In modern Christian discussions, when one hears that Christians must “take things by faith” that is usually code for “taking what the pastor says by faith” and ignoring the Bible. Man’s teaching is being elevated higher than the Bible. This is usually the cop out for anyone struck by a clear Bible text that contradicts their core understanding of the Bible.
Those who feel some obligation to be true to the Bible cannot ignore pointed questions for long. The hardcore Calvinist will avoid them all day, using any excuse not to answer straightforward questions like the scary “what does this text mean?” and the dreaded “what is happening in this text?”. That is the beauty of the Bible: a straightforward reading trumps pagan interpretation.
Try asking any of the following to a Calvinist and see what happens:
Gen 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
Gen 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Q: What does “I will go down now, and see” mean?
Jer 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
Q: What does “I thought to do” mean?
1Ki 22:19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.
1Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
1Ki 22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’
1Ki 22:22 The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’
1Ki 22:23 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”
Q: List the events that are being described in this text?
The Calvinist’s first instinct is to try to avoid the clear text of the Bible. They might appeal to generalities “God does not lie” or “God knows everything”, but the best strategy is to focus on the text. Don’t let debating semantics derail the conversation. Debating semantics is how the Calvinist walks away still confident in their own beliefs. Keep asking the question until they answer. With enough times repeating the question, the real point will be clear that the individual cannot explain the clear text of the Bible. The plain text of the Bible discredits their belief! That is what the Calvinist needs to understand.
In my experience, at this point the Calvinist will retreat to “we need to take things by faith.” This means they need to trust their pastor over the Bible. The hardcore Calvinist will just say the text is anthropomorphism. But the point should then be pressed that even figures of speech have meaning, there is no rational figurative meaning and nowhere in the text does it suggest the audience was to take the text figuratively. The Calvinist is left taking Platonism by faith.
As an afterthought: When your Achilles’ Heel is the Bible, you may want to re-examine your beliefs.