A Critique of the Calvinist Response
By Don Roberts, B.A., M.Div.
The response written by William A. Long, Jr., and published June 8, sought to attribute a unique faith-igniting quality to the rhema (spoken Word) of God. He argued that Cain remained in unbelief because there was no rhema given him. He heard only the sound of Gods voice, not the spiritual truth. Moreover, he asserted that God, by withholding His rhema (and thus His mercy) from Cain, essentially condemned him. These arguments do not stand up to Biblical scrutiny.
In John 12:47-48, the Lord Jesus said, "If any man hear my words (rhema), and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words (rhema), hath one that judgeth him: the word (logos) that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." There are several vital points to be made from this passage, and from the context in which John recorded these words of Christ. The first is that Jesus referred to His own words as rhema that could be rejected. Second, he used the Greek words rhema and logos interchangeably. This destroys the idea that rhema, as opposed to logos, is alone unique in its ability to ignite faith. Jesus disallowed such a distinction. Third, the phrase "If any man hear" is a Greek third class condition, which assumes the condition as unfulfilled with the prospect of fulfillment. In other words, Jesus taught that His rhema was subject to being heard and rejected as well as heard and believed. Fourth, Jesus delivered both rhema and logos to sinners that they might be saved, not condemned.
This issue of condemnation or judgment must be addressed. The writer cited Romans 9 as evidence of Gods arbitrary blinding of the non-elect. Both Paul and John cite the same text in Isaiah, and employ it as evidence of Gods judgment upon unbelievers. It is therefore essential that the two passages be considered together.
In John 12:35-36, Jesus admonished the people: "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not wither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." The light consisted of His personal presence as well as the gracious rhema that proceeded from His mouth. According to Jesus, His illuminative light was sufficient to ignite faith in the hearers. In His appeal was a warning of darkness to come if that light was rejected. In 12:37, John tells us that the many miracles performed to substantiate the rhema could not produce a faith response in them. In 12:39, John said they could not believe. They could not because they would not! The warning of impending darkness had come to pass. Their damnation was sealed! The Father had imposed the ultimate judgment upon those who rejected the rhema of His Son. Jesus exclaimed, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often would I have gathered thy children and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Mathew 23:37-38). He would, but they would not! The same can be said of Cain.
Comparing scripture with scripture will lead the intellectually honest man to conclude that Paul and John had the same mindset, and that interpreting Romans 9 without the wisdom of John 12 results in an erroneous Calvinistic interpretation as exemplified by Mr. Long. Permanent spiritual blindness, as a judgment from God, is reserved for those who reject Gods rhema. The teaching that Cain heard the sounds apart from the spiritual truth is untenable, and represents God as disingenuous in His offer. The Lord gave Cain everything he needed to respond in faith, but he would not!