Resisting Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace is the “I” of the Calvinist TULIP.

It refers to God’s ability to save all whom He has ordained to salvation. He overrides their will; by His grace He makes them believe.

John Calvin described God’s grace in salvation like this:

“All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
–Calvin’s Institutes, Ch. 10, section 1

Two things:

  1. You will notice that Calvin chalks people’s salvation up to God’s timing (it’s the first underlined phrase above). This gets at yesterday’s post. We blame God for taking so long to save people, yet God says He’s waiting for us so He can be gracious. If God is waiting to be gracious (God’s words, not mine) in what sense is this Irresistible Grace? Sounds fairly resistible to me.
  2. You will notice also some hedging in Calvin’s words. There are so many verses in the Bible that say we have something to do with our salvation, that even Calvin has to back it off a bit. He says, “they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.” If I have to be made willing to come, how is this me coming freely? This is the irrationality of Calvinism, always dismissed with “It’s a mystery.” It is a mystery. It’s a mystery how people can believe such Biblically contradictory stuff.

R. C. Sproul recently died and found out Calvinism was wrong.

But I think Dr. Sproul knew it was wrong before he got before God. Here’s what Sproul had to say about Irresistible Grace:

“The idea of irresistibility conjures up the idea that one cannot possibly offer any resistance to the grace of God.”

Hm, I wonder why people “conjured” up that idea? Perhaps because that’s what the word means! Here’s how Webster’s defines irresistible, “impossible to resist.”

Sproul’s problem is that his doctrine puts him in opposition to common sense. He feels a need to back off the term.

“However, the history of the human race is the history of relentless resistance to the sweetness of the grace of God. Irresistible grace does not mean that God’s grace is incapable of being resisted. Indeed, we are capable of resisting God’s grace, and we do resist it.”

Irresistible Grace can be resisted. Got it?

The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.

It’s important to understand who the “our” is here. Sproul is obviously referring to Believers. According to Sproul you will be a Believer if God has ordained you to be a Believer.

If God has not ordained you to be a Believer, you are not part of the “our.” Therefore, if you are ordained to be a Believer, you will not resist God’s grace; God will change your will so you accept it.

Therefore, Sproul still believes in Irresistible Grace, he’s just tired of people picking on this irrationality, so he decides to use a different word for God’s grace that sounds nicer.

“I have a little bit of a problem using the term irresistible grace, not because I don’t believe this classical doctrine, but because it is misleading to many people. Therefore, I prefer the term effectual grace, because the irresistible grace of God effects what God intends it to effect.”

Sproul prefers Effectual to the “misleading” Irresistible. In essence they both mean the same thing–God’s desires will be brought about regardless, which he admits with that last weird sentence–irresistible grace effects what God wants to effect. How is this any different? Sproul just wants to sound like he’s softening things, backing off a bit because he knows this doctrine is ridiculous.

Yes, I am reading into his psychology behind the word change. To me it smacks of deception, because he means the same thing, he just picks a softer word to represent the same hard doctrine.

I think R. C. Sproul’s Calvinism is wrong. I think he thinks that now, too.

“Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you
Isaiah 30:18

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