My alma mater and the flagship educational institution of American Fundamentalism, Bob Jones University, has just announced the appointment of Steve Pettit as the fifth president of BJU. I received this news with gladness both for BJU and for Steve Pettit and I feel a sense of sobriety as I consider all that this appointment means. I hope that you will join me in praying that God will give Pettit a spirit of wisdom and of courage as he faces what lies before him in this role.

My purpose in writing this is twofold. First, I want to celebrate what I believe was a wise decision by the board of BJU. Second, I want to raise some matters that I hope will be given prayerful consideration by the new president and administration.


I believe that God has blessed Bob Jones University in bringing this to pass. Following are a few observations about what this appointment means for the BJU community.

First, for the first time in 87 years, the president of Bob Jones University is not a Jones. It is appropriate at this point to praise our God for the vision of Bob Jones, Sr. and for the way in which God has used him, his son, his grandson, and his great-grandson in the role of president of the university. It would be impossible to calculate the impact this family has had on millions of lives over the last century. They are not perfect. They have failed in some ways. So have we all. But God has used them in so many lives for his glory and in that I rejoice!

Second, BJU has, in a sense, returned to her roots. Bob Jones, Sr. was first an Evangelist of historic note. Steve Pettit is many things, but he is first an Evangelist. I rejoice to consider what God will do with a Calvinist Evangelist at the helm of Bob Jones University.

Third, Steve Pettit has a broad base of friends all around the world. His evangelistic team has not only preached the gospel across the globe, but has developed scores of young Christian leaders. I suspect that Pettit’s role will not be to cut costs, but to energise Fundamentalists from a broad range of circles and camps and build up the student body numbers again.

Fourth, this is the blending of various brands. Pettit is well known for other things: his music, his team, his preaching, his evangelism, and his work with Northland Camps. Pettit is not a “young Fundamentalist,” but he is an exemplar of all that is best in “old Fundamentalism” and I’m rejoicing today to consider the opportunities this role will give him for influencing the broad stream of Fundamentalism for the glory of God.

Finally, an inevitable result of this new role is that Steve Pettit is no longer merely an evangelist. For better or for worse, he is now a politician with the job of bringing together vastly disparate groups and perspectives in the context of an institution that is rooted (some would say mired) in Fundamentalist tradition. If there’s one way to make friends in Fundamentalism, it is to partner with people in evangelising the lost. If there is one way to make enemies in Fundamentalism, it is to be the president of Bob Jones University. This will change things. It will change who he is. It will change how we see him. And this brings us to the second matter I wanted to address.


Reading my comments about and feedback to Bob Jones University in the last year or so could give someone the impression that I’m one of the “haters.” My comments here express, I hope, my deep-seated affection for Bob Jones University and how God has used her in my life and the lives of so many others. I am a third-generation BJU attendee with family among both the current student body and the faculty/staff of the university. But that has not stopped me from adding my voice, at times, to the voice of those who have protested what they see as injustice in the actions and attitudes of the university. Nor will it.

When I graduated from Bob Jones University, then president Dr. Bob Jones III solemnly charged me and my class to hold BJU accountable and it is my love for the university that causes me to do so. Along these lines, I want to set out a few matters that I would like to see Steve Pettit consider in his new role as president of Bob Jones University.

First, I fervently hope and pray that Steve Pettit will be the one to bring a radical shift in the culture of BJU regarding domestic violence and sexual abuse. I long to see the GRACE investigation finalised and action taken to bring change where needed and to facilitate healing for those who have been sinned against. I look forward to the day when I can be confident that sexual abuse is being handled both legally and ethically at BJU. Consistently.

Second, I long to see the culture of rules at BJU replaced by a culture of love that is rooted in the grace of God in the gospel. To be clear, I am not pitting rules against grace. The two are not opposed. But I am suggesting that a culture of rules will naturally crowd out a culture of love. Steve Pettit gets the gospel. Northland International University gets the gospel. I pray that Pettit will develop a culture at BJU that is more aligned with the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Third, I look forward to the day when the secular world sees BJU as odd because it is good, humble, and joyful, rather than seeing it as odd because it is bigoted, cultish, and abusive. I recognise that the public stereotype of BJU isn’t always fair. But sometimes—far too often—it is fair. BJU did have overtly racist policies until 2000. BJU did cancel the GRACE investigation. BJU does have a string of well-documented administrative injustices toward staff and students. BJU did publicly attack John MacArthur unjustly. BJU did say to Billy Graham “Billy, if you leave and throw your life away at a little country Bible school, the chances are you’ll never be heard of. At best, all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.” These sorts of things are not easily forgotten. Nor should they be. Repentance should be followed by a radical shift in the thinking that led to these transgressions. I look forward to the day when BJU is hated for the offence of the cross rather than the offence of sin and pride. May we see this day under the leadership of Steve Pettit.

Fourth, I long for the day when Bob Jones University once again embodies the most famous statement of her founder, Bob Jones, Sr., when he said “Do right ’til the stars fall!” I want to see the day when guys are just guys and God is great. I long for the day when the gospel of Jesus Christ is far more important than identification as a Fundamentalist. When fear of God is a bigger consideration than who is friends with who. I’ve rejoiced to see the glimmers of this dawn over the last fifteen years and pray now that the dawn will explode into the light of day.

Fifth, I pray with all my heart that Bob Jones University will have the courage under Steve Pettit to “come out of the closet” theologically. BJU knows KJV-onlyism is heresy. May she have the courage and fortitude to say so plainly and publicly. Vastly more important, BJU knows that “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else” (Charles Spurgeon). May she have the courage to throw in her lot with those who have rejected the cancerous semi-Pelagian heresy that riddles the body of Christ in our day.


We bloggers are often criticised for criticising too much. The point is fair. My heart in this post has been to take part in the celebration of this appointment, but to do so thoughtfully. To do so in a way that takes the serious issues at hand into consideration. It would be disingenuous to criticise liberally without speaking a word of praise and celebration where one is due. And today such a word is truly due.

Praise be to God for the appointment of Steve Pettit as president of BJU! May we each uphold him more often in prayer than we do in criticism. And may we never treat the two as mutually exclusive.

Grace to you.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@jasonharris.com.au.


  1. Jeremy Crooks 14 May, 2014 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    I don’t know Steve Pettit, so I can’t comment on him personally. However, I am pleased to see they broke the nepotism that is multi-generational successionism. If they were to change the name of the institution, that would be another positive step.

    There is a lot to appreciate about a liberal arts education institution that holds fast to the Bible. Personality Cult worship is not one of those things. I know I am hammering this issue, but it is truly liberating once we don’t define our version of Christianity through the lens of a man.

  2. Rick 4 June, 2014 at 1:02 pm - Reply


    I am intrigued by your descriptor of Steve Pettit as a “Calvinist Evangelist.” Why do you think he is a Calvinist. I have reason to know he denied being Calvinistic during the interviewing process. I personally have wondered about his stance based on sermons I have heard, but some Calvinists are hard to pin down.

  3. Jason Harris 4 June, 2014 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Hey Rick,

    Thanks for the comment. I believe he is a Calvinist based on my interactions with his ministry over the years (his preaching and music, interaction with various members of his teams over the years, his affiliations, etc.). I doubt he could be classified as “Reformed” in any significant sense other than soteriological. Keep in mind, as well, that for much of Fundamentalism (particularly the parts I have mixed in over the years), to believe in sovereign election makes you a Calvinist.

    Being a Fundamentalist evangelist he can’t very well admit to being a Calvinist. Everyone would separate from him for not being evangelistic enough. This is both stunningly ironic and a damning indictment of Fundamentalism.

    When I say he is a Calvinist, what I mean is that his theology is basically that of Charles Spurgeon.

    Grace to you.

    • Rick 5 June, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      “Sovereign Grace Music” does suggest a certain predilection, doesn’t it? The constant reference to God’s sovereignty does seem to be a consistent theme among Calvinists. I have often remarked that calling God sovereign is like calling water wet. Of course He is. I’m not sure who such folks are trying to convince. It’s almost as if there is some compulsion to remind us God is God. He gets to make the rules. We gain nothing from being masters of the obvious, in my view. Rather than using the claim of sovereignty as a pretext for one’s particular theology (well you know, God is sovereign, He gets to do what He wants) why not rather allow our sovereign God to simply tell us how He exercises His sovereignty. I have found Ezekiel 18 to be a good place to start. In the chapter He tells you what he wants, and how you can give it to him, and what to expect if you don’t.

      With regard to Steve’s sermons, are there any in particular you could point me to?

    • Jason Harris 5 June, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      While I’m tempted to take up the debate, I’ll pass in the interests of getting my “to do” list done today… =P That’s not to say I don’t see it as incredibly important. I do.

      Regarding your question, it’s not what he says in his sermons, but how he says it. A Calvinist preaches the gospel differently… he tends to focus on the authoritative presentation of Scripture truth over emotional appeals to the will, he tends to present God as central in the whole process, he tends to recognise God as the initiator and man as the responder, etc. I think that for those who understand true, biblical Calvinism (Spurgeonic Calvinism if you will), careful inspection will reveal that his evangelistic preaching is inherently Calvinistic.

  4. Rick 5 June, 2014 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Thank you Jason. By your definition, I might be considered a Spurgeonic Calvinist. Ezekiel 18, as does all of scripture, prompts me to realize that God is the initiator of the call to salvation. Deuteronomy 30:19 is probably the clearest example. The 6th verse of that chapter makes it obvious that God is speaking of a personal relationship (circumcise your hearts). If you don’t see an emotional call to salvation in God’s final plea in Ezekiel 18 “Why will you die?” I’ll eat my hat. :-)

    God is always the initiator of the call to saving grace. Always. We don’t disagree over the means of salvation. Let’s not recast the “debate” to establish straw men. We simply disagree over the scope of that calling. In a less-hectic moment, perhaps we can have a conversation about what it means to be chosen to come (invited) versus chosen to remain (enter my rest), and what makes the difference.

    The traditional (word fraught with different meaning) view of evangelical outreach by a Calvinist is that we go into the world to reach God’s elect with the gospel, inasmuch as that’s how God ordained the process to work. So we evangelize as a matter of obedience, not expedience. I suppose it’s the difference between seeing the great commission as a “scavenger hunt” versus a “rescue mission.” The fields are white unto harvest. Every time I read that passage, I am struck by the fact that Christ never once questioned the viability of the fields. He lamented the size of the workforce called to the harvest. I see expedience. Work while it is day ….. I see expedience. Why will you die? I see expedience.

    • Jason Harris 6 June, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Just to clarify, a Calvinist holds that God initiates salvation, not merely the call to salvation.

      Grace to you.

    • Rick 6 June, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Isn’t that the lesson of Deuteronomy 30:19, “I set before you ……….?” What convinces you that the initiation is limited in scope? What prevents the call from being the initiation? Or the drawing of John 12:32?


  5. Rick 6 June, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Is this where that whole “God is the first cause of all things” comes in?

    • Jason Harris 6 June, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      I don’t think so. I understand that to be an apologetic argument which deals with the causedness of all causes and the fact that every form of naturalism must ultimately trace its causal chain back to some uncaused cause. The admission of such an uncaused cause, the apologist then argues, is an admission of theism.

  6. Jason Harris 6 June, 2014 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    I wasn’t actually debating anything. Just pointing out that Calvinism argues that God saves sinners. That sinners must respond, yes, but that by the time they are alive to respond, they have already been regenerated by God. So the initiator is God. The author and finisher is God. Man’s response follows God’s work.

  7. Rick 6 June, 2014 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    That makes man’s response incidental, doesn’t it? It makes man’s response irrelevant, really, to the issue of regeneration. We don’t need to confess and repent, as a precursor to salvation. We do that only after regeneration? What happened to the “if” in Romans 10:9?

  8. Jason Harris 7 June, 2014 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    A Calvinist holds that man is, spiritually, a corpse. Just as Lazarus was unable to seek or effect his own physical regeneration, so man is unable to seek or effect his own spiritual regeneration. Man is dead until God gives life.

    Jesus’ words “Lazarus, come out” were a command. Lazarus was just as obligated to obey that command after he was given life as he was helpless to even hear it before he was given life. To say Lazarus’ response was “irrelevant” or “incidental” is true in the sense that Lazarus didn’t raise himself from the dead. God did that. All God. Only God. But it is absurd to contemplate Lazarus not obeying that command.

    When God speaks the corpse to life and opens the eyes to see the horror of sin and the glory of God, faith and repentance are the inevitable response. To remain in the tomb covered in the rags of death and separated from the Son of God is unthinkable. And in that sense, man’s response is anything but irrelevant or incidental. He is raised! He is rescued! He runs from (repentance) the putrid den of death and he runs to (faith) the glorious Lord of life!

  9. Rick 9 June, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

    You are so right about the absurdity of refusing God’s call to follow Him. But many do. The rich man did, despite receiving the same exact call to saving grace as the Apostles. He would have been the 13th Apostle, but his possessions were just too great. He made a choice. There was a time when many disciples turned away from sovereign grace because what Jesus said was just too “hard” for them to believe. Jesus asked the remaining disciples “Will you also go away?” How was it ever possible to resist the words of grace from the mouth of our Creator God come in the flesh? How could anyone go away?

    Irresistible grace is a fantastic idea born in the minds of wishful thinkers. You just can’t find it in scripture. Stephen looked Saul of Tarsus and the other members of the Sanhedrin right in the eye and said: “You do always resist the Holy Spirit.” Acts 7:51. So much for irresistible grace. The only grace IS sovereign grace. There are not degrees of grace. Scripture makes no distinction between saving grace and the grace we need for daily living. And yet, we resist daily grace on a daily basis. Any Calvinist who tells you he does not daily battle the human will and the desires of the flesh is only kidding himself.

    So let’s have a “come to Jesus” moment here. We are called out of darkness into His marvelous light. That call IS the initiation. That call is universal. But some love and choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. The “rather than” phrase in that verse speaks volumes. It speaks of an enlightenment to a choice, but a choice nonetheless. Thank God that enlightenment is also universal. How else do you explain John 1:9? I’d love to hear your take. I have previously referenced Proverbs 20:27. Please go read it and ask the Spirit to “teach you all things.” Every man has a “candle” waiting for Jesus to light it. To what end? To reveal man’s wicked heart to himself. All ten virgins had a lamp. They all had the capacity for the light of the glorious gospel. They needed the oil of the Holy Spirit, and they were all advised to go get it. None were told that they couldn’t have it, or that it wasn’t readily available. The five foolish virgins were urged (I see expedience) to go purchase the oil they needed to be found ready and waiting. “Particular redemption” is a theological invention at stark contrast with the reason given in 2 Cor. 4:4 for the rejection of the gospel of grace. I quake every time I hear folks attribute the work of the devil to The Lord of Glory. 2 Cor. 4:4 tells me Satan is responsible for the blindness of those who still cling to darkness, not the Almighty.

    Isaiah 61:1-3 is where we need to be. There’s not the slightest hint of “particular redemption” in the prophet’s verse. There is, however, clear validation of the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:4. The meaning that accepts that when God says “all,” He means all.

    Grace and peace.


  10. Jason Harris 9 June, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply


    You seem to feel that Calvinists don’t believe humans have a will with which they are responsible to choose obedience and submission. I have never met a Calvinist who believes that. Calvinism holds that man does have a will. And that he is 100% responsible to use it to obey God.

    Calvinism does not hold that no act of God’s grace can be resisted. Rather, Calvinism holds that when God chooses to save a person, he will accomplish his purpose every single time.

    You seem to feel that Calvinism holds that some people are told they can’t have salvation. It does not. Calvinism teaches that all men have rejected God and just as God is utterly just and loving to damn all the demons without even a chance for redemption, he is just and loving to damn ALL men for ALL men have rejected him. Calvinism also holds that for some inscrutable reason, God has chosen to redeem some. This is mind-blowing grace and is the reason Calvinism is rightly called the doctrines of grace.

    You seem to feel that Calvinism holds that God blinds the eyes of men so they cannot see him. In fact, Calvinism teaches that ALL men are born blind in Adam because of Adam’s deliberate choice to reject the light. Calvinism teaches that it is only the gracious intervention of God that can cause blind eyes to see. And that he does so for those he chooses to redeem.

    Do you realise, Rick, that I have not once argued for Calvinism per se in this thread. All I have done is to correct misunderstandings about what Calvinism is. That is a HUGE problem for you and any who think like you do because it means you don’t even understand the doctrine you reject. And attack. This indicates that the issues aren’t even theological, but are personal and spiritual… matters of integrity, fair-mindedness, goodness, honesty, etc. I’d be quite happy to discuss this further via private email, but only if you’re committed first to doing some research to find out what the doctrine you oppose so strongly actually IS. There are plenty of good books written by Calvinists by which you could learn about what Calvinism is and what it teaches (A Defense of Calvinism by Spurgeon, Complete in Him by Barrett, The Doctrines of Grace by Boice/Ryken, etc.). There are even ample published primary sources for you to get the facts “straight from the horse’s mouth” (Calvin’s Institutes, the Remonstrances, The Canons of Dort, etc.). I urge you, for the sake of Christ’s testimony and for the sake of the gospel, to invest some time in this way. If you find actual Calvinism (as opposed to whatever you have been told it is) to be false, you will oppose it more effectively. If you find it to be true, you may, like me, find it to be a transforming vision of God’s glory and the sum and substance of the gospel!

    Grace to you.

    • Rick 9 June, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      I see that I have offended you. That was never my purpose, so I owe you an apology. In 45 years as a follower of Christ, I have indeed read many of the works of reformed theologians. For more than three of those decades, I was infatuated with the idea that God’s “mind-blowing grace” was reserved for me. I was wrong. Throw away your treasury of Calvinism. You won’t find the words of life in any of those books. There’s no power there, Jason. There never was. But you do know where the power may be found.

      I’ve given you verse after verse. You’ve given me Calvinist talking points, and platitudes. Why? Please don’t be angry with me for pointing you to the scriptures. Lay aside your books, your blogs, and your DVD’s. Search the scriptures. Ironically, we each will choose to whom we will go for the words of life. But in the process, there’s no need to insult one another. Let God be true and every man a liar.

      Go in grace.


  11. Jason Harris 9 June, 2014 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Hey Rick,

    Not at all. I’m sorry if my comments came across as being offended. I am and remain quite happy to talk about this and other issues on the condition that you commit to presenting the Calvinist position accurately.

    If you once called yourself a Calvinist, then it appears you either never understood what Calvinism actually is, or far more concerning, that you are just misrepresenting it. For instance, to characterise Calvinism as teaching that God’s grace is “reserved for me” is either to misunderstand it entirely or to present it dishonestly. No Calvinist would ever affirm such a statement because it is not a Calvinist statement. Again, the accurate representation of opposing views is not a matter of theological preference but of integrity, truthfulness, fair-mindedness, goodness, etc. Such forms of argument are rejected even in secular academia, and rightly so.

    You’ll note that at the beginning I declined to debate Calvinism with you. And I have not done so. Which is why I have not used a lot of Scripture in this discussion. I wasn’t arguing Scripture primarily. Rather, I was pointing out, again and again, that you don’t understand what Calvinism is (although now it seems possible that you are intentionally misrepresenting it… I hope not).

    If you want to debate the Scriptural issues with me, I’ll be quite happy to demonstrate to you how your interpretation of Scripture twists the truth, misunderstands the context, and results, ultimately, in a “gospel” that places man at the centre of salvation relegating Christ’s atoning work to a potential atonement, reducing God to helpless hopefulness, exalting unregenerate man to the status of mere spiritual sickness (the ancient semi-pelagian heresy), and reserving always for man a meritorious role in his own salvation. But I will do so by email, as noted above, which will demonstrate, by removing any audience, that it is truth you are concerned with, not grandstanding.

    Again, not offended at all. Just not interested in hosting a bunch of misinformation about Calvinism on the blog. Drop me an email if you feel it will be beneficial.

    Grace to you.

  12. Rick 12 June, 2014 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Thank you Jason for the invitation to continue our discourse by private email. I am as impressed with your passion and your grasp of the teachings of your mentors as you seem to be singularly unimpressed by mine. I can assure you, though, my purpose is never to grandstand. Mine is a quest for the truth, and it can only be found in one place. So if you will entertain me in that pursuit, I’d enjoy hearing from you by your private email. Let’s agree that what we do will be to the praise of His glory.


  13. Jason Harris 12 June, 2014 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Rick,

    Many thanks for the email. I look forward to reading it and interacting with you on its content.

    Soli Deo gloria indeed.


  14. searchingtruth 10 August, 2014 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I am actually in search for the truth as well. I have read and studied many of Spurgeon’s teachings and spent so much time studying the scripture to find truth in Calvinism. I just can’t believe that the Lord said if I be lifted up I’ll draw my chosen few unto me. Or If whosoever is chosen shall call upon the name of the Lord…. There is too much scripture to prove it is the free will of man and their decision whether they answer the call of Christ or not. But that he calls all men to the cross. If it’s his will that some reject the scripture, I honestly do not understand why he would say, he is not WILLing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. I was truly looking forward to seeing a debate here, though the scripture tells us to avoid foolish and profane babbling. It seemed as if while reading through the comments, Rick was playing chess 3-4 moves ahead of Jason, who I’m guessing had taken great pride in his intellect for lack in other areas or rejection in other areas in life and that has given him the “passion” that shows in most devout calvinists. Not for his belief, but for his pride in being right and proving his wit. All of the”debates” I’ve viewed and teachings I’ve found that have had information from both sides, I’ve continued to see this. It has me stuck at 2 thoughts. If Calvinism is from the Lord, either Calvinism is a useless teaching and there is no point in proving your point since convincing a nay sayer will eventually take place anyway. (according to their teachings)Which would defeat the purpose of it by default, or I may not be one of God’s chosen calvinist. Because I am beginning to see a trend and starting to believe it’s one of the Devils biggest lies and is keeping more ppl out of heaven than most “religions.” My final conclusion; It has to be an enemy of winning the lost.

  15. David 28 January, 2015 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Hi all,

    Those who discount the doctrines of grace,are usually those who hold to an easy believism. As one preacher said once,”there are only two religions in the world,one is of the cross,and….the other is of man!

    • Rick 28 January, 2015 at 10:34 am

      And both religions will damn your soul. Religion is always “man-centered” to employ the Calvinist buzzword. Whatever “easy-believism” means to you, the scriptures make plain that what God demands is surrender. Confessing Christ as Lord requires surrender. Anyone out there reading this who believes that is ever “easy” has not fully appreciated Christ’s admonition that if anyone would follow Him, he must deny himself. How about that. First thing out of the box. Get off the throne and let Jesus reign. “Easy?” Not hardly. But I am curious to hear how surrender fits into the reformer’s view of “grace.” Who in their right mind would “discount” grace? Are you setting up a straw man just to knock it down?

  16. Another "Grace" 1 June, 2015 at 6:01 am - Reply

    I am late to this article as I just discovered Jason due to the article re the Dugger dilemma and commented there. Just want to say that I appreciate this article also, Jason. I didn’t realize you were a BJU grad. My father was also, and I believe the abuse in our family was partially a result of the attitudes that were nurtured in him there. Every time we visited BJU so he could relive his glory days, the verbal and physical abuse skyrocketed. I can still see and hear his righteous tantrum imitation of BJ Sr. yelling “Do right til the stars fall” and saying things like “do right because it’s RIGHT to do right.” (Brilliant circular thinking.) He forced my oldest siblings to attend there and they came out with legalism over grace and I got off with going to Pensacola Christian College because it was founded by a grad of BJU and the legalism there made fertile soil for the KJV only teaching. Thank you for calling that out too. The culture at BJU has caused more damage than anyone realizes, I’m with Jeremy — change the name and signify a new era of love and grace.

  17. Chris 3 January, 2016 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Jason, you state to Rick,

    “You seem to feel that Calvinists don’t believe humans have a will with which they are responsible to choose obedience and submission. I have never met a Calvinist who believes that”.

    Uh, then you have not met John Calvin. He did not believe man has a choice.

    “Who then shall be saved? That is what His sovereign will decides and nothing else. It is purely a matter of the divine sovereign will which, doubtless for good reasons known to God Himself but none of them relative to anything distinguishing one man morally from another, chooses some and rejects the rest. God’s election has nothing to do with foreknowledge except in so far as he foreknows who are to be members of the human race” (Calvin’s Institutes III, xxiii, page 10).

    “The reprobate like the elect are appointed to be so by the secret counsel of God’s will and by nothing else” (Calvin’s Institutes II, xxii, Page 11).

    “The reprobate like the elect are appointed to be so by the secret counsel of God’s will” (Calvin’s Institutes II, xxii, Page 11) and ” . . .their doom was fixed from all eternity and nothing in them could transfer them to the contrary class…” (Calvin’s Institutes III, iii, Page 4).

    “Their fate was the direct immediate appointment of God, justified indeed by their life but not in necessary consequence. He might have saved them from their doom as He did in the case of the elect who were no more worthy in themselves to be saved; but that doom was fixed from all eternity and nothing in them could transfer them to the contrary class, any more than anything in the elect could result in their becoming reprobate…” (Calvin’s Institute III, iii, Page 4).


    • Pattonlaw 4 January, 2016 at 5:57 am

      Amen Chris:
      I’ve never understood how forcing some to get saved (or forcing them to will to be saved), and consigning others to damnation could ever be described as “good news.” If it is, I sure don’t want want to hear any “bad news.”

      Truth is, Calvinism is another “gospel.”


    • Jason Harris 14 July, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      You seem to feel that God’s sovereignty and man’s will are an either/or proposition. One or the other. Scripture doesn’t.
      Calvin believed that man had a will and used it to reject God. Scripture teaches this also.

    • Rick 15 July, 2016 at 12:45 am

      Hello to the other side of the world:
      Calvin never called it “compatiblism,” but I take it that’s what you think Calvin meant. The parable of the frog and the scorpion is the best parable to explain compatiblism. “Why did you sting me? Now we will both die.” “Because I’m a frog.”

      You and I don’t disagree over the means of salvation. We only disagree over the scope of the call. It takes the breath of the Almighty. Job 32:8 NKJV. Scripture does not teach us that breath is in any way limited or targeted. All men everywhere are called to repentance. That’s because in God’s eyes we are worth “more than many sparrows.” My prayer is that you will one day come to appreciate why our Savior uttered those very words. Sovereignty doesn’t even begin to explain the love of Christ, my friend. Not even close.

  18. Rick 15 July, 2016 at 12:46 am - Reply

    “Because I’m a scorpion.”

  19. Brian 7 November, 2016 at 3:47 am - Reply

    Jason, are u not familiar with the T.U.L.I.P. Acrostic? T=Total Depravity/Inability; U=Unconditional Election; L=Limited Atonement; I=Irresistable Grace and P=Perseverence of the Saints?

    Many men, John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, are deeply routed in this false theology and are leading many people astray. They believe God has chosen to save some and to force others to go to hell. I’m neither a Calvinist nor an Armenian, and I’m also a huge critic of BJU. The theology doesn’t need reformed, but the strict and legalistic rules and judging people who don’t keep them need reformed.

    • Jason Harris 8 November, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      Yes, Brian, I’m familiar with TULIP. Clearly, you aren’t. Because to say that John Piper, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul believe that “God has chosen to save some and to force others to go to hell” is simply not true. I can only believe the best and assume you’re disturbingly ignorant on the topic.

  20. Chris 22 December, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Jason, if you are familiar with T.U.L.I.P then you know that Calvin believed that God chose some to hell and some to heaven. Piper and others might not believe this, but then, are they Calvinist? It is amusing, those that call themselves Calvinists do not even hold to what Calvin believed.

    “Who then shall be saved? That is what His sovereign will decides and nothing else. It is purely a matter of the divine sovereign will which, doubtless for good reasons known to God Himself but none of them relative to anything distinguishing one man morally from another, chooses some and rejects the rest. God’s election has nothing to do with foreknowledge except in so far as he foreknows who are to be members of the human race” (Calvin’s Institutes III, xxiii, page 10).

    “Their fate was the direct immediate appointment of God, justified indeed by their life but not in necessary consequence. He might have saved them from their doom as He did in the case of the elect who were no more worthy in themselves to be saved; but that doom was fixed from all eternity and nothing in them could transfer them to the contrary class, any more than anything in the elect could result in their becoming reprobate…” (Calvin’s Institute III, iii, Page


    • Jason Harris 22 December, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      I assume, Chris, that you’re referring to unconditional election. Of course, as in any system of ideology, there are varying understandings of the details. One need not agree with everything Calvin believed about the Doctrines of Grace to be a Calvinist. Indeed Calvin himself never used the TULIP as a means to summarise the distinctives of his theology. I feel this point cannot be stressed enough. That some differ with Calvin on certain elements of HOW the points work out in detail doesn’t mean they aren’t Calvinist; what it means is that they are thinking and seeking faithfulness to Scripture above any man. You seem to think you’ve found a point in which Calvin differs with many Calvinists. Ok. Fine. No big deal.

    • Rick 22 December, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      It’s just a shame that Calvin knew not the love of Jesus. Instead of splitting hairs on how Calvinistic John Calvin was, that ought to be the focus of our concern.

    • Jason Harris 23 December, 2016 at 12:36 am

      We get it, Rick. You disagree with Calvinism. Message received loud and clear.

  21. Rick 23 December, 2016 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Actually Jason, I disagree with John Calvin. “Calvinism” has come to mean many things to many people, which I think even you would admit based on your comments in this thread.

    I just wonder why we are all universally horrified by religious zealots locking believers in a steel cage and setting them on fire, but some among us make allowances and even wink at the same atrocities known to have been threatened, committed, and endorsed by a similar madman in the 16th century? Does such barbarity improve with time? Would anyone reading your blog have the slightest doubt about whether such religious zealots knew anything of the love of Christ? How could they? Why, then, would anyone, revere or venerate the writings of such a madman? There simply must be better hero’s of the faith.

    • Jason Harris 23 December, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      Rick, Comparing Calvin with ISIS is manifestly absurd. If we give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not a morally bankrupt, dishonest, slanderer, we’re left to assume that you just can’t think straight enough to understand the absurdity. Or are too lazy to.

      If you want to put in the effort to understand why your comparison is faulty, you’re welcome to email me and I’ll help you any way I can privately. But if this is just a platform for venting obsessive hatred of Calvin, consider it otherwise.

  22. Chris 23 December, 2016 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    So Jason then you would agree that Calvin was wrong in the foundational truth of the Gospel that God chooses some to heaven and some to hell, That he got it wrong?


    • Jason Harris 24 December, 2016 at 12:24 am

      I have no idea what you believe, what you view to be foundational, or what exactly you think Calvin believed.

      One of the core tenets of the doctrines of grace is unconditional election, or to put it differently, sovereign grace. Calvin and Calvinists all believe in this key doctrine. Seems simple to me.

  23. Chris 24 December, 2016 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Let’s try this again. Do you believe in what John Calvin believed about unconditional election as quoted by his “own words” that God selects some for heaven and some to Hell?

    “Who then shall be saved? That is what His sovereign will decides and nothing else.” – John Calvin


  24. Rick 24 December, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Jason. You well know that John Calvin did indeed pursue the deaths of those with whom he disagreed. He did so out of misguided religious zealotry. It is no less offensive because he did it in the name of Christ than it is for those who commit similar atrocities in the name of their faith. If you were honest (instead of piously accusing others of being dishonest) you would acknowledge Calvin’s grievous sins instead of trying to make allowances or excuses for him. Only someone who was morally bankrupt would attempt to defend the indefensible. Don’t be that guy Jason. You and I can disagree and remain civil. Just don’t pretend you’re not aware of Calvin’s inexcusable atrocities. I am neither ignorant nor unread, so I know as well as you how those who share your theology have tried to justify Calvin’s actions. Even Piper admits that Calvin was morally bankrupt.

  25. Jason Harris 26 December, 2016 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    @Chris, Of course I believe in unconditional sovereign election. And no, that does not require me to believe in double predestination. And the fact that Calvin did or didn’t isn’t particularly relevant.

    @Rick, I’ve never denied Calvin’s role in those deaths. Nor do I now. Nor did I call you dishonest. If you’ll read carefully, you’ll note that I made a point of NOT assuming you are dishonest. But your representation of these deaths ignores that they were legal executions, that Calvin acted in his civil role, and that Calvin was one of many actors. As noted, I’m happy to discuss privately if you can keep it succinct. This post demonstrates exactly what I DID assume about you and that is sloppy, lazy thinking.

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