Monday, January 09, 2012

Whosoever Means Whosoever

In December I was treated to another complementary copy of a fundamentalist newspaper. On the front page, just about the fold, is an article by the editor entitled “Whosoever Means Whosoever.”

As you might suspect, the article sets out to show a supposed flaw in Calvinism.

Now, I don’t write to convince you of Calvinism. I don’t really care one way or the other.

I write about it here because I know that some, maybe even many, are convinced by the kind of argument that is put forth by this author.

I write to warn us all of bad arguments, and of the danger that comes from the misuse of Scripture.

Even if the author is right in his belief about salvation, he is wrong in how he uses the Bible to try to prove his point. And that’s the worst problem.

Follow me here.

He says, “In an attempt to show themselves more knowledgeable (smarter) than the rest of us …” (Why did he have to define “more knowledgeable” as “smarter” for his readers? Does he not think they are smart enough to know what “more knowledgeable” means?)

But I digress.

He says, “In an attempt to show themselves more knowledgeable (smarter) than the rest of us some folks, including the Calvinists, garb their ideology in the robes of a misguided scholarship. With something that is so clearly defined by the Bible itself, it is necessary for Calvinists to work the academic angle so that the spurious doctrine they espouse will not be immediately dismissed.”

What follows in the article are twelve examples of the use of “whosever” in the Bible (at least the version he uses).

He concludes by saying “Whosoever in the Bible literally means all of us—red, yellow, black, and white; tall, short, rich, poor, young and old alike! … ‘Whosoever’ just simply means ‘whosoever’!”

However, when we take a quick glance at the twelve examples, not a one of them means “all of us” without exception. All the examples (“all” here really means “all”) contain a qualification.

For instance, Proverbs 20:1 speaks of “whosoever is deceived is not wise.” Solomon is not saying “all of us” are not wise. He is saying that the “not wise” people are all of a certain group—those who are deceived. So it is not referring to “all of us—red, yellow, black, and white; tall, short, rich, poor, young and old alike!” It is only talking to that portion of “all of us” who are deceived by wine and strong drink.

Matthew 7:24 speaks of “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine.” Here again, it is not referring to “all of us—red, yellow, black, and white; tall, short, rich, poor, young and old alike!” It is referring that portion of all of us who hear the words of Jesus, and probably here it is not referring to the aural experience, but those who receive and believe Jesus’ words.

And all the examples he gives contain the exact same problem. The “whosoever” is defined by the text of Scripture as a group with certain characteristics.

Yet the author omits from his argument those parts of Scripture which tell us who the “whosoever” is. He fails to read and explain the words in their contexts.

And, on top of that, he doesn’t even accomplish its goal of showing Calvinism unbiblical.

The Bible says in John 3:16 that “whosoever believes will have everlasting life.”

Here, “whosoever” does not refer to “all of us—red, yellow, black, and white; tall, short, rich, poor, young and old alike!” In the verse, it refers to those who believe.

And every Calvinist that I know believes that “whosoever believes” will have eternal life. Every single one of them. No one who believes will be refused eternal life. That is standard Calvinist theology and has been for two thousand years, long before it got Calvin’s name attached to it.

You see, John 3:16 is a promise of actuality: All who believe will have eternal life. Every single one of them.

The question that this author should be addressing is why some people believe and others do not. That, in my opinion, is the real crux of the issue.

So friends, be cautious of spurious scholarship that fails to actually deal with the words of God in his Bible. Strong speech and dogmatic preaching are no substitute for saying what God says, not even when it’s on the front page of a newspaper.

Refuse to be a Calvinist, if you wish. God will let you do that.

But don’t make bad arguments, even in a good cause.

4 comments:

J. Brian McKillop said...

and in his explanation of John 3:16, he writes:

"...the Lord has made possible the salvation of every one of us."

A salvation that is only "possible" is not much of a salvation (speaking as a Calvinist).

Larry said...

Yes, and on top of that, that's not even what John 3:16 is saying. The salvation in John 3:16 is given "whosoever believes," which, IIRC, the Greek reads as "all who believe" or "all believers."

The verse says nothing about "all of us" or about those who don't believe. It says nothing about possibility.

Anonymous said...

I think that you are seeking to twist the word "whosoever". Of course that is constant with the basic tenets of Calvin to seek to twist what the Bible really says.

Larry said...

And how's that, Anonymous? I think all I did was quote the verse and show what it actually says, didn't I?

Are you denying that every single "whosoever" in the article is qualified by showing it to be a specific group of people? So far as I can tell, the "whosoever" in every verse is "all that" meet a particular qualification, such as "all that believe" or "all that are deceived" or "all that hear." What about those who don't believe? Are they part of the whosoever in John 3:16?

My understanding of the basic tenets of Calvinism is to take Scripture for what it says. I am not aware of any place where I twist what the Bible says. Do you have an example in mind?