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
GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16Brethren: 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.
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.
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.