A "straw man" fallacy is best described in this way (from Wikipedia)...
1.) Person A has position X
2.) Person B disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially-similar position Y
3.) Person B attacks position Y, concluding that X is false/incorrect/flawed
With that in mind...
Well, Mark Cahill has released his "statement" on Calvinism. Mr. Cahill has come under criticism in Reformed street evangelism circles over his behavior regarding his beliefs about Calvinism, which he has--at least up to this point--made clear in private circles but has neglected to share his views publicly.
More information on the consequences of his behavior can be found HERE.
I have blogged about his behavior previously. However, this particular blog will concentrate on Mr. Cahill's statement, which can be found HERE (please read his entire statement before you continue reading this blog).
On a side note, you will notice that this "statement" appears no where on his own website. Why that is is anybody's guess. Feel free to search his SITE and if you find it, let me know so I can correct this blog.
Let me say at the outset that if this "statement" were written by anybody other than a respected leader/teacher in the body of Christ, I wouldn't be responding to this. However, Mark Cahill is a very active teacher/preacher who currently travels cross-country and speaks to churches and church organizations about evangelism. Those who would call themselves "teachers" are duly warned about being judged with "greater strictness" (James 3:1).
Simply put, when Mark Cahill speaks, people listen.
So I am responding to some very serious charges he makes in his statement. I'll stick with the broad strokes as I explain what he has said (you can read his statement in full to get all of the specifics).
To begin with...Mark Cahill is definitely not a Calvinist. He begins his statements with this astute observation...
"Similarly, if you can prove any of the points of Calvinism wrong, than the whole belief system comes tumbling down like a house of cards."
This is true. That being said, the entire doctrine of Calvinism really hinges upon the Biblical teaching of "total depravity," which can be summed up in this verse...
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
(Eph 2:1 ESV)
We are dead in our sins. Every aspect of our lives is tainted with sin/rebellion toward God. This would include our will. Paul is referring to "dead" in the spiritual sense. We are not sick men. We are not blind men. We are not deaf men. We are not spiritually disabled. We are dead men.
But Mark Cahill takes exception to this label of "dead" (a label Paul chooses to describe our spiritual condition)....
"Man is separated from God by his sins, but that in no way means that he cannot repent and believe."
He CAN repent and believe, Mr. Cahill. But he cannot do so without God's work of regeneration. Of course, Mr. Cahill is talking about man in his own natural state.
In Mr. Cahill's paradigm, man is free to either embrace Christ or reject Him. This fact will come back to haunt Mr. Cahill's doctrine (more on that in a bit).
Mark's flawed reasoning rears its ugly head when he makes this statement...
"Men are required to make a choice for God in this lifetime. That is why we are here. Period."
Men DO make a choice concerning God, Mr. Cahill. We have chosen to make Him our enemy through our wicked works (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21).
Why are we here? Ultimately, not to "make a choice for God," but rather to glorify Him, either through our humble confession of Him as Lord, Savior, and King...or through our rejection of Him unto eternal damnation. God is worshipped and glorified as a "just judge" (Psalm 7:11).
Another curious statement from Mr. Cahill....
"How can God judge people that had no ability to repent and believe in Him? The very thought is preposterous."
God's judgment of people has nothing to do with whether they have an "ability to repent and believe or not." This is a major problem of Arminianism; professing Christians who are--perhaps unknowingly--exalting man above God by considering man's innate abilities (whether or not these abilties even exist) over God's sovereign reign over ALL.
Simply put, God's judgment of people has everything to do with our sin. It has everything to do with our lawlessness. God is JUST because God punishes lawbreaking.
"...the soul that sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Rom 6:23 ESV)
What are "wages" but that which is given to people who have rightly earned which is given? What are our "wages?" What have we "rightly earned?"
DEATH, Mr. Cahill. We have earned death for ourselves because of our sin.
And this is what makes God's sovereign choice in election so amazing.
Even though we have rightly earned for ourselves spiritual death, He still reaches down and chooses some to save.
Now we get to a particularly egregious error on the part of Mr. Cahill. He offers this quote from R.C. Sproul (which appears in Sproul's book "Chosen by God")....
“It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the 'elect or chosen ones.' It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case.”
(http://anti-calvinism.blogspot.com/2008/05/quotes.html, citing; R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God, 32.)
Then, based upon this (incomplete) quotation, Mr. Cahill makes the following accusation against Dr. Sproul...
"Even Mr. Sproul knew something isn’t right here. His false view of election then makes him wonder why a loving God would create people that He purposefully damned to hell. It doesn’t make any logical sense. His conscience is getting to him."
(As an aside, whenever you read/hear somebody begin their thought with "why would a loving God....," please remember that their primary concern is their own personal feelings and not the inspired, inerrant word of God...just something to bear in mind)
But wait...let's quote a little more of Dr. Sproul and we will see that Mr. Cahill's characterization of Sproul is fallacious. Indeed, it's so fallacious that one wonders if Mr. Cahill has read anymore of the book than what he has chosen to quote. I will put in bold more of the quote (which Mr. Cahill--quite conveniently--chose to leave out).
"It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of his people, those the Bible calls his 'elect' or chosen ones. It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation, then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case. But we must ask the really tough question: Is there any reason that a righteous God ought to be loving toward a creature who hates him and rebels constantly against his divine authority and holiness? The objection raised by the philosopher implies that God owes his love to sinful creatures."
Now, does that in any way sound like Dr. Sproul knows "something isn't right here?" Does that still sound as though Dr. Sproul's "conscience was getting to him?" It's amazing what a few extra sentences will do.
Sadly, Mr. Cahill is as dangerous in quoting the Holy Scriptures as he is in quoting R.C. Sproul.
He quotes Jesus's preaching in Matthew 4:17 to "repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
He follows that quote with this...
"Who was Jesus talking to here? He was talking to everyone in front of him. Not just the elect, but everybody that was there. Why? Because everyone has the ability to repent: the only question is will they do it or not?"
Mr. Cahill seems to think that we are to preach the Gospel to everybody because "everybody has the ability to repent."
Let me make this clear: The ability of people to repent or not repent has NOTHING to do with why we as Christians are to preach the Gospel.
So why are we as Christians supposed to preach the Gospel?
Because Jesus commanded us to.
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
(Mat 28:18-19 ESV)
And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
(Mark 16:15 ESV)
So the reason that we preach the Gospel to everybody is because Jesus commanded us to preach it to everybody. And God will be glorified either through the acceptance of His message or through the rejection of His message.
What is Mark Cahill's primary reason for preaching the Gospel? Because he thinks that every person has the ability to repent and believe?
Isn't the fact that Jesus commanded us to preach enough of a reason?
TO BE CONCLUDED...