As a fundamentalist, I encounter quite a lot of rolled eyes, sideways looks and the general attitude of disdain from folks. A lot of this is due to the misconceptions about fundamentalism that are promoted by the opponents of fundamentalism in their attempt to discredit holding fast the Scripture. The reason they do this is to justify their departure from the word of God. However, some of the attitudes people hold toward fundamentalism are due to those who, for whatever reason, decide to attach that label to themselves, and then engage in the most hateful and ungodly attitudes and actions one might imagine — all the while claiming they are “serving God.”
One of those individuals is Fred Phelps, along with him is the church he pastors, Westboro Baptist Church.1 This gentleman and his congregation are well-known for their pickets and websites that preach that God hates this and that other thing (I would list them all, but it is wearying). Their message is supposed to be summed up in their 92-page publication “God Loves Everyone — The Greatest Lie Ever Told.”2 They also back this up with a much shorter document titled “The John 3:16 Arminian Lie Laid Bare.”3
In both these documents, they lay out the “Biblical” basis and logic for their belief that God hates everyone. The logic for this belief is not as evident in the longer document, even though it is predominately scripture and should be there. Strangely enough, the logic and basis for their belief is more plainly and clearly brought forth in the shorter of the two documents “The John 3:16 Arminian Lie Laid Bare.” What we find in the longer document is simply a listing of verses with a very brief synopsis of what the verses are supposed to say. Due to the fact that demonstrating the misconstruction of 701 verses would be a very long document indeed, and since the logic of it all is contained in the shorter document, the focus here will be on “The John 3:16 Arminian Lie Laid Bare.”4
In the article, they state the following:
“John 3:16 says “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.” That says God loves everyone, right? Wrong. Every so-called Christian in the world will cite John 3:16 as proof that God loves everyone. They don’t have a clue what the verse means, and, under the guidance of the lying false prophets who make up the “Christian” landscape, twist it to mean what they want it to mean.”
“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.
You’ll say “but doesn’t ‘whosoever believes’ mean that everybody has the chance to believe?” Nope. Turn a few pages to John 10 (you may be surprised to find that there is actually more to the Bible than John 3:16, but believe me, there is). You will find in John 10:11 that Jesus says “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Later on in verse 26, Jesus says to some unbelievers: “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” Uh oh – you John 3:16 heretics have a few problems on your hands. Jesus says He came to die for the sheep, and then proceeds to say that only His sheep can believe. In other words, only the people for whom Jesus died will believe. Note that the reason that unbelievers don’t believe is BECAUSE they are not His sheep. This passage explains who the world is in John 3:16, and it’s clearly not everyone. Furthermore, the only people who can believe are the ones whom God has ordained to eternal life. “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. So, if you have been ordained to eternal life, that means that you will believe, you are one of God’s sheep, God loves you, and He sent His Son to die for you so you wouldn’t be condemned. If you have not been ordained to eternal life, that means you are not one of His sheep, you NEVER will believe and are already condemned.”
Now, despite the fact that the quotes are long, it is essential for the understanding of what Calvinism is, and why the logical conclusion of it is exactly what Fred Phelps and his congregation do.
To begin with, their argument is that John 3:16 is mistranslated, or misconstrued by those holding Arminian doctrine5 to say that God loves all the people of the world, when he doesn’t. However, Phelps argument doesn’t stand on firm ground here because John 3:16 is not the only passage that states that the LORD God desires the salvation of all. It is notable that they chose to focus on this verse and the supposed meanings of the word “world” and then “explain” their interpretation with a couple of convenient passages that are open to interpretation. This flies in the face of many passages throughout the Scripture that declare plainly that the LORD God wants everyone to be reconciled to Him through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can begin anywhere, but we will begin in I Timothy:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (I Timothy 2:1-6)
If we consider the underlined passages in the above Scripture and take particular note of what they plainly state, we see that, despite Calvinist claims, there is no restrictive context here that would limit the application. What those who hold Calvinist doctrine do here is exactly what I have found of many who hold Arminian doctrine — they insert a restrictive context to make it apply to only those who are chosen to be saved — the “elect.” However, like I have previously stated, this is only one of many passages of Scripture that declare that Christ died for all men everywhere, at any time in earth’s history.
Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:20-22)
Now, it should be plain what the scope and meaning of the LORD’s statement “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:” is. There should be no doubt that the LORD God is calling to, not only Israel, but to all men everywhere — just like the preaching of the apostle Paul stated:
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: . . . (Acts 17:24-30)
Strange. God hath commanded all men everywhere to repent, but He doesn’t want to save all men everywhere, and hates all but the elect? Excuse me, but that would border on insanity wouldn’t it?
This is, unfortunately for those holding Calvinist (aka. Sovereign Grace, Primitive Baptist, Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) doctrine, a clear implication of their doctrine. The sad part of this, is their failure to examine all the Scripture and really consider all the LORD God has stated on a subject that is precious to His heart and soul. Like many, they obviously never hear the open invitation of the Scripture. Thus, if you’ve never heard the open invitation, hear it now:
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:1-7)
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)
Here it is necessary to understand that “everyone” and “whosoever” are plural, and that “every one that thirsteth,” “let him that is athirst come,” and “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” make the decision for salvation utterly dependent on the individual. Therefore I ask: To whom does this apply? The invitation is open-ended and without qualification — it applies to everyone that is living today, applied to everyone who has ever lived, and will apply to all to come — until the end of the world. The above passages speak plainly to the fact that salvation has always been the same, and that salvation is open and available to all men everywhere, without regard to color of skin, place of birth, financial or social status. The only barrier to salvation for any individual is a barrier they themselves erect.
There is yet something else in the passages quoted immediately above that ought to be touched on before going on. It bears heavily upon what the Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus, and provides the explanation of what the Lord said when he stated:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
And again, what did the Lord tell the woman at the well in Sychar?
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)
The water spoken of is strictly spiritual,6 and whether someone can get it, depends upon whether that person will avail themselves of it. As the old saying goes:
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
In like manner, it’s there, but the LORD God is not going to make anyone drink — that is strictly up to the individual.
Now we’ve only scratched the surface. . .
To be continued . . .
- About Westboro Baptist Church [↩]
- God Loves Everyone — The Greatest Lie Ever Told [↩]
- The John 3:16 Arminian Lie Laid Bare [↩]
- I want to make clear here that both Calvinist doctrine and belief (whether it is know as Calvinism, “Sovereign Grace,” or “Primitive Baptist,” Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) and Arminian doctrine and belief, are both egregiously wrong, and lies of the Devil to cause people to stumble at the Word and not come to salvation because of believing the wrong thing. [↩]
- it is ever the method of the devil to set up two opposing camps, both of which are wrong, and accuse anyone who doesn’t agree with one, of being part and parcel of the other — nevermind that the truth doesn’t reside in either place. In this way, the devil can fool people into taking sides instead of actually studying the Scripture for themselves. The truth of salvation lies between the extremes of Calvinism and Arminism, and has always been maligned by both sides. [↩]
- This ought to lay bare the lie of ‘water baptism for salvation’ that is promoted by some. [↩]