Thanks for visiting my site! You can read about its purposes below and also view the “The Good News” page to read about the gospel and hear it preached as the good news that it truly is.
The “Table of Contents” menu contains a structured presentation of my material in 13 chapters. Despite, or perhaps due to a valid criticism of my writing style – repetition – I hope this will serve the reader to gain a command of the basic arguments I give. I am working, albeit slowly, on fuller treatments of several basic doctrines in this controversy (i.e., grace, faith, election) which will include interpretations of the relevant biblical texts.
There are also “Papers,” Posts” and “Open Letters” that may be of interest.
I welcome substantive mature discussion, comments and critiques about any of the material on this site.
This site has two purposes.
The first is to tell readers about the “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ. The New Testament Greek word euangelion means “good news.” It is the meaning behind our English word gospel. The content and nature of the gospel message is good news. You can read about it here.
The second purpose is to defend the gospel as the “good news.” The site’s name, “goodnewsapologetics,” links “good news” with the word “apologetics” which is from the Greek apologia meaning to present a reasoned defense of a position. Thus, this site strives to provide a reasoned defense of the gospel message as the “good news” that it is.
Defend it against what, you ask? There are many philosophies, religions and worldviews that mitigate against the Christian gospel, but this site will focus on the soteriological and theological differences between the Calvinist and non-Calvinist interpretations of the Scriptures.
I submit that these Calvinist and non-Calvinist interpretations present two mutually exclusive soteriologies that entail two mutually exclusive gospel messages. As such, they both cannot be the truth of Scripture or the gospel. They are very different soteriologies with very different implications as to whether or not the content of the gospel message remains “good news.”
Calvinism is characterized by what I and many philosophers, theologians and laymen consider insurmountable logical and moral difficulties of incoherence, inconsistency and contradiction. Calvinism has been thoroughly critiqued and found wanting by those of us who take logical and moral coherence on board in our hermeneutic. When all is said and done, the essential difference between a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist has to do with whether logical reflection and moral intuition are considered interpretively significant or not. We both hold to Scripture’s divine inspiration. It is, therefore, the sole authority for Christian faith and practice. We also recognize the importance of hermeneutical factors like the historical context, literary genre and context, original languages, etc., and therefore acknowledge that the grammatical-historical methodology is essential to proper interpretation. But when Calvinists insist that a deterministic definition of divine sovereignty is the result of a proper exegesis of the biblical text and therefore always to be defended as such, then the problematic logical and moral entailments that are a direct result of this theistic determinism must be deemed by the Calvinist as hermeneutically insignificant. The substantial problems raised by logical reflection upon God’s sovereignty defined deterministically, along with the difficulties such a view generates given our moral intuitions, are ultimately not considered interpretively significant when inquiring into whether or not the Calvinist has properly interpreted Scripture. For the Calvinist, these problems cannot and do not serve as reliable indicators for determining whether or not they have correctly understood the text in this regard. They claim the Bible teaches their deterministic doctrine of sovereignty and “doctrines of grace” regardless of the logical and moral incoherence they generate. Hence, for the Calvinist, logical and moral coherence ultimately hold no hermeneutical weight in determining the validity of one’s interpretive conclusions. If the Calvinist insists that their deterministic definition of divine sovereignty is the correct interpretation of Scripture regardless of the fact that it spawns interpretive incoherence, inconsistency and contradiction, then the Calvinist is saying that logical and moral reasoning cannot be utilized to determine the validity of an interpretation. We can see that this raises the question as to whether or not logical and moral coherence are indispensable to good interpretation and whether or not they are reliable indicators of the validity or invalidity of a proposed interpretation.
The thesis I will defend is that sound biblical interpretation requires coherence, consistency and non-contradiction. Interestingly enough most Calvinists would agree, yet they will abandon this position when it comes to their interpretations of the eternal decree, sovereignty, unconditional election and predestination. It can be definitively demonstrated that their interpretations produce incoherence, inconsistency and/or contradiction with other biblical truths and experiential realities. At this point they will claim that their exegetical conclusions and doctrinal claims are incomprehensible and a divine mystery and that it is the inadequacy of fallen human reason that is the cause of our logical and moral bewilderment. I submit, rather, that the problem lies in their interpretation of Scripture. Simply put, the Calvinist is misinterpreting the relevant texts.
In effect, the Calvinist is legitimizing and operating under a hermeneutic of incoherence. I submit that this Calvinist hermeneutic of incoherence is exegetically, theologically and intellectually untenable. In contrast, a hermeneutic of coherence is an exegetically, theologically and intellectually responsible hermeneutic. This site will provide the evidences and arguments for those statements in a responsible, respectful and scholarly manner. I will also demonstrate the positive and negative implications these different soteriologies have upon the gospel message and argue that a non-Calvinist soteriology and gospel message coherently accounts for more of the biblical witness whereas Calvinism does not and cannot. The non-Calvinist position has the advantage of explanatory power and explanatory scope. Although coherence alone is not a sufficient condition for determining the validity of interpretative claims, it is a necessary condition. The same applies to any non-Calvinist position. Yet the advantage of these positions is that they do not suffer from the incoherence, inconsistency and contradiction evident in Calvinism. It is because Calvinism is found wanting in these ways that we can be sure that it is not the teaching of Scripture.
Incoherence, inconsistency and contradiction are inherent in Calvinism because of its determinism. This determinism is in contradiction to the overwhelming testimony of Scripture to substantial, meaningful human freedom, personal and moral responsibility and culpability, contingency, possibility, potentiality and divine judgment. This is reason enough for rejecting it. The admonition of I. A. Richards is in order here when he states, “We cannot have it both ways, and no sneers at the limitations of logic…amend the dilemma.”
Renewing the life of the mind in the evangelical church, holding each other accountable to intellectual and moral integrity in biblical interpretation and exposition, and adhering to admonitions like those of Richards, so as to come to a consensus on what constitutes a truly sound, evangelical hermeneutic, are all essential for resolving this age-old controversy.
 I. A. Richards, Principles of Literary Criticism, chap. xxv as found in C. S. Lewis, Miracles, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1960), 12.
27 thoughts on “”
Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this important topic. I can sense your conviction through your writing.
I’ll be looking forward to see how God will use this website to educate others.
Hi Susan! Thanks for your comment and observation on the importance of this topic. Please pray that the truth of the gospel would change lives and that God would bless these efforts as he sees fit.
Best wishes for your endeavor. This is an important topic that too many Christians fail to wrestle with. Clearly, both views cannot be true and truth does matter.
Hi Rich, Thanks for your reply and your encouraging comments. They are much appreciated!
Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. I am feeling God stirring me to teach the Gospel and my studies have intensified. But yesterday, I discovered Calvinism. I discovered that prominent “teachers” of the gospel, that I have admired, are Calvinists. My entire view of God was immediately challenged and I had to wrestle with the idea that maybe Jesus died on the cross so that only the elect could be saved. I had to consider that God creates some people to burn in hell for eternity. I looked at my own son and mourned, thinking that God could possibly choose this path for him.
Thankfully, I found Ryken vs. Ryken and the same inconsistencies that I felt were articulated in your writing, Mr. Marcy. My heart and soul are at ease again because I have no doubts whatsoever. Calvinism does not seem to be “good news” at all. Thank you for defending God and Jesus. I feel angry that He is being slandered in this way, in the idea that Jesus only died for a few and that we have no choice in the matter to follow Jesus.
God bless you, Mr. Marcy! Thank you, Lord, for the Kingdom of Heaven which is open to all!
Hi Randy, Thanks so much for sharing this with me. I’m so encouraged and glad that the Ryken article helped you to understand the truly “good news” of the gospel! The gospel is central to the purpose and power of Christian teaching and ministry. I rejoice that you now have a biblical understanding of the “good news” to teach and proclaim to everyone freely and genuinely. And your observation about the implications of this matter for our view of God is insightful. It has direct bearing upon how we understand the character and nature of God. The Ryken post was taken from my “Chapter 11 – Examples of Calvinist Incoherence, Example 26” in my “Table of Contents.” You may want to read through these chapters to get more information about Calvinism and the problems I and many others see with it. If you have any questions or other comments please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks again for reading on my site and God bless you in your learning and teaching ministry. – Steve
Wow, Mr. Marcy. You are an incredibly gifted writer. Yes, and Amen to everything you are saying about the errors of Calvinism!! Do you have a podcast or youtube channel? If not, you should! More people need to hear what you have to say. May God bless you, sir!
Hi Carrie, Thanks so much for your kind remarks and positive feedback. I don’t have a podcast or YouTube channel. I’m not that tech savvy! Barely proficient with my website! But thank you again for your encouraging words. Hopefully positive feedback like yours will drive more people to my site. God bless you as you rejoice in God’s love for you and the knowledge of the Gospel as truly “GOOD news.” – Steve
Well done, Steve!😇
So thankful for your website, Mr. Marcy. I was a 5-point Calvinist for a few years, thinking that there are no biblically sound alternatives to that systematic. I stumbled into some wonderful non Calvinist teachers over the past few months and discovered how truly amazing God’s grace and love are.
I’d love to find a book that lovingly confronts and corrects Calvinism that I could give our pastors and friends. What books would you recommend?
Stasia, Thank you for visiting my website and for your word of appreciation. I am glad you are realizing that there are sound non-Calvinist alternative interpretations to those that Calvinists put forth regarding the relevant texts in this controversy. As you know, the non-Calvinist interpretations assure every sinner that the saving grace and love of God applies to them! That’s truly “good news!” Regarding a book recommendation, I refer you to the annotated bibliography on my website. There you will find several books marked with an asterisk. Those are good introductory texts of the type you are looking for. A good one to hand out to pastors and friends is Austin Fischer’s “Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey In and Out of Calvinism”. You can read my comments on this book in the bibliography. Another of my favorites is by Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell and is titled, “Why I Am Not A Calvinist.” You can also read my comments on this one in the bibliography. Note that there is a companion volume to it titled, “Why I Am Not An Arminian” by Peterson and Williams. I recommend this book also for a logical and theological exercise of compare and contrast. Perhaps a small group would like to engage with both books to see which theological point of view shows itself to be more biblical and philosophically sound. But “Why I Am Not A Calvinist” can be read on its own. Hope this is helpful. Thanks again for visiting my site! Sincerely, Steve
I just finished the first 6 chapters, I think it’s a great job. If I had to indicate an area for improvement, it is because I find that there are certain ideas that are repeated too often.
I also just saw that “Example 21 – John Piper on the Gospel and the“ Royal Decree ”of“ Your Sovereign ”” is not accessible.
Thank you for your work.
Hi vifouz, Thanks for reading regularly through the chapters on my site and for your encouraging compliment. Thanks also for your feedback about how I repeat certain ideas to often. I appreciate the constructive criticism. And I agree. It is something I need to work on. The editing process is one way I try to eliminate repetition. But then again there is an advantage to some repetition – it reinforces learning the material. But I agree, too much repetition is not good. I feel I have provided a thorough enough critique of Calvinism in the 13 chapters presently on the site. In the future, Lord willing, I plan to include chapters I have “waiting in the wings” in which I examine the specific biblical texts related to the controversial doctrines like election, grace, faith, love, etc. and provide the non-Calvinist interpretations of these texts and doctrines. But for now I’m presently editing the examples in chapter 11. I am working on example 15, so if you get ahead of me you may find some rough syntax and semantics! I will check out why example 21 is not accessible. Thanks for letting me know. And thanks again for reading and for your comments. Sincerely, Steve
I have finished reviewing all of your work. I have carefully read some chapters, and briefly skim over others.
I find your work very convincing. It contains all the serious argumentative elements that one might expect (except answers to the proof-text of Calvinism, and perhaps the proposal of an alternative definition to certain concepts. You do it for sovereignty, but little for the election. or predestination for example. But it seems you are working on it.)
However, I repeat the problem : there is really too much repetition. Both between chapters (you write “I talk about this in Chapter X” but you repeat just after a significant part of what you say in Chapter X) and sometimes within a single chapter (you quote extensively several authors who say exactly the same thing from an argumentative point of view). I might surprise you, but I think you should be able to divide your book size by 2.
By copying your content into Word to read it in my Kindle, I reach 1000 pages. If you got to 500 pages your book would be much more accessible.
My criticism is intended to be constructive, as I told you, in terms of content your book is really excellent.
If I had to recommend only one chapter, it would be chapter 8 as it seems to me to contain a summary of the most important elements of your work.
I also enjoyed “Piper on James 4: How Exegesis Devoid of Coherence Distorts the Meaning of a Text” which seems to me to be a very effective demonstration by concrete example.
Hi vifouz, So sorry I haven’t seen your latest response until today. I don’t know why it didn’t flag you response in my “Comments” section in WordPress. Anyway, thanks again for reviewing my work – this time all of it! Even skimming over some chapters that must have been a grueling exercise! 🙂 Your criticisms are well-taken. I agree that there is too much repetition, and without it there would be half the amount of pages. I will have to work on that in the future, but I wanted to edit at least once what I presently have posted. I have just finished editing chapter 11. I regret that recently I haven’t been able to give myself to working on the site a much as I would like. But after editing chapters 12 and 13 I plan to tackle more of what you and others are probably looking for – an exegetical and theological assessment of the particular passages at issue in this controversy. There I will deal with election, predestination, grace, the love of God, etc. I have this material waiting to be refined, but at this time I can refer you to the bibliography for works that treat these issues.
This controversy also has implications for Christian apologetics and whether the basic arguments lose their effectiveness given theistic determinism. I would like to cover those issue too in the future. I’m hoping I can give more time to the site in the months ahead. Thanks again vifouz for your compliments on my work and for pointing folks to sections that might be most helpful. Sincerely, Steve
You might profit from discovering more about I. A. Richards rather than quoting him from secondary sources. He planted the ideological seeds of deconstructionism with Derrida by distancing authorial intent from the text. Both Lewis and you quote him out of context. He is not the best author to quote for the point you seek to make about Calvinism and non-Calvinism.
Hi Floyd, Thanks for reading on my site. Your point is well taken. True, I haven’t read Richards himself, but since I was quoting him I felt I had to find out something about him. So, a while back I did some reading about him on Wikipedia – a sufficient source for basic information on a person like Richards. So yes, there is an irony here. But I still decided to use the quote. For even though the source (Richards) may conflict with what we believe makes for good interpretation, the quote, as I found it in Lewis, still expresses a profound and practical truth which I have tried to show applies to how Calvinists interpret Scripture, think about theology and respond to critiques of their theology. When it comes to attempting to maintain inconsistent or contradictory propositions, regardless of whether we completely agree with the interpretive perspectives and teachings of Richard’s, I think what he said holds true, “We cannot have it both ways, and no sneers at the limitations of logic…amend the dilemma.” Therefore, I use the quote only to make that point, as I think Lewis also used it and felt comfortable doing so. Sincerely, Steve
I was doing a search and landed on one of your articles. I found it interesting that you comment that the page is for the discussion of calvinism and non-calvinism, but not from a point of view of arminianism and non-arminianism. I many read more of your articles in the future, but admit that there is a ton of good Bible teaching available. I 100% agree that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot and does not make room for both Calvinism and Arminianism. Does God make room for free will and the doctrine of election? Of course, He’s God. For me, I can’t get past the thought that someone could believe that they chose God. That would put myself in the place of saving myself and hence blasphemes both the 1st and 2nd commandments. If there was a God that I could choose while I was spiritually dead, then that could only be the Prince of the Power of the Air. Arminianism (for me) is the height of arrogance. Only someone who truly knows that they were destined for Hell with no chance of being saved can fully understand the Gospel. I believe that the Apostle Paul gets this completely….which is why his writings (or I guess the Holy Spirit’s writings) reeks of calvinism. In the end, we may be able to discuss this topic in heaven, but I’m not 100% sure on that, but hope so…..which is why we should always be pointing people back to God’s Word. True believers have His Word, His Spirit and His family…..and that is enough for me.
Matthew 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Hi Randy. Glad you landed on my site, and thanks for commenting. Regarding my use of “non-Calvinist” in my articles, I use that general term because there are many differences among non-Calvinists that I do not want to particularly address on my site. For example. the Arminian and Provisionist soteriologies would be two of those non-Calvinist views, and there are even differences among those who hold to these views. But they all have one thing in common – they are antithetical to Calvinist theological determinism. So “non-Calvinist” is the term I use to refer to any of those theologies that are in direct conflict with Calvinism. I would encourage you to read more chapters from the “Table of Contents” menu and poke around for other articles of interest on the site. I take your next statements to mean you are accepting two mutually exclusive soteriologies with the reasoning that God can “make room” for free will and the doctrine of election – assuming here you are referring to the Calvinist definition of “election” which is “unconditional” and deterministic. As I see it, you ultimately have to decide if God determines someone to do something, then can it also be reasonably said that the person is doing what they do freely? As I wrote to Floyd in a previous comment section, I think what I. A. Richards said holds true, “We cannot have it both ways, and no sneers at the limitations of logic…amend the dilemma.” Also, if there is a real contradiction here, the question becomes whether God, simply because he is God, can establish and legitimize a contradiction. The question becomes whether God is bound to the laws of logic, not because they are an entity outside of himself that he must adhere to, but because they are of his very nature and he cannot violate his own nature. In your further comments I detect more ways of thinking about these issues that are the standard Calvinist responses. I contend these are faulty. Since I address and critique these issues and the Calvinist’s thinking and responses to them on my site, I would encourage you to keep reading, not only the Calvinist literature, but also the best non-Calvinist literature on these matters. You may want to refer to my “Bibliography” menu. There you will find some of the better non-Calvinist literature that many Calvinists, due to the insular nature of Calvinism, are simply not aware exists. I think you may appreciate the alternative interpretations of Paul’s letters that demonstrate that his writings do not reek of Calvinism. You should at least know about those interpretations. Thanks again for your comments. Sincerely, Steve
Hi Steve, is there any way to get all the “chapters ” from the table of contents page in print form? Please feel free to email a reply if you’d like.
Hi Ivy, Thanks for your interest in the content on my site. It seems that you can print from my site the same way you print from other MS Word, etc. documents. First, put your mouse cursor at the beginning of the text you want to copy, click your left mouse button, and while holding it down drag the mouse over the text you want to print. It will turn blue. Dragging your cursor to the bottom of the page/screen will scroll quickly through the chapter while highlighting it in blue. When you get to the end (or up to where you want to print), stop dragging the mouse and release the left mouse button. The text should still be highlighted in blue. Right-click anywhere on the blue highlighted text and a menu with the “Print” option will appear. Choose “Print” and your computer’s print function will start up so you can print the highlighted text. If you want to reduce the amount of paper used you can choose double-sided printing if your printer allows for it. You may also just what to highlight certain sections of a chapter since my readers say I too often repeat myself! Which I admit is true! Anyway, you can also use the “Copy” option and put the text in a new Word, etc. document with the font and size you prefer. Hope this helps. Thanks again, Steve
Ivy, P.S. – The above will also work for the “Table of Contents” page if you just want the chapter headings. – Steve
Stephen, Thank you so much for all this content. Is there any way to get a printed paper copy of this? Or get a pdf. version of your writing? Thanks!
Hi David, Thanks for your inquiry. As of yet I haven’t given due consideration to distributing my materials in formats other than on my website. I’d have to think through the implications of handing it out “wholesale” so to speak. Considering the whole, there’s definitely too much for anyone to print – unless a publisher wants to do so for everybody! 🙂 Perhaps when I’ve exhausted all I can say on this topic I’ll revisit how I can accommodate your request. In the meantime, feel free to copy and paste any chapters or sections you find interesting and useful. My goal is to get as many people as possible to be reading about and thinking through the problems with Calvinism and to embrace a more biblical soteriology. Thanks for reading on my site. I’m glad you think the material is worth having. Sincerely, Steve
Okay. Thank you! I appreciate all that you’ve done here.
Individual papers can be printed or else saved in PDF format by right-clicking, then Print and then choosing ‘Save as PDF’ instead of a physical printer.
Hi Carl, Thanks for helping David (and others) with their question on how to get the material into a PDF file. Much appreciated! ~ Steve