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The God-image & predestination

All are created in God's image, and all people still have the God-image [imago Dei], which of course is also corrupted by the fall and sin, but not destroyed. Thus, Christ did not die arbitrarily for only "the elect" but for all humankind. This is clear in several passages in the NT about the universality of Christ's death, which Calvinists will argue apply in the given context only to believers or the elect. But Scripture is clear that Christ died for all, and the best passage is 1 John 1.2:

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

This is unequivocal. He did for everyone. There's no contextual factor that would argue against that here. And this contradicts the Calvinist doctrine of the limited atonement, the claim that Christ died only for the elect.

God does not arbitrarily select some for atonement and the call to salvation (I'm sure it's not hard to find passages indicating that God calls all people to repent, and offers the gospel to all). Because we're all created in his image, and his love is perfect, fair, and for all, Christ died for all.

In the context of covenant theology, the covenant is offered to all. There are blessings to those who chose to enter the covenant with God, and punishment for those who refuse. But one has to choose to enter into the covenant. God does not force people to enter into a personal covenant and personal relationship with him. But once a person so chooses, s/he plays no role in the actual act of salvation. It is a work of God, a miracle of God, that the Spirit accomplishes when he regenerates a person and brings him/her into the kingdom.

Calvinists claim that doubters do not believe that God is sovereign in salvation, just because we don't accept the Calvinistic view of soteriology. But this is an erroneous claim that misrepresents what we (Christians who take a mainstream or moderate, balanced view on this) believe. God is soveriegn in salvation, and this fact is not attenuated or threatened by the fact that we still freely choose without being predestined, in the Calvinistic sense. Once a person chooses to enter into a covenant relationship with the Lord, all that transpires - the salvation of the soul, redemption, regeneration, and the ensuing process of sanctification - all follows from God's power, via what the Holy Spirit does at conversion, and all that Christ did on the cross for that person. The individual contributes nothing toward his/her salvation, and thus can take nothing from it. It is all a miraculous act of God, perfect and complete by virtue of Christ's death for all sins applied to that person. Thus, such a person cannot leave, even if s/he chooses to be a bad disciple and incur God's discipline, s/he is still a disciple.

So the Calvinistic doctrine of irrestible grace is unbiblical, and has no real biblical support. The Holy Spirit can be very persuasive when calling someone to salvation, but still the person must freely choose, and can reject him. Thus, Hebrews 6 speaks of those who did undergo the Spirit's work and persuasion, and to a degree tasted or sampled some of what God is like, but eventually rejected it:

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. [Heb. 6.4-6]

Of such persons 1 John also says they left the church because they were not real believers: "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. [1 John 2.18-19].

My previous post showed the problems with the Calvinistic formulation of utter depravity, and above, with irrestible grace and limited atonement. In my next post(s) I'll talk about implications of one's views of predestination. And one point that I will want to make is that this issue should be considered minor, and overemphasizing it has harmful consequences.


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