Conversation with Calvinist Brandon Groce

Brandon is my cousin-in-law and he went reformed about the same time I went Provisionist. We are going to have a conversation about our two different theological paths. But first, something we both agree on: good coffee. We both share the story of our theological development. Then we each present three reasons for our views.

Brandon’s Top Three Reasons (Abridged)

All things point to God through Calvinism.

Book of Romans (Pretty much all of it).

Seriousness of spiritual growth and discipleship/education through Calvinism. People seem to want to grow more through it.

Nate’s Top Three Reasons

I am a Provisionist because it best explains the goodness of God. In Calvinism, God is the final cause of all things including sin. For example, child-rape is directly planned by God (Piper, White, Calvin, etc). This however flies in the face of verses like:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.

James 1:13

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17

They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Jeremiah 32:35

Rather, If God has given us freewill—the ability to choose against of his will, then God is no longer the cause of sin. Man is. Therefore, God retains his goodness in a understandable way.

I am a Provisionist because it retains the culpability of man. God hates sin and therefore will punish it. If man has no freewill, God has determined to create people to burn in hell. But man could not have chosen to please God or to obey him. Instead, even in his sin, he has obeyed the decrees of God. Therefore, he is punished for a crime that he couldn’t help but do. However, if the freedom of the will is assumed, man’s culpability is exponentially increased. For, he is rebelling against God with the ability to do otherwise. But he refuses. Even when God opens his hands and invites them persistently, they can choose to rebel (Is 65:1-2). Therefore, he is much more culpable because he has chosen to reject God.

I am a Provisionist because faith is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8 is very tough case to make that faith is a gift. The grammar does not support it. But Philippians 1:29 is clear: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” But notice carefully that the verse does not say he effectually caused faith nor does it say that faith was an immediate act of creation in the individual. We must ask where faith comes from and how God gives it. Romans 10:13ff clearly expands it: “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Faith comes by hearing the Gospel. Can this be resisted? Absolutely. Watch my video on Romans 10 for details. So then, God gives faith by the means of the proclamation of the Gospel. It is resistible which means God has created man with the ability to resist him. Therefore, based on this understanding of the gift of faith I am a Provisionist.

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