Friday, August 27

Quiz Answers, Question 2

Last week I posted a little quiz and promised answers. So far I've only posted answers to question 1, but now I'd like to make my way through question 2. So here's the question:
2. Calvinists believe that the Holy Spirit
  • a. is always irresistible.
  • b. can sometimes move people to sin.
  • c. is always irresistible for the elect.
  • d. is the only being doing any work at all in the sanctification of the elect.
  • e. b, c, and d.
  • f. none of the above.
The answer is "f. none of the above". Irresistible grace deals specifically with the effectual call of the Spirit to salvation. This work of the Spirit will never be resisted; however, at other times, the promptings of the Spirit may be resisted, both in the elect and non-elect. Two quotes from the Westminster Confession:
IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved... (Chapter X, Article IV)
and
II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (Chapter XIII, Articles II and III)
The first quote deals specifically with the non-elect, who never come to Christ, but still may have some "common operations of the Spirit". The scripture references given in support of the first quote (Matthew 13:20-21, Hebrews 6:4-5) would make it seem that these "common operations of the Spirit" may include an enlightening of sorts to the truth of the gospel, which is then resisted.

The second quote has to do with the sanctification of the elect, and suggests that in the work of sanctification, the tugs of the flesh sometimes overcome the promptings of the indwelling Spirit, so that even the regenerated elect sometimes resist the Spirit.

These quotes show why answers a. and c. are wrong. The second quote is probably enough to show answer d. to be wrong as well, indicating, as it does, the cooperation of the Spirit and the regenerate person in sanctification. As to wrong answer b.:
IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men.... yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin (Chapter V, Article IV).
No sin, then, according to the Westminster Confession, can ever be said to have been done at the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Remember that the point of this quiz was to show that certain doctrines being attributed to Calvinism (that Calvinists believed that the Holy Spirit was always irresistible, for instance, or that Calvinists believed that God was the agent of sin) were actually misrepresentations of Calvinism. This is the reason for the appeal for proof to the Westminster Confession and other like documents, for they would be considered systematic formulations of Calvinist belief. It may be true that certain people who call themselves Calvinist (and perhaps rightly so) disagree with these documents on certain points, but they nevertheless give us a general idea of what most Calvinists believe, particularly in the area of soteriology.

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