Red Lights, Incoherencies, & Contradictions
Perhaps you have noticed that, throughout this book, I have used terms like hardline predestinationism, absolute predeterminism, and similar to refer to what most Christians today call Calvinism. I used the terms I did because Calvinism is simply the most recent version (in Christianity) of what is an ancient philosophy known as determinism or predeterminism, a philosophy pioneered long before Calvin, Augustine, and even Christianity. As far as we know, determinism as an articulated thought-system began with pre-Socratic Greek philosophers like Heraclitus, Leucippus, Democritus, Aristotle, and the Stoics. Calvinism is merely the skin this ancient opinion is wearing in modern Christianity. It is pre-Socratic Greek philosophy reskinned. Here in Chapter 12 I will use the term Calvinism. As you have already seen throughout this book, and will see now in an even more targeted way, Calvinism is hemorrhaging with theological and logical red lights, incoherencies, contradictions, and sometimes, simply embarrassing absurdities.
An Ominous Red Light
One of Calvinism's ominous red lights, that can be recognized rather quickly, is their code book with Calvinistic code words used to interpret the Bible. I am not referring to a literal book, but to the long list of peculiar must-have words and phrases in their system. Those of you familiar with Calvinism understand the headache of their idiosyncratic, even bizarre, code language that allegedly explains Scripture.
Herein we find a cautionary tale. Christian cults (and cults in general) always have an authoritative book in addition to the Bible, or if not a literal book, an exclusive language of code words that particularize, detach, elevate, and soundproof their group. I am not at all saying every Calvinist church or ministry is an all-out cult, however, I am most certainly saying there is a strong cult spirit intrinsic to Calvinism. (Do a bit of research on Calvinism's beginnings.) I have administered professional counseling to ex-Calvinists and current Calvinists questioning their beliefs, and I always come away with the same slimy feeling I get when I work with former or current cult members, gang members, or controlling families.
To understand God's Word, sure you may need a dictionary, a literal one, and a Bible dictionary that gives basic explanations of difficult words and ideas. Every Bible student will have to look something up eventually, like propitiation or Maher-shalal-hash-baz. And, every Bible communicator will have to find modern words that help clarify ancient idioms or complex spiritual truths, like "rapture" for the harpazo catching up of the church or "prayer language" for what the Bible awkwardly calls "tongues". Calvinism, on the other hand, does not innocently seek to clarify Scripture with creative, helpful, or modern linguistics. In Calvinism you have to study and learn their coded language with just as much time and effort as studying Scripture itself. That, in and of itself, is an ominous red light.
Scriptures that Lose Coherence & Meaning if Calvinism is True
This is where absolute Calvinism and predeterminism collapses. Numerous parts of God's Word lose coherence, they become nullified or meaningless, if Calvinism is true. Those parts of the Bible would become blatant lies, or superstitious myths from unenlightened ancient people, thus eliminating the infallibility, veracity, and authority of the Old and New Testament. God's written Word is true from the beginning to Revelation's last verse. Rather, Calvinism and ancient predeterminism are the unenlightened myths.
Let's start with scriptures revealing God's emotions and emotional expressions.
God's Emotions & Calvinism
We are emotional because God is emotional. He is our Maker and He designed us to be miniscule replicas of Him. Therefore, when we see the spontaneous, situational emotions of God in Scripture, we can, to some degree in our miniscule selves, relate. If absolute Calvinism is true, however, God's emotional moments in Scripture are fake, perfunctory, contrived, pretentious, virtue-signaling only. Think through the stunning theological and logical incoherence of Calvinism in the following examples of God's emotions.
God Grieving, Marveling
Genesis 6:6 says God "regretted" (ESV) and "was sorry" (NASB, NKJV) and "was grieved in His heart" (NASB) that He made humanity. He changed course by delivering the catastrophic Flood and starting over through Noah and his family. If Calvinism is true, these descriptions of God are falsehoods, at worst, or perfunctory, at best, because He already meticulously predetermined that nearly everyone go insane with wickedness, except Noah.
Jesus' grieving with heartbreak at Israel's rejection (Lk 19:41,42) would be duplicitous, because according to Calvinism, He was the one who handpicked them to reject Him before they were even born.
Jesus "marveled" at their unbelief in Nazareth (Mk 6:6), and He "marveled" at the centurion's faith (Lk 7:9). If Calvinism is true, Jesus was fake-surprised (you know that shady fake-surprised look) in both of those instances, because He handpicked those at Nazareth to reject Him and He handpicked the centurion to believe in Him.
Do you see the incoherence emerging?
God Yearning, Sighing
Read Deuteronomy 5:29 in a few different translations. Hear and feel the yearning and deep sighing of God. Here is the ESV, notice the underlined: Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! Here is the NASB: If only they had such a heart in them, to fear Me and keep all My commandments always, so that it would go well with them and with their sons forever!
"Oh!...If only!...I wish!" Do you see how incredibly disingenuous this expression of yearning and sighing would be if Calvinism were true? In Calvinism, God is the one who chose them to have a hard heart and reject Him, yet here He yearns and sighs and wishes they would have a soft and obedient heart. But, on the other hand, if these Israelites had some level of freewill and genuine choice to fear God and keep His commands, then Deuteronomy 5:29 explodes with meaning and power.
Exodus 34:14 says (NASB), ...you shall not worship any other god, because the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
One of God's names is Jealous? He is a jealous God? The jealousy of God is an absurd idea if He already preselected people to reject Him and worship false gods. In absolute Calvinism, God handpicks who is an idolater, He reprobates them to idolatry, He is the ultimate metaphysical causation of their idolatry, and then turns around and unleashes astonishing fury on them as retribution. That conceptual train fundamentally contradicts the conceptual train of jealousy. The entire premise of jealousy is someone willingly, knowingly choosing another to replace you. Do you feel visceral jealousy when a butterfly lands on your friend instead of you? Of course not; the butterfly is not making a willing, knowing choice. Do you feel visceral jealousy when a fish bites your friend's line instead of yours? Of course not; the fish is not making a willing, knowing choice. Authentic jealousy is only possible when volitional, rational actors are involved and one choice is embraced as superior to another choice. The entire premise of jealousy is someone willingly, knowingly choosing another to replace you. God's powerful emotion of jealousy--so much so that He names Himself Jealous--has zero coherence if Calvinism is true. It becomes a conceptual impossibility, a fundamental contradiction of concepts. It becomes a faux jealousy, a virtue-signal only, a performance from an actor.
1Corinthians 10:22 reiterates. Paul says (YLT), Do we arouse the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?
Paul says here that God can be "aroused" or "provoked" to feel jealous, and is warning us to not arouse that aspect of Him. Does that sound like God is the ultimate causation of people choosing idols over Him, as absolute Calvinism believes? Far, far from it. Once again, the entire premise of jealousy is someone willingly, knowingly choosing another to replace you.
God does not sulk like we do, which is usually filled with injured pride and unmet expectations we idolized. In some perfectly holy and perfectly healthy way, however, He does engage in some type of "heavenly sulking", Hosea 5:15 conveys (NKJV): I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
All of Hosea is about God's marriage to Israel, and that wider context is what gives 5:15 a "sulking spouse" aura. Can you sense the heart of God here? Can you sense His heartbreak? Can you sense His overwhelming frustration? Can you sense His "I give up, we need to separate for now" ultimatum? The emotion and spirit of this verse (and all of Hosea) are nullified under Calvinism. The verse becomes a cold transaction (the defining essence of Calvinism), not an actual marriage crisis surging with emotion. No one reading this verse (and all of Hosea), even in light of the entire Scripture, comes away thinking, "Wow, God really is the metaphysical causation of Israel a-whoring against Him."
God Standing There with Outstretched Arms
If Yahweh separating from His wife in a holy, healthy, heavenly sulk feels too anthropopathic for you, then swallow this: God standing in front of His wife all day long holding out His hands to her, barely stopping short of begging her to repent and return. Isaiah 65:2, quoted in Romans 10:21, says (NKJV), I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good...
The passion and spirit of, even the basic meaning of, this verse are absolutely nullified under Calvinism. So God is the ultimate metaphysical causation of rebellion, yet He stands in front of His wife all day long with outstretched hands? The deeper and deeper you go into God's Word the sillier and sillier Calvinism becomes.
God's Emotions & Calvinism
Under absolute Calvinism, the emotional expressions of God in Scripture are perfunctory and duplicitous, merely virtue-signals. If He Himself preselected and unconditionally reprobated who would reject Him, how can He be authentically heartbroken, grieving, jealous, furious? If He Himself preselected who would embrace Him, how can He (and the angels in heaven) be authentically overjoyed and have a huge party? How can He be authentically marveled at unbelief like the Nazareths, and authentically marveled at faith like the centurion's? If He has already meticulously predetermined literally all things, how can He sigh deeply and say, "Oh that you would...!" or "If only you...!"?
Calvinism is utterly, stunningly contradictory to God's authentic emotional expressions revealed in Scripture.
The Law of Sowing and Reaping & Calvinism
One of the greatest collapse points in absolute Calvinism is the Biblical law of sowing and reaping. In fact, this law is one of the main ways God blessed humanity with the freewill creative ability to design one's life within the parameters of Scripture and the parameters of God's purpose for them.
The Law of Sowing and Reaping
In Genesis 8:22, God said the law of sowing and reaping would continue as long as the earth exists. In Psalm 126:5,6, the psalmist said those who sow continually in tears (persevering contrite prayer) will reap in joy. In Galatians 6:7-9, Paul said we will reap whatever we sow, corruption and destruction if we sow to sin and dysfunction, or life and life more abundantly if we sow in the Spirit and to the Spirit. In 1Corinthians 3:6-8, Paul said we do the sowing and watering, and God does the growing, the harvest, the rewarding. Hebrews 6:7,8 say a person's "land" (life) will be blessed or cursed based on how they farm it, how they work the law of sowing and reaping.
These verses present the law of sowing and reaping from various angles, and, they indicate a person has some level of control of what their life produces. But, if absolute Calvinism is true, God has already predesigned literally all things, every single detail down to when and how a single atom moves. This directly contradicts the law of sowing and reaping, which emphatically gives humans some level of creative ability in their existence.
The Tongue Dimension
One dimension of sowing and reaping is the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 says (NKJV), Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. If absolute Calvinism is true, how can the power of death and life be in our tongue? Calvinism is not theologically consistent or practically coherent. Every single one of you knows the very real consequences of your words. Every single one of you has eaten the fruit of your tongue. Every single one of you has good or bad harvests in your life based on how you sowed words in previous seasons. You do not need to be an advanced Christian thinker to see God has not predesigned every detail of all reality. All you need is a tongue to see it.
In the New Testament, James reiterates Proverbs 18:21 with his own metaphors. James 3:3,4 (NIV): When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Once again, does this passage sound like God has meticulously preplanned every single detail of all reality? The opposite. James, using a large animal and a large ship as illustrations, is telling us that we can turn an entire "animal" or an entire "structure" with something so small as our tongue, our words.
In the law of sowing reaping, of which the tongue is one dimension, God has given people a level of power and creative agency in life. In Calvinism, however, Proverbs 18:21 and James 3:3,4 become meaningless, and have to be explained away with elaborate and complicated philosophical structures. The law of sowing and reaping, and the dimension of the tongue, is one of the least complicated parts of the Bible. Calvinism is not theologically consistent or practically coherent with the law of sowing and reaping.
"If-then" Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the "If-then" verses--and goodness there are many. "If-then" verses are conditional proposals God makes to a person, group, or nation. The proposal is a guaranteed outcome in exchange for an action or set of actions. The proposal can be positive, offering pleasant outcome(s), or negative, threatening negative outcome(s). In Calvinism, all outcomes have already been predetermined by God before He ever made the very first "If-then" offer. If that belief is true, every single "If-then" proposal is just God going through the motions; they are perfunctory and meaningless. Sink your teeth into the following examples and notice how Calvinism's god is not a Heavenly Father, but a Heavenly Faker.
Calvinism's Heavenly Faker
In Genesis 18:26 (NASB, underline mine), the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the entire place on their account." He agreed to the same conditional formula if 45, 40, 35, 30, 20, or 10 righteous people could be found in Sodom. In absolute Calvinism, God did not really mean any of that, because, wink wick, He already predetermined the fate of Lot's family and the cities of the plain.
Many, many, many passages in the Old Testament are conditional proposals to Israel. The first one was Exodus 19:5 (NKJV): Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
After this initial "If-then" proposal, many others across diverse situations pertaining to national Israel came cascading down from heaven: Exodus 23:22, Leviticus 26:3-45, Numbers 33:55, Deuteronomy 7:12, 8:19, Joshua 24:20, 1Samuel 12:14,15, 2Chronicles 7:14, Nehemiah 1:9, Isaiah 48:18, Jeremiah 4:1,2, 17:24-27, 26:3-6, 42:10,13-16. But, in absolute Calvinism, God was just going through the motions when He made these offers and threats, because, as the ultimate causation and meticulous micromanager of all things, the outcome was already predetermined.
God did not make offers and threats to Israel only, He did to other nations too. Jeremiah 12:14-17, 18:7-10, and Zechariah 14:17,18 are eye-opening passages about God's dealing with nations beyond Israel. Read them and notice the "If-then" language. Jeremiah 18:7-10 is especially riveting: God says He will "relent" or "reconsider" or "repent" (change His mind) based on the actions of nations. If absolute Calvinism is true, God is blatantly lying.
The "If-then" conditional formula continues all over the Old Testament: to the Davidic line (1Ki 3:14, 6:12, Ps 132:11,12, Jer 22:4,5), to Jeroboam (1Ki 11:38), to Jeremiah (Jer 15:19), to Joshua the priest (Zec 3:7), and to the priests of Malachi's day (Mal 2:2). There are "If-then" statements about the rewards of finding wisdom (Pro 24:14), practicing heartfelt benevolence (Isa 58:10), and individual spirituality and behavior (Eze 33:13-16).
In the New Testament, conditional offers and threats continue. If you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive you (Mt 6:15). If your eyes are good and healthy, then your whole body will be full of light, but if your eyes are bad and unhealthy, then your whole body will be full of darkness (v22,23). If you want to be perfect, Jesus said to the rich young man, then go and sell your possessions and give to the poor and follow Him everywhere (19:21). If it bears fruit next year, great, if not, then cut it down (Lk 13:9). If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples (Jn 8:31 NASB). If you were Abraham's children, then you would do what Abraham did (v39 NIV). If you believe, then you will see the glory of God (11:40). Consider the kindness and severity of God: to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; for otherwise [then] you too will be cut off (Ro 11:22). If you are not disciplined--and everyone undergoes discipline--then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all (Heb 12:8 NIV).
Ladies and gentlemen, that is a ton of "If-then" proposals from God. And there are many, many more I could have included in this sample. Our God is a Father, not a faker. These conditional opportunities and threats are not a farce. Calvinism is the farce; it aggressively contradicts the "If-then" fabric of Biblical spirituality.
"If anyone" Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the "If anyone" verses. "If anyone" verses are universal invitations from God, to any and all individuals on the earth, to say Yes to Him. But in Calvinism, God has already handpicked who will be saved and who will be damned, who He has "foreloved" like Jacob and who He has "forehated" like Esau. If that ancient pre-Socratic Greek philosophy reskinned as Calvinism is true, all the "If anyone" invitations are just God going through the motions disingenuously. They are perfunctory and meaningless. Once again, if true, notice in the following examples how Calvinism's god would be a disappointing Heavenly Faker.
Take the time to read the following verses out loud. Slow down and emphasize the "If anyone" phrase in each one. Listen for God's deep heart wish in each one. The true God is not a liar, He is not disingenuous, He never just goes through the motions. (All underlines mine.)
Isaiah 55:1 (ESV): Come, everyone ["if anyone"] who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Matthew 16:24 (NASB): Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me."
Mark 4:23 (NASB): If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
John 6:51 (ESV): ...If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
John 7:17 (NKJV): If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
John 7:37 (ESV): On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink."
John 8:51 (NKJV): Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.
John 9:31 (ESV): We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
John 10:9 (ESV): I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 12:26 (ESV): If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
John 14:23 (ESV): Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
1Corinthians 8:3 (ESV): But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
1Corinthians 16:22 (ESV): If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!
1John 2:17 (ESV): And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever ["if anyone"] does the will of God abides forever.
Revelation 3:20 (ESV): Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 13:9 (ESV): If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
"It may be" Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the "It may be" or "Perhaps" verses. "It may be" or "Perhaps" verses describe open spaces where God allows human freewill to play itself out. One of the most important open spaces is that of individual spirituality and behavior, which is why we almost always see uncertain outcome language in these verses.
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
In the parable of the wicked tenants (Lk 20:9-18), Jesus uses a tiny phrase that 99% of readers overlook. Luke 20:13 (ESV, underline mine): Then the owner of the vineyard said, "What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him." The KJV translates the last phrase, ...it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
The Father--the owner of the vineyard in the parable--said "perhaps" or "it may be" that Israel would respect, reverence, and receive His beloved Son. Perhaps. It may be. The Father Himself directly contradicts Calvinism, which says the Father already handpicked who would receive and who would reject the Son. Calvinism aggressively contradicts the precise wording of the Bible. Jesus quoted the Owner of the vineyard, "Perhaps, it may be, they will receive my beloved son." This statement is a lie, this parable is a lie, Jesus is a liar, if the Father actually had already handpicked who would receive the Son and who would not.
The Fig Tree
Jesus used a fig tree to parallel what He said in the parable of the wicked tenants. Luke 13:6-9 and Mark 11:12-14 will be our focus. Remember, the vineyard and the fig tree are metaphors of Israel (Ps 80:8-14, Isa 5:1-7, Jer 8:13, Hos 9:10).
In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus tells a parable of a frustrated man searching for fruit on a fig tree he planted. In verse 9, his assistant says to him (NASB, underline mine), ...if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down. The conjunctions "if" and "if not" convey the same idea as "it may be" and "perhaps". The language is uncertain because the outcome is up to the fig tree, not the owner or the manager.
In Mark 11:12-14, a nearly identical event happens, but this is not a parable, this is real-life. Jesus approaches a fig tree searching for fruit to eat; He is hungry. In verse 13, Mark writes (Young's Literal Translation, underline mine), ...having seen a fig-tree afar off having leaves, he came, if perhaps he shall find anything in it... Notice the words "if perhaps". Once again, the outcome is presented as uncertain before Jesus arrives at the tree.
In Jeremiah 8:13, over five hundred years earlier, God explained both of these fig tree metaphors (ESV, underline mine): When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.
One Revelatory Cluster
The parable of the wicked tenants and the fig tree illustrations are one revelatory cluster. All three convey an "it may be/perhaps/if/if not" uncertainty on how Israel would respond to the Son. Not uncertainty in the sense that God did not know, He is omniscient, of course He knew, but uncertainty in the sense that each Israelite could make their own freewill choice genuinely. Here are the key statements once again with my underlines:
Luke 20:13 (ESV, underline mine): Then the owner of the vineyard said, "What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him."
Luke 13:9 (NASB, underline mine): ...if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.
Mark 11:13 (YLT, underline mine): ...having seen a fig-tree afar off having leaves, he came, if perhaps he shall find anything in it...
It May Be Judah Will Listen & Turn
The Lord said the following words to Judah through Jeremiah (26:3, 36:3 ESV, underline mine): It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster...It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive...
He said something similar through Ezekiel (12:3 NKJV, underline mine): ...It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house.
See the open space or "uncertainty" God leaves for each individual to make their own choice about Him? God does not say, "I have already unconditionally metaphysically caused Judah and its individuals to be evil and rebellious, because I preselected them for damnation." Not at all. He says something far more stressful to our own hearts--total accountability. He says, "It may be, perhaps, they will listen, consider, and turn around."
And Perhaps Reach Out for Him
Paul says the same thing. He said to the Athenians at the Areopagus in Acts 17:27 (NIV, underline mine): God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
"It may be" or "Perhaps" verses describe open spaces where God allows human freewill to play itself out. One of the most important open spaces is that of individual spirituality and behavior, which is why we so often see uncertain outcome language in these verses. If absolute Calvinism is true, "It may be" or "Perhaps" verses are simply lies.
"If you had" Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the "If you had" verses and their equivalents. "If you had" verses look backwards, and reaffirm that the person/group had a genuine freewill choice when they chose wrongly. We could also call these verses "what could have been" verses, for they lay out what could have been had the person/group simply cooperated with God. These verses are even more damning to Calvinism; they do not finally reveal God's predetermined preselection of individuals to salvation or rebellion. On the contrary, "If you had" verses go the extra mile on the back end to reiterate that a genuine choice existed when the wrong choice was made.
Here are a few Old Testament "If you had/what could have been" verses, with brief commentary. (All underlines mine.)
In the Old Testament
1Samuel 13:13 (NIV): "You have done a foolish thing," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time."
Saul had a genuine choice to obey or disobey the Mosaic command prohibiting unlawful sacrifices (v8-12). He got antsy waiting for Samuel and chose to break the Law. When Samuel arrived, he made it very clear that if Saul had chosen to obey God's Word his administration and royal lineage would have been established forever, and God would not have sought a replacement (v13-15).
Isaiah 48:18 (NASB): If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
If Isaiah's listeners had only chosen to cooperate with God's commands, their well-being and righteousness would have overflowed and kept overflowing.
Jeremiah 23:22 (ESV): But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.
If the prophesiers of Jeremiah's day had spent quality time with God in His presence, they would have perceived and received the true words of Heaven to speak to Judah.
See how these "If you had/what could have been" verses look backwards and reaffirm they all had a genuine freewill choice? Jesus does the exact same, using "If you had" statements to emphasize genuine choices existed and what could have been. (All underlines mine.)
In Jesus' Words
Matthew 11:21,23 (NASB): Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes...And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.
Matthew 12:7 (NASB): But if you had known what this means: "I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice," you would not have condemned the innocent.
Luke 19:42 (NIV): and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes."
John 14:7 (NASB): If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.
God Being Moved, Changing His Mind Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the many verses about God being moved to a spontaneous action or God changing His mind. If God has indeed meticulously predetermined and predesigned literally all things, these verses are categorically disingenuous and the Scriptures have no veracity and authority.
God Being Moved
Consider the following sample of scriptures that show God being moved to spontaneous action in response to human action. (All underlines mine.)
Judges 2:18 (ESV): Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.
2Chronicles 33:13 (ESV): He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. And verse 19: And his prayer, and how God was moved by his entreaty, and all his sin and his faithlessness...are written in the Chronicles of the Seers.
Matthew 9:36 (Young's Literal Translation): And having seen the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, that they were faint and cast aside, as sheep not having a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 (YLT): And Jesus having come forth, saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion upon them, and did heal their infirm.
Matthew 18:27 (YLT): and the lord of that servant having been moved with compassion did release him, and the debt he forgave him.
The wonderful news in this particular sample of verses is that they all reveal God's indescribable proclivity for compassion, how He seemingly wants to be moved by people's authentic gestures toward Him, like gut-level prayer, grieving to Him, following Him under difficult circumstances (like the starving crowd with no shepherd), etc.
God Changing His Mind
Similar scriptures refer to God changing His mind or changing course. Some use the fancier terms "relenting" or "repenting", in the sense of a mind-change or course-change. God's nature and macro purposes do not change (Psalm 102:26,27, Isaiah 46:10, Malachi 3:6, Hebrew 1:11,12, 6:17,18, James 1:17), but His situational strategies, tactics, and techniques often change as He interacts with human choices in real-time. God is immutable, most certainly, but He is not a robot or a monolith. The Word shows over and over and over that God is in a dynamic relationship with human civilization, and while He Himself controls the overall destination of the ship (the book of Revelation), He allows choices on that ship and dynamically interacts with those choices. Here is a sample with brief commentary.
Genesis 6:6 says God "regretted" (ESV) and "was sorry" (NASB, NKJV) and "was grieved in His heart" (NASB) that He made humanity. He changed course by delivering the catastrophic Flood and starting over through Noah and his family. God's nature and His macro purpose for humanity did not change, but He most certainly changed strategies.
In the golden calf incident, after Moses interceded for Israel, God "relented" (ESV) or "repenteth" (YLT) or "changed His mind" (AMP), Exodus 32:14 says.
Through Isaiah the prophet the Lord told Hezekiah that he was going to die, and therefore, to make final preparations (2Ki 20:1). In response to Hezekiah's gut-wrenching prayer, though, God stopped Isaiah in the middle of the courtyard and sent him back with a new revelation: that Hezekiah would be healed and granted fifteen more years (v4-7). No amount of Twister on the floor can revise, spin, or obscure the simple, common sense, plain language in this passage: God changed His mind in response to Hezekiah's intense supplication.
You can read on your own the remainder of scriptures in our sample: Jeremiah 18:7-10, 26:19, Amos 7:3,6, Jonah 3:10, Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30, John 2:1-11, 7:6-10. Read them slowly, read them in a few different translations, accept the naked text before you. Believe your eyes; the naked text is pure and unadulterated and not difficult to interpret.
God's nature and macro purposes never change, we can rest secure on those immutable everlasting arms beneath us. However, you will not be able to keep in step with God's presence in your life if you cannot understand and cooperate with His ever-changing strategies, tactics, and techniques, even His willingness to be moved! God compares Himself to water. Water will always be water, but where it flows, how it flows, when it flows, and whether it is a liquid, solid, or gas, depend on the variables of the moment. Perceive the metaphor.
What about Numbers 23:19 and 1Samuel 15:29?
Numbers 23:19 (ESV): God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
The context of this verse is Balaam's second prophecy, and he tells us in that prophecy exactly what God will not change His mind about. The latter half of verse 19 tells us it is something God had already said and spoken. Verses 20-24 tell us exactly what that is: Israel's blessing of invincibility from the exodus to the conquest to the settling. Read the prophecy (v18-24). Until Israel, like a lion, lies down drunk from the blood of the conquest (is settled in the land, victorious), she would be under God's unilateral, unconditional, unstoppable blessing of invincibility. She could not be cursed or defeated until after the conquest and the settling. This, in context, is exactly what Balaam said God would not change His mind about. Numbers 23:19 is not a ubiquitous, timeless statement, it is a situational prophecy about the exodus, the conquest, and the settling.
1Samuel 15:29 (NASB): Also the Glory of Israel will not lie nor change His mind; for He is not a man, that He would change His mind.
The context of this verse is Samuel's prophecy of doom on Saul's administration. Like Balaam, Samuel also tells us in the prophecy exactly what God will not change His mind about. In the previous verse, Samuel told Saul God had torn away the kingdom from him and was giving it to someone better (v28). Samuel immediately follows that with, God will not lie or change His mind about what was just said, that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to someone better. The immediate context tells us this is exactly what God would not change His mind about. Once again, like Balaam, Samuel is not making a ubiquitous, timeless statement, he is speaking situationally, telling Saul that God is not lying or changing His mind about the end of his administration.
Make A Deal with God Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the passages about people making deals with God, more commonly known as "vows". If God has indeed meticulously predesigned literally all things, these passages have no subjective meaning and vitality--God invisibly, unconditionally, metaphysically made them initiate those deals, but allowed them (and us) to think they were authentically volitional.
"If-then" Proposals the Other Way Around
We know God makes "If-then" proposals to people, but what about the other way around? Can a person initiate an "If-then" proposal to God?
The most famous of these deals or vows is the one Hannah proposed to the Lord (1Samuel 1). She cries out to the Lord in the tabernacle courts with so much agony that she is shaking and quivering. Eli the priest thinks she is drunk. In her intercessory labor she proposes this deal to God: if you give me a son, I will give him to you for a lifelong ministry and as a Nazirite. In the course of time it becomes obvious God agreed to the deal. Both God and Hannah stayed faithful to their part.
If absolute Calvinism is true, this story is a farce. All that emotion and pain and passion and hope and powerful intercession were invisibly manufactured by God. Hannah was essentially a wind-up toy that God wound up merely to fulfill what He already planned to do anyway. The truth is, Calvinism is the farce, and God is an indescribably relational Father that is willing to have a dynamic and responsive relationship with those who seek Him earnestly, like Hannah.
Other passages and worship modules include vows. The very first deal with God recorded in Scripture is Jacob's vow at Bethel/Luz (Gen 28:19-22), which God explicitly recognized (31:13).
In the Old Covenant system, God devoted an entire worship module to vows, which He detailed extensively in Leviticus 27. Does it not send a message, in and of itself, that God ends the book of Leviticus by discussing "If-then" deals with Him initiated by people? In a book full of authoritative obligations and must-dos, God left room for personal subjectivity and spontaneity towards Him.
Many Israelites, including the apostle Paul in the New Testament, embraced the deal-making possibility with God. After suffering a loss to the king of Arad and losing some of their family members to slavery, Israel made a proposal to God: if you give us victory over the Aradites, we will obliterate their cities. God agreed, the deal was sealed, and both fulfilled their part (Num 21:1-3). Jonah told the Lord he would fulfill his vow if He somehow got him out of the fish's belly (Jnh 2:9). Paul made vows (Ac 18:18, 21:23-26), though the details of the first one were not revealed.
Jesus adds perspective and caution to the subject of vow-making (Mt 5:33-37). He is not discouraging any and all "If-then" proposals to God (or agreements, or contracts, or promises to others), He is hyperbolically discouraging what was common in His day--the flippant, over-the-top, religiously showy swearing of oaths that people tended to break anyway. Those are "false vows" (v33 NASB). Jesus is saying your word should be so dependable and indestructible that all you need to do is say one word in any situation to be believed (v37). Any additional fluff beyond this is religious ostentation, and evil.
Agreements with A Father
The very concept of an optional voluntary vow in God's system is damning to Calvinism, who needs God to be a predeterminist robot for their system to be consistent. God's responsiveness to vows is a lifegiving breath of fresh air. It reveals to us a God who is not a cosmic supercomputer simply running software, but a dynamic Father who wants His children to engage Him in meaningful, authentic, subjective ways.
Evangelistic Persuasion Verses & Calvinism
If absolute Calvinism is true, the next layer of Scripture that would become nullified and meaningless are the evangelistic persuasion verses. If God has indeed meticulously preselected who will be saved and who will go to hell, these verses and their driving concept have no coherence.
8-12 Hours of Evangelistic Persuasion?
Acts 28:23 says (NKJV, underline mine), So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
Luke writes, Paul spent eight to twelve hours ("from morning till evening") trying to persuade Rome's local Jewish leaders about Jesus, trying to convince them through an entire day's worth of passages from the Tanakh. Do you see how astonishingly silly, and astonishingly unnecessary, this is if God already unconditionally, unilaterally, irresistibly preselected who would say Yes and who would say No? If that were true, a simple gospel explanation in less than ten minutes would do. Persuasion or convincing or dialectic or argumentation or apologetics would be absolutely unnecessary; only a simple gospel explanation to effectually call the elect. But absolute Calvinism is not true, which is why Paul labored in the Lord for eight to twelve hours trying to persuade the Jewish leaders in his home. And, Luke said, "...some were persuaded..." (v24).
The Greek word for "persuading" and "persuaded" in both of these verses is peitho, meaning "to persuade, be persuaded".
More on Evangelistic Persuasion
All the other scriptures about evangelistic persuasion would be meaningless also, starting with Jesus in Luke 16:31 (NKJV): But he said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded [peitho] though one rise from the dead."
All the following verses also use peitho. All underlines mine.
And Acts 17:4 (NKJV): And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
And 18:4 (ESV): And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.
And 19:8 (NKJV): And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
And 2Corinthians 5:11 (ESV): Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others...
And, showing us this same mechanism at work in the Old Testament, Hebrews 11:13 says (Young's Literal Translation), In faith died all these, not having received the promises, but from afar having seen them, and having been persuaded...
To clarify, the persuasive aspect of evangelism does not mean it is a project of mere human effort. Of course not. Remember from Chapter 5 the concept of pre-salvation grace, how God works in salient and subtle ways to guide people to the salvation moment. Evangelistic peitho, therefore, is a collaboration with God's Spirit already at work in the unsaved person's life. Our part is communication and demonstration, being ready with as many apologetic answers as possible, communicating in ways that are anointed and well-fitted to the moment. The Holy Spirit will do His inner testifying, convicting, and revealing, and our job is to lawyer the case persuasively as a minister of reconciliation. That is precisely what all the above verses are saying.
If absolute Calvinism is true, all these scriptures are false, and anointed, persuasive, bold, creative, well-fitted, informed, tactical communication is absolutely irrelevant. Or to use Paul's words in 1Corinthians 9:22: if Calvinism is true, why would Paul need to be conscientious and tactical in how He presented the gospel so that he might save some? Calvinism collapses on its own incoherence.
Other Incoherencies & Contradictions
In this final section of Chapter 12 I will rapid-fire a few more Calvinist incoherencies and contradictions with Scripture. As I am sure you are realizing, one could write endlessly on how Calvinism falsifies or renders meaningless many parts of the Word of God.
God, The Ultimate Metaphysical Cause of All Things?
Absolute Calvinism says God is the ultimate metaphysical causation of literally all things, including sin and evil. They misinterpret the language and meaning of scriptures like Deuteronomy 32:39, 1Samuel 2:6,7, 2Samuel 24:1, Isaiah 45:7, Ecclesiastes 3:14, Lamentations 3:38, Matthew 10:29,30, Ephesians 1:11, etc.
In an almost comical contradiction against Calvinism, Jesus says in Matthew 13:41 (ESV, underline mine), The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace...
Jesus said, at the End, angels will cast out "all causes of sin" and throw them into the fiery furnace. According to absolute Calvinism, God is the first and ultimate metaphysical cause of literally all things, including sin and evil...so this means the angels are going to cast out God and throw Him into the fiery furnace. Calvinism contradicts even the most mundane Bible facts.
God Meticulously Sovereignly Decrees All Things?
Similar to the previous section, absolute Calvinism says God meticulously sovereignly decrees literally all things, including sin and evil. And yet, perplexingly, many verses articulate that God does not decree literally all things, especially sin and evil. About building idolatrous high places and aborting their sons and daughters in the fire, God said three times He did not decree it, nor did it even enter His mind. Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5, 32:35 (ESV): ...which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind...which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind...though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
Along the same lines, God said about the false prophets in Jeremiah 23:32 (NKJV): Yet I did not send them or command them... But according to absolute Calvinism, God meticulously sovereignly decreed literally all things, including these false prophets.
Along the same lines, God said about Israel allying with Egypt in Isaiah 30:1 (ESV): ...who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit... But according to absolute Calvinism, God meticulously sovereignly decreed literally all things, including this wrong alliance between Israel and Egypt.
Along the same lines, God via Paul said about the Galatian Christians in Galatians 5:7,8 (NKJV): You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. But according to absolute Calvinism, God meticulously sovereignly decreed literally all things, including these Galatian Christians going backwards into Judaic legalism.
And the final verse, Isaiah 10:1, disrobes the silliness of Calvinism's opinion that God meticulously sovereignly decreed literally all things, including sin and evil. Isaiah 10:1 (NKJV): Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees... So God condemns the decreeing of unrighteous decrees, yet He Himself does it as the ultimate metaphysical cause of literally all things? The incoherence of Calvinism is embarrassing.
Who Was Hell Created For?
If absolute Calvinism is true, if God unconditionally preselected who would be chosen or reprobated to hell, then why does Jesus say hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, instead of the unsaved? Matthew 25:41 (ESV): Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
Jesus' statement is contrasted a few verses earlier by Him saying the blessed kingdom was "prepared" for the saved (v34). Both verses use the same Greek word, hetoimazo, to convey that both places were intentionally "prepared". Notice, however, the illuminating contrast: Jesus says the kingdom was prepared for the saved, but hell was prepared for Satan and demons. Never does Jesus say hell was prepared for the unsaved. God never wanted or chose or decreed for anyone to go there. (Romans 9:22 is explained in Chapter 8, in the last section.) People send themselves there by rejecting Jesus.
Why Blindfold Zombies?
If absolute Calvinism is true, if God already handpicked who would remain with their father the devil (Jn 8:44) as a son of disobedience (Eph 2:2), why would Satan waste time blinding the minds of unbelievers, as 2Corinthians 4:3,4 emphasize? If Calvinism is true, Satan does not need to blind, harden, deceive, tempt, steal, or destroy anyone. But if Calvinism is incorrect, and Satan knows it is, he must spend his days here in great wrath and great intentionality to take as many people as possible with him to the eternal fire prepared exclusively for him. 2Corinthians 4:3,4 are utterly incoherent if Calvinism is true. It would amount to blindfolding zombies.