The Westboro “Baptist” Church Lie – Calvinism’s True Face: Pt. 3

Tags: , ,

image_pdfimage_print

If we will remember, Acts 13:48, which is used by Westboro Baptist Church and most every other Calvinist out there to prove their contention of the “elect” being preselected, states:

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

However, as has been firmly established in Scripture, a single verse is not sufficient to establish doctrine. Especially when it sits next to verses that state:

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46)

And:

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. (Acts 13:47)

Of course, here the Calvinist inserts “for the elect” at the end of the sentence of verse 47. How do we know this? Because of what was done in the extended quote from Westboro:

“It seems that if you’re going to base an entire lying theology on one part of a verse, you would at least know what the verse means. But so-called Christians today are far too simple-minded and lazy to look into the matter. So we’ll do it for you: the word translated “world” in John 3:16 is the Greek word “kosmos.” The word never means “every individual of mankind who ever lived.” In fact, the word has at least seven different meanings in the scripture, depending on the context in which it’s used. It can mean Gentiles (as opposed to Jews); it can mean the world of believers; it can mean the world of unbelievers; it can mean the physical creation; etc. If you would actually read what the verse says, and read the context around the verse, you would find that the answer is right before your lying eyes – you just don’t want to see it, because it conflicts with how your evil, dark hearts think God ought to be! The context is “the world of believers” (whether they are Jews or Gentiles). Those are the people God loves. Those are the people for whom Jesus died. Jesus didn’t come to condemn those people – He came to save them. But everyone else is already condemned, because they don’t believe.”1

The problem with their explanation is two-fold:

First, if we read the passage in question, which consists of John 3:1-21, and more specifically verses 14 through 21, we find that the context Westboro claims to exist, does not exist at all:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:14-21)

No, the context they claim to be established, would have to be established by verses 18 through 21. But, those verse do not establish that Christ died only for the “world of believers.” Rather, all those verses do is establish that all men are already condemned, and that to avoid destruction, one must be born again. Hence, the Calvinists at Westboro (and they are not the only ones) inserted the phrase “world of believers” into the passage to establish a context that did not, and does not exist. We can know this by the fact that the doctrine that all men are already condemned is strongly supported in Genesis 8:21, Psalms 14:2-3, Psalms 53:2-3 and Romans 3:9-19 and Isaiah 59:1-16. Thus, all that the Lord Jesus Christ is stating here is no more than has already been stated in His word: that all men are condemned and must be born again. It states nothing about Christ dying “only” for the “elect,” or that God loves “only” the “elect,” or any other such thing.

But, in the eyes of men, this is not the thing that indicts Westboro and the Calvinists who misuse and misconstrue this passage (although it should be). Rather, that is left up to the plain evidence of the meaning of the word “kosmos.” According to the folks at Westboro, when referring to the underlying Greek word kosmos:

“The word never means “every individual of mankind who ever lived.”

Which is all well and fine, except I have included the definitions given to the word “kosmos” below. Kindly notice sense 5, and what it states. When you are done, take note of sense 8a:

2889 kosmos { kos’-mos}
probably from the base of 2865; TDNT – 3:868,459; n m
AV – world 186, adorning 1; 187
GK – 3180 {κóσμος}
1) an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
2) ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:3
3) the world, the universe
4) the circle of the earth, the earth
5) the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race
6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ
8) any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort
8a) the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)
8a) of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:1923

Now, when determining the meaning of words used in a passage, context is quite important for those words that have multiple senses. To determine meaning, it is common practice to attempt to use the most common sense first, and then the lesser known and utilized senses if the most common sense does not fit the context or creates a contradiction in the passage (unless the writer clearly intended a contradiction). Clearly, editors of dictionaries always list senses of a word in order from the most, to the least common sense. Hence, sense 5 of the Greek word “kosmos” is of more common usage than sense 8a (the last, least used sense of the word).

The problem here is not that Westboro argued for sense 8a over sense 5. It is that they claimed that sense 5 doesn’t exist at all. You know, they would have been better off if they had tried to argue it on a contextual basis alone. But they didn’t and chose to deliberately state something that they knew, or had to know, was not true. The reason I can state this is the pastor, Fred Phelps, is a Southern Baptist seminary graduate and has access to all the resources that I have (and probably more).4 In short, he studied New Testament Greek in seminary (a required course) and would have had this word clearly defined while taking that course. Moreover, it is plainly claimed that they “looked it up” for us so they could let everyone know that the word “kosmos” “never means “every individual of mankind who ever lived.”“

What a bald-faced lie. Well, not “actually” a lie. You see, the words in sense 5 do not state “every individual of mankind who ever lived.” What is “actually” stated is “the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race” which is not “exactly” the same as “every individual of mankind who ever lived.” Never mind the two phrases mean virtually the same thing, and are almost completely interchangeable. The only difference is that sense 5 is more inclusive (including past, present, future) than “every individual of mankind who ever lived” which is past tense only5.

Since we now know that outright distortion of the meaning of passages and verses is not beyond them, it gives cause to more diligently examine the other claims they make concerning predestination, foreknowledge, election, and such like. This is not so much to prove them wrong, as it is to understand what the correct doctrine really is, and how Scripture establishes it. Hence, it is a learning experience that we ought to engage in, knowing that the LORD God will prove His word. With that, let us continue.

In Acts, chapter 13, we found contradiction between the Calvinist explanation of verse 38 as compared to verse 37. To rectify the two, we can either go other places in Scripture to begin to determine what is meant by verse 38, or we can (as many do) read into verse 37 the Calvinist interpretation, which would make it read in this way:

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth for the elect.

Which plainly they mean ‘for the elect only’ and none other.

Since we are clearly told not to add to Scripture, adding any phrase to the verse really isn’t the brightest thing we could do. Hence, we must go looking. Therefore we will, as a favor to the Calvinist, begin in another passage they love to use to support their doctrine, Romans 9, verses 11-18, which states:

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. (Romans 9:11-18)

Now, does appear to state what the Calvinists say it states? The question must be answered by determining whether or not proper context is established by the passage quoted. It is obvious that it cannot be as the passage given (Romans 9:11-18) begins in the middle of a sentence. Now, I did not select the passage, but was directed to it in an e-mail from a Calvinist who used it to justify his view of foreknowledge/predestination in which he stated:

“Esau was cut off because that was God’s will, not anything Esau did. (Romans 9:11-18).”

Thus, it is not mine to lift the passage, and begin in the middle of the sentence, but the decision of the person arguing for the Calvinistic interpretation of the passage, which is a standard Calvinist verse reference.6 Thus, no context is established by the lifted verses for the simple fact that it begins in the middle of the sentence. To establish context, we must, due to the construct of the chapter, look at how the chapter begins and ends.

Plainly Romans, chapter 9 is about Israel, as it begins in the following manner:

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5)

And ends in this manner:

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 9:30-33)

Here now we have a context established, and that context is Israel and their rejection of salvation. We find quite clearly in verses 30 through 33 that the vast majority of Israel sought to justify themselves before God by the works of the law, and not by faith, and were thus condemned. Hence, the context is that faith, and faith alone justifies, apart from the works of the law. Additionally, throughout the chapter it is expressly admonished that our willing something to be (i.e. salvation by whatever means we desire, be it works or other some such thing) is not sufficient to bring it to pass as we did not establish the criteria by which one is justified. That prerogative belongs to the LORD God only, and it is His working, regardless of what man does, or does not do that establishes what salvation consists of.

To be continued . . .


  1. The John 3:16 Arminian Lie Laid Bare
  2. Strong, James. The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Test of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurence of Each Word in Regular Order. Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
  3. We should note here that James Strong’s doctrine was not correct either. Despite his cataloging of every word in the King James Bible, he thought it was not entirely correct and contained “errors,” particularly in the translation of words, and the selection of source texts. Hence, his verse references in support of definitions are to be taken with a grain of salt. It is the Scripture itself that will define what it means in using words that have multiple senses.
  4. Brief Bio of Pastor Fred Phelps
  5. Construct of the statement demands it is past tense only, despite the use of the word “ever,” which is inclusive of all time.
  6. About Park Church | Doctrine | Article 5: The Plan of God, verse references
Share

2 Responses to “The Westboro “Baptist” Church Lie – Calvinism’s True Face: Pt. 3”

  • Aaron says:

    Synergists believe the theology that all unsaved persons receive an equal amount of “grace” before God. Those who cooperate with this grace are saved and those who don’t are lost. So my question is why does one man cooperate and not another? This makes salvation entirely depend on what we independently do with that information by drawing on some principle (moral ability) within us that our neighbor, who does not cooperate, does not naturally have. The synergist belief is that God only takes us all to a certain half-way point by grace, but then leaves the final decision of whether to believe entirely in the hands of autonomous, natural man. One man responds positively and another negatively. Why is the question? Synergists often tell me that while grace plays a role in salvation, yet the Holy Spirit and grace have nothing to do with their ability to come to faith in Christ, since the gospel is only an offer that carries no power in itself. In other words, They believe their independent faith cooperates with grace while someone else was not able to. Again why? This means, that in the synergists belief system, the Holy Spirit has not enabled people in any way to have saving faith, over my neighbor, since this decision is totally independent of God’s action of grace. The result is that natural man must draw upon something within his unaided natural self to determine his/her salvation. This means that one man naturally had this capacity (to receive Christ) while another (who rejected Christ) did not. But our salvation does not depend on the humility or obedience of man since it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble. God is not responding to some virtue He sees in us, but saves us because of His mercy alone.

    Source: John Hendrix

  • -->
    1. Aaron Says:

      Paul,

      1) Why is it that one unregenerate person believes the gospel and not another?

      2) Was he able to generate a right thought, produce a right affection, create right belief, while at the same time man #2 did not have the natural wherewithal to come up with the faith to be saved?

      3) If they both made use of the same grace, did one
      make better use of it than the other?

      4) If God’s grace places us in a neutral state, then what motivates one man to believe and not another?

      5) What principle in him made him choose what he did?

      6) If all men are neutral in God’s grace was it by chance that one believed and not another?

      7) Is it the grace of God that makes you differ from unbelievers or is it your faith?

    2. Aaron Says:

      Synergists believe the theology that all unsaved persons receive an equal amount of “grace” before God. Those who cooperate with this grace are saved and those who don’t are lost. So my question is why does one man cooperate and not another? This makes salvation entirely depend on what we independently do with that information by drawing on some principle (moral ability) within us that our neighbor, who does not cooperate, does not naturally have. The synergist belief is that God only takes us all to a certain half-way point by grace, but then leaves the final decision of whether to believe entirely in the hands of autonomous, natural man. One man responds positively and another negatively. Why is the question? Synergists often tell me that while grace plays a role in salvation, yet the Holy Spirit and grace have nothing to do with their ability to come to faith in Christ, since the gospel is only an offer that carries no power in itself. In other words, They believe their independent faith cooperates with grace while someone else was not able to. Again why? This means, that in the synergists belief system, the Holy Spirit has not enabled people in any way to have saving faith, over my neighbor, since this decision is totally independent of God’s action of grace. The result is that natural man must draw upon something within his unaided natural self to determine his/her salvation. This means that one man naturally had this capacity (to receive Christ) while another (who rejected Christ) did not. But our salvation does not depend on the humility or obedience of man since it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble. God is not responding to some virtue He sees in us, but saves us because of His mercy alone.

      Source: John Hendrix

    Translate »