LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Calvinism Precludes Human Merit

Calvinism, by definition, precludes any inclusion of human merit to God’s grace and the gift of eternal life. While Calvinism does not deny man’s will in his choice and decisions, it holds that man’s will is in such bondage to sin that he cannot choose God in his fallen nature. Man is simply unable to respond spiritually to God because he is spiritually dead. Due to original sin, man is born spiritually stillborn. He not only cannot attempt to merit eternal life, he can’t even accept the free gift of eternal life. Unless God intervenes with grace the human creature will remain spiritually dead. How can a Calvinist believe this and then add human merit or works to justification? It is logically incompatible.

Paul tells us “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—(Ephesians 2:4-5).” God, quickens spiritually dead men to spiritual life and enables them to respond. The Bible reports in Romans 8, Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and elsewhere that God before the foundation of the world chose some men to receive the free gift of eternal life and it is not based on anything they do or he foresees they will do. Even the faith to believe comes from God and not the decision of man (Eph. 2:8-9). How can a Calvinist believe this and then add merit or works to justification? Again, he can’t because it is logically impossible.

From the two foundational truths (Total inability and unconditional election) of Calvinism, it logically and necessarily follows that grace is irresistible and God will enable the elect to persevere in faith until death. Perseverance is an effect that God causes. Let me repeat, perseverance (the P in TULIP) is an effect not a cause. It is a result of God’s salvation and not a cause. If irresistible grace and perseverance do not follow the first two, then the first two are invalid and therefore not true. If human merit or works for justification is added at any point, then the whole theological system crumbles and becomes mere nonsense.

Now, it may be possible for a person to affirm Calvinism and erroneously add justification by works to the Biblical doctrines of Calvinism. However, that would be a problem with an individual human being and not the reformed system of doctrine known as Calvinism. If anyone attempts to add works justification to Calvinism, it is no longer Calvinism. If any critic quotes any persons’ writing in context or out context to assert that Calvinism adds works to justification, then they are pointing out the error of an individual and not the Calvinistic system.

Critics that continually charge that Calvinism affirms justification by works through the back door, side door or any other door are either:
(1) misunderstanding the doctrines of Calvinism
(2) incapable of logical thought
(3) disingenuous and attempting to elevate their faulty system by falsely discrediting Calvinism

Are there any other possibilities than these three? If you assert that Calvinism affirms a justification by works, which of these three reasons apply to you? For those of the “FREE GRACE THEOLOGY” system, you may consider this a challenge to show how adding works to justification would not morph Calvinism into something that is no longer Calvinism!

Please note, this article is not meant to provoke debate on the truth of Calvinism, but is intended to show the folly of critics who accuse Calvinism of attaching human merit to justification by faith alone. Therefore, I will not debate the five points of Calvinism on this post.

18 Comments:

Blogger jazzycat said...

I really believe that anyone who understands the TULIP doctrines of Calvinism and is capable of logical thought is being unreasonable to continually slander Calvinsism with an assertion that is logically impossible.

January 02, 2008 8:57 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"Critics that continually charge that Calvinism affirms justification by works through the back door, side door or any other door are either:
(1) misunderstanding the doctrines of Calvinism
(2) incapable of logical thought
(3) disingenuous and attempting to elevate their faulty system by falsely discrediting Calvinism"

I must admit that I lean towards number 3, though I have taken heat for that. I just think that those who have continually, and numerous times had it explained to them merely turn a deaf ear and are not interested in knowing what Calvinism really teaches.

January 02, 2008 11:02 AM

 
Blogger donsands said...

I always thought the major slanders of Calvinism were that it nullifies evangelism, or at least weakens it.
Calvinism also says that God predestines people to hell.

Adding works to Calvinism is absurd really. The other 5 points of Calvinism are: the Five Solas I would think; By Scripture alone, By Grace alone, by Christ alone, through faith alone, for the glory of God alone!

Thanks for keeping us aware of these things jazzy.

January 02, 2008 1:52 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I dont think I have ever claimed that Calvinism teaches that the elect are saved by human merit.

I think Calvinism can confuse the distinction between faith and works, but I would never accuse Calvinists of making human merit a basis of salvation.

God Bless

Matthew

January 02, 2008 4:29 PM

 
Blogger Even So... said...

It can certainly be frustrating, for all parties involved, sometimes...

January 02, 2008 5:10 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
You said.... I think Calvinism can confuse the distinction between faith and works

When you look at Romans 8:29-30 the way a Calvinism interprets it, there no possibility of human merit being involved in justification. There is zero possibility of works salvation. From that one passage alone there can be no confusing the distinction between faith and works. Calvinism is the ultimate in free grace salvation in that God does it all and man contributes nothing. Matthew, your system of man’s free will making the final decision very much includes human merit. There is boasting and merit when a person can say thank you Lord for offering the free grace that I was wise enough to accept. The real problem is not Calvinists distinguishing between faith and works, but Free Grace Theology distinguishing between justification and sanctification.

You said…. but I would never accuse Calvinists of making human merit a basis of salvation.

Hmmmm, nor I suppose any of the other UOG contributors!

January 02, 2008 9:48 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

JD,
So true. I know I have become frustrated seeing the doctrines of grace being continually accused of something that is impossible.

I think what I have seen from the blog writings of some amounts to nothing less than theological McCarthyism.

January 02, 2008 9:57 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Calvinism is the ultimate in free grace salvation in that God does it all and man contributes nothing.

Amen!

Beautifully stated!

And in this, we can finally rest! No more "working" - rather "submitting" so that God can lead us through the works that *He* prepared in advance for us to do.

Phew! That's a grand thing indeed!

January 05, 2008 10:15 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

The real problem is not Calvinists distinguishing between faith and works, but Free Grace Theology distinguishing between justification and sanctification.

Amen again!

I'm working on a post for my blog now based on reading in Louis Berkhof' Systematic Theology how death is the ultimate sanctifier for the Christian.

January 05, 2008 10:17 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan,
It is ironic that Calvinism is true free grace and Free Grace theology does not give grace, but like Arminianism it merely makes grace a choice for a human decision to secure.

The grace of Calvinism saves, while the FGT grace only makes salvation an offer.

January 07, 2008 5:06 PM

 
Blogger A Great and Noble Creed said...

As you are no doubt aware, the concept of "human merit" is a complicated one. If you wouldn't mind, please define the term "human merit," and tell us whether or not you believe any work that a person (regenerate or unregenerate) does has human merit associated with it. Thank you.

January 08, 2008 11:23 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Noble Creed,
Great questions. In the context of this post I would define human merit as works or deeds that gain favor with God and are considered to have value toward a persons’ justification by God. The Bible clearly shows this to be impossible by the unregenerate in many places such as Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Since any good works from the regenerate are an effect that were caused by God’s grace and not human will, I would say that good works in the regenerate also cannot be traced back to human merit. Therefore I would answer your question by saying that no good works by either the regenerate or unregenerate has human merit associated with it.

January 08, 2008 8:21 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

I might add that those theological opinions that hold that man must make the final free will human decision, apart from divine intervention, to come to saving faith are adding human merit to faith and justification. This would include the Free Grace Theology system whose proponents zealously search for hints of human works (real or imagined) in the theology of others. It is ironic that they are guilty of the very thing they zealously condemn.

January 08, 2008 8:42 PM

 
Blogger A Great and Noble Creed said...

I’m not sure I follow your argument. If there is no such thing as “human merit” in either the works of the regenerate or unregenerate (which is what I think you are arguing), why would somebody else be guilty of adding it to faith and justification. If human merit doesn’t exist, it can’t be added to anything.

January 09, 2008 3:59 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Noble Creed,
Someone else could erronously think that human merit adds to their justification. Just as someone could worship a false god, they could also believe false doctrine.

Remember the human merit we are discussing are the works and deeds that supposedly makes one gain favor with God in justification and is a result of human decision through free will. When a person believes he chooses saving faith as a result of his free will human decision, then he has added human merit to his salvation. Whereas a Calvinist believes his willing decision to come to saving faith is a result of God's grace and regenerating work in his heart.

Therefore, God gets all the credit from the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist gives himself the credit for making the crucial final decision. "Thank you Lord for your grace and I am so glad I was wise enough to choose to accept with my free will" is the bottom line of the non-Calvinist.

January 09, 2008 5:24 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

One other point...

The logical outcome of the non-Calvinist view is that the human free will decision of faith causes a person to be born again. God reacts to mans' faith decision and then regenerates him. This makes me wonder, if a person accepts Christ and is saved without being born again, then why is being born again necessary at all?

January 09, 2008 5:36 PM

 
Blogger interested spectator said...

"This makes me wonder, if a person accepts Christ and is saved without being born again, then why is being born again necessary at all?"

This statement sets "being born again" as a means to an end - the end being faith. The Bible teaches that "being born again" is the end and faith is the means.

January 10, 2008 9:27 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Interested Spectator,
Exactly, being born again is the means that God uses to achieve the end of bringing the elect willingly to faith.

The purpose of this post was not to debate Calvinism and I stated that I would not go there. However, the Bible clearly teaches in many places that God's intervening work of regeneration precedes faith. I will list a few places that it is found... John 1, John 3, John 6, Romans 8, Romans 9, Eph. 1, Eph. 2!

January 10, 2008 3:55 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home