Jesse Morrell, a Pelagian open air campus preacher, wrote a hit piece against Calvinism just before his recent debate with Matt Slick (see the debate here). His arguments against the truth of Calvinism are weak, but they aren’t even the worst parts of his article. In his attempt to defame Calvinist theology, he went after essential doctrines that aren’t exclusively Calvinistic. In his attempt to list 22 (later changed to 24) problems with Calvinism, he instead attacked the Christian faith as a whole, and so revealed multiple issues with his own theology to add on to the list.
- Despite claiming to be a street preacher, he never actually does any preaching of the Gospel. Most of his videos consist of him intentionally provoking the crowd and making tacky, tasteless jokes. Just watch the first five minutes of this video. He makes jokes about suicide bombings, slings insults around, and then calls it “love”. He does not preach the Gospel a single time. To make things worse, he attributes all of this sinful behavior to God. There are good, faithful street preachers who preach law and Gospel and they are much better examples of evangelism than this. I have friends, acquaintances, and people who have influenced me who are faithful street preachers and would be insulted by calling this guy a street preacher or open-air evangelist. This in no way mirrors an attitude of kindness, gentleness, and self-control (See: Galatians 5:22-23). Saying “Muhammed is the bomb” so as to enrage Muslims is not the Gospel, calling homosexuals “beasts” is not preaching, and Jesse Morrell is not a true preacher or evangelist.
- The most well known of Jesse Morrell’s heresies is Pelagianism. In the article mentioned earlier, Morrell says, “Calvinism says that all men inherit a sinful nature from Adam when the Bible never even says that Adam’s nature was sinful but instead asserts that God forms our nature in the womb.” What Morrell described is not Calvinism, it is Original Sin, and he denies it at many points in the article. Morrell here is denying that man is inherently sinful and that man has a sin nature. This is a denial of essential Christian doctrine. He hasn’t exactly kept his Pelagianism secret, as he has even gone as far as to release a full-scale documentary called “Beyond Augustine” that denies Original Sin. The Bible is very clear about the truth of this doctrine. In Psalm 51:5 (ESV) we read, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” God affirms in Genesis 8:21 (ESV), “… for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 (ESV) declares, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (Romans 5:18 spells this out clearly as well).
- Another doctrine he attacks and mislabels as Calvinism is Imputed Righteousness. Morrell says, “Calvinism says that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers when the Bible says that our faith is imputed as righteousness.” What he is denying here is that Jesus’s righteousness was given to us and our sins were placed upon Him at the cross. However, 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.“
- Morrell also seems to stumble at the nature of God. The Bible teaches God is omniscient (See: Psalm 147:5, 1 John 3:20, Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 139:1-6, Hebrews 4:13). However, in his article Morrell articulates something akin to the Open Theism heresy. This heresy teaches that God does not know the future and that the future has not yet been decided. Despite this heresy being disproven by every single prophecy made by God in the Bible, both those that have been proven right and those that are yet to come, Jesse Morrell argued in the article, “Calvinism says that all events are the eternal will of God when the Bible represents God as grieved, disappointed, and *surprised* over many events that have occurred.”
- The Bible teaches that God is immutable. According to Numbers 23:19 (ESV), “God is not man,, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” (See also in: Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17, and Isaiah 40:8) However, Morrell’s article stated, “the Bible says that God has canceled and reversed some of His own prophecies.“
- Deuteronomy 18:22 (ESV) says, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” However, in his article, Jesse Morrell accuses God of giving prophecies that have not come to pass, saying, “Calvinism says that God has irresistibly decreed all events from eternity past, when the Bible says that God has canceled and reversed some of His own prophecies and teaches that the future is not yet entirely fixed and settled but changeable.” Not only does this teach Open Theism and deny the immutability of God, but if it were true then God would be guilty of being a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 18.
- Finally, Jesse Morrell constantly attacks Penal Substitutionary Atonement, the doctrine that teaches that Jesus died as a substitute for our sins. He states, “Calvinism says that Jesus Christ came and took our punishment when the Bible says that our punishment is eternal hell.” While performing a logical fallacy called “non-sequitur” (Jesus dying to take away our punishment and the wages of sin being eternal Hell aren’t exclusive), he is also implying that Jesus did not come and take out punishment. He continues, “Calvinism says that Jesus Christ came and paid our debt when the Bible says that God forgives us our debt.” I would argue that both of those are true. God forgives us our debt because Jesus paid our debt on the cross. However, Morrell seems to think that they are mutually exclusive statements and that Jesus did not pay our debt on the cross. He continues to attack Substitutionary Atonement for the next two points. This very concerning because the Bible most clearly teaches this doctrine and it is essential to the Gospel. 1 Peter 3:18 (ESV) says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…” 2 Corinthians 5:21 shows this as well, saying, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) very clearly states, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” This crucial truth appears also in Isaiah 53:5 (ESV) saying, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.“
Jesse Morrell outright denies six truths that are essential to the Christian faith in just one article. Such a man who denies Gospel truths should not be sent out and supported to preach the Gospel (Or claim to do so while he insults the crowd). Jesse Morrell distorts the nature of God, outright denies the Gospel, elevates man, and claims to preach the Gospel without even believing the Gospel.
[Contributed by Brandon Hines]
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