A message from Reformed theologian John Calvin to my dog Murphy, who I suspect is not a member of the elect

Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? Not you. You are a dog who exhibits signs of total depravity, and has as yet failed to produce any outward symbols of the inward condition of grace. I begin to suspect that you, dog, are not a member of the elect.

You may be a pleasing dog, you may yet be a successful dog, but you are assuredly not a dog who has undergone sanctification, you are not a dog who has been justified by grace through faith working by love, you are not a dog operating in perfect harmony with divine law. Dog, sometimes I suspect you of holding with the Arminian schismatics.

How can I call you a good dog? Consider the book of Ephesians: When you were dead in your transgressions, wherein ye walked according to the courses of this world, according to the princes of the powers of the air, of the spirit now at work in the sons of disobedience, you lived in the lust of the flesh, doing the desires of the flesh, and were by nature children of wrath. This morning you have thrice barked to be let out, only to refuse to do anything upon achieving the condition of outness, thereby wasting my time and yours, even while the Psalmist reminds us that God has made our days as handbreadths, and an age is nothing before Him. You will answer for this in eternity.

How can I call you good, dog? As election to grace is unconditional, God chooses those whom he is pleased to bring to knowledge of himself, not based on any merit shown by the object of grace. We are saved unto good works rather than by good works. Perform goodness all day long; you will not be good unless God wills it. Good works are the fruit that bear the indication God has sown the seeds of grace. Do not mistake them for goodness itself, dog. Would a dog who has experienced unconditional election bark at my stairs for no reason for thirty minutes? There was nothing on the stairs. Why, then, did you bark? Were you fulfilling the commandment found in Lamentations 2:19, “Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord”? Because I do not believe that injunction applies to my stairs. This was not speech but noise, and noise without purpose; though you bark with the tongues of men and of angels, if you have not charity, you are become as a resounding gong, or a clanging cymbal. Remember, dog, the words of the prophet Amos (chapter five, first twenty-three): "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy harps.

All who are justified will remain in God’s hands until glorification; the perseverance of the saints is true doctrine. Yet you, dog, have never persisted in an action in your life. I have seen you abandon a rawhide bone in the midst of your chewing thereof in order to fall asleep, exchanging gluttony for sloth. I have seen you chase exactly halfway after a ball thrown specifically for you, merely to turn around, race back, and bark at me as if I had never thrown the ball at all. But I had thrown the ball, dog. It was not I who failed to fulfill my end of the throwing-retrieving agreement, but you. Remove the plank from your own eye, dog, before pointing out the mote in mine. Never could it be said of you, as it is written in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

No, you are not a good boy, therefore I will not lie and claim that you are. You are merely and at most, a boy. Who’s a boy? Who’s a boy? You are. Don’t look at me like that. You are the one refusing irresistible grace.