Sunday, February 05, 2012

Many Are Called

Today, Septuagesima Sunday (welcome to Lent!), at the Extraordinary Rite of the Mass, the readings struck a chord with me, especially in regard to the discussion I'm having with Barry Hofstetter on the Catholic Debate Forum (CDF).  The readings scream out against Calvinist theology, let us look at them first and then comments to follow:

EPISTLE 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5
Brethren: Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud: and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food: And all drank the same spiritual drink: (And they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased.
 GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16
At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable:"The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle. And he said to them: 'Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.' And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: 'Why stand you here all the day idle?' They say to him: 'Because no man hath hired us.' He saith to them: 'Go ye also into my vineyard.' And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: 'Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.' When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, Saying: 'These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.' But he answering said to one of them: 'friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?' So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen."
So, let us start from the last words and work our way back...
"For many  are called, but few are chosen." 
Again, with Barry in mind and is Calvinist position of God's perfect sovereignty, foreknowledge and predestination...  how does this "calling" of "many" resolve to "but few are chosen?"   If "many are called" then why differentiate from "the chosen?"  Shouldn't it be (according to Calvinism) "many are called, and those same many are chosen?"  Was God, in a Calvinist view, somehow "imperfect" in this "calling" so that from that "many" only "few" are "chosen?"
The Laborers in the Vineyard
This is a comparison to the Kingdom of Heaven - where even those "chosen" at the "last hour" will receive the same reward as those chosen in the first, third, sixth and ninth hour.  One could ask, "Why does God not just take them all at once?"  Or, "If God's foreknowledge is perfect, then why are not all found at the first hour and 'chosen'?"  I'm not suggesting that God's foreknowledge is imperfect, but from a Calvinist view, at least from many who have engaged me in discussion and debate, God has already made up His mind.  It seems inconsistent then this story of the laborers being "chosen" at different hours.
But with most of them God was not well pleased.
This section deals with the people of Israel, God's "Chosen People" - yet "with most of them, God was not well pleased."   Again, how does a Calvinist explain that God "chose" these people, and yet He is not pleased with them?!  If, as per Calvinism's "Irresistible Grace" (the "I" in TULIP) His grace or calling is irresistible, how then could He (God) not be entirely pleased with the people of Israel (those "in Moses")?
Run That You May Obtain. 
Again, this part of the passage is wholly inconsistent with Calvinism.  First off, why run at all?  God has made His Choice - so no matter how much one runs or strives to "win the race" - it  really doesn't matter at all, God has already chosen!  But the clincher is next:
I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.
Why is St. Paul himself worried about his salvation?!  If even St. Paul could "become a castaway" - then so much moreso you or I!  So much for the "OSAS" (Once Saved, Always Saved) mentality of the "P" in TULIP (the Perseverance of the saints).
May God richly bless all who read this, and may those trapped in Calvinism be set free.


  1. Hey Scott,

    I do not consider myself a Calvinist, but I do not see any contradiction or even incompatibility between those texts you mentioned and how I understand Calvinist soteriology.

    For instance, many are called (all of Israel) but not all of them were chosen. Because they were called they are now accountable to not showing up. Also, I think an examination of Romans 9 will clear up a lot of confusion on Israel and how one can be "chosen" and yet not actually chosen.

    The issue with why to run I think is plain silly. You run because a holy God has died to sanctify you to himself and has called you to himself, giving you his Spirit and so enabling you to work and do good. Why else would anyone run?

    Anyway, I wasn't trying to nitpick, I just see no real problems with these verses and a Calvinist understanding. I actually know of more incompatible verses than these.

    In Christ

  2. PS what translation are you using? It reads like KJV, but I can't imagine that's the one.

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  4. I believe he used the Douay-Rheims Bible, which is Catholic. It is from the same time period as the KJV but actually came first--some of which was copied by the KJV "translators." The NT was completed and published in 1582; the OT completed in 1610.

  5. I thought it might have been, but it seemd too legible to be the DR. Maybe it's a revised DR?

  6. The translation is likely the Confraternity version, which was used by most pre-1962 missals. The quotes come straight from the "readings" in the missal.

    I'll check and let you know for sure.

    In JMJ,

  7. Hey Scott,

    I appreciate it, but it seems cathmom was correct; it is the DR. I wasn't questioning the accuracy or anything, it was just a curiosity as the syntax and style seemed very similar to that of the KJV and yet not as incomprehensible as I remember of the DR. If you find out it's some revised edition of the DR that would be interesting, but if it's going to be a lot of work then don't worry.

    In Christ,

  8. Hi John,
    Let me take your points in order...
    1) My point of bringing up the "many" v. the "few" is to call into question the Calvinist view of God's sovereignty. From their point of view, how does God's calling fail in any way, shape or form? It would seem, however many God calls, that many would be chosen - anything less from a Sovereignist view would seem to be an imperfect calling.

    2) The point of running to win is culminated in St. Paul's statement about even HIMSELF possibly becoming "outcast" if he failed to continue running. The OSAS mentality of Calvinists is what is "plain silly." If St. Paul could possibly fail, so could ANY of us!

    3) Feel free to share more incompatible verses! ;-)

    In JMJ,

  9. This version of the New Testament was a revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version. It was done by members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, and sponsored by the Episcopal Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, hence the name "Confraternity Version." Following the Challoner-Rheims, it was based upon the Latin Vulgate, which at that time was still considered by Roman Catholics to be a better basis for translation than the existing Greek texts. Only the New Testament of this version was completed, because in 1943 the Pope issued an encyclical letter (Divino Afflante Spiritu) which recommended that Catholic translators begin to use the Greek and Hebrew texts rather than the Vulgate. The Old Testament translation from the Vulgate which was already underway was therefore dropped, and a new translation project (resulting in the New American Bible) was begun.
    The Confraternity version was not as literal a translation of the Vulgate as was Challoner's, because although they worked from Challoner and the Vulgate as a basis, the American revisers did make intelligent use of the Greek text, and so their revision in some places comes closer to the Greek. It seems to have been their intention to not only improve the version with respect to readability, but to improve it by interpreting the Latin (somewhat loosely at times) in light of the original Greek.

    That being said, cathmom5 was correct, it is the Douay-Rheims version. Here's the first part of the Epistle online:

  10. Hey Scott,

    I don't see the problem with God calling many but only choosing a few. The calling is done so that they will not have the excuse of ignorance at Judgment. So they were called, to repent and believe, lest they die in their sins. But they weren't chosen, and hence their hearts could only reject that call, proving their guilt. You have to remember, Calvinists believe in double predesination - God wanted them to reject the call, to highlight his righteousness in punishing sin. God fully intended the called-not-chosen to be called, but not chosen to receive the salvific grace that would enable them to respond; he didn't want them to respond.

    I think the passage of Paul becoming outcast is much more like an incompatibility, yes. I do not know how a Calvinist would interpret such a verse, except to point out that they believe works are a necessary sign of having received salvation - if Paul was without works, even though he preached to so many, yet he was never actually saved ("Lord, lord!", also 1 John 2:19). Or that's a guess.

    I think I'll refrain from posting the more incompatible verses :P I don't intend to stir up divisions. The verses that are more incompatible are only so because they require significantly more explanation than what you have referenced, not because Calvinists don't have responses. I made my comment only to let you know that these aren't the sorts of things a Calvinist would bat an eye at; but search the Scriptures! ;)

    Much as I love you, I don't want to be "fraternizing with the enemy" :P

    I don't consider myself a Calvinist, but I think whatever true soteriology is (and I claim neither prophethood nor expertise), it is more like Calvinism than most other systems. I'm not convinced it is Calvinism, nor do I know enough to say what it is, but I think the Calvinist approach at least makes more sense than not of what Scripture says - that is, other positions have more "editing" to do and with more problematic verses than these. Until I have more wisdom I will just trust in the God who died for my theological errors :)

    Anyway, it would seem a Calvinist would have an answer to those verses; however, you should look for more difficult passages than these.

    In Christ,

  11. I do still see a problem, from a Calvinist point of view, in the calling of many but only choosing a few. To say that because they weren't chosen their hearts could only reject the call STILL implies an imperfect calling.

    Also, to say "(H)e didn't want them to respond would fly in the face of 1 Tim 2:4 (likely one of the other "stronger" verses you had in mind, yes, I know them too - I was just hoping you would share some!) where God desires ALL MEN to be saved - not just "the elect." Again, is God not able to fulfill His desires? OR - does His Will to give man Free Will take precedence over His desire for universal salvation?

    John 3;16-17 - God doesn't love just "the elect" - but rather, He loves "the world" and sent His Son to "save the world" (v. 17).

    As for the "he was never actually saved" is truly a cop-out argument, and I know you're not making it, but those Calvinists who do are really just avoiding the obvious.

    True soteriology is certainly NOT Calvinist theology. The True God is not a mere Puppetmaster - and men are not mere puppets. GOD IS LOVE and God wants us TO LOVE HIM and TRUE LOVE is not something forced upon or from someone, no TRUE LOVE is FREELY GIVEN.

    In JMJ,

  12. Hey Scott,

    I still have to disagree about the perfection of the calling.  It wasn't
    given to have them respond, but rather was given specifcally to be rejected and prove the hearer's guilt before judgment.  If that's what it was intended to do (as a Calvinist would claim), then it did so perfectly.  John 15:20-25.

    And actually, believe it or not, 1 Tim 2:4 is not one of the verses I had intended.  I think it speaks much more clearly to an Arminian understanding, but Calvinists have an explanation of it that I think makes sense based on similar constructions in the same passage, that this means all types of men; the Gospel is not limited by borders or tongues or classes.  I think that's probably a stretch, yeah, but I don't know of a soteriology that doesn't have to stretch at some points.

    The "he was never really saved" thing, I agree, is a copout that doesn't really assure me at all.  It basically tells
    me that I might not actually be a Christian, and I have no way of knowing if I am or not.  I think their arguments for Perserverence are very strong, to be sure, so I'm more inclined to reject the "he was never saved" explanation of apostates, than to reject that the Father holds his sheep and no one can take us from his grasp. John 10:29

    As to God being a Puppetmaster, I think one of us misunderstands Calvinism.  I hope you won't take offense if I think it might be you.  A puppetmaster is more like what I see in Islam than how Calvinists view God.  Calvinists believe that people have wills and can do whatever they want.  They also believe (with Arminians) that humans are totall depraved, so that the desires of our hearts are continual wickedness.  Hence by nature all that we are able to desire and will is evil.  We break our own lives and ruin everything around us all on our own, and because we want to.  We are dead in sin already, and God must bring us back to life in order to save us.  Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that it takes a supernatural effort of God to change a persons heart so that we are able to want God at all, and if that if he did not change my heart then I would never have loved him.  We depart on the nature of that grace and on what basis it is given.  I am not a spokesman for Calvinism, but as I see it, irresistible  grace is not having love forced upon you, but is rather being given the option between the most glorious thing in all existence and our own fetid pettiness and emptiness, together with a new heart that can know the difference.  Like would you rather have a roast duck in a cherry glaze with crisp greens and a wild mushroom stew... or month-old garbage?  In any case, after the grace in Calvinism you truly want to love God and it is your own will that does the wanting.

    I'm typing on an iPhone, but I'll share the verses with you later, if I have time.  I think we agree more than my previous comments would suggest.

    In Christ,


    1 - Unnatural intercourse does not cause a woman to be forbidden to marry a High Priest. - Talmud YEB. 59A-59B.

    (Often the rabbis go into pages of imbecilic explanations of these laws; the following is typical: "A woman who had intercourse with a beast is eligible to marry a High Priest unless specifically warned in advance and the act seen by two witnesses. If she had intercourse with a dog while sweeping the floor, she is likewise reckoned to be pure. ")

    2 - A goy (any non-Jew) who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, it is our inheritance, not theirs. SANHEDRIN 59A.
    [ Note by a reader: The Torah is inclusive with he filthy Tal-MUD . ]

    3 - Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve. YEB. 63A.

    4 - Baby girls of three invoke sadistic punishments on those who have intercourse with them when they are menstruating. SAN. 55B and 69A.
    (Typical Jewish insanity as this is a physical impossibility.)

    5 - When a baby girl has attained the age of three years and a day, she is fit for cohabitation. YEB. 60B.

    6 - Women who are unclean (menstruating) must remain separate but only during the day time. HORAYOTH 4A.

    7 - The temple can accept money given by a man to a harlot to associate with his dog. SOTAH 268.

    8 - No occupation is inferior to that of agriculture. YEB. 63A.

    9 - Jesus is in hell. His punishment is being boiled in hot semen. GITTEN 57A.

    10 - Christians are boiled in hot excrement. GITTEN 57A.

    11 - Jesus committed bestiality with his ass. SANH. 105A and B.

    12 - There is a tale in ABODAH ZARAH, page 17A, about a rabbi who visited every harlot in the world, crossing seven rivers to reach the last one, but he was allowed to die in peace because he had not committed the one unforgivable sin, adopting Christianity.

    13 - Unnatural connection is permitted to a Jew, also sodomy with a neighbor's wife. SANH. 58B.

    14 - Murdering Christians is the same as killing a wild animal. SANH. 78B and 79A.
    [ Reader Note: How many Palestinians are Christians .................. ? ]

    15 - If a woman sported lewdly with her young son, a minor, and he committed cohabitation with her; he renders her unfit for the priesthood, unless he is under eight years of age. SANH. 470.

    16 - Intercourse is permitted with a dead relative regardless of whether she was single or married. YEB.55B
    [ To wit: the Jeffrey Dahmlers of this world; he just happened to get caught and had to be made a sacrificial GOAT . ]

    17 - A baby girl under three years and one day is always reckoned as a virgin because if she had intercourse previously, the hymen would grow back. KETHO BOTH 10B and 11A.


    This insane dribble goes on page after page, book after book, completely obsessed with sex, perversion, sodomy and fanatical hatred for Christ, Christians and Christianity.

    Are the Jews literally and genetically insane?
    Let us check what the encyclopedia and the world's leading authorities on mental diseases have to say.

    From the Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, under nervous diseases:

    "The Jews are more subject to nervous diseases than the other races. HYSTERIA and NEURASTHENIA appear to be the most frequent. Physicians of large experience among Jews have gone so far as to state that most of them are NEURASTHENIC and HYSTERICAL.

  14. I'm sure that it will be an awkward experience for anti-semites when they stand before the Branch of David at their judgment.

  15. I thought Christians were more intelligent. I'm with John. Many, many people who call themselves Christian but hate Christ's relatives may be in for a big, big surprise. amerisraeldoomed, you make me wonder who exactly it is that is obsessed--when you feel you must spread this filth. You don't cite a source but the "talmud" nor do you have anything constructive to add to the conversation of the original post. please...

  16. Wow, well, first off - amerisraeldoomed did cite sources beyond just "the Talmud" and I do not doubt those words are there (I'd like to see a link to the context of these statements). Second, he does prove the point of "Many Are Called" - as these ARE statements from Jewish writings.

    Now, THAT being said, is it representative of the average Jewish person out there? NO! Most have never heard these references. These statements are from a radical wing of Judaism, not mainstream. To paint all Jews with that broad brush is not fair. For example, while I oppose Mormonism, it would be unfair to compare all Mormons to the polygamist cult of Warren Jeffs.

    Back to the point - this radical fringe of Judaism would be evidence of the portion of "the many" who, while "called" were not "chosen" based in their obvious rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah and anything "Christian" for that matter. Their separation from the One, True Church (originally formed by Jesus, a JEW and whose original members were ALL JEWS!) has clouded their perspective of Truth and really, anything of God (which is a rather redundant statement). But again I stress - these writings are NOT representative of mainstream Judaism, at least in my experience with Jews - some of whom I would consider very good friends.

    I will close with this... hatred of ANYONE based upon RACE is utter stupidity. Jesus came to ALL MEN, and though the Jews WERE "the Chosen People," He came not JUST for the Jews, but for "THE WORLD" (John 3:16) - which INCLUDES the Jews! Which is why we have a gap between "the called" and "the chosen." Not all heed the calling (I agree with John here), and not heeding that calling is precisely where Calvinism fails. The "I" in TULIP is for "Irresistible Grace" - so IF "many are called" - who among this "many" could possibly "resist?" It challenges the very core of Calvinism's view of God's sovereignty - for they, especially of the "Hyper-Calvinist" bend, do not believe the selection of "the few" or "the elect" relies in the least upon the will of men. THIS is my premise for continuing to disagree with John's view that there is "no conflict" here.

    In JMJ,

  17. Scott,

    First let me express my deepest sympathies for the recent anniversary of your loss. I myself do not know what it means to have a child, let alone to lose one. I hope that the Lord will strengthen you in this time.

    As to TULIP and the calling and Israel, please read Romans 8-11, where all of this is very clearly laid out. I had intended to post the text, but it is too much and I don't want to clog your comments. The calling of Israel, the choosing of Israel, the apparent rejection of Israel, and how the rejection occurs are crystal clear there. They were called.

    Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” 10:16-21

    But they rejected the call. Not all of them, but most of them.

    I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 11:1-6

    In the reference to Elijah, it is not the people who reserved themselves for God, but God who reserved them for himself. This shows that God did not chose all of the Israelites at Elijah's time, nor did he choose all of them at this time, even though all of them clearly heard the message go out. Why didn't they heed the call?

    What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” 11:7-8

    This is compared earlier, in Chapter 9, with how God hardened Pharaoh's heart in Genesis. We then read:

    I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in [...]that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 11:25-31

    God intended for them to become disobedient at this point. A Calvinist will not claim God's purpose failed, but that God's purpose was for them to explicitly reject the Messiah. The calling is different from the choosing. And so I think that passage is perfectly consistent with Calvinist understanding of soteriology.

    In Christ,

  18. John,
    Thank you for the condolences.

    I believe the key to what you're saying is found in Rom. 9:
    19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

    I have no dispute with this - all I am saying is that we have a will - given to us by God. That SOME (like Pharoah) have been created to show His power is not disputed. That He might harden those whom He chooses to in order to demonstrate He is God through them, I do not dispute. However, these are the EXCEPTIONS to the norm! The norm, throughout Scripture, preaches that WE must CHOOSE Him. WE must FOLLOW Him. WE must OBEY Him. If WE CONFESS Him and His Name, WE will be saved.

    Rom. 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    All these are examples of things WE DO. Granted, can WE DO these things outside of His Grace? NO! Only those who are drawn can ACT upon this Grace - so who is drawn? I've covered this before! ALL MEN are drawn! John 12:32 makes that CLEAR! Either this Gift is FREELY GIVEN for ANY who will accept it - OR - it is NOT a Free Gift and God has ONLY chosen a few whom He wants to save - which is the ultimate position of Calvinism - and WHY they are so wrong and are most definitely preaching "a different gospel." Our God is not the god of Calvinism.

    In JMJ,

  19. Hey Scott,

    WE must FOLLOW Him. WE must OBEY Him. If WE CONFESS Him and His Name, WE will be saved.

    Amen and amen. I don't disagree, but I don't think a Calvinist would disagree either, that whosoever shall call on His Name will be saved. A Calvinist would just say that the only ones who can call on his name are those who God first enables.

    That's the point. It is freely given to all who will accept it. But no one will ever accept it unless God miraculously changes their hearts. And it is free, because it is given with absolutely no expectation of recompense. A human being cannot love God, desire God, turn to God, call out to God, repent before God, any of it, unless God performs a miracle to raise the dead human heart back to life. Arminians and Calvinists both believe this. So all you've said about our response, yes, of course, but we can only respond because He in His grace has first enabled us to.

    Our God is not the god of Calvinism.

    I think that's a strange thing to hear you say. How seriously do you believe that Calvinists worship a false god of their own construction? For instance, if Calvinists worship a different (and hence false) god, then are they Christians? If so, then in what sense? In worshipping their false Calvinist deity, are they guilty of idolatry?

    In Christ,

  20. >> SW: Our God is not the god of Calvinism.

    > JL: I think that's a strange thing to hear you say. How seriously do you believe that Calvinists worship a false god of their own construction? For instance, if Calvinists worship a different (and hence false) god, then are they Christians? If so, then in what sense? In worshipping their false Calvinist deity, are they guilty of idolatry?

    I think my response to that merits a new posting! :-)


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