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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Question for My Arminian Friends

On the eve of the night where there was supposed to be a debate over Baptists, Calvinism, and/or omnibenevolence (or something like that), I thought I’d pose a question that I had been thinking about since yesterday afternoon to my Arminian friends. Let me provide the context of my question first if I may.

According to the Arminian theological framework, God’s election of a person is conditioned on the basis of foreseen faith. The faith which God sees is an act of trust that is inherent within a sinner (that is derivative of man and not a gift from God) who freely, of his own accord and without any external or internal influence, chooses Christ. The Arminian position readily emphasizes the human responsibility to “call upon the name of the Lord” and right they should, but the nature of the free will is libertarian and carries the idea of “power of contrary choice” in where there is no efficient cause (“contra-causal freedom”) resulting in a framework of indeterminism. So there are three key aspects: conditional election (foreseen faith), saving faith derivative of man, and libertarian free will – all components in the soteriological underpinnings of Arminian theology.

So my question comes regarding God’s foreknowledge and the nature of saving faith. God’s foreknowledge assumes (apriori) that His knowledge carries some measure of determinacy, for to know something in advance is more than a prediction; it is definite, certain knowledge. And, according to the Arminian position, God foresees those who place their faith in him and therefore elects them. But, in actuality, they have not existed at the time of God’s foreknowledge and have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. And, if they possess libertarian free will, they must necessarily be able to choose contrarily if they are to really be free. So in essence, God cannot foreknow what a man who possesses libertarian free will will do, whether he believes or not, because if God knew they would put their faith in Him, they would not be free. So here’s my question:

How can God, in his foreknowledge, know something that, according to your theological construct, cannot not be known?

It appears to be that one either has to forfeit God’s foreknowledge or forfeit man’s libertarian free will. So your two options are either Calvinism (the biblical position) or Open Theism. The former holds to a deterministic (compatibilism) view of free will and retains the doctrine of foreknowledge while the latter is forced to logically conclude that God cannot foreknow the future acts of (libertarian) free agents (abandoning God’s omniscience). This is why many who have been staunch proponents of Arminianism are now Open Theists. They have realized the logical inconsistencies and have sought to develop a system more internally consistent and fully explanative. The only problem is they do it while gutting the very nature of God and reformulating the message of salvation according to Scripture.

As a follow-up question then would be: Where in the Bible can you show me that libertarian free will exists? Conditional election? Faith derivative of man and not a gift from God?

Now, before you answer, let me tell you I know Norm Geisler’s answer, so please don’t read Chosen But Free and regurgitate it to me (and worse, please don’t consult Dave Hunt). I would like to know what your answer is to this dilemma. Biblically, I can show you where election is unconditional, free will is compatibilistic (and deterministic), and saving faith is a gift from God.

When I think about this question and the consequences to the answers, I am led to ask myself which system honors God, is grounded in Scripture, and represents the Gospel according to Jesus. When I look at Arminian theology, what I find is philosophical constructs like libertarian free will that is not in the Bible and doctrines like foreseen faith that confuse the nature of God’s omniscience. Furthermore, I do not see where a synergistic gospel (God + me [and my faith]) gives glory to God alone. What is worse is that ultimacy is attributed to me (man), my free will, and my faith. On the other hand, Calvinism gives ultimacy to God in that He accomplishes the ends (my salvation) and provides the means (saving faith) according to His election which is unconditional and irrevocable. So at the heart of my question is, in my mind, a real dilemma for non-Calvinists who do not want to go off the deep end into Open Theism. Either you admit the inconsistencies in your doctrinal framework and its unbiblical elements or you change those elements. In that change, you can either choose to glorify God and His supremacy and sovereignty in salvation, or you can glorify man and his autonomy and self-determination in which he contributes to his own salvation with his own faith.

If I have misrepresented the theological framework of Arminianism, please let me know. The purpose of my question is to discuss this matter because I believe it is essential to the gospel and how we communicate it to others. My hope and desire is that we would be radically God-centered in our thinking (theology) and our practice (methodology) so that our worship (doxology) can truly be “from him, and through him, and to him all are things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). May our minds and hearts be ignited with wonder of God’s amazing grace and taste afresh the goodness of God.

84 Comments:

Blogger Calvinist Gadfly said...

Timmy,

Great post. I have been asking this perennial question for years--and have yet to receive any Biblical answer.

If God foreknows that X individual will have faith in Christ, then X individual cannot choose to reject Christ, it is determined to happen--hence, the Arminian is inconsistent with their framework of libertarian free will.

Further, if they want to be consistent then they must admit that God does not have free will because he cannot choose sin; and the saints in heaven cannot have free will because they cannot choose sin.

This question needs to be pressed much more with Arminians in the "free will" debate. It is an airtight argument.

Thanks,
Alan

10/16/2006 10:51:00 AM

 
Blogger Paul said...

Timmy,

Sorry this isn't about your post...but anyways, I go to class every morning at 7am and get to see how beautiful campus looks in the early morning light. Just thought I'd let you know that it creates a prime place and time to take some great pictures.

Your calvinist friend,
Paul

10/16/2006 01:20:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

I have couple of questions for you. Forgive me if they could be worded better and asked more concisely, but I just got home from work and I have class soon so I haven't the time to construct it as well as your original post.

1- In your view in this post what is the point of evangelism? Because as far as I can see there is absolutely 0% need for evangelism with your views.

2- This example is not perfect, but I feel it gets the point across. I can know my wife so well that when I ask her a question I will know if she will respond with yes or no. Given it's not 100% certainty. But I can know what her answer will be, this does not change the fact that she is able to give a different answer. Simply because God knows the choice you will make does not mean He made the choice for you! That's an illogical conclusion.

3- The bible teaches predestination as well as free will and says that we must choose Christ. I don't claim to know the answer to this question, I also don't claim to fully understand how Christ can be 100% man and 100% God... do you?

4- along with question 3... do you fully understand everything about God and the bible or do you understand that there are things on this side of heaven we will never fully comprehend about our great and powerful God? I know I'll never understand everything, even once I get to heaven.

5- Do you think this argument is essential in whether or not I or you or anyone receives salvation? Why do you want to senselessly argue doctrine that is not essential to salvation when there are many more important issues at hand. Don't beat your Christian brothers and sisters over the head to argue a point we can't fully know the answer too when there are lost sinners in the world who have not yet heard that Christ has died for their sins.

your brother in Christ

10/16/2006 01:45:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Rusty,

Thanks for the comments and questions. I hate to delay an answer, but I have two mid-terms in less than 12 hours and need to finish some Greek exegesis for tomorrow. I will be happy to answer your questions as soon as I can.

I will, however, answer your last question.

This is indeed essential to a biblical understanding of the gospel. Either God accomplishes salvation fully and efficaciously or he does not and needs your help.

How can you say that I am "senselessly arguing?" What have I said that is senseless? I am sorry, but I do not take your words very well. I have thought out and supplied a very detailed question and its supporting strucure. There is nothing senseless here (unless calling it senseless would be a senseless statement).

Who have I beaten over the head with my argumentation? I have asked a question, and this is the type of answer I get? Geesh.

Oh, and while I don't like to mention my ministry as a means of self-promotion or whatever, but there have been several who God has allowed me to see come to faith in Jesus Christ, most recently a couple of weeks ago with a girl I have been sharing the gospel with for over two years. So, sir, before you can examine my life, please refrain from baseless judgments upon my life and ministry.

You know, I recently had a conversation with a close friend where we talked about the problematic relationship between anti-intellectualism and Arminianism. When I struggle to communicate a fair and reasoned quesiton I have with the Arminian framework of theology, I get these kinds of answers which are making it really hard for me to think that anti-intellectualism is to some degree foundational to Arminian theology.

Alright, back to my studies. If I have been senseless, beaten folks over the head, or totally missing something here, please let me know. I thought I was asking a good question . . .

10/16/2006 02:03:00 PM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

Timmy -- Wow. I don't think you could have responded more poorly to rustyc562 than you did. I do see where you acknowledge the fact that you don't take his words well. As someone who has stumbled across this blog on more than one occasion, I have to say, I'm not surprised at your reaction to his questions. It seems you take it as a personal attack when rustyc562 was simply asking about your view on the issue that you bring up. Is it not okay to ask the blogger his opinion? Apparently unless you are an eloquent writer or PHD in theology, one should refrain.

In spite of that, however, I want to ask you a few questions. Where, in your BLOG, are you bringing people to Christ. Where, in your BLOG, are you drawing people in? And, might I ask, where in your BLOG are you building up the body of Christ as the Bible tells us to do? It's not present in your BLOG.

Praise the Lord you are mission-minded! I see that from your response to him. You have a gift with this blog. You have also been gifted with a sharp intellect. Why not use it to persuade the lost to come to Christ? Why spend your time ranting about the Caner brothers who are, whether you choose to portray them as such or not, men of the Lord serving the Lord. And, by the way, when did Christianity become a dictatorship? When did we all have to begin thinking alike? When did it become ok to attack one another intellectual abilities simply because we differ in opinion?

Our job, our duty, on this planet is to share the Gospel. It is to worship Christ in His glory, to learn His word, to build up the body of believers, and to serve Him. While you THINK you're well-intentioned in this blog, I implore of you to not be deceived. It is insulting to your brothers and sisters who believe differently than you.

At such a time in the world as this, it is inherent that we don't tear one another to pieces of doctrinal issues. There is a greater need to address. You know the one of which I speak. There is a lost and dying world out there and perhaps some have read your blog. And, if they have, they have seen back-biting, angry, verbally combative Christianity. They have not seen the Gospel. What a waste.

10/16/2006 02:34:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Sorry to offend. I was just asking questions as well. I forewarned you that my response would not be worded as well as I would have liked it to be. I look forward to you answering the rest of my questions. I still don't understand why you shared the gospel with anyone if you believe they don't have the ability to choose Christ. Your sharing the gospel with that person would have no effect if this were the case.

As for anti-intellectual...? I'm sorry we cannot all know the mysteries of God for which He has given none of us the answers to.

My question about debating the topic is why do theologians find it worth while to argue predestination vs free will? both are in the bible and if I believe fully in either one it contradicts other passages in the Word. Christ died for my sins, I believe in Christ, I am saved not based on my own works but on the free gift of grace from God. I am commanded to share my faith so I do. Where does it come in to play that I need to know whether 1) I chose Christ because God made me choose Christ or 2)I chose Christ on my own, or 3) (my personal belief) that it was some combination of the two?

10/16/2006 02:34:00 PM

 
Blogger David & Renee said...

So, Rusty asked you some good questions and you basically told him he was stupid by calling him an arminian and then associating that with anti-intellectualism. He is in fact extremely intellegent. I have known him since birth. Why is it that when you ask a question it is posed perfectly and wonderfully and when he in turn asks you questions they are not. All I can tell about you and reading your blog for a few months is that you are right period. You don't want to ask genuine questions you just want yes men like the calvinist gadfly. I have never met a calvinismt who was not completely obsessed with calvinism! It's a human system of theology! It is capable of flaws. How can you claim to know the mysteries of God so perfectly? I have never met a calvinist who was not arrogant and talked down to anyone who wasn't as though they were not intellectual. When you ask questions of noncalvinist they are posed in a very condescending manner. Also it seems that your life ambition is to be a calvinist evangelist. It's all you talk about. These post are signed "your calvinist brother" not brother in Christ. Jesus is the name we are united in not Calvin! I'm not even talking theology I'm just pointing out that you are not reflecting Christ to me in the way that you pose your questions or act saddened that everyone is not a calvinist, "the biblical postion." I know I'm rambling, but I just can't even understand how you can blog all day long about this and not see that it is not glorifying anyone. Also why is it that if you're not a 5 point calvinist you are an arminian? That is not true. I am neither. I also notice that calvinist blogs like to point out when noncalvinists misspell words so they can further show that they must be stupid, but in fact it further show your arrogance to KNOW EVERYTHING! Please do not point it out to me. I am not going for the spelling b gold today. Nor do I have the time to write in a more paragraph thought form. Sorry. You are a clanging cymbol as far as I'm concerned. I am not typing out my beliefs, but in terms of TULIP and all that I believe as Paige Patterson does. He did a chapel message on predestination once in chapel at Southeastern Seminary if you would like to know. Differences should be addressed in love. I agree with Rusty that you are beating your brother and sisters over the head with your blog constantly preaching calvinism as the only biblical position and that you hope others will see the light and error of their unintellectual approach to the bible and come to this "truth." I guess you are wiser and smarter than many many great theologians who are extremely intellectual and not calvanists?

10/16/2006 02:41:00 PM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

One more thing -- this for the calvinist gadfly who says,

"This question needs to be pressed much more with Arminians in the "free will" debate. It is an airtight argument."

Actually, what needs to be pressed is evangelism. What needs to be spread is the gospel. Not flooding the internet with this arrogant blogging and this ridiculous notion that you fully understand how God works, how God thinks, who God is, etc.

10/16/2006 02:54:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Seinfieldian,

I took offense at what Rusty said because he called my question and comments "nonsense" and "beating people over the head" with an argument. It has yet to be shown where I have done that.

I also took offense over the fact that someone who does not know me can make judgments about my life and ministry who have no facts whatsoever of my life.

Others have been reading my blog (as well as Strange BaptistFire) and have gone out of their way to let me know how friendly and non-accusatory I am in my dialogues and discussions with people. I like to get them the benefit of the doubt and try my best to understand their position. I can give you a list of quotes and names of people who have gone on record to state how I have respected (though disagreed) and honored them as my brother and sisters without judging them.

You are free to ask my opinion, and I gave it. The issue here is not my opinion obviously (I gave it in the original post). The issue here is the question I have asked which neither of you have answered or attempted to answer. Instead, it is an attack on me, my ministry, my blog, etc.

As far as my blog goes, why do I need to provide you with emails and letters I have received from people who are daily encouraged and yes even ministered to by what I write? If my blog is not for you, I am sorry. But for hundreds of people, it appears to be something they like, and I am grateful for their readership.

Those who disagree with me are welcome too, and I am more than willing to discuss the issues, answer questions, and gain better insight from other people's perspectives.

Again, I am sorry that you feel the way you do. The disparaging comments of calling my blog a waste is an affront to the readership of P&P who think otherwise. Furthermore, I find it ironic that I have not insulted anyone in my comments; but in the meantime I have been told that I am being deceived, attacking other people, tearing down brothers, and "back-biting, angry, verbally combative" etc.

Anyway, I am not angry at you or Rusty. I only wish that you would take the time to answer my question I asked. I didn't think that was too much of a request, nor did I think it would lead to all this.

10/16/2006 03:03:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Rusty,

Apology accepted, and thank you for the questions you have asked. Again, I ask that you allow me some time to take care of my duties of family, school, and work, and I will get back to you ASAP. I am going to meet tonight with one of the new Christians and talk about prayer, mediation (since she comes from a RCC background), and Bible study. I would appreciate your prayers in that regard and for her continued obedience in the faith.

10/16/2006 03:07:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

David and/or Renee,

The Calvinist Gadfly is not a "yes man" by any means, but Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy. :)

Again, I will try to respond to you at a later time. You said a lot there, and I hope to be fair and level-headed when I reply. Thanks for your comments, though I must admit they do hurt a bit.

10/16/2006 03:13:00 PM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

Timmy -- Sorry it came across as a personal attack -- it was not meant as such. I am just so tired, coming from Seminary myself, of the "debating" of doctrinal issues. While they may seem all-consumingly important, they're not. The greatest lesson I learned in Seminary is that our job is to share the Gospel. How God works in each of us is, indeed, a mystery. I find it the antithesis of intellegence to presume that I, as a member of creation, can ever hope to understand the way the Creator works. Especially when His word is less than clear on the subject.

Anyway -- shouldn't you be studying? Greek is tough. I'll be praying for you.

10/16/2006 03:38:00 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Calvinism robs God of His glory by making Him the cause and the author of evil.

Read William Lane Craig's The Only Wise God for a better understanding of God's foreknowledge in relation to human responsibility.

10/16/2006 04:27:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Daniel,

Interesting note that you have on your old blog that you love the ministry of John Piper. In that light and because I am off to night class, let me direct you to an article Piper wrote called, "Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be?" which can be found at this address:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/EventMessages/ByDate/1476_Is_God_Less_Glorious_Because_He_Ordained_that_Evil_Be/

Craig is a Molinist who also holds to libertarian free will which does not make their position plausible. Counterfactuals are cannot be known in libertarian free agents. Anyway, I will comment more if I have time later.

God is not robbed of His glory, I promise. :)

10/16/2006 04:35:00 PM

 
Blogger David & Renee said...

I did not intend to be hurtful and you also claim that you do not claim to be hurtful, but saying someone is anti-intillectual is hurtful as well as saying your theological position is the only biblical one and that you hope us noncalvinist will come to the "truth." You can say people think you do not attack all day, but I do not see how those comments can be taken any other way. You will never see it my way and I will never see it yours. I think what you say is hurtful and arrogant and condescending. You think I and the other two on here who disagree with you are attacking you personally. Definitely not. I'm sure God uses your blog, ministry, etc. for good. I just don't see how an endless debate accomplishes anything. Even if I answer your question you will find a flaw in it just as I find flaws in yours. Some points of doctrine are not concrete. How does it do any good to debate these issues. It has been done for centuries and what good has come of it? There are enough scriptures to back either side. That is why I love the way Patterson presents the two. He gives you both sides and says how can we reconcile these? If we try we do injustice to the other scriptures contrary. Check it out at sebts.edu. It's his sermon on predestination during a series they did on doctrine a few years ago. I guess I shouldn't even be responding to the blog addressed to your armenian friends, because I am not an arminian. I just experience the endless fight at Seminary myself and I'm so tired of it. I think it's time for liberty in the nonessentials, but there's another difference of opinion. I don't think we need to know what came first, faith or regeneration. If we are so totally depraved that we cannot choose God when He convicts us by His word without Him causing us then how do you explain nonchristians who do good things and truly do it out of love and concern for others? Shouldn't they be too depraved to do anything that bears goodness or a reflection of God? I will answer your question though... I do not believe he elects based on foreknowledge. Simply put I believe He can accomplish His ultimate will through our truly free choices. My question ultimately for the calvinist system is the system comes to two logical conclusions that I cannot agree with. 1) Double Predestination - If He elects some to salvation He obviously is choosing for the others to go to hell. The problem with that is that the bible teaches He does not delight in anyone going to hell and that he wishes for all to come to repentance. 2) God is the author of sin. I had a calvinist tell me that he did believe in double predestination because there is no other option. He said that the 5 point system does logically lead to God being the author of sin, but because the bible says that God is not the author of sin then you just accept He's not. If your system's logical conclusion is not biblical then something must be wrong. Just as you say is true with the arminian system. I agree. Both lead to conclusions that are not biblical. How can we reconcile the two. I say we cannot. I hope that answers your question and poses my fair an ultimate question of calvanism. My other answer was rushed at work and while I believe it's fair and not hurtful you think otherwise just as I think about some of what you write. It's like the Caner brothers and White and Ascol. We are individual humans with different personalities we view things from completely different perspectives. I don't think any of them are liars I just think they see the situation from completely different perspectives and probably always will.

10/16/2006 04:57:00 PM

 
Blogger GeneMBridges said...


Actually, what needs to be pressed is evangelism. What needs to be spread is the gospel. Not flooding the internet with this arrogant blogging and this ridiculous notion that you fully understand how God works, how God thinks, who God is, etc.


If Scripture teaches it, then how, pray tell is it "arrogant" to discuss the way God works, thinks, etc. The strength of Reformed Theology has always been its exegesis. In fact, in order for you to even render this objection, you are making statements about the way God works and thinks, etc., since your objection presumes particular truths about God.

10/16/2006 06:01:00 PM

 
Blogger GeneMBridges said...

In your view in this post what is the point of evangelism? Because as far as I can see there is absolutely 0% need for evangelism with your views.

This is a straw man. This would be true if we affirmed that God has ordained the ends but not the means. We affirm both. The ends is that a particular people will be redeemed. The means is the gospel. Your objection is built on a category error, for it conflates fatalism and determinism.

Simply because God knows the choice you will make does not mean He made the choice for you! That's an illogical conclusion.

Your illustration works because you know your wife well. You know how she thinks, feels, etc. and what her reasons are.

This isn't an illustration of libertarianism. This is an illustration of compatibilism. In libertarianism all choices are uncaused not cause. One can and in fact does choose contrary to one's greatest motive or desire. One's actions are even subject to the fortunes of chance.

In libertarianism, the ends cannot be known by God, because they are not artifacts of God's mind at all. Such foreknowledge implies fixity at most, causation at a minimum. Fixity requires foreordination. Libertarianism denies fixity. The knowledge of those choices could not even exist, because they do not exist in God's mind, because they only exist in the mind of the agent, and the agent's actions are indeterminate in their minds until executed. Indetermination requires no causation.

Now, in Arminian theology, freedom is contracausal. I am free if I am able to do otherwise given the very same antecedent conditions.

So knowing all of the initial conditions does not explain the outcome.

Suppose we applied this principle of a homicide investigation. The victim was strangled to death. The murder took place in a company town, and the victim was the sole owner of the company.

He abused his position. He acted with impunity. He had the police paid off. He slept with the wives of his employees. He brought financial ruin on anyone who opposed him.

The challenge facing the detective is the wealth of potential suspects. Virtually everyone wanted the victim dead.

Our detective narrows the field by applying the old rule of motive, means, and opportunity.

Some of the townsfolk have alibis. They can account for their whereabouts. They were out of town or otherwise away from the scene of the crime when the murder occurred. So they had no opportunity to kill him.

The womenfolk can be eliminated because they would lack the physical strength to overpower and strangle the victim. They did not have the means to strangle him.

So although almost everyone had a motive to kill him, many were lacking the means or opportunity.

Of the remaining pool, there are conflicting motives to sort out. Although they all had reason to see him dead, his company was the only source of local employment. It would run counter to the financial self-interest of the killer to murder his employer.

However, the incentive of jealous retribution might override the financial disincentive. If he was sleeping with the killer’s wife, then the motive to exact revenge could well be stronger than the motive to keep one’s job.

Motives are also a necessary ingredient in assessing guilt or degrees of guilt. There’s a difference between accidentally killing someone and premeditated murder. There’s a difference between a sniper and a sharpshooter.

The outcome is the same, but the moral valuation of the outcome depends, in part, on the motive of the agent.

Let’s look at another example: bank robbers take a bank manager’s family hostage and threaten to kill his wife and kids unless he opens the safe and gives them time to make their escape.

Although he collaborated with the robbers, we consider the coercive situation an attenuating or exculpatory circumstance.

The Arminian may exclaim: “Ah, that proves our point. He didn’t have a choice!”

Actually, he did have a choice. He was free to refuse the robbers.

But we understand what the Arminian means. On a scale of values, the manager chose to sacrifice the money in order to save his own family. And we’re prepared to excuse his behavior on that account. Indeed, we might blame him if he had done otherwise.

But this is not a libertarian argument. He didn’t have a choice in the sense that his overriding motive was the safety of his own family. So this is only a mitigating factor if you assume that he was well-intentioned, and his motive was a compelling motive,—so causality is still the operative criterion. The only question is whether he was well-motivated or ill-intentioned.

The problem with Arminian theology is that it cuts the causal nerve. And by eschewing causality, it lacks explanatory power. And in the absence of explanatory power, it is irrational to the core. It cannot explain why agents act or refrain from acting.

If action is inexplicable, then we lose any firm footing for personal or social ethics, historical causation or jurisprudence.

Arminian theology is absurd because Arminian theology is surd—by introducing a surd dynamic into the world.

Remember, too, that human agents interact with a physical environment, so this undercuts scientific explanation as well.

As such, Calvinism and Arminianism are not epistemically on par with each other. For Calvinism enjoys explanatory power, while Arminian theology represents the abdication of rationality.

Arminian theology is worse than untrue—it could not even be true. It is unable to supply and satisfy certain truth-conditions without which the very possibility of an explanation is overruled.

The bible teaches predestination as well as free will and says that we must choose Christ. I don't claim to know the answer to this question, I also don't claim to fully understand how Christ can be 100% man and 100% God... do you?

You are conflating "free will" with "libertarianism," by assuming, without benefit of argument, that "free will" is the same thing as "choice." . Nothing can be deduced about abilities from a command to choose. One can command someone to do something to show them their inability and increase their guilt. Remember, the reason that men cannot obey is moral. They cannot obey, because, by nature, they do not want to obey.

We do not deny free will. We deny libertarian freedom. These are not convertable propositions.

This is what we affirm: 1. God hath indued the Will of Man, with that natural liberty, and power of acting upon choice; that it is (a) neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
a Mat. 17.12. Jam. 1 14. Deut. 30.19.


2. Man in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power, to will, and to do that (b) which was good, and well-pleasing to God; but yet (c) was mutable, so that he might fall from it.
b Eccl. 7.29.

c Gen. 3.6


3. Man by his fall into a state of sin hath wholly lost (d) all ability of Will, to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, (e) and dead in Sin, is not able, by his own strength, to (f) convert himself; or to prepare himself thereunto.
d Rom. 5.6. ch. 8.7.

e Eph. 2.1.5.

f Tit. 3 3,4,5. Joh. 6.44.


4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of Grace (g) he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone, enables him (h) freely to will, and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his (i) remaining corruptions he doth not perfectly nor only will that which is good; but doth also will that which is evil.
g Col. 1.13. Joh. 8.36.

h Phil. 2.13.

i Rom. 7.15.18,19 21.23.


5. The Will of Man is made (k) perfectly, and immutably free to good alone, in the state of Glory only.
k Eph. 4.13.

along with question 3... do you fully understand everything about God and the bible or do you understand that there are things on this side of heaven we will never fully comprehend about our great and powerful God? I know I'll never understand everything, even once I get to heaven.

The question isn't "do you understand all the Bible," but "Does the Bible place limits on human freedom? If so, what are they?" or "Does the Bible attribute human choices to motives or to uncaused choices?" or "Does God work all all things after the counsel of His will or not?"

Do you think this argument is essential in whether or not I or you or anyone receives salvation? Why do you want to senselessly argue doctrine that is not essential to salvation when there are many more important issues at hand. Don't beat your Christian brothers and sisters over the head to argue a point we can't fully know the answer too when there are lost sinners in the world who have not yet heard that Christ has died for their sins.

Because these issues touch on the way we view the world, do evangelism, missions, etc. Do we abdicate the work of the church to secular government, or do we have a real confidence that God has a people for Himself reserved and elected that will be called to Himself and redeemed if we obey what He has commanded us to do?

Your argument would negate the entire Reformation if pressed to its logical conclusion. If we add value to the atonement, for example, then we are not truly saved by faith alone. It becomes an instrument that can constitute the very content of our own righteousness before God. If election is based on foreseen faith, then God plays favorites. If we are not saved by faith alone, then Arianism may be true. If we affirm that man can do some spiritual good from his own will, then we have reason to unite the state and the church very closely. If you can accept Jesus as Savior but not Lord, then that leads directly to antinomianism. If you believe that God gives prevenient grace to all men without exception and that men must improve on this to believe in Christ and be saved, then you have moved salvation out of the category of mercy into retributive justice. That affects the way you do Christian ethics. If you believe election is based on foreseen faith, and if you put regeneration after faith, then you put both election and regeneration outside of a chain effected by grace. Only the cross is in view. That's functional Unitarianism, and if you don't believe that's true, then look at church history, for the General Baptists were nearly destroyed by Unitarianism and Socinianism and were only continued because of the New Connexion in 1770. If you deny irresistible grace, then you have no reason to believe in inerrancy, because they operate on the same principle; to affirm one and deny the other is massively inconsistent. Is it too much to ask our SBC friends to be consistent in their theology?

Examples could be multiplied. All of these doctrines underwrites the other and has a very real world, practical application.

The gospel itself and a saving profession of faith are about repentance and clinging to Christ alone. We do not deny that. Timmy has never stated you have to be a Calvinist to be saved. However, we also acknowledge that there is more to Christian living than "Jesus loves me."

To quote J.I. Packer:

Calvinism is something much broader than the ‘five points’ indicate. Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavor to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of his will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible - the God-centered outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of his great preordained plan for his creatures and his church. The five points assert no more than God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that he is sovereign everywhere.

10/16/2006 06:31:00 PM

 
Blogger GeneMBridges said...

Calvinism robs God of His glory by making Him the cause and the author of evil.

Read William Lane Craig's The Only Wise God for a better understanding of God's foreknowledge in relation to human responsibility.


William Lane Craig is a Molinist that consistently conflates determinism and fatalism.

There are numerous problems with Molinism:

In Molinism, God, through His knowledge of how men will act and react, arranges the circumstances in such a manner that they are determinative for God's planned outcome. I'd add that we're never really told how God knows this about men; He just really really does.

But remember, they have libertarian freedom. Ergo, such contingencies would not be knowable to God if freedom was truly indeterminate, nor would future free contingencies. The latter could not even exist, because they do not exist in God's mind as an aspect of a decreed universe that He governs. Created forces cannot be independent forces; independent forces cannot be created forces.

Here's the rub. Libertarian freedom is, by definition, indeterminate. If circumstances determine the outcome, then this is a violation of libertarian free will. Libertarian free will is contra-causal. No act is considered to be truly free unless the agent of the action has contra-causal freedom. Ergo, if the circumstances are determinative, they are causal, negating contracausal freedom, a premise Molinism (if this is typical Molinism e.g. libertarian) upholds. In sum, indeterminate freedom, negates circumstantial determination and vice versa.

Now, a Calvinist can legitimately appeal to Molinism, for the Calvinist says that God can affect the will directly if He so desires, viz compatibilism. Regeneration preceding faith is just such an instance, but notice that what is happening is a change in the nature of the agent, not an actual changing of the will as such.

Likewise Reformed theology, at least in the old days, distinguishes(ed) between God's potentia absoluta and potentia ordinata. The former referred to those items in which God directly intervenes, like creation, miracles, inspiration of Scripture, conversion, the events of the eschaton. The latter falls out to the nature of secondary causes and through the providential working of circumstances. So, in this sense, a Calvinist can appeal to Molinism, but a libertarian cannot do so without embracing a premise he seeks to deny.

Molinism is workable if it affirms compatibilism. However, most Molinists don't affirm compatibilism, they affirm libertarian free will.There is also a fatalistic quality to Molinism. It endows the agent a libertarian freewill; however, the agent has no control over what possible world is instantiated.

Given a choice, he’d prefer to be instantiated in a world where he goes to heaven rather than hell.
So Molinism gives the agent a free “will” without the freedom of opportunity to actually choose otherwise. That's fatalism. Craig, not the Calvinist, is a fatalist.

One of the problems here is not with his appeal to counterfactuals, per se, but with the way he defines counterfactual freedom in libertarian terms.Once again, he’s assuming what he needs to prove.

For example, a Calvinist could affirm the counterfactuals of freedom, but define freedom in compatibilist terms.Likewise, a Calvinist could affirm the counterfactuals of freedom, but assign them then to the agency of God rather than the agency of man.

Craig is simply supposing that you need to index counterfactual freedom to the human will rather than the divine will. No supporting argument is offered to warrant his presumption.Counterfactual knowledge does not entail middle knowledge.


Craig also has problems with his exegesis. He'll appeal to one Scripture with another, but in the process he assumes what he needs to prove, so he appeals are made in tandem and are often circular. He's really bad about this when he writes about the Book of Hebrews. For one thing, Craig has made no effort to show that a Molinist version of predestination is the least bit Scriptural.

Here's an example from his work:

“In the second moment, God possesses knowledge of all true counterfactual propositions, including counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. That is to say, He knows what contingent states of affairs would obtain if certain antecedent states of affairs were to obtain; whereas by His natural knowledge God knew what any free creature could do in any set of circumstances, now in this second moment God knows what any free creature would do in any set of circumstances. This is not because the circumstances causally determine the creature's choice, but simply because this is how the creature would freely choose.”

i) One problem with this framework is that it’s either Platonic or viciously circular. Pick one.

On the one hand, it looks like possibilities inhere in some autonomous, free-floating plenum. God is free to choose which possible world to instantiate, but the possibilities in and of themselves are ontologically independent of God.

Since I assume that Craig subscribes to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, he cannot very well affirm the existence of some coeternal substance or absolute alongside God.

If, on the other hand, the possibilities are constituted by the divine mind, a la Leibniz, then it’s viciously circular to say that God is choosing in accordance with what the human agent would do, for whatever properties the hypothetical agent would have are due to God’s mentally and freely assigning a certain set of properties to the hypothetical agent in the first place.

ii) Another problem with Craig’s construction is his failure to explain how God could know what a free agent would do if free agency is defined in libertarian terms.

At most, God would know every possible outcome.

iii) Related to (ii), to say that God knows what contingent states of affairs would obtain if certain antecedent states of affairs were to obtain is only cogent if the antecedent state of affairs is a sufficient condition of the subsequent outcome. But that would be deterministic (pace libertarianism).

iv) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Craig’s framework is cogent, middle knowledge would be causally dependent on the creature (i.e. on what the creature would do). If so, then we must jettison divine aseity. If God is not a se, you are on the road to Open Theism, even if you deny it.

10/16/2006 06:48:00 PM

 
Blogger Calvinist Gadfly said...

Seinfeldian Rantings,

Since the great commission is focussed on discipleship and learning about God, debating theological issues is essential.

You mentioned that you are weary of theological debate...well that makes two of us. I would rather spend all day reading the great Reformed thinkers than responding to stupid arguments such as "Why evangelize if God has his elect."

But because I feel called to do this I get often need to read the pastorals and find spiritual energy in contending for the faith.

By the way, on my blog soon I will be starting a series on "Five Questions for Arminians" in which one of them will be "Why evangelize if God's elect is not certain?"

I invite you to participate in the discussion.


Alan

10/16/2006 08:22:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

First of all let me apologize. You have probably wasted much time in responding to some of my questions since I am not a seminary graduate and got lost in so much of what you wrote.

Second, I AM NOT an Arminian, neither are the other two who have posted (Renee and David and Seinfeld rantings). Why do you continue to tell me that the Arminian view is flawed and when pushed to its limits untrue. I never said I was arminian, in fact renee&david I beleive specifically state their views are neither arminian nor calvanist. I never said it was free will alone or predestination, I said it was a combination of the two. Which was one thing from my post you did not put in italics and respond to.

I would rather spend all day reading the great Reformed thinkers than responding to stupid arguments such as "Why evangelize if God has his elect."

Why is my argument stupid? Never have I called you stupid or even implied it.

By the way, on my blog soon I will be starting a series on "Five Questions for Arminians" in which one of them will be "Why evangelize if God's elect is not certain?"

first, why would any of us participate in this since NONE of us are arminian?

Second, this is almost the exact question you said was "stupid" to ask and debate....?

Thirdly, why have you not responded to renee&david's questions:
My question ultimately for the calvinist system is the system comes to two logical conclusions that I cannot agree with. 1) Double Predestination - If He elects some to salvation He obviously is choosing for the others to go to hell. The problem with that is that the bible teaches He does not delight in anyone going to hell and that he wishes for all to come to repentance. 2) God is the author of sin. I had a calvinist tell me that he did believe in double predestination because there is no other option. He said that the 5 point system does logically lead to God being the author of sin, but because the bible says that God is not the author of sin then you just accept He's not. If your system's logical conclusion is not biblical then something must be wrong. Just as you say is true with the arminian system. I agree. Both lead to conclusions that are not biblical. How can we reconcile the two. I say we cannot.

why has no one responded to this? I have not been to seminary, renee&david has. her questions are tougher to answer than mine i think. please answer this question because i'd like to know the answer (well not THE answer, but your answer).

This post is already too long... as was yours. I also failed to see the point in the first of your two illustrations... please do not try explaining it further. I am perfectly content with not knowing everything about free will or predestination. I will contine to evangelize and seek Christ and glorify Him with my life whether I ever know the answer or not.

Just a reminder... don't forget the part where I said no one who has posted is an Arminian, so why do you consistently refer to us as one?

10/16/2006 09:17:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

oh yea...nothing in my comment posts should lead you to the conclusion that I believe "Jesus loves me" and this is all there is to my Christian walk. I'm not even sure why that comment is in your response.

10/16/2006 09:28:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Alright, I've got a spare moment here, so I am going to have to be selective in what I respond to. So in this comment, I want to respond briefly to David and/or Renee.

You said: You think I and the other two on here who disagree with you are attacking you personally. Definitely not.

Here's a list of charges leveled at me before your last post:

"senseless argument"
"beating people over the head"
being "deceived"
lobbing "insults"
"backbiting, angry, and verbally combative"
"a waste"
"not glorifying to God"
not honoring the gospel
"arrogant"
surrounded by "yes men"
"condescending"
"a clanging cymbal"

Now, please tell me where I have said anything remotely to this effect. I referred to Rusty's initial comment and referred to the relationship of anti-intellectualism and Arminianism because of his comment, not Rusty. I do not know Rusty from Adam and in no way can tell you if he is "stupid" or anything else for that matter. On my post, I asked a simple question with the hopes that I would get an answer somewhat related to it. Instead of an answer, I am told that I am beating people over the head with senseless arguments. Where in my questions, comments, or responses have I acted in an arrogant and condescending way? If, because I happen to believe that the Reformed understanding of the gospel is the most biblical, am I to be faulted for that?

Furthermore, where have I been combative, angry, back-biting? For all these charges to publicly be leveled at me, methinks there needs to be some substantiation behind them. If I am such a believer that you can only refer to me as a "clanging cymbal," I am sorry, but I do not believe I have once shown myself to be as unloving and unreasonable as those who have come here to do exactly the thing they are accusing (without warrant) me of.

And still without an answer to my question . . .

Instead, I get sarcasm - insult - ridicule - accusation - sarcasm - attack ad nauseum. In the two years and 800 posts I have written, only once in a blue moon does something like this happen here, and usually it comes from people who know little to anything about me, understand what I write, or desire to engage in a meaningful dialogue. Should you choose to hang around (and I sincerely hope that you do), please refer to the purpose/argument of the post. I would rather not have my article hijacked with lobbing ad hominems without any interest other than to lambast my character, ministry, and passion to glorify God without reference to anything I have said up to that point.

You mentioned that I am completely obsessed with Calvinism, constantly preaching it, and have nothing else to talk about. I beg to differ. If you are so adamant to prove this to be the case, all 800 of my posts are available in my archives. Please identify the number of posts I have written referring to Calvinism, please get back to me with the percentage. I am not a betting man, but I put $.25 down that it is less than %15.

Regarding Calvinism, suffice it to say, there is ample warrant to bring the matter up, since so many brothers who hold to the doctrines of grace are being mistreated, slandered, and punished for holding to such biblical doctrines. I receive emails and letters from pastors and staff members who are being run out of their churches for no other reason other than being charged a "hyper-Calvinist" or some other term intended in a derogatory manner. Protestantism, evanglicalism, and historic Southern Baptist doctrines attest to Calvinism; moreover, Jesus, Paul, and the early church taught it.

Yet we live in a day where a synergistic, man-centered gospel has taken a firm footing in our churches and producing nominal Christians who are in large part biblically illiterate and not "visible" as the Puritans would put it. Those of us who are Reformed in our doctrine want to see that Reformation continue in our lives, in our churches, in our doctrine, all for the glory of God.

This is not a fight. This is not theological one-upmanship. This is not "non-essential" matters. It is the heart of Christianity, it is exposition on the character of God, and it is the stewardship of the gospel of God's grace.

So with that in mind, I sincerely asked a question that was brewing in my mind. It was a question that brought out three key elements to Arminian theology: saving faith sourced in man, conditional election based on foreseen faith, and libertarian free will. These three, I argued, are not biblical and futhermore cannot be sustained logically. Should you choose to answer the question from a biblical and reasoned approach, I would love to hear your answer. I am not saying that you are wrong and I am right. I just want to know how you deal with the question I asked. So that brings me back to my original post, so let's start over, okay?

10/16/2006 09:35:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Rusty,

Many attempt to hold that there is a third position other than Calvinist or Arminian, but as we have seen through church history, there really isn't another position. If you hold to monergism, the doctrines of grace, the sovereignty of God in salvation, then you are a Calvinist. If you are a synergist, believe in libertarian free will, and do not believe in the doctrines of grace, you are an Arminian. Sure, there are a few points of modification (say with Amyraldians), but as a whole, the theological constructs stand as they are and have throughout church history.

Though I would like to answer the questions posed by Renee, I am off to work and to meet with my friend and new sister in Christ. Maybe some of the other folks would be interested in answering a few in the meantime. I stil have one mid-term and my Greek exegesis to do! Anyway, I will try to get back into the discussion soon.

BTW, Daniel (if you are still around), did you read Piper's sermon? Just wondering. I re-read it tonight and thought it might be helpful for your assertion that since God ordained that evil be he is somehow less glorious. Jonathan Edwards and Piper (as he explains) believe just the opposite. I tend to agree. :)

10/16/2006 09:52:00 PM

 
Blogger Gavin Brown said...

Tim,

Whoa! This comment thread has kept me up past my bedtime.

I've got several brief & non-combative thoughts/observations for the commenters in this thread (they always check back).

1. I stop by P&P literally every weekday, and have been encouraged and edified by the content(even though I still havent made the blogroll:). I dont know Tim personally,but have developed quite a respect for him simply by the reading of this blog.

2. Gene's 2 comments may be longer than "War & Peace."

3. Anti-intellectualism is what it is. A triangle shouldn't get all upset if you observe that it has three sides.

Blessings.

10/17/2006 12:38:00 AM

 
Blogger David & Renee said...

Ok so you responded to my first post which I admitted to writing quickly and while slightly upset. I had heard someone other than you talk about calvinism all day long at work. They were referring to all who are not reformed as "they" the entire time and saying "they" have no argument "they" are silly. It was very bad especially since he had no idea mine or any other person's position in the office. He just spoke as though he were as authoritative as the very word of God. I guess then after hours of that I read your blog and just felt like this is all anyone seems to care about.

I am also 1 of 4 people who disagreed with you and all those comments you addressed me with were not mine. Only fair since I took my frustrations out on you for the guy I heard all day at work before readind your blog. That's why I have a second post that does answer your question and poses two for you. That was the better approach. I guess I took a general attitude of others from time spent at seminary and stuck it all on you. I apologize.

You do say in one of your blogs that it is "the" biblical position and you hope others come to this truth. I think that's too strong for a doctrine that has been disagreed upon for centuries. We'll die arguing and see each other in heaven and only then will we know who was right or who had it remotely closer to how God planned it. But by then I doubt we'll care at all.

I think there is a middle position, but you don't so now I know why all reformed people call everyone else arminian. Please move away from my first post and look at my second. I don't know who wrote the novel on here, but that's not necessary. I have read spurgeon, grudem, erickson, piper, etc. I know reformed theology. I just can't accept the two logical conclusions it leads to.

Discussing theology is good, but I don't think on doctrine such as this we should claim that ours is THE position.

10/17/2006 06:02:00 AM

 
Blogger Jim said...

Unbelievable. 25 comments, most from non-calvinists, and still not a single attempt to answer the original question. One would think that in all the years that free-will has been an issue, going all the way back to Augustine, someone would be able to provide a coherent response. But we see nothing even attempted.

Of course, the reason is that there is no rational answer to the question. This is precisely the point of origin of the Open Theism heresy. Clark Pinnock has admitted such. He came to see the clarity of the Calvinist criticism that if God knew what man was going to do, that man is not free. He cannot do what God knows he will not do. Pinnock was honest enough to confront that problem. However, he and the other Open Theists, made the wrong choice. They were confronted with the choice of jettisoning their idea of libertarian free will, or jettisoning the exhaustive foreknowledge of God. They chose to deny God's foreknowledge. They made the wrong choice, but at least they're being consistent and intellectually honest, rather than ignoring the problem completely.

10/17/2006 07:53:00 AM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Jim,
There are also many problems with calvinism. All theological systems have flaws. I am currently reading a former calvinist's critique of calvinism. http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html

The calvinist system is easy to defend because it is internally consistant. But it is built on total depravity as defined by Calvin, which can be refuted.

10/17/2006 09:21:00 AM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Ok here goes. Remember, I'm a grad student, but in accounting not seminary. I don't claim to have all the answers but these are my personal beliefs as of this day in my life.

According to the Arminian theological framework, God’s election of a person is conditioned on the basis of foreseen faith.

I do not believe that God's election is based on foreseen faith. I also do not understand election. May be 2 years ago I would not have agreed with election at all, however, it is in the Bible and therefore I do not deny it, I simply do not understand it wholly.

The faith which God sees is an act of trust that is inherent within a sinner (that is derivative of man and not a gift from God) who freely, of his own accord and without any external or internal influence, chooses Christ.

I do not believe anyone, without any external or internal influence from God, can choose Christ. God loved us first and also He knocks at the door and waits for us to answer. He initiates. However, when He knocks at the door He DOES wait for US to answer. Given, He may also give us the strength and ability to answer the door, He will not answer it for us.

if they possess libertarian free will, they must necessarily be able to choose contrarily if they are to really be free. So in essence, God cannot foreknow what a man who possesses libertarian free will will do, whether he believes or not, because if God knew they would put their faith in Him, they would not be free.

This is Human Logic(which is flawed I would say, beacuse we are not God)
This makes logical sense to you I assume since you wrote it and believe it. But who says that if God foreknew my decision I don't still have full 100% choice as to which decision to make. The Bible doesn't say that therefore there's a possibility its not true. Just because he knows with certainty, not a prediction, that I will choose Christ why does this logically lead you to believe I never have a choice in the first place?

side note: I'm not sure exactly what "libertarian" free will is.

Back to my point: Simply because you and I(humans) do not understand how God can know the decision we will make and at the same time we are still able to make that decision for ourselves (granted, with His help as I mentioned above) does not mean it's impossible.

Let me give you anoter example:

In it's LOGICAL conclusion a person would tell you Christ could not be both 100% man and 100% God correct? Logically it makes no sense. But the Word says He is and simply because my mind cannot fully understand this fact does not mean I deny it to be true and come up with a doctrine to support my logical thoughts.

The same is true with free will and predestination. The Word says I must choose Christ. the Word says ALL have the chance to choose Christ (not just those whom He has elected) anyone can come to Christ correct? I believe so. The Word also talks about predestination. Therefore, as I do with the 100% man 100% God example I don't believe in a doctrine that fits my logical, limited human mind. I accept that both are true and that God can do things that seem impossible (i.e. Him knowing my decision while I still have full capability to make that decision) because for Him they are not impossible.

10/17/2006 09:22:00 AM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

So here’s my question: How can God, in his foreknowledge, know something that, according to your theological construct, cannot not be known?

Your question... According to the theological construct this knowledge cannot be known. Based on human logic it cannot be known. God is not constrained by the bounds of human logic, I assume we will all agree. Your points are tough to refute and great to argue because they do make sense to us humans logically. The only problem is they are just that: Human logic. Simply because you explain it logically does not make it Truth. God in His foreknowledge can do whatever He pleases, He is God. He spoke worlds into existence. God is capable of doing things that can't be explained with our human logic.

I do not base my beliefs on my logical interpretation of the Bible, if I did there are many things in the Bible I could not logically acccept. I accept things I do not understand by faith that God is who His Word says He is and that He can do these things though I don't understand them.

Do these last two posts better accomplish the goal in which you were striving for with this post? I hope so.

10/17/2006 09:34:00 AM

 
Blogger Jim said...

Renee,

When you say, "There are also many problems with Calvinism", are you admitting, then, that there is no solution to the question which Timmy has raised?

As a Christian who values truth, it is incumbent upon me to study to show myself approved. Should there be those area's of my belief which are inherently self-contradictory, I must struggle to work them out, knowing that God's word does not contradict itself.

I have done so, and find no such contradictions in my "Calvinism". Certainly nothing that would remotely approach the problem that Timmy's question raises for the non-calvinist. His question goes to the very heart of the non-calvinist system. Even honest Arminians like Pinnock have seen this.

It is, then, incumbent upon you, and those who share your views, to deal with this admitted self-contradiction in your own system. To say, "There are problems in Calvinism, too" does not answer the question. Rather, it supports Timmy's observation of anti-intellectualism. "I just don't like Calvinism. I can't defend my own view, but I know I don't believe that."

10/17/2006 09:52:00 AM

 
Blogger Renee said...

We've been given a real hard time for not answering the question. I see that Rusty has answered it and I answered it by saying I didn't believe that. I guess that answer wasn't good enough. I have found my answer already typed up and explained extremely well. What makes it even better is that it is written by a former calvinist. He believed calvinism and preached it and loved it, but honestly approached its flaws and discovered he needed to abandon it due to the seriousness of the flaws. I have just copied over the one section that answers Timmy's original question, but the entire thing is a must read to understand us non-calvinist non-arminians. I provided the link earlier on a post to Jim. Like I said before I shouldn't have ever posted on here in response to this because I am not an arminian. The reason I did is because all calvinist say all non-calvinist are arminians. We're not and here's proof to a 3rd position.

The non-calvinist non-arminian answer to the question: How can God, in his foreknowledge, know something that, according to your theological construct, cannot not be known?

II. Unconditional Election

The Calvinist tells us that man has no ability at all to cry out to God for His mercy. All humanity, therefore, will certainly perish apart from a forceful intervention from heaven. There is no hope whatsoever that man's will, ever at enmity with his Maker, can avail him to the gospel. God must reach out and change the man into a new creature who can will to do right. And there is no necessity laid upon God that He must thus intervene in the lives of all of humanity, the Calvinist reasons.

God has decided, before the beginning of time, whom He will save with this "effectual call" and whom He will leave to suffer ruin. This is the doctrine commonly called Unconditional Election. The teaching has a "flip-side," Reprobation, which holds that God also foreordains the damnation of the non-elect.

There are many texts which speak of God's choice of His people. Here lies the strength of Calvinism. God chose Israel, irrespective of merit or status (Deut. 7:7,8). He chose Jacob over Esau before either "had done anything good or bad" (Rom. 9:11-13).

When the apostles preached to the Gentiles, we read that "all who were appointed for eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). Paul said that God "chose us in him before the creation of the world" and "predestined us to be adopted as his sons" (Eph. 1:4,5). In the garden, Jesus did not pray for the world, "but for those you [the Father] have given me, for they are yours" (John 17:9).



Arminian Election

Classical Arminianism tends to base God's selection of His people upon foreseen faith. He looks down the corridors of time, sees who will believe the gospel, and chooses them. I have never been satisfied with this view. Scripture does not say that God chose us because He knew we would choose Him. That would certainly be no choice at all on the part of God.

The biblical term "foreknowledge" offers no support to the "foreseen faith" view. While it is clear that God knew us and loved us before the world was, it in no way means that He noted our future faith and chose us because of it. The Scriptures never tell us such things and we should not assume them simply to get rid of Calvinism.

Another attempt to explain election is by asserting a kind of vague, "corporate" election. In other words, God chose to have a people, a church, but has not chosen the individuals who are to compose that company. That seems to be a very stilted and unsatisfactory approach. In Romans 9, God's choice of Jacob over Esau was very personal. In Revelation 17:8, there is mention of specific names "written in the book of life from the creation of the world" (Rev. 17:8). There is nothing nebulous or "nameless" about election.

Others say that God only elects us to special service, as Christ chose his twelve apostles. Election, they say, does not pertain to salvation per se. But Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, told them that God had chosen them "to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13). Evidently, election is unto salvation, not just to specific ministries.



Election a Mystery

Divine election is clearly a Bible doctrine. It no more belongs to the Calvinist than to anyone else. It is really a part of the larger Scriptural theme of the Sovereignty of God, found everywhere in both Testaments. God sets up and deposes rulers (Ps. 75:6,7), operates the forces of nature (Job 37), overrules evil for good (Gen. 50:20) and has "determined the times set for them [the nations of men] and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:26).

Dewey makes no metaphysical distinction between the election of grace and the election of mundane affairs of life. All are the result of divine sovereignty, which is past finding out.

"...the apostle says, that Christians are 'predestinated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things, after the counsel of his own will.' If this be true, then everything is a matter of divine counsel; everything is disposed of by election. And men are as much elected to be philosophers, merchants, or inhabitants of this country or that country, as they are elected to be Christians. If this is election, I believe there will be found no difficulty in it; save what exists in that inscrutableness of the subject, which must forbid our expecting ever to fathom it."14

Election is true, but is shrouded in deep mystery. It is one of the secret things that belong to the Lord our God (Deut. 29:29). Calvinists and Arminians both err when they make precise statements about the nature of election. God has not told us whether or not there are conditions attached to it and we should not venture into it with such bold assertions.

The Calvinist, however, does need to temper his view of election with the clearly revealed truth in Ezekiel 18:23: "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" Too often, we hear Calvinists say that the damnation of the non-elect is "the good pleasure of His will." But here, God states explicitly that He takes no pleasure in damning anyone but prefers that they turn from sin and live. How this idea fits into the Calvinist scheme is not at all clear.

Nor is it clear, from a Calvinistic standpoint, why Jesus should weep over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

This poses a thorny difficulty for the Calvinist. First of all, he must assume that the reprobation of Jerusalem was "the good pleasure" of the Father. If that is so, why was it so displeasing and heart-rending to Jesus, who was always in agreement with the divine will? Shouldn't Jesus have also been "pleased" with the Father's reprobation of these people?

Secondly, Jesus is here attributing the lost condition of Jerusalem to her own unwillingness, not the want of election. Jesus was willing to receive them but they were unwilling. This seems to contradict the confident assertions of Calvinists about Unconditional Election.

So what doctrine do we put in the place of the Calvinist's Unconditional Election? Do we opt for one of the many Arminian forms of election? Tempting as that may be, I must now settle on the mysterious Biblical Election, the details of which have not been fully disclosed as we look into our "glass, darkly." Perhaps further theological works by thoughtful Christians will reveal a more satisfactory resting place for our convictions.

10/17/2006 10:02:00 AM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Jim,
I already said over and over I am not an arminian. That system is flawed. I do agree there is no solution to Timmy's question. (deut. 29:29) I put the link that explains exactly why I think calvinism is flawed. If you wish to know why I belive this then go read that. If you do not and want to maintain your system is perfect then don't.

10/17/2006 10:11:00 AM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

Timmy, I agree with Renee / David that you have received the brunt of our frustration w/o us answering your question. The question, in truth, cannot be answered by us as we are not aremnian. Neither are we calvinist. Without trying to sound sassy, I believe the three of us strive to be Biblicists. Now, that's not to say that you, Gadfly, and whoever else is here is not. Please don't misunderstand me. It is simply to say that our reading of the Scripture, our study of God's Word, does not leave us with a black and white explanation of the way God works. It leaves us, as I'm sure it leaves you, in awe of the mystery of God.

I don't think anything written here (and I speak only for myself) has glorified God. For that I do apologize. You were attacked simply b/c we've heard this argument over and over and over from people who are desperately, arrogantly condescending. Also, as addressed yeseterday, I come from a seminary background myself &, upon graduation, was disgusted with how much time we spent debating things that, in light of the great commission, do not matter AS MUCH as actually sharing the gospel. That is not to say they don't matter. Of course study, debate, growth, discipleship all matter. It is from Jesus' own heart that he asks us to do all these things. I think that, too often, we as spiritual brothers and sisters fight about things simply b/c we don't allow for other opinions. It is the same thing my brother and I do. We butt heads.

I type all this to say, Timmy, that you were certainly wrongly accused by myself. I do not agree with Calvnism or Armenianism. I never have and I doubt I ever will. That does not mean, however, that we are not united in the same struggle. I believe Renee said it best when she said she (we) reacted to your blog & that reaction was greatly influenced by our current situation.

I am so thrilled that your blog is helping people! That is awesome. Forgive my short-temper and please understand that we may never figure this out (even in heaven) and THAT'S what makes God so amazing. Because you can't put Him in a box & you can't systematize Him. He is beyond that. I'm sure you have encountered Him on such a level. And I'm sure that everyone here on this comment board realizes that God & the way He works is greater than we can express

10/17/2006 11:05:00 AM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Wow....obviously there are several of you guys (rusty, sienfeldian, and david/renee) who disagree with calvinism.

I think the charge that calvinists don't evangelize is pretty whacky, and unfounded. But that can be discussed later.

Another crazy charge is the statement that discussion of theology is a waste of time. There is much spiritual benefit for believers to discuss the Bible. if you really believed your only spiritual duty was to evangelize then you would have no need for the church or for reading the Bible or discussing the Bible because those would simply be distractions from evangelism. Needless to say, watching Seinfeld would be sinful. ;)



My question is this: what is your MAJOR objection with calvinism? Is it election? Particluar redemption/limited atonement? Denial of free will?

I think it would be beneficial to discuss your actual disagreements, do you agree?

10/17/2006 11:39:00 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Timmy,

Wow! Your comments really multiply fast. I need to be on the ball.

Yes. I really do love the ministry of Piper. He has freed me from Kant's ethics. I'm also familiar with that article by Piper. I believe that I have a copy in his book The Pleasures of God.

I think that I understand his argument, but it just doesn't ring true to me. Something seems just wrong with the idea of compatiblism. It doesn't make sense to me. It seems like a square circle. Just because you say that they are compatible, doesn't make them compatible.

I know that emotions shouldn't guide the discussion, but somewhere deep in my soul, I can't accept Piper's answer to the problem of evil. I know, that this might seem very polemic, but if Calvinism is true, then to me events like the Holocaust are reduced to being a cosmic puppet show. I can't accept it.

Do you see my problem? I hope that this doesn't seem like an attack or anything like, it's just what I think.

10/17/2006 11:43:00 AM

 
Blogger Calvinist Gadfly said...

http://www.calvinistgadfly.com/?p=6

10/17/2006 11:43:00 AM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Gray,
Did you miss where I tell you every one of my problems with calvinism? I give 2 and then I give a link to all the problems with it.

10/17/2006 11:59:00 AM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Gray,
It appears you are responding directly to Seinfeldian Rantings, but you are ignoring that someone did try to discuss the disagreements. SR did not restate because she agrees with me.

10/17/2006 12:01:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Gray,

My question is this: what is your MAJOR objection with calvinism? Is it election? Particluar redemption/limited atonement? Denial of free will?

The major objection is that Timmy is saying he has the answer to the question of election and free will. He says that his Calvanistic view is the Truth. There are flaws in the Armenian view and the Calvanistic view. Why can't the calvinists in this post simply say "I am human, I cannot understand the mysteries of God. I accept that He is God and I am human and that this answer may never be completely comprehended by my finite, human mind."

The main problem isn't the two disagreements, it's the insinuation that anyone who is not Calvanist does not see the "clear" Truth in front of them and needs to wake up and walk with God. That's bogus. I have no problem with anyone being a Calvanist. Admit that we cannot know the Truth about this complex topic, but that Calvanism is what you believe to be true. Don't proclaim it as clear Truth when it clearly is not. Don't minimize other people's walks and beliefs because you feel yours is the "right" one and everyone should believe what you believe. I am not claiming that my interpretations of this complex topic are the Right ones while Timmy is clearly saying his are. I see room for disagreement on some doctrine. Since God does not give us all the answers there will clearly be disagreement in some of our beliefs. I admit that. Will the Calvanists in this discussion admit that? Will they admit it about this particular topic?

Quit telling me your answer is correct, I don't want you to think I'm saying mine is correct. I probably gave the impression that I want you to admit my views are correct. That is not what I want. I want you to admit neither may be correct.

I've tried explaining this way too much and may be over explained and made it more complicated. Also, anytime I wrote the word "You" above please do not take it as a reference to Gray specifically. I said "you" in places Gray did not actually say those things, I simply used it as a universal you, referring to Calvanists from what I've seen in this discussion thus far.

10/17/2006 12:05:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

in reference to my last comment. My first few comments probably approached this the wrong way. I tried to give some views (which I believe in) to refute those that Timmy believes in. I was not trying to convince Timmy that my views were correct and his were not. I meant it to say, hey may be these are the way it is. I didn't mean to put my views on the page in order to convince Timmy my views are correct and his aren't. I just want, as mentioned above, the Calvanists to say that their answer to this topic is not Absolute Truth or the correct answer. I know mine is not. Calvanists appear to think their answer is.

10/17/2006 12:13:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Thank you calvinist gadfly for your explaination of why non-calvinist are labeled as arminians. Aren't there some who are more calvinistic yet refuse the label calvinist? What I believe is explained perfectly in the link I provided. I still refuse to be labeled either. The majority of evangelical christians also refuse to take one of these labels. It is far too simplistic to systematize God. He is infinite and we are finite. That is why this argument will continue until the end, because it obviously is not crystal clear how the two can both be true. It does injustice to try to explain one in light of the other. Calvinism makes God the author of sin and claims that it is his good pleasure to damn people to hell. That is against the teaching of scripture. As it is to say that God commands us to repent and believe in Him when we cannot in fact do so. Why would He ask us to do what we cannot? It is inconsistant with His character. These are just a few samples of the reasons why I do not accept calvinism and why the former calvinist I referenced abandoned it. He is God He cannot be systematized or fully understood by us. This is not anti-intillectual. This is an understanding of how infinite God is and how truly finite I am and that He chooses for some things to remain a mystery to us. Let's try to explain the Trinity...

10/17/2006 12:20:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Gadfly,

Simply because in an article you wrote you justify labeling people Armenians does not make it the case. I can write a post and justify calling you anything I want to, to a certain extent. anyway...
“God, change my unbelieving relative’s heart.”

you use this to say we pray in a Calvanistic way. If I understand correctly, this prayer as well doesn't make sense for the Calvanist. If God determined before the world existed either yes I will change that persons heart or no I will not change that persons heart then why pray to God to change his/her heart if God has already made that decision and won't change His mind. That person's fate was determined already, why pray for their heart to be changed?

10/17/2006 12:38:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Rusty,

Two things.

First, it is true that we cannot understand all the workings of God and that His ways are greater than ours. No one disputes that.

But it does not mean that we cannot understand ANYTHING that God does.

I am sure that you would agree with the statement that there are things God does that we CAN understand. True? But we only understand because God has revealed to us in Scripture.

Second, just because some people don't understand something, does not mean that no one can understand something. Please don't be offended by this statement, but YOU aren't the determiner of what can and cannot be understood in Scripture.
Just because there is disagreement does not mean that something isn't clearly taught in Scripture. In fact, there are many views that you hold and believe are clear in Scripture yet there have been debates for hundreds of years on pretty much EVERY topic in Scripture.
Does that mean we can't understand anything in Scripture?!?!?!?!
Certainly not.


Of course we all feel we are right. No one holds to a view they think is wrong.
Isn't it just as arrogant to declare "no one can understand, therefore you're wrong"?

PS - To the others (Seinfeld and David/Renee), I wasn't trying to argue...my question was phrased the way it was to narrow down the discussion to your MAJOR disagreement, which appears to be election.

I am simply trying to avoid all the talking past each other that is common when 20 people are addressing 10 topics a post. You knwo what I mean?

I think the discussion could be best carried out if we can discuss election alone at this point, since that appears to be the main point of contention.

10/17/2006 01:19:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Daniel,

Do you not see that the Arminian or Non-Calvinist or Open Theist or any other answer to the problem of evil is not acceptable either?

The problem of evil is a problem for everyone...thus it is called "the problem of evil". :)

I do not see why you would deny true statements in Scripture just because you cannot work it out in your mind?

You can word it however you want, but ultimately how did sin enter the world without God allowing it to enter? There is no way around that fact....calvinist, arminian, or any other word you want to call yourself.

10/17/2006 01:23:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

"If I understand correctly, this prayer as well doesn't make sense for the Calvanist. If God determined before the world existed either yes I will change that persons heart or no I will not change that persons heart then why pray to God to change his/her heart if God has already made that decision and won't change His mind. That person's fate was determined already, why pray for their heart to be changed?"


God uses means to accomplish His ends. Those means include prayers of believer, evangelism by believers, etc.

It is RIGHT to pray the way mentioned because it is a recognition that God alone is the one responsible for salvation of sinners.

Moreover, please don't confuse election of sinners with salvation itself. Election is before the foundation of the world, salvation happens in the life of a person at a particular time.


If I was not a calvinist I don't think I would ever share the gospel or pray. What could I do? Ask God to violate a person's free will and save them? Then my whole theological framework would fall apart.

Ephesians 1:11 says (after mentioning election) that God works "all things" according to the counsel of His Will.

Now, we must let "all" mean ALL and say that every aspect of salvation (as well as life) works according to God's Will.

10/17/2006 01:32:00 PM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

Gray -- since you bring me up, let me jump back in. First of all, thanks for throwing punches at me when I clearly wrote in to apologize to Timmy for yesterday. Secondly, I never said anything about debating theological issues. What I said is that I find it futile to debate DOCTRINAL issues. There's a difference & believe Calvinism & everything related falls under the doctrinal category. If you disagree with me, that's fine.

Theological discussions are something I enjoy immensley (why else would I have completed Seminary?). Discussing the Lord and His Word is the beat of my heart and, as such, I understand the Great Commission to mean we should get out there and evangelize the lost. Not sit at our keyboards and debate answerless questions. If I'm incorrect in that, then so be it.

Finally Gray, you seem to single me out wanting my objections to Calvinism. I'm not going to do it here because rusty & Renee have thoroughly addressed the question. I agree with them. Perhaps, before writing again, you could read what THEY wrote as I really just posted to apologize to Timmy.

10/17/2006 01:37:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Has anyone read where I answered Timmy's original question yet? Has anyone clicked on the link I provided, which clearly states our (Rusty, Renee, and SR) objections to ALL 5 points of calvinism???

10/17/2006 01:46:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Easy, dude.

I didn't single you out. You were only mentioned when I address you and david and renee, so calm down.

First, I didn't throw punches at you.

Second, you say that you never mentioned theological discussion. I say, "I KNOW"...because that wasn't addressed at you. It was addressed to the group of people I mentioned at the top of my statement.

Perhaps you could calm down and realize I didn't single you out AT ALL. I addressed several topics and several people all at the same time.
This is precisely why I wanted to see SPECIFIC individual disagreements, so that all of us wouldn't be talking past each other and that some people wouldn't be defensive when they were not being addressed specifically.

Perhaps before you post again you'll go back and read my post.

The first half is addressed specfically to Rusty (which is why I started it out "Rusty, two things".
The second half was addressed to "Seinfeld and David/Renee". Again, no one was singled out. Moreover, that statement was written only to clarify what and why I asked for a specific disagreement. Though, I suppose you ignored that or else you wouldn;t have snapped at me.

Just to be clear...after that post addressed to Rusty and the PS to everyone else, I had 2 more posts: neither of which were to you, Seinfeldian.

Like I said, I only asked for specific objections to help SIMPLIFY this whole thing...not to draw your ire.

10/17/2006 01:57:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Renee,

Are you saying that you guys all have the same view and same problems with calvinism?

If so, that helps clear things up.

If true, that also means you cannot be mad if someone addresses you guys generically as a group or individually.


The only reason I asked for a specific objection was I think it might help this discussion to tackle one topic at a time....rather than 5.
It would also help if you stated, in your own words, that MAIN disagreement rather than post a link or cut and paste an article.

I really am only trying to HELP discussion here, not make it worse. But we all seem to be talking past one another.

10/17/2006 02:01:00 PM

 
Blogger Calvinist Gadfly said...

Rusty,

Learn to spell "Calvinist" correctly.

How on God's green earth can you learn to discuss Calvinism if you can't spell.

"Simply because in an article you wrote you justify labeling people Armenians does not make it the case."

i) And learn to spell "Arminian" as well.

ii) Writing an article in itself does not justify a position; it is the argument within the article. I posted the link for you to engage in the article not come back with a stupid response, "Anyone can write an article."

It must be stupid week.

10/17/2006 02:06:00 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Gray,

"Do you not see that the Arminian or Non-Calvinist or Open Theist or any other answer to the problem of evil is not acceptable either?"

Are you suggesting that the atheist makes the best case and there is no answer to problem?

"I do not see why you would deny true statements in Scripture just because you cannot work it out in your mind?"

I'm not sure which statements you're talking about. Please clarify.

"You can word it however you want, but ultimately how did sin enter the world without God allowing it to enter?" (emphasis mine).

That's exactly the point. I believe that God allow evil to enter this world. He even planned it. But He didn't cause it. God is not the cause of evil. To suggest so, it robs God of His glory.

10/17/2006 02:16:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

I guess so Gray. Those are the general objections to calvinism. I can't write it any better than that myself. You are merely cutting and pasting calvin's beliefs as your own, are you not? We all 3 agree because this is what anyone who doesn't agree with calvinism would state as the reasons. Hence, why the former calvinist is laying it out. These are my objections and have always been my objections. I at one time approached calvinism with an open mind thinking I did agree with it. I read erickson, grudem, and piper, but these problems still came up. These are the objections if you wish to read them one point at a time go ahead, but I have given you all 5. I am not writing a paper for class and do not need to put it in my own words. Why bother. Have you rewritten calvinism in your own words? Most everyone uses the 5 points and definitions Beza drew up. I can't understand why you won't accept my answer and read it. You still attack us and say it explains a lot that we all agree in the same way. YOU ALL AGREE in the SAME WAY. 5 POINTS! We all disagree in the SAME way. How is it different. Accept my answer and address it. I have stated my main disagreement and I have answered the question. Main again for you: The system is built on total depravity and I think it has no biblical basis. It is read into scripture without any good support for doing so.

10/17/2006 02:21:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Gadfly
This is what I am talking about. I said it earlier. I cannot stand that you correct someone's spelling. I take that to mean you and your theology are perfect. I've seen it done on various blogs. I have seen PhD guys smarter and wiser than any of us misspell something. Please get off that. Being an excellent speller or not does not give any indication of intellegence. What if my basis for intellegence was you had to be able to score a 100 in calculus. Rusty would pass, but I wouldn't. Guess I'm stupid and he's a genius. Also most people you call an arminian can't spell that word either. Guess we aren't arminians. This is great logic let's apply it to theology.

10/17/2006 02:25:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Daniel,

Isn't it just a game of semantics to say that God allowed it, but didn't ordain that it exist and enter the world?

Where did sin come from?
Does it come from some place that God did not create? Did it come from some place that God is not in control over?

You see...a problem exists, no matter what.

10/17/2006 02:26:00 PM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

And I believe I only addressed the comment referring to seinfeld, Gray. I don't believe you when you say your purpose was to settle things because the tone of your post betrays you. And, as you mentioned me, I was indeed singled out whether you included me with David & Renee or not. Were I not to read what you or to simply pick & choose what to respond to, I'd, by default, be a Calvinist & I can't follow that path.

10/17/2006 02:27:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

I did not even finish to realize you called him stupid! He is not a seminary student. He is however a genius. He is learning all this. It is the first time he has been exposed to calvinism/arminianism and probably hopes now it will be the last thanks to you calling him stupid and showing your superior attitude in sinking to correct spelling on a blog! It's not english class and this is not formal. We are all typing inbetween work and class etc. You aren't worth talking to any further. The former calvinist stated that calvinist consider themselves elite and approach others with snobbery. You are certainly proving this for me.

10/17/2006 02:31:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Renee,

I didn't mean "it explains a lot" as a negative. I meant that it helps me figure out why sometimes you guys talk in a collective voice, but other time do not.

Don't be on edge...I'm not attacking you.

When I mentioned cutting and pasting, I meant ACTUAL cut and paste from an article. I have not and won't do that...I am using my own words to express my view. Yes, I didn't invent my view...and it is shared by many here, but we all express it in our own words.

Now, I understand your objection much better. Thank you for your response, it helps clear things up.

You believe that Total Depravity is wrong and thus everythign else falls apart. Is that correct? (Let me know if I am wrong!)

I assume you believe man is sinful. What is the extent of man's sin, and what scriptural support to do you have for your view of man?
If you don't want to answer, I understand. But I am curious as to what exactly your view of amn's sin is.

BTW, I think Gene Bridges dealt with this topic on a post at 7:31pm (I know its hard to find specific posts when the thread gets this long.)


Oh, BTW (pt2) could you post the link to that article you are talking about? Thanks.

10/17/2006 02:37:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

I have said my peace and it has become clear this discussion is not doing anyone any good. I am leaving it. Sorry Timmy you didn't get a chance to address any of this. I have never seen anyone insult another in this manner in all my life. "It must be stupid week." Why bother if we are all stupid anyway? Maybe one day I shall return when I have become the world's foremost speller and am thus worthy of discussing theology.

10/17/2006 02:45:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

seinfeldian said:

"And I believe I only addressed the comment referring to seinfeld, Gray..... And, as you mentioned me, I was indeed singled out whether you included me with David & Renee or not."

That's the point. I was addressing all of you guys on multiple issues that were posted. It's hard to keep everyone's views straight...especially when you guys are at times claiming to believe the same thing, and defending one another's statements.

I may have addressed one of your views, but I didn't "single you out" because I never addressed you individually. Believe me I have no problem doing so (as can be evidenced by me almost always putting the name of the person I'm addressing at the top of my posts).

But even if I did single you out (inadvertantly), what does it matter?

Once again, I was asking for clarification.
I know you don;t believe me as you state:
"I don't believe you when you say your purpose was to settle things because the tone of your post betrays you."

My tone?
How exactly do you decipher tone on the blog?
Could you have misunderstood my "tone"?

I think you have.

I guess we're going to have to take each other at our words.

I am addressing you with honest questions. I have not attacked you. I have not made personal comments about your character, your walk with Christ, your ministry involvement, your intelligence, or your ability to discuss truth.
True?
The let us discuss this issues as people who share a savior and desire to know the truth about salvation.

The charges of arrogance can be levied at both sides...and both sides need to clam down and discuss these issues with a clear head and an open bible.

Agreed?

10/17/2006 02:45:00 PM

 
Blogger Seinfeldian Rantings said...

Gadfly, really. Is that your cleverest argument? Is that your idea of intelligence? Harping on spelling in a BLOG? I am shocked that you would call rusty stupid week b/c of a spelling error. You think he can't debate b/c of a spelling error? I'm pretty sure even you, Gadfly, have hit a wrong key while typing or have misspelled a word in your lifetime.

The only thing your snarky comment has done, Gadfly, is confirmed our opinions of the Calvinist mentality.

10/17/2006 02:49:00 PM

 
Blogger J. Gray said...

Hold up, Renee. Don't leave.

I agree that the Gadfly's comments were not very nice nor generous.

But, you need to understand that this whole discussion was started because you and your friends came over and picked a fight.
You can't start the discussion by making accusations and attacking Timmy (even though apologies came later) and then get mad when people treat you (and your friends - actually, I believe he was talking to rusty, not you) that same way. It doesn't mean he's right, it just means that this whole thing started off heated because you guys brought heat.

I am seriously wanting to discuss this for my own edification, if for no one elses. I am always benefitted when I must go back to scripture and examine my beliefs and those of others. So there IS benefit.

10/17/2006 02:50:00 PM

 
Blogger Tristan724 said...

Sorry to "butt in" on the conversation. But I thought this might be helpful. Concerning the article that Renee posted critiquing Calvinism, I found a quote from the article's author that should proved very insightful:

"In my last entry, I mentioned an article I wrote back in my conservative evangelical days called Calvinism Critiqued by a Former Calvinist. It's been out on the Web for the past 12 years or so in various places.
The other day, I uncovered a critique of my critique from a Calvinist named Fred. I'm afraid that in many respects, Fred the Calvinist (despite his ad hominem arguments over my quoting heretical authors) gave me a pretty sound thrashing. This is especially true in the area of exegesis, where he pointed out several errors I committed. The most egregious was my wholesale acceptance of a reference in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance that turned out to be a typo.

So here is my public acknowledgement: I am not a scholar. I may have fancied myself one many years ago, but as Fred proved, I was a sloppy one. Guilty as charged"


It should be noted that the man has a general disdain for evangelical and orthodox Christianity. Though he says that he wrote the article in his "conservative evangelical days" his argumentation in the article represents a departure from evangelicalism in many ways. If one wishes to argue against Calvinism, surely they could find a better source.

10/17/2006 04:16:00 PM

 
Blogger Tristan724 said...

BTW, if anyone wanted to read the aforementioned article by "Fred the Calvinist" they can find it here:

http://www.fredsbibletalk.com/fb007.html

10/17/2006 04:22:00 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Gray,

Good questions.

"Isn't it just a game of semantics to say that God allowed it, but didn't ordain that it exist and enter the world?"

Yes, I believe that evil is ordained by God if by the word "ordain" you mean "planned." Evil is definitely a part of God's plan. However, God doesn't directly cause evil. Men cause evil. God is not the direct cause of evil. He is indirectly the cause of evil in that He allows it to exist by giving humans responsibility. Thus, evil wouldn't exist if God hadn't given Adam free will.

"Where did sin come from?" Man.

"Does it come from some place that God did not create?"

No, God created man and thus is indirectly responsible for it.

Did it come from some place that God is not in control over?

No, God is in control of evil. He can stop it anytime He wants. He chooses to allow it in order to bring it because His righteous judgment of evil vindicates His holiness.

But let me insist. God is not the direct cause of evil. Man is. God gave him the choice to honor Him or not. Man's sin brought evil into this world.

10/17/2006 06:06:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

I haven't read in a while and got back from work and I'm now sitting in class but I want to respond to some of this.

but YOU aren't the determiner of what can and cannot be understood in Scripture.
-Gray

Neither are you...
Never said or even implied that I was, however, you have and so has gadfly. You have definitely shown that you feel y'all are the final authority on this subject because YOU understand what God is saying about this matter.

It must be stupid week.
-Gadfly

Please take the time and count how many times I specifically told you I never went to seminary. I do not claim to be the final authority on any of these issues we are discussing. Please, Please forgive me for my spelling errors. I know of at least one, I will refrain from pointing it out to you, that you have made. If you want to switch the topic to Accounting I would be glad to tear you down and call you stupid when you know nothing about it if that's what you want. Somehow it doesn't seem like edification to me. Again, you don't want us to understand your view because of edification, you want us to agree with your view because you want to be right.

If I was not a calvinist I don't think I would ever share the gospel or pray.
-Gray

I'm sorry.

Isn't it just as arrogant to declare "no one can understand, therefore you're wrong"?
-Gray

I never said you were wrong? In fact several times I said the answer is not known, but never did I say you were wrong. I was just hoping to show the Calvinist that they MIGHT be wrong.

Renee, SR and myself have multpile times said that the answer is unknown and that we disagree with your point of view. I have on multiple occassions mentioned that my view may be wrong. In an above post I simply asked for the CalvINIST(better?) on this site to admit that their view MIGHT be wrong. None of you have been humble enough thus far to do such a thing. Please don't respond to anything else unless you will admit to me that your view MIGHT by some small chance POSSIBLY be wrong.
My view might be wrong. I've said it before but Ill say it again anyway.
Are you too prideful to say the same?

I don't really give 2 cents about how to spell Calvinism or Arminian because I don't plan on ever writing the two words again in my life. You obviously knew what I was talking about, and I find no need to confess and repent from my misspellings so who gives a flip!

Again, please respond to nothing I have said thus far until you First respond to the bold type above. You have ignored it thus.

10/17/2006 06:18:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Well, I was done with this topic anyway. But I have to post once more. I can't believe that all the posts just stopped so abruptly! Everyone actually quit posting because they could not humble themselves enough to make that simple statement?

10/18/2006 03:21:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

I would like to make a motion to strike some comments from this post. This has turned into a real nasty argument. It is not uplifting or helpful in anyway. I would like to ask Timmy if he would go in and delete all comments not pertaining to a discussion on this topic. If a genuine answer was given or a genuine question asked let them stay, but all these insulting upset posts if deleted would help us to put all of that behind us and have a real discussion not a debate. Talking over doctrine with fellow Christians is enjoyable when done in a correct manner and it can help us to dive deeper into the Word.

I am no longer in Seminary, but still read theology books. Some would call that nerdy, but I just enjoy learning all that I can about God and His Word. I hunger for more knowledge, a deeper relationship, and a better understanding of who I am and who God is. That is my heart.

The insults are not confined only to the comments on this post. I have read many between individuals in regards to this topic. A lot was said by both sides in regards to the great debate that never happened. Many were rude pot shots as well as attacking of other people’s character and ministry. It’s difficult to do this in this median, because we cannot tell the tone of someone’s writing very well. We are put on the defense very quickly. I can only imagine what tearing each other down must look like to nonbelievers or those young in their faith!


I know for a fact that Rusty was genuine in his original post. He had genuine questions and concerns. He has not been to seminary or bible college. He has just begun to walk with the Lord seriously in the past two years and really study the Word. He is new to this whole debate, but knows that it has been going on for centuries. That is why he made mention that it may be senseless. How will we ever resolve it? Timmy said in the end we may agree to disagree but we can hopefully have a discussion. I hope so too. I definitely became defensive after people twisted the tone of Rusty’s questions and did not answer his questions seriously. He is my brother, not only in Christ, but my actual younger brother. I am a protective older sister. I had hoped that he would find other Christians ready to discuss things in love not refer to this as stupid week or insult his personal intelligence as though he is not worthy of discussion. I would hope anyone is welcome to discuss doctrine no matter where they are in their walk, how stupid their questions may seem to another, or how perfect their grammar or spelling is.

I vote to erase all the mess and have a real question and answer session between brothers and sisters in Christ. Not questioning anyone in any personal way. Only questioning doctrine. We can challenge one another’s beliefs with humility and thus challenge each other to dig deeper into the Word.

10/18/2006 04:25:00 PM

 
Blogger Tristan724 said...

Renee and Rusty,
Since I joined the conversation late, I hope I wasn't misunderstood. My post wasn't intended to be nasty or condescending. I only thought it was helpful to point out that the article mentioned was admittedly "sloppy" in it's exegesis and represents the beginnings of his departure from orthodoxy. Also, I would like to say as someone coming from the "other side of the fence" and as a casual observer of the conversation that I think the tone of the conversation became very volatile very quickly and their were things that shouldn't have been said. I think the use of words like "stupid" show a lack of sensitivity and humility in the midst of a most important conversation. They also serve to solidify and further many people's (hopefully misguided) conceptions that Calvinists are arrogant, obtuse, high-and-mighty, etc. Especially in light of what you have described as sincere questions. These words no doubt represent the frustrations of someone who is tired of repeatedly hearing the same "accusations" concerning a belief system that he (and I) hold very dear to their heart. But it should not be condoned. Which brings me to Rusty.

To Rusty's comment concerning humility. When you ask others to admit that what they hold so dear could possibly be wrong you are (perhaps unknowingly) asking something extremely difficult. I hope this doesn't have to do with pride, but rather the glory of God. I know that for me, to admit that my views on the doctrine of grace were wrong would feel as though I was stripping God of some of His glory. For this reason, I feel very strongly about my beliefs concerning God and His Word. But I would put those beliefs in 3 categories. There are many things that I hold, but hold loosely so there is room for conversation (eschatology and forms of ecclesiology are examples). Other things I hold tighter and feel emotionally attached too and would not give up without a fight (this discussion is a good example). And other things are part of me and can not be separated (deity of Christ, orthodox faith). These things are worth dying for. However, the difficulty comes when some of the things in the second group effect the third group. By this I mean that a denial of many elements of the doctrine of grace can many times (and unknowingly) lead to a departure from orthodox faith. I think this is evidenced well in the article that Renee linked to and the recent developments in Open Theism. So my response to your "challenge" would be that I am willing to discuss anything you want concerning the Word of God. I will admit freely that I may be wrong about a great number of things (however, i would usually insist on convincing Biblical arguments before I make such an assertion). However, I feel that your challenge may have been a bit too broad in insisting our "views" might be wrong in that there are elements of our "views" that I think are essential to the faith. Perhaps you could be more specific as to what view might be wrong in case I missed that part. I hope you don't feel I'm dodging the question or answering in the negative. I am only seeking clarification.

P.S. Rusty, I saw on your blog that you are from Iowa. I'm in Cedar Rapids. You?

10/18/2006 05:31:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Triston724,

I am in Ames attending Iowa State University to get a Master's Degree in Accounting. I moved here this past August when I married my wife (8/4/06). I am from NC and will be moving back there next August. I like Iowa, but I am not looking forward to the winter!

10/18/2006 06:06:00 PM

 
Blogger Tristan724 said...

Rusty, the names spelled Tristan not Triston. Get it right!!! (humor fully intended) I have several friends that have and do attend ISU. However, Cedar Rapids is definitely Hawkeye country. And I recently etertained a move to Carolina for ministry purposes, but alas here I am preparing for another one of those winters you mentioned.

10/18/2006 06:25:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Thank you Tristan724 I really appreciate your comments. I did read the link you provided about the calvinism critique. I found that critique rather quickly yesterday in the heat of it all. I linked to it from this blog. I do think he raises good questions about total inability and election. I will study them more in depth in the bible and use my two systematic resources I have here at the house (Grudem and Erickson). I'll provide a good discussion of what I have just not been able to settle on within the doctrines of grace. Maybe you can help me with how you deal with those issues. Hopefully we now have a very good edifying conversation going on here. It just took us 65 posts to get there. :) There were definitely some conceptions as you said about calvinism that were not being helped any on here. Thanks for showing passion for your beliefs tempered with kindness and humilty.

10/18/2006 06:36:00 PM

 
Blogger Nathan White said...

simply asked for the CalvINIST(better?) on this site to admit that their view MIGHT be wrong. None of you have been humble enough thus far to do such a thing.

I think it is a shame to approach this topic with the pre-concieved notion that the truth cannot be known. Let me give an example:

-Do you believe that Jesus is God in the flesh?

-Do you believe that God is Three-in-One? (The Trinity)

-Do you believe that we are saved by faith apart from works?

Now, one last question:

-Are you willing to admit that you may have all three of these questions dead wrong?

It is the same with the Calvinist. Scripture is so crystal clear, it would be a false humilty, and a lie for most Calvinists to actually say that they might have it all wrong.

This is not prideful at all, but I assure you that we don't have it all wrong. As John MacArthur recently said, 'Jesus WAS a Calvinist'. We would never dare to say such a thing if we weren't 100% positive that the scriptures teach that...the same 100% positive we are that Jesus is God, that God is Three-in-One, and that salvation comes by GRACE through FAITH, not from man agreeing to the terms (a work).

To all, please, show the Calvinist error from the scripture. I assure you that there is not one verse that poses a problem for our position if taken in its proper context.

"NO MAN is ABLE to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I WILL raise HIM up on the last day." -Jesus

SDG

10/18/2006 10:30:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

In response to Nathan White does everyone on here who is a Calvinist hold to the doctrines of grace with the same conviction as they hold to the deity of Christ? There are countless scriptures that specifically and clearly say that Jesus is God. There aren't any scriptures that you can hold up to them and thus interpret those differently. I do not think this is true of proof texts for Calvinism. If it were as important as the deity of Christ that I believe in Calvinism then I would not be saved until I convert to Calvinism. Just an example is the verse Nathan referenced. I could interpret that to mean that the Holy Spirit must convict me. God draws everytime Jesus is proclaimed. The fact that He must draw me does not erase the possibility that I may then have to choose to accept or reject. You may believe so, but this text doesn't definitively state that. That was kind of a side track. I am just wondering if everyone feels this sort of conviction about Calvinism? If you do then you are not on here to have your beliefs challenged you are on here to convert people to Calvinism. I don't mean that to say that would be a bad thing. I just wonder if that is what you are doing? If I were on a blog of people who denied the deity of Christ I would not be on there to have my beliefs challenged I would be on their to show them the Truth that Jesus is God. Are you here to show us that Calvinism is as important as the deity of Christ or to discuss the mysteries of God? I don't even pretend to understand the Trinity. That's a mystery that my finite mind cannot understand. As of right now I think that election and human responsibilty are one of those mysteries. The bible is sufficient for all that we need to know, but sufficient not meaning that it reveals everything about an infinite God and how He works in all things.

10/19/2006 08:23:00 AM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

I do believe in the Deity of Christ. I also believe that salvation is contingent upon this belief. Those who do not believe this are not saved and do not have eternal life. Therefore it is essential to the faith. Is this equivalent to Calvinism? Are those who do not hold to its 5 points not saved? If you believe this then you have a point, if you believe that those who do not hold to its 5 points can be saved, then it is not essential to the faith. (and maybe it shouldn't be held AS tightly as the Deity of Christ, still held tightly, just not THAT tightly)

***********************************

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
-Ephesians 2:8-9

Yes I believe we are saved by grace through faith and not by our own works because the bible clearly states we are.

But what about the book of James(chapter 2). It's in the bible and therefore I believe it to be true as well. It states some things that to me appear to be in conflict with Ephesians even though I know this is impossible because the Word of God does not contradict itself.

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?"
v. 14

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead"
v.17

"You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone"
v. 24

I understand that faith comes first and we are saved and then the deeds should follow if we truly believe, but it still seems like there's a lot of weight placed in those deeds according to these passages in James(2:14-26)

(*I don't know if the second half of this post is relevant, but I remembered it because of the faith and works thing that was said and it's something that confused me once.)

10/19/2006 09:13:00 AM

 
Blogger Nathan White said...

Renee, Rusty,

Good thoughts by both of you. Here are some clarifications on my position:

No, a belief in Calvinism is not necessary to be truly saved. Praise God that perfect theology is not a work necessary for salvation.

Secondly, I am under the conviction that for the most part, Calvinism IS the pure gospel. That is, unless we recognize that we cannot be saved by anything that we do (including praying a prayer and trying our best to ‘accept Christ’), then we will never come to the knowledge of the truth.

This is true in my own life. I grew up in the SBC being taught all of my life that I had a free will to choose to accept/reject Christ. However, I remained unconverted for over 20 years, until one day a Calvinist had the nerve to challenge me with the pure gospel. Once I understood what he was saying...I couldn't sleep at night. I realized that the decision was NOT up to me, that I had no hope of heaven despite all my prayers, my baptism as a child, my attendance of church for so many years, etc. I hit the wall, let me tell you. It wasn't until the holy terror entered my soul that I couldn't choose Christ even if I wanted to, did I hit my knees and do what?...prayed the prayer? No. Chose Christ? No. Invited Him into my heart? No. I hit my knees and begged for mercy...knowing that I couldn't save myself. That, my friends, is the true gospel -a cry for mercy, a beating of the chest and crying 'Lord, I am a sinner'. And that is what the doctrines commonly called 'Calvinism' are predicated on.

Thus, the goal is never to convert people to a theological system, but to do what Jesus commanded us to: make disciples. We aren’t out to make converts, we are out to make disciples. And disciple entails having a deep understanding of God’s word. We are out to proclaim the gospel in its purest, New Testament form.

On the other hand, have any of you ever been challenged on the Trinity? Unfortunately for me, I have, and it is a tough doctrine to defend. There are many, many verses that can seemingly be taken either way, correct? It is the same with Calvinism. Yes, there are many verses that can seem to lead in different directions, but ultimately, the Bible never contradicts itself, it explains itself. And a careful study will show that, just like the Trinity, a firm conclusion can be made on the subject.

SDG

10/19/2006 11:13:00 AM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Thanks Nathan this is really helping me understand both the Calvinist and his reformed theology. I have spent all morning reading (work is slow). I read Spurgeon's A Defense of Calvinism. I also read the 5 points as defined on reformed.org. I then read some comments on Strange Baptist Fire, (this post is also posted there) where a non-arminian non-calvinist (Allan) gave their view and reasons and then a calvinist (Gene) responded to it. That was very helpful because the calvninist explained double predestination and fatalism. I have never understood how Calvinism could not lead to fatalism or God as the author of sin. I need to re-read but that definitely helped.

Unconditional Election (as defined on reformed.org)
This doctrine does not rule out, however, man's responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism.

This states that the tension between God's sovereinty and human responsibility is not resolved. I always thought that the Calvinist system did not do justice to our responsibility, but here it seems they are leaving it unresolved. That is the mystery in which I am referring to that we cannot understand. How exaclty do these two work together? That is the question I don't think we can answer without doing injustice to either one.

10/19/2006 12:10:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

"It wasn't until the holy terror entered my soul that I couldn't choose Christ even if I wanted to, did I hit my knees..."

You would never WANT to choose Christ unless first He enabled you to do so, correct? In other words no one would think this unless he was in fact elect, correct?

10/19/2006 12:40:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Guys (and gals),

I just have a second here, so I will try to be brief.

As a moderator, I typically take the "hands off" approach and allow people to say what they want. I am not the type to censor people because they believe differently or say things strongly; I do, however, do not want anyone to be disparaged or castigated in the process. The whole point is to address the issues and raise questions, not address people's character and raise questions about them. Concerning the comments and ill-statements, there are some from Calvinists and non-Calvinists that I wouldn't have written myself, but I will leave them to the good consciences of those who wrote them whether or not they should be deleted. No "guilt by association" should be assumed here, and I respect and appreciate the opinions and contributions of everyone, even if I strongly disagree.

So on both sides I see where parts of this thread went really bad. To my chagrin, I was not able to moderate or read all the comments in a timely manner because I have been without a computer all week. I am encouraged, however, to see that some good, civil discourse has resumed and hope that it is profitable for everyone participating (including those of you reading and not commenting).

Again, as I have mentioned earlier, I believe several good questions were asked, but as providence would have it, I have not been able to comment or address those questions at this time. I hope to do so in the future, though there is enough material to last a really long time. :)

In the future, I hope that we can look back at this and realize our failure in communication, and rather than giving up on such discussion, that we would all the more pursue meaningful and substantive dialogue in a spirit of humility and grace. In the end, we may see how the Lord can use such a medium as this to mature us, grow us in the knowledge of him, and help us love one another while committing ourselves to understanding God, the Scriptures, and His great salvation. To that end, I write, read, and pray.

Thanks for hanging around, and I hope to see ya'll (that's the Southern in me) more often.

10/19/2006 05:28:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

kkSeems like everyone left. No one has written all day. I didn't want to write anything else until the last questions I asked were answered or it might get confusing. I just wanted to say I read this article and it was really great! Check it out - http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22970

10/20/2006 02:56:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Renee,

Well, if no one else is around, I am still here. :)

I agree that the article was a helpful piece written by an influential figure in the SBC. Before becoming president of SEBTS, Dr. Akin was Dean at SBTS (Southern Seminary) where I have attended for the past three years.

One particular quote I would like to mention that I thought was interesting was,

Recognize that our Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is a well-constructed canopy under which varying perspectives on this issue can peacefully and helpfully co-exist. Pelagians, Arminians, and Open Theists will not feel at home in our Southern Baptist family. We will love them while also disagreeing with them. Is there a place for differing positions on the issues of election, the extent of the atonement and calling, as well as how we do missions, evangelism, and give the invitation? I am convinced that the answer is yes.

In the SBC, those in the SBC who are not Reformed do not want to be Arminians, and I can understand why, especially if the leaders of the SBC say they are not welcomed in the SBC. My question would be then, according to your theological convictions, if you are not a Calvinist an Arminian, then what are you? Some will say "I'm Baptist," but this is a categorical fallacy, for baptists is an ecclesiological identity not theological framework. Others will say, "I'm a biblicist," but this term is neither defined or defended other than to say that it is the higher road to take than beither either Calvinist or Arminian. Finally, others will say, 'I'm just a Christian." While no one wants to doubt whether a person is Christian or not, how one understands the Scriptures, the gospel, the essential doctrines of the faith will inevitably line up with some sort of theological framework usually grounded in some law of integrated motif. For Calvinists, that motif is the glory of God. For Arminians, it is the free will of man. The reason why I am a Calvinist is not because it is a perfect framework, but because it best accounts for all the biblical data and accords with the nature of God and His work in salvation.

It is also worth noting the close relationship that Arminians have with Open Theists. As I stated in my original post, many defenders of Open Theism once wrote the books and made the case for Arminianism (see Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, Randall and David Basinger, et al). They left one framework for another because it was more internally consistent and logically superior to the other.

In recent theological debate, there has been the attempt to play semantical games other than being "baptist" or "biblicist". For instance, Norm Geisler calls anyone who is really a Calvinist an "extreme Calvinist" and those who are not Calvinistic "moderate Calvinists." This is mere play with words and attempt to redefine the terms. Furthermore, you will hear people in the SBC calling anyone who is a five-point Calvinist a "hyper-Calvinist." This is not only historically and theologically false, it is an intentional pejorative label used to paint Calvinism in the worst possible light amongst an audience who has little to no understanding of Calvinism at all. Then, most recently, there is the term "neo-Calvinism" which is somehow said to be different from historical Calvinism, though that has yet to be proved.

I say all this to say that the issues regarding doctrine and theological positions are muddied by false labeling and semantical games played with an intent to influence people to their position without ever having considering the biblical evidence or taking a first-hand, thorough, study of the doctrines of grace. And the reason is because they don't want you to. And if you do, at least they want you to approach the study with a predisposition of angst or antipathy to Calvinism so that the truths won't be appealing to you (hence the emotional and sentimental arguments trumping the intellectual and rasoned arguments).

For most Calvinists, it has taken years of wrestling with texts and evaluating one's beliefs as to whether or not they are grounded in Scripture or in something else. Calvinists give great prominence to Scripture, its authority, its sufficiency, and its power (summed up in Sola Scriptura), and make it their goal to have their minds and consciences held captive to the Word of God alone.

I hope that this little commentary has been helpful to you. Part of the reason why discussion and dialogue is so difficult is due to a redefintion of terms, false labeling of others, and caricatures of their position. In any attempt to address differing opinions, intellectual virtue and good scholarship demands that you accurately present the opposing case accurately, objectively, and fully without the rhetoric and misinformation. Unfortunately, this has not been the case 99% of the time. It was my goal to do that with regards to Arminianism and their held beliefs of conditional election (based on foreseen faith), self-engendered faith, and libertarian free will. I believe I stated them accurately, and my question thus was to inquire how these can logically and biblically fit together. For as we shall see, they simply cannot.

Anyway, I need to get to work in planning out some answers to the questions that have been asked. The first one I hope to answer is regarding Double Predestination. I will divide it in two posts and hope to start posting them by early next week. Have a blessed weekend, and thanks again for reading my blog.

10/20/2006 03:57:00 PM

 
Blogger rustyc562 said...

Timmy,

if you are not a Calvinist or an Arminian, then what are you?

I don't know, you tell me since I have to be something. (this is not in a negative tone :)

Why must one choose either Arminian or Calvanist? It's clear by now that Renee and I disagree with points in the Arminian system, therefore we cannot be considered Arminian. It's even clearer that we disagree with points in the Calvinist system and therefore cannot be labeled Calvinist. So how can we possibly choose one or the other? Maybe there needs to be a third group. You can name it... :) When someone asks me what I believe or what my religion is I would not say Arminian or Calvinist even if I were one of the two. Nor would I say Baptist because I do not feel your denomination carries any weight as long as you follow biblical teaching. One reason is because that's not the answer to that question. Also, as you point out, labels can carry false presumptions. I also do not tell someone I'm a Christian for I fear that that label as well has lost so much meaning to those who are not true followers of Christ. I fear that it may lead others to believe I simply attend church on Sunday mornings. Instead I'd reply that I am a follower of Christ, that I believe the bible is 100% Truth, inerrant and that I strive to follow its teachings. I believe that Christ is God and our Lord and Savior, this response more relevantly shows what I believe than the word "Christian" does in today's society. All that to say, when a non-believer, or even a fellow believer, asks me a question in regards to my beliefs I need never to respond with Calvinist or Arminian (even if I considered myself one of the two) for if I did respond that way it would carry false presumptions that I would not want others to think.

And back to my first point(in bold), if I were to respond if asked about the theological framework in which I believe I cannot say Arminian because I disagree with some of its points and I cannot say Calvinist because I disagree with some of its points. So I ask you, what can I say?

10/20/2006 04:45:00 PM

 
Blogger Renee said...

Indeed what are 90% of Baptists? Apparently a study revealed that only 10% of our SBC pastors claim to be Calvinists. What are the other 90%? I seriously doubt they would label themselves Arminian. The notion that God chose us because he saw that we would choose Him is heresey. It would make us greater than God in that His decisions would be based on our decisions and it would limit Him. No one would want to do that. Why do need to have labels? And better yet why are there only two to choose from if we must have one? 90% would rather not be labeled, but instead just tell you what they believe. Then you may look at them and say you are quite calvinistic in your theology, but they would not label themselves Calvinist because they do not ascribe to all 5 points or to the exact definitions and conclusions of one or more of the points. I know there are many people even at Southern Seminary who call themselves a 4 point Calvinist (if forced to label themselves) because they do not go along with Limited Atonement. It is in question whether Calvin's view of Limited Atonement is the same as it is defined today. Danny Akin in his article said that it was a mystery of how election and human responsibility work together. Charles Spurgeon also said we will never know where the two converge. Because we all wish to redefine some points within the theological system it would be better if I just walked around and called myself a Reneeist because that is truly what I am. My Pastor back home says that he refuses labels because of the certain presumptions they carry with them. He would rather just talk theology with someone than give them a preconceived notion of what he believes. I then asked him about several of the 5 points of Calvinism and he defined them as he would to agree with them. I never knew in all these 7 years how Calvinistic he was. I like that and respect that about him. I suspected it sometimes when he would preach on certain texts, but he doesn't label himself. If he did some people may take his preaching and twist it around becaue of what system they think drives him. What drives him is the Bible and the Holy Spirit not a system and being sure he is true to it. He is true to what he believes the bible says, but even though he is Calvinistic in those convictions he could not label himself a Calvinist because to do so would be to say he agrees with the 5 point system and all that it says, which he does not. Again why do we have to be labeled one of these two things? It's like Danny Akin's article stated we can have differing views of things such as election and still be Southern Baptist. Look at 3 of our SBC school presidents. Mohler, Patterson, and Akin. Each of these differ on their view of election, but they are all friends and are committed to the study and preaching of God's Word. They are mature enough to talk about their theological views without labels. I did not see Akin label himself in that article and I know Patterson refuses to label himself. Why should I have to? These men have been used of God more than I can ever imagine to be.

A side note of what seems to be the ultimate problem with both systems, election. It is the point Akin says is a mystery and Spurgeon says is a mystery. The problem I have with both sytems discussed here is that both are too absolute. There doesn't seem to be room for mystery. I did see a definition of TULIP that said how the two converged was a mystery, but that was the only time I have ever seen it put that way. Most 5 point Calvinist I know agree with double predestination, because it's the only option when they take the system serioiusly and to its conclusion. I agree with Akin to agree with double predestination is to take it too far. To say God "passed over people" is as ridiculous as saying He chose on forseen faith. That seems like He is doing something out of His control. God is not passive. His intentions are purposeful. He would have to know He is actively choosing to damn them. I think the bible disagrees with double predestination in that it says many times he does not delight in the damnation of the wicked and that He wishes for all to repent. Why would He have these thoughts if they could 100% never be? Why would He reveal a will that is against His first will which was to elect some and damn some? Also we pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven implying that it is not. It's not done perfectly here as it is in Heaven because He alows us to make choices. His ultimate will is done, but I don't think every choice I make is perfect. He works through them to bring about His will, but he doesn't make me make bad choices He allows me to. I believe He is soveriegn enough to be able to bring about His will through my choices and His providence and where those two converge is as much a mystery as election and human responsibility.

10/21/2006 10:16:00 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Timmy,

I totally disagree with this statement.

"For Calvinists, that motif is the glory of God. For Arminians, it is the free will of man."

First of all, Arminius didn't believe in "free will" but a "freed will." Free will is not the cornerstone of our theology. We too want to see God's glory as the center point of our theology.

It's precisely because Calvinism does harm to God's glory that it needs to be rejected (at least in my perspective).

You also wrote, "It is also worth noting the close relationship that Arminians have with Open Theists".

This comes across as a guilt by association argument. Just because some former Arminians went off the deep end does not mean that Arminius's theology is bad. The same thing could be argued against Calvin because of hyper-Calvinist that argue that we shouldn't evangelize because of Calvin's theology.

Both of these perspectives (open theism and hyper-Calvinism) are messed-up but that doesn't mean that we metaphorically throw the baby out with the bath water (I hope that we can agree on this.)

10/22/2006 10:11:00 AM

 
Blogger J.C. Thibodaux said...

Dear Timmy,
What you characterize as Arminianism does not fit very well within what I believe (for instance, I don't believe that faith is inherent within the sinner), but I'll resolve the question of foreknowledge and free will anyway.

"How can God, in his foreknowledge, know something that, according to your theological construct, cannot not be known?"

Your entire premise is incorrect, for God in His infinite foreknowledge is able to know beforehand every choice, decision, and action that is made regardless of the freedom of will the creature has. The only defense Calvinism has against this (which some authors such as John G. Reisinger employ) is that God could not possibly know the future if He didn't pre-determine it -- a stupid argument I might add. They insist that if man truly has any free will, that he could simply change his mind at the last minute and make a decision that God didn't foresee, which simply assumes that God's foreknowledge was not exhaustive enough to perceive said last-minute change. Begging the question at its worst. Considering the idea of a being that is all-knowing and exists infinitely (it has been suggested atemporally), I see no basis for saying that God cannot know with perfect certainty the free-will actions and all possible contingencies of creatures that He has created. Ergo, foreknowledge and free will are not mutually exclusive. I address this question more thoroughly here.

11/30/2006 10:26:00 AM

 

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