' choices), because Foreknowledge means God chooses to elect taking into account the foreknown facts of man's choices. Sovereignty is in no way lessened: it is, rather, stressed, far more than if Foreknowledge is denied. In Scripture, Election and Predestination are a result of Foreknowledge: "those whom He foreknew, he also predestined" is one of many verses on that fact.

Simply put, the issue here is, does God choose to choose based on facts He foreknows, or does He just choose to choose irrespective of those facts? To do the latter would mean He did not value His Veracity and Omniscience Attributes. So, obviously, He chooses to choose based on what He foreknows.

Traditional Calvinism rightly says God chooses FIRST, and it's God's choice which is efficacious. However, the Arminian/Calvinist polemic at Dordt muddied the waters. So, the Scriptural fact that GOD CHOSE

* to equip man with nonmeritorious free will, and
* to elect/ predestinate based on the facts of man's choices,

seems to have been forgotten, in the traditional presention of "TULIP". As a result, every "letter" in TULIP is basically too small, and needs to be resized to fit the Bible: Total Depravity is really bigger, (U)Election is much bigger, (L) Atonement is WAY bigger, (I) Grace is FAR bigger, and (P) Freedom is VERY MUCH bigger. Most of all, Sovereignty is TOTALLY bigger, than what "TULIP" claims.

[3] If you're still having trouble with the idea that God is not emotion, try reviewing the paragraphs in this footnote, and mull them over...

What makes for a person is free will. Will requires thought; bodily reflexes and instincts are not thought -- the brain of a person receives these impulses and converts them to thought, so to communicate them to the soul. Thought resides in the soul; the brain is merely an interface, a translating device, so that soul and body are "one" together.

God's Will is Absolute; so is His Will NOT-ness. Absolute Personhood, Personality, WAY beyond emotion, which is by nature finite. This Absoluteness would mean NOT impersonal, but instead, TOTALLY Personal, way beyond --- way, way beyond -- us.

Our wills are finite, because our personhoods are finite, so we have emotion. As we mentally mature, the growing integrity of thought rules and rules OUT emotion, dominates it, husbands it. Thought is greater than emotion by design. Love is really an attitude, not an emotion, even in mankind. Emotion is a response to thought, actually. Emotion responding to arrogant thought runs amok; Emotion responding to non-arrogant thought is controllable. Emotion also responds to body's feelings, to communicate between body and soul. Thought, however, can always superimpose itself over emotion.

Thus, the emotion of battle in wartime can be superimposed by the thought of love-for-country, which exhibits itself in self-discipline, professionalism -- not in warm fuzzies, which would get in the way of love.

The strongest love is usually manifest in honor. Sadly today people think the expression of honor arrogant, and cold. One is thus reminded of the verse a man wrote to his wife, from far off on a battlefield, explaining why he "deserted" her to go to war: "I could not love thee, dear, so much -- loved I not Honor, more..."

[4] Many an atheist thinks he's proved God non-existent because He thinks that God cannot choose objectively without being less-than-God --- that if God subordinates Himself to, say, Righteousness or Truth, God is somehow less than Sovereign -- the same mistake many Christians make! Such an allegation would be true if God's Attributes weren't ALSO Righteousness, Veracity, etc.

God is CHOOSING. Even a human is not less human because he chooses based on his own wants! God's WANTS are for choices to be compatible with His STANDARDS of Truth, Righteousness, etc. So how is it, that God is less-God because He has standards? It's illogical, isn't it, to say God is less-God because He has Standards He wants met? That He is Omniscient means He would KNOW how to achieve those standards. It does NOT mean that He is somehow restricted. He wants what He wants, and He knows how to get it. What He wants is for creatures to be free; and He knows what their choices would freely be, would not-freely be, in every combination of universes-of-possibility, all of which He can choose to make. So the one He chooses is the one without compromise to His Standards: Righteousness, Truth, Love, Freedom, etc. In short, He wants the BEST. For Him, for His Son, for us. "Period, over and out."

That answer will take awhile to think over, to see how accurate an answer it is.


...even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also the Son of Man was lifted up, that we should look up (believe in Gospel) and be healed...

[LOTS More on WHY God constructed salvation as He did]

1. Why is "TULIPS" used as an explanation of salvation?

What's neat about the acronym is that the core doctrines, going backward in the acronym, (starting from the "S"), show the chronological order, ending with "T", your birth in time.

Then, going forward from your birth, the acronym explains the logical and chronological order DURING YOUR LIFETIME HERE, for choosing to obtain a relationship with God as He wills it to be.

Let's run through the "backward" use, first. Chronologically, starting with "S", is God. No creation, yet: it's eternity past. It's God's decision to create. God's Essence as a Person must be understood to see why He makes the Sovereign choices He does, and why all creation is subject to His Choice from that moment forward, yet any free will in that creation is not compromised.

The "P" is a sort of printout of God's Choices which He chooses to base partly on the choices of those free will creatures He chooses to make. He knows all in advance. Yet, such knowledge doesn't in any way restrict or "condition" His Own Free will. Being Veracity, He chooses to make His decisions based on Truth, i.e., the facts. So, the "P" is a subset of His Decisions, with respect to the "facts" about who will choose to have a relationship with Him and who will not.

For "P" to be implemented, though, there will have to be Inalienable Grace: the Grace is yet another provision, to implement "P". Grace, though, needs a basis, which "L" justifies; "L", in turn, is supported by "U", the payment for sins, so Righteousness is satisfied. Thus, "T" can be allowed to exist.

NOTE: it does not matter at what time in history He pays for sins, for purposes of "T" being allowed or not. The foreknown fact that He will successfully pay is alone necessary. (Notice how, without foreknowledge, no creation could be justified.)

So much for the "going backward" usage of TULIPS. 

Going forward, now, starting with one's birth in time: one is born totally depraved. Unlimited Atonement has occurred (we're post-Cross), but you learn the Gospel on it sometime AFTER you are born. Question is, do YOU accept it? If so, you'll next give the password: a "yes", to the "L".

So, next, if you've believed, meaning "yes", then the "I" post-salvation becomes yours also, the "P" is also yours, and you have a relationship with God ("S" standing for God, here). 

Once this backward-forward use of TULIPS is grasped,

  • It's easier to see why salvation is only through Christ (and is not some meanie's way of keeping people out of Heaven), and 

  • Post-salvation, using TULIPS makes it much easier to remember many doctrines with just one word.

  • Post-salvation, your Wealth, Your Inheritance is not immediately conveyed to you, fully. You get some "funds" right away, no matter how "apostate" you might be or later become (logistical support, for example, including the apparati to learn Him). Some of the biggest pre-death benefits are based on your first becoming a spiritual adult, which in turn depends on how much Bible Doctrine you LEARN (understand and believe, using God's system, which is NOT related to or dependent on human IQ). The teaching you need to learn to "grow up" is easier to learn, if you've a firm grasp of the TULIPS doctrines -- because those doctrines are the foundation for all of the others.

2. Is Calvinism the only application of TULIPS?

No. Most churches teach the same principles in other ways. The wording and some of the fine points in the doctrines presented here vary, in other churches' teachings.

A few churches make MAJOR changes in the doctrine of salvation: chiefly, that you have to "do" something. The intention of these teachings seems to be benign, but folks can actually NOT be saved by using such teachings.

For example, to say "I invited Christ into my heart", or to say you have to be water-baptised to be saved, or to say that you must out-loud "confess" that you believe to be saved -- all of these statements are serious misinterpretations of verses in Scripture. You are NOT saved by doing any of these things. Simply believe in Christ.

Belief in Christ is not a meritorious act, and you aren't DOING anything at all. God the Father says His work is sufficient, and you merely believe that promise. At that very moment, you receive many assets, starting with a new human spirit, eternal life -- many, many assets. V. will cover some of them, as I have time to write it up.

If you have trouble here, do a search on the phrase "debt". In the Greek, Romans4:4 very clearly says that if works, then you cancel faith; there is another one which says you are basically digging yourself into a pit of debt, by works. When I remember where it is, I'll post its cite here. 

To otherwise "triangulate" and thus prove the faith-alone interpretation, review Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews (the faith-alone is a major theme running throughout all three books, which should become clear if you read them repeatedly -- as all of us need to keep doing).

3. But there are "Christian" churches which say Christ's payment on the Cross only makes you eligible to be saved, and you have to do certain things, too (besides believing in Him); that, if you don't do these things, you don't end up going to Heaven. How do I know, then, that what they say is wrong, and what you say is right?

Consult God. That is always what He wants. Anything you hear or read as an adult is YOUR responsibility to accept or reject, before the Lord, whatever the authority or credentials of the person giving you information. So, you have to determine for YOURSELF, before the Lord, what is the right answer. Never blindly rely on anyone, never blindly reject anyone. Always test for the "sense" of what is said. Because, you never know who the Holy Spirit may be using to teach you.

God is ABSOLUTE RIGHTEOUSNESS. We are not. The churches which proclaim that you must do things besides believe in Him ONCE to be saved do not see the fact that man can't contribute to salvation due to Total Depravity.

You will need to talk with God about this question, and ask for Him to help you see that Christ's payment is sufficient to save you. He will then take the circumstances and the time given you to demonstrate this truth. It takes some time.

This website is no more than a sort of witness to what Scripture says. It is not my material. I merely put its statements into my own words. The truth of what's here God will confirm, since you are NOT supposed to blindly accept or reject just anything you hear. After all, there are lots of statements out there, all of them claiming to be Scriptural!

That is how He works with any statement -- you have to hear it in order to be aware of it, but you shouldn't just automatically believe what you hear -- you must test what you hear, and get confirmation from Him, to verify you've tested correctly, too!

In short, any statement should be tested, and should be subject to confirmation from Him before you believe it -- whether the statement is your own, or someone else's (like here). This seeking means you have to want to analyse what you hear, and you have to want Him to confirm or correct it. If these two wants are lacking, you won't get any further. God will not force the answer on you: you have to want to know -- you have to want to analyse. It is a time-consuming process -- after all, it is a life-and-death matter, and God is Infinite! So quickie-answers are not to be expected.

So much for the "warning". Here are some lines of thinking you can use to analyse the question. They are not all of the lines of thinking you can use, but you'll see other ones as you look at these -- if you are inclined to do so.

A. Examine Scripture on the subject

    Whole books in the Bible are devoted to banishing the (subconscious) arrogance which says man can do anything at all to earn or contribute to his salvation: Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews stand out in this regard. If you read them prayerfully, even the English will become clear.

    The BIG reason it's true you can't add to Christ's Work, is Christ. All of creation was designed by Him and for Him (Col.1:16-17). His Payment is essentially a payment to recreate man, which Payment He wants to do alone, and ONLY if the person He made be born agrees. See "L" on His Humanity's Role as Mediator. You didn't have a choice in Him creating you the first time. You DO have a choice in Him recreating you. You only get to make that choice ONCE: it's like agreeing to be married, where subsequent divorce is not possible, because the minute you believed in Him, your "old man" dies (this is the major theme of Romans 6-8, especially 7, which uses the marriage analogy). You can't divorce a dead man! Further, Christ, the "new husband" of Romans 7, CAN'T die (see Heb 7 on this), and REFUSES to ever divorce you: 1Tim2:11-13. So you CAN'T get out of it.

    Thus, all Gospel messages should carry a warning label: BEWARE! if you believe in Christ ONCE, you cannot reverse that decision. Still, your assent is not a commitment. God makes the commitment. Ezekiel 16 illustrates that fact, in very graphic (and, to some folks, offensive) language. God makes you so to make you His Own. He finds you abandoned ("weltering in your blood"), the umbilical cord still attached to the dead (old-sin-nature) mother; He then cleans you up (saves you), and cares for you forever, even if you later "prostitute" yourself by loving others rather than God.

    Christ uses creation to glorify His Father; the Father uses it to glorify His Son. The Spirit uses it to glorify them both. So all Three Persons take on roles to recreate you.

    That is why Christ is THE ELECTION. All the other election verses are a RESULT of His. Search the Bible on the phrase, "in Christ". Also, please read the "P" section over again. It has lists/explanations of some key verses on the foregoing, and on the topic of why you can't lose your salvation.

    Obviously, if you can't add to Christ's work, you can't lose your salvation: the two go together. (If you could add something, you could undo it and thus lose out, wreck, what you'd needed to add. However, depraved man has nothing attractive to offer).

B. Learn something of the Original Languages of Scripture, because they make things clear you might miss in a translation.

    Any one verse on salvation is painfully clear in the original languages -- that you can only be saved via a moment's faith in Christ alone, and that ONLY and PERMANENTLY saves you. This clarity is usually accomplished via the tense of the verb. Verb tenses in the original languages are far more varied and therefore precise than we have in the English language.

    For example, in the Greek language you have something called the "aorist" tense. English does not have this tense -- Russian does, so does today's Greek.

    This is the tense usually used to show that a moment's faith is all that is required. Aorist comes in four "flavors" : constantive, culminative, gnomic, and punctiliar. The last one means just a moment, the point-of-action of the verb. This is the heart of the meaning of the aorist tense. This usage, in the verses which speak of your faith in Christ, is the one which makes it so completely clear you just believe ONCE to be permanently saved.

    "Permanently saved" is usually conveyed by the culminative aorist tense. This tense means the one action has permanent results, for it stresses the results of the one action. 

    There is also the perfect tense, which we have in English ("have had"). Unlike the English, the perfect tense conveys permanence. This tense is also used in salvation verses to show that a moment's faith has permanent salvation results.

    Some good examples of these Greek uses are in Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16, Acts 16:31(a different Greek tense but same characteristics), and Romans 5:1 -- which says you are JUDICIALLY JUSTIFIED (from dikaioo, a legal term for complete justification/vindication) PERMANENTLY in its first phrase - and only AFTERWARDS do you do anything -- by Grace, still.

    Where do you go to see this proof? Well, I've not found any site other than my pastor's which teaches these verses word-for-word in the original languages. His site is CLICK HERE for rbthieme.org. His Integrity of God book, the Blood of Christ book, the Basics tapes are good locations to get the catalog of these verses in the English. The church can tell you of any other tapes which go through the pertinent verses. They never ask for money, so don't give any. [My pastor is retired, but his son separately teaches at the same church, if that matters to you: CLICK HERE for www.berachah.org.

    Other churches probably have catalogues of verses in the English showing faith-alone in Christ permanently saves. You can probably get these verses from them at no charge. Just remember that because the English doesn't have the tenses used in the inspired, infallible original writings, you have to read and think a lot harder, to see the fact that faith-alone for a moment permanently saves you. God will help you see this: don't be disheartened over the time it might take for you to understand.

    In short, there are many verses proving salvation is by faith alone and permanent. There are likewise many more explaining why it is NOT true that works do ANYTHING to help you get saved. (See especially Romans 4:4 and Gal 5:3 in this connection.) As I have time, I'll post more of them here.

C. Use Logic to test the "sense" of the idea. Here are some sample "lines" you can use to test.

    Logic itself will help you cut through the false arguments that you have to do something besides believe in Christ. Let's go through some questions you can apply to test what you hear.

    Those claiming you have to do something to add to Christ's work on the Cross do so in the name of God's Righteousness, or do so in the name of claiming that "faith" has to be ongoing -- one's faith can't turn off, and "keep" salvation. Let's look at these claims.

    If God is so Righteousness that Christ (not you) had to pay for sins at all, then if Christ paid for sins AT all (and He did), how could there be anything left for you to do? As we saw in the "T", God knew in advance that there would be sin, and took responsibility for allowing it. As we saw in the "U", "L", and "S", God's taking responsibility for allowing sin, was for the Son to take on Humanity and pay for sin on the Cross. So how can anything be left for you to add?

    This much, even those who teach you have to do something will admit is true. What they dispute is the COMPLETENESS of the payment. They are basically saying that the Atonement, even if you also believe in it, was somehow less-than-enough to save you -- that you, not God, must engage in actions to "complete" your being-able-to-get-to-heaven, in order to honor Christ. (They get this idea because they interpret every verse which has "save" or "salvation" in it as ONLY meaning that category of salvation which means you go to heaven. That "save" and "salvation" have more than one meaning in all languages, including those of Scripture, is disregarded.)

    Were that true, then God is not God, because His Righteousness would be less than TOTAL. How so? Because if we need Christ's payment in the first place, and God didn't have Him pay for ALL of the problem, then God did something LESS than TOTAL -- which is inconsistent with His God-ness (see "S"). Remember, God is Infinite: the offense of sin offends the INFINITE Righteousness of God. It's not the finity of the sin, but the Infinity of God which determines the value of the offense. So whatever is done to "atone" must be of infinite value in the Eyes of that same Infinite Righteousness.

    Now, as to the need for you to keep on believing and obeying Him to get to Heaven -- how much sense does that make? The heart of the claim is, yes, He did the atoning work for sin, but you have to keep on believing in it, and ALSO must return to that belief when you fail, in order to actually get to heaven. Think about what that means.

    Either the Lord atoned for sin, or He didn't. If He did, then why would you have to keep believing He did, to be saved? Wouldn't it be a sin to stop believing? Of course it would be. So, didn't God know in advance that you would stop? Of course He did. So, wouldn't that sin have also been judged on the Cross, before you were born? Of course it would have been.

    Moreover, to say you'd have to keep believing in what is a fact apart from your belief is to say the fact of His Atonement is not a fact unless you believe it is - in short, a fact is only a fact if you believe it true? That is obviously illogical.

    Ah, but these churches claim that your initial acceptance of Christ (initial faith in His Saving work) is only the beginning, and you have to keep that acceptance "on", as it were. In short, if you change your mind or disobey God at any point, and don't repent, you can turn your salvation off. You can undo your acceptance, in other words, and cancel your salvation.

    How much sense does that make? If our being born in sin is the problem in the first place, and it is, and Christ paid for sins, and He did, then what else is there left to do? If you believed He paid the first time, you believed in His Work -- not your own. He did that Work -- His Work is OVER, FINISHED -- He even said "It is finished" before He voluntarily died on the Cross. You weren't even alive then.

    Going further with this line-of-thinking: the moment you first believed in Christ--- can you take it back? No, because you can't go back in time to that moment -- supposing you even REMEMBER when that moment is, which you might not remember -- and undo it. Time cannot be reversed. You cannot undo that moment of faith. You can change your mind later, but so what? It cannot cancel TIME. That is why the "born again" analogy is used in John. You cannot undo your birth. You cannot undo your second birth, from the Spirit (see John 3), either. Recant all you like, you cannot undo TIME.

    YOU CANNOT UNDO TIME: you cannot undo His Work on the Cross because God knew in advance all the sins you were ever going to commit for your whole lifetime -- LONG before you were born -- and imputed them to Christ on the Cross. 'Including all those (to you, yet-future) times you'd stop believing.

    You can't go back in time. God was paid for you 2000 years ago: think of the "interest" on that payment, so to speak! Can you really sin as big as all the interest on HIS HOLY Payment? He's bigger than you are! That's why His payment is enough! Can you go back in time and stop His payment? Can you go back in time and stop your first birth? Can you go back in time to the first time you believed in Him and undo your "born-again" spiritual birth? No No No. So -- how can your recanting be of any effect at all? It would be effective only if it could undo Time.

    2Tim2:11-13 put this fact into a song: if we are faithless, He remains faithful: for He cannot deny Himself." Recant all you like -- He remains faithful.

    In short, it isn't whether you LATER disbelieve, but whether you EVER once believed in Him, which saves you. See the end of the "P" subpage (in the "THIRD CONCEPT" subsection) for some important verses on this topic.

D. Closely examine the verses which SEEM to say you have to add something to your salvation, or that you can lose it, for the "logic" of the interpretation you hear given.

    The verses most-frequently cited to claim this continuing-faith behaviour is needed are the "work out your salvation" verse, and the book of James.

    Phillipians 2:12's "work out your salvation" is a play on "works" and play on "salvation" -- Bible's Greek has many such plays-on-words. Even if you don't know the Greek, think - how do you "work out" what you don't already HAVE? The idea is, to parlay what you have: v.13 makes it clear God does this "work out", even, not you: He does the work, you get the credit..heh.

    (A main theme in Phillipians is cost, God's work. As usual, Paul plays with the meanings of words like "work", "cost", "salvation/deliverance", humourously and ironically, to convey truth.)

    Also think through the "JUSTIFIED" explanation, above: Romans 5:1 ties in here.

    The "faith without works is dead" verse in James is another one commonly used to claim salvation didn't "take" (didn't really happen) unless you have visible-to-others works, or to say you can't be saved UNLESS you do works.

    How much sense does that make? If Christ had to go to the Cross at all, how is it you can work for salvation? If Christ had to go to the Cross at all, how is it you faith is worth anything? Wouldn't your faith be dead, anyway, given Total Depravity? If you're honest with yourself, you have to admit, "I sin." So, if one sins, what will be the quality of the faith, the works: they will be the quality of a sinner's faith and works: DEAD to God. Heb9:14 and 1Cor3:15, the "righteousness..filthy rags" verse, and all the "drag" and "draw" verses make it pretty clear that works avail nothing, show nothing, do nothing. Same for faith. Any value of faith or works must be something GOD makes, and what He makes might not be visible to one's fellow man. Morality is usually from a desire to think well of self, to be approved by others; so you can't go by morality to decide if one is "Christian".

    Why are those works' verses there, then? Ah, they do have an important purpose. They relate to the outward behavior complementary to your POST-salvation life. As 2 Cor 5:17 says in the Greek, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new-in-species creature! The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come!" (The Greek words "kaine ktsis" are usually translated "new creature" in most English bibles, but the Greek words mean "new-in-species", not just "new creature". The "in Christ" phrase relates to position in Christ on the Cross -- see Romans 6 on this -- we were baptised in His Death, meaning we died with Him on the Cross -- even before we were born. So, upon salvation, we are forever IN CHRIST because He was Resurrected, and are thus baptised into His Life, as Romans 5-8 explains.)

    Once you are in Christ, you are born-again, and are structurally a different species of human than you were beforehand. You acquire a human spirit --part of the 40 things God does for you at your initial faith in Christ. Question is, what happens now? What is the life-in-Christ while still down on this earth about? The verses about faith and works are REALLY about how to live your outward life AFTER salvation. BIG Hint that this is true: such verses are addressed to "brethern", "saints"; both words are technical Bible terms for believers, who are ALREADY saved. (Christ is Our Groom, we are Body of Christ, Bride of Christ, per the Bible. Hence we are "brethern" with respect to each other, and "sanctified" with respect to our "Bride" status..see Eph 5 for yet more on the marriage analogy.)

    The "V" subpage here explains the basics of this life. The inward life, which by FAR is the most important! is to learn the Father's Son: 2Pet3:18 and all the "know" commands in Scripture help you see this fact. Just as the Father was only pleased with the thinking of His Son, so the Son will only be pleased with a Bride whose thinking becomes compatible to His. That is our main reason for being in this body after salvation: to learn Him, to train to become a fit Bride.

    However, you don't just live life in Spirit, or in your mind; you have a body, which has bodily needs, and there are a bunch of other bodies in your periphery. So, this outward or lateral aspect to your life also needs a code to live by: thus, all the deeds-commands in Scripture.

    The unbeliever is usually moral. Morality is a good way to live in peace. It has inherent value, and God invented morality for the entire human race, not just for believers. So, every religion on the planet has a moral code in it. So, being moral helps the unbeliever to see Christ in you, by his standards of what a "Christian" should be. The actual standards are FAR higher: the inward life..Romans 12 is a good summary of the inward life, and Romans 13 (w/ parallels in Lev26, Deut28-30) is a good summary of the outward life. Deut 30:20 expresses the principle of being moral so that one's life on this earth will be blessed; so one's periphery will also be blessed.

    Of course, if morality is a good way to live in peace for the unbeliever, how much more for the believer?

    So, try reading all those verses which are claimed to be about works-salvation, as if they were about the post-salvation outward life, and you'll see more clearly why they REALLY ARE about post-salvation life. The Holy Spirit will prove it to you.

    What about those "Baptism" verses, though? Well, there are seven different kinds of "baptisms" in the Bible, so first you have to learn which "baptism" is in view. These are differentiated with "of" clauses, like "baptism of Moses", "baptism of the Spirit", etc. The baptism of water is just a testimony to the fact that you HAVE believed in Christ; it's a custom. The Greek word "baptizo" means essentially to identify with, to associate with, to bond; it is not something YOU can do, and clearly is not accomplished by inanimate water???! What, you can be saved by taking a bath, or by being sprinkled? Then everyone who's ever been wet is saved?

    So, see .. you don't even have to know the Greek meaning of the word. It makes no sense to say water saves you, or plays a role in making you saved. The "everyone..born of water and the Spirit" verse references first, physical birth (ask any mother about what "breaking water" means, an expression which is as old as time); second, spiritual birth (due to faith in Christ). Again, common sense tells you that taking a bath or a sprinkling can't do anything but make you physically wet (and maybe cleaner).

    What about "inviting Christ" into your heart, life, or whatever? I honestly don't know what to call that phrase, except "arrogance". Innocent arrogance. What, you can tell God what to do? "The heart of man is deceitful, and desperately wicked, who can know it?" says Jeremiah. You're inviting Christ into a pumping organ? or into a depraved soul? And what is man's life? If even our righteousnesses are "filthy rags", how would God find such an invitation attractive? NOOOOO. God the Father is the one who invites (remember the wedding parable, the one where guests refused to come?). You either accept the invitation by believing in Christ, or you do not. Your loss, if you do not.

    What about "Lordship" salvation, or making a commitment? How much sense does that make? Does a dead person make invitations or commitments? We are spiritually DEAD in Adam (Romans5:12ff, 1Cor15:22). Moreover, if God, not you, does the inviting, certainly your calling Him Lord or claiming to make a commitment means nothing at all. Christ made the commitment: the Cross. God the Holy Spirit has to make you reborn. You can't commit, God has to commit you. You can AGREE to HIS commitment, just once. And even there, as we saw in "T" and "I", He has to make that very-dead faith alive. See, total depravity is SOOO bad, it keeps on wanting to assign man merit; keeps on wanting to say you should do something, which is the arrogance of saying you can do something. Paul excorciates that thinking in Galatians, in language so strong, the translators had to tone it down, just as they did with "filthy rags" (which really means "menstrual rags"..but the prudish won't admit that).

    Think out the above issues, as you're inclined. The Holy Spirit will show you what's true, and probably will add many other confirmations not here listed, lest you mistakenly think you're just believing me!

E. "Salvation" has more than one meaning, so not every verse with "saved" or "salvation" in it means the kind of "salvation" which gets you to heaven.

    "Salvation" in the Greek has multiple meanings, but for some idiotic reason the translators into the English didn't uniformly translate the different meanings although the original makes them plain. (Men are fallible, God is not; thus we have the Scripture to "catch" such errors.)

    "Sozo" is the Greek verb. "soteria" is the Greek noun. English uses "save" and "salvation" in many ways; the words don't ONLY signify whether one goes to heaven. The Greek also uses these words in many ways.

    For example, if I say I "saved" money on something, you wouldn't automatically assume it had to do with my going to heaven, would you? If I said "wow, i was saved!" you'd not say that "saved" ONLY meant heaven -- rather, you'd look at the rest of what I said to determine what I was saved FROM. The translators may have understood what "save" and "salvation" actually meant, but didn't always fix the translation to show what it meant.

    "Deliver", and "deliverance", and "saved from cost", and "save" as a quantity (saved from damage, from extra effort, or some other problem) are other meanings of these Greek words, just as in the English.

    For example, all the "endure to the end" verses are talking about the deliverance from historical disaster, and the warning is to keep the faith so you will be physically saved from the disaster. (God uses disaster to punish, and if one wants to avoid being punished, "keep the faith"..hold on to the doctrine...keep trusting Him. Check it out.)

    What am I saying, here? That the heart of the problem in the idea that you have to keep on working or keep on doing something to keep your "salvation" is based on a an incorrect interpretation -- that "salvation" can ONLY mean the kind that gets you to Heaven.

    There are actually 3 stages to salvation. You can't even get the 2nd or 3rd stage without FIRST being "born-again". That "born again" is what makes you go to Heaven, not your works. It is called "positional sanctification": this position is referenced in the NT wherever you see the phrase "in Christ". Do a verse search on that phrase -- it will help you see why you can't lose your salvation.

    The second stage, formerly called by theologians "experiential sanctification", is what the verses on continuing-faith and works reference. This process determines your relative status IN Heaven, not whether you will get there.

    Finally, the 3rd stage, ultimate sanctification, is the acquisition of your resurrection body (post-death).

F. Give the idea of God's Grace the benefit-of-the-doubt that it might be TOTAL.

    Romans 4:4 and Gal 5:3 make it clear that if you think something needs to be added to faith in Christ, you are essentially saying faith is not faith, but works, and at the same time you are saying you owe debt, so you deny Christ paid for you.

    Take the precaution, then, of simply believing in Christ. No added works on your part. If you do this, but later you think it wasn't enough, at least you gave the benefit-of-doubt to the idea, which was a fair thing to do.

    Better still, you will at least be saved (even if you later disbelieve it!) because you did this ONCE. Sure, if you later disbelieve faith alone is enough you will have a miserable life down here trying to earn your salvation, but at least you won't MISS being saved!

    If you never merely believe, but persist in thinking you must add to His Work, then you will not only be miserable on this earth trying to (allegedly) earn your salvation, but you will go to Hell. Why take that chance? It's at least worth believing just in case it's true, isn't it? What do you have to lose? Would God not understand? Give Grace the benefit of the doubt..

4. I'm still not clear on what salvation "is"!

Salvation means you are saved to, and saved from:

To: God; Heaven; Relationship with the Godhead forever; Christ; Royalty; a life of greater enjoyment, even down here, than you can dream of; riches beyond your wildest imagination; importance, as a person, You! beyond your ability to describe.

From: Hell, chance, meaningless pain, loneliness, despair, guesswork, meaningless effort, peasant living, emptiness, futility.

When you believe in Christ, you become a different species of human being, as #3 above briefly covered (2 Cor5:17 in the Greek): you are placed in Christ, and are "one" with Him, as it were (search on the verses with "one" in them, and especially Jn17's prayer). You are Indwelt by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (search on the verses which say "in" and reference Any Member of the Godhead). You are "sealed to the day of redemption" by the Holy Spirit.

Sealing was a signature guarantee, in the ancient world. Then, a person had a ring, called a signet ring, on which he made an imprint to signify a document or other written material belonged to him or was agreed-to by him. Sealing meant one was bound to the item on which the seal appeared. Because you are sealed, your body is a "temple of the Holy Spirit", as it says in Corinthians. The Father and the Son also guarantee your inheritance in Christ. Search on the words "guarantee" and "inheritance" and their synonyms.

You receive a huge portfolio of assets, which the Holy Spirit delivers to you partially, over time -- some of these assets -- at least 40 of them -- you get the second you believe in Christ. The rest are added to you as you mature in your spiritual life.

1Peter makes a huge deal out of your portfolio: he makes an analogy to the financial "equipping" of a Greek play, in Chapter 1. It was very expensive to put on a play, in those days, so Peter's analogy is about a LOT of wealth.

The Book of Ephesians has an almost-endless sentence, in the Greek (but not the English!) of Chapter 1, for about the first 20 verses, to stress the endlessness of our wealth. Ephesians is the flagship book of our portfolio of assets in Christ (although Hebrews is a close runner-up).

You are, for example, Royal Family of God. This is due to your being in Christ. Traditional theology calls this "positional sanctification". It has nothing whatsoever to do with how good you are, but how good Christ is. As we saw in subpages "P" and "S", everything is about Christ! We benefit due to Him; unbelievers thus benefit due to us, despite the fact that we are a separate "kingdom", right smack dab in the devil's own world.

Your new position means you share in all He is and has: this is what He prayed for, in John 17. For example, at the moment you believe in Christ you receive the Father's Eternal Life, the Son's (Deity) Eternal Life, the Father's Righteousness, and the Son's Righteousness at the moment the Holy Spirit makes you "born again" (creates a human spirit for you).

There are lot of verses on these facts. The Integrity of God book, and the Romans tapes (see #3 for how to get them) list the many citations, too many to list here.

Search on the words "royal", Bride of Christ", "in the Beloved", "in Christ", "son" ,"child" and "saint" to see this. For example, the Corinthians, one of the worst groups of believers to ever grace the planet, are all called "saints" by Paul, in his letters!

"Saint" means "set-apart". Also search on the word "priest", in the New Testament. You're that, too. This is your position.

Now, how you learn to live out your position (the real meaning of the "work out your salvation" verse, the real meaning of the verses in James 1 about faith and works), is to become a "doer of the Word", as James puts it; to be "transformed...by means of doctrine" as Paul puts it in Romans 12; to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ" as Peter puts it at the end of 2Pet. This is the process of "experiential sanctification" another traditional theological term.

Phillipians 3 has a lot to say on those believers who grow (1st 15 verses) versus those who retrogress (e.g., verse 18 et.seq). The goal, is "to come to know the love for Christ...fullness of God" in Eph 3:15-21. Romans 15 covers the topic also, on how the mature believers are to "bear the weaknesses of the weak" baby believers.

These are BIG jobs, and they require training. You weren't reborn to flip over hamburgers, but to be ROYAL, priestly. 'Which requires a long period of training, before one is qualified to do any works. After all, even a baby must grow up before he can get a job. After all, a seed must first sprout and grow to a fruit tree, before it can bear fruit. The idea that you get saved, and then immediately work work work is ...well, not logical, is it?

"Ultimate sanctification" is the third and final stage of your "salvation" -- the "redemption of our bodies", as Paul puts it. That happens at and after death: you lose the depraved body at death.

TO SUM UP: "salvation" really has 3 parts to it. These 3 parts are sequential deliveries of the assets in your portfolio, "in Christ". They are: 

  1. "positional sanctification": the rebirth and all positional assets, WITHOUT WHICH YOU CANNOT DO ANY WORKS, with its concomitant "sealing to the day of redemption" (guarantee you will go to Heaven, for example, and guarantee of your salvation assets, plus partial delivery of them);

  3. "experiential sanctification": the experiential assets of learning Bible Doctrine which, if you use them, will enable you to receive the "maturity" (English uses "perfect", a bad translation) status: riches of your on-earth portion of your inheritance, which riches add to your inheritance in eternity (if you use them down here);

  5. "ultimate sanctification": the new body at death, and your forever-Royal status, both on earth later, and in heaven: with Him.

  6. Do a search on "saint","sanctify", "sanctification" and synonyms like "holy" and "set apart" to at least get a glimmer of these three stages to your deliverance (another meaning of "salvation", rarely translated in English), in Christ.

5. But what about "by their fruits ye shall know them"?

Self-righteous legalists, whose "fruits" are that sin of pride, love to point to this verse. If you don't conform to their idea on how to behave, then you must not be saved. Your belief in Christ was never there, or you had a "head belief, but not a heart belief". Really? Do we lose this totally-depraved body when we believe in Christ? Are these, who cite this verse, so sinless? Heh -- they will tell you no, they sin too -- they don't mean to be self-righteous.

Of course, the "fruits" of the widow who put in the two coppers would thus be worth less than the guy before her, who put in the talents, by this definition of "fruits"! Which, of course, is the opposite of what the Lord said of her (Mark 12:42)...

Let's look at the "fruits" passage.

It is in Matthew 7:16, and is about false teachers. The Chapter is about judging and false doctrine. Notice it is not about mere outward behaviour, but rather about false thinking, teaching, and in particular, about the false rabbinical teachings. Of course, false behaviour results.

Do also a verse search on "fruit", and "fruits", and synonyms. 

You will find that believers are producing bad fruits, too. Corinthians, James -- -these are letters addressed to bad believers, who fornicate, murder...etc. David murdered Bathsheba's husband, but had long been saved when he did it.

Moses had long been saved when he sinned at 2nd Meribah. Abraham had long been saved when he went into Hagar, at his wife's request.

"by their fruits"? Well, they'd not be saved? 

What, is God's Omniscience so deprived, He didn't impute ALL sins to Christ? Search on the "passing over" of sins verses to see they were set aside expressly for the Cross -- so, didn't God make sure all sins were paid for, "for His Name's sake"?

Paul is talking about believers in Phillipians 3:18 and following; about believers, in the mock-self of Romans 7. Check it out...

Also, one final shot: which is worth more to God, what you are thinking, or what you are doing? Take this test of Scripture: look for all the "know" passages (and their synonyms) versus all the "do" passages -- and see how what you are supposed to know far outweighs what you are supposed to do. Then look at 1Cor 13, where Paul compares the relative worthlessness of works, versus love; and Phillipians 3:8, where Paul condemns all of his religious works, as "dung" (the "s" word, really).

"and to come to know the love for Christ" in Ephesians 3 is a passage of the high supremacy of learning Him -- the "fruit" of thinking.

"For My ways are not Your ways...nor My thoughts your thoughts"

"For man sees on the outside", The Lord told Samuel, when Samuel was looking at Jesse's sons, "but God sees on the inside."

Even if it is but two coppers ("pennies")...a single thought which pleases Infinite God is of infinite value -- to Him. God, not man, is the FIRST PERSON who has the right to say what is worthy. God help anyone else, who thinks he has the right to judge!

V. TULIPS' meaning After Salvation

...the surpassing riches of His Superior Power..in the Beloved (cf. Eph1:19, Eph 3:15-19)

Your life post-salvation: to learn how to use your inheritance "in Christ", as much as you can -- before you die.

CAUTION: God has assigned a "right pastor" for each believer. No two pastors teach exactly alike. Most agree on the basics of salvation, but they differ greatly on post-salvation. Part of the reason for this is so that each believer can find a "home" spiritually where he will listen to a teacher.

The Bible is like a "pkzip" file. God gives a special pastor-teacher gift to a man he appoints. The rest of us learn under our right pastor, and have a far more limited understanding than our right pastor does.

So, only the bare-bones concepts of the post-salvation life will be covered here: further details should be covered by your pastor. If you do not have a pastor, you might wish to consult VI. for some possible ways to learn spots God might use to help you identify your right pastor.

1. What's the best "benefit" of the post-salvation life, on earth?

KNOWING GOD. Of all the ways the benefits can be classified, of all the ways folks talk about the particulars, KNOWING GOD is the sine qua non of the spiritual life.

Lots of folks think you can't know God. The Bible says that's not true: "..and to come to know the love for Christ, which goes beyond [academic] knowledge" is somewhere in Eph. 3. Also, in Phillipians 1:21, it says "Living, Christ! Dying, profit!" (corr. trans: there are no verbs, to stress Paul's excitement.)

The principal purpose of the Bible is to enable you to KNOW God. The more you learn about God (three Persons, actually, are depicted in Scripture, Christ being Central) -- the more you will come to love God. This knowledge is solely furnished by God, as you saw in the "I" part of TULIPS. Because we are totally depraved, this love can only be LEARNED -- through the study of Bible Doctrine. It is NOT emotion, though you'll have plenty of emotion alongside.

It makes all the difference in life. No problem matters much, once you've learned enough about Him. Your ability to be tempted decreases, especially in the petty things of life, which are really the BIGGER test ("big" things look big, so motivate interest-in-God more easily). You're just not so interested anymore. You see everything differently. Inwardly you come to think more like Christ, "disregarding the shame" of temptation. (Heb 12:2's "despise" really means to "disregard".)

Think of romance, how happy people are when they are in love, and you get a small idea of what KNOWING God is like. It is way beyond emotion, and isn't even based on emotion (none of the spiritual life is based on how you feel, but is rather based on Who you know). When one is in love, the object of love is HIGH in the soul, and all else is much, much lower. So what used to be upsetting or besetting "loses its power", so to speak.

All of the other benefits are indeed massive, but this one -- above all -- is beyond compare.

Herein we see the full genius of God. The entire reason for the Bible, for the spiritual life, is to do what HE WANTS TO SEE: learn His Son! Learning His Son is the sublime life, better than all wealth, all fame, all this world has to offer. So great is this benefit, that as the Christian grows, he will come to yearn to suffer for Christ: Phillipians 1:20-21, 3:8-10, especially verse 10: "that I may know Him, and the Power of His Resurrection, and may share in His Sufferings, becoming like Him in His Death" (RSV, here).

2. What is the Post-Salvation life about? Works?

No. It is about learning Him, without which, the FIRST Commandment is not executed: "but grow in grace and in the knowledge of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ " (2Pet3:18). You can't "love the Lord Your God with all your heart and soul and mind" if you don't even know Him...

"Works" is tangential to the spiritual life. It is a part of it, in the sense that we are not to be immoral, etc., but it is very secondary. Folks don't understand this. Maybe the following explanation will help.

We are Royal Family of God, because we are part of the Bride of Christ, and He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Bright Morning Star in His Humanity. (See Hebrews 1 on His Title, here. You can do a verse-search on the "Bride" term to find all of those refs. Also, look at 1Pet 2 or 1 :5, 9 on "priesthood" verses. Many other passages on "priest" also, describing us as Royal, especially, in Hebrews, abound.)

As you probably know in human affairs, being Royal is no small duty. It takes -- and should! -- a lifetime of TRAINING for the rigors of rulership. Our life here is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity, where we will be -- as Bride -- co-rulers! with Him. So, we must be TRAINED.

No Royal is allowed, ideally, to do anything before he is sufficiently trained. God, who gives us free will, sets up the training program and totally runs it -- but, will allow us to reject the program, with of course the attendant disciplinary results, when we do!

We have an awesome role in this world, but to actually realize its benefits personally, we must first become trained "by means of the Spirit and by means of doctrine". (John 4:24; See also John 14, Eph 3, Romans 12 and 15, the Petrine epistles, for some idea of what these things mean -- oh -- and 1 John.)

Now -- would you want a doctor to work on you before he is sufficiently trained? NO! Does God want you running around doing a bunch of works you might not yet know how to do? No! Much of what passes for Christianity today is a bunch of untrained babies running around. They look like it, too. And Christianity is maligned as a result.

Of all the confusions in Christendom, this bolixing-up over "works" is the biggest. Baby Christians think that, as soon as they are reborn, they must hustle for God, and folks who should know better TEACH that same false idea. How is it false? Well, what works can a baby do? He can drool, and ...soil his diapers. What work can a seedling do? doesn't it have to first grow into a full tree before it can bear fruit? Yet Christians all over the world are running around, babyishly doing works, thinking they are helping God, living the spiritual life.

But God says, "grow ...in knowledge" 2Pet3:18. The writer of Hebrews admonishes his readers in the middle of Chapter 5 for becoming babies again; these readers had reverted to Judaic practices, works; which the writer of Hebrews condemned in the strongest possible terms, "crucifying the Son of God afresh". See, you have to become COMPETENT first. And for that, you need training. Would you think it rational to tell a baby to cut out an appendix? Of course not. Would you expect a retarded person to calculate the physical properties needed for a nuclear reactor? Of course not.

"Works" aren't acceptable without training. Sloppy thinking leads to sloppy works...actually, to harm. Christians who run around condemning others' sins out of "love", seizing on the "rebuke" Scriptures, are dishonoring the Gospel. "You did not so learn Christ!" It says in Eph 4:20. See, one needs training in order to "teach" anyone anything.

The same need for training applies to works like giving, working around a church, etc. Giving is especially misunderstood. Governments give money to the poor, but don't first realize that unless the poor are first trained in the use of money, that money will not help them. For example, in one place, new housing was made for the poor; brand-new townhomes. The poor were moved into them. But the places burnt down..why? Because the poor didn't know how to use the washer/dryer, and instead turned on the gas stove, with the clothes nailed into the cabinetry, above the gas flames, in order to dry the hand-washed items! God's Government does not work like that: as babies, we are poor in knowledge, poor in coordination, poor in movement. So don't worry, God doesn't want you working before He has trained you to become competent, lest you burn the spiritual "house", or the Gospel...

Giving a gift requires a lot of knowledge about the gift's appropriateness. Too much, too little, too soon, too late...these are some of the variables. The Lord did NOT feed everyone, did NOT heal everyone, when He was here. When criticized for allowing the ointment to be put on Him, rather than sold to give to the poor, what did He say? "The poor you will have with you always." (John12:8). So there is a right way, a wrong way, a right amount, a wrong amount, a right time, and a wrong time, to give. Do you want your gift wasted? Of course not. So, why not wait until you know GOD has trained you? Why not wait until you know what HE wants you to do?

Further, much of what Christians call their "works" in God's Name have been sheer evil: look at the Crusades, the Inquisition, the religious wars of yesteryear and today. Ask this question: is the work really to "help" God, or to help one's own ego, or conscience? Is it really about God, or you? "These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me". Pharisees, scribes, hypocrites; the man who put in the talents, to be seen-of-men; the long fastings, long public prayers...you know these verses.

God doesn't need our help. God wants to see His Son's thinking in us -- God is your first "work" -- to develop a compatible thinking pattern with His, which He grants through the Holy Spirit.

Sure, the meanwhile, you're supposed to be moral, etc., and you use 1Jn1:9 every time you sin, lest you become stunted in your ability to learn doctrine. But all of this is just adjunctive! You are called to even HIGHER purpose!

God will use you while you learn -- count on it! He will train you; as you grow, He'll give you chores, as it were: works to help you relieve the growing outlet you'll need for "doing great things for God". He will show you what works you will eventually need to do, so your training can become more specific, in preparation. Think of Moses, Christ, Paul -- they all went through EXTENSIVE isolation and training periods before they did even ONE "work"! Moses, 40 years; Christ, maybe 30 years; Paul --by some estimates -- 14 years, at least. Note the pattern, here -- don't be distracted by the fact that they all ended up being in public ministry. Each of us has a purpose, designed by the Father, to glorify His Son. It is a Royal Purpose, a RICH purpose. Don't go by what your eyes see...

Further -- GOD is your first Audience, as He always hears you! Think that over carefully..when you are brushing your teeth, He hears your thoughts. What are they? Do those thoughts please Him? See why using 1Jn1:9 constantly is so important? You want to do works? What about the "works" of your thinking, before God? Who, 24 hours a day, hears you? Is God not a more important Person than any human? His Infinite Pleasure or Displeasure, what is that worth to you? What "work value" might His Infinite Pleasure have? Will the Lord say to you at the Judgement Seat, "Gee, it was okay you ran around doing works, though you didn't even BOTHER to learn Me, so your thoughts would please My Father"? BEWARE ignoring the First Commandment.

Ask yourself, would you turn stones into bread (Matt4:3-4, Deut8:3ff), or would you live on the Word? And Who hears which you are doing? Are you giving in to the hunger to "do something", tired of the "fasting" of learning, or do you prefer living on the Word? As it says in Hebrews 10:31, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God".

Hopefully by this point it becomes clearer that one's thought life before the Lord is the FAR bigger "work". Any externals which God graciously trains you to do are but recreation, release; that those who mistake human works for "the" spiritual life are guilty of the verse, "having a form of godliness, but denying its power." (2Tim3:5; eusebeia, translated "godliness", means the spiritual life..I forget the name of the German scholar who proved that, and will put his name in here when I find my notes.)

Total Depravity means we are constantly bombarded by the need to "do something" meritorious; the old sin nature we genetically inherited from Adam, plus the accumulated effects of our own sins, make this urge to "do" unbearable. So we are all guilty of "having a form of godliness.." but we also have the Holy Spirit to set us aright, via 1Jn1:9 and getting-doctrine under His Teaching Ministry via our right pastors.

God the Holy Spirit will help you see that visible "works" is NOT but an adjunctive and minor feature in the spiritual life. Keep plugging, keep using 1Jn1:9, keep studying. John 14 has the promise of His Help -- and Romans 5:5ff shows that promise (esp. when tied to Romans 8), that "Hope" will be fulfilled: "Hope never disappoints"!

3. So how do I use TULIPS to understand the Post-Salvation life?

TULIPS forms the basis for your understanding the post-salvation life. God is Perfect, therefore consistent.

For example, "T" means your body remains totally depraved, and you have a knowledge deficit -- which, now that you are saved, is willed by Sovereignty to be filled up, using the "I" provision (which, remember, is NOT dependent on human IQ, to give you the Grace of learning apparati and time, via the Holy Spirit and 1Jn1:9 (to get back on-line with Him).

"U" and "L", being the basis of your salvation, are also the basis of your post-salvation understanding that you can do no works to please God -- only learning Bible Doctrine. Any "works" which naturally result from Doctrine circulating in your soul will naturally please Him -- nothing else. Thus, you gradually learn to avoid all the many wasteful activities baby Christians get themselves into "in God's name".

"P" is gradually conveyed to you, beginning down here: you have total logistical support, even when God disciplines you (and He does to all of us, strenuously!) -- sometimes, for example, you will just barely get by, with some nick-of-time provision -- at other times, you'll have more "wealth" than you know what to do with.

"P" means that nothing in your life is accidental: it is all designed to support and train you in His Thinking.

"S" means that Christ is SUPREME. The reason for all this life, the reason for such training in His Thinking. His Thinking is the Alpha and Omega of life. All else just tags along: Phillipians 3:8.

So, in this very brief description, you can begin to "grasp the idea" as Eph 3 puts it..

  • Despite "T", you can learn Him;
  • "U" and "L" mean you don't have to get caught up in meaningless works,
  • since your "job" is to train in His Thinking, which "I" enables;
  • and "P" assures you'll get the necessary support and circumstances to use that training, Plus enough time on earth --
  • all of this being willed by "S" so that you can grow into maximum rapport with God -- "to know Him and the Power of His Resurrection", as Paul puts it in Phillipians 2.
  • Such learning makes you grow to spiritual maturity, the very goal in view in Eph 3 and 4 (see also Philip. 3, Rom 15, for hints on this...and search on "teilei"/"tetl" root in Greek texts, since that is the root for "mature, finished, complete").
  • So, even BRUSHING TEETH is used to please Him (thinking, not doing, is what makes for "pleasing"). In short, your "dull" life might just be more pleasing to God than all those seemingly-better "works" by baby Christians!
  • Since learning, not "earning" is what counts, ("earning" being what is left when the "L" for "Lord" is missing), you will be rewarded by what the Holy Spirit does to make you grow.
  • How to know this: Royalty has a hierarchy, in both time and eternity -- analogous to earthly royalty's structure. There are many verses on the rewards. Search on: "crowns", "reward" "inheritance", "robe", "prize", and synonyms of these words -- also, look up how in Paul's day athletic contests and military triumphs were rewarded -- with MASSIVE amounts of wealth -- by the state. This will give you some clue that the point here is biblically valid.

4. How does this Thinking work?

Each pastor "packages" the answer to this question differently, to suit the particular "flock" God has given him. So, please read what follows only in the most general sense, as my way of phrasing the answer necessarily reflects my pastor's "packaging".

You know that the Bible has many verses. You also know that these verses are on many topics. If you were to organize the Bible topically, it would be impossible, because each verse ties to every other verse (this is a hallmark characteristic of the Bible's being Divine, infallible). "The Word of God is alive and powerful", as Hebrews 4:12 puts it, so the verses are dynamic, living, in context, thoughts-of-God, etc.

The idea is for you to come to have this same kind of thinking going on in your own soul. God is "pleased" to hear such thoughts, which makes sense -- we are also pleased when others think like we do! It means there is rapport.

Any given thought is on at least one topic. Question is, will the thought, will the topic, be compatible with His Thoughts, His View?

For this compatibility to exist, you have to come to understand the Bible topically, correctly, and in context. Thus, you learn to think categorically with respect to any given circumstance in your life.

Each circumstance is a topic, and has topics related to it. So, you will have thoughts related to the "topic" of your circumstance. Question is, what Bible Doctrines relate? Can you think them? Do you prefer to think them rather than thinking something which God would not "like"? If you are thinking them, how well? How often? How fluently?

NOTE: the circumstance itself isn't the issue -- your thinking is the issue. It's a structure, this thinking..the structure of Bible doctrine, so applies equally well in all circumstances. The same thinking which is Divinely His, applied to a small thing, works just as well when applied to a BIG thing. God will use the small things to develop His Thinking in you..and then give you "big" circumstances, to show how "big" is no big deal, compared to the Superiority of His Thinking.

Now -- the categories of thinking which often come into play are problem-solving categories. My pastor "packages" the relevant doctrines which can be brought to bear so that one solves problems (i.e., temptations are bypassed or overcome). So far, he has packaged these into 10 INTERLOCKING classifications. Some of them are semi-static (a state of mind which gradually comes to be in your thinking at all times), and some of them are particulate (sorta like actions). The skill to develop, is to have ALL 10 'circulating' in COORDINATION in your thinking at all times. [If you are interested in learning more, the name of my pastor's series on this topic is #376, "92 Spiritual Dynamics", '92 being the year started. It ended in 2003, so is very long. Full details and supporting verses on these 10 categories are in this 2000+ lesson hours' series. GO THROUGH IT SEQUENTIALLY, if you'll do it at all. You'll find a link to my pastor's site in Part VI of this "Tulips?" webseries.]

As you read what follows, notice how the last 5 (#6-10) form a kind of big-picture "executive" which not only massively upgrade your motivation and enjoyment, but also COMPETENTLY RUN the first five. Because, in the last five you INTEGRATE YOUR THINKING WITH GOD. Until then, it's just so many 'pieces' of doctrinal data which you largely use ad hoc, spiritually. No Christian ever serves God competently until he is at or above #6, so don't feel bad if you find yourself blundering. It takes a LONG TIME using 1Jn1:9 and staying under your right pastor to even get to #6 (most Christians NEVER do), but the life exponentially notches up from there. [Much more detail on this process and the underlying spiritual-life structure is in LordvSatan3.htm. You may need to go through ~1 and ~2 before ~3 will make sense.]

    FAST GROWTH KEY ==> Spend the most time learning what Bible says about God's Nature and PONDER about How He is. Ask Him, talk with Him (aka "prayer") about how He is. Your spiritual life will skyrocket if you make this a daily habit, so long as you do it because you are INTERESTED. (Interest naturally fluctuates. When you are in a less-interested frame-of-mind, pick an aspect of God you are MORE interested in, and play with that.) If you fake it, or do it from guilt, or like some religious duty, then it's like LYING, and nothing good will come of it. For, it's that stupid Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from which fakery and religion all sprang. (Religion is man having the colossal gall to think he can earn/get credit/count with God based on what man does. Such arrogance is usually NOT recognized as such, because it is the same kind as Satan has, and was the essence of the temptation to Adam and the woman in the Garden. LordvSatan2.htm has much more information on this topic.)

Habitual problems despite doctrinal thinking means some layer/aspect within these 10 categories is OUT OF KILTER/STEP with the rest. These thinking categories are meant to be coordinated, aligned. Spiritual glitches occur (so temptation becomes sin often or easily) due to lack of development, coordination, alignment: for the ENTIRE LIFE IS ABOUT INTEGRATION WITH GOD.

    For example, all life to me is boring apart from this thinking, now: as wonderful as things and people can be, they can't even begin to compare with the sheer Beauty of 'seeing' His Thinking. So if I forget that the Cross is essentially a 'making love' to WEAKNESS (God CHOSE weakness: Phili2:5-10), then my attitude toward life (#8, below) is NOT IN STEP with His Attitude on the Cross, even though I am LOOKING RIGHT AT HIM (so to speak) in my Spirit-filled mind (Bible is Thinking of Christ, so you come to 'see' Him, the more you know Doctrine). But oh, when I remember! Heaven. No emotion is anything like this peace. Hell becomes heaven, here.

Ok, let's start at the beginning: here's my pastor's packaging of the 10 categories, in gist. Then, I'll go through two mundane (yet NOT!) examples of how they play. The categories are:
  1. Naming a known sin: use of 1Jn1:9. This is particulate, occurring when you're aware you have sinned. As a result, you are back on-line with the Holy Spirit, you are again able to truly learn Scripture accurately, and doctrine is circulating in your soul (else, only the semblance of learning/circulation is going on). NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: being offline with God, estranged from Him.
  2. Being Filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a static, unfelt condition, which is the status, when you are NOT carnal, of being on-line with the Holy Spirit, so you can think Doctrine and learn it. It only is available via #1, above. The second you are saved, you are (among other assets), Filled. The second you sin, whether you know it or not, you are carnal. #1 restores you to a Filled status. This is true whether you are a baby Christian, or an adult Christian, or a mature Christian -- or anywhere in between. Spirituality is a status, is absolute, not relative (spiritual growth depends on being in a repeated status of spirituality). In short, #1 is a license to grow spiritually, via #2's status -- NOT a "license to sin", as some baby Christians mistakenly think! NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: being stuck with mere, puny, human thinking-power.
  3. Faith-circulation. This is a big category. It includes believing promises, reasoning out promises, the actual function of believing teaching, and trusting God when you are in trouble, maligned, etc. -- rather than trying to solve the problem yourself (think of Jacob's-son-Joseph's story). So, this category is both active, e.g., some particular believing/trusting, and a a sort of stasis -- an attitude of looking-to-God. NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: reliance on self or externals (all of which are weak and disappointing).
  4. Grace thinking, which is ALWAYS AND ONLY FUELED BY FAITH-CIRCULATION: included here would be your awareness of all grace concepts and how they apply to the circumstance, to the person(s), to life. This category is particulate in that way, but also, like faith-circulation, an attitude which is manifest by a great deal of relaxation, the more you "grow" in it. NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: the tyranny of being stuck in right/wrong, tit-for-tat thinking. It doesn't matter if others make mistakes, and it doesn't matter if you do, either. What a joy, such freedom-to-fail!
  5. Doctrinal thinking: this is the cycling of truth per se. It is active. It is, for example, the comparing of various doctrines and verses quickly in the mind to reach a decision; to figure out something's nature, or role. This is going on all the time, like breathing, the more you grow. It increases in quantity, scope, and most of all, speed, comprehension! as you grow. It is like a language in which you gradually become fluent. NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: the tyranny of falsehood, of anti-grace, of i-deserve, of blaming, guilt, and the whole panoply of our Energizer-Bunny impulses, the sin nature. THIS IS THE BIGGEST AREA, and the one Christians lack the most. Due to Total Depravity, we have no 'dots' of truth, and no mechanism to connect any 'dots' we get. Doctrinal Thinking, which is Truth, not only consists of the right and true 'dots', but also forges the proper connections. Freedom from lies, at last! And the Truth is Gorgeous. So what results, when the Grace Thinking and Doctrinal Thinking team up and get coordinated, is..
  6. What my pastor calls "A Personal Sense of Destiny": an awareness of where you are in your spiritual life, and God's will for you. This category is both active, and attitudinal. It is perspective, and an active intertwiner with all the foregoing and succeeding categories. NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: "Who am I, where am I, what should I think/do, where do I fit in with God, people, life?" You can't do any works of value until you know the 'fit'. This 'filter', as it were, sorts out your life. So, this category of Divine Thinking is not only something you habitually come to do, but it is a stage of spiritual growth: adulthood.
  7. Personal Love for God (the Godhead): this is attitudinal, like breathing. Naturally there will be many particular thoughts as well. It is a phenomenal category! Rules your life! and not emotional (emotions are way too small, for this). NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: Because you love God, you are less apt to want to sin, so temptations can't hook you as often or as deeply. This Love begins in spiritual adulthood (until "Christ is formed in you" -- which is that Personal Sense of Destiny stage, you don't even know how to love God). Romans 8:28 begins to characterize your life at this point. It, too, is a spiritual stage (a maturing of spiritual adulthood).
  8. Impersonal Love for others: as a result of Personal Love for God, you develop via Bible Doctrine's circulation a love for others irrespective of their worthiness or attractiveness. This is a static attitude (becomes such), as you grow. The closest secular concept to it is 'honor'. Again, way way above emotion. Emotion is like an ant, by comparison. NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: differences with people are overcome, because you don't NEED them to conform to your standards, in order to love them. It's "impersonal", in that sense. Loving God leads to an 'overflow' of loving people, unconditionally. So all that anger, hurt, irritation, etc., gradually fades away. Someone who really hurt you long ago -- you bear them no grudge. For, you are now obeying the Royal Law (Lev19:18, Jas2:8, and all of 1Jn). You've matured in Love for God enough -- so this is a stage, as well as an ongoing, supernaturally-natural Divine Thinking pattern. This was Christ's Thinking Pattern on the Cross, the ULTIMATE in fulfilling the Royal Law..
  9. Happiness: this is a static attitude. Circumstances, pain, pressure, all are progressively less able to penetrate your happiness, because this Happiness is God's, and you have (by this point) been given enough doctrine to "share" in His Own Happiness (part of our legacy in Christ). You will come to recognize sharing God's Own Happiness (versus the shallow human ideas of happiness, which are all external-dependent), when: 1) you begin to habitually conclude that nothing but Him matters, anymore; 2) when you begin to realize that nothing you have, don't have, do, however trivial or painful/pressured, matters, because after all, "the Lord is my portion". NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: in short, the RELATIONSHIP with Him just plain makes you happy, and everything else is but a way to be with Him. It's a BEINGNESS, a TOGETHERNESS. Externals become progressively unable to penetrate your constant contentment. So...
  10. Mind-on-Christ: you become constantly occupied with Christ. Your thoughts are about Him personally, and as you grow the preponderance of your thinking will be related to His Person, directly, and your lifestyle will organize around Him personally. The closest analogy is like that of a husband for his wife, and vice versa. The idea is, everything is ASSOCIATED with Him, so you 'see' Him in everything. Everything which happens, whatever you are doing, 'reminds' you of Him in some way. Moreover, you seek to imbue every thought you have, every activity, with some toward-Him expression: 'Just because'.

    NOTICE THE PROBLEM SOLVED: your Love is Christ. EVERYTHING IS PROFIT TO YOU. However much or little pressure, pain, wealth, poverty..you name it. Phillipians 1:21 is your life: quietly, constantly, happily. You are, when habitually in this thinking pattern, spiritually-mature, and your goal is for "Christ [to become] glorified in my body." In short, "fullness". (Phillipians 1:20, corr trans., plus Eph3:19, in context.) Because, the GLORY of being a Christian -- is knowing Christ! HE IS 'HEAVEN' -- whatever else, good or bad, is heaven, too -- because knowing Him is everything. YOU YOURSELF become "gold, silver, precious stones" -- so of course every breath and act, when in the Spirit, during this stage, is likewise "gold, silver, precious stones". You, a living stone, produce even more wealth -- because His Mind is fully in you. THIS IS GOD'S GOAL FOR YOUR LIFE.

Notice how the attitudinal/static categories form INTEGRITY -- your ability to hold together, be upright, despite any stormy temptations. The Christian life is a supernatural life, and demands a spiritual means of execution -- the Holy Spirit's enabling power -- this is not mere morality, but WAY beyond it -- coming to share the very Essence of God. After all, He doesn't want puny beings to be forever wedded to His Son!

Happiness, Love: these are based on virtue. "Virtue" comes from the Latin word, and means, essentially, "strength". We sin because we are depraved, and the depravity is a weakness, an infirmity-of-being, even after we are saved. Learning Him corrects that infirmity: Romans 8, 12, 15, Phillipians, Ephesians 3 will help you see that process.

Naturally, then, the function of these categories of thinking will "produce fruit" which "pleases" God. Right thinking comes from integrity. From right thinking, comes right action...ANY action.

Naturally, then, just as any athlete enjoys his strength, enjoys using his training, so also the maturing believer will enjoy the function of these categories of thinking, in the "spiritual olympics" which is our post-salvation life! (Paul's athletic analogies to the spiritual life are olympian ones.)

Now I need to go through an example...

5. Okay, what's the example?

I'll try two examples, in case one isn't clear enough. As you read these examples, try to remember that the thought process here, which takes a long time to read and analyze, actually occurs in the space of a few seconds!

First example: housework. Who likes it? One may rightly ask, why would God create a universe which requires housework? (Substitute anything for "housework" which you find petty, annoying, and how-could-God-like-this! as your attitudes.)

Now -- God can use this to increase your spiritual growth, which "pleases" Him, and to "hear" thoughts in your mind which "please" Him! So, housework isn't so meaningless, after all!

Ah -- what kind of conclusion was that? Let's cycle through the 10 categories, to see....

First, since I hate housework, I probably sinned at some second of it, so used 1Jn1:9; therefore, #2's category becomes my status quo (until I next sin); so, during that status quo, #3, trusting Him to make the housework useful to my spiritual life, is on-line, actively(!), and I relax while doing the thing I normally hate -- because, #4, God's grace applies to make good on everything! so, #5, as I do the housework, now curious to see more of how housework can be beneficial to my spiritual life, answers from #4's circulation are going (for example, I learn patience, and focus, despite wishing not to have housework).

But the biggest payoff of the housework is in #6-10. First, it is God's will for my life that I do this housework, given the situation (which #5 had already proven, which is why I'm doing the housework in the first place), so I'm comfortable with my "niche" -- I know I'm where God wants me to be at the moment. Self now being wholly comforted, I look at Him: #7-10 are all on-line, at once, in my mind -- and now actually enjoy this housework, for it gives me an opportunity to think about Him as I work!

I'm focusing primarily on #10 -- Him. Thinking how He was here, He did a lot of picayune things to train for the Cross (the thinking, not the thing, is what counts!); how the small things are even given a "place" in life, their precision, how He capitalized on them, making the non-valuable, valuable -- see the "happiness" there? -- and, how no one thus in life, however "small" the life, is at all small! -- no handicapped person is denied "doing great things for God" because the "great things" are the thinking, using God's IQ -- see the "impersonal love", there? -- so how Great Thou Art -- Personal Love for God...

So, this thinking "pleases" Him, because it is a reflection of what Scripture teaches, which the Holy Spirit put in my pea brain, and enables to circulate. God pleases God, in other words. I'm growing, because the truth is cycling, and it restrains the old sin nature, because I'm too busy thinking these thoughts to pay attention to the temptation to dislike the smallness of my tasks!

This type of cycling on the small things is extremely powerful, and important: it transforms your soul (see Romans 12:2 and Phil. 1, 2).

The small things of life are always more powerful than the big things. "The devil is in the details". For every hour you can spend to do something you deem worthy, it took many many hours of maintainence to even get that hour. One little, loose rivet can cause a plane to crash. One loose remark of a Christian tongue (think of what James says here), how much damage does it do? "Loose lips sink ships"..one small discovery in WWII caused the British to know Axis movements in advance. "..all for the want of a nail", as Benjamin Franklin quipped.

You can think of many other examples. The small is NOT small. "Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord". And what is that power? "A still, small voice"..so don't go by the "bigness" you can see..go by the viral nature you can't see.

Bible doctrine is a "virus" which gradually wipes out the ravages of the sin nature in your life. Its power is at times demonstrated to you when what humans would call a really big thing hits your life, and you realize you didn't crack! It does train you for the "biggies". Paul makes analogies to the olympic games, in his epistles. Not all tests which are big, though, will LOOK big. (See Matthew 4's tests, to gain some insight on the preceding sentence.)

Second Example: traffic, or grocery store. Here, the problem is the logistics, and the people. All of the action-thought categories go on red alert: there will be problems, God will use the problems to benefit the others as well as me (faith circulation plus grace thinking plus doctrinal thinking).

Rude people aren't deemed offensive, because self is too happy, too content with God and circumstances, to even much note the rudeness. The rudeness is less "seen", the person is more seen -- one sees past, or beneath, the rudeness to the human being. So, there is compassion (impersonal love), honor, instead of reaction to the rudeness. Instead, the constant thought pattern is centered on Christ: "What would Jesus do?" is no longer a mere wish or catchphrase: you know the answer, and it is a part of you. "Seeing Him Who is Invisible" is your entire life. You don't have to beat any drums, you don't have to tell people, they will somehow know.

That trip to the grocery store may be used to witness for Christ, even though all you do, is buy groceries. (I've seen it happen, or couldn't type that sentence.)

Seeing everything through the "filter" of seeing Christ first, the entire interpretation and response to the events of tangled traffic, tangled grocery shopping, tangled people is completely relaxed. One's sense of humor is keen. One is relaxed, happy.

In Sum....

These same attitudes and thoughts would be on-line even if someone dear was diagnosed with cancer -- they are like compartments of thinking which nothing penetrates, when one is of sufficient growth, and of course, while not carnal!

One ends up seeing the vast panorama of His Justice, His Love, how He flips failure into the fabulous! Hurting becomes something of an enjoyment, not masochistic at all: Paul's "the fellowship of His Sufferings" phrase in Phillipians -- a pervasive gratitude, way way beyond what any emotion could "hope" to be. It is really hard to describe. When you get there, you will know. It is a knowing, not a feeling, this happiness. Feeling is there, also, but it is just a reflex, comes along for the ride, doesn't get in the way, anymore, of the knowing.

One never stops sinning completely. As growth occurs, sin becomes progressively less frequent, takes more to tempt, takes less time to recover (and guilt, being a sin, is tossed out the window more easily). In essence, one becomes too busy thinking about how He thinks, enjoying how He thinks (see Phillipians on this process).

Temptations require you pay attention to them, or else you can't sin. In the beginning, it is hard to pay attention to Bible teaching. As one grows, it becomes easier to look at how He thinks, than to look at how the world thinks, so temptation's power, and thus depravity's power, atrophies. Like (supposedly) the Energizer Bunny (tm), the depravity never quite dies -- but it becomes VERY much weaker.

Instead, one is too busy thinking doctrine. As Hebrews 5:9 puts it in the Greek ("underneath" the words of the verse, because two words are a pun!) ..." if it's learning, is it suffering? No!"

6. I don't see how that's better than "works".

You might want to review #2, above, with respect to Who hears you all the time, and ask yourself which Persons you are really "working" for. Pleasing the "boss" is a tad more important, than pleasing fellow employees, isn't it? Pleasing the Father is a bit more important than pleasing self or brethern by "helping" them, isn't it? Ask yourself this question before the Lord -- what does HE value more, your thinking so to please the Father, or your body moving around to supposedly benefit other mere people? Who paid for you? The Son, or other people? Beware: if you value what you can see yourself doing as more important than what the Father hears you thinking, you slap the Son's face, the way the Pharisees did.

    The history of Christianity, like the history of all believers' lives before Christ, reveals that folks' comprehension of Scripture is like an 8-year old's comprehension of "work": do set tasks, do little chores, and Mommy/Daddy will reward you. Or, his comprehension of 'love': sing songs, get hugs, have parties/parades/rituals. See the problem? Christianity's ideas of God and the spiritual life are CHILDISH. Just like fallen Adam's figleaves, actually: think over Genesis 3's significance. So no wonder the Lord said, "I speak to them in parables", and Bible talks of "milk" rather than "solid food". By contrast, the REAL God is SO MUCH MORE than a Sugar Daddy/Petty Judge; Bible is about SO MUCH MORE than third-grade works for mere people; but RATHER about works FOR GOD, like -- um, THINKING. See 1Cor13:8-12, Phili2:5-10, 2Pet3:18, Rom12:2-3, Eph3:15-21, just to name a few bald passages.

    Precedence for the CRITICAL IMPORTANCE of Thinking-for-God is, of course, Matt4, which derives from Deut8, which is based on Deut6; which is echoed in Deut9 and 30. Which was promised as a permanent WRITTEN text so it could be WRITTEN in the soul, in Jer31:31-34, echoed and explained in Heb8:8-12 through 10:15-17. Check it out yourself. "Works" are distinguished as EITHER bad or good, and if you carefully search all works-passages, you'll find that only when GOD is "IN" the work, is it good. Look up Rev20:11-15, to see how people (well, unbelievers) are JUDGED NEGATIVELY as a result of their GOOD DEEDS (KJV trans. is best, of the English ones). Believer good-deeds, of course, get burned up at the Bema (Evaluation Seat, a raised stage: depicted 'live' in Rev4): 1Cor3 is on that topic.

    Of course, you could INSTEAD just ask yourself, how is it that a Man Nailed to a Cross could have done ANY works whatsoever, since He couldn't MOVE! So what did He do then? Hint Hint -- THINKING. Just like Matt4, on the Cross the Lord is thinking SCRIPTURE, like Ps22:6, and 31:5 (His last words before He deliberately exhaled His soul). That's what paid for our sins. Can't very well be anything else: how can a physical death pay for SOUL SINS? So a SOUL had to THINK counter-thoughts to match and supercede all those sin thoughts Father imputed to Him (all sin is thought; body merely is a bucket of biology, obeying soul's dictates).

So man-centered thinking has a great deal of trouble here, obviously. Remember how the Lord replied to Samuel, when he was stumped as to why the urim and thummin didn't pick any of Jesse's sons as the replacement King for Saul (David not being present)? He says "Man sees on the outside, but God sees on the inside."

Or, when He says in the OT: "These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me", or "I desire Mercy, not Sacrifice!" Or, "My ways are not your ways"; or, the "vain offerings" verses.

Or, when He says in NT: "sacrifices and offerings You did not desire, but a Body You have prepared for Me" (Heb10:5); or, "whitewashed tombstones"; or, "let not your prayers be [empty-mouthed phrases] like the Pharisees", or when he said the widow who put in the two coppers gave more than the one before hers' talents, or -- well, you're getting the idea.

What we see as "good" is but a small dot -- God sees the whole person, the whole picture, knows whether the "good" is really good, or not. Generally, Not. Remember the Matt7(?) verse about how a tree is known by its fruit? Well, fruit is works. BUT WHAT KIND? And, think: the type of work is coming from a SOURCE, the tree itself. So if that tree is full of rotten thinking, self-righteous thinking, guilt thinking, fear-thinking, fit-in-with-humanity thinking -- just what KIND of fruit do you think will be born? Fruit like that of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, right?

Many Christians call themselves "conservative": why? Because we realize that the do-goodism of liberalism in the US is terrible -- a type of tyranny, in the name of good. We SEE that, and so call it "bad". God sees what we do not. So, just as the liberals don't "see" that their agenda is bad, so also we don't "see" how what we think is good is NOT good.

But there is a deeper reason why "works" aren't anywhere near as important to God as your thinking. A FAR BIGGER REASON...

That reason is the Godhead Themselves! When you think a thought which "pleases" Him -- Who are you "pleasing"? Infinite God! Remember, God is one BIG Is-ness. The thought newly occurring to you 'now' has ALWAYS and will ALWAYS be in front of Him. So how big is that little thought? As big as God is, for it's God's opinion of that never-erased-thought, not your opinion, which matters! So: you got upset in traffic? You'll forget it -- but God 'cannot', for His Omniscience means ALL thoughts of EVERYONE REMAIN ONLINE. Forever.

    KEY: It's how Big God is, not how big your "work" is, which makes for the VALUE of the "work". In other words, the value of His "Pleasure" is what makes a "work" good...and He is Infinite. So, any format (thing) can be turned into a vehicle for your thoughts to be Divinely pleasing...therefore, any littlest thing, two coppers, even, "becomes" Infinitely valuable, if Divine Thought -- which He puts in you! -- is used. There are well over 100 "sweet savor" verses in Scripture: that term is the KJV translation for a pleasing smell. If you look at 2Cor2:14-15, you'll find that the pleasing smell is the smell of our THINKING: "for we have the Thinking of Christ" (1Cor2:16). Stinky thinking, by contrast, is i-am-important thinking, or that fake humility (oh how humble I am): "Stench" is the actual Bible word (English trans). Stench often accompanies philanthropism: someone wants favor, like Ananais (Acts 5). Someone else wants to GET the philanthropist's money, so to feel important (the Jerusalem Jews in Acts 21:17). Oh yeah -- you think GOD likes that? "Better a meal of vegetables", quipped Solomon (in Proverbs). See also Zech7. For, "Man sees on the outside, but GOD SEES ON THE INSIDE." And if the 'inside' stinks, well...

So the first and ONLY VALID "work" is the First Commandment: how you think about Him -- "what think ye of Christ?" and, "Keep on thinking this in you, which was also in Christ Jesus..".Now, what value is your giving everything away, if He's not approved you to do that work? How do you KNOW He's approved the work, until you KNOW Him?? What value is it if you do absolutely everything for mankind, but with precious little understanding of God, because you are a baby Christian? Nothing. Paul explains this valuation system at great length in Romans 8, 9, 12, 15, Philippians, Ephesians, and of course the most famous love passage, 1 Cor 13. 1Jn explains that "love" isn't even possible until you KNOW Him: see 1Jn4. James' main theme, which is shouted in James 1 (which so many baby Christians conveniently ignore), is "FAITH [Doctrine, what-is-believed] works.." That's why James begins the epistle stressing the getting-of-wisdom, and being a doer of the WORD. Beware distorting James' "faith [doctrine, again] without works is dead" -- for it means, really, if you don't know Him, your works are totally DEAD. Even a tax collector can do the same works, the Lord warns in Matt5-6.

Moreover, it is often HARDER to do a small thing than a big thing. Much, much harder -- because there is no glamour you recognize in the small thing. It doesn't appeal to you. You don't see it as an achievement. ("You" means all of us. We all have this problem.) So -- since harder, how much more pleasing is it to God if this harder thing is done with the right thinking?

Being Royal is enormously difficult. One has no time to think, is constantly beset with picking the right words, must be extremely careful in one's judgments and clarity of thinking, is constantly under command pressure -- yet, on the outside, seems to just "sit there", looking glamourous.

The Lord's Thinking while on the Cross is what paid for our sins. He didn't pay for our sins by giving to the poor, by enduring all those trials, by performing miracles, by practicing taboos. He was nailed to the Cross! no movement. How did He avoid sin? How did He actually pay for us? Well, what was the ONLY thing He could "do", since He was nailed there? Thinking Bible Doctrine, just as He did in response to Satan's temptations in Matt 4.

Likewise, with Paul: what did he do? He spent a good deal of time chained between two praetorian guards! What work was he doing? None. What then could he do to "please" God? Do you think it was his being chained that pleased God, or his thinking while being chained? That wasn't a particularly pleasant circumstance, but it wasn't like Paul was being tortured, either. Yet, the Holy Spirit gave it to Paul to write Canon during that status....

By contrast, look at Paul's "work" of going to Jerusalem, to try and persuade the Jews, via offering a sacrifice (see Hebrews 5:11 - 6:4, and its 9:14's "dead works" in this connection) -- for which he was roundly disciplined!

    Why did God discipline Paul so? Ahh, here's the KEY REASON why "works" are generally bad -- THEY ARE DISCONNECTED FROM GOD. Zeal tempts self-focus, TO REPLACE the First Commandment. Even in a great believer. Paul wanted to witness to his fellow Jews. Blinded by his zeal, he wanted to witness in a manner which would disconnect him from God. Paul wanted to alleviate his OWN (otherwise-valid) desire for his fellow Jews to be saved -- but in the WRONG way. In short, God had HIS Own way to enable Paul to satisfy that desire -- which required Paul to go to Rome. But, as Rom15:25ff shows, Paul wanted to personally contact his fellow Jews to witness. But GOD NEVER wanted Paul to do that, and TOLD HIM SO at the time of Paul's conversion: see Paul's startling confession of that fact, in Acts 22:10-21.

    So, now many years later, Paul can't take the distance anymore; he RATIONALIZES that God wants him to go (again, Rom15:25ff). So, Paul's desire to do a good work, even a normally-GREAT work, was nonetheless disconnecting from God: owing to the pressure of his desire to personally contact his fellows, among whom he was once FAMOUS ("Hebrew of the Hebrews" moniker in Philippians). Notice how connnecting with people often DISCONNECTS from God. That's why the woman and Adam sinned; that's why we do. Works is one of Satan's most effective tactics, for it makes people replace God, in God's own Name! (The "LOTS more" link atop this page explains LOTS more on why the foregoing sentence is true.)

    So, God used Agabus and others to warn Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Paul ignored the warnings, because in his zeal he didn't confirm his 'interpretation', as it were, of his 'work' of going, with God. So, Paul got punished, nearly beaten to death just outside the Temple: he uses 1Jn1:9 just in time. Still, for some years he was imprisoned. Still, God satisfied Paul's desire in a MUCH BIGGER way -- by giving him the Canon to write. And yet more than this -- by blessing by association all subsequent generations, due to God's Own Enjoyment of Paul's thinking. "Blessing by association" is the most massive benefit God makes of the believer. The huge "LOTS more" site (link is at the top of this page) explains it. Alternatively, an extremely brief summary of this fact, follows.

Think this over carefully, for it will help you enormously: you and I are each human beings of a limited nature and power. God is of UNlimited nature and power. Like Paul noted in 1Cor13, even if you gave away all you had, what is that? Limited. Sure, it helps people -- but it is LIMITED to helping them bodily. How can it help their souls? We can't help another's soul. Who can understand his own soul enough to "fix" it, let alone another person? And, even if we could, we are in limited bodies -- we can only be in one place at a time, can only have contact with a limited number of folks! What shall it profit a man, to gain the world, but lose his own soul? What shall it profit folks, to feed their bellies but to leave their souls unhelped? But who of us can even "see" a soul, much less help it?

God is not encumbered by human limitations. He can snap His Fingers, as it were, and feed/clothe/shelter EVERYONE. At once. But He doesn't do that. Why? What good would that do their souls? What, is this life down here all there is? What, is the body more important than the soul? What, don't unbelievers run around helping others in bodily things? So: when HE is pleased with what you're thinking, HE CONNECTS bodily stuff to soul-healing, for everyone associated with you. No amount of human talent or effort or money can do that. "Soul healing" begins with the Gospel. He's already been working on the unbeliever, for example: connecting circumstances in his life with Gospel information. At some point, the associations "click" and the unbeliever suddenly realizes it's VALID to believe in Christ. Or, for a believer, the issue is to get into Bible Doctrine. So, the circumstances are orchestrated for that purpose.

The JUSTIFICATION for such healing is first Christ, but also YOU: there MUST BE JUSTIFICATION for giving someone blessing. God the Father is Pleased with Christ; God the Father is pleased with a person who is learning Him. His Pleasure JUSTIFIES transmittal of spiritual connection to physical circumstance. After all, that's the same pattern as the Cross -- substitutionary propitiation. Our version of that pattern is called "redeeming the time" and "salt of the earth", among other phrases. See, that's why we don't immediately die once we believe in Christ. We have a role which is totally separate from any thing physical we "do". Christ, immobile on the Cross, having TRAINED for 33 years, was made a substitute for sins (2Cor5:21); similarly, we are DESIGNED to become, if we learn to think like Him, a "sweet savor" substitute toward the Father for the garbage-thinking He hears (i.e., the world's). So, in exchange, the world gets blessing from God it otherwise would NOT get. That's a rather larger benefit to mankind than a "cup of water in the Lord's Name"...

So, the idiot Christian who's disconnectedly hustling for God (and even a Paul can become so trapped, as we saw above), that Christian's "dead works" CUT OFF the Divine Justification to bless the recipients. Why? The idiot didn't CONNECT (submit to God's authorization and training), but rather went off on his own "way", blithely patting himself on the back that he was doing "good". Remember, the Christian is ROYAL. God respects authority. If you use your authority to do it "your" way rather than training in God's way, you'll actually HARM the very folks you want blessed. Your way, or God's Way? Your choice. Cursing by association, or blessing by association? Your choice.

Baby believers thus do LOTS AND LOTS of "wood, hay, and stubble" from ignorance, arrogance, emotion, you name it. GOD IS NOT IN IT. Instead, God is "into", as 1Pet1:7-8 explains, "the proving of your faith[Gk: "pistis" almost always means "doctrine", what-is-believed], which is more precious than gold". So, the recipients of the many disconnected-from-knowing-Him "works" get only the body benefit. What good is that? Whooopee, as the Lord explained in Matt6(first half of chapter). So, what must God do? PUNISH those who are hustling, so they will get out of His Way. Just as He did, to Paul... (cf. also Heb6's opening warning, Heb11:6 -- where "faith" means "doctrine", as usual -- and Heb2's opening, Heb10's ending warnings.) As my best friend often quips, "No good deed goes unpunished." Indeed. Now you know why.

In Sum...

So -- what do we know? That a "work" is valued SOLELY by how "pleased" God is with the thought behind it...so, even brushing one's teeth can be more pleasing to God than giving to the poor!

So -- what do we know? That to do a "work" we recognize as a work, absent God's having trained us for it can end up getting us in a LOT of trouble!

So -- what do we know? That we had better learn Him, and learn the "language" of His Thinking, before we go off half-cocked into "our ways" of allegedly "serving God"!


What's a good church? With what sources did you write this piece? ...and why?

1. What is a good church?

God will lead you to the right church for you. From what I've seen, churches roughly divide over the following three categories of what has been called "spiritual living":

Bible Teaching, works, and ritual.

Each church stresses one of these three over the others, but all churches have something on all three categories. Naturally, each one deems it "right", the mix of the three chosen.

We are each individuals, so no one church is right for everyone. God will show you which church is right for you, as you ponder the matter.

As you grow, you may be shown a different church, because you might grow out of the church you are in, currently.

There are true doctrines, and also false doctrines, taught in probably every church, but don't worry too much about what's false: God will bring it to your attention at the right time, IF you want to be corrected. Also, He teaches the pastors, so they may revise any errors in their teaching, and then pass on the corrected information to you. In short, you needn't be hasty about what's false. See Phillipians 3:15.

In any event, it's important to keep an open mind, and to use Romans 12:2-3 to test what you hear. To turn off, to become dogmatic, to any disagreeing teaching would not be a good idea. By the same token, to accept anything uncritically would also be unwise. Frequent use of 1Jn1:9 is critical, and cannot be overstressed in its importance.

Perhaps if you peruse the links below, you will be "led" to the right faith for you -- then, the right church for you will perhaps become obvious.

For an Index of Christian religions' links --> click here

2. Where do you get your information?

Obviously, the original source is Scripture, which is demonstrably written by God. Obviously, only God is right!

My primary source for doctrine is my own pastor-teacher's church. However, I don't know him personally, and he does not know of this website, so he cannot in any way be considered responsible for what I say here.

I don't know if my pastor would have any thoughts on TULIP or its revision. He is nondenominational, merely teaches the actual words in their original languages, and therefore backs up any interpretation he sees, so his audience can choose to accept or reject what he says.

In any event, you can therefore compare what's said here to my pastor's site, to test me for error, should you choose. 

The site: CLICK HERE for rbthieme.org. Again, if I'm wrong, it's my fault. To the extent what's in here is correct, the Holy Spirit banged it through to my pea brain. I use 1Jn1:9 almost as often as I breathe!

I review other teachers also, but their teachings seem to me to be less complete. The above site offers audiotapes of Scripture taught directly in the original languages, and is the most comprehensive source of teaching Bible Doctrine I've found.

I think comprehensiveness is EXTREMELY important in learning the Word. One must also be discerning about wasteful teachings. Only time and diligent study ferret out the "wheat" from the "chaff".

3. Why are you writing this webpage?

Strictly speaking, I am of no denomination and have no axe to grind. It strikes me though, that a denomination which has some very sound doctrine is being misrepresented by "TULIP", which after all began as a sort of polemic against Arminius (Council of Dordt's five points). 

I've been thinking about TULIP since 1981, when someone gave me the pro-Calvinism book, The Five Points of Calvinism, by David N. Steele et. al., ISBN 0-87552-444-3, 1980 edition. Arminianism is depicted there, side by side in each of the Five Points, but I don't know how accurately it is depicted. Scripture disagrees with both "sides", primarily in that Sovereignty is undervalued by both sides -- neither side meaning to undervalue it, of course!

Secondly, I have recently learned a great deal about today's Calvinistic arguments through a chat channel and website called #scripture, and before that, #apologetics (on undernet).

It is my experience on the chat channels which now prompts my making this site, because I respect and like the people in that channel, yet I've often differed from their explanations of doctrines I likewise believe. Folks there often ask why I differ, and this website is the best way to explain my answers (and save keystrokes, heh).

It's no light thing to propose a rewrite of TULIP! I hope that the proposal will encourage someone steeped in Calvinism to rewrite it! (It's about time the definition of free will got corrected, eh?)


POSTING POLICY: Reader comments will be posted here, but only to the extent a reader wants comments (including any URLs) posted. A unique "nickname" will be given to the post, for the sake of the commenter's privacy (or, I'll use the name the commenter chooses). Only swear words will be edited, in the requested posting. So far, I've gotten LOTS of comments, but no one wants me to post 'em.

They fall into categories:

  • Great site, I learned a lot
  • I can't understand a word you're saying, dumb-it-down
  • You're a heretic, brainout (one person even thought me an unbeliever)
  • You're wrong, on (pick an area)
  • Why the heck are you doing this? (Seems like too much work)
  • That's about it, so far. If I get anyone specifically responding, I'll post it per the above rule.

    VIII. Common Objections to the Gospel

    The Gospel is shocking -- to all of us.

    So, there are and should be objections to it. Many objections can be answered by the TULIPS, but a few others need this separate section.

    The Gospel is, put simply, "Believe.. or burn". Believe in Christ, or burn in hell forever. Doesn't sound good, does it -- if you are STARING at BURN, of course. Sounds TOO good, doesn't it -- if you are STARING at BELIEVE, of course.

    Let's first ask WHY this Gospel GOOD NEWS, and "THE WAY" to have relationship with God. If you want to know truth, you start with the Highest Truth. God is, is the highest truth; for, surely neither you nor I created this universe; surely, light and matter don't THINK. So surely, THINKING did not come from matter and energy, which are NOT ALIVE. So there must be a THINKER who orchestrated all this, and this THINKER must be BIGGER than what He made. ("Does God Exist" link on Home Page deals with if-god, how-many-god, what-nature-god in a straightforward, no-pious-language format.)

      WHY-THE-GOSPEL KEY ==> So, then: what if God ever sinned? Wouldn't HE BURN, too? So wouldn't GOD HIMSELF have to ALWAYS believe in Righteousness, always CHOOSE AGAINST sin, so HE HIMSELF would never burn with destructive desires? That's what SIN is, a type of insane burning. So what's the Good News? WE CAN BE SAVED FROM THE INNATE BURNING THAT SIN FOSTERS, simply by doing the ONE thing sin can't taint: FREELY BELIEVE IN CHRIST. Just ONCE: Acts 16:31 is in aorist tense, which means ONCE believed, ALWAYS saved; starting from that FIRST SECOND of belief.

    So it's NOT God who causes sin to be bad, but sin is bad because it's TRULY DESTRUCTIVE: for, if even God ever sinned, His Perfection would be DESTROYED. Sin renders the sinner BLIND AND BLAMING: look around you on any day, and watch how blind and blaming everyone 'enjoys' being. Is this not hell, even NOW? That's why Satan, who is very MORAL, by the way, is the most evil of all: he is CONSTANTLY blaming, and WILLFULLY blind. Satan's nature is the true property of sin's MATURATION. Check out Luke 16:20ff, to see what someone in Gehena (name for a compartment of 'hell', geographically) WHO KNOWS AND SEES truth, thinks. ('The rich guy, and it's NOT because he was rich, lol.) Obviously the heat of hell doesn't much impact his ability to think well of himself! So where is the burning, really? ON THE INSIDE!

      Check out Genesis 2 and 3 sometime, look how Adam and the woman and Satan are all bonko (crazy) as a result of sin. Forgetting everything they loved, everything they knew, positively fixated on making-themselves-good (i.e., figleaves), maligning each other, blaming, blind. See for yourself. Translations aren't so bad, here. Principle: sin DESTROYS, and if even GOD HIMSELF did it, He'd be burning inside, too! So the entire meaning of life is NOT about 'being good' -- being good is the very ESSENCE of the insanity known in theology as "Total Depravity", for crying out loud! (Problem is people forget the BIBLICAL definition of the term, which is genetic, called "flesh" and defined as being in Adam in "in Adam all die" in Cor and in Romans 5:12's greek constantive aorist of hamartano.) Want quick proof? Look:if you were REALLY good, you'd NOT need to advertise it, put down someone or something else; you'd not need to judge, feel guilty, etc. There is ONLY an urge to BE GOOD if one is NOT good. For, if the urge is satisfied, it DOESN'T RECUR.

    So too, are we blind and blaming, but from BIRTH; for, the first second we GAVE INTO that blind-and-blaming GENETIC urge, we too became depraved. Like Paul says at the end of Romans 7, Who will have mercy on our helpless condition? God! By taking on Humanity, He Himself can PROPITIATE (Justice requirement, so we don't have to feel bad about being saved) and thus COMPENSATE (Justice requirement, so we don't OWE for being saved) and thus REGENERATE us: that's what "salvation" MEANS. ["Thinking Out Loud" link on Home Page is an epic megaseries on this and related topics.] Yet, we, like Lady MacBeth, we are so fixated on OURSELVES wiping out our damned spots, WE don't want to admit we need help. Frankly, such fixation is classified in psychiatry as dissociation, only psychiatry doesn't yet recognize its true origin. ["Thinking Out Loud" link and "Spiritual Pathology" link on Home Page discuss this born-in-Adam trait in detail.]

    So, let us be honest with ourselves: we ALL find the Gospel shocking for two BIG reasons:

    FIRST, to hear the "good news" that God "saves" us, we have to grapple with the bad news that we are bad, and NEED saving. We are so bent on self-esteem, this bad news makes us bristle..and invent almost ANY excuse for disbelieving it. Not one Christian you'll ever meet has gotten over such bad news; count on it. "Total Depravity" just can't adjust. That is why we Christians are so...um, prickly?

    SECOND, as if to add insult to injury, the penalty for never believing in Christ, the heart of the "good news", one forever burns in a Lake of Fire, or is destroyed (Christians vary on whether Hell exists). So, the natural rejection one feels on the FIRST count is heightened much more, on this SECOND.

    So, this is not the kind of faith which seems intended to attract people, is it? So, either the Christian faith is total hogwash, worse than all the others, or is the ONLY correct one, for unlike all other faiths, THIS one claims SOMEBODY DIED FOR ALL SINS. And, to "get in", you merely believe in that Person (see the "L" for details).

    In sum, this is either the WORST or the BEST: there is no in-between. Notice, though, that it is NOT about sins, since they were paid-for ('another unique factor of this faith). Rather, the issue is, "do you want to live with God forever?"

    See, the entire question is, are you interested in your Creator? Sure, you can reply, "Well, I don't know if there is a Creator, and all I see is goofy". Fine: but how deeply are you searching to know? Is it a burning issue to you, or a ho-hum, or a thing to play with because you're bored, on IRC? I mean, do you want to kill your parents? Of course not. So, then: do you want to ignore (which is a form of killing the functional relationship due to disinterest) the idea that maybe, just maybe, you have Heavenly Parents? How MUCH do you want to know? And if 'not much', then..how good can you be? I'm not trying to point the finger at YOU. We ALL have the same question to continually ask ourselves, no matter whether we have ever once believed (and thus are really "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" as Paul notes in Galatians). For, if we are really good, it will be a burning issue to us to respect our parents, who made, reared, and care for us; "God" being the PERFECT Parent, therefore loving us PERFECTLY.

    See, it's not the Gospel which is bad: it's our DISINTEREST (or hostility y) concerning the issue of God that's bad; which disinterest (hostility), supplemented by self-merit claims, constitute the hallmark characteristics of Total Depravity.

    Now it's time to review the major Gospel objections not-elsewhere-classified.

    1. God is UnProvable

    This is a common argument by empiricists. It is technically correct! God cannot be discerned by us: He must reveal Himself TO us, in order to for us to be able to comprehend He even exists.

    Folks think this revelation has not been made because they insist that it be made in a given format which suits intellectualism -- by their definition, which is empiricism. One can well empathize with such insistence, because secular things require empirical observation and analysis. However, infinity by its very essence cannot be EMPIRICALLY discerned by the finite mind. Empiricism is only good for discerning finite things or properties. (As a result, God cannot be proven to NOT exist either, and the only conclusion a non-theist can draw is that there is no cause for the universe, or the cause is unknown.)

    Christians tie themselves up in knots trying to appeal to this criterion. So do philosophers and scientists, in the name of "rationalism". Again, one can empathise with this quixotic attempt to prove God is.

    God is LOGIC -- but way beyond human logic, rationalism, empiricism. The thinking faculties in man are but interfaces God will use to communicate Himself. God has made Himself Evident -- however, due to our Total Depravity, we can't "see" Him -- He must provide the "sight". He's very dogmatic about saying He's done just that so that we "are without excuse" as Paul puts it in Romans 1:20. We ALL started out as atheists or agnostics. (Believers aren't any better than unbelievers. The issue is faith in Christ, not one's merit, because none of us have any.)

    How does God use the thinking faculties in man to communicate Himself? Here's what those faculties are (which most don't realize are described in this way in Scripture): 

    The three thinking faculties are basically these, which we use for ALL learning: faith (which is the faculty used when learning something unknown, and for storing information learnt), rationalism (which is the faculty used when evaluating the relationships known-known or unknown-known), and empiricism (the faculty of observation). These three faculties are very much intertwined: they are never separated, in the thinking process.

    (Emotion is called "faith" also, which obfuscates the true nature of faith. This misuse of the word "faith" is historically incorrect yet co-existent, and is to be lamented.)

    God uses these three faculties to communicate Himself to every person He creates. Logically, one learns of Him as much as one is willing at each moment to know. God uses human and non-human agency -- everything, really -- to communicate both His existence and Nature to each person. Romans 1-3 illustrate the issues involved, explaining why some think, as per 1Cor2, that the Bible is "foolishness". We all were unbelievers at one time, and all held such a view.

    Oddly enough, there is a welter of empirical data God uses to prove Himself! The way he uses it varies by individual. He takes things in your past, in your circumstances, and uses them to clarify items which you did not understand well; you learn these items, and change your views (quickly, or gradually, depending upon the item and the person). As you change your views, hitherto unseen or unclear items become obvious. Then, when enough data has correctly accumulated in your mind, you "suddenly see" Him. It is a perceptive process, really, but of course emotion always tacks on to it (making perception barnacled, as it were). The recent movie, "Signs" (starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, great acting by both) has a subtheme illustrating this process (which subtheme you only 'see' at the end of the movie -- nice touch, that).

    What happened was, you came to discern the variables you personally needed in order to reach the point where you could accept His Existence, and/or the Gospel -- all without coercion, hocus-pocus, etc.

    God is constantly communicating to each person in this manner. It does not matter where the person is. He does use human agents to convey the Gospel (often, very silly ones!) -- which means He personally handles the logistics of causing someone who knows the Gospel to be placed, as it were, in the hearing of the person who will need to hear THAT someone say it.

    When you think this through, many of the odd and bad things which happen to people take on a new meaning. God has a purpose for each individual, and each moment of reality is totally used by Him. He would not waste His own time to make you, to preserve you, to communicate to you, if He did not love you -- and His method of so doing must be the best by definition (assuming of course, that God is).

    The stakes are extremely high, after all: time here is very short, but eternity is forever.

    Bottom line: God is in fact unprovable, so He proves Himself to you constantly.  This He does from LOVE, for He "is not willing that any should perish" as 2Pet3:9 puts it. "Any" means YOU. You are NOT a pawn or a number, to God -- He made you, and in His Humanity, He paid for you -- before you were even born! He made this choice. 

    2. God is UnFair

    Christians and non-Christians alike find themselves consciously and not-so-consciously making this accusation. It is used by the unbeliever to conclude that God must not exist, because if God is fair, but unfairness exists, He must be unfair to LET it exist.

    The conclusion is illogical, and is a sign of the total depravity we all share. It is illogical, because it presumes, and it ignores, both without examining the facts which logic itself would show as obvious answers. Here's how to see that...

    1. Logically, if God exists, He is Sovereign. Just as logically, if God is Sovereign, and He is Fair, we must have free will. So, logically, free will means we will choose badly. So, logically, free will means He will let us receive the consequences of our choices.

    2. If God exists, He must be Real. If Real, He must be Truth (if Absolute, then Truth). So, God would not gerrymander reality. So, if bad is allowed, due to free will, and bad is likewise real, because allowed, then bad is not God's fault.
    3. God uses everything to bless, because that pleases His Sovereignty, and is Righteous. So, whatever bad occurs -- especially the bad done to someone by someone else! -- is already foreknown and thus already solved so it will be blessing to whomever was hurt.

      Again -- the stakes are HIGH! Time is so short, and eternity is so long! Logically, it is evident that if God, He has to put up with evil? No -- would He not INSIST on turning it to blessing, "for His Name's sake" as Psalm 23 puts it? Of course He would! Any "harm" will be turned to blessing FAR FAR GREATER, at a bizillion percent interest, to you! For His own Integrity's sake, if even for no other reason! "If you [parents] give good gifts to your children", Jesus says in the Gospels "how much more will your Heavenly Father...."

      He will NOT gerrymander reality. God is not God if He did. His Genius is to make whatever evil be far more a blessing than if that evil had never occurred. 'For His own viewing, for the trouble He goes to to keep a person alive (we only breathe because He says so)....think about it, if you're willing, and you will understand this better.

      "Not all misfortune comes to injure", as the ancient Romans would say.

      Naturally, when we are hurting -- which is much of the time -- our depraved natures "conclude" (through the emotion of wanting the bad thing gone) that God is UnFair.

      Naturally, then, to resolve this pain, an unbeliever concludes that God is distant, or not really there. It is understandable, and everyone does it. Yet, it is just not true. Again, God proves Himself to each individual, and so He will prove Himself to be what He is: PERFECT.


    This is by far the most common objection voiced, and is the one we Christians all lament the most.

    Religion and idiot religious people! How could "their" "god" be true! Look at them! See what their "belief" does for them?!!!

    It's a hard illogic to untangle. One naturally presumes that a correct belief should magically make one "good" -- or, at least not so bad! Secondly, there is a presumption that God, if real, would only use "good" folks to communicate Himself. Because there is a kernel of truth buried in these presumptions, the entirety of the presumptions are accepted. Emotion demands it.

    God condemns religion in the Bible in so many places it would be impossible to list them all, much less explain them all. Some examples will have to suffice, here: the sarcasm of Isaiah 44, for example; the "whitewashed tombstones" quote from Jesus, the scathing passages of Paul ("do YOU steal?" and the circumcision quote in Galatians are two goodies), Hebrews 6:1-6 (in context), and my favorite, Phillipians3:8.

    God also condemns apostate believers with many really nasty epithets: enemy of the Cross, shipwrecked, double-minded (meaning "nuts"), shigaion (=modern Yiddish meshugge), disciples of the devil, etc. Cute stuff.

    These are anti-God, so part of the "kernel of truth" in the rejection of Christianity is here seen.

    Also, of course, if God is "the" God, then it really DOES follow that one will improve, as it were. However, what is not understood is that this process takes place gradually, and is a result of properly learning Bible Doctrine. Else, the "born again" believer remains a "child" spiritually. Romans 12, and Ephesians 3 help to illustrate the process, which Jn 14:26 and 1 Jn 1:8-10 succinctly summarize, including 2Pet 3:18.

    Therefore, while this spiritual growth period is lived post-salvation, the believer is likely to be very kooky indeed, until sufficient growth is reached. That characteristically does not happen for many years, or -- maybe not at all. Free will is free to reject the post-salvation life.

    In sum, the goofiness of the spiritually immature (e.g., spouting verses, being bullheaded, distorting Scripture, interfering in others' views) is expected to be absent, due to faith in Christ, by those who don't believe in Him. Such expectations presume an instant or quick change in the life owing to faith in Christ.

    These two "kernels", then: apostacy being anti-God, and growing believers being goofy -- nonetheless are not the proper criteria for evaluating whether the Christian "God" is the right one. One has to examine the Bible.

    God is God. The messengers are the messengers. He uses everything and everyone to communicate Himself. That He lets nothing go to waste is not bad, is it? If He chooses to save the goofy by the goofy, is that wrong? Will the goofy understand the non-goofy and be saved? Of course not! Is every messenger goofy? If no (the logical answer), then He will introduce you to a non-goofy messenger since you are non-goofy. 

    Of all the objections to Christianity there are, this one is the most-heard today. It was also mine. It's a tough one to get over, because one doesn't want to be called a Christian -- and thus be identified with those goofy folk! 

    Fortunately, one can behave in a non-goofy manner, even though a Christian, and not be thus ostracised by more-civilized people due to one's faith...

    4. But there are so many Christian versions!

    Inherent in this objection is the idea that if the faith is correct, there should only be one version of it extant. That presumption would be correct if there were but one person on the planet. So, because we are individuals, we would have different faiths, even in the same "denomination", however broad or narrow one defines it.

    Moreover, no one gets over Total Depravity completely. So there's always this bodily urge toward self-esteem, toward "helping" God in some way. So, Christian faiths usually split over what kind of "help" man is allotted. It's in the genes, folks; we gotta live with this.

    #3's objection ties in here. Believers are generally in the "childhood" state of spiritual growth, on a macro level, at any given point in time. From this problem, you get the wars, schisms, and other nonsense which has plagued Christianity from the beginning. It's important to explain, now, why this happens.

    Being reborn in Christ is a total change in the person, alright, but it is a change that makes the person inherently at war with himself. Romans 6 - 8, and especially 7 and 8, explain the problem. Upon salvation a person acquires a human spirit. Yet, still has a depraved body. The two are totally incompatible. Only learning Bible Doctrine resolves the incompatibility, by gradually restraining the genetic old sin nature. The process is or will be explained in V.

    Meanwhile, the person, being inherently at war with himself and not aware that is the problem, goes through various goofinesses of belief about God. On a macro level, people with like goofinesses attract together into groups, and war with those of opposing goofinesses. History is replete with tragic and horrible examples. God disciplines on both a micro and a macro level, yet uses all the evil to benefit everyone. Everyone.

    The variety of interpretation of doctrines, inherent in these varying schismatic faiths likewise suffer from being partly or largely or even wholly inaccurate.

    So much for how schisms develop. 

    The other reason for the variation in these faiths centers on the fact that each of us is an individual. The way doctrine needs to be "cooked" to your particular ability to metabolize it palatably is naturally going to vary from your buddie's, or your worst enemy's needs. So, even if all churches taught all doctrine correctly (which is impossible), still there would be variations in the way the doctrines SEEM to be, since we all see things differently. This variation makes it possible, though, for everyone to "eat": "I found your words, and I did eat them", to quote Jeremiah.

    God uses truth to build on truth. So, we all believe something incorrectly, and something correctly. The trick is, to get into the position where one keeps learning. Then, the truth there can be used to move one along in spiritual growth.

    One's taste for doctrine grows due to it. So, one moves up, maybe, to a higher-grade church as one grows. That's yet another reason why variation in Christian churches is needed: the primary reason for the church is to school the believer in Christ. Thus, there would be many schools, at many grade levels, as it were, of teaching.

    In sum, were there no variation in the teachings, we'd not be able to progress, because the teaching would not be suited to our metabolization needs, or to our "grade level", as it were, of doctrinal acceptance.

    As Romans 15 puts it, "the strong must bear the weaknesses of the weak" so that, as Eph4 explains, we can be "knit together", "grow up" to our Royal Purpose, "in Christ". See Hebrews Chapters 1-4, and Ephesians 3, especially verses 15-21 for astonishing statements on what the Christian life is all about: eternal Royalty! Then, maybe, the problem of crazy Christians will become at least a little bit easier to understand (royal status during the training period would make anyone crazy)...

    5. But there are so many versions of "god"!

    This objection, like all the others, is one we've all had at some time. It is an amalgam of #3 and #4, really, but writ large.

    If you've got the whole TULIPS acronym here comprehended, and in your brain RAM, and you add that to the understanding gained from #3 and #4 in these Objections, you'll be able to see that the cause of so many versions of God is roughly analogous to the American schoolchild game of "telephone".

    In "Telephone", a bunch of kids stand in single file. The first kid makes up something to say, but whispers it to the person just in front (or beside) him, like, "Sally's dog has fleas". Then, the person who got the whisper passes it on to the next kid via whisper, and so on, down the line. The final kid is supposed to say aloud what he heard. The message gets garbled, so he might repeat something like : "Mrs. Farnsworth's cat has cooties." Then, the first kid says what he really said, and everyone laughs.

    We see several principles here: 

    1. something was communicated; 
    2. something got passed around to everyone, of that communication; 
    3. the communication was changed en route to the latest person; 
    4. the communication became distorted, even to the point of being mostly the opposite of the original communication.

    Total Depravity, Free will, God's Provision: these three mix to create the spiritual game of telephone. Romans 1-3 shows how this game is played, and how the so-many versions of "god" come to be believed. It is not a pretty picture.

    Such is the shortest answer to this objection.

    The upshot is, though, that one is faced with a real dilemma in identifying "God" versus "gods". Many people give up and say all are alike, that God (whoever God really is) will accept all the versions, and then simply pick the one they like best, trying as best they can to be reasonable about it.

    Morality is a common thread in all religions. However, to use morality as the criterion for determining what's right about GOD is illogical, since morality is what man needs to get along secularly with his fellows. Morality might be something God invented for man's sake, but to relate to GOD as if He were mere man is clearly a fallacy: such was how Adam and the woman tried to relate to God when they "fell" (the fig-leaves thing).

    How, then, to find the right "god"? Thinking over how "God" must be, reading the various so-called "holy books", maybe reading philosophy -- these all help. As covered briefly in #1, God will cause what you learn to lead you to "find" Him, whenever you're willing to be led, each and every time. It takes time, because a lot of bad data has to be tossed out, and the correct data put in, especially if the bad data is tied up with emotions -- as it usually is, for all of us.

    A shortcut which helped me: 

    1. I figured out that, whoever God is, He has to be paid for my being so puny. 
    2. Whichever "holy book" proved how He was paid, must be from Him, at least potentially; 
    3. among the "holy books" which claimed He got paid, the one which doesn't contradict its own claims about Him must be the right "God" (idea that a holy book, to be holy, must be internally consistent).

    Notice what is NOT listed: testing for textual errors in the holy book, scrutinizing how believers in that faith behave; analysing whether the book is really as old as claimed, etc. Because, it's what the book says GOD IS, that matters. For, I really wanted to find Him. So, if you do also, don't waste time: ask HIM to show you, then read 'whatever' for SENSE ABOUT HIM. For, the REAL GOD -- MAKES SENSE! All the other stuff, you can later learn. But, first things first: GOD. The Real Parent, Who made your own parents, and Who made you. Lovingly.

    6. The Bible is Bunk (etc.)

    The Bible claims to be from God. The claim in the Bible is that God is Perfect. Therefore, the Bible is supposed to also be Perfect. "Infallible" is the claim, then. I am thoroughly convinced of that claim, going by MESSAGE content -- which is the fastest way to see that the "infallible" claim is true (in the original languages). That's how I came to recognize that the Bible is from God. As noted in #5, I examined the holy books to see if they were self-contradicting with respect to the nature of God. The Bible is the only holy book which passed that test. Over time, I've come to see how each word in the text ties to every other word in the text in an omnidirectional, organized, wholly coherent way. No human could write this. Nor, any demon: for I've discovered in recent years that, using the same criterion as applied to the Bible, the other holy books are often beyond-human too; but they are DELIBERATELY self-contradictory, slapstick, and always have derisive allusions TO the Bible in them. It's uncanny: the best of these holy books, the Koran, is examined at some length in SatStrat.htm ("Appendix", on Home page). So, the Bible must be the Genuine Article: the TRUE Word of God.

      One big fallacy among Bible debunkers I've noticed is that they trash material which THEY CLAIM to be the REAL Bible, but is not. That's disingenous, and bad scholarship, to boot. Having found in these claimed books a load of errors (and they're right about that), they ASCRIBE to the REAL Bible these errors, never thinking,
      • hey, if a book which has Jesus' or an apostle's name in (or on) it is wrong, why should that make THE BIBLE wrong?
      • Just because some dingdong puts James' name on an ossuary or a 'apochryphon', doesn't NECESSARILY mean it's THE JAMES (Jacob, really), right? (lol, THREE GUYS named 'James' were all apostles -- and even Encyclopedia Britannica says debate remains as to who-is-who. Why debate, makes no sense to me: Bible is crystal clear -- but hey, have at it!)
      • Didn't people lie in the old days, just as much as they do now?
      • If some book references an event which is also in the Bible, or quotes a verse FROM the Bible, why should that book be held as the ORIGIN of the Bible event/verse?
      This kind of crass demagoguery is what a shyster lawyer does in a trial or lawsuit. To see it happen under the guise of respectable academia, unfairly taints academia as well, for one day it will come to light that the debunking work was stupid. Then everyone will stupidly blame ALL academia due to the abuse by a few. I mean, if Mad Magazine has an error in it which is ABOUT the Encyclopedia Britannica, does that make Encyclopedia Britannica wrong? Ok, and should ALL of Mad Magazine get consigned to the Farenheit 451 flames for such an error? Of course not. Even if the article in question is real old, baby. Like, the Apochrypha of various stripes.

      So, before trashing the Bible -- make sure it's REALLY the Bible, okay? Not a translation; not some manuscript which just happens to be of the same period; and above all, not based on AGE: the age of a book is NOT the age of the 'paper', but the age of the LANGUAGE IN the 'paper', which is proven linguistically. Don't make the same dippy mistake Christians always make to validate a thing (using age or respectability): GO BY CONTENT. Which you can ONLY tell, by testing the coherence of WHAT is said. For, the REAL GOD, is consistent. So will be His Real Word. Test THAT way, not the stupid way to make self feel oh so smart to trash a god. One only looks foolish, as a result.

      People who make a big stink about how scholarly they are, or how objective they are, end up looking like the biggest of fools when their prejudices are exposed; which always happens, when they trumpet or write some alleged exposé. The types of prejudices are often ASSUMPTIONS, like:

    • if a event, sect, name, item is in some artifact OTHER THAN the Bible, the age of the physical media will be conclusive of the relationship between the artifact and the Bible; will be DEFINITIVE of, based on the content of the artifact, the relationship between it and the Bible.
    • only the STUPID or INFERIOR believe in God;
    • If God orders murder in the Bible, God is mean (it's just not possible that people can be mean);
    • if something bad happens to someone self calls good, then God did an unjust thing (not possible that God is not the cause);
    • if the Gospel is Believe or Burn, that's unfair (not possible that the other methods can't work for intrinsic reasons, analogous to how you can't drink gasoline).
    • if an expert makes a claim about Bible which is (un)favorable, that expert must be 'objective' (okie dokie)

      and so on. It's really sad, and both Christians and non-Christians betray themselves this way. The prejudice DRIVES the research, so naturally the scholar will find what he seeks. Of course, prejudice-driven research routinely happens in both pro-Biblical as well as any non-Biblical disciplines every day.

    Seems like 'eons' ago, when I was young and a new believer to boot, all these so-called 'researches' bothered me. I didn't know enough to EXAMINE them carefully, nor did I know enough about Scripture. Since then, well..I've grown up some. Since then, my favorite hobby USED TO BE collecting so-called "contradictions" in the Bible; it finally became so BORING to see the same ol' stupidities in the debunkers, I quit. Only takes a few minutes, now, to spot the key error in the research. What a lot of money and time was wasted! I would REALLY love it if, someday before I die, someone would actually come up with a real contradiction, no matter how tiny! I would really love it if the so-called "contradictions" claimed thus far weren't always so demonstrably, um.. foolish? Making the debunker look bad? For, what's so striking about every allegation of contradiction is that the accuser shows his OWN brain isn't working. Which is even more remarkable, when one realizes some pretty respected academic folks accuse Scripture, and spend even their lives writing exposés! In fact, because I don't want to embarrass any of these otherwise-smart people, I'll have to restrict my remarks here to some 'hints' you can use to spot the errors people make, generically. May the Lord keep each of us from remorse and guilt, when we find out what stupid accusations we've made! (Heck, we all make mistakes. If you catch one of yours here, just brush off the dust, and move on. If you catch one of mine here, and are in the mood to disabuse me, email me.)

    Alleged Bible bloopers break down into these basic categories. The accuser's logical error(s) mentioned in the first category will continue in the next category, and so on: therefore, add up all the illogic types, or use any error in any category to decipher a logical error in some other category. What I mean is, common sense turns OFF somewhere in the research process, and keeps turning off in the same way when the research is on some other topic. So, add up the illogics, and you get PATTERN which you can then debug to see if the alleged contradiction should be pursued for OTHER reasons. By the way, the foregoing can be used to decipher just about anything. I find it useful when looking for mistranslated verses. [A mistranslation will cause a verse to be fuzzy or even downright contradictory, and there's a definite pattern of errors going with the TYPE of mistranslation, viz., grace verses are mistranslated into works verses, sexual innuendo in verses is euphemized, technical or strong (i.e., swear) words are blanded (watered down), etc.] There's a whole matrix of Lie Detection you can use: Click here for an extract of that Matrix.

    Click here for list of New Testament interpretational keys, to help you avoid making bloopers when you seek or think you found, a 'contradiction'. Run through the data there, especially the "Big-Picture" (first) division; so you can avoid most of common logical errors folks make when they EITHER interpret or debunk the Bible.

    Again, the following are merely sketched 'hints', lest some specific accuser be exposed. For, it's not about pointing-the-finger, but about learning God: Christ paid for ALL of us!

  • Persons, places, events which allegedly did not exist, or did not exist at the time stated in the Bible, or did not exist in the way the Bible depicted them.
  • About 20 years ago, I was sitting at lunch with a close pro-evolution friend of mine who is an extremely smart man. He did not know I was a believer (I don't wear my faith on my sleeve), and decided to harangue about some documentary he'd seen on TV which tried to prove whether the Israelites ever really crossed the desert into the Land. The TV crew didn't find one speck of evidence (bones, tent pieces, old food) -- so, my friend loudly concludes, obviously they never CROSSED OVER! I could barely restrain myself when I replied, saying something like this: "Oh? 3000 years later, with all that wind blowing over the terrain, the Arabs being famous scavengers, sand piling up, the practice of ancient peoples to take every scrap with them, for everything had some kind of use -- the TV crew actually expected to find something?" He had no reply.

    Inevitably the person claiming the Bible makes this kind of blooper ends up with egg on his face. Moreover, he, or the expert on whom he is depending, doesn't sufficiently research the linguistic and cultural reference points of the passages in question. (For example, "Red Sea" isn't in the Hebrew, but "Reed Sea" -- which could be what we call the Red Sea, or not, since all the seas around there had lots of reeds in them -- papyrus was MADE from the reeds.) The result is a truly egregious blooper which the researcher makes -- one which, had he but used his common sense a bit more, he could have avoided! (Only consistent use of 1Jn1:9 and consistent Scripture study, over time, can do that.)

      Bible always pays attention to its audience, and keys its language to the audience at the time of writing: particularly, with names. Improper identification of the correct "reference points", frankly, account for almost all errors in interpreting the Bible. Hence, in interpreting any alleged contradictions, too. In short, both believers and unbelievers make this error all the time!

    So let's look at PLACE NAMES. Debunkers forget that Israel has been the footstool for every type of conquest in history; as a consequence, the little desert landbridge between three continents has been run over by practically every racial and ethnic group ever on this planet. That means a very complex tangle of names, and the names 'morph': so that similar sounds have different spellings, but since we lost the sound of that spelling, the spelling looks like a very different name! Same for people.

    PLACE NAME Example: when the Bible says that place 'dingo' is Abraham's resting place, but earlier called that place 'bongo', mightn't it just be that those who heard 'dingo' only would recognize it by that name, given the enormous flooding of different languages and peoples over Israel through the centuries? Remember, the whole Bible wasn't available throughout most of man's history. Most only knew it orally, and so names of people and places are updated in the re-telling so that the audience can UNDERSTAND. Those who HAD books, were relatively few, and of those few, most of them only had only a FEW of all the Bible's books, at any given point. The OT was lost over and over. Same, for the NT. It's only in the last 150 years that we have a reliable complete set of manuscripts (few really good ones, many fractured ones). See? Common sense would recognize these issues, not FIRST yell "foul Bible!" (BTW: one's prejudice is exposed by the first 'conclusion' which hits, upon an encounter with what seems to be a problem verse.)

    Another PLACE NAME Example: people somehow think Matt8:28, compared to Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26 refer to the same event (demon possessed man or men), but get wrong the place. Well, test for yourself: look at the passages themselves and notice how DIFFERENT the events are. One event is short, with no comment about how those freed of the demons, responded. The other, the guy wanted to go with Christ -- but was told to go back to the 10-city area and report what Christ did. Since, in both occasions, the people themselves didn't want someone threatening their pork supply..twice! Yeah, BOTH occasions. Not just one. Two stories, told to us so we can see DIFFERENT ORIENTATION to the same facts (by the one(s) possessed, and by the townspeople). See? COMPARISON. Bible always has a message, isn't just telling you facts to show off, for crying out loud.

      So, then: there can't be THREE demon-possessed men in a whole COASTAL area spanning three groups of folks -- which was famous for its pork? Roman cuisine specialized in pork, including for SACRIFICES to Roman gods (demons!), but who remembers that! Think of how shunned such folks would be, by their fellow Jews. Think of the lucrative price they could charge for swine, since pork was something Jews were to abhor, so it would be more troublesome to supply to the goyim? I'm not claiming 'my' answer here is the correct one; but I am saying, hey -- there's ANOTHER answer which would resolve the so-called 'confusion' -- so don't ASSume that because the Greek texts differ in number and place, THEY must be wrong, okay? Do some homework, first. [This is a VERY common CHRISTIAN mistake: if "door" appears in the Gospels, and in Rev3, it MUST be the same 'door'? THINK THINK THINK!]

      Also, dunno about where you come from, but where I come from, the SAME AREA has more than one commonly-known name. Even within a 10-mile radius folks IN that area favor one name versus another. Heck, right outside my window now, there's a STREET which has TWO DIFFERENT NAMES (for municipality taxing purposes); people who know that street CHOOSE which name to use in conversation! So, all CORRECTLY name the SAME street. Remember little common-sense stuff like this, when you hear some claim that the Bible screwed up...

    PEOPLE NAMES also get badly researched. It's no easy task, so even BAD research deserves some applause. See, compounding that problem of Israel being a footstool, is the fact that, people had many more MEANINGFUL nicknames and other names; much more than today. Take "Nahor", for example: it means "snorer". "Isaac" means "laughter". For each of these meanings, there are others, for the same word. So, God often invents His Own name for a person: like Jacob ("chisler") became Israel ("prince of God"). But sometimes the name God invents, He just uses without warning.

      KEY==> The Holy Spirit is always TELLING you some kind of message, not just citing a fact. You have to figure out what He's telling you, to know how to resolve the so-called contradiction. For example, in a recent American Presidential election (Bush Sr., if I recall), one of the candidates invented a commercial to taunt his adversary based on a Wendy's (hamburger chain) commercial. A matron would always come in and say, "Where's the beef?" Meaning, the guy's adversary had a platform of no value. So, if the adversary's platform was about beefing up the police force, but the commercial was to say the beefing-up idea was stupid, the matron could say, "Where's the HEAT?" Because you already KNEW "beef" was supposed to be in that phrase, you knew how to INTERPRET the changed word. So, no contradiction or mistake, but a MESSAGE, get it?

    Lately there's been a rash of books which claim Jesus or some of His 1st-Advent associates did or didn't or differently existed; when you look at these claims, you almost have to cover your mouth -- to keep from laughing. For, they make these elaborate claims based on names, and when you read how they derive their so-called scholarly conclusions, you wonder if they were drunk the entire time they did the research. Like, more than one Mary (a very common name, and it was really Miriam, not Mary), or even Jesus (Joshua, really, Yeshua, another common name).

    Further, they don't recognize family naming conventions then used, so that yes, two people in the same family might have the SAME name:

    • one, as a nickname or
    • even a title designed to honor another person in the family,
    • a way to say "I admire you";
    • the other, as a FORMAL name (which the PERSON so named never used).
    • So, two people in the same family might have SEVERAL names, not just our modern 1st, middle, last;
    • since people don't choose their OWN names, the name they actually USE would be different; or,
    • if a CHILDLESS person died, some RELATIVE in the family took on that deceased's name, as a way to preserve the person's memory.
    • You'll see these practices even today, among old European nobility; so that one of the siblings adopts a nickname, to distinguish him from another in the same family who has the same name.
    • It's also VERY common in Latin America, where even men often take the name "Maria" as a hyphenated part of their first names.
    • In Arab countries, if you yell "Mohammed", 1000 people, likely all related closely, will come running! In one pension plan I did, the only way to tell the brothers apart was by the MIDDLE name!
    In short, instead of making up elaborate hypotheses about hidden naming codes to hide the disposyni (Lord's human relatives) so to fantasize debunking THE BIBLE (naming codes really debunk nothing, but hey): why not use Occam's razor, cut to a simpler approach. For example, "Barnabas" was a nickname, meaning "Encouragement". It wasn't his real name. So if you see a Barnabas and another Barnabas, they might or MIGHT NOT be the same person. Is this too much for common sense? Don't just ASSUME because the names are similar or the same, that wow, I found in this OTHER Barnabas a juicy bad thing -- that you surely have the same Barnabas. Now, for your homework assignment, look up every "James" and every use of the term "brother" in ONLY the New Testament (or whole Bible, if you've time): see if YOU can't tell whether ONE of the Jameses was ACTUALLY the half-brother of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMasiach). Which James? Which Jesus? Ahhh. Also, look up 'Jude' (really, Judas or Judah) in the Bible (hint, he wrote a Bible book), and see if you can tell that he is NOT one of the apostles, and to WHICH James he is brother. Then, look up all the bad scholarship on these two guys ..and chuckle. Isn't it nice to know God gets it right? (Scholarship went bad sometime in the 200's AD, from what I can tell, though the 'majority' school was bad since Christ died! Witness how only PAUL taught about CHURCH: Acts shows you how nearly everyone but Paul's group was wacko. 'Understandably wacko, but wacko just the same.]

    Then there are miscellaneous-category 'names' which to the un-homeworked, look like contradictions. There are TWO reasons for researcher mistakes here. The first reason, is that they don't remember the fact that Bible keys to its audience, as noted above.

      For example, someone wrote about how the Bible allegedly contradicts itself in claiming one kind of animal was a beast-of-burden versus the type mentioned in Scripture for the time a Bible passage referenced: therefore, the person concluded, the Bible was in error, since that beast-of-burden wasn't used during the time ASSIGNED to the OT story. Let's pretend that the claimant actually KNEW enough to know the TRUE time of the OT story. (That matters, for a whole lot of bad scholarship exists about WHEN some OT event happened, viz., the common misdating of the Exodus as during Ramses, rather than Amenhotep II.) Clearly the author didn't know that since Moses was writing to an audience LATER than the event he was covering, Moses would have to use terms THEY would understand. Moreover, Hebrew is a very flexible language, and at the same time, very precise: a word can denote several TYPES of things, and the use of articles (or syntax) with those words tells the reader whether he's being told a paradigm, or something literally specific; whether a thing is an approximation or type, or a particular, literal thing/person, etc. So, the writer of the article ended up looking foolish, for he clearly didn't do his homework. And this, in a famous magazine. Spare yourself embarrassment, then: don't you make the same mistake, by just BELIEVING a debunker unless you also do a LOT of homework.

    The second reason for researcher mistakes relates to what common sense should immediately detect: literary language uses a wide variety of colorful devices to depict literal things, non-literal things, and abstract concepts. Both pro- and anti- Bible people frequently FORGET to read the Bible the way you would the richest of literature; yet NOT forget how to read Shakespeare, Milton, or Goethe! For, unlike every other book written (and some are fabulous), the Bible completely taps the depth of every linguistic feature of every language it uses, in the original-language manuscripts. There are maybe 12 different languages in the original-language manuscripts (mostly Hebrew + Greek, or mostly Greek, with lots of '-isms', like Hebraisms, Atticisms, Doricisms). Translations lose a lot of the originals' flavor. Even where the flavor is mostly preserved, people prove they CAN'T read! instead of proving some contradiction. If you're really looking for God, LEARN HOW TO READ LITERATURE. That way, you can prove to YOURSELF that the Bible is really from God, for its skill is unparalleled. No human or demon is smart enough on his own to write THAT well.

      KEY==> See? Not only do you have to find out what God is telling you, you also have to find out HOW HE MEANS what HE says. Not what you or I think He says. For, God also suddenly REVERSES or DELIBERATELY CHANGES a quotation, to show you what HE MEANS. Compare Heb8:8-12 to Jer31:31-34 to Heb10:15-17. Another good comparison to make is Ps40:5ff to Heb10:5. (These two comparative uses are FABULOUS.) Bible does this sort of thing a LOT! Writers in both NT and OT are VERY fond of this sort of wordplay: the Lord makes a lot of these wordplays in the Gospels, too. It's not a mistake or a contradiction, but a USAGE of the QUOTED verse in its near context. For example, the Lord at birth spoke from His Humanity (yes, as a miracle) to God the Father in Heb10:5. The way He USES Ps40:5ff's meaning is to be interpreted by the READER in light of Hebrews 10: specifically, Heb10:8-17. You can tell this is so, because, beginning in verse 8, the author of Hebrews TELLS you the interpretation of the 'altered' quote. Other such usages don't explain so obviously, because they don't HAVE to: the reader is already FAMILIAR with the quotation and will thus IMMEDIATELY see how the CHANGE in the quotation 'reveals' the meaning. For an example of the preceding sentence, do the first comparison, that of Heb8:8-12 to Jer31:31-34, to Heb10:15-17. (Hint: the Holy Spirit is explaining why CHURCH is not Israel, but has its own covenant as part of the setup for Operation Footstool: that's the main theme of the Book of Hebrews. Read the WHOLE of Hebrews about a dozen times. Yes, that many times: God is not a soundbyte. Also, be CAREFUL to see if you are tracking the author's thoughtline as you read. Track also the repeated words, which act as conceptual tracking devices. Among English translations, NIV might best convey overall flavor.) It's REALLY important to understand how commonly writers of Scripture USE prior Scripture to craft explanations. Scripture must be BUILT on Scripture: that's a cardinal principle in the Bible, and thus in Biblical hermeneutics (interpretation).

      The type of wordplay is akin to the 'beef commercial', above, for it DEPENDS on you knowing how the scene/quotation is SUPPOSED to go, in order for you to "get" the wordplay. Every human language ever in existence has employed this form of wordplay, too: it's especially used when IRONY or SATIRE is intended. All the Greek plays and Shakespeare depended on it. The point of such a deliberate change is to show you how the QUOTED verse applies 'now': 'now' being, relative to the passage in which the CHANGED quotation occurs. In short, FIRST assume that there is a REASON for the seeming contradiction, and try to find out what that reason might be. Big goldmine, in such research!

    So, see? You don't need a 'sign', you need a class in literary reading! Suggest you get into drama, for most of the NT uses Attic (Athenian) Greek classical dramatic metaphorical style (a fact which used to be widely recognized, but is discarded today -- out of STUPIDITY). Try the library, where you can get lots of good books. Take a class in Shakespeare, or look up books about him by William Main (former prof of mine). Try reading James Joyce' Ulysses, to see how densely the features of a language can be used. Bible is like a bizillion times better, even though Ulysses is (rightly) regarded as one of the world's greatest literary masterpieces of all time. (Koran is right up there, too, frankly. Satan (or a high demon) wrote it VERY beautifully and well.) If your native country is not America or European, then look into your own country's famous authors and playwrights. Study them. It's patriotic, and it's EXTREMELY helpful in knowing both the richness of your own native tongue, as well as the way to learn the Bible better. Even if only to debunk it.

    Also, the type of writing goes with the purpose of the writing. So, a legal contract will manifest a very different writing style, and will organized according to LEGAL conventions of its time. The Bible is really a collection of LEGAL documents: depositions (narratives), contractural provisions (e.g., Gen 12), spiritual and civil law (obvious, I hope), customs (mostly depositional, but sometimes normative), recommendations, judgements. The OT had three divisions to it. The books aren't in the same order in the original-language texts as they are in most store-bought Bibles (which is why the Lord references first and last books as different from the ones we know, in the Gospels). In short, you have to know what TYPE of writing you are looking at, before you can begin to interpret. Especially, since the Bible's original-language words are multilayered and multipurpose, so written with MULTIPLE LAYERS OF WRITING STYLE. All, at once. Just like Infinity.

    So if Amos says "cows of Bashan", he's not talking about LITERAL cows, but a metaphor for extremely stupid humans, get it? If the sun stands still, it MIGHT be a metaphor for the way TIME seems to stand still (who has not had such a sensation), or it MIGHT be literal: miracle, then -- shade your eyes! If the Bible says the "four corners", it's not talking of LITERAL corners, for crying out loud. (Compass usage is a lot older than recognized, and the four points of a horizon were in common usage since ancient times.)

    In short, YOU HAVE TO CHECK THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE and the contemporary isagogics to know what language/literary feature is used. Make sure you get the time period right, or "contemporary" research will be wasted. Go by the age of the language, not the age of the medium (i.e., parchment). You can tell the age of the language by referencing each word and how it is used. Here, Strong's and other lightweight lexicons won't help, because they only list places where the word or words like it are used; they don't and CAN'T interpret the word in the verse. You have to spend time learning the construction of legal concepts and the language methodology used to communicate them. You also have to spend time studying how "literature" works: wordplay is essential to good literature, and ESPECIALLY, to the REAL Bible. Alliteration, sarcasm, metaphor, simile, customs regarding hall-of-famers (geneology isn't one-generation-at-a-time), and literally THOUSANDS of linguistic features all get employed in good literature.

    If you aren't willing to do all this study, then you can't test someone's claim about what the Bible rightly or wrongly says. So, believe or disbelieve, but DON'T pretend you really have the answer. Frankly, if you want the answer truly, just ask GOD. He's the Expert. If you ever once believed in Christ, use 1Jn1:9 and pray to FATHER in SON's Name for help. Holy Spirit will answer. Then, relax, and be alert for the incoming data from your Bible Study or circumstances. (He won't hit you with more than you can absorb, so be patient; we humans are too small for the WHOLE answer to hit us at once.) If you've not yet believed in Christ, believe now, then use the foregoing sentence to get answers. It's FASTER and MORE RELIABLE.

  • Textual manipulation or corruption.
  • Ignorance here is appalling. Since machines didn't exist in the first century AD, if you wanted a copy of the Bible (more commonly, a Bible book), you had to write it out. So, over the years, thousands of these copies have been discovered; some are actually not Bibles at all, but LECTURES with Bible verses in them. Again, the science of textual criticism is to certify whether the verses in a manuscript are BIBLE, or not. A wide variety of linguistic and isagogical skills are required to analyse the text. The Bible's original-language texts are largely fragmented; we have under 10 nearly-or-full Bible manuscripts. So each VERSE has to be tested. Here, the fact that in a VERY small percentage of the outstanding MSS some scribe's pen slipped is blown up into saying there was wholescale adulteration, so you can't trust the Bible. Of course, a lot of these allegations, as we already saw above, are based on a) non-Biblical texts or data (erroneously treating them as valid so the BIBLE can be trashed); or b) MISINTERPRETATION of BIBLICAL text, or c) BOTH a) and b).

    You should have enough common sense to know that, just as today, Christ's First Advent was THEN a major upset not only for Israel, but for the so-called "civilized world" at that time. One of the best ways to know if a thing is true in the past, is to see how a) popular, or b) controversial, it was. So, for example, Mohammed was a real guy, because people got either rabidly upset, or rabidly in love with his 'message'. So, too, and especially, with the Lord's First Advent. Everyone wanted to either DESTROY His followers -- or, especially later -- cash in on their fame. So a lot of fake 'gospels' appear during this time; many rumors, speculations, weird variations of the faith, you name it -- appeared. The Talmud today is a cleaned-up version from the original one, because a whole lot of supposed nasty references to the Lord were in there. [Talmud came out within a few centuries of the Jesus' crucifixion, but is supposed to be a compilation of older rabbinical discussions. Some consider it part of Oral Torah. There's a great division in Judaism over this idea, but you won't hear much argument publically. I don't much care if there were anti-Jesus references in Talmud or not, so I've not checked into the allegations, except that I was able to prove that in medieval times, Jews purged Talmud of some references to avoid persecution. That DOESN'T mean the references were truly anti-Jesus; if they were, so what? The Lord needs no defending. Talmud is useful, but is not God's Word, as any review of it proves quite easily.] So you have to separate a lot of chaff from the wheat. So, the first common-sense item the researcher misses is wow, maybe someone was trying to PRETEND a text was of the Bible way back 'then', or just made a bad copy. Or, think: is this the ONLY time in history the Bible has been debunked or counterfeited? Guess again!

      If you do a little religions' history checking, you'll find out that virtually all religions since Christ make some claim ON Him; whether it's a claim that yet another 'new revelation' comes out (i.e., Book of Mormon, Koran); or a 'new' wrinkle in that faith arises (i.e., Mahayana Buddhism); or a 'new' teaching ABOUT Him is claimed to be really sourced in that other faith. (Most Eastern religions and the gnostics make this claim -- gnosticism, though, is WAY older than most official pronouncements date it. I could trace it back to a good 500 years BEFORE Plato. However, gnosticism underwent a MAJOR change after the Crucifixion. As indeed, did all the world's religions. See for yourself, if you are inclined.)

      A few years back I saw a 'find' allegedly from John or Matthew (I forget who). The thing could have just been someone's notes on scripture verses, or someone's attempt to write yet another groupie-gospel (everyone wanted his 15 minutes of fame, even then). But it was obviously NOT Scripture; yet, because it dated around the 1st century AD and had a snippet of some Bible verses in it, lo! It must be an adulterated word-of-god! Yeah, right. In short, often 'adulteration' isn't even in a BIBLE book, nor would it matter if it were, since we have thousands of manuscripts to check against. Moreover, Catholics (East and West) generally treat on par with Bible, books which are not biblical: because, they revere those other books. So GOD gets trashed because some OTHER book which HE DIDN'T WRITE is revered? Does this make sense?

      Read some of those other texts, sometime: The Other Bible, by Willis Barnstone, is a sample collection. Weird stuff. Not even remotely like REAL Bible. Takes but a few minutes to see, for example, that the "Apochryphon" of (allegedly) James is some drunken loony's fantasy! You really have to be a liar, or STUPID to contend these books have any holy authorship. They are more like the demon-slapstick stuff in the Gospels, at best.

    It is true, however, that MANY verses in the Bible are badly translated, especially in English Bibles, and oftentimes it's obvious that the bad translation was deliberate. But should a manipulated TRANSLATION give an excuse to yell, "Bad Bad Bible"? People should get their facts straight, before they accuse, right? In "Thinking Out Loud" webseries you'll find hundreds of the pro- Bible TRANSLATION errors illustrated (usu. in small font).

      Example: Young Muslims are taught to descry the Bible, which is strange, since the Koran itself claims the Old Testament and Gospels to be from God somewhere in every Sura. Moreover, young Muslims are taught the errors in the KJV, so they can call the real Bible, bunk! And this, in a sect which demands the Arabic of the Holy Koran be preserved, lest it be mistranslated! But the KJV is NOT the Bible, but merely a TRANSLATION of one of the lesser-quality manuscripts. Only the original languages' texts are the Bible, and not EVERY VERSE in EVERY manuscript is God's WORD: you have to test each verse. These Muslims are taught that (and it's true) some verses in the KJV were added by scribes (yeah, a FEW out of THOUSANDS of verses). Or, that the original-language manuscripts don't all agree (true, they are COPIES, and 1-3% of the verses are errors of varying kinds). So, the Bible is trashed because its translators and copyists aren't perfect?

    How do we know which is God's Word, then? Because we have so many original-language Biblical manuscripts. "Textual criticism" is a discipline which evaluates the genuineness of a manuscript (be it the Bible, or something non-biblical). Moreover, the very linguistics used in real Bible verses, coupled with the MEANING, are too high for any human to have invented. It took me until 1995 to see that for myself in the TEXT, but it only took a few MONTHS to see that fact from MEANING -- even in a bad translation. It's not rocket science, It's GOD'S BRAINS (hence the need for 1Jn1:9 to be online). DIRECT. Because we have so many manuscripts, their sheer number amounts to a built-in counterfeit or error detection system, so "textual criticism" has a good database. (Heh. God thinks of everything.) So to say that the Bible is infallible and inerrant means that the GENUINE texts are. Verse by verse. A compilation, in other words. No one MSS is perfect, but we have enough together to tell which is God's Word versus a scribal or other error.

    Some people think God should have just kept a few manuscripts well-preserved, and since these aren't like that, what we have must not be God's Word. Guess again: by having recourse to texts in this format, and by using 1Jn1:9 and THINKING as you read, you can prove to yourself that the Word is really from God, because adulteration, mistake and forgery would be much harder to detect with fewer, though well preserved, manuscripts. Think of the many hoaxes in the past (i.e., Shroud of Turin, or even famous paintings) -- if there were MANY of them, the fake would be much more easily distinguished (see the old Dr. Who episode on the Mona Lisa, for example -- that one starred Tom Baker).

  • The Bible says two (or more) contradictory things about the same object (person, place, statement, you-name-it).
  • Ok, this couldn't be too tough for common sense, could it? Maybe thing A was true at time A, but thing B was true at time B? Or, maybe BOTH A and B are simultaneously true, but opposite facets? Life itself is naturally full of paradoxes, too. So, often, a person place or thing itself is contradictory, and the Bible is merely noting that. Or, some INCORRECT statement is being made by a person, which the Bible merely records him saying. In short, it's real important to know whether you are looking at a depositional verse, or a Divine judgement/opinion verse. The Bible debunker (or defender, for that matter) rarely seeks that distinction. Christians, too, don't do their homework and thus misinterpret Scripture.

      Example: The TIME of the Lord's crucifixion is listed twice in the Gospels: once by Roman time, and once by Jewish time standards. So, the person who doesn't do his homework on those reference points, will holler, "Contradiction! See, the Bible is wrong!" (Biblical geneologies also differ by WHICH LINE is being traced, and the LINE isn't everyone IN the line, but only highlighted individuals. Sadly, no one bothers to THINK about the CUSTOMS then prevalent, which explain why the naming goes as it does for MARY's line. So accusers holler, "Contradiction!")

      Bigger Example: The Bible makes up its own buzzwords, for among the many things the Bible is, is a legal CONTRACT. Legal contracts must list and describe their own definitions. Here's a sad thing: Bible buzzwords aren't generally recognized as being multi-meaninged, like a skyscraper, though the fact that Bible buzzwords are DELIBERATELY multistoried is widely taught/recognized by Bible scholars (lol you're taught the fact in 1st-year seminary), as even anyone taught Talmud can tell you.

        Sample: Bible words translated "Salvation" also mean "deliverance", and are often used to signify the permanence and result of the Foundation (Our Lord's Work on the Cross). So, 'to show the resultant corollaries: how "salvation" is NOT merely to-Heaven, but on-earth deliverance from sin, too. People who don't dig into the original languages sufficiently (which include a lot of Christians skilled in the languages, but unskilled in using 1Jn1:9) will thus see "salvation" verses which appear to contradict each other.

        Same with "baptism". Of which there are seven different kinds, and NONE of them are really talking about water being needed. Custom, yes. Requirement, no. But to see that you have to HAVE YOUR BRAIN ON (obviously getting wet can't save you, or one would be saved when he first bathes); study; learn the Homeric etymology of Baptizo/Baptismos. Then, you've got to ask of any verse, which kind of Baptism is in view? Bible always distinguishes which kind, viz., Baptism of Moses, Baptism of Christ, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Baptism of John in the verse itself, in a parallel verse, or in the context. But oh! Both debunkers and defenders ignore that, and brand all "baptism" verses, as some kind of water magic, so OF COURSE some verses which speak of 'baptism' will 'contradict' the others, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE SAME KIND OF BAPTISM.

    In short, there are bad lawyers, and good ones: the bad ones of course can't read as well as the good ones. So, apparent contradictions are due to the READER INTERPRETING the verse as if it were contradictory, rather than the text saying something contradictory, even in a translation. 1Jn1:9 and lots of study in the Word will gradually relieve the bloopee from making these bloopers.

  • The Bible teaches against itself
  • .

    If common sense operates, it naturally accepts the idea that there is a time to do "A", and another time to do A's antithesis. So, obviously, a boundary line exists; so, over that boundary, the opposite response is required. Or, a subject has two or more facets/spheres. One sphere, something that actually happens/happened. Another, the NORM. You know, H20 is the property of water, but it MANIFESTS differently (ice and gas seem like opposites, but are the same 'stuff'). So also, there is a time when killing is wrong, but also a time when it is right. Knowing the boundary line, then, is critical; not knowing it, leads to erroneous conclusions and "contradiction!" claims.

    Example: 1Jn is primarily about how to stay in fellowship with God, and the vicissitudes one faces while growing. So, sin is a subtopic woven in throughout; "abide" is the keyword John likes to use in all his epistles for fellowship. So, why is it we suddenly see in 1Jn5:18 that one born of God "does not sin"? Well, first of all, the dingbat who doesn't notice that John began ticking off STANDARDS in verse 17, and is not talking about experience, will mistake verse 18 FOR experience. So, will think it a contradiction. Moreover, the dingbat who doesn't READ verse 18 and its following context, won't realize that v.18 and following verses are talking about our ETERNAL SECURITY due to our ROYAL POSITION ("born") in Christ -- which is the main theme of the epistle since verse 1:4 (repeated in 5:13). Birth is spiritual (see John3:16), the acquisition of a human spirit and hence a spiritual life (ibid, and see Titus 3:5); but sin is something you do with your SOUL.

      Note the STRUCTURE versus FUNCTION boundary line: "born" indicates your STATUS/POSITION, whereas "sin" indicates your experience. Souls think, and thus sin; human spirit is just a processor, and has no volitional component of its own, so doesn't sin. Read the passage yourself. See if you can't see that he's talking norms and position "in" Christ, as compared to FUNCTIONAL EXPERIENCE.

    Another example: Paul wrote in Galatians 3 that there is no difference between male and female, in Christ. Yet, when people read Paul's epistles, they conclude somehow that he's a misogynist, because he never married, and because he wrote certain prohibitions given women believers. Both the Lord and Peter said similar stuff (and quite strongly, in the Greek), but since Paul wrote most of the NT, I guess he's the bigger target. What: if I don't marry, I must HATE the sex opposite my own? Does this make sense?

      Note the boundary line: just because we are equal in Christ, doesn't mean we are equal in AUTHORITY. So: do Paul's debunkers ENTIRELY forget the culture of those days, which was male-dominated? Do they NEVER remember that God has always said, obey societal law? Do they NEVER understand, that if Paul WRITES that women must wear long hair (short/shaved hair was for prostitutes, the sick, mourners); that if women aren't allowed to be pastor-teachers -- it DOESN'T HAVE TO MEAN he hates women? Men aren't allowed to bear children -- so are men hated because they aren't thus allowed? See how the accuser's prejudice is exposed in these debunkings? See what an insecure donkey the accuser is revealed to be?

      Look: we are equal IN CHRIST. But here on earth, we bumpkin around together with rules we agree upon. So, as with any contract, integrity demands you live up to the agreement. For most of man's history, women are not considered appropriate as pastors, because the man is the authority in the HOME. Bible concurs, from Gen1:1 forward. So, what? That rule doesn't make women 'less equal', for crying out loud. Stop being so insecure, and get a life! Like, Christ's Life! For, you are a son of God, whether male or female, in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3). How high a life can you get! {smile}

    Yet another example, in Acts 1:6-7. In the NTKeys.htm you'll find a red italic subsection entitled "God's Opinion versus narrative". Here's one such passage. In verse 6, the disciples asked Him if He was going to make His Second Advent right away. So, you know three things: a) what He told them before about the Temple's destruction preceding His Second Coming, they FORGOT; and b) they also forgot the many-versed prophecy about the times of the Gentiles in the OT (known then under other names, but always with goy in each moniker). They also forgot c) Him telling them BEFOREHAND that 'no man knows the day or hour' (Greek idiom means, not able to predict AT ALL). So, verse 7, He reminds them again. Note the boundary line: FATHER DETERMINES, versus what people want or think true.

      See how simple it is to understand these two verses in Acts? Yet, by golly, someone will say, "Well, Acts 1:6 CONTRADICTS the Rapture verses!" Noooo -- it only proves that the disciples FORGOT what He previously said. So verse 6 is a depositional verse, a narration of what THEY THOUGHT -- not God's statement about what IS the correct doctrine. Be careful, when you read...

  • The Bible "borrowed" from other allegedly-older books, cultures or religions.
  • If one examines the MESSAGE of the Bible, it will become obvious that yes, the Bible frequently references existing stupid religious practices or other ideas -- why? To teach why they are stupid. For example, the satyr was in many pantheons long before the Greco-Roman one. So, how to communicate that such a 'god' was really nothing, or a demon? Well, duh -- use the term they know: satyr.

    The Mosaic Law is in large part a spoof on all the surrounding territories' practices. Just because it uses their terms to communicate doesn't mean the Bible came FROM them, for crying out loud. It's so hard to fathom that people can be so dumb. What? Because thing A talks about thing B, that A must have been BORN FROM B? So if I talk about you and you me, that means we're siblings? Really. See how the brain has shut off? Christians are equally shut-down, if they don't routinely use 1Jn1:9 and grow in Bible doctrine (1Cor2:16).

      Example: there's a ton of so-called 'research' claiming that Scripture is but a plaigarisation of other books, or other events, because there's some similarity viewed in some other book. Moreover, among this research is a common misconception that Biblical roles assigned to God are but a copy/mutation of other religions, simply because similar words are used. Ok, this can't be too hard to understand, could it: just because a dinosaur and a dog each have four legs doesn't mean the latter came from the former. Just because "dinosaur" is in story "A" and story "B" doesn't means it's the SAME dinosaur, either.

  • Science 'disproves' the Bible in some specific way (evolution being the most commonly-cited 'science', here)
  • Of all the arguments advanced against Scripture, this one is the most common, and the most illogical. Most common, because people feel smart to know something about science, but stupid to believe in God; so, they look at all the stupid Christians, and conclude the BIBLE stupid because the Christians are. In short, people use 'science' because it makes them feel superior. But, how superior are they? Illogical, that's what they are, for to claim science is superior to the BIBLE because so many Christians are stupid, is like saying if a black man stole from you, black SKIN must be evil!

    Yet the one who feels science is somehow more 'objective' than believing in God betrays himself to be disingenuous. Instead of just being honest and admitting, "I don't like this idea of God, or any God", he instead picks ANOTHER 'god', namely science. How so? Well, as you read the following A) through C), ask yourself if the so-called science vs. Bible debate has any LOGICAL validity whatsoever -- on EITHER side, attacker or defender. Ask if science isn't but being ABUSED to justify a prejudicial position with respect to God.

      A) God does miracles, duh. They wouldn't BE "miracles", if they weren't 'against' natural law! How else to know it's GOD saying hello? What, God can't make SOME independent rules, but leave others to His Sole Discretion? What, God can't make OVERRIDES? What, God can't CHOOSE to INTERVENE? He's GOD, get it? If He feels like making a world-wide flood, He can do that. If He feels like making the sun stand still, He can do that. Science is not God, GOD is God. Do we see how ZERO common sense is operating in whomever claims that science 'disproves' God? Look: should God 'obey' science in order to justify belief? Should God shrink into some natural mode, to suit someone's ego? God's not ALLOWED to just speak a thing into existence? Isn't the accuser REALLY saying he doesn't want God qua God? So, he creates a stupid standard of "proof": God isn't God if he doesn't 'obey' science. So, finding God wanting, the accuser self-righteously goes off in a huff and says, "God doesn't exist"? Is this what a brain-on does? How scientific is this 'logic'? Heck, it's tautological! Science contradicts the Bible? As if God isn't allowed, excuuuuse me, or is ONLY allowed, excuuuuse me, to do miracles -- as 'proof' He exists?!?! WORSE, since when is it logical to expect that IMMATERIAL God could or SHOULD be detected by MATERIAL instruments? So that if science can't 'detect' God, oh wow -- God must not exist? Find a better argument, or just say you don't believe, but don't PRETEND you're being scientific with this kind of excuse. Don't denigrate science to buttress your ego.

      B) Oh, scientific law is all complete and accurately understood, is it? Not too long ago SCIENTISTS (but not the Bible) taught that bleeding someone got rid of his disease! Do you know how many people bled to death? Not too long ago (against what Scripture says) doctors counselled their rich clients NOT to bathe, because that was bad for health! Not too long ago (again, contrary to Scripture), the mentally-ill were shut up in asylums, and subjected to unbelievable experiments! Science has a dark past, and -- because of Scripture -- many scientists were believers (i.e., Newton, Gregor Mendel -- don't tell the prolifers that). So whether believers or not, 'science' folk have had some pretty dangerous theories!

      Oh, and what scientist today really KNOWS how all nature works? So, then: might there be some scientific law about what right now seems a 'miracle', which we don't yet know? Just as many scientists of old figured the movement of the planets was controlled, rather than natural? So the gods were the planets (see the end of Aristotle, where he replies to those who once thought as gods, the planets)? Can the accuser be more arrogant than to claim he knows enough science to account for everything, and thus what he cannot account for, must be a lie?

      C) No one accurately interprets what the Bible says, when they make their claims. That was the central flaw ON BOTH SIDES in the famous Scopes trial: everyone looked like an idiot, because everyone used THEIR INTERPRETATION (all of which were insane) to decide 'for' or 'against' the defendant. Even today, over 99% of what's published in the media, in documentaries, etc. about what is or isn't accurate in the Bible is based on erroneous interpretations, RATHER THAN on the Bible itself; people use TRANSLATIONS, politically-accepted meanings, inept 'experts'. Yet it's the BIBLE which gets accused. Come on, now: if someone SAYS the Bible says "x", and that "x" is proven incorrect, the BIBLE ITSELF must be saying "x"? Didn't we outlaw hearsay evidence from the foundation of America?

      The same inaccuracy-of-interpretation is the norm for a lot of allegedly pro-Bible, "theo-scientific" rebuttal. It's as if anyone who gets involved in these science-versus-bible issues must lose his common sense, in order to enter the debate. Ergo: a lot of folks, frustrated here, try to make what they call 'problem passages' allegorical, because that's all their weak analysis can handle. Others take what are obvious figures-of-speech and construe them as literal, and then build on that misinterpretation some kind of anti- (or pro- !) Bible claim. Look: it all depends on how you READ the text; and if you're working from a translation, don't even DARE to base any interpretation on the text.

      Example: back in Acquinas' day (Treatise of the Six Days), there was some concern over the "gap in time" between Gen1:1 and 1:2 (see the LXX or the NIV): today, we think about how LONG that gap is, and ponder what it means -- or, deny there is one. But in Acquinas' day, the length of time wasn't the issue: instead, it was felt the gap indicated a different creating agent. So, Acquinas tried to REASON whether God created everything 'immediately' (directly), or 'mediately' (i.e., via angels). So before one rides into the sunset with the joyous expectation of exposing that dang bible -- ask -- do I have the right interpretation? After all, men have been unclear about what science the Bible notes, for centuries.

    Many is the person who, reading these comments, would understandably reply, "Oh, you oversimplify; the arguments against Bible are much more scholarly than you paint." NO, they're not scholarly at ALL, but they sure PRETEND to be -- and THAT's my complaint. Look: it's nearly impossible to correctly research, in the first place. So, when fake scholarship comes along, it makes a GOOD scholar's work that much more DISrespected, and thus makes his job that much HARDER. It's unfair to the sciences, to academia in general, even before recognizing that it's COMPLETELY unfair to God&Bible.

    There's a looming macro danger now, one we've suffered before. Periodically in history mankind undergoes a trash-authority phase because the authority it had, descended into the same kind of sloppiness we see today. I don't want to see the world go through another Dark Ages, where we trash the trashers, and lose the wealth of learning painstakingly accumulated. I BELIEVE in learning, in science and academic pursuits; but those in such fields inevitably become so stultified and so big-headed about their degrees -- which, in every declining civilization displays an inflation much like its counterparts in architecture and music -- that these puffed-up authorities incur via their arrogance the reciprocal-arrogance of the ignorant masses, and the latter end up trashing their leaders, much like what happened in the Russian Revolution. We can't AFFORD that to happen again! No Mad Max, okay?

    Sigh: the same trend toward beggar-rule is happening worldwide on every level, for authority shows its rottenness, so people react by DEBUNKING authority. Scripture debunkers are but one class of it, not scholarly at all, but with a thirst for vengeance which shows in the utter stupidity of their alleged 'scholarship'. More: debunkers seem to be a bellweather in history, for persecution is always followed by rebellion (because the persecuted end up gaining popularity from their martyrs). The way history is going, the ever-in-the-third-grade Christian population will receive sympathy; and then, will take over politically. The trend is already well-developed in the US. Once these grammar-school spiritual kids get political control, they WRECK the countries they rule: for Farenheit 451 becomes a virtue, again. We saw it in 300AD-1800AD on a repeated basis. Let's not lose what we've learned, yet again? If you're a believer, GROW UP spiritually. That alone will save lives. God, not man, should be the center of every believer's focus. Not politics, not the debunkers, not crusades. Just Christ.

    If you're an unbeliever, be aware that STUPID debunking accelerates historical decline, in history. You can trace it like some law of gravity. SO DO IT RIGHT, if you will debunk!

    Just ONCE in my life I'd like to see some GOOD scholarship when it comes to debunking Bible. Instead, churned out is lot of detail, mostly irrelevant, often disingenuous and with shyster-lawyer arguments [i.e., saying Bible took some religious idea from somewhere else, based on the PARCHMENT age of the MSS, rather than on the REAL and much-older age of the original LANGUAGE]; badly connected, and chock full of 'suggest' and 'data seem to indicate', but no meat. Oh, and a lot of big words. So, when you strip out the fluff, only the prejudice remains. Of course, the same is true for a lot of pro-Biblical scholarship, too: thanks to the Energizer Bunny (tm) of Total Depravity, we're ALL vulnerable, not just the debunkers!

    UPSHOT: From what I've seen so far, a good 99% of the contradictions are alleged without homework to back up the allegation. Most allegations are downright funny -- except to the poor soul who believes them.

    Most of us do not have the time to go chasing down all of these allegations. There are so many of them, only a very thorough knowledge of both Scripture and the allegation's basis protects one from feeling perhaps worried that the allegation is true. As a result, a good many folks feel bad about (or, believe) what is really no more than cheap gossip about Scripture.

    The good news is, all these folks trying to prove the Bible false save the believer a lot of time and effort. The debunkers fall over each other at the end, much like the contradictory witnesses at the Lord's 6 Trials. They contradict each other, and baldly. Desperate to prove the Bible wrong, one will find what he thinks are scurrilious things about Christ; another, equally obsessed, thinks he finds proof that Christ never existed! So the first one and the second one end up battling EACH OTHER (just like the Arabs massacred each other in the Valley of Berachah, or the Arians and Athanasians massacred each other in Constantinople during Justinian's day). So their contentions cancel each other out! Belief in falsehood always manifests in obsession; the obsessed person MUST attack the perceived object of his obsession. So, rest assured, someone is working on some allegation which troubles you.

      The Holy Spirit will orchestrate the believer's circumstances such that, some time AFTER he ceases to beat himself up over this 'contradiction' and has decided to trust God anyway, the proof he long sought appears 'suddenly'. Ah, yes, "suddenly": there's a gem for Bible debunkers! They look at the English translation of "soon", and yell, "Foul Bible!" But the Greek word TACHU, often mistranslated "soon", means "suddenly", "by surprise" (used of a thief or other criminal, which in that day SUDDENLY, not secretly, attacked). The debunkers don't know this, of course. So they piously yell the Bible lies, because -- oh, the Lord hasn't returned "soon"! See? there's an item you can add to your collection of bible bloopees, not bloopers. Without lifting a finger.

      So, blooper research is nonetheless quite profitable to anyone's confidence in all the REST of Scripture (yet unresearched). Even more, it's profitable to see what a fantastic Genius God is, why He has made the choices He has, viz., to let all these allegations freely operate. In sum, allegations against the Bible are among the Christian's "best friends".

    So there's no need to 'defend' Bible; it defends itself against any and all comers, and it does so with incredible panache. Better still: the bloopees benefit, too! Christ paid for them, too! God uses the bloopers to help the bloopee see Him; for God will use bloopers to show the bloopee how his 'accusation' proves the Bible even MORE true! "Inalienable Grace", the "I" in this webseries, is for EVERYONE, "pas". No exceptions. [Pas in Greek is an adjective, but when used in the plural it acts like a substantive, and means "everyone" or "everything" WITHOUT EXCEPTION. All-inclusive. Just like Infinity. You should be able to verify that fact in any GOOD Biblical Greek textbook -- or, even Attic (drama Greek), from which koine Greek sprang. Bible uses a LOT of Atticisms, Doricisms, Ionisms, etc. which 50 years ago, almost all Bible teachers were taught. Nowadays, a mere 18 months or 2 years' of Greek alleges to pass for 'scholarship' in the language! Sigh...]

      Here's what happens, time and again: for Biblical counterparts, review the stories of Nebuchadnezzar and Paul. Pattern goes something like this: Joe Blow has some accusation against the Bible. He is naturally a brilliant guy. He is royally upset about how the Church has LIED! to its parishoners, lo these many years. He toils long and hard at his research; so much so, he loses his wife in the process, not to mention his health and privacy, for many oppose his work. He sticks to it though; and admirably, too. Finally, the exposé is published, rocking the world with its erudition! Well, except that one day, in the privacy of his study, Joe runs across some little fact, just by accident y'know: a book falls from his bookcase, opens to a page with a sentence on it Joe 'just happens' to READ. Lightbulb goes on: OH NO! Joe realizes all his work was based on a flawed premise! All that research only proved why it was the BIBLE which was right, after all! No one else will notice the flaw, because Joe is so much smarter than they. But Joe now knows. Of course, so does God. Of course, so did Nebuchadnezzar; so did Paul. Sometimes, ya gotta hit the bottom before ya can look UP. And who of us can't recall a like moment?

    The other 1% of the allegations require a good deal of time to respectfully unravel. Because such allegations are barnacled with so much erudition, a person feels intimidated to question the scholar. Also, it's good to respect an expert, so it hurts to allege that someone of academic repute, who sincerely did lots of hard and often brilliant research, missed a very obvious thing which shoots down all that research. Think how devastated the person will be, when he discovers his error. Have compassion. So, it's good to 'do nothing' here, too. Even the Lord wrote in the sand, to spare the accusers of the adulteress, embarrassment.

    Moreover, the problem with the allegation, tends to be at the premise level: that is what makes the allegation so intriguing. That is what makes a blooper in researcher logic so hard to detect. 'Whether the blooper is being made by someone trying to defend (his view of) the Bible, or someone trying to debunk it. (We're all in this together, folks: someone else's mistakes are just a different flavor, versus our own.)

      Look: when evaluating something scientifically, one first has a premise of some kind to work with. One tests that premise in a variety of ways, usually with heavy emphasis on empirical data. From the data, one evaluates whether the premise is proved wholly true, partly true, inconclusive, or false. However, notice that there is plenty of room for logical error: also, that the premise mightn't be the only premise which the empirical data "fits". Especially, since empiricism relies on induction: the logical process of going from a small fact to, as Aristotle would put it, a "universal", the theory.

      In short, the empirical data might prove the OPPOSITE premise even better. (This is also true in the case of analysing Bible verses; verses which seem to "add up" to a certain doctrinal meaning, e.g., no-free-will, actually add up to the OPPOSITE.)

      Naturally, it takes a good deal of time and work to even document a wrong or less-right premise; more time, to document and prove a right one.

    Of course, it's natural to wonder, why did God make it so complicated? Aha -- again, it must be God's fault, huh? What's the premise here? Is it complicated because God made it so, or is it complicated because man made it so? Is the Bible in pieces because of repeated and persistent persecution which only in the last 150 years has seen a breather, or is it in pieces because God's nasty and wants us to sweat? You decide.

    The Bible is probably the most contested set of books in history. Scripture has been lost, then found, then lost again, miscopied, lied about, burnt up, torn up, scribbled on as trash -- it's really a wonder we have it at all. What is found is ridiculed, is hard to understand, is debated, doubted, denied, distorted. 'All at levels no other set of books can hope to attain, in infamy!

    Does all this negative attention perhaps indicate the Bible is bunk -- or, the OPPOSITE premise?

    IX. Testing the "Truth"

    Since Scripture is so hotly debated, within and without Christianity, how can a person figure out what's the "Truth"?

    The answer is always, "God will show you", which is in Phillipians 3:15 (I paraphrase). How, though?

    On a personal level, it's most vital to use 1Jn 1:9, and to remember the promise that God will lead you to learn what is right. Via 1Jn1:9 you get God's IQ, so human brain limitations or "smarts" don't matter at all. (A genius, offline, will goof up the interpretation; a "dumb" person, online, thus is "smarter". This is no excuse for laziness, nor is it an excuse to preen when you "get it right". See the "I" for details.)

    What does matter: Try to stay logical, objective, and to keep plugging. This Truth is essentially about and from GOD, not a soundbyte. It takes time. If there is a problem in "getting" something, likely emotion is obstructing. Try to identify which emotion, and why it is there. If you find yourself making snap judgments, there is an emotional obstruction: it's just a part of total depravity; we all have many such obstructions.

    There are systematized ways to decipher the "Truth", in theology. They are many.

    Seven principles, which are also true in the evaluation of the meaning of civil law, are most helpful in analysis, as follows.

    FIRST: Always compare Scripture with Scripture. Scripture interprets itself: that is one reason why it is written in a (seemingly-strange) contextual/dynamic format. DOCTRINES perfectly FIT together, in Scripture, because it is "God-breathed" -- aka "Infallible". Those who think it is not have not got the right interpretation of the "erring" passage -- yet.

    Scripture is a bundle of different types of legal documents, so to speak: deposition/testimony (e.g., the narratives), contract law (the promises, covenants), expert exposition/testimony (explanations), and trial evidence/precedence/ case histories, to name but a few types.

    Any legal document is interpreted in light of itself, and in light of other legal documents of similar kind. This is how lawyers make a living! This is why we need pastors!

    SECOND: Obviously, since Scripture has a lot of historical material in it, and is also not written in English, and further claims to be "God-breathed" only with respect to the original writers, a good deal of research into history, language, literature AT THE TIME OF writing is needed. It's more than a full-time job just to study.

    THIRD: Ideally, you can just believe your pastor and not worry about all of this work. However, we are individually responsible to God for what we believe, and pastors are not perfect, either. Out of respect for the pastor, too, we should "test" what we are learning from him -- we might understand his teaching better that way, no?

    How does the student, who is not a pastor, and doesn't have much time, evaluate "Scripture in light of Scripture"? Frankly, it's a miracle: God leads you. Use 1Jn1:9 to stay "on-line" with Him.

    FOURTH: A good shortcut method is to be VERY clear on the nature of GOD -- His characteristics. The "S" in the Glossary might afford some help. Turn over in your mind, many times, how God must be, given those characteristics. The passage you are trying to evaluate will NOT contradict His Essence. If it seems to, then the interpretation you think applies is off in some way. Try finding similar passages, and compare them, to ferret out what interpretation does not contradict His Essence. (TULIP, for example, is partially incorrect, because it underplays the importance of Sovereignty and Veracity, which is definitely not the intended result of TULIP's teaching!)

    FIFTH: Another added shortcut is handy when you have several passages and they seem to not fit together: at least one of them is probably mistranslated. Each verse might look like it fits Essence on its own, but when taken together there's something funny. Figure out what seems funny, and find someone who'll know the original languages on that "funny" part (ideally, your church).

      Here's a good (and apparently controversial) example: lots of verses mistranslate the Hebrew preposition "min" and the Greek "ek" as meaning "in", when those prepositions as used with "womb" mean "from OUTSIDE, separated from". So, some translations of the Bible lead the unwary to conclude that human life begins before birth. (English's use of "from" usually connotes "from inside, versus the Hebrew perspective, which is the opposite. So, the English translation is wrong, but, for example, the French translation gets it right "des ta naissance", from your birth, the correct meaning of the Hebrew idiom. ) In all of these verses, God is declaring He makes each soul at birth (so bye, bye, claims that the soul is procreated/material, that man can be evolved, etc). More could be said here, but you're probably too shocked, already!

    SIXTH: Don't superimpose the answer you want to be true over the one that is there. This is the most frequent cause of misinterpretational errors. Sometimes, this error is very subtle: one's in a hurry, or, the surface meaning of the verse seems to be the WHOLE meaning. So, one quits analyzing. Again, sooner or later God will point out the fallacy (maybe using some obnoxious person!) of such a snap judgment.

    Denominations form and fight usually because they have each imposed their creed over Scripture in some way and now feel obliged to stand fast on what might be even known as an incorrect interpretation, for the sake of not scaring their congregations by admitting an error. No denomination, no church, no pastor, gets it all right. That doesn't mean the whole teaching is wrong. It does mean that what's wrong was misinterpreted -- and can be corrected.

    So, it's a good thing that there are so many Christian versions, to compete with each other!

    SEVENTH: "Big Picture Perspective" is a major (and good) reason for denominations to form creeds. Of course, you don't have to be in any denomination: the Bible will give you its own "big picture". Try reading the Epistles, for example, for a general sense; or, the whole NT; the idea is, not to miss the forest for the trees.

    It's extremely important to "get" the Scriptural "big picture." Many misinterpretations vanish, or show up as misinterpretations, once one has enough Scriptural grasp of the big picture.

    This "big view" is especially helpful when you have to analyze the "fit" of a given verse, passage, or doctrine. In short, "fly aerial"; look at the whole panorama of doctrine, just as if you were in an airplane, flying relatively low. How does the particular doctrine in question fit into the whole?

    Another way to say this: evaluate an interpretation of a verse in light of the whole realm of doctrine you've proved true, the OVERALL "COMMON SENSE" of it. Or, BETTER, in light of the Essence of God, since God makes sense, and all Scripture is a reflection of His Essence, "the Mind of Christ".

    When a doctrine is "rightly divided" (2Tim2:15), you can practically hear it snap into place. When it is not, there is a jamming. Many verses will thus contradict the "jammed" interpretation.

    To make the jamming "fit", many people throw away or gloss over many verses, even entire books, of the Bible! It's a sad problem, which is ONLY redressed by further learning of Scripture with 1Jn1:9 regularly used. Total Depravity means our brains are mush, cotton: if you've ever tried to push through either one, you know how DIFFICULT it is. We can't get a thought through without a lot of pushing, even in secular affairs -- that's why life is always so annoying. BIGGER: We CAN'T think AT ALL on our own when it comes to spiritual things, even if believers: ergo the need for 1Jn1:9 like BREATHING. That's why virtually every religion is goofy, substituting some version of irrationality (magic) for the Truth.

    Let's go through an example.

      Pretend someone believes that works are needed for salvation. How to prove that untrue? Well, there are hundreds of verses one can spout. However, using the big picture, one can reason out that, since

      • Christ has to pay for us at ALL, He must have paid for ALL sins, and ALL people, lest God's Righteousness not be Propitiated; and
      • since there ARE so many verses saying Christ paid for everyone, it can't be true that we can earn our way to Heaven.
      • The Bible is infallible: so, verses which SEEM to "contradict" must assign some other meaning to works. After all, works are mentioned, so there must be a role for them, but the role isn't to get you "saved". Hint: see how they are always mentioned IN CONTEXT OF verses about KNOWING or God's POWER, and then also how they always have something to do with witnessing, rather than salvation itself. In short, works are a way to APPLY ("work out", Phili2:12-13) doctrine in your life.

    Another important "big picture perspective", is that of the author who writes the Scriptural book you're reading. This shouldn't have to be said, but when you read or hear a thing, you won't know how to interpret it until you know what the writer/speaker HIMSELF means by what he writes/says. It's incredible how people today ASSIGN THEIR OWN meanings to what someone else writes or says. Thus, they misinterpret, take offense, and persecute that someone else. [Classic example of this genre is the way Trent Lott 'lost' his post as Speaker. Really dumb, how people are so insecure that a remark at a party was used to dismiss a valuable member of our government. Classic examples like this display commonly, daily, on Christian IRC. You'd think people had their ears plugged!]

    See, the Bible's claim of infallibility and inerrancy applies to the writings of God-inspired INDIVIDUALS. God is not magic, so this ability to communicate God's Own Message isn't magic, either. So God's "verbal plenary inspiration" doesn't mean some goofy "automatic writing" or dictation. It means, rather, that the person KNEW DOCTRINE SO WELL and was online with the Holy Spirit so well, he could himself accurately communicate God's Own Coherent Message in writing. Bible calls this inspiration "theopneustos" (lit., God-breathed, metaphor for the 'inhale' of Truth). That claim applies to every TRUE Bible book, whether OT or NT, and that's how you tell what is and is not Scripture. It's not a committee/council decision, for crying out loud! See 2Pet1:20-21. (So, the issue with the original-language texts we have is to detect scribal (copyist) errors, which take time to do; but the task isn't rocket science, either. NO translation is "God-breathed" (2 Tim3:16), because the original writers of Scripture aren't doing the translating! One must be online with the Spirit and repeatedly, over a long period, learning Scripture to become adept at interpretation. Really, one must have a spiritual gift, which Bible calls "pastor-teacher" in Eph4:11.)

    You can see an author's perspective by reading the whole book of his (or all of his writings), not focusing too much on any one verse. You can also see it by tracing out the author's writing style, which in each case is deliberately chosen for the sake of maximum efficiency in conveying the teaching. I highly recommend doing this with Romans, Ephesians, and Hebrews. Further, I recommend you cast aside all religious ideas, and just read these as real books by real people inspired by a REAL GOD. God is not religion, God is GOD. Religion is satanic, always. We've heard the religious droning so much, it taints our ability to read Scripture. (Proof that ALL religion (Christian or no) is satanic is inadvertently furnished in the "Thinking Out Loud" megaseries, accessible from the Home Page. The series is well over 500 printed pages. While trying to account for the spiritual life, I found out why all religion is satanic, too: my pastor has been saying this for 50 years, but I didn't well understand why until writing out that workpaper.)

    If you're stuck with a translation, read the book over and over about dozen times (maybe more), until you can see the author's own thoughtline and tracking. You probably will STILL be unclear with respect to many verses, but you will BECOME more certain that SOMETHING SENSIBLE is being said. (Bible is very snoozy to our Total Depravity, so use 1Jn1:9 like breathing, so the Holy Spirit's power will break through the sleepiness. Don't give up.)

    In short, the "flavor" of the author's writing will vastly help you to know what the writing means. You get to see the author's big-picture perspective, and thus learn more how to read any verse in that writing.

      Paul's Book of Romans (also Book of Hebrews, which Paul did not write) is a prime example of how style is used to convey the big picture. You have to know that he's using Greek debater's "straw man" technique; that he's concatenating OT verses which are well known to the readers, (meaning, putting parts of verses next to each other to show their interpretation and post-Cross corollaries); that he's shouting in places, underlining, being dramatic, sarcastic, and even practically swearing, in some verses. The book is written in a style, in short, which is as clear as if he were standing in front of the readers and SPEAKING. (What I like about the NIV is that it tries to show this fact.)

      The original languages of Scripture are unusually rich AURAL and ORAL languages -- full of idiom, figures-of-speech, puns, humor, double-entendres, stress, etc. of extreme precision. This precision is lost in translation, especially in the English, giving way to many misinterpretations. "Strong's" just can't deal with these very significant structures, so its surface meanings and translations should be viewed with extreme caution.

    The precision of word-use in Scripture is one of the hallmarks of proof it is infallible. In Romans, for example, Paul loves parallelism via word-play: "hope" (which means CONFIDENT EXPECTATION, not doubt, in Greek..see the Philebus), "knowledge", "boasting", "grace", "death", "sin" -- all these topics receive a LOT of punning, to advance one's learning about the doctrines taught. It's a common method of teaching in every book of the Bible, actually (humor aids memory retention).

    (Another "flavoring" commonly used is the interplay of syntax and tense -- but that is a complex subject, and in the English much of this "flavoring" is lost from the translation.)

    Finally (for now), as you grow, you'll find the "big-picture perspective" helps you to see, via the big picture itself, corollaries --- true ones -- even though there is no one verse or set of verses you can point to as justifying the corollary you extrapolate.

    Scripture is deliberately written so that you will THINK about it: the command in Deuteronomy 30 is an example of such a "THINK" command. So, the core points are scatteredly given, and you are to "fill in the blanks", as it were. After all, you are an individual, and how the Scripture APPLIES in your life YOU have to personally choose to learn. Also, it's not necessary to say all of the doctrinal points which would apply to all, since the core items are there. See: "1,3,5...." is a partial list. You don't need me to list "7", to realize it comes next. You don't need me to list "-1", to realize it precedes, since you have a core PATTERN...

    As the "puzzle" of the doctrine comes together in your mind, you'll be able, from seeing the big picture, to see the shape of the seemingly-missing pieces. That is by far the most enjoyable way to spend one's time, in my opinion.... to learn Christ, "the Beloved". For even more info on how to test/read/ interpret Scripture, Click Here.


    This section is provided for those who would like categorized highlights of what is wrong with the traditional TULIP, and why it needs overhaul. Some of what is said here is repeated (or implied) elsewhere in the TULIPS? website, usually in blue fontface.

    Traditional TULIP's illogics (and thus the inability to see Scripture which points out the illogics) stem from a misunderstanding of the nature of God. That is partly why, in this proposed rewrite of TULIP, the "S" is added. TULIP is worth rewriting and correcting. Those who are critical of it say it should be completely scrapped. I submit they are "throwing out the baby with the bathwater", which is why I've taken the time to construct this website. I truly hope that Calvinists who read it will give it attention, for it contains an answer to the many objections heard by non-Calvinists...that is, if TULIP's errors were corrected to fit the Bible (which of course TULIP intends to fit).

    I fully realize that the proposed re-construct here is incomplete (i.e., in an attempt to keep it simple, I've largely left off documenting the points from Scripture). The objective is to present an overview of how TULIP might be fixed; it is not intended to be a full-blown scholarly work, nor do I wish any credit. As always, any truth here comes from the Holy Spirit, not from me. As always, any one who seeks to understand a thing needs His Mentorship, and should "test" what he reads/hears, "like the mouth tastes food", as Elihu put it (Job 34:1-4).

    So much for preamble. Let's move on to considering the problems with TULIP.

    THE ROOT ILLOGIC in TULIP is that it misapprehends God's Attribute of Sovereignty, aka "Free Will" or "Volition". According to the "logic" of TULIP, because God is meritorious, and He has free will (aka Sovereignty), His Free Will is meritorious. So, to say that man has free will must mean that man is meritorious. Note how TULIP deems merit "married" to free will in ALL PERSONS. The possibility that this "marriage" is not true (i.e., not scriptural) is not considered. Such a marriage was invented by the likes of Acquinas and Augustine (or perhaps before them, I didn't look farther back), as a debater's artifice to formulate their treatises. (I don't see any evidence in their writings that they intended their audiences to accept such a marriage as Gospel, but rather as a means of furthering consideration of the structure of the topics being covered in their writings.)

    This meritorious concept of free will was one of the Arminians' mistakes in their formulation of salvation's structure; and the Council of Dordt, who branded it heretical, didn't challenge their claim that merit resides in free will, but instead countered that man didn't have free will. Hence, TULIP has the "stamp" of illogic running throughout, and the verses used to justify it are jammed together; the verses which contradict TULIP are bypassed or rationalized away.

    One wonders why. Let's pretend for a moment that there was such a thing as meritorious free will. So what? If a person has merit, from where did he get it? God. And if he managed to have free will without merit, where did that come from? God. In either event, if he wants to be saved, so what? God owes him nothing, and is under no obligation to say "yes". In short, free will, meritorious or no, has no power to make up for sin, no power to do good-enough works, no power over God, no power to create a spiritual life, so no power to save. 'Even if perfect.

    In short, free will, meritorious or no, is powerless with respect to God (Rom4:1-10). His Authority is completely unaffected, His power is unaffected. In no event is His power or choice "conditioned", for He is just as free to say yes or no absent the person's consent, as with it.

    Yet to deny free will was seen as important by the Council; so much so, all of TULIP was invented.

    Even today, when "free will" is heard by the Calvinist mind, (despite Calvin's writings in his French Sermons, and Articles III and IV of the Institutes), it's automatically branded "Arminianism", and the possibility of some OTHER definition of free will goes unconsidered, throughout the centuries. In short, if it's free will, it MUST be Arminian/pelegian, etc. In short, if it is not a cat, it MUST be a dog. Such a dogmatic, scribal attitude is what has kept the illogic of TULIP alive for so long, wasting the Calvinist's time in trying to defend it rather than invest his time in refining and resizing it to fit the actual Bible.

    Let's look into this "logic" a bit more.

    To TULIP, because free will in anyone MUST be meritorious, only perfect humans can have free will (Adam pre-Fall, and Christ). So, if man is fallen, he must not have free will. Thus, total depravity means a depravity of will, in which sin rules and man is little more an animal, basically, due to the sin nature. ALL OF TULIP's TENETS DEPEND ON THE FOREGOING "logic", as premise. So if the premise is incorrect, so are the other tenets: all would need, then, to be corrected, in light of whatever would be the correct premise.

    That "logic", that premise, is not correct. What makes God meritorious is His OTHER Attributes: Free Will is just Will. It by itself would have no merit at all. Will is one of the components of personhood (along with attributes like self-consciousness, for example), what distinguishes personhood (i.e., from animalhood). Animals are ruled by their (instinctual) natures, but persons (God, angels, humans) have will as well, so can RULE OVER their other attributes. Note the "CAN" RULE: it's voluntary, an act of volition, will. God made man in His image, not in the image of animals. He made man a person.

    Because fallen man is totally depraved, he's constantly assuming that because he makes a good choice, he must be a good person; if he makes a bad choice, he must be a bad person. Such conclusions are illogical, and illogic is a hallmark characteristic of total depravity. In short, the idea that free will has merit is a "depraved" idea.

    But the truth is this: volition by its nature always must have an object to "rule" on. To will "A" over "B" is to have two objects and you are ruling on them, preferring "A". The merit of that choice resides in the true properties of the objects, NOT in the act of choosing them. Having free will per se is neither good nor bad. The objects wanted have the good/bad qualities. Free will, then, by itself is but one of the mere characteristics of personhood, just like faith: it's the object, never the will/faith, which has or lacks merit.

    If God doesn't have volition, He's not a Person. If angels don't have volition, they are not persons. If man doesn't have volition, he's not a person. The QUALITY of personhood depends on the QUALITY of the other attributes of the person, but the EXISTENCE of personhood depends on having volition [well, and on other attributes like faith (the ability to believe, which is a necessary adjunct to volition, self-consciousness, memory, etc]. Volition, in turn, is NOT volition if it is not free. If not free, it is not "volition" but "instinct", such as animals have, or something like instinct which rules the creature.

    So, free will aka volition aka Sovereignty is a necessary component of personhood, and in itself has no merit at all. Indeed, the way such a will is used will determine the quality of any finite person, so he can MAKE himself "of depraved mind", as the Bible puts it. In short, the person can WANT/WILL anything, and whatever he wants/wills has a certain programming momentum with respect to the object of his desire. Such a choice in itself carries no merit whatsoever, but is merely a component of the aliveness of personhood. Any merit (even if "merit" included the ability to make good on a want) would be based upon things EXTERNAL to volition (i.e., the object chosen,OTHER attributes, etc). As we all know, only God and what God does makes for merit; so if merit is produced in any creatures, be they perfect or not, all such produced merit came from GOD. It can't come from any other source. Even a perfect person is that way ONLY because God made him that way, no matter how well he uses his volition afterwards.

      Example: The Humanity of Christ did not make Himself; the Humanity of Christ depended on the Holy Spirit, RATHER than on His Own Humanity, RATHER THAN on His Own Deity, as we know from such passages as John 1. The resultant Quality of His Humanity's Personhood was Perfection of so Great a QUANTITY that He was able to "rest" on the Cross, thinking Bible Doctrine in response to all the unimaginable horror of the imputation and total judgement of all the sins of all mankind. (Please read the "U" below and in the "U" section of this website to see why the "all mankind" term is used here.)

      Example: In fact, Adam had to depend on his humanity in order to sin: an act of volition. The resultant Quality of Adam was Total Depravity: his body became ruled by the sin nature acquired from that first sin. His brain, being part of his body, was likewise tainted; witness his goofy "fig leaves" idea to correct the "evil" of nakedness; the goofy idea that nakedness even needed correction to make right on his relationship with his wife, and even with God! (What had happened to his memory of being naked and "okay" beforehand? What happened to his ability to reason? This isn't loss of free will; it's a knowledge failure, a thinking failure.)

      Isn't it interesting, that even fallen man faces the same issue as Adam, despite the Fall; no one is sinning ALL the time. So the will to resist sin remains. Adam had been perfect, yet he sinned. Fallen man is totally depraved, yet able not to sin. So fallen man's soul is not enslaved to sin, although we know his body is. So perhaps fallen man's will is shielded in some God-provided way, despite total depravity.

      Example: Satan choose to rebel against God. Yet he has not been incarcerated (a fact which doesn't occur until the 2nd Advent). That is why we live in the devil's world (rulership of which he took from Adam due to the fall). So, Satan could choose to stop his rebellion, but for all these eons keeps on choosing to rebel. He remains responsible for his decisions. True, he cannot make himself perfect again (only God can do that), but he CAN choose to change his mind and submit to God, at least until the time he is finally put into the Lake of Fire.

      The resultant Quality of Satan is that of supreme evil. He still remains as beautiful as the day he was created (apparently, from what I know in Scripture) yet in his soul is completely antagonistic to any truth whatsoever. He well knows Hell exists, yet would rather fight God and take his chances than submit. To him, submission to God is clearly WORSE than hell.

    Now, it is true, that since God is perfect, every Attribute in Him is perfect, so His Sovereignty (Will) is Perfect. HOWEVER, two additional facts make for this quality, which unfortunately the writers of TULIP either misunderstood or neglected to take into account:

      1) Perfection is due to the SUM of all Attributes, so God's Will would NOT be meritorious if alone. Thus, Will per se has no merit in itself. (You can prove to yourself that Perfection is due to the SUM of His Attributes by taking out an Attribute and then cycling through the effect on the other ones.)

      2) God has STANDARDS, which are all expressions of, and inherent to, His Sovereignty. These STANDARDS are that all things must measure up to His OTHER Attributes. Not merely co-exist, or be compatible with, but "measure up", be as Good as He is. He has no desire to and no need to tolerate any standard less than His Own. That is why there had to be an efficacious Cross: no creation could be justifiably created if the Success of His Work was not foreknown, foreordained, foreprovided (predestination is provision, not forcing, as the "P" section explains). As a result, it doesn't MATTER that creatures do not meet His Standards: Christ paid for the entire loss, AS WELL AS the ransom to remake us good enough, which is why we can be "redeemed" at all. Thus the STANDARDS of God are not violated, and neither is freedom.

    These two facts make for Sovereignty's perfection. Since Sovereignty, like all other Attributes, is indivisible in God, Sovereignty is thus perfect, owing to His Other Attributes. Since Sovereignty has these Other Attributes, Sovereignty WILLS THE STANDARDS which such Attributes "carry" inherently in them. So, these STANDARDS are an inherent demand of Sovereignty in all that God wills and "does" (God, being Spiritual, just thinks a thing into being; so, strictly speaking, "does" nothing).

    Consequently, God would violate His own Standards of Freedom to NOT make free will an attribute of the soul of any creature. And, He would violate His own Standard of Justice were He to condemn anyone who did not have free will. THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR THE CROSS IF MAN DIDN'T HAVE FREE WILL. God could have, instead, just made us perfect robots. It's truly that simple.

    TULIP is thus fatally flawed at heart, because it misunderstands God's Nature, and thus the nature of personhood. Let's next cycle through each TULIP "letter". Each one has its particular flaws as a consequence of such misunderstanding.

    "T" for "Total Depravity"

    ..is flawed because it diagnoses the depravity in will. This is obviously incorrect for 2 primary reasons:

      1. Will is created by God as an attribute of the human soul. God is Perfect, and what He makes is Perfect, so the attributes of the soul, like the soul itself, cannot be destroyed. So the will per se is indestructible. What the person thus MAKES of himself via that will can clearly be corrupted (Satan being the highest end of the spectrum-of-corruption in persons, apparently). One programs oneself. The will and soul are developed further, for good or bad capacities, depending on the merit of the objects chosen. We know from Scripture that the soul "grows" due to learning truth, for example. So, one's integrity grows, and thus one's capacity for love/enjoyment grows. Bible metaphors for this growth abound: some use the eating/nourishment category of metaphor; some use the exercise/athletic metaphor; some use physical-growth (i.e., child, adult) metaphors. [Some "grow" verses: 2Pet3:18, the "soul enlarged" verse(s) and the the middle of Eph 1,3 (Paul's two prayers). Most Christians understand the immaterial nature of the soul, so presumably know those verses also.]

      In short, the objects learned affect the quality of the person you become via such choice to learn..again, the merit always being in the object, never in the volition/faith which chooses/believes.

      2. The depravity is one of knowledge, not will. Adam exchanged the knowledge of God for the knowledge of good and evil, thus dying spiritually. This choice depraved his BODY, of which the brain is a part, so the desires of the BODY, often mistaken as will, naturally tend to be human good, sin, evil. Since the soul is immaterial, we can't inherit Adam's soul; instead, these are CONGENITAL proclivities due to the self-destructive "knowledge of good and evil" subroutines contained within the cell structure of the body, which we do inherit (which is why we age, and die physically). The soul receives them from the brain, just as the brain receives impulses from the body. These proclivities are very urgent, analogous to the feeling to urinate, for example. Thus a person gives in to them, though not always. However, just giving in once is a personal volitional act, which is hostile to God's Perfection. (Note therefore how it thus doesn't matter that man is born in this state. Inheriting Adam's post-Fall sin nature only increases the TEMPTATION to disobey; it does not FORCE it.)

    The knowledge depravity must be corrected by means of transmitting knowledge of God; due to man's state, man cannot receive such knowledge on his own: God must transmit it and provide the interface to the soul. (The "draw" and "drag" verses which Calvinists like to use to prove irresistable grace actually prove instead that God does all the communicating to ANYONE. In fact, you'll notice in those verses that it doesn't say GOD ONLY chooses to draw or drag the "elect", but rather that only by MEANS of God can someone come to Him. The Holy Spirit's communication ministry is part of how He accomplishes such a goal, in accordance with the "not willing any should perish" and like verses illustrating God's Will on the subject.)

    The Holy Spirit acts as a human spirit in transmitting Gospel information to the unbeliever; the Holy Spirit transmits Bible Doctrine taught/read/heard to the human spirit of the believer. In both cases, He cycles the information throughout the soul, building the information in it, SOLELY based upon how much the person wants it; for the believer, another prerequisite is that he cannot be in a carnal state. 1Jn explains this process in great detail. So does 1Cor2, Eph6, Eph5:18, John 14, among other passages.

    Regarding the fact that the depravity is one of knowledge, there are hundreds of verses, too many to include here. (Run a bot-search on "know", its cognates; on its metaphors, like "darkness","light"; and synonyms and antonyms for such words; and, verses which relate to knowing/not knowing..'probably takes at least a year to go through them all.)

    One such verse springing to mind is, "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free". See how knowledge is the key to freedom. See how a person can have free will, but not be free to make good on that will. The inability to make good on a thing does not mean the person has no free will. I can be paralyzed, yet not want to be, for example. In short, freeDOM is the ability to make good on the will, but will is still will, however trapped by external conditions (i.e., by sin). Knowledge of God, which God alone enables for all persons (no exceptions), thus produces freedom to know and want Him, insofar as the will of the person desires to receive such knowledge.

    At this point the cleverer of the Calvinists will say, "but the will is corrupted by having depraved desires". No. That is not what's actually occurring. The PERSON, not the will, is corrupted. The will remains, as always, nonmeritorious, a mere volition. That volition moves in a particular direction is due to the OTHER attributes of the person, which the person has willed to program/make his standards for will's choices. (Remember, how we saw above that God's Standards are what they were due to His Other Attributes?) The depraved desires are essentially bodily ones (including brain, so including thought), which have no force in themselves UNTIL the volition AGREES with them. At which point, they add to the standards of will, freely made a part of that person. That is why the person is responsible for not wanting God, as Romans 1-3 explains (among many other passages).

    But, the clever Calvinist will counter, man does not naturally want God. True. He has no knowledge of God upon which to choose to want Him. Instead, he has a knowledge of good-and-evil, and that is all he has. Worse still, he has all the genetic proclivities (evidenced by brain impulses, for example) which of themselves are totally dependent on such knowledge, genetically.

    That is where the Holy Spirit comes in, to provide man with an alternative: God. Now, since man has no natural way to know God, and since he instead "knows" good-and-evil, he will not be predisposed to want God, but due to the fact that he has free will, the Holy Spirit can communicate information to him in a manner which hits him at the opportune strategic time(s). That is, although man is so evilly predisposed, on any particular moment he does not want "x" yet is stuck with it. He thus WILLS a way out of being stuck with "x": at such a moment, his will is positive to an alternative, and the Holy Spirit provides him with one.

    For example, natural man does not want to die, but knows he will. Naturally he wants to live longer, and the Gospel is good news, for it explains how he can live forever with God. True, God must make such an alternative clear to the natural man, but the Holy Spirit is omnipotent and this is no problem. True, man will naturally react negatively, but now he has the KNOWLEDGE of the Gospel, at least in part, and the Holy Spirit can build on that KNOWLEDGE in successive communications so to create an alternative knowledge base for free will to choose from.

    In short, man wants based on what he knows; the more truth he knows, the more he is able to have freedom. As stressed earlier, and in the "T" section of this site, MERIT is in the object chosen, but NEVER in the ability to choose it.

    Man is also more able to enslave himself by rejecting truth. This is also a property of free will, and of course such self-enslavement is the key reason he becomes completely hostile to truth by the time of death.The having-exchanged-the-truth-for-a-lie verse in Romans 1 illustrates the mechanics of this voluntary enslavement; the "knowledge" of the lie is more attractive than the truth, so the lie is adopted AS the truth by volition. This knowledge then adds to the existing knowledge base of the person, which in turn affects the other attributes. At any moment in time, a person's quality is based upon the choices he's made to know or not know: he has programmed himself. In this case, he is programming his desires for hell as opposed to heaven, via the "exchange".

    So, logically, just as for Satan, such a man's standards "make" Heaven much more a torturous place than hell. God is thus being kind to provide Hell instead of forcing such a man to live in Heaven. (Soul torture is far more painful than body torture, so Heaven is not a place the unbeliever will want in preference. The essence of pain is KNOWING; the body's ability to feel pain depends on it being KNOWN as pain; the body's limitations in feeling pain are much greater than the soul's limitations in KNOWING pain. This parenthetical statement will make no sense to you, if you don't yet know how to recognize soul pain in yourself or other people.)

    The novel WUTHERING HEIGHTS(?) (movie form: Rebecca), and the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" (by Edgar Allen Poe) aptly illustrate soul pain despite pleasant circumstances; in effect, the very pleasantness of the circumstances intensifies the soul pain. The new wife, in WUTHERING HEIGHTS, was constantly tortured by the comparative beauty of the dead wife she replaced, however much her husband assured her that he loved her and gave her everything wonderful. The guilty man in "Tell Tale Heart" kept imagining hearing the heart beat in the man he'd murdered and put under the floorboards, despite the people in the room who clearly were oblivious to the imagined sound. (You can probably think of many other stories from real life or literature.)

    The second big illogic in "T", which is a corollary of the misdiagnosed depravity, is the claim that man has to be regenerated BEFORE he can have faith. So, salvation PRECEDES faith in Christ. All the believe-and-be-saved verses just get tossed out the window, I guess. No Bible verses support this idea, as stated.

    HOWEVER, if instead "regeneration" in 1610 MEANT merely that the ability to change the mind about the Gospel and believe in Christ depends on some other type of work by the Holy Spirit (His Gospel transmission to spiritual brain death), that's true, and many verses support it. (Examples: 1Cor2, and the "drag" and "draw" verses apply to EVERYONE, not merely the elect; they say NO one can understand Gospel or be saved apart from God's work.)

    One does not need to be regenerated (by the Bible's definition) to receive the Gospel and believe in Christ. One DOES need the Holy Spirit's work, but the "name" of His Ministry there is NOT "regeneration".

    The person who has no attribute of faith is a person who is physically dead or comatose. In order to learn, one MUST possess the faculty of belief, which is the SOLE meaning of the Greek word "pistis" in its active sense (mental belief, no more). It is a faculty of the soul, like volition, and essential to personhood. It is not anything more. That is why it is also nonmeritorious. The person who freely believes in Christ is still spiritually dead when he does so. The Holy Spirit "picks up" that spiritually-dead faith and makes it efficacious for salvation -- creates the human spirit (aka regeneration/born again). The Father then imputes His Righteousness and Eternal Life to that human spirit. These real imputations cannot be lost, any more than one can become unborn once born.

    One could say more about the problems of the "T" in TULIP, but the foregoing is plenty enough to warrant a rewrite. Let's move on to the "U".

    "U" for "Unconditional Election"

    The Arminians strike me as well-intentioned folks who needed to work a lot more on their formulation of salvation. TULIP, being a tit-for-tat to the Arminians' five-point formulation, was designed to be the opposite of each point they'd made in their formulation. We just saw the mistake in TULIP's "T". It flows through to this "U" also.

    But back to the Arminians. They'd attempted to say that man must choose to be saved in order for God to save him, which is true; unfortunately they'd already said free will was so meritorious, man could actually give a gift(!) to the Almighty; so when they get to this point of formulation, they called it "conditional Election". Bad move.

    The Dordt people naturally needed to make it the opposite of what the Arminians said. Unfortunately they merely called Election Unconditional, again claiming man has no free will; further, that God made his election before "knowing" anything about them. ("lest any man should boast", I guess..as if God would be impressed by anyone other than Christ?)

    The Dordt "logic" was:

      1) no personal criteria being officially "foreknown", God's choice of elect couldn't be based ON any personal characteristics OF the elect (they're saying this to head off any claims of merit or partiality by God);

      2) man due to depravity has no free will; besides, if man could choose to be saved, somehow that detracted from God's Sovereignty or Impartiality (again, they're trying to stave off merit claims).

    Wow, God was right, to protect Himself, huh?

    All joking aside: neither group took into account that the "conditions" of Election are GOD's CONDITIONS, not man's, reflecting His Standards. So ELECTION is always unconditional; God doesn't have to shield Himself from human free will or foreknowledge in order to be "fair". And no amount of free will nor foreknowledge is capable of influencing His Perfect Standards. This was what the Dordt group were TRYING to convey in the above two points. Their intent was accurate; both statements are nonetheless wholly incorrect.

    The Dordt reply should have been, "Salvation is Unconditional, based on God's Standards, not yours; He will not save you unless you believe in Christ; He has freely given you the ability and enough knowledge to do that, so your belief "contributes" nothing. Why? because Christ is GOD's Standard! And He only wants to save those who meet the standard of believing in His Son; all of whom He foreknows, yet He will save you DESPITE foreknowledge, because Christ is the Standard, not you."

    Alas, they did not. I guess John 3:15-36 was not available then?

    Were God to be swayed by what He foreknew as the personal characteristics of anyone, He'd elect NO ONE. Even were someone attractive, Justice is one of His Attributes. Attractiveness would never be a standard or criterion -- except Christ's. So Election properly SHOULD depend on Foreknowledge, because it is unjust for God to select anyone who would reject His Son. It is likewise unjust for God to elect anyone based upon any other criterion, since only Christ is perfect Atonement. Again, the Dordt people meant well, but their way of trying to illustrate impartiality and no-merit was inimical to the very Justice they tried to honor.

    Free will should not be denied, either. If I want to wear a red suit, and choose to wear NO suit if there is no red one, the suit is not as powerful as I am! I'm just saying that on the subject of suits, I will ONLY wear "bb0000".

    Likewise, on the subject of salvation, God is saying He only wants those who freely believe in His Son. While He DID WANT to provide for salvation to be AVAILABLE to all mankind, and in fact did so, He DID NOT WANT TO SAVE those who NEVER wanted to believe in His Son during their lifetimes. In short, the chicken precedes the egg. God made the choice of what He wanted FIRST. So, it is NEITHER true that salvation is conditioned on man, NOR is it true that God somehow relinquishes some of His Sovereignty to elect those who, of their own truly-free will, have at least ONCE believed in Christ. It's really that simple.

    Ironically, in an attempt to say God is Just (the noble motive behind the Dordt folks' wording), God's Justice is unwittingly negated. JUSTICE is an Attribute of God's, but so is VERACITY. Justice isn't "Justice" absent veracity. You can't have justice absent facts. But God has to "create" the facts, doesn't He? Exactly. That is why FOREKNOWLEDGE is required for Justice to function Justly.

    It goes like this: JUSTICE demands VERACITY for Justice to function justly, and VERACITY means there must be facts; RIGHTEOUSNESS demands that there be no compromise to it, either. SOVEREIGNTY wants ALL of these conditions met, and FREELY, because God is FREE and will not tolerate slavery (Gal5:1). So, to make sure all conditions including freedom are met,

    • Righteousness and Veracity (and all other Attributes, really..God is not divisible) demand that all potential FREE realities be considered.

    • Then, all Attributes demand that the potential reality which is NO compromise to Attributes be the one selected.

    • Since one of the Attributes is Sovereignty, freedom may not be denied anyone. Since one of the Attributes is Veracity, ALL Elections must be based on Foreknowledge of that one, non-compromising FREE reality.

    Thus, the problem in TULIP with respect to "U" is simply one of illogic re God's Nature. They are so busy looking at man's volition and characteristics, they forgot God's, even though trying to honor Him. They look at the fact God ONLY elects some, and don't consider that equipping man with free will has no effect on God; even if everyone had believed in Christ, it's still up to God to decide if He agrees. So in no event is salvation "conditioned on" man. GOD SET THE CONDITIONS HE WANTED, and because He is Justice and Truth He WANTED the conditions to be based upon Foreknowledge. We either agree to believe in Christ, or not.

    (More on Foreknowledge is covered in "P", below.)

    Secondly, all parties seem to have ignored the fact that no one can even exist apart from a) God willing you to exist from eternity past, and b) God making your soul. Material bodies don't create immaterial souls. So, there's ANOTHER ELECTION which precedes the salvation election: that of ELECTING WHO TO CREATE.

    Clearly, all provisions of God are tied to the elect; but there are TWO ELECTIONS. So, provision for the unsaved must be made also. So "L" has to reference everyone who's the object of an Election: that's a central theme of Calvinism.

    In fact, the provision is for the Gospel to be made known to EVERYONE. Atonement is provided for everyone; and (by implication) a certain amount of logistical support (so Gospel can be sufficiently transmitted, for example). There's also blessing-by-association ("salt of the earth", etc.).

    Far more importantly, there's the Election of Christ, the FIRST Election which justifies all the rest. Absent His Efficacious Payment, no one could be justifiably created. This is the biggest flaw in "U". By missing this Election, the Dordt people missed their big chance to trump over Arminianism once-and-for-all. Worse, by missing this primary doctrine, they unwittingly malign God completely. (In the "P" subpage of this website I briefly explain Christ's Election, so the reader is referred there.)

    The Election issue Dordt faced with the Arminians was merely the one involving believers; but if these other two Elections were considered, the utter mess which is "L" would have been spotted right away and cleaned up.

    There are other flaws in TULIP's "U", but they are minor by comparison or are covered elsewhere. So we'll now move on to the "L".

    "L" for "Limited Atonement"

    The Arminians' formulation of Atonement was basically correct,but it sounded like Christ's Work was only efficacious if one believed in Christ, which is incorrect. They attributed too much to the role of man's acceptance of salvation, again assigning that acceptance a role of merit it did not have.

    What was the Council of Dordt to do? Well, they could have straightened them out by saying they oversimplified salvation to the point of distortion, because clearly salvation is NOT efficacious due to anything on man's part. (God must be TRULY paid, and only Christ can do that; man's assent has no merit whatsoever, and certainly does not make salvation efficacious.) But, instead, since the Arminians called Atonement "unlimited", the Council called it "Particular" or "limited". Which would be okay, if they'd explained in TULIP that Atonement was nonetheless universal toward GOD, but the "Particular"/"limited" aspect was the application of it to the elect. But they didn't include that clarification in the acronym.

    So, In TULIP, though not in sophisticated Calvinism, this "L" is the most illogical letter of all. It says that ONLY those elected for Salvation were Atoned for by Christ. Sophisticated Calvinism acknowledges that all mankind was atoned for, but salvation is "applied only to the elect". So, why wasn't the "L" corrected? Because it was simple, concatenating the true meaning of Atonement with the APPLICATION of Atonement to the elect. Thus was born a running confusion which one hears even today, the false idea that Christ did not die for the un-elect.

    The "U" and "L" sections of this website explain what is the sophisticated Calvinist view, along with other facts. That view is the Biblical one.

    Sadly, Calvinists not acquainted with the sophisticated view conclude that somehow Hell compensates God for the sins of the non-elect (since they are not aware that Christ atoned for all). They thus double-damn God in such innocent blasphemy: first, God is damned because He didn't receive full Atonement from His Son, so God must be unfair to Himself; second, God is damned because He sent his Son to the Cross in the first place, inasmuch as He could be paid instead by the sufferings of Hell. Of course, God would be a lover-of-suffering, that He could be compensated by Hell at all. In sum, the entire idea that even one sin escaped the Cross is completely blasphemous.

    These same Calvinists honestly believe that unless ONLY the elect were atoned for, Christ's Work would have been "wasted", by paying for those who go to hell anyway. Their root idea is that God is compensated by having saved creatures, then, NOT by the Cross. Or, conversely, that (as above) God is compensated by everlasting punishment. So, Christ's work is of no more value than those persons whom He saved. This is another way of saying Christ's value is of no more worth than those persons whom He saved. Again, it is an unintentional blasphemy.

    Yet, who doesn't honestly wonder about the seeming-waste? Unlimited Atonement DOES mean that what He paid didn't result in all persons being saved. But wait! If even one teeny sin goes unpaid, the person who committed it could not be allowed to be born in the first place! This, because Righteousness deserves FULL payment for ALL offenses by the Christ. Else, there would be no Cross needed, if man's punishment could atone or compensate(!). But wait! Christ DID pay for all mankind, TO THE FATHER, and because the Father IS Righteous; it's a secondary issue of wanting all men to be saved. The Father is FIRST; we are not. Christ did this voluntarily. And that's the key to why God and Christ's Humanity did not "waste" anything: everything was a gift to Each Other, everything was made freely, and to be free (Gal5:1). (Freedom as God's STANDARD is the running theme in this website. I can't repeat all its contents here.)

    Much Scripture is distorted in bizarre fashion to suit the notion that Atonement was not unlimited. For example, strange twists are made of Bible verses which have blanket-Greek words (like "pas" in the plural, which in that case is a substantive, not an adjective, meaning "all/everyone/anyone without exception"), in order to try and make those verses fit the idea that Christ didn't REALLY pay for all mankind. ("Pas" is frequently used in verses on the topics of both Atonement salvation's universal availability.) A quick example is "that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The distorter tries to say that "whosoever" really means only-the-elect. The Greek (or even the English) makes it clear that ANYONE is in view.

    There are many other such verses, and any non-Calvinist is quick to point them out, so no more need be said. The best solution for someone confused on this point is to consult someone who has a sophisticated knowledge of what Calvin REALLY taught on the topic.

    Let's move on to the "I".

    "I" for "Irresistable Grace"

    Here, the root flaw of man having no free will reaches its full bloom. As we saw in "L" above, the Arminians stated that The Holy Spirit's Ministry of Gospel Grace was given to all mankind, and all mankind could resist it. In this, they were right. Yet the Council, in order to keep to its tit-for-tat rebuttal, made the egregious error of saying Grace is resistable only by the non-elect, because God only wants to give the non-elect an "outward call", which can be resisted, but does NOT want to give them the "inward call", which cannot be resisted. In short, the Grace extended is greater to the elect, even during their unsaved period, than to the non-elect, so that's why the non-elect aren't saved. That this double-standard makes God "a respecter of persons" (which the Holy Spirit inspired James to excorciate), wasn't noticed.

    So, "I" has come to mean the "elect" have no choice but to respond to the Gospel. It's hard to imagine how anyone can logically accept the idea that God would want robots, but that's exactly what this "I" says. It's harder still to imagine why no one has corrected it over all these years. Just as with "L", the verses teaching the resistability of man to grace are all over the Bible. 'Both before, and AFTER salvation. The Exodus Generation and the Corinthians in the Bible were all believers, yet their behavior has shocked readers for centuries. So how is it that a person can't resist the "inward call" when "elect", but AFTERwards can just resist, resist, resist? Hmmm...

    On closer inspection, it's obvious that this two-tier explanation was an attempt to say that the grace which makes for salvation is the Holy Spirit's work, not man's; that is wholly correct. However, since the premise was that man had no free will, "inward" grace illogically becomes a coercive act by a Free, Sovereign Holy Spirit, which is wholly INCORRECT. Again, the trump play over the Arminians was missed by the Dordt people, as indeed it has been all along since they hastily accepted the insane notion that free will is inherently meritorious.

    By contrast, the real Biblical answer is: 1) God extends the SAME grace to everyone; 2) everyone has free will, so everyone can resist the "call"; but 3) those who believe in Christ aren't contributing squat to their salvation; since 4) God gave EVERYONE the attribute of faith as a component of personhood, in the soul; so 5) faith in Christ, like free will, is NONmeritorious, and 6) The Holy Spirit makes that faith in Christ efficacious for salvation, not man.

    In short, the truth is a MIX of both sides' positions, as is usually the case in any polemical, dogmatic squabbles.

    It's 6) that resolves the conundrum the Council faced. Free will, however total in man, STILL doesn't have the power to create a spiritual life. (A will to do is not a power to do.) Only the Holy Spirit can. God has the power, God sets the conditions, not man. God does not WANT to make the powerless faith efficacious for salvation unless the person freely WANTS to be saved. Man's want is a powerless want, "contributing" nothing. God does not WANT to coerce, which is why He only wants to save those who want to be saved.

    So why did the Council have to say man had no free will to explain he was powerless? He'd have been powerless anyway. One can want a thing all day long, but having the power to actually GET it is another attribute. No one but God has the necessary power to create spiritual life. So it isn't necessary to say man has no free will, especially here.

    Now, the sophisticated Calvinist will point out that man has free will "within the confines of his depraved nature" or something similar, in order to explain how it is that grace can be resisted even a little bit. Thus he is granting a partial-free-will status to man. Again, this partial status is based on the false idea that will was what was depraved, and the false idea that God's Sovereignty is somehow curtailed if man is granted free will.

    Such a partial-free-will "credit" is likewise illogical; if it were true that God's Sovereignty would be compromised/limited by man being granted free will, then it is STILL compromised by man's having partial free will. The compromise would be less, that's all. Further still, if will was what was depraved due to the fall, but depravity is total, then it is illogical to say man has ANY free will, unless depravity is NOT total (which the Arminians claimed). So, either way, one must rework TULIP "from scratch".

    Of course, if Grace exists at ALL, man must have free will, else there is no need for Grace (robots would just be pulled in when desired). Of course, if man can resist grace at ALL, he must have free will; Romans 9 is on that very topic. It is a graphic demonstration (first regarding the Jews, then regarding Pharoah, then regarding the "straw man complainer") that man programs himself to hell. Remember back in Exodus, where Pharoah FIRST hardens his OWN heart, and then God sarcastically blames Himself for "hardening" Pharoah further, by means of yet more witnessing-plague-miracles? That should be a big HINT that Free will is present.

    Yet the unlearned argue the Pharoah passage and Romans 9 proves man has no free will. Re the latter, anyone who knows how the Greeks used the particle "ei" and structured their debates would know right away, from the Greek, that Paul is saying man DOES have free will..and has been saying so since Romans 1:1. (Simple logic proves it too: If free will were a compromise to God, so man shouldn't have any, then it surely would be a compromise to God to create anyone who is non-elect, no? Oh, because it glorifies Him, some Calvinists will reply. Ah, but what glory is there in making non-elect robots who complain? Would you make a thing such that you force it to hate you? Would a Righteous God be glorified in doing such a stupid thing?)

    Worse still, the "I" in TULIP makes the Grace given out to the non-elect intentionally insufficient; so, whole sections of the Bible have to be thrown away, like most of the Book of Romans. That God would a) have His Son pay for those who had no choice but to believe anyway and b) throw away those who God didn't force to come to Him, is hardly friendly, let alone Grace.

    Again, this is NOT what the Council meant to convey by dividing Grace into two classes. They were trying to explain that man can't save himself, only God can do it for him. They did a very bad job of explaining why, essentially. They botched the explanation because they too believed the false notion that if man has a voice in salvation, he's somehow "contributing" or "cooperating" (which false notion was the Arminians' cornerstone), so they mistakenly thought they must "take the will out" to prove God alone does the work. So, in an attempt to put down one heresy (merit-is-in-will), the Council unwittingly created a worse one.

    Let's move on to the "P".

    "P" for "Predestination"

    "Provision" should really be the name, here, to include all the facets of what God does; but "Predestination" was chosen as the title, since it is the Biblical word. It was also chosen to answer the Arminians' weird notion that man is capable of causing salvation, therefore man can LOSE his salvation (though some Arminians believed in eternal security). So, the Council formulated "Predestination" principally to assert man CANNOT lose his salvation (which is true); but instead of phrasing it as a guarantee, they phrase it as an imposition..again, because they have to contend man has no free will. "Predestination" was a big word for a narrow question, "can one lose salvation". The Council was right to say "no".

    Predestination, though is very much more than this. Because the fact of free will was deemed untrue, the inestimable Glory of God's Provision due to Christ's ELECTION was curtained off. The "P" subpage of this website, plus IV and V try to hint at this Glory: it is so vast, and so misunderstood!

    The main flaw with TULIP's "P" response is that it's way too small; since it is predicated on no-free-will, it doesn't recognize the underwriting-nature of provision for all mankind, due solely to Christ. Of course, at the time it was written, it was solely to answer the Arminians' narrow conception of salvation, which was even more in error.

    So, the rest of this "P" section will try to explain why the Glory that is Predestination is different from either sides' notion of it; The "P" subpage of this website provides an overview on the "what" of Predestination.

    The Dordt people erroneously believed that God's "Arm" was "too short": it couldn't be true that man's free will and God's free will could co-exist by Divine Decree; that if man were empowered with free will, it somehow cuts into Divine Sovereignty. That is, to make Sovereign decisions based on man's choices couldn't be anything other than a prohibited ceding of Sovereignty. Further, the Dordt people deemed it a loss(!!!!) of Sovereignty to ALLOW something He wanted to remain unfulfilled. In short, the idea that God will forever forego something He wants for the sake of freedom is "beyond" them. The fact that Christ's voluntary payment would be so high as to "finance" this freedom, including the financing for a permanent Hell, is likewise "beyond" them. So, to them, Predestination is an imposition, and they see no self-contradiction in saying so.

    Small wonder, then, that the Glory of God choosing to choose from His Foreknowledge is likewise deemed some kind of restriction on Sovereignty. Small wonder, then, that they entirely miss the Glory of God's provision in the Election of Christ. Both sides miss it; the Arminians, who are preoccupied with man having merit, and the Dordt people, who are preoccupied with denying man's merit. If ever there was empirical evidence of total depravity, it is here.

    The fact that God's Foreknowledge is not coercive, even though God must MAKE reality for it to exist, escaped everyone's understanding.

    Today, some Calvinists still have the tangled notion that if Election/Predestination came AFTER Foreknowledge, it would restrict Sovereignty. So God had to choose, first, and THEN foreknow. (This, because the theological definition of Foreknowledge is that section of Omniscience which comprises all known realities, and for reality to exist, God had to choose it.) So election must precede foreknowledge, lest God be threatened by a reality based on freedom.

    The essential error in "P" is the same one as plagues their concept of Foreknowledge, that the facts and man's choices should not be referenced prior to Divine Choice (Election, Predestination). The Arminians thus denied Predestination. The Council of Dordt, rather than reconsidering the nature of Foreknowledge and Predestination, retained the false notion that Predestination is a work of God setting everything in stone, no matter what man's will wants. That Predestination is rather the insurance of freedom due to Christ of course escaped the attention of both sides. And still does...

    This misunderstanding on both sides is most unfortunate, for in "P" the adamancy and Glory of God's Sovereignty is most beautifully displayed.

    The truth is, "Election" and "Predestination" are GOD's STANDARDs. Having a Standard doesn't mean FORCING anything; rather, God's Standards are the basis for God's Provisions..here, entirely due to the Cross. The real illogic here regards the nature of Omniscience. Foreknowledge is but a subsection of it. So it's not as if there was a time when Omniscience existed but Foreknowledge did not. Likewise, there never was a time when the Election/Predestination Standard was not in Omniscience.

    But God has another Standard, which is also an Attribute: Veracity. This means He applies His Standards of Election/Predestination ONLY to reality He FOREKNOWS, and NOT before. Applying the Standard doesn't force anyone, either. Why? Because none of these provisions can be done by anyone BUT God; man can't fashion his eternal state, his resurrection body, his benefits in Christ (etc.), only God can. So if God doesn't do so, nothing will exist. And, His Standards being reflective of His Nature, He provides for all contingencies, because one of the Truths is that you are free to choose: for that freedom to be realized, He'd have to provide for it to be realized. So, the provision MUST be based on foreknowledge of what would freely happen, so that all contingent freedoms can be provided. Such provision is the antithesis of imposition; such provision does NOT require the restriction of creature free will. Rather, such provision maximizes the freedom.

    REALITY is a type of truth. So, if one of God's Standards is Veracity, and it is, then it is imperative to first foreknow what would freely occur so not to violate that free truth. Truth is not truth if it is not free to become true. Gerrymandering is a way to violate truth, deny free reality. For God to choose to violate Freedom although He is free; for God to choose to violate Truth/Reality when He IS both; for Him to do these things is impossible..for the moment He did them, He'd no longer be God (would be sinning against His own Standards). Therefore, Foreknowledge is a requirement of Righteousness, and would be "consulted" first. Any approved "reality" would have to meet ALL Standards, or it would not be Righteous, True...etc.

    This is how God determines reality: it must meet Divine Standards or it cannot be approved. So, doesn't it make sense that, when looking down the corridors of time not-yet-in-existence, God foresaw the way to make free will such that inherited sin could not alter it? Especially since free will would have to exist so to meet God's Standard that He would not want to save anyone who did not freely want to believe in Christ during an entire lifetime? And, having foreseen, being Omnipotent, He could freely make creatures' free will be in the soul, so the sin taint of the body was a strong tempter, but never a forcer of that will? Bearing in mind that only God can structure the creation of man's nature? And, most of all, wouldn't such a forseen structure be ALONE Just, since man thus retains free will?

    The Council of Dordt would of course disagree. After all, the term "free will" is used. It's of course NOT possible that free will can exist nonmeritoriously; not possible that God could have created it so, thus bypassing any need to holler free-will-must-be-denied in order to deny merit. Oh no. Instead, their standard was: God should neither look at man's choices nor his characteristics prior to deciding whom to elect. God should also not take foreknowledge into account, for this restricts His Sovereignty.

    The Bible predates the Council of Dordt: God did not consult either the Arminians or the Dordt people when He wrote, "those whom He foreknew, He also predestined."

    So Foreknowledge must be first. That is, all choices, including God's STANDARDS would be examined, and from there any further choices would most honorably be made. Veracity, which is one of God's Attributes, is thus served: Truth is first considered. Actually, all God's Attributes are thus honored..as they should be, for they are also His Standards.

    Remember, God never had to decide anything, so this issue about the logical order of Foreknowledge and Election is but really a display of His Integrity.

    Integrity is the Glory of God. He doesn't NEED to gerrymander anything. He doesn't NEED to force anything. He doesn't NEED to prevent freedom in order to get what He wants. Not even with respect to the smallest speck of dust. So, Predestination is not a system of coercion, but RATHER A SYSTEM OF FREE BLESSING due to the Cross. Sure, He has Standards. Those Standards are every much a part of the reality as those who did/do/will exist. But He is so INFINITELY INTEGRITY that He doesn't need to curtail any "free fact" from existing. He can afford to "predestine" free will, and free effects of all kinds, yet STILL get what He wants. And He did.

    TULIP's "Predestination" references only the provision for Christians, but a broader definition ought to be given to it, so the proper CONTEXT for the believer's riches can be clearly seen; so the proper UNDERSTANDING for the unbeliever's role can be clearly conveyed; so CHRIST IS SEEN AS CENTRAL AND PRIMARY.

    After all, there's MUCH more involved, here, than we mere believers. All the "elections" can only be made BY God:

    • He had to elect the creation of the Humanity of Christ, and His King-Priesthood Role of Savior, Seed (Gal3:16's "spermati" in the Greek), without which, no one could be justifiably created.
    • He had to elect every person to be born, and He'd have to personally make each soul at birth;
    • He had to elect to provide the Gospel to everyone He elected to be born (and if He had chosen otherwise, then Christ's work really would have been wasted, but we know instead that the Gospel is known everywhere, insured so by that same Divine Integrity).
    • He had to elect to save those who'd believe in Christ, and
    • He had to elect what "salvation" would mean.

    In none of these elections could man make any choices how they should be. We can't make ourselves, we can't understand the Gospel, we can't save ourselves, and we can't construct salvation's components. God has to do that. So, yes, it must be "cast in stone": in the sense of insurance, not restriction.

    So, too, though, with everything that enables us to live. If I choose to have a hot dog, God had to provide for the ability of man to make one, and has to provide for my ability to earn money or get money to buy it. See, the scope of "Predestination" must include all that exists, or COULD exist (so freedom is preserved..you don't have freedom if you don't have options which can exist). It is of an underwriting nature, not a restrictive one. And, since so much evil exists, we know God didn't force it to exist because He doesn't want evil. Yet, being Integrity, He allows it and even underwrites it...and also provides blessing compensation to those who suffer under it, for Justice is one of His Attributes. Most important of all, He SEES and has always SEEN everything, so if He is free, what He wants to see is freedom. That is His Standard. And so, He predestined all mankind to have free will, too. The Cross is the financing for it all.

    Which brings us to God's Love. Nowhere is His Love so stunningly portrayed as in Predestination. Foreknowledge is the very desire of Love, for Love loves to GIVE what the recipient will WANT. So, Love wants to know in advance, so to lovingly plan, provide, insure, deliver. With maximum joy and happiness.

    There is no Integrity without Love. Love is the entire motivation for it. Love is the deliverer of Righteousness and Justice, having already loved those FIRST. What good is love if it is not Just, if it is ignorant, if it has no Righteousness? Righteousness, I keep reminding myself, looks like "RIGHT" + "(GOR)GEOUS". Mere Rightness is not enough, and is ugly, anyway. If relationships were based on mere Rightness, they would be sterile. But if Gorgeous Rightness ---> Righteousness, then Glorious.

    "We love, because He FIRST loved us." That's Foreknowledge. Love doesn't love unreality. Love doesn't love falsehood. Foreknowledge depends on Truth, on facts. In short, Predestination is an expression of God's Love...first, for His Attributes, without which He'd not have motive to stay God; next, for the other Members of the Godhead; next for Christ's Humanity..and next, because of Christ, for us.

    So, Provision is Predestined for the maximum FREE enjoyment of all.

    This Provision, coming as it does in Integrity, motivated by Love, necessarily is free. So, the recipients are free to reject the Providential Provision of Predestination. So, whatever is provided remains "on deposit" (a Biblical term meaning "in escrow" in today's English) if the recipient doesn't want it. That is what the Father's Love wanted to do with the financing of the Cross, to make a gift to His Son. But at no time does Love wish to coerce. So, whatever is freely foregone, remains foregone. Not wasted, but a tribute to the Vast Provision in Christ. (Eph 1:1-14 -- and passim throughout all Epistles -- prove that the Father gave this eternity-past Provision TO Christ at the Session, so it is IN Christ, so there's no such thing as "waste".)

    The topic of this Provision is largely covered in Ephesians, Colossians, Phillipians, and Hebrews, but all other Epistles reference it. The keywords usually used are covered in the "P", IV, and V subpages of this website.

    TULIP's "P" unfortunately misses all this glory, again under the false notion that man has no free will, without considering that maybe God constructed free will so to insure it against the ravages of Total Depravity; under the false notion that God doesn't reference man's will in His decisions; that God doesn't base His decisions on Foreknowledge. So the glory of having a loving God underwriting even one's bad decisions, yet without compromise to Himself (because of the Cross), remains excluded by TULIP's way-too-narrow blinders.

    Summing up...

    TULIP was quickly and narrowly invented to forestall a split in the ranks of Calvinists. Both Arminius and Calvin had recently died; people were in a nervous time in history; the wording of both sides' arguments at Dordt was obviously not well-thought out. It's understandable that the formulations at the time were hasty.

    Why TULIP hasn't been better formulated since, is a mystery. Is it still 1610? Has Calvinism grown, refined? Presumably so. Why then, hasn't TULIP "kept up"? It remains frozen in time, an anachronism of a new faith, babyish in its understanding of God.

    TULIP's historical formulation has the effect of "shrinking" God down to a mean tyrant, which it clearly did not intend to do. Every Attribute is short-shrifted, not merely Sovereignty. It's ironic that the acronym which intended to display the Glory and Guarantee of Sovereignty ends up maligning it so. One wonders if the Council of Dordt really meant for the acronym to be the common guidon it has become. It doesn't honor God, and it doesn't honor Calvin. It needs rewriting from scratch.

    When any summary of doctrine maligns the Essence of God, when a formulation of a doctrine stagnates despite opposition, it's a big hint that Bible verses are being neglected.

    Here's a sampling of the Divine Attributes TULIP unwittingly maligns:

    • Sovereignty, in "T", for not preserving free will against the ravages of Total Depravity (which God could foresee, yet chose to become coercive rather than preserve free will);
    • Veracity, in "U", by making Christ pay for sins, yet forcing the "elect" to be saved and the nonelect to be damned, apart from the facts (since man has no voice in his salvation);
    • Righteousness, in "L", by making nonelect persons, yet having Christ pay only for the elect, per the "L" commonly-espoused: for thus Righteousness is pleased by unrighteousness (suffering in Hell, and unpaid sins);
    • Justice, in "I", by forcing the "elect" to be "irresistably" saved, yet the non-elect to be "resistably" cast into the Lake of Fire;
    • Love, in "P", by claiming God should choose WITHOUT considering the facts He foreknows would exist if He instead ordained freedom ("P").

    You could cycle each Attribute itself through each letter of TULIP and see how that Attribute is maligned. If even only ONE Attribute were maligned by even only ONE letter in TULIP, the entire acronym would have to be reworked. As it stands, all the Attributes are maligned. God "comes off" as being very, very small. Some would say, even Satanic.

    Such misrepresentation was ASSUREDLY NOT anyone's intention, just as it was not intended to neglect Bible verses which clearly contradict TULIP. Over the centuries, many folks have objected to the acronym on these grounds, yet the acronym has never been changed. One only hopes that sometime in this new century, some brave Calvinist will undertake a rewrite, so that God is no longer misrepresented by the acronym, and so Calvin is not maligned any longer.