Matthew 22:2-10 (see also Luke 14:23; Romans 11:15-22)
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, “Tell those who have been invited, ‘Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.’” But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
Steven Hitchcock: “Would a Calvinist portray the king in this way, which is to portray the Father inviting people to the wedding feast and being rejected? Where is the Effectual Call? The sovereignty of the king is being undermined for those whom he has invited have refused to come! A Calvinist would say that this is an impossibility, that Jesus should portray the Father in this manner. But Jesus does portray the Father as One Who genuinely calls sinners that nevertheless reject Him. The heart of the parable is the strangest thing to a Calvinist.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.270, emphasis mine)
Question: Who is being invited?
Answer: Is it only Calvinism’s elect? The invitation carries the impression that it is indiscriminate, and the offer itself shows that there is something waiting for all who are invited. If you compare that to the Gospel invitation, then there is atonement waiting for all whom you invite to salvation. That would effectively eliminates the Calvinist doctrine of a Limited Atonement. The result would be a provisional atonement. In other words, the atonement has been made, but only those who believe in Jesus can take part in what is provided. On Judgment Day, the lost will realize the full extent of what they’ve squandered, but according to Calvinism, they haven’t squandered anything because they didn’t have a atonement to begin with. For them, they are just the losers of predestination, which for Calvinists is ok, as long as the bottom line of old number one is protected. Calvinists won’t like hearing that, but in reality, do Calvinists really care about the alleged, non-elect?
Question: Are there billions that God doesn’t want in Heaven?
Answer: If that is speaking of the souls that have died in a state if unrepentance, then yes, but if that is speaking of people that are alive today, and God allegedly doesn’t want in Heaven, then why is He commanding that they be invited? To a Calvinist, it would have to be because, mixed in, are Calvinism’s elect, and hence the reason for the indiscriminate offer. But notice that the purpose of the invitation was not to collect Calvinism’s elect, but for the purpose of God’s house being full. So the Calvinist explanation doesn’t align with God’s stated purpose for the calling, as Luke 14:21-24 states: “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “The invitation is for all to be present (this is clearly a statement that the person putting on the feast desires for all people to be there; the “feast” is a biblical symbol of the eternal state, the great and eternal celebration of God and His people). The parable does not discuss the sufficiency/efficiency distinction made by Calvinists, but does in fact discuss the desire for all to be present, versus the Calvinist position that the desire is only for the preselected elect to come, which is not only absent from the text but is also contradicted by the language of the parable.”
The theme of this parable is that the “king” is
God the Father and “his son” is Jesus Christ.
Since the king indiscriminately invites all, that is,
“as many as you find,” doesn’t that presuppose that
all have something to available to be received?
Is the king a “failure” since most of the invitees
declined their invitation to the dinner that was
prepared for them?
In this parable, you have the elements of free-will
and a gracious God who offers salvation to all.
There is no hint of a Limited Atonement, or an
Irresistible Grace or an Unconditional Election.
The king is depicted in a way that is repugnant to
Calvinists since the king allows his plans to be
thwarted. You can fit John 3:16 into this parable,
but I cannot see how you can fit Calvinism into
John Calvin: “But if he did not spare the natural branches, the same vengeance awaits us today if we do not respond to His call. But the supper prepared for us will not be lost; God will summon other guests.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol.II, James and Jude, pp.108-109, emphasis mine)
“His call” for what? An atonement that was never provided? How can you say, “come to Christ,” if there is no Christ to come to, since He never died for them? That’s why the atonement has to be a provision for all. In contrast, an offering compatible with Calvinism would instead have to be generic, such as: If you are one of the elect, you have a Supper available to you. You wouldn’t be able to say that Jesus died for their sins. You would instead have to say that Jesus died for sin, not necessarily yours, unless you are one of the elect.
John Goodwin: “In these passages, this great supposed enemy to the universality of redemption by Christ, clearly supposeth, or affirmeth rather, the same to be a truth. He expressly affirmeth that God provided a table of entertainment for those who rejected it and never came unto it, and supposeth that the ‘supper provided’ by God ‘for us,’ may, through our neglect of our invitation hereunto, be withheld from us, and that others may be admitted unto it in our stead. If the death of Christ, and salvation by him, were provided and prepared by God as well for those who reject them as for those who embrace them, doubtless they were intended for all men without exception.” (Redemption Redeemed, p.131, emphasis mine)
Indeed, the scope of the feast is greater than the scope of those who respond.
John Goodwin: “...the marriage feast in the parable was provided by the king, and the oxen and fatlings, here spoken of, killed not only for those who upon their invitation were persuaded to come and partake of them, but as well, and with equal, if not with more especial intentions on the king’s part, for those also who never came to taste of them. Consequently, the death of Christ, signified by the oxen and fatlings slain, and the blessedness accruing unto the children of men hereby, signified by the feast itself, were equally meant and intended by God for those who perish and for those who are saved, and consequently for all men, without exception of any.” (Redemption Redeemed, p.130, emphasis mine)
One Calvinist describes his view of Arminianism: “It’s like Christ crossing His fingers on the cross and saying ‘Gee I really hope they choose me! I really hope this works!’”
I see the Calvinist remark as poking fun of the God described by Jesus in the “Parable of the Wedding Feast.” After all, if God does carry about His dominion in such a manner as the Wedding Feast invitation, and if God sees value in providentially governing in such a manner as condescending to man with an offer of the Gospel, then I can’t see how making fun of it would be a good idea.