Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mark Cahill's Calvinism Critique Weighed And Found Wanting (Part 1)

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?



  1. Thanks for the reasoned response, brother.

  2. Thank you, sir. Great response from someone who actually does their homework. Grace and peace to you!!!

  3. I really appreciate your response to Mr. Cahill's critique. The content and the graciousness with which it was delivered. My experience has been that most of those that make a stand against Calvinism do so with an attitude of arrogance and sarcasm, as if they seemingly have this carnal need to say, basically, "I'm right, and you all are wrong." There is a way to address "in house" differences within The Body, and it is almost the exception when somebody does this with the gentleness that you have.

  4. "most of those that make a stand against Calvinism do so with an attitude of arrogance and sarcasm" lol you guys are a joke. I think George Whitefield's comment about John Wesley applies to Mark Cahill and we would do well to examine which part of Marks "bad" theology drives him to be so radically obedient to Christ. James 1:22

    1. How can you say he is "radically obedient" when he clearly misquotes Dr. Sproul and misrepresents what he actually wrote. Is this not a lie? Is that not a sin? To take someone so clearly out of context, is simply wrong. The fact is, if he was actually arguing from scripture only, it would be one thing, but he fails to rely solely on scripture but takes up his concept of human "freedom" which is not actually in the Bible. How can anyone be "free" when they are rotten to the core with sin? All anti-Calvinists conveniently have no answer to the fact that we are DEAD in sin. This is not a political discussion, but a Christian one and therefore must follow rules laid out in the Bible. Calling people pejorative names not based on fact is a deviation from those rules.

  5. It seems that blatantly misrepresenting someone's views as Mr Cahill did with Mr Sproul's quote is hardly being obedient to Christ. Certainly Mr Cahill read the sentences he left out of Sproul's quote and conciously chose to leave them out and pervert Mr Sproul's views to support his (Mr Cahil's) own views. I find that disgusting.

    I was trying to find a new pastor to listen to while I work, as I try to have a variety of men to listen to, and heard Mark Cahill recomended. I will not be listening to him.

    Thank you Mr Dodson.

  6. Obviously I am a few months behind when this all happened. Anyone know if Mark Cahill has repented yet? I was literally heartbroken to hear his response to other brothers in Christ. Thank you for this clear, kind, loving response to his article.

  7. Sit there and delight in God not loving everybody (against the word of God) and God not wanting everyone to be saved (against the word of God), but you are going to have to answer to God for distorting His gospel. You are preaching a false gospel and are in trouble because you not only are sinning and need to repent, but you are in deception and need to come out of it. Our belief is based on simply believing what God actually says; yours requires all these feats of explaning what God _actually_ means when He says what we believe! You are ensnared in a false belief so you will spread a false gospel, and that includes those who are saved, but like the foolish Galatians, have accepted something false. Saved or unsaved, it is a good thing that God doesn't want any to perish, and that so many of the promises of the gospel are to all or whosoever. Just believe God rather than Calvin, etc. Calvin, as an unrepentant murderer, did not know God and could not interpret scripture in the light of God, because he wouldn't have had the Spirit of God to guide him. God wants all to have the real thing, even you.

  8. Calvin says that God, for his good pleasure, takes delight in sending the innocent to hell. That belief is eroding your ability to turn and believe Him; it is a true, demonic stronghold, and demons are going to fight your breaking away from it to believe the truth. That is why it is so wonderful that it is what you are fighting against that is true, but you'll have to humble yourselves and commit your belief to it. To what Calvin says is God's good pleasure, the true and living God says, As I live, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, ...

    (KJV) Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

    "For why will ye die?" Calvinism has abundant answers to that, but they are all denials of what God says. So, it is a false teaching and when we get ensnared in a false teaching we need to humble ourselves and turn to God. That is why it is so good that all means all and whosoever means whosoever; that means that He does love us and wants to restore us. While we are believing Calvinism, demons are whispering deep in our souls that God does not love "them," then it is us. What a joy to discover that He wants all those who labor and are heavy-laden to turn to Him, because that's what demonic strongholds like this do to you: lie to you and bind you with heavy burdens, then try to get you to give up hope and die. Not so God, who loves you.

  9. Yes, the fact that Jesus told us to go unto all the world, "every creature," and preach the gospel is enough reason to do it. If it was Muhammed who said it, it would not be enough reason for those of us who trust Jesus. If Jesus, as you say, preselected those who would believe in Him and those who would not be allowed to bellieve in Him, but told you to preach the gospel to every creature as if it was true for every creature you'd be preaching to, but it is not true for some and even most of the people he told you to tell it to, he would be a deceiver; he'd be a liar. Don't you see that to believe that makes Him a liar, and He is not a liar! We are constantly being propagandized that God is a liar, anyway, and we sometimes give ear to that more than we intended to. So, why not believe as if God means what He says and is not a liar? If it implies a lie, it is a lie. It doesn't have to be an outright false statement to be a lie. The devil whispers that God is a liar, but God neither states a lie nor does He imply a lie! Listen, take it from those of us who were ensnared in this convoluted evil teaching and escaped to the trustworthy, loving, righteous God and were restored. Our faith in Him was restored, and we _know_ He is more righteous than this! We _trust_ Him, because He truly can be trusted! This is a demonic stronghold, no matter how orthodox it is supposed to be, and when the scales fall off your eyes, you'll be shocked at how anti-scriptural and threadbare it is.

  10. mcfirefly,

    Some of your arguments are ad hominem attacks against Calvin. But "Calvinists" accept the doctrines of grace because they are in scripture - many have never read Calvin's works. Ironically, it seems like you are the one with a personal vendetta against Calvin while many "Calvinists" aren't even necessarily supporters of him. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that you are wrong in labeling him a murderer, as he tried to stop the execution of Servetus. Furthermore, when Calvin talks about God "taking delight in sending the [guilty] to hell," (remember, there is no one good, no not one), he's referencing verses such as:

    "The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath" psalm 2:2-5

    "but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming" psalm 37:13

    Overall, however, the disagreement comes down to philosophy, especially the philosophy of time. Pugnacious/hyper Calvinists and Arminians often times seem to not understand the complexity of the issues. For example, does predestination get rid of free will? What is free will? Is it possible to have free will if certain choices are excluded? Is "will" different from "free will?" Does predestination occur inside or outside of time? How does God do anything if God is not bound by time? Does God possess free will if He knows what He is going to "do" before he "acts?" Can God willingly choose to not foresee certain events before acting? Can God act before foreseeing an event? Does God not knowing the outcome of a future event contradict His omniscience and/or omnipotence? Does being unbound by time imply a constant unchanging state? How is it possible to be in a constant unchanging state that intervenes in a region with time as a dimension? - are the interventions forever simultaneously occurring? How do time and non-time interact? Is it a will/free will if someone knows that it was going to happen? Is there a complete contradiction between taking an action that someone knows will results in a specific outcome pertaining to a person's choices and those choices still being free? Is something a choice-negating act if there never was a choice to being with? What is choice? Does it exist? Does the fact that a specific outcome will result preclude the real possibility of different outcomes? Is it possible to (mentally) go forward in time and back? Does it make sense to not want something to happen when it is already known that it will happen? It it possible for someone to exist and act in different time layers? Is it knowing if someone knows that they will not know it or what they know they will no longer know?

    Yes, the fact that Jesus told us to go unto all the world, "every creature," and preach the gospel is enough reason to do it.

  11. Just to be abundantly clear, the concepts which Calvin wrote of in his Institutes are not original to him. In effect, he was an Augustinian. Augustine also believed in salvation by grace alone. The ideas that Cahill support are newer. Arminianism was actually a response to the Reformers and was debunked back then as well. There are too many scriptures that clearly state that by grace we are saved, through faith which is a gift of God. We are indeed dead in our trespasses and are forced to wait for a Redeemer to come and dig us up from our graves in order to be saved.
    As for why we preach the Gospel, it is a command, of course, but also it is impossible to know whether someone in our presence is of the Elect or not. To simply avoid preaching, which is God's mode for spreading His message, would be to fail to do our part in His work. Through the "foolishness of preaching" people are saved. But in order for them to respond at all, they first have to be revived. God makes them alive in that moment, gives them the gift of saving faith and they believe and are saved. They thereby receive a form of Non-Justice (not Injustice, mind you) through the application of God's grace, something they do not deserve. Anyone who is not included in the elect receive the justice that we all deserve.
    As Orthodox Christians all know, there is no one who is "innocent", except for Christ. We all are sinners who need a Savior. God has sent that Savior in His son who met all the conditions for our salvation. Men will not and simply CANNOT receive Christ - 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

    If you really want to know who is deceived, then look to the Arminian and that is a tragedy.