Lou Rugg

by Matt Slick

As a Calvinist, I sometimes get challenges from anti-Calvinists to debate.  Such is the case with Lou Rugg.  Lou had been repeatedly informing me and others in anti-Calvinist rooms on paltalk.com, that I wouldn't last five minutes in a debate with him.  Finally, on 12/31/031 he and I were in the process of agreeing on a debate topic:  Total Depravity.  We also agreed on the definition of Total Depravity:  the doctrine that sin has touched all of what a person is and that an unregenerate person cannot choose God on his own because of the effect of that sin upon him.  Of course, my position is that the unregenerate man cannot choose to come to God of His own sinful free will.  Lou's position is that he can.

Great.  We had agreed upon the topic.  But, then Lou said that he would "help me out" by telling me his strategy in advance.  He said that in the debate he would go to Prov. 1:28 (“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me") and base his position off of that verse.  He then said that I would have to prove to him that regeneration precedes faith. He raised the topic of Moses, Abraham, etc., and continued on with his requirement that I "prove that they were regenerate before believing." To this last statement I responded that that wasn't what we agreed to debate.

Finally, after some discussion where I pointed this out several times, as well as others pointing it out in the room, that the issue of regeneration preceding faith was not the topic, and that he needed to stick to the topic.  Finally, he agreed to do so.  We then began to work out the particulars of when the debate would occur.  However, during our conversation he again returned to the requirement that I answer the issue of regeneration preceding faith.   In his statement he said, "Matt, I want you to prove that a person is regenerated before faith."  I again called him on this change of topic.  He then said I was being evasive.  I told him I was not being evasive, that he was, and that I wanted to stay on topic.  He then said that I had already debated a person named Jademiner on this and that we should debate something else.  I told him that we had agreed on the topic, a topic that he said I could choose because he could beat me on any Calvinist doctrine I were to pick.

Unfortunately, Lou continued to require of me to respond to an issue that I didn't agree to debate.  Our debate arrangement fell apart after that and he left the discussion.

Since I am cautious about this whole thing, I thought it would be wise to present a brief review of this event in case Lou tried to state that I had backed out of the debate, which I did not do.  Therefore, I asked people who were in the room to PM (Private Message) me with their comments so that I could further document what happened.  I asked them to respond to whether or not Lou was evasive, tried to change the topic, and tried to get me to respond to something that I had not agree to topically.  This is what I received.

  • flesh_profits_nothing: Matt tried very hard to get along...didn't work.
  • PuritanHope: He change the topic of the debate in a matter of seconds. He was telling Matt what he was going to discuss and the topic he changed it to was regeneration of Old Testament Saints. And not Total Depravity...PURITAN HOPE
  • mamadog: Matt: this is what I heard----Lou agreed to debate total depravity then stated he wanted to prove that Abraham, Moses, and Noah chose God on their own without God's help. 'That these three were not totally depraved.

Okay, so others confirmed my observation.  But, the next day, Lou PM'd me again.  Normally, I do not post people's private messages to me.  But, I have prepared this page on a "just in case" basis.  Following is our conversation, unedited, except to make our names bold:

LouRugg_777: Remember, if you debate me on the TULIP, I will force you to illustrate regeneration before faith. That you cannot do. Therefore, you will lose. That's just a warning.
Matt Slick: oh brother.
LouRugg_777: Have a Happy New Year :)
Matt Slick: you failed to agree to the debate terms and you failed to stick to the topic
Matt Slick: it is not the ordo salutis
Matt Slick: i told other calvinists about your statements
Matt Slick: they all said, and I agree, that you don't understand the issues
LouRugg_777: Matt, the TULIP will wither in front of your eyes if you cannot show regeneration before faith
Matt Slick: so, when you are ready to debate total depravity and not the ordo salutis, then let me know.
Matt Slick: lou, your comments are meaningless to me.
Matt Slick: you can't even see your logic errors
LouRugg_777: Its easy to destroy Calvinism. Thats why White couldn't address the issue of CHOICE in my debate with him. And neither can you
Matt Slick: you can't even stick to the debate topic.
Matt Slick: like i said, when you're ready to actually stick to the topic, let me know.
LouRugg_777: Matt, I'll debate my way and you debate yours. Until you get out of Calvinism, your teachings will be weak
Matt Slick: really? is that why you TOLD me what to respond to and how to answer?
LouRugg_777: Shalom (That means peace in Hebrew) :)
Matt Slick: This is the point Lou, You make mistakes like that and can't see them.
LouRugg_777: Matt, debate me and I will expose you. You have been warned
Matt Slick: I've been warned?
LouRugg_777: End of conversation!
Matt Slick: You're warning me? What does that mean?
Matt Slick: Lou, you can't even agree to stick to the topic we previously agreed on. The issue was total depravity and the unregenerate's innability to freely choose God.
LouRugg_777: I'll expose you as a false teacher
LouRugg_777: That's the warning
Matt Slick: But, you DEMANDED that I answer, in the debate, that regeneration precedes faith. That is not the agreed upon topic
Matt Slick: The fact is that you couldn't stick to the topic and then you wanted to change it to something else.
LouRugg_777: I was being nice and telling you my strategy. Next time I won't! :)
Matt Slick: Then you come here and "warn" me?
Matt Slick: Lou, next time, you need to try and stick to the topic.
LouRugg_777: Matt, I debate my way and you debate yours. Remember, I'll drag you all over the scriptures and show you combos you've never seen before. Like I did with White :)
Matt Slick: and you need to not require of your opponent what he should respond to when it isn't on topic.
LouRugg_777: <---that's what I get for being Mr. Nice Guy! :)
Matt Slick: You keep boasting about how I wont' last five minutes in a debate, how you'll expose me as a false teacher, how you'll drag me all over the scriptures. Yet, Lou, when I have asked you specific questions before, you didn't answer them. I answered your comments, yet you let many of my scriptural challenges pass by. That is what many of us have seen with you, Lou.
Matt Slick: It isn't being "nice" to demand of your opponent to respond to something different than the agreed upon topic.
LouRugg_777: Matt, don't worry! You'll be just fine! Trust me! :)
Matt Slick: There is no debate.
LouRugg_777: That's your decision. Shalom! :)
Matt Slick: You have failed to comply with the agreed upon topic.
Matt Slick: I tried to get you to stick to it, but you refused, then you tried to change the topic.
LouRugg_777: I said SHALOM!
Matt Slick: I suggest you review this dialogue and when you are ready to debate the topic we agreed upon, let me know. I also suggest you do not tell me, in advance, what I am obligated to prove to you -- especially when it isn't the topic. Have a nice day.

Lou Rugg would be a good Christian apologist if he weren't trying to attack other Christians, as so many others like to do.  Furthermore, I wish he could learn to stick to what he has agreed to discuss instead of changing the subject so much.

Since this kind of thing has happened before with anti-Calvinists, and since they offer challenges, and since they don't play fair, I am getting more and more reticent about agreeing to debate any of them.  It isn't that I can't defend my position.  I can and have numerous times.  But, how many more times must I do this?  How many more times must I bow to every person who demands I debate him/her on Calvinism?  After two years of this on paltalk, I'm pretty much getting fed up with it all.  So, if I were to tell them I don't want to debate these things anymore because it is getting old, doesn't really accomplish anything, tends to polarize the body of Christ into opposite positions, and that I have my website (www.carm.org) to work on, a book I am researching and writing, then I will be accused of backing out of debates, being chicken, or whatever.  This kind of thing has is puerile.

But what do I expect from people?  After all, total depravity teaches that sin has touched all of what we are and that truth is exemplified not only in my life, but also the lives of the anti-Calvinists -- especially when I hear their caustic misrepresentations of Calvinism.

By the way, check this out.  http://www.calvinistcorner.com/we.htm


We have agreed on a debate topic and format as well as date (3/14/2012).  The topic that Lou wanted to debate is "Is Prevenient Grace Biblical".  I agreed.  He sent me a pm that stated:

LouRugg_777: <<(03/06/12 10:30 AM EST)>> Matt, this is the arrangement that I believe we've agreed to....
LouRugg_777: <<(03/06/12 10:31 AM EST)>> We alternate back and forth for a total of 90 minutes. I will be going first. A 5 minute open for both of us . . . then 3 minute exchanges back and forth. The subject of our discussion is: Is Prevenient Grace Biblical?
LouRugg_777: <<(03/06/12 10:36 AM EST)>> In my opinion, the entire room should be dotted so that you and I or our admins can send over chat text. It'll force people to focus on the topic instead of getting into nonsensical discussions with someone else. Let me know what you think about that. Also, how about we allow a limited amount of Q&A afterwards. Say 10 questions. If a question is directed to me, you should have the right to respond . . .and vice versa. Anyway, let me know what you think. I'll run this message my Michael Abrams so he knows where I stand. See you on Wednesday 3/14 at 8pm eastern.

Questions Lou Rugg Avoids - Lou ignores them and then claims victory!

  1. Do you agree or deny that God makes the will, the mind, the body, etc., & puts people in a designated place, time, and culture, with particular parents, and that God also knows exactly what the “free will choice” will be of any and all people whom he has thus made and placed in those circumstances (since he arranged it all)? If not, why not? But if you agree, then how is God not predestining people to salvation or damnation by his sovereign arrangement of all factors that are under his control?
  2. Scripture tells us that God works all things according to his will (Eph. 1:11), that God moves the heart of the person where he wishes it to go (Prov. 21:1), that He is the one who gives people a heart to know him (Jer. 24:7), who puts the fear of God in people (Jeremiah 32:40), that he opens the heart to respond to his word (Acts 14:16), that he grants that they believe (Philippians 1:29), and that he grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25)? Why doesn’t God do this for all people?
  3. Can you show me any scripture that says that a person is enabled to believe when God reproves or enlightens him? Let me make myself clear. You repeatedly state that God’s reproof (enlightenment) enables someone to believe. THAT IS AN ASSUMPTION ON YOUR PART. You assume it is true and then build your case on that assumption. So, can you show me any scripture that says that when a person is reproved by God that he is also enabled to believe? Remember, don’t just assume that’s the case. Show it to me from Scripture without reading into the text.
  4. If reproof is all that is necessary to enable someone to believe in God, then why is it that God must give people a heart to know him (Jer. 24:7), that he must put the fear of God in them (Jeremiah 32:40), that he has to open the heart to respond to his word (Acts 14:16), that he grants that they believe (Philippians 1:29), and that he grants them repentance (2 Timothy 2:25)? Why doesn’t God do this for all people?
  5. If salvation is dependent upon a person’s free will choice after he has been reproved or enlightened, then why does one person believe the gospel and another does not?
  6. Why does one person make a free will choice (including a person's conscience) to fear the Lord and another does not?  If you say that it is because of free will, then you aren't answering the question. Again, why does one person's free will result in fearing the Lord and another does not when it is God who forms us in the womb (Isaiah 44:24) and makes our inward parts (Psalm 139:13)?  This includes our free will.  Did God make one person's free will different from another so that one fears God and another does not?
  7. Why does one person believe and another does not? After all, God makes the will, the mind, etc., puts them in that place and time with those parents, knowing full well exactly what the outcome will be. So, if God gives them their free will and knows the outcome of what he's arranged, then how is that not predestining them? If God puts the fear of the Lord in people (Jeremiah 32:40), then why doesn't he put the fear of him in all people? 
  8. Doesn't God know how to move the free will of a person to believe in him?  If yes, then why doesn't God do it since he moves the heart of the King where he wishes it to go (Prov. 21:1) and puts adoration of God in the King's heart (Ezra 7:27). He turned the hearts of the Egyptians to hate the Israelites (Psalm 105:25).  He opened the heart of Lydia to receive God's word (Acts 16:14). God does according to his will among the people of the earth (Daniel 4:35).  So, Lou, got an answer?
  9. If prevenient grace is true (grace that enables a sinner to choose God of his own free will), then why does the Bible say that God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29) and grants us repentance (1 Tim. 2:25)?  Why is it necessary for God to grant that they believe and repent if it is up to their free will choice once they have been enlightened?
  10. Doesn't God know how much prevenient grace to apply to a person to get him to believe?  If you say yes, then why doesn't God give that needed grace to people?  If you say no, then aren't you limiting God's omniscience and power?
  11. Lou, do you affirm or deny that God ordains whatsoever shall come to pass?  If you affirm it, then don’t you affirm that God ordains people to salvation and damnation?  If you deny it, then aren't you denying that God works all things after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11)?
  12. Lou says that God saves those who are humble.  If this is true then doesn't it mean that God saves someone based on a quality in them?  Isn't that claiming that God shows partiality by looking at a quality that the person possesses: humility.  That is showing favoritism in the Bible tells us not to show favoritism based on anything that a person possesses (James 2:2-4).
  13. You quote John 1:29 where it says that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Can you please tell us if Jesus took away the sin of those who are damned?  If yes, how can someone go to hell if their sins have been taken away?
  14. Can you tell me how someone who has had his debt of sin legally paid for (John 19:30), legally canceled by Jesus (Col. 2:14), can still go to hell even if he doesn't believe -- since his sin debt (which includes unbelief) has been cancelled?
  15. If God wants all people to be saved, then why did the Holy Spirit prevent Paul from speaking the word in Phrygian and Galatia (Acts 16:6) and instead was to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:10) to preach the gospel?
  16. If God wants all people to be saved (which is true), then why did Jesus speak in parables so that people would NOT believe and be saved (Mark 4:10-11)?  Remember, it wasn’t due to their free will that he spoke in parables, but Christ’s decision to hide the gospel from people via parables.  How do you fit this into your theological perspective?



On 12/17/2013 Lou Rugg and I had a discussion on pal talk.  It was generated out of me getting fed up with his repeated taunts. I told him that our last several encounters he did not do well and that he is not able to answer the difficult questions. He finally agreed to answer, or try to answer, the difficult questions.

In our discussion he repeatedly failed to provide a rational response to my questions. He responded with the logical fallacy of Begging the Question on more then one occasion.  He regularly read into various biblical passages, concepts that were not there.  Basically, I asked him why one person's free will enables him to believe in God and another does not. He stated that it was due to a person's conscience. I then asked him why the conscience of one person enabled him to believe and  not for another person. After all, since God made their wills (which includes a conscience) why does one person choose God and another does not?  The best he could do was say that when a person is reproved he is automatically enabled because God would not require something of somebody that the person could not do. To that I replied that he was incorrect. God says, "Be  holy because I am holy," (1  Peter 1:16) and "Be perfect because I am perfect," (Matthew 5:48).  We cannot be wholly or perfect in and of ourselves. But yet God requires that all of us because he is the standard. Therefore, I proved from Scripture that God  requires us to do things that we cannot do on our own. This is a critical point because Lou repeatedly rests his entire argument on the idea that a person once reproved of God is also enabled by God to believe in him. At this point we go back into the circle of asking why one person responds another does not when God makes the will etc. Lou was unable to answer this. Towards the end of our discussion he finally asked if I was able to produce a sentence, using the word "refuse" where a person refused to do what he is not able to do.  His question wasn't very clear so I pasted this this sentence into the chat room.  He agreed that it represented his question properly.  

"Can I use the word "refuse" in a logical sentence where a person refusing isn't able to do what he refuses to do?"

I told him that I would have to think about that and that I would get back to him later because it was an issue of logic, and I wanted to think it over before I offered something. I believe he was trying to pin me because he wasn't doing that well. So I repeated that I would have to think over the question and the response and get back to them later. He finally agreed. So, later I produced the following which I pasted into a private message to him on paltalk.2

"Now, Lou you said that an unbeliever needs the enlightenment/reproof of God to be able to respond. But we know God tells people to believe in him. So, here goes. "I, an atheist, refuse to believe in the biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will, even though the Bible tells me to believe in him." There, he cannot do what he is commanded to do by God. Now, if you say that God then enables him, then you admit he can’t do what is commanded to do on his own. He has to be enabled. 

Following is our pm dialogue.  He came online, pasted the sentence, and then we were talking.

 LouRugg_777 is now offline.
Messages will be delivered when they sign on to Paltalk.
LouRugg_777: "I, an atheist, refuse to believe in the biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will, even though the Bible tells me to believe in him."
LouRugg_777 came online at 06:01 PM
LouRugg_777: "I, an atheist, AM UNABLE TO believe in the biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will, even though the Bible tells me to believe in him."
LouRugg_777: That's logical and biblical
LouRugg_777: AM UNABLE TO
LouRugg_777: not REFUSE
LouRugg_777: Matt, you're desperate
Matt Slick: I gave you what you wanted. You want to logically true statement. It is sound.
Matt Slick: It's not an issue of desperation because it is not a desperate attempt at anything. It meets the criteria of what you requested.
LouRugg_777: Matt, LOLOL. Do yourself a favor. Don't go public with this
Matt Slick: Now, if you know what logic is and if you don't think that the statement meets your criteria, you are free to write a "logical" response to it.
Matt Slick: I would recommend that you don't go public trying to refute it.
LouRugg_777: "I, an atheist, refuse to believe in the biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will, even though the Bible tells me to believe in him."
Matt Slick: Now, I answered. You are not able to refute it.
LouRugg_777: That's an illogical statement
Matt Slick: Exactly what about it is illogical?
LouRugg_777: I asked for a logical statement
Matt Slick: What law of logic does it violate?
Matt Slick: The law identity? The law of non-contradiction? The law of excluded middle? The law of proper inference?
LouRugg_777: because an atheist is UNABLE TO, that's why
LouRugg_777: Matt, you need to admit that you can't
Matt Slick: wait, that is what you asked. [this statement is in reference to my sentence that I provided to him]
Matt Slick: That is not what you asked if I remember correctly [This statement is in reference to his alteration, adding "unable"]
LouRugg_777: Don't go public with this
LouRugg_777: I asked you for a logical sentence using the word "refuse" where the person refusing isn't able
Matt Slick: This is exactly what I posted in the room the other night to which you agreed, "Can I use the word "refuse" in a logical sentence where a person refusing isn't able to do what he refuses to do?"
LouRugg_777: "I, an atheist, refuse to believe in the biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will, even though the Bible tells me to believe in him."
LouRugg_777: that's illogical
Matt Slick: This is exactly what I posted in the room the other night to which you agreed, "Can I use the word "refuse" in a logical sentence where a person refusing isn't able to do what he refuses to do?"
LouRugg_777: this is logical
Matt Slick: Lou, you're making a mistake
LouRugg_777: "I, an atheist, AM UNABLE TO believe in the biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will, even though the Bible tells me to believe in him."
Matt Slick: Your complaining that it's not true because the atheist is not able.... But that's exactly the criteria that you asked for.
LouRugg_777: Matt, be a man and admit that you can't
LouRugg_777: Matt, forget it. The fact is: you can't
Matt Slick: Lou, be a man, put your thinking cap on, and admit that I accomplished what you asked and that you are just too stubborn to see it and admit it.
LouRugg_777: just admit it that your goose is cooked
Matt Slick: I will save this dialogue to show people.
LouRugg_777: Don't go public with this. The fact is this: if you can't put the word refuse in a logical sentence where the person refusing isn't able, then the word refuse implies ability
LouRugg_777: absolutely
LouRugg_777: Save it
LouRugg_777: I was hoping you would
LouRugg_777: I'm saving this too
LouRugg_777: LOL
LouRugg_777 came online at 06:11 PM
LouRugg_777: Matt, don't humiliate yourself like this. I beg you
LouRugg_777: LOL
LouRugg_777 is currently chatting in, Freebirds Cafe Come In Let us Reason Together
LouRugg_777 is now offline.
Messages will be delivered when they sign on to Paltalk.

Alright, so Lou wanted me to do was answer this question, "Can I use the word "refuse" in a logical sentence where a person refusing isn't able to do what he refuses to do?"  Notice, he wanted me to use the word refuse where the person refusing IS NOT ABLE to do what he refused to do.  Lou admitted that the atheist, in my example, was unable to believe in God.  In my sentence I had the atheist SAY that he refused to believe in God even though the Bible tells him to do it.  So, my sentence precisely satisfies the request Lou gave me.  But, apparently Lou does not know logic well enough or is so stuck in his mistaken theology and reputation that he either cannot or will not admit I was right.


  • 1. As I re-read this on 2/19/2012, the date of '12/31/03' doesn't seem quite right. I think it might be a typo since I thought our dialogue happend about 2 or 3 years ago around 2010.  But, I could be mistaken.
  • 2. In the dialogue it follows, I told Lou that I wanted to save the dialogue to show people. He told me to go ahead.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.