Calvinism and the Prodigal Son

Calvinists like to explain their theory of salvation with the resurrection of Lazarus. “Dead people can’t believe. God has to raise you up to believe.”

Never mind that nowhere in the passage about Lazarus rising from the dead does Jesus hint that this is an illustration of salvation.

What’s more ironic, is Calvinism doesn’t center on one of Jesus’ main parables of what salvation is like–The Prodigal Son. This is clearly stated to be an illustration of how salvation works.

The Prodigal Son wandered off and squandered all his dad gave him. While slopping around with pigs, he thinks about how good his dad is to others. “I bet if I go back he’ll be good to me.”

He goes back, because the goodness of God leads people to repentance.

The father receives him back and throws him a party. Salvation! It’s a wonderful thing!

Except Calvinists don’t like this story that much, or at least they have to do some spectacular gymnastics to avoid the obvious flow of what happened.

To the Calvinist, the Prodigal Son, by going back, is doing a meritorious work, the father, in essence, owes him a feast.

Now, certainly no Calvinist will come out and say this, but alas, it is their doctrine. As I recently read a Calvinist say, “If humans do one thing to obtain salvation, then it isn’t grace and God’s glory is diminished.” As if the Prodigal Son “coming to himself” and walking home to Dad, means Dad owes him a party. Walking home earned the party.

This is asinine reasoning.

The Prodigal Son, while wallowing with pigs, comes to himself. he sees his condition. Furthermore, he clearly sees his father’s character. These two things work together to lead him to go to the father. Him leaving pigs to receive salvation from his dad is not a meritorious work; it’s common sense.

That is salvation. God has demonstrated His love toward us. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL MEN. We know God is good. When we realize we’re bad and we desperately need Him, that is when we come.

He willingly takes us and throws a party of celebration, shedding His grace abundantly on us.

This is the traditional, long before Calvin and Augustine, view of how salvation works. This parable does not fit with the Calvinist interpretation of salvation.

Furthermore, just to rub it in and make the point a little further, while Calvinists like to talk about Lazarus being dead and raised to illustrate salvation, note what the father says about his returned son:

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Did you get that?! Calvinists love to talk about how we’re dead, unable to return. Notice what the father said about his son! “My son was dead, and is alive again.”

Being dead spiritually is not akin to Lazarus in the grace. Being dead spiritually is akin to being a rebellious, idiot, pig slop eating, sinner like the prodigal son.

Although Calvinism likes to twist other parables to attempt to prove their theory, they do a fine job of ignoring obvious parables that clearly portray salvation happening differently than their theory.

Calvinism is wrong. The end.

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3 thoughts on “Calvinism and the Prodigal Son”

  1. I was SO depressed the years I tried to understand Calvinist predestination. I figured since almost all the “experts” taught it, I must be wrong in my inability to embrace it. You saved a drowning woman. I thank God for your boldness.

  2. What would you say to those who say that parables have one meaning and that details in the parables shouldn’t be contrived to mean anything?

  3. They usually do have one meaning and we have to be careful not to mess with stuff to make it mean whatever we want. There is a reason he spoke them and we should hear them in context and not try to manipulate them to our own devices.

    It’s also important to remember he spoke parables so they (Israel) wouldn’t understand, Matthew 13 explains that. Typically He explains the miracles later to His disciples, or else further revelation in the Bible reveals what He meant. At no point should we base doctrine on a parable, but a parable can explain doctrine.

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