I recently visited Alan Kurschner's site and read some comments that a fellow named Dennis Clough had posted concerning Calvinism. I responded with a couple of points concerning his comments and he responded by directing me to a challenge he made concerning Cain that shows, according to him, that Calvinism is false. So, in order to avoid any accusations that I, or any Calvinist will not or cannot answer Mr. Clough's challenge concerning Cain, I will take the time to respond to the claims made by Mr. Clough.
Mr. Clough, in a somewhat lengthy commentary on various issues, had this to say concerning his challenge to Calvinists:
I challenge any Calvinist to say that God did not call Cain! One must deny the clear record of Scripture in order to do so.
Apparantly, Mr. Clough is saying that God called Cain to salvation thus negating the Calvinist doctrine of irresistable grace because Cain rejected God's call. Further, Mr. Clough states that to deny Cain was called salvifically would be to deny clear scriptural teaching. So we have here several assertions made by Mr. Clough that he believes refutes Calvinism. Is he right? Let's take a look.
Mr. Clough's first statements regarding Cain in his post read thusly:
Besides receiving what God freely gave, Eve’s faith was seen in her excitement at the birth of Cain indicating that she thought he would be the promised Messiah.
Mr. Clough states that Eve was excited at Cain's birth because she thought that Cain would be the promised Messiah. But where does the text say that Eve believed Cain to be the Messiah? Nowhere in the text of Genesis 4 does it state that Eve believed such a notion. In fact, Genesis 4:1 simply states that Eve credited the LORD with helping her bring forth her firstborn. So where does Mr. Clough get this idea if not here? It appears that right off the bat, Mr. Clough is reading notions into the text that aren't there. Is this a developing pattern? Let's continue and see.
Cain refused to bring blood and rebelled against God’s clear call to get right.
Here, Mr. Clough claims two things concerning Cain. The first claim is that Cain refused to offer God a blood sacrifice. The second claim is that Cain rebelled against God's salvific call. So in response to the first claim, I'll quote Genesis 4:3-5 which reads:
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. NASB
Mr. Clough's first claim from his above quote is that Cain refused to offer God a blood sacrifice. But where in the above citation does it state that Cain refused to do anything? The text simply states that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground and that God rejected it. So it appears that Mr. Clough is still reading things into the text that aren't there. His second claim is that Cain refused God's salvific call. But is he yet again reading a notion into the text that isn't there? So far, Mr. Clough is 2 for 2. Can he keep it up?
Genesis 4:6 & 7 read thusly:
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouchning at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." NASB
Here, the LORD addresses Cain and tells him that if he does well his "countenance" will be lifted up. If Cain does not do well then sin will overcome him. Now, I presume that Mr. Clough's contentions are based on these two verses (he doesn't give specific citations in his post). If so, where is this supposed salvific call? Where does God explicitly state that He is calling Cain to salvation? And where is Cain's denial of this supposed offer? God's statements are simply what will happen if Cain does this or does not do that. And notice that if Cain does good then all that happens according to God's statements is that his "countenance" will be lifted up. This simply means that he'll be in a good mood with perhaps a smile to boot. Thus, it is my contention that God's statements to Cain are *descriptive* of what will happen if Cain does good and not *prescriptive* of what Cain could and should do for salvation. It is also my contention that Mr. Clough is fairly consistent in reading concepts into the text that aren't there as all of his stated assertions cannot be demonstrated from the referenced texts.
In Mr. Clough's first quote above, he stated that he challenges any Calvinist to deny that God called Cain and that to make such a denial is to defy Scripture. I submit to Mr. Clough that I have not only denied that God called Cain salvifically, but have shown this from the text of Scripture itself.