Bible Verses that Simply Can’t Mean What They Say

Elder Eric of Tominthebox News Network reports the following:

Asbury Theological Seminary has published a statement that it hopes will assist evangelical churches fend off the increasing threat posed by Calvinism. Asbury, which according to its website “is rooted in the Wesleyan-Arminian theological tradition,” firmly stands against Reformed Theology. In order to stress this point, the faculty recently published a small pamphlet entitled, “72 Bible Verses that Simply Can’t Mean What They Say.”

The report goes on to list these 72 verses.

Not sure whether to believe this one? I’m sure I don’t.

But I can offer the following scoop:

In response to the statement from Asbury Theological Seminary, a spokesman for Tominthebox Reformed Calvinist Theological Seminary issued the following statement:

We are very concerned that our brethren in the Wesleyan-Arminian theological tradition have issued such a long list of “Bible Verses that Simply Can’t Mean What They Say”. We do not accept that any of these verses don’t mean what they say.

But we agree that there are some Bible verses which simply can’t mean what they say. We are currently working on a full list of these verses, but for the moment we will offer just one such verse as a sample:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Clearly this verse cannot mean what it says, for as good Reformed Calvinists we know that God only loves the elect and that eternal life is only offered to these same elect people.

For some reason Elder Eric dissociated himself from these comments, but as I pointed out elsewhere Calvin himself would not have accepted his arguments.

Meanwhile Doug Chaplin has this irreverent thought (his words) about the following verse, John 3:17:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world — he’s going to have a church to do that.

10 thoughts on “Bible Verses that Simply Can’t Mean What They Say

  1. Peter,

    Thank you for directing me to this resource. As someone who has found the Reformed viewpoint lacking, I was amused to read your post. While the original post is cute and funny, there are clearly verses in the Bible that don’t mean what they say (e.g. Genesis 9:6) and Reformed persons have done mental gymnastics to ignore the plain meaning of some verses as well (e.g. Matthew 5:39 or Ezekiel 18:20.)

    While I have no problem making a good-spirited joke at someone’s beliefs, I would be surprised if this same resource would run a post on verses that Calvinist ignore. For that matter, the post that insinuates that Arminians are in any way related to Nazis is offensive not only to morality and the memory of the Holocaust but reason as fascists Dominionists like Gary North and Fred Phelps are Calvinists.


  2. Justin, what you may not realize is that arminians (or any other human for than matter) are no more consistent than Calvinists. Both sides do an excellent job squeezing the text into their little box – and then misunderstand the other side’s perspective on top of that.

  3. Peter:

    I found your blog via TBNN. I’ve been a Christian for just over 6 years now, and have been taught primarily Arminian theology. Recently I’ve been somewhat challenged in my theology, and have begun to explore/research Calvinism more. For a while (perhaps a few weeks) I started to feel as if I was beginning to become a Calvinist, though further research has me going back to my Arminian theology. Anyway…I found it interesting that you commented that Calvin did not believe in Calvinism, at least not the way that it’s taught/explained today. Could you explain more about that, or point me to some resources that do? Thanks a lot 🙂


  4. Mike,

    Amen to that. And what I’m trying to say is, I find it doubtful that they will acknowledge this double-standard. They definitely aren’t legally obliged to do as such, but maybe morally so? Or in the interests of fair play…


  5. Mike and Justin, I agree. But I don’t think TBNN likened Arminians to Nazis, more to Communists if you are thinking of this post, on which I also commented, to show off that my Russian is a little more advanced than Mike’s.

    Rhea, you ask a good question. Unfortunately I can’t give you a simple answer. From some searching I found this article by Paul Helm, which in fact tries to refute the position I am putting forward, but refers to the book by R.T. Kendall which originally suggested that Calvin was not a true Calvinist. See also this article.

  6. Peter,

    I put a comment up on Elder Eric’s 72 verses post regarding his comment about John 3:16. It’s something I have thought about for many years and yes I have children and I put my trust in Jesus.


  7. Naomisu, thanks for your thoughtful comments on the TBNN posts, and for being prepared to join me in the Calvinist lions’ den. I think we see very similarly on many of these issues.

    I am preparing a follow-up post to answer some of the issues raised in that comment thread.

  8. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » John 3:16 and limited atonement

  9. I find it incredibly misleading (if not outright false) to say that Calvin’s view on this makes him not a Calvinist. The standard Calvinist position has always been that God makes the offer to all. Limited atonement isn’t a view about who receives the offer. We’re told to present it to all, so of course it’s to all. It’s hyper-Calvinism that denies this. So a more accurate thing to say would be that Calvin was not a hyper-Calvinist, but of course that’s pretty obvious and not in much need of saying.

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