2nd Corinthians 5:11

2nd Corinthians 5:11 (see also Acts 26:27-29)
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

To a Calvinist, for God to “persuade” is simply the means upon which God uses to save all those who are of the Calvinisticly elect, and coincidentally, who are already, preemptively Born Again anyway. So, exactly what the preemptively Born Again elect, who are in the good graces of the Father from before the foundation of the world, are being saved from, is not exactly clear. It’s not as if they are on the path to Hell. Nevertheless, one significant problem remains: Pursuasion has nothing to do with the Calvinistic, regenerative process. In Calvinism, the heart of the pre-selected person is removed, and a new heart is implanted. So in Calvinism, it’s not about God pursuading the old, unregenerate heart, but merely summoning the new, regenerated heart. So exactly what persuasion is going on, in this instance, is another thing that is unclear. Conversely, with Arminianism, the Holy Spirit pursuades those of the old, unregenerate heart, in which Jesus said to Paul: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. (Acts 26:14) The Holy Spirit had been goarding the old, unregenerate heart, or else, Saul was kicking against Irresistible Grace, which by definition is impossible. So, we are left with the conclusion that the grace of the Holy Spirit was resistible, because he had, in fact, been resisting it, though nonetheless “hard” because men have to resist the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8)

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians outlines the likely Calvinist interpretation:It is as though, once quickened, they have no other recourse but to accept His way in their lives. Free will is no longer a player in any decision-making with respect to their salvation. Paul’s use of ‘persuade’ merely means that he should lay out a logical case, which for the elect, will be an acceptable argument, assisting the Holy Spirit by breaking down rational defenses, whereas for the non-elect, the persuasive argument simply makes no rational sense and without the Spirit’s drawing, and hence they remain reprobate.”  (SEA)

Indeed, that would likely be the Calvinist explanation, though the meaning of “persuade” is significantly eroded, since the evangelist would persuading someone upon which it is irresistible to reject. In other words, that’s not much of a persuasion.




















Generally, persuasion means to persuade between one or more possibilities, whereas with Calvinistic persuasion of the irresistibly regenerated elect, there really is only one possibility. This is why most Calvinists do not speak of wooing the elect, but of merely preaching the Gospel, and if they are elect, they will come. This is also why many Calvinists do not believe that giving Invitations is even necessary. Here is a perfect example:

Calvinist, James White, writes:Jesus does not seek to ‘woo’ them to a ‘freewill decision,’ nor does He strike up a lengthy invitation hymn and try to overcome their stubborn rejection of truth through an emotional appeal.” (Debating Calvinism, pp.121-122, emphasis mine)

As analogy, how much persuasion is involved in inviting a fan of the New York Giants to accept an all around free trip to the Superbowl in which the Giants are playing? The phrase, twisting one’s arm, does not seem applicable, when you are persuading someone to do something that they are already eager and begging to do. So the Calvinist account of persuasion with an Irresistible Grace completely washes away the meaning of, We persuade men.”