Tag Archives: Calvin

THE FLAW in DORT (5 Point Calvinism)

I’m so grateful that many of you have pitched in (but haven’t posted yet), and that a number of other have dropped my private notes of apology (too busy)!

I am finding that part of the problem with most Free Grace folks who are against Calvinism is that they simply have not read the original documents.  There is much in Calvinism that I love, and many things that I find to be pretty useless.  We all know that Calvinism is a theoLOGICAL system which largely makes sense if Scripture is not used as the standard of evaluation.  Do not miss the point– Calvinism is HIGHLY scriptural; yet, it is also, highly theological.  In other words, this is how Calvinists put it together.

Yet, one point is often denied in certain Free Grace circles; there is no such thing as Consistent Calvinism.  There is simply a broad spectrum of viewpoints within the largely circle.  We see this same reality with Arminians, Dispensationalists, Amillenialists, Preterests, denominations, and Free Grace advocates.  Sorry, that’s just the truth.  When we preach against “Calvinism” without defining terms, we are in the worst of straw-man worlds.  Sadly, we are attacking friends and patrons.  I personally have felt the same sense of being ostracized for not taking a stance against Calvinsim.

All Free Grace Advocates (faith alone in Christ alone) OWE a debt of gratitude to the Reformation for the recover of Grace being returned to the forefront of conversation and focus.  However, it doesn’t mean that forms and aspects of Calvinism aren’t mistaken (they are)!

Here is THE FLAW in DORT, as I study through it:

Dort assumes that humans are still depraved after regeneration.  In other words, they apply the same standards to a ‘saved’ person as they do a ‘lost’ person.  Practically, this means that they not only have the individual needing to be elected unto salvation, but elected unto sanctification (spiritual growth).

There is nothing inherently required in the ‘5 points’ or in Scripture concerning growth.  The very reason a believer can be accountable is that he is indeed a ‘new creation’ in Christ.  There is a new game in play where God can reward or chasten based on our works (and attitude, faith, doubt, etc.).  Saying that on is chosen to belong to Christ is one thing, saying one is chosen to produce good works (increasing) is quite another.

We are certainly called to good works as believers (read Titus), and God has set the kind of good works in place by His own will (see Ephesians 2:10); but to say God is imposing His will on us to make us obey is actually irrational and indefensible.

Said differently:

Before Christ = Depraved

After Christ = NOT Depraved

I’m catching a flight…so I’ll prove this later!

What do you think?  Where does this go?

Grace and peace,

Fred Lybrand

Face it, You are at Least a Little Bit of a 5 Point Calvinist!

So, in studying the Canons of Dort, I’m reminded of the statements of dear friends and mentors like Dr. Radmacher who have said (to the effect), “I’m a O.O Calvinst and a O.O Arminian.” I mention Dr. Radmacher because he has been very vocal about this issue in recent years, but it doesn’t diminish my love or appreciation for him.  We all must learn to disagree graciously…and on this one, I just disagree.  Of course, I regularly have disagreements with myself as well (so, I’m very in-discriminant in the matter!). The idea is that if you buy one part of the “5 Points” of Calvinism, you must necessarily buy them all.  I’ve addressed this elsewhere.  While I find some of the points in Dort untenable , I find other points quite wonderful.

ARTICLE 11 (under the First Head of Doctrine) And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

ARTICLE 5 (under the Second Head of Doctrine) Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 11 is basically saying that the saved / justified / elect cannot, for any reason, lose their salvation.  This was a huge point the Reformers recovered (thought there is some muddling in the matter as they invite an over-dependence on works/fruit as proof of faith…to be discussed later…or see www.backtofaith.com).  Surely, those of us who believe in eternal security have to agree with Dort on this one.

Article 5 is a plain statement of the gospel…whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life…how clear would I want it?  I know there are some who question if faith in Christ’s crucifixion should be included (see GES Gospel: Lybrand Open Letter), but I certainly find this statement to resonate with my own soul and the forgiveness I have found through faith in the Savior and His finished work.

The point is that as one works through the system of Dort (or Westminster, or the Remonstrance, or Augsburg, etc.), one will find point on which he agrees and points on which he differs.  Taken as a ‘whole’ system, one can be forced to reject or accept…and yet, is that really an accurate description of the view?

The challenge is in the logic of the system, and in theology, it tends to come down to a couple of errors we consistently see:

1.  Bad premise, bad conclusion

2. Good premise, non sequitur conclusion

These are oversimplified, but just because something seems logical, it nowise means it is logical.  Certain points are often pushed along until the absurd becomes the nauseating.  Please know, all sides fall into this from time to time.  Theology is too often built on the shaky cliffs of inference, conjecture, and speculation.  What might happen if we ever dared to just affirm what the Scriptures say and leave the rest to class-time in eternity?

God bless,

Fred Lybrand

Up for a little theology? I need your help on Calvinism…

So, here’s a video that explains it all:

Help Me on Calvinism from Fred Lybrand on Vimeo.

So, here’s a copy of DORT (Dordt; from the Synod of Dordrecht): http://fredlybrand.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/canons-of-dort.pdf

Again, I need your agreements and disagreements and why…this project could turn out big!


Fred Lybrand



P.P.S.  Please put an AGREE or a DISAGREE at the very top of your post…as it will make our reading easier.

Calvin’s Error on Assurance

I honestly stay stumped by those who think Calvin never made a mistake and those others who think he never said anything true.  I also wonder how many out there are still interested in being objective and understanding both sides of any issue.  I do not find that my rabid 5-point-DORT-calvinism-is-the-only-true-calvinism friends (both advocates and enemies believe this same indefensible point) are able to explain both sides of their issue-of-the-moment.  It is embarrassing theologically not to be able to clearly explain both sides.

Here is Calvin’s error: We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone

Yes, he said it a little fancier, but it is the same point.  Here is the idea…if you REALLY believe, then works MUST show up.  DORT said it too…that you could fall into the most awful lifestyle for a long, long time; but eventually, if you are a TRUE believer, you will come back before you die.

Honestly, that is just simply made up.

And here’s the rub— if someone is in ‘sin’, how do you know he will ‘come back’ someday?  You clearly do not.

And— If this same person may not REALLY be saved/justified, then he certainly can’t be assured of his destiny with God.  True?

AND—WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you COULD fall into a sinful life in the future…and that would mean you COULD not really be saved…then HOW can you possibly be assured now?

Hence, Calvin’s error.  Calvin was so defensive about the Catholic retort of “What about Works?” when he accurately explained FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE…that he compromised his theology and his logic.  Don’t get me wrong…it does make sense…but only inside the framework of Calvin’s assumptions.  Of course, it is mostly an issue of incongruence; Calvin did often stay away from co-mingling works and faith.

This view about works DOES NOT MAKE SENSE in reality.  It is an assumption about the nature of faith AND and assumption about our ability to discern TRUE from FALSE works in others.  Hey gang, God is the one who knows.  But honestly, why don’t we see great populations of people getting ‘better’ in Christ as they age?  Why don’t we see better doctrine over time (if people who are saved must get godlier and godlier)?  It’s simple, people must also GROW SPIRITUALLY…which is a second choice / issue / concern.  Salvation is apart from works, but spiritual growth is intimately connected to works.

Below is the info on my intensive labor on this issue…if you want to be loaded for bear (or for bearing witness)…300+ pages and 600+ footnotes lays it out.  It also contains a mini-course in logic.

Recently a lady wrote me that she had studied this book and was in a small group meeting where she politely engaged the pastor who was trying to support Calvin’s Error.  As she explained that assurance is only sustained when we look at Christ (and not ourselves) this lady spoke up in the meeting for that moment—testifying that she suddenly had assurance for the first time in 12 years!  The wild thing was that it was her own pastor who was leading the group discussion.

Face it, as long as you look at yourself and your works, you will never be truly assured of heaven.  And, as long as you look at others’ works, you will never be assured of heaven for them either.


Now, please let’s get the word out.  I’m finding this book is being  used to convert both rabid Arminians and rabid Calvinists to the clarity found in affirming Faith Alone in Christ Alone, while dropping our lust for judging others.  I know there are lots of questions…but most get addressed in the book.


Fred Lybrand

So Here’s What Stumps Me in the Debate About the Doctrine of Election

Well, let me say at the outset that some of you (many) will not agree with my point here.  If you’d like, please read my article about Calvinism (so called) to understand why I think of myself as a 1.5 Arminian (Click Here for the Article).

I’ve run into a number of folks who say they are 0.0 Calvinists and not Arminians either.  I really have not been able to decipher that notion, so if you can explain it, please pitch in!  Frankly, you don’t have to like the label (or even wear it for that matter), but it doesn’t change the fact that each of the ‘5 points’ are simply either / or…and everyone believes something about some of them.  Either people are depraved or not, God has an effective call or He doesn’t, one can resist God’s call or he can’t, etc.

But here is where I’m stumped.  There is an argument for a ‘corporate election’, but most folks have abandoned the weakness of that argument; so all that is left is that (a) God choose freely apart from our choices, or (b) God chose based on our actions.  This second view is where I get lost.  Good friends of mine believe that God knew which individulals would chose Him, so He chose each of them…a case of mutual love and choosing.

Here’s my problem—if it is a mutual choice, then why does the Bible use the word elect /  chosen?  We can all spend time in our language tools, but it doesn’t seem to matter.  Here’s an example:

30.86 ἐκλέγομαιa; αἱρέομαιa; λαμβάνωe: to make a choice of one or more possible alternatives—‘to choose, to select, to prefer.’
ἐκλέγομαιa: ἐντειλάμενος τοῖς ἀποστόλοις διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου οὓς ἐξελέξατο ‘he gave instructions by the power of the Holy Spirit to the men whom he had chosen as his apostles’ Ac 1:2; οὐχ ὁ θεὸς ἐξελέξατο τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ; ‘has not God chosen the poor in this world?’ Jas 2:5.
αἱρέομαιa: τί αἱρήσομαι οὐ γνωρίζω ‘I do not know which I should prefer’ Php 1:22; μᾶλλον ἑλόμενος συγκακουχεῖσθαι τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ πρόσκαιρον ἔχειν ἁμαρτίας ἀπόλαυσιν ‘he chose to suffer with God’s people rather than enjoy sin for a little while’ He 11:25.
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., 360 (New York: United Bible societies, 1996).

The word just means ‘to choose’ and that’s all it means; context informs everything else.  So, God chooses His own…but why is this a problem for the second view (we both choose each other / He foreknows that we will choose Him so He chooses us)?

Well, in my way of thinking, ‘elect’ (choose) is a really silly word to use unless it means He chose us apart from our actions or choosing.  Honestly, if God calls everyone and only some choose to accept the calling (meaning they choose Him too)…then how is that being chosen?  It isn’t a choice for God at all because He actually called everyone but only some chose.  If this is the case than ‘chosen’ is not the word to use…He didn’t chose us we chose Him.

Let me say that again.  If ‘foreknowledge’ is the reason He chose someone, then it isn’t a choice, He had to choose that person BECAUSE that person chose Him.  This debate has been hashed out ad-nauseum over the centuries, but in my slow mind it just seems obvious now.

Unless God chose His own apart from any action (deserving) on their part, then the wrong word is used…it is not a choice.

I still hold to the mystery of it all…I certainly understand that I came to believe without Him simply regenerating me spiritually.  Yet, I also believe He clearly looked down though time and decided, “Fred, you’ll be mine.”  I don’t get the mystery of  it, but I also don’t want to argue with the gift-giver!  What kindness…and as I ponder, I wouldn’t have chosen Him without this kindess (I’m just not that noble apart from His grace).

So, what do you think?  Can we really say we are chosen / elect if we believe He chose us because we chose Him?

I’m not saying that there aren’t challenges in thinking this sort of thing through, but really, how can anyone argue it was God’s choice if it was dependent (contingent) on our choosing?  I’ve heard speakers use the notion of human love and marriage.  My wife chose me and I chose her…so it goes.  Well, the English means to select out of various alternatives.  So, I guess you could say I ‘selected’ my wife out of the choices…and…I guess you could say I ‘chose her’ because she was the only one who would have me; but, that really isn’t the nature of a choice.  We really don’t talk that way.  We fell in love, we decided together, etc.  She is my bride and my wife, but she isn’t my chosen one (unless I have the authority to pick whomever I want…like a king perhaps).  She could be my chosen one if our parents arranged the marriage, but these contort the point don’t they?

Next, consider the use of the word from the angle of those abandoned to their own destiny apart from God.  If believers are ‘the chosen’ then unbelievers are the ‘unchosen’—there is no other way to go.  So why did God not chose them?  Option #2 above says it is because they did not ‘choose’ Him.  So really, God chose everyone, but some rejected.  Again, the word elect / choose is NOT the right word.  He didn’t choose, He just got rejected.

Finally, pretend God really did ‘choose’ individuals apart from anything in the individual (just His own  free volition).  What word would you have wanted Him to use to convey that idea.  How could God have said it so it was CLEAR that He chose them apart from any reason other than His own will.  I’m pretty confident He would use the word CHOSE / ELECT.

I’m really wanting to get the argument, but honestly my friends, you wouldn’t let anyone get away with shape-shifting language in another discussion on another topic.  Why do it here?  Why can’t ‘elect’ just mean elect?


Fred Lybrand