08 May 2009

One Arminian's Proof-Texts



ere's an exchange of e-mail messages I had with an Arminian who wrote me to insist he had irrefutable arguments against the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. It turned out he had a real gift for distilling Arminian presuppositions into neat sound-bites and supporting them with unusual proof-texts, but his points were hardly "irrefutable." (His messages are in the yellow boxes; mine are the bluish ones.)

I have a few verses I would like to get a Calvinist interpretation of. To me they don't seem to be compatible with many of the Calvinist doctrines; they deal with God commanding us to repent and turn to him and with us forsaking Him after we have been following Him.

Why would God command something that is impossible?


  1. God clearly does command us to do that which is impossible for fallen sinners: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Moreover, the law of God itself demands to be obeyed perfectly, flawlessly (James 2:10)—thus demanding a level of obedience that has proven utterly impossible for every person who ever lived, except Christ.
  2. Therefore the fact that God commands us to do something is no proof that we have intrinsic power in our fallen state to obey Him. (Cf. Romans 7:15-16).
  3. One major reason God gives us moral standards we cannot obey is to reinforce our knowledge of our own spiritual impotence, so that we have no option but to turn to His grace as we seek salvation from our sin. (Cf. Luke 18:13-14).
  4. Nothing but sheer arrogance and a blindness to one's own spiritual poverty would lead anyone to think he is capable of obeying God or saving himself through human will power. (cf. Luke 18:11; Romans 10:3.)
  5. It is also a serious mistake to imagine that inability nullifies responsibility in the moral realm. The fact that sinners are spiritually dead and therefore morally unable to obey God does not remove them from the moral obligation to obey Him.
  6. I think you misunderstand the Calvinist objection to "free will." Every true Calvinist believes sinners are responsible moral agents, free from any external force or coercion in the choices they make. They choose freely. But they inevitably choose wrong, because their choices are determined by their own nature and their nature is sinful and corrupt. We can discuss this further if you're interested, but the point is simple: A call for the sinner to "choose" something good is in no way incompatible with Calvinist theology.


Those simple points ought to take care of most of the verses you thought were incompatible with Calvinism. Why not give me a handful of your strongest proof-texts and let me respond to them?


OK. Job 34:4: "Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good."


Scripture often calls us to make choices that involve a decision for good rather than evil. That in no way suggests that we are morally neutral, or inclined neither to evil or to good. Choosing "good" goes against the sinner's nature (Romans 8:7-8), so unless God graciously intervenes to awaken and empower us, we will always make the wrong choice (Jeremiah 13:23). And we do so without any external force or compulsion. In that sense our choices are perfectly free. But apart from divine grace we would be hopelessly enslaved to our own lusts (Romans 6:20). So the sinner's "choice," though free in every meaningful sense, is always predictably wrong.


Job 33:27-28: "He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit and his life shall see the light."


Note that this verse plainly teaches it is God who enlightens and saves the sinner; the sinner doesn't turn himself around apart from God's enablement. I don't know what in this verse you imagine is incompatible with Calvinism.


Job 40:14: God states; "Then will I confess to you that thine own right hand can save thee."


Well, just read what goes before this verse. The Lord speaks to Job out of the whirlwind and says, "Do you have an arm like God?" (v. 9). Can you thunder with a voice like His? Can you deck yourself in majesty equal to His? (v. 10). Can you disburse your wrath in a way that humbles all who are arrogant? (vv. 11-13). If you can do all that in the same way God can, "Then I will also confess to you That your own right hand can save you."

In other words, God Himself is saying it is arrogant to think you can save yourself. That's exactly the same point I made above.


Deuteronomy 30:19: Moses tell them to choose life rather than death. If there is no choice in the matter why would he say this?


See above. They do have a choice. They just can't make the right choice without God's gracious enablement.


1 Samuel 15:11: Saul "turned back from following" the Lord, so he had to have been following Him at some point in time. As far as what I have learned one of the doctrines that Calvinists teach is the irresistibility of grace. Here it does not seem to irresistible.


Again, you don't understand Calvinism very well. God's grace toward His elect will always ultimately triumph over their resistance. (In other words, "irresistible grace" does not mean God's grace is never resisted, because many of us resisted it at first, but it ultimately proves irresistible.) However, God's goodness to the reprobate ("common grace")—which is what you see operating in Saul's case, I believe—is always rejected and resisted.


Joshua 23:8-16: Joshua warns Israel to cleave to the Lord their God as they have done and not to turn back. If they could not turn back in the first place why would God have Joshua warn them in the first place?


God's warnings are often the means He uses to secure our perseverance. See John Murray's comments on this in the chapter on perseverance in Redemption: Accomplished and Applied.


Galatians 4:9, 11: Paul asks the Galatians why they would desire to be in bondage again by turning to the weak and beggarly elements after they have been known of God. If grace is irresistible why would they have to be warned?


See previous answer. The warning itself is a manifestation of grace.


Jude 24: The expression is "able to keep us from falling"; not "will keep us from falling." Able in Greek means "maybe" "might" "can" anything but "will."


Wrong. "Able" in Greek is from a root that means "power"—dunamai. Literally, "God has the power to keep you from falling." Moreover, Peter makes it explicit: we "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5). God's own power is the keeping agent, not my own weak and fragile "will power."


I have nearly 100 scriptures that seem to be incompatible with many of the Calvinistic teachings. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could interpret these scriptures with a Calvinist point of view.


Well, that knocks off eight of them. How else can I help?


Phil's signature

194 comments:

Sir Brass said...

Excellent and diplomatic answers, Phil. Good job :).

Isaiah said...

Excellent answers, Phil. Bookmarked for reference!

bossmanham said...

" I had with an Arminian who wrote me to insist he had irrefutable arguments against the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners."

I do not know what this person espouses, but of course you know, Dr. Johnson, that true Arminians do not argue against the sovereignty of God in anything. Only the necessitarian doctrines of Calvinism.

Fusion! said...

Tipping my hat to you sir. (Tips it).

C.B. Shearer said...

Excellent responses, I'm in a similar debate with some Charismatic friends. The Charismatic movement inherintely denies the sovereignty of God, but recently has been much more vocal about it.

I was an Arminian for the first few weeks of my salvation, but praise God, the light broke over me (to quote Dr. Luther) when reading Matthew 10:38, where Jesus says, "whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." I'd been under the impression that if you repent, you believe, you take up your cross, then you will be saved. Oh how arrogant I was, this verse put me on my face, did I really think I had become worthy of Christ under my own power? Oh woe was me.

I would like to get your opinion on 2 Peter 2:1 on how it is possible to deny the Master who bought you. It is the only verse I cannot mesh with Calvinism.

Thanks,
Canyon

Heath The Blogless said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but knowing that God is sovereign over all things, gives me a great deal of comfort.

After I tried to commit suicide, God gave me greater understanding of his sovereign will. This gave me the rock solid foundation to overcome depression.

Thanks Phil for your excellent article.

philness said...

Seems Arminians don't understand the demarcation of salvation and sanctification.

In salvation there is no free will, yet in sanctification (which follows salvation) we do have free will.

I did not ask to be born of the Spirit. It was all of God that awoken my dead, dried bones to new life. But while awaken I can however and do unfortunately at times reject the Spirit.

They don't seem to understand that if our salvation was conditional upon anything of ourselves it would totally negate Christ Jesus' righteous deed.

I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but my default programming will absolutely not allow for anything cooperative towards my salvation other than my sin.

Poetress said...

Hi,
I stop short of calling myself a Calvinist. I do believe in God's sovereign grace. I do believe in Total Inability. I just find it uncomfortable to throw my hat in fully with the Reformers, because the men themselves, seem so revered, in many circles, in spite of their faults which I understand as sometimes damaging to the gospel witness. There are other areas, of secondary importance, on which I disagree with them.

I am, however, grateful for the wisdom such men have brought in in helping to elucidate important doctrines.

Frank Turk said...

I think the greatest problem with Arminians is not their proof texts: it's their abject ignorance of Calvinism. AT some point, they have to demonstrate that they know enough about their dreaded boogeyman 'the Calvinist' to say credibly, 'Yes, but ...'

Their prooftexts are simply silly after that -- verses pulled out like bingo balls in the hope that the Bible is not about a sovereign creator God but instead about me.

Pheh.

Marie said...

Phil,

I also greatly appreciate this discussion, as I also go around and around in my mind wondering about the passages that seem to imply we can "lose" our salvation. You explain somewhat complex issues simply and clearly, thus bringing the cookies down to the lower shelf for us lay-folks.

One in particular I have always struggled with is Hebrews 6:3-7, where the writer sets up the dichotomy "once been enlightened....to be brought back again". Also 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (the referral to those who've "shipwrecked their faith").

Also, thanks for clearing up the role of choice within God's sovereignty. It's always seemed to me that Calvinism completely negates free will, but that's not the case.

Frank Turk said...

I will not have enough time to follow this up much today, but I want all the red-meat "Arminians" to ask themselves this question before they post anything in Phil's meta here:

Before I start declaring "free will" to Phil, Dan and that rascal Frank, can I define "free will" in such a way that the Calvinist will deny what I am talking about?And don't just answer to yourself "yes" or "no": give us your best definition of "free will" which a Calvinist would deny in 150 words or less.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Marie,

Regarding the Hebrews passage, in my 20 years in an Arminian church, I often heard this used as a proof text against perseverance in grace, but the ones who used it always denied what the passage says about there being no way back once they fell.

To be consistent, they would (based on this passage) have to say, "You can turn from grace, but if you do, there is no way back."

Which brings us back to Church history, to Augustine's controversy with the Donatists, who taught that very thing about those who had denied the faith under persecution.

stratagem said...

Very helpful to those of us who are mere laymen. Thank you.

Matt said...

Good work, Phil. I still can't believe that I spent 27 years as an Arminian! How freeing for the blinders to finally fall!

BTW, why don't you guys use RefTagger instead of manual links?

DJP said...

bossmanhamM — LOL. Riiight, that's it!

PhilRockin'!

olan strickland said...

Only 92 more to go :) Don't worry, it shouldn't take all that long since the majority of the other 92 will be basically a repeat of the previous 8.

Chad V. said...

I always wonder why Arminianism is so hostile towards irresistible grace. Are they so upset that God saved them? Is it so bad?

They will often mis-represent Irresistible Grace as though God drags sinners into the Kingdom kicking and screaming. That's not accurate at all but what if it was? If we can't convince you that you don't understand our doctrine properly then can we ask you; are you really going to complain that God gave you so great a gift, that he subdued you and made you who was His enemy His friend? Is that something to complain about?

Rick Frueh said...

I trust completely in the sovereignty of God and I serve within the confines and freedom of that eternal truth.

"Red meat Arminians"

"Vegetarian Calvinists"

:)

Citizen Grim said...

Two things have always struck me as interesting regarding Saul:

1) David constantly respected Saul as "the Lord's anointed" and refused to act against him, even when being pursued. David even killed the Amorite who claimed to have killed Saul, and then wrote a lament about Saul's death.

2) Just before dying, when Saul consulted the medium, she apparently contacts the *actual* spirit of Samuel. Even more curious, Samuel tells Saul that the next day, he and his sons will be "with" Samuel. (Although this could simply mean "dead.")

Johnny Dialectic said...

I've written and re-written a response, but I'm not posting it. I'm not in the mood for another fight. I like TeamPyro but always clutch when it's Arminian time around here. I'd rather keep visiting on other matters.

I'd just like to ask Frank to reconsider this statement:

"Their prooftexts are simply silly after that -- verses pulled out like bingo balls in the hope that the Bible is not about a sovereign creator God but instead about me."

That landed like a blow below the belt. How can you tell me I "hope" the Bible is "instead about me"? How can you deign to look into my heart and know how I worship my Creator God? How can you look into any heart and come up with such a blanket statement?

Consider me misguided theologically if you like, but don't denigrate my motives as I seek to know and grow closer to the God I adore.

Perhaps I should chalk your comment up to an overheated or over-caffeinated moment. But it stung nonetheless.

Zach said...

Re: "Why would God command something that is impossible?"

Wasn't that Pelagius' first assertion as well?

Mike Riccardi said...

This was refreshing, Phil.

One thing I've noticed is that Arminians seem to think that if I have "a will" at all then it must be free will. They say that, "If we don't have free will then we're robots." But robots don't have any will at all. The very fact that "will" is modified by the adjective "free" should imply to our English-speaking minds that our wills can be free and our wills can be enslaved.

So the opposite of free will is not "no will"; it's an enslaved will (John 8:34, Rom 6:6, 6:16-20; 8:7-8). Everyone makes choices. But they can only make choices which are compatible with their nature. In humanity's case, that nature is a sin, death, and child-of-wrath nature (Eph 2:1-3).

C.B. Shearer: I would like to get your opinion on 2 Peter 2:1 on how it is possible to deny the Master who bought you. It is the only verse I cannot mesh with Calvinism.

There are a couple of resources to check on this.

1. MacArthur NT Commentary on 2 Peter. It's worth it even if for only this issue.

2. Piper discusses this issue.

3. A very detailed look at this from the guys at Alpha and Omega Ministries.

SolaMom said...

Excellent post, Phil. I greatly appreciated the concise responses you gave. I would love to see this (100 Questions) as a series here on Pyro. I face these sorts of challenges to Calvinism almost daily and this would be a very valuable resource.

wordsmith said...

@Chad V:

I think probably the main reason why Arminians detest the idea of God "dragging people into the Kingdom kicking and screaming" is that the flip side of that notion is that God bars from salvation some who really, really, really *want* to be saved, but that mean ol' God just hasn't elected them, ya know?

Obviously, that's not how Scripture depicts the non-elect, but just try telling that to an Arminian. They refuse to believe that all of us would reject God were we left to our own devices.

Daryl said...

Wordsmith,

I'm not an Arminian, but
I'm pretty sure that it is not true that Arminianism believes that we are capable of responding to God on our own.

In fact, the very reason for their doctrine of prevenient grace is that very thing.
Wesleyan Arminianism teaches that at some point in everyone's life, God will extend prevenient grace to a person, during which time they may or may not chose to believe. At all other times they cannot chose to believe.

So the real issue with Arminianism isn't our inability, but its the made-up idea of prevenient grace and the idea that God allows us to chose, thereby putting our salvation ultimately into our own hands.

At least thats how I understand it. Johnny D. could probably shed some light there.

DONG'S THOUGHTS said...

God clearly does command us to do that which is impossible for fallen sinners: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Moreover, the law of God itself demands to be obeyed perfectly, flawlessly (James 2:10)-thus demanding a level of obedience that has proven utterly impossible for every person who ever lived, except Christ.

----->Does the command in MT 5:48 apply to all sinners, elect and non-elect?

Therefore the fact that God commands us to do something is no proof that we have intrinsic power in our fallen state to obey Him. (Cf. Romans 7:15-16).

One major reason God gives us moral standards we cannot obey is to reinforce our knowledge of our own spiritual impotence, so that we have no option but to turn to His grace as we seek salvation from our sin. (Cf. Luke 18:13-14).

----->It seems that MT 5:48 applies ONLY to the elect. Yes? Does the "our" and "we" refer to all sinners or only to the elect?

It is also a serious mistake to imagine that inability nullifies responsibility in the moral realm. The fact that sinners are spiritually dead and therefore morally unable to
obey God does not remove them from the moral obligation to obey Him.

----->This seems empty. All you did here was make an assertion and offer no reason. Please explain how is it that God does not remove spiritually dead sinners from moral obligation to obey him.

I think you misunderstand the Calvinist objection to "free will." Every true Calvinist believes sinners are responsible moral agents, free from any external force or coercion in the choices they make. They choose freely. But they inevitably choose wrong, because their choices are determined by their own nature and their nature is sinful and corrupt. We can discuss this further if you're interested, but the point is simple: A call for the sinner to "choose" something good is in no way incompatible with Calvinist theology.

----->Does the "call for the sinner to 'choose' something good" apply only to the elect?

Scripture often calls us to make choices that involve a decision for good rather than evil. That in no way suggests that we are morally neutral, or inclined neither to evil or to good. Choosing "good" goes against the sinner's nature (Romans 8:7-8), so unless God graciously intervenes to awaken and empower us, we will always make the wrong choice (Jeremiah 13:23). And we do so without any external force or compulsion. In that sense our choices are perfectly free. But apart from divine grace we would be hopelessly enslaved to our own lusts (Romans 6:20). So the sinner's "choice," though free in every meaningful sense, is always predictably wrong.

----->So the the spiritually dead sinner is free to do evil but NOT to good. Yes?

Deuteronomy 30:19: Moses tell them to choose life rather than death. If there is no choice in the matter why would he say this?

See above. They do have a choice. They just can't make the right choice without God's gracious enablement.

----->Without God they do have a choice ONLY to do evil because of their sinful, depraved nature. Therefore, they do NOT have the choice to do good. Yes?

----->Does the command in MT 5:48 apply to all sinners, elect and non-elect?

Therefore the fact that God commands us to do something is no proof that we have intrinsic power in our fallen state to obey Him. (Cf. Romans 7:15-16).

One major reason God gives us moral standards we cannot obey is to reinforce our knowledge of our own spiritual impotence, so that we have no option but to turn to His grace as we seek salvation from our sin. (Cf. Luke 18:13-14).

----->It seems that MT 5:48 applies ONLY to the elect. Yes? Does the "our" and "we" refer to all sinners or only to the elect?

It is also a serious mistake to imagine that inability nullifies responsibility in the moral realm. The fact that sinners are spiritually dead and therefore morally unable to
obey God does not remove them from the moral obligation to obey Him.

----->This seems empty. All you did here was make an assertion and offered no good reason. Please explain how is it that God does not remove spiritually dead sinners from moral obligation to obey him.

I think you misunderstand the Calvinist objection to "free will." Every true Calvinist believes sinners are responsible moral agents, free from any external force or coercion in the choices they make. They choose freely. But they inevitably choose wrong, because their choices are determined by their own nature and their nature is sinful and corrupt. We can discuss this further if you're interested, but the point is simple: A call for the sinner to "choose" something good is in no way incompatible with Calvinist theology.

----->Does the "call for the sinner to 'choose' something good" apply only to the elect?

Scripture often calls us to make choices that involve a decision for good rather than evil. That in no way suggests that we are morally neutral, or inclined neither to evil or to good. Choosing "good" goes against the sinner's nature (Romans 8:7-8), so unless God graciously intervenes to awaken and empower us, we will always make the wrong choice (Jeremiah 13:23). And we do so without any external force or compulsion. In that sense our choices are perfectly free. But apart from divine grace we would be hopelessly enslaved to our own lusts (Romans 6:20). So the sinner's "choice," though free in every meaningful sense, is always predictably wrong.

----->So the the spiritually dead sinner is free to do evil but NOT to good. Yes?

Deuteronomy 30:19: Moses tell them to choose life rather than death. If there is no choice in the matter why would he say this?

See above. They do have a choice. They just can't make the right choice without God's gracious enablement.

----->Without God they do have a choice ONLY to do evil because of their sinful, depraved nature. Therefore, they do NOT have the choice to do good. Yes?

Sir Aaron said...

I'm still waiting for somebody to take up Frank's challenge.

And to whomever mentioned it, I've never heard an bread and butter Arminian ever discuss previent grace until after they've been boxed into a corner by Romans 9.

Trinian said...

Elihu? Seriously, Elihu? Talk about ignoring context...

Matt said...

Zach:Re: "Why would God command something that is impossible?"

Wasn't that Pelagius' first assertion as well?
That's exactly right. Pelagius somehow figured (contra Scripture as Phil pointed out in the original post) that "'ought' imlies 'can'". Augustine of course countered with "command what thou wilt, and give what thou commandest". He clung to the notion that "ought" does not necessarily imply "can". In other words, we are fully, entirely, and completely dependent upon the grace and mercy of God.

Daryl: I think you're bang on. The Arminians I know don't deny depravity or the necessity of grace for conversion. Rather, they seem to part company with us over "irresistable grace". While we (Calvinists) affirm that God's common grace is resisted (always) by unbelievers, we find in Scripture no God who can't accomplish what He wants to. In other words, prevenient grace invents a "sovereign" God who wants above all things for everybody to be saved, but isn't able to actually accomplish it. His plans keep getting thwarted and frustrated by people.

A God who fails at what He intends to do (save all people). As much as no Arminian would outrightly agree with that statement, at rock bottom this is what Arminianism must affirm when it denies irresistable grace.

Boerseuntjie said...

Problem No 1 with the enquirer:
He argues that Scripture may contradict Itself when Semi-Pelagians discuss Calvinistic (Doctrines fo Grace).

Can the enquirer find a way to fit these verses in with those he dislikes, such as:

Luke 10:22
"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and NO ONE KNOWS who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son WILLS TO REVEAL Him.”"

John 10:29
"My Father, who has GIVEN THEM to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand."

John 1:12-13
"But as many as received Him, to them He GAVE the right TO BECOME children of God, to those who believe in His name: WHO WERE BORN, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF [FROM; BY; THROUGH] God."

What do we do with these Scriptures, should Jacob ARmenius and Pelagius or his SEMI-Pelagian followers be correct?

I am glad that my heart of stone has been made a heart of flesh by Monergistic Intervention to Incline my sinful and wicked heart to His Righteoussnes by His Son's Perfect obedience in my stead, GIVEN as an UNFATHOMABLE LOVE GIFT by the Father to the Son (Would I have picked me - OH NO!).

But I trust His Good and Perfect Judgement, as God; in my behalf and look forward to the TOTAL destruction of sin and it's rule by the Good and Perfect Law of God, by Christ's atonement and obedience in my behalf.

Your fellow bondslave by grace and the sure mercies of Almighty God Alone - The GIFT of Faith applied by grace (Ephesians 2:8-10)
,
W

Sir Aaron said...

Matt:

If you deny irresistable grace, don't you by necessity, also deny limited atonement? Most free-willers do not believe in previent grace. That is their stance of last resort. They think everybody is capable of choosing God and that is why they go the seeker sensitive route. If they can just slip your vitamins in with your ice cream, you'll eventually get a balanced breakfast!

Daryl said...

Sir Aaron,

You're right about the free-willers and prevenient grace, but those aren't Arminians.
They would really be semi-or full on Pelagian.

No true Arminian believes that it is within the capacity of a man to chose God on his own.

You are correct about the seeker sensitive thought process though (been there, talked to the elders...) that really is a semi-Pelagian view.

As wrong as Arminianism is, the church would be so much better off were it full of real Arminians instead of what passes for Arminianism these days.

As has been said, the only consistent Arminian is an Open-Theist, but thankfully the vast majority haven't gone that route.

Sir Aaron said...

well, in all honesty, most people who believe in free-will, don't know what arminian or pelagian means...

Sir Aaron said...

at least in my experience with them, that is. (I don't want to overgeneralize).

Boerseuntjie said...

Just for interest Young's Literal Translation has the text of John 1:12-13
"..but as many as did receive him to them he gave authority to become sons of God--to those believing in his name,who--not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man BUT--OF God WERE BEGOTTEN."

Spurgeon (IF I am recalling arightly) said that the Church would be better of if Calvinists like us would preach with verfour like Armenians...In that sens I believe the Chrch will be better of...proven Historically by Calvinistic brethern like: Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield, John Newton, William Carey, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, The Apostle Paul
and JESUS.

ZSB said...

These seem to be the proof-texts of one PELAGIAN (not Arminian/semi-Pelagian). He/she thinks that God acknowledged that BY MY OWN ARM I am saved??? Yikes. I don't think you have to be a neo-Gnostic Calvinist to wonder if such a person is within the walls of orthodox Christianity...

Frank Turk said...

Dong -- you have not asked yourself this question , and you have not answered it:

Before I start declaring "free will" to Phil, Dan and that rascal Frank, can I define "free will" in such a way that the Calvinist will deny what I am talking about?

Sir Aaron said...

There is a reason for that, Frank. I personally don't think it's possible, at least not without becoming a Calvinist.

ZSB said...

"Lord, grant what You command, and command what You will."

-Augustine

In this prayer we see the grace of God in commanding something that we cannot, of ourselves, do.

Jugulum said...

Phil,

I didn't understand your response to one of the proof-texts.

Job 33:27-28: "He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit and his life shall see the light."

Note that this verse plainly teaches it is God who enlightens and saves the sinner; the sinner doesn't turn himself around apart from God's enablement. I don't know what in this verse you imagine is incompatible with Calvinism
.

When I read that verse, it looks like it's saying, "God examines people's hearts for contrition; if he finds it, then he saves that person from hell and brings his life into the light."

Are you saying that it actually means, "If God has brought someone's life into the light, then he will find contrition in their hearts"?

Hmm... It looks like you're taking "the light" in a "regenerating" sense. If so, I see where you're coming from. Does it have to mean that, though? Could it mean something more like post-conversion sanctification?

lawrence said...

Frank, are you gonna ignore Johnny? As a Calvinists, I'm totally interested in your answer....

Steve Lamm said...

Johnny Dialectic,

We love you man! Don't take offense at Frank. He means nothing personal by it, especially toward you,I'm sure.

Seriously, why don't you challenge Frank to a friendly debate on debateblog on this issue or another related to it? I'd read that with great interest since you are always an intelligent commenter here.

Blessings,
Steve Lamm

Roberto G said...

Exchanges like this, between curious non-calvinists and calvinists, are a cause for rejoicing and thankfulness.

bossmanham said...

DJP,

So you're saying I'm insincere? I wouldn't have said what I said if I didn't mean it.

KRG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KRG said...

(It was doing some weird stuff with the formatting so here is a repost)

Phil: “They do have a choice. They just can't make the right choice without God's gracious enablement.”I don’t think many Arminians would disagree with this, the question is who He has enabled and to what degree, i.e. is grace irresistible? Many argue that the fact that God makes the offer of salvation means that God has enabled and we (because of the enablement) have the real ability either accept or reject the offer (the double handed view of salvation, having faith is not a work). This argues that God making the offer without the enablement is cruel & deceptive, not consistent with God’s character. Why is it Biblically inconsistent to hold a resistible grace view?

Phil: “It is also a serious mistake to imagine that inability nullifies responsibility in the moral realm.”Dong: “This seems empty. All you did here was make an assertion and offer no reason. Please explain how is it that God does not remove spiritually dead sinners from moral obligation to obey him.”Though we are said to be spiritually dead I don’t see why the analogy needs to be taken so far as Calvinist take it. There clearly are differences as dead people have no will to good or evil; they are incapable of good, but they are also incapable of evil. So I second the request for further explanation (though it may take a lot of words so maybe a follow up post)

Sir Brass said...

@ Chad V.

You know, that's what I wonder as well. I basically see myself (my natural self) as having been dragged kicking and screaming to the cross of Christ. And my redeemed self is eternally saying "Thank you!" for it.

Praise the Lord that He does not regard our wills, and does instead what He will. His will is that some would be saved. OUR will is that He would leave us alone. Thank God that He did not do so.

DJP said...

bossmanham — oh. It just was so silly, I thought (hoped) you were joking, making a parody of folks who don't like the big, sovereign God of Scripture.

Sir Aaron said...

Amen, Sir Brass. I don't wonder about being dragged kicking and screaming. I know I gave God the middle finger and he had compassion on me anyways.

The Squirrel said...

Sir Aaron:

I know I gave God the middle finger and he had compassion on me anyways.

The honest accuracy of that image is so shockingly dead on that I'm stuck full in the face by it. Wow!

What a perfectly concise statement of the rebellion of the unregenerate.

~Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

Squirrel:

It takes a mature Christian like yourself to see his nature for what it is.

I started as a non-believer thinking, I'm good because I haven't yet murdered, raped, or pillaged. I became saved realizing that any sin keeps me from God. And yet, I still believed I made the decision. Jesus was knocking on my door and I had to open it...Then I matured through study of Scripture(especially Romans 9). Some great Pastors/teachers guided me and taught me. Maturity in faith allowed me to come to terms with my nature. It was only then that I was able to see my fallen nature for what it was. And I was shocked, because I realized that my fallen nature is given over entirely to wickedness. There is no part of my natural self that seeks goodness. Not only did I commit the most vile of sins, but only by God's grace was I prevented from unleashing all manner of evil. I look into my soul and I am disgusted. And now I have no doubt that I, a most wretched human being, would not only not seek Christ, but would actively persecute him. God is solely responsible for my regeneration for I was neither capable of it nor sought it.

stratagem said...

I think it is just awful how all of you guys are constantly criticizing people from Armenia!

Chad V. said...

Sir BrassThat's a great way of putting it.

If Arminians would only reflect on the fact that their whole lives were lived in absolute rebellion against God and then one day they couldn't help but believe they might begin to understand what we are saying.

Ask yourself, why is it that one day you couldn't help but curse God and the next you couldn't help but love Him? Did God change your heart or did you change it yourself?

ZSB said...

Strategem:

That reminds me of a preacher I heard on a podcast a few months ago. Through his THICK Scottish accent, he said, "And remember, there's a difference between an Arminian and an Armenian. An Arminian...is a theological misfit. An Armenian is a Turk."

No offense to Scots, people from Armenia, or people whose last name is Turk.
:)

BTW, am I the only one who has been in a Bible study where someone was reading an OT passage and coming to the word "Aramian," said "Arminian." As in "You will plunder the Arminians." Always good for a smile.

Stefan said...

Mike:

"So the opposite of free will is not 'no will'; it's an enslaved will"

Your comment was brilliant. I have never seen the concept expressed so clearly and concisely.

Thanks for that.

Mike Riccardi said...

KRG,

I've thought about the things you said and the questions you've raised. I have some answers, but they're a bit long. Bear with me.

This argues that God making the offer without the enablement is cruel & deceptive, not consistent with God’s character.

But this misunderstands the nature of humanity. It looks on depraved man as this helpless and innocent creature that would just do the right thing if he could, but he can't. And so how dare that nasty God taunt them by offering something so awesome and not helping them to overcome and receive it!

The problem is, God didn't make us that way. We, in Adam, gladly chose this death. We're not neutral in our sin. We love it. We always have. And because of that, when the Calvinist considers the sovereign grace of God (even as it extends to irresistible grace and the other points), he wonders at the fact -- not that God hasn't saved everybody -- but that given our rebellion He saves anybody.

God has enabled and we (because of the enablement) have the real ability either accept or reject the offer (the double handed view of salvation, having faith is not a work).

But the difference, then, between the believer and the unbeliever is not the grace of God, but the believer's right response to that grace. The difference in salvation is not with God, but with sinful man. Salvation, then, is not of the Lord, but of the man who has faith.

I'll say it in another way.

Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that it takes a work of the grace of God for anyone to believe the Gospel. So the question is: What is this grace like? Who receives this grace? There are two possible answers: 1) Everybody receives it, 2) Only those who believe / the elect receive it.

If everybody receives this kind of general grace, the question must be asked and answered: why doesn’t everybody believe? If God determines that He will give every human being throughout history enough grace that they can make the choice to believe in or reject Christ, why doesn’t every single recipient of that grace (i.e., everyone) believe in the Gospel? If we’ve all received the same grace – the same kind of grace and the same amount of grace – what is the difference maker in salvation? Ultimately, the answer must be something in us, and I find that idea to be as foreign to Scripture and as perverse in the mind of God as polytheism.

He is zealous for His own glory, and will not give His glory to another (Is 42:8, 48:11). To say that the difference-maker in salvation -- at any level -- is anything other than the objective beauty of God would require that the glory be reserved for something other than the objective beauty of God. It is, in fact, idolatry, because it doesn't give God the supreme place He demands for Himself.

Though we are said to be spiritually dead I don’t see why the analogy needs to be taken so far as Calvinist take it.

I think the question of the nature of spiritual death is a good one to consider, for if we get the doctrine of total depravity right, the rest of the doctrines of grace flow from it. So the question is: what is spiritual death?

In John 3:1-8, John 1:1-4, and 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (just to take a few), we see a very clear connection between Light and Life, between Seeing and being Born Again. (Specifically, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.) So based on that idea, I would say that spiritual death (i.e., not being born again) is the absence of the light necessary to see the glory of God for what it is.

So then The picture is: we are dead, which means we can’t see things as they really are. When God gives us this grace (prevenient for the Arminian and irresistible for the Calvinist), we get new eyes so that we can see. Now, we’re able to evaluate things as they truly are... to evaluate sin as it truly is, and to evaluate Jesus as He truly is, compare the two, and make a choice. Now, the non-Calvinist would have to say that it's possible that someone, seeing the perfect glory of Jesus in all His fullness, and seeing the rotting garbage of sin and worldly "pleasures" right next to Him, with his brand new eyes that can actually see things, would choose sin and not Jesus. I think that's just unthinkable, and incredibly demeaning to the glory of God.

And so, that's why I, as a Calvinist, call it irresistible grace. Not because somebody forced it down our throat, but because the grace that we were given was grace that opened our eyes so that we could actually see the gloriousness and pleasantness of Christ and the total absence of any gloriousness or pleasantness of sin. And so seeing rightly, there could be no situation in which we would choose anything but Christ because of His objective beauty! It’s not against our will at that point. It’s that our will has been changed [by grace] to want what we now see as most desirable! At the bottom of it, grace is irresistible because, when seen as He is, Jesus is irresistible.

I hope this is helpful.

Rita Martinez said...

"I think probably the main reason why Arminians detest the idea of God "dragging people into the Kingdom kicking and screaming" is that the flip side of that notion is that God bars from salvation some who really, really, really *want* to be saved, but that mean ol' God just hasn't elected them, ya know?"--->this is basically what bothers my arminian friend...he says that it wouldn't be fair if God predestined some to salvation and others to eternity in hell...

Sir Brass said...

Rita, then you tell him that he, in reality, doesn't ACTUALLY want God to be FAIR.

If God were FAIR, we'd all be burning in Gehenna for our rebellion.

If God were FAIR, Adam and Eve wouldn't have lived long enough to have Cain OR Able.

That He has chosen to save ANY is grace. If God were FAIR, He wouldn't save a single soul.

bossmanham said...

DJP,

No I'm challenging the straw man that was set up in the first paragraph of the post.

Eddie Eddings said...

...and it is by God's majestic, sovereign grace that there are no Arminians in Heaven. (this could easily be taken the wrong way...what I mean is no one holds to those man-centered doctrines after they die.) Does that mean that there those in Hell are "Calvinistic"? Someone help me here, I may have painted my way into a corner!!

donsands said...

"The fact that sinners are spiritually dead and therefore morally unable to obey God does not remove them from the moral obligation to obey Him."

But it does. Because it's not just to do so.
God has to give a sinner, who is dead in sin, a chance to respond to His offer of eternal life, on neutral ground of course, or else He is unjust.

I believe this is where the Reformed vs. the non-Reformed lock antlers.

Great to read your e-mail dialog. Appreciate letting us hear, and be edified in the truth of the Gospel of sovereign grace.

Rachael Starke said...

"So the opposite of free will is not 'no will'; it's an enslaved will"Just put that on my FB page.

neborg67 said...

"Obviously, that's not how Scripture depicts the non-elect, but just try telling that to an Arminian. They refuse to believe that all of us would reject God were we left to our own devices."

... Obviously you know nothing of Arminian theology. Total Depravity is a main point of Arminian theology.

Too many people here are trying to lump "Arminians" and "All Free-willers" into the same group.

Matt said...

Eddie - Does that mean that there those in Hell are "Calvinistic"?John Piper thinks so.Neborg67 - Too many people here are trying to lump "Arminians" and "All
Free-willers" into the same group.
To be sure, there are degrees of Arminianism and free will-ism. At bottom, though, there are only two basic categories (granting degrees within each)- monergism and synergism. Either God is the decisive factor in my salvation, or I am. There's no clever "third way". It's a true either/or proposition. So in that sense, at least, it doesn't really matter if you want to parse the differences between Arminianism, free will-ism, Pelagianism, or semi-Pelagianism because they all fit in the same category. All give some degree of glory to man in salvation.

olan strickland said...

Mike Riccardi: "if we get the doctrine of total depravity right, the rest of the doctrines of grace flow from it."

Amen Mike!

I have a question for those who believe in prevenient grace: does God give prevenient grace to those who have never heard the gospel?

postpre said...

It's clear that the Calvinistic understanding of salvation finds no record (in history) before Augustine in the 4th Century. This fact has to be difficult for the Calvinist. Thorough and painstaking arguments pertaining to key concepts and texts will not change the devastating fact that all of the early fathers did not embrace (and in some cases clearly disavowed) this systme of theology.

Rick Frueh said...

"Either God is the decisive factor in my salvation, or I am."

And if God indeed is, why does it matter who you convince of this?

I have seen dedicated believers who were "Arminians". I have seen dedicated believers who were "Calvinists". If you watched their lives without knowing which was which, you could not tell an observable difference.

That leads me to believe that the dedication quotient in believers doesn't necessarily lie in what they believe about "free will". And since I've seen believers who were Calvinists fight each other, and Arminians the same, I also am led to believe that the unity quotient doesn't necessarily lie in what people believe about "free will".

In the end, we can be on the right side of the free will debate (either one) and still be significantly lacking in our walk with Jesus Christ.

Chad V. said...

No, it's not difficult for the Calvinist at all, because first your statement simply isn't true. I refer you to John Owen's "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" where he cites numerous church fathers who in fact support the teaching that Christ died only for the elect. Among them Ignatius, Cyprian, Clemens, Cyril, Athanasius, and Ambrose.

Second, while we are often maligned for following the doctrines of men we follow the the teaching of scripture, which pre-dates Augustine and all the church fathers.

Chad V. said...

That last @ the anonymous postpre

Chad V. said...

postpreFurthermore, I wonder how many of your own beliefs fail to stand up to your little test of antiquity. Will you subject yourself to the same test in other areas of doctrine?

Martin said...

I'm not the only one noticing that among some Calvinist circles there is a more and more militant attitude akin to some of the more ardent Fundamentalists they usually try to distance themselves from.

I hate the arrogance so many have, as is displayed in this article. I hate the tone that degenerates those you disagree with. I hate the way you lump everyone who is not a Calvinist into the Arminian camp instead of accepting that there are other "boxes" for people to be in.

Some dear friends are Calvinists, but their tone and attitude makes them Christlike, lovable and approachable, too many Calvinists are like their spiritual forefathers who initiated systems that led to people being burned at the stake.

I have to wonder how much more offensive and un-Christlike some calvinists will become...

Frank Turk said...

Johnny --

First of all, sorry to have missed your comment yesterday. Busy day, lack of time.

Anyway, you said this:

[QUOTE]
How can you tell me I "hope" the Bible is "instead about me"? How can you deign to look into my heart and know how I worship my Creator God? How can you look into any heart and come up with such a blanket statement?
[/QUOTE]
.

To answer your first question, I can tell you that because, if you agree with the fellow who sent Phil these texts, you agree with a theology which doesn't say God is saving you: you agree with a theology which says you can get yourself saved.

That is the point of every single "Arminian" verse cited here by this person (btw, I think those saying this view is more Pelagian than Arminian are spot-on): I get to choose if I get to be saved. I have the power to gain God's affections.

That is how you hope to make the Bible about "me": by making the key matter of how man and God are reconciled to each other not God's action to save you but your choice to recognize He "wants to" save you.

To answer your second question, this has nothing to do with your heart -- and making it about your heart is a misdirection and an attempt to derail the real disagreement here. I didn't say you weren't saved: I said these verses make the Bible about "me". Can it then lead to a false Gospel and pinning one's hopes on the false god of "me and my free will"? Yes: it can. But we haven't gone there yet.

I think there are plenty of people who are actually Arminian and not Pelagian or semi-pelagian who are saved people but make a hermeneutical error for the sake of not dealing with how great God is. I am sure those people are saved. That doesn't make their interpretation of these verses any less "me"-centered.

As to your third question, see above.

Hope that helps.

Frank Turk said...

FWIW --

I have no fewer than 3 challenges pending at D-blog right now, otherwise I would offer an open challenge to any Arminian, semi-pelagian or Pelagian to an exchange in the question of free will. However, since I have two "Oneness" guys and a denier of inerrancy on the hook right now, it would be unfair to all of them to start up a 4th exchange before I got to them.

neborg67 said...

"To be sure, there are degrees of Arminianism and free will-ism. At bottom, though, there are only two basic categories (granting degrees within each)- monergism and synergism. Either God is the decisive factor in my salvation, or I am. There's no clever "third way". It's a true either/or proposition. So in that sense, at least, it doesn't really matter if you want to parse the differences between Arminianism, free will-ism, Pelagianism, or semi-Pelagianism because they all fit in the same category. All give some degree of glory to man in salvation."

Actually, technically both Arminianism and Calvinism have a synergistical view of faith (in the literal sense of the word). Also both Arminianism and Calvinism have a monergistical view of Salvation (Salvation is of the LORD). So as far as Monergism and Synergism goes, Arminianism and Calvinism falls into the same category (despite some Calvinist objections), and Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism fall into the other.

Rick Frueh said...

"you agree with a theology which doesn't say God is saving you: you agree with a theology which says you can get yourself saved."

I love it! It is the chew toy construct that makes the Calvinist feel very warm and fuzzy. Don't feel bad, though, we Arminians have our own set of chew toy definitions as it pertains to Calvinists.

In the end, the point is moot. (one of ours!)

Matt said...

Rick - And if God indeed is, why does it matter who you convince of this?Why? Because it brings Christ glory when we come to Him with nothing to offer, completely empty and humbled. If I retain even 0.01% control over my salvation, I'm not truly coming empty handed. I'm not begging "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner". Rather, I've decided to direct God to have mercy on me, a sinner. I'd still like to know how an unregenerate person gets off the treadmill of Romans 8:7,8 so that he can make a "decision".

Neborg67 - Also both Arminianism and Calvinism have a monergistical view of Salvation (Salvation is of the LORD)And who decides who that salvation is applied to?

Rick Frueh said...

"And if God indeed is, why does it matter who you convince of this?Why? Because it brings Christ glory when we come to Him with nothing to offer, completely empty and humbled"

I am pretty sure millions of sinners have come to Christ without any understanding of the free will issue, so in fact, sinners like me, came to Christ and were saved before we even knew there even was such a debate.

And this begs the question, if only God is active in the intial regeneration process, and if He alone draws the sinner and illuminates the completely darkened heart, why would He not deposit the knowledge of the Calvinistic perspective at that time?

If God supernaturally guides the sinner's depraved heart to believe that Jesus is God, and that the cross is the sacrifice for sins, and that Jesus actually did rise from the dead, and since those truths are so profound and can only be believed by the power of God, would it have been so difficult to add the "no free will" perspective in that initial package?

The "proof text" badminton game at some point becomes tedious, and many times it suggests that such issues can be discerned with the exact same absolute certainty that accompanies the actual gospel itself.

(Spurgeon's "Calvinism is the gospel" notwithstanding.)

donsands said...

"if only God is active in the intial regeneration process," -Rick

Seems that Ephesians 2 says that God quickens a dead son of wrath, and it's all Him; His grace.

Do I turn, repent, trust, understand I'm bad, and God is good? Yes. But it's only becasue God is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth, and when he came upon this sinner, He found someone who was full of himself, and hated the things of God, a genuine son of wrath. And yet He decided, and I'll neer know why, to have mercy on this blasphemer.
I wasn't seeking God, that's for sure. I may have been seeeking pleasure, happiness, peace, and fulfillment, and even purpose, but not a God of wrath, whose righteous indignation was against me.

God saves dead sinners. He is merciful to us.

Have a blessed Lord's day.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Thanks for the response, Frank, which clarifies what you probably meant to say. You didn't address my sole concern, which was in the words you used in your original comment. You said that Arminians are bringing out proof texts like "bingo balls" in the HOPE that the Bible is "not about a sovereign creator God but instead about me."

That's why it really was about "my heart," and was, I'm sure, just a bit of overplay on your part. My comment was therefore not "misdirection" because I specifically said I wasn't posting a response to Phil's post. I wasn't debating the theology, or asserting agreement or disagreement about Phil's correspondent. Mine was to address a canard that is often tossed about by Calvinists--that Arminians "hope" the Bible is about "us."

My real hope is that you would at least acknowledge that it is possible Arminian "hope" is the same as yours--to know and worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

Of course you disagree with our theology, and that's fine. But I'm concerned when someone with influence, such as yourself, blithely tosses out careless statements like the above. It becomes "red meat" for your home team, perpetuates a false view, and denigrates brothers and sisters in Christ.

You were right to complain that many Arminians are "ignorant" of Calvinism. True. But just as many Calvinists are ignorant of Arminian theology. That we are out there "hoping" the Bible is not about a sovereign God, but about us, is one of those misguided views.

Thanks again for trying to clarify.

Arminian said...

Matt,

Neborg67 ssia: - "Also both Arminianism and Calvinism have a monergistical view of Salvation (Salvation is of the LORD)"

You asked: "And who decides who that salvation is applied to?"

The Arminian answer: God of course. As the Bible makes clear, God has decided to save those who believe, and he alone saves them. Thanks and praise be to his holy name!

Chad V. said...

Rick No one is saying you have to be a Calvinist to be saved. (see what I mean about those who refuse to address Calvinism on what it actually teaches?)

And, no it doesn't beg your question at all. You know perfectly well that Christians are not injected with perfect doctrine at conversion. They are to grow up in their knowledge of Christ by the study of the word and the hearing of preaching and prayer.

olan strickland said...

Matt: "Either God is the decisive factor in my salvation, or I am."

Rick Frueh: "And if God indeed is, why does it matter who you convince of this?"

Rick, we convince men of this truth for the same reason that the apostle Paul convinced the Galatians - because otherwise it is a distortion of the gospel.

There are many things about the gospel (at the time of our conversions that we have not considered) that the Bible teaches and we need to know. For instance, the Bible teaches that we didn't seek God (Romans 3:11) but He sought us; the Bible teaches that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44-45); the Bible teaches that a holy God cannot and will not save any other way than through Penal Substitution (1 Corinthians 15:3; Acts 4:12); and the Bible teaches that God didn't save us because there was something good in us but because He is good (Romans 3:12; 5:6-8; Titus 3:5).

Once these truths are taught to the new believer he or she can then verify this to be or not to be his or her experience.

Did you seek God?
Did you draw yourself to Jesus?
Could God have saved you any other way than through the gospel?
Did God save you because there was something good in you?

Answer yes to any of those questions and you have something to boast about pertaining to your salvation and then Ephesians 2:9 is a lie.

Rick Frueh said...

Did you seek God? NO
Did you draw yourself to Jesus? NO
Could God have saved you any other way than through the gospel? NO
Did God save you because there was something good in you? NO

My answers are decidedly Arminian.

(and reformed)

Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can save a sinner. The inner workings, regenerating chronologies, and moving of the Spirit are seen through a glass darkly.

Mike Riccardi said...

I do have a couple of honest, curious questions for those who don't hold to a Calvinist soteriology. And, no disrespect to the others who I would love to hear from (please respond also), I'd particularly like to hear from Johnny Dialectic on these questions.

1. Are there any verses you turn to to support prevenient grace, or is it just an inference based on the fact that God commands us to do things; therefore we must be able to do them?

2. Does everyone receive prevenient grace at the same time (e.g., at their birth), or do they receive it at different times of their lives according to the intent of God?

3. Does prevenient grace put us all in the state we were in pre-Fall? That is, does it eliminate our total depravity such that we have the same moral and spiritual agency as Adam did in the garden? If not, where exactly does it put us?

Thanks.

Sir Aaron said...

It might be helpful to have some working definitions of Arminianism and Calvinism. People are throwing out terms but appear to hold to different beliefs about what doctrines those terms entail.

I'm posting some links (HT to Monergism.com).

DefinitionsArticleprevenient

Sir Aaron said...

I should add that some of the links I provided will answer many of the questions posed here.

olan strickland said...

Rick,

According to your own answers, who was the deciding factor in your salvation? And where did your so-called "free-will" get involved?

Sir Aaron said...

I'll add that the
"preview" of my post looks nothing like the actual post when it is published.

Rick Frueh said...

"According to your own answers, who was the deciding factor in your salvation?"

God decided...that I should decide.

olan strickland said...

Rick: "God decided...that I should decide."

Did God decide that you should decide or that you would decide?

If God decided that you should decide and you did then you are the deciding factor in your salvation.

If God decided that you would decide and that He would free your sin-enslaved will by generating in you that which by nature you do not have (saving faith) and thereby enabling you to do what you cannot and would not do - then He is the deciding factor in your salvation.

Rick Frueh said...

At the risk of nano-parsing:

When God decided that I should decide, He decided that my decision would be His decision since He already knew what my decision would be.

I would exchange the word "decide" for "believe". "Choose you this day" spoken to a sinner with no "choice" is akin to saying "Walk" to a man with no legs.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Riccardi said...

"Choose you this day" spoken to a sinner with no "choice" is akin to saying "Walk" to a man with no legs.

And yet that's exactly how the Gospel is presented!

"You must be born again!"

"What? How can a man..."

Exactly.

Mike Riccardi said...

He decided that my decision would be His decision since He already knew what my decision would be.

So, at the bottom of it, your decision is the source of His decision.

All the thoroughly biblical arguments that have been presented in this meta against such a position aside, doesn't that just seem wrong to you? Without the identifiers of "your" and "His", looking at it without any context of discussion, which person in that exchange would you assume to be God?

Rick Frueh said...

No, His decision is the source of my decision.

Rick Frueh said...

Mike - the command is not be born again, it is "believe the gospel" and in that you will be born again.

You must be born again is a statement. The sinner believes, the Spirit regenerates.

Chad V. said...

So Rick you believe in the sovereignty of God, just so long as He's subject to your autonomy?

And um, where in the scriptures does it say that God decided to make your decisions His decisions?

Mike Riccardi said...

No, no, no. Look at what you wrote.

He decided that my decision would be His decision since He already knew what my decision would be.

We have His decision being made because of, or on the grounds of, His knowing about your decision.

So if your decision would have been different, because of that, or on the grounds of that, His decision would have been different.

Chad V. said...

Rick said;

"Choose you this day" spoken to a sinner with no "choice" is akin to saying "Walk" to a man with no legs.Gee rick, haven't you read in the scriptures where Christ commanded a man who was lame and could not walk to get up, take up his bed and walk? John 5:1-9 Do you suppose that the man really could walk all along and just had to decide to walk or do you suppose that Christ performed a miracle in his body and gave him the power to walk?

postpre said...

Chad,

Sure, I will subject my other doctrinal convictions to the same test. Why not? I just might learn something valuable.

FWIW, I don't believe that the writings of the early church fathers are on par with Scripture. But, at the very least, they are good witnesses to what the apostles taught. Many of these men were faithful leaders in the Church (Justin Martyr, Iraneaus, Barnabas, Ignatius, etc.).

Your claim that Calvinism (any point) was articulated (explicitly) before Augustine is simply not true. This is well documented. Here's just one site that examines this:

http://www.pfrs.org/calvinism/calvin12.html

Those espousing your view must conclude that clarity in doctrine accumulates through time. I believe doctrinal clarity existed early on (sure there were some nuances to be hashed out later like the Trinity), and that Paul and others taught the next generation such.

Why was the next generation not taught the Calvinistic understanding of sovereignty and salvation? Are we willing to conclude that all of them drastically misunderstood Paul's intent?

Rick Frueh said...

I cbelieve the sovereignty of God is expansive enough to give me free will. When Jesus commanded a lame man to walk He provided a miracle that empowered that man to rise.

When Jesus command me to believe the gospel He has provided a miracle that empowered me to believe. We all agree with that, it's just that I believe God has provided that miracle inherant within us and inherant within every sinner.

I'm an Arminian, you guys know the drill. :)

Mike Riccardi said...

(sure there were some nuances to be hashed out later like the Trinity)...

LoL...

Conceding to a counterexample doesn't make it any less a counterexample, brother.

It's lack of being explicitly presented before Augustine doesn't seem to me to be proof against the fact that the Apostles believed it, but proof in favor of it. If it was just assumed, there'd be no need to explicitly state it.

Unless, of course, someone was challenging the doctrine.

Which, by the way, is exactly what happened, and what made the Councils of Carthage and Ephesus necessary, in which Pelagius and Caelestius were condemned as heretics.

That's the exact same thing that happened with Arius and the Trinity. The doctrine is assumed, and not explicitly stated and "hashed out" until there's a challenge to its truthfulness.

Chad V. said...

postpre After you've read the Death of Death and dealt with the writings of the church fathers cited by Owen which show quite clearly that many of them espoused the Calvinistic doctrine that Christ died specifically for the church and not for unbelievers come back and talk to me.

postpre said...

Mike,

If Calvinism is the gospel it would hardly be assumed by its adherents, especially in the early church, where writers wrote extensively on salvation. This is not an issue that would have been dormant until controversy arose.

In fact, numerous early fathers made statements in flat contradiction to Calvinistic tenets.

The apostles could have passed on all that was necessary and profitable without getting into the philosophical arguments concerning the Trinity. Those arguments (although it's clear that the early Christians believed it) were likely not important to the mission of the Church. This could hardly be said of the gospel, however, and thing like: if repentance is granted to only a few, and if a Christian can walk away from the faith, etc.

Chad,

I don't need to read Owen on this matter. I've read enough of the early fathers to come to an informed conclusion. I weary of those who read the fathers with a priori assumptions and come away with what they are looking for.

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO POLYCARP

Chapter I. Having obtained good proof that thy mind is fixed in
God as upon an immoveable rock, I loudly glorify [His name] that I have been thought worthy [to behold] thy blameless face, [1063] which may I ever enjoy in God! I entreat thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to press forward in thy course, and to exhort all that they may be saved.

Matt said...

Arminian - The Arminian answer: God of course. As the Bible makes clear, God has decided to save those who believe, and he alone saves them. Thanks and praise be to his holy name!Right, but the nature of the believers is that they are the decisive party in their belief (not God), and so you are essentially left with a "sovereign" God who submits Himself to the decree of man.

Matt said...

Rick:When Jesus command me to believe the gospel He has provided a miracle that empowered me to believe. We all agree with that, it's just that I believe God has provided that miracle inherant within us and inherant within every sinner.
So what is the nature of unbelief? Why are people unbelievers? How does this not lead to a God who fails to accomplish His purpose? No matter what kind of nuance you wish to put on Arminianism, you absolutely must have man being the decisive factor in His salvation, in which case salvation is mostly (but not all) from God. Christ didn't actually save anybody at the Cross - He just opened up a system which men get themselves into.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Frueh said...

"No matter what kind of nuance you wish to put on Arminianism, you absolutely must have man being the decisive factor in His salvation, in which case salvation is mostly (but not all) from God. Christ didn't actually save anybody at the Cross - He just opened up a system which men get themselves into."

Yes, you have generally articulated the Arminian position except that salvation itself is all of God, but God has granted the sinner the choose this "all of God" salvation.

I do appreciate the strong discourse without resorting to some of the usual condescending fulminations.

Chad V. said...

postpre That citation is in complete accord with Calvinism. Um, remember what I said about those who fail to engage Calvinism on what it actually teaches? I don't think you are qualified to comment on wether the early church was unanimously anti-calvinistic until you really understand what Calvinism is.

postpre said...

Chad,

I know what Calvinism teaches. If I understand Piper, White, and Grudem would you say that I understand the tenets of Calvinism?

"to exhort all that they may be saved" - Are you thinking this statement means all types of people (all without distinction instead of all without exception)?

Is telling each and every individual that they can be saved consistent with "God's decree" to regenerate only the elect (because Christ died only for the elect)?

Citizen Grim said...

One thing that bothers me is when one side criticizes the other side as "hateful!" simply because they disagree (often passionately). Apparently, to some people, being "loving" means "dropping your convictions and agreeing with me."

Chad V. said...

postpre You need to clarify your statement a bit. You should be saying to each and every individual that they can be saved if they repent and believe. And yes, that's perfectly consistent with Calvinism.

I don't think you really understand what any of those men are saying. If you did you wouldn't be asking me that question.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

postpreI should clarify even further and say that we say to each and every individual if you repent and believe in Christ you shall be saved! And by saved we mean eternally and without fail! Christ's death perfectly atones for all who believe in Him.

Remember how when you said you didn't need to read Owen's remarks on some of the church fathers you complained that you were growing weary of people who read the church fathers with a priori assumptions just to come away with what they were looking for? Are you sure you're not guilty of that?
you come across to me as though you may also be reading Calvinists with the same motive.

How is it that you accused Owen of doing that when so far as I can tell you did so with out reading even one sentence of his on the subject?

olan strickland said...

Rick: "When Jesus command me to believe the gospel He has provided a miracle that empowered me to believe. We all agree with that, it's just that I believe God has provided that miracle inherant within us and inherant within every sinner."

Three questions then Rick:
1. If the ability to believe (faith) is inherant in every sinner and every man is commanded to believe the gospel, then why isn't every man saved by the same empowering miracle?

2. What means activates this inherant ability to believe?

3. If you have free-will as you say then why did Christ have to die? Why not of your own free-will obey all that God has commanded perfectly?

Matt said...

Rick - glad you see this as a friendly yet vigorous discussion! I certainly do as well. You said: Yes, you have generally articulated the Arminian position except that salvation itself is all of God, but God has granted the sinner the choose this "all of God" salvation.
I trust that I represented your position properly because I've held it for most of my Christian life.

I don't doubt the sincerity of your words, but I don't see how you can consistently say that salvation is "all of God".

Sure, it was pure grace that instituted the "system" at the cross. Yet, until the atonement is applied to actual people, it is just a theoretical abstraction. It becomes potent as it is applied to individual people. With me so far? I would guess so...

Here's the thing, no matter how you parse it, in any synergistic framework, you are the one responsible for the actual application of salvation. The most important, most decisive aspect of salvation falls into the hands of men. How is that "all of God"?

You can say it's mostly of God, or almost all of God, but you cannot say that it is all of God as long as you leave application up to men rather than God.

On top of the questions Chad V. asks, I'd add another.

Do you believe in substitutionary atonement? If so, how? After all, Christ didn't actually secure the salvation of any man at the cross. You may respond that He foreknew those who would believe, but that still doesn't make the Cross actually saving. In other words, even believers aren't actually saved by the cross. They are only theoretically saved until they take the decisive, saving action of making a wiser decision than their unbelieving friends.

Blessings,
Matt

Rick Frueh said...

1. Sin (deception, narcissism,etc.)

2. The Holy Spirit illuminates.

3. Our free will resides in a fallen nature incapable of perfect obedience.

Matt said...

Sorry, it was Olan who asked the questions, not Chad V.

Rick Frueh said...

By "all of God" i include the God given free will. If you want me to divide that free will from the atonement I will. If someone places a new car in front of me and says I can have it, I did not build it or pay for it or bring it in front of me. It is all of someone else.

However I have the choice to receive it or not. That car is none of me, however when I receive it then it becomes mine.

If you are suggesting I believe a sinner has a part in believing you have enounciated the Arminian position.

I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen. :)

(And I know you would not desire me to say I believe something the Spirit hasn't awakened me to.)

postpre said...

Chad,

The Calvinist who preaches the gospel to someone must think: I don't know if you can repent and believe (Christ only died for some).

The Arminian who preaches the gospel to someone can think: I know that you can repent and believe (Christ died for all).

You can continue to say that I don't understand Calvinism, but the above scenario is the logical outworking of each system of thought.

Regarding Owen, it's not that I'm unwilling to read what he says on the fathers. We have more evidence and research tools today to uncover their views over and against the Reformers. I doubt Owen would argue this point if he was alive today.

Are you aware that many Calvinists themselves concede that their view was not articulated before Augstine. Given that they have such a vested interest in finding such proof, their admittance on this point speaks volumes.

olan strickland said...

"Three questions then Rick:
1. If the ability to believe (faith) is inherant in every sinner and every man is commanded to believe the gospel, then why isn't every man saved by the same empowering miracle?"

Rick: "1. Sin (deception, narcissism,etc.)"

I thought you said that the ability to believe was inherant in every sinner. So to say that a sinner cannot believe because of sin is to deny that the ability to believe is in him.

Also Rick, if what you are saying is true then you have been saved because of your own goodness - not allowing sin, deception, narcissism, etc. to stop you from believing.

Rick Frueh said...

Olan - free will. I could have said no. I never said a sinner could not believe, I said some would not believe.

olan strickland said...

postpre: "The Calvinist who preaches the gospel to someone must think: I don't know if you can repent and believe (Christ only died for some).

The Arminian who preaches the gospel to someone can think: I know that you can repent and believe (Christ died for all)."

Actually you have it all wrong - the Arminian doesn't know if anyone will get saved - after all - the people to whom they are preaching to have a free-will and therefore all might refuse if they so choose.

But the Calvinist on the other hand knows that God is going to save some!

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

Postpre

I seriously doubt you understand the nature of their concession. It's one thing to say that many Calvinistic doctrines aren't explicitly articulated until the time of Augustine, it's quite another to say that the early church was universally anti-calvinistic or non-calvinistic in all their doctrine.

Your line of reasoning must also force you to conclude that the early church was either anti-trinitarian or non trinitarian until the Council of Nicea in AD325.

Clearly you aren't willing to have a meaningful discussion.

Rick Frueh said...

Guys - I do appreciate the civilized interaction. God Bless!!

Chad V. said...

See, what you refuse to accept is that Augsitine had to spend so much time writing about those doctrines because he was refuting the heresy of Pelagius. The current controversy had caused Augustine to focus on those doctrines. Before that the focus of the church fathers was on other matters.

olan strickland said...

Rick - "I never said a sinner could not believe, I said some would not believe."

But that undermines your own belief - "When Jesus command me to believe the gospel He has provided a miracle that empowered me to believe. We all agree with that, it's just that I believe God has provided that miracle inherant within us and inherant within every sinner."

So in your empowerment from the Lord - were you empowered so that you could believe or were you empowered so that you would believe?

If what you are saying is that you were empowered so that you could believe and not so that you would believe then we all do not agree with that because I don't agree with that and I don't believe that any Calvinist would agree with that.

olan strickland said...

Olan: "3. If you have free-will as you say then why did Christ have to die? Why not of your own free-will obey all that God has commanded perfectly?"

Rick: "3. Our free will resides in a fallen nature incapable of perfect obedience."

LOL! Let me translate: Our free will is imprisoned in a fallen nature incapable of perfect obedience.

Sir Aaron said...

round and round the mulberry bush the monkey chased the weasel...

Matt said...

Rick: If someone places a new car in front of me and says I can have it, I did not build it or pay for it or bring it in front of me. It is all of someone else.

However I have the choice to receive it or not. That car is none of me, however when I receive it then it becomes mine.
You're standing there with a friend of yours when the offer is made. The offer goes out to both of you.

Now I see that you're driving the car, and your buddy isn't. I must assume that the reason you're driving a new car and your friend isn't has something to do with you and your activity. You performed a work which your friend didn't (you got in and drove).

Again, you can say that the offer of the car was all of grace. You cannot say that the fact that you're actually driving the car is all of grace, because it depended on your work to seal the deal.

Ephesians 2:5-9 doesn't say:
even when we were nearly dead in our trespasses, offered to make us alive together with Christ— almost entirely by grace you have been saved— 6 and offered to raise us up with him and offered us a seat with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For nearly entirely by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing (except for the faith part); it is the gift of God,9 not a result of works (except the work of belief), so that no one may boast in the offer, but only in the decision.

It does say:
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think Sir Aaron's right on this one. Olan, Chad, Matt, I don't know how you guys could be any clearer. It worries me that after everything that's been said, that Rick and others still aren't convinced.

But at this point it's getting a little ridiculous. Each time I check I'm hoping Phil came back and offered some final comments before closing the thread.

My suggestion is to read Ephesians 2:1-10, as Matt posted. If that's not going to open your eyes, none of our arguments will. We can just pray for our brothers, and for ourselves, that God would be pleased to open our eyes to see Him even more clearly, and as He does, that by His beauty He would inspire in us the worship and adoration of Him that He deserves.

olan strickland said...

Sir Aaron and Mike - you are right and I'm calling it a night but not without this one last thought:

The monkey and the weasel fought,
The weasel's really feeble,
The monkey punched him in the face,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Matt said...

Good call, Mike. I'm out of here now too. The reason I persist in these conversations is because God used a friends' persistence to open my eyes to the doctrines of grace. I hope that Rick (and other Arminians) will see the full beauty of God's grace before they're in heaven :-)

Blessings all,
Matt

Chad V. said...

I'm done too.

Have a blessed Lord's Day.

Arminian said...

Matt,

I said: "The Arminian answer: God of course. As the Bible makes clear, God has decided to save those who believe, and he alone saves them. Thanks and praise be to his holy name!"

You said: "Right,"

****Ok, that may be progress. You seem to acknowledge that Arminianism holds that God alone saves.

You said: "but the nature of the believers is that they are the decisive party in their belief (not God), and so you are essentially left with a "sovereign" God who submits Himself to the decree of man."

****Hopefully you agree that the Bible clearly teaches that God saves in response to faith. That is the clear testimony of scripture. And although it rubs Calvinists the wrong way, the knowledgable ones will usually admit this. Faith is certainly synergistsic. But man cannot believe on his own. He is compeltely incapable of doing so on his own. It takes God's enabling grace for man to be able to believe. So faith is a gift of God in that God enables man to believe. However, it is true that man has a choice in believing. Enabled by God, he can believe or reject God's offer of salvation. To say that God sovereignly giving man a choice is to submit himself to the decree of man verges on nonsensical. The entire matter is all at God's discretion. He could deny man a choice. He could set it up any way he wants. He is sovereign. The Calvinist scheme appears to rob God of sovereignty, for it tends to argue that God could not allow man a choice. That's like saying a king who has total sovereingty over his realm submits himself to the decree of his subject if he allows him to make a choice about some matter. The thing is, that if it is the will of the king, or God, to allow another a choice about something, then that is an expression of his sovereignty, not a denial of it. This seems to be a line of thought that most people and most believers completely understand and agree with. But for some reason, Calvinists don't seem to get it. It is a bit baffling. But if you wonder why there are so many more Arminians among the saints than Calvinists, this is probably one big reason. Most people would never dream of boasting about accepting a free gift (or about consenting to another saving him), and Paul's discussion of justification by faith makes use of this very concept as what sets faith apart from works. One of the big problems with Calvinist discussion about such matters is that is so often takes off with unbiblical reasoning, basing its argument on manmade opinion about what makes for boasting and merit rather than going to Scripture and allowing Scripture to determine this. When that is done, one finds that it is faith that precludes boasting, and this because it accepts a free gift rather than doing some meritorious act (see Romans 3-4). We should submit our opinions to the word of God and allow God's word to settle the matter for us.

God bless brother.

bossmanham said...

Matt quoted a "modified" Eph. 2:5-9 that seems to hint that is what Arminians believe. I hope you Calvinists stop libeling us at some point.

John MacArthur did it at the 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference where he said, "So that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That is essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move, and God will then respond when the sinner makes the first move."

This is silly. No Arminian believes that. I would hope he apologizes publicly at some point for libeling Arminians. He should know good and well this is not representative of Arminian theology. Arminians hold to the Total Depravity of man.

Arminius said, "In this [fallen] state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace."

MacArthur knows better.

Matt said...

Without perpetuating the merry-go-round, I just want to point bossmanham to something. Go back and look at Daryl's comment, and then mine immediately following to see if I'm straw-manning Arminians.

I'd still like to know how any of the Arminians here who believe in penal substitutionary atonement can do so without believing in its corollary - definite (read: limited) atonement.

I think that Arminianism is an attempt at not having an "unjust" God. I don't doubt the sincerity. However, Arminians (at least those who don't have the "sovereign" "god" of Open Theism) still believe that God infallibly knows who will and who will not respond in faith to Him. He has this knowledge at the time these people are created. So, in that sense we still have a God who creates people with no chance of going to heaven. Their "choice" is already fixed (in that it is infallibly known) in the mind of God. Sure, and Arminian can respond "But at least they went to Hell by their free will and not by the decree of God". I don't see why this is worth arguing, though, because the fact remains that it is absolutely, infallibly, immutably fixed that these people are going to Hell at the time they are conceived. Why is "free will" worth fighting over?

If Paul had the Arminian view of election in mind in Romans 9, then why does he anticipate the objection of v.19? That objection would never be leveled against the Arminian view. It would make no sense. The answer he provides to the imaginary objection (vv.20-24) should pretty much seal it.

Okay, now I really mean it. I'm out of here.

Happy mother's day to all, and blessed Lord's Day!

donsands said...

"Enabled by God, he can believe or reject God's offer of salvation."

What causes one person to believe, and another person to reject?

"I will have mercy on whom I will, and harden whom I will."

God has mercy on whom ever He wills, or purposes. And why He would have mercy on any of us is beyond comprehension, and beyond belief.

olan strickland said...

Arminian: "Hopefully you agree that the Bible clearly teaches that God saves in response to faith. That is the clear testimony of scripture. And although it rubs Calvinists the wrong way, the knowledgable ones will usually admit this. Faith is certainly synergistsic. But man cannot believe on his own. He is compeltely incapable of doing so on his own. It takes God's enabling grace for man to be able to believe."

So would you say, "God helps those who help themselves?"

postpre said...

Olan,

Please read my words carefully.

The Arminian who preaches the gospel to someone can most definitely say: I know that you can repent and believe. In other words, all are able to do so. Not all will, but all can if they choose. You don't have to wonder if God may not decide to overcome this person's will with his electing grace. You don't have to wonder if your love for this individual (for them to get saved) may just surpass God's love for them.

The Calvinist knows God will save some, but he cannot be certain if a specific individual has the capacity to repent and believe.

Chad V. said...

postpre,

How can you say "I know you can repent and believe" when Satan comes and steals the word which was sown in his heart? Matt 13:19

Off to church now.

Daryl said...

postpre,

You may be able to say "I know that you can repent and believe" and I recognize that in some circles that would be an extremely compelling emotional thing to say, but it doesn't matter because the Bible never says that we should ever say "I know that you can repent and believe."

It says you must, it never says you can.


I can read your words carefully, as you have asked, but they still are not the words of Scripture.

John 6 still says that only those who the Father draws will come to Christ, and of those (who the Father draws) all will be raised up at the last day.

theologyofbobby said...

The greatest irony, to me, of this whole interchange is that both Calvinism and Arminianism spring from the same philosophical framework . . . viz. 'Classical Theism'. All Calvinism does, within this framework, is emphasize one side of the equation --- the 'objective side' [God's sovereignty] --- while Arminianism picks up the other side, the 'subjective side' [Man's responsibility].

The only way to really move forward on this is to reject the underpinnings that 'Classical Theism' provides (Thomas, or Thomas Aquinas' assimilation of Aristotle's categories with Christian doctrine); and instead engage an actual trinitarian metaphysic which sees Christ as the center and frame of reference for understanding both the objective and subjective sides of salvation (as it has always-already been in God's life). Until Calvinists and Arminians come to terms with this reality, we will continue to see exchanges like the one typified by this post (the dog chasing the tail).

Peace.

bossmanham said...

Actually, Bobby, that is a fairly oversimplified view of the entire debate. As an Arminian, I am very aware of the sovereignty of God and am happy to voice this as often as possible. I think Arminius said it best when he stated: "That teacher obtains my highest approbation who ascribes as much as possible to divine grace, provided he so pleads the cause of grace, as not to inflict an injury on the justice of God, and not to take away the free will of that which is evil."

theologyofbobby said...

Bossman:

Surely it is oversimplified (this is a comment thread on a blog after-all); but I think you missed the most cogent point (from my perspective) of what I was getting at. And that is both Calvinists and Arminians use the same metaphysics to articulate their apparently disparate views of God and thus salvation.

I'm not denying that Arminians acknowledge God's sovereignty; it's just that you EMPHASIZE man's capacity to appropriate God's sovereign grace. And beyond that you speak of grace --- as the Calvinists do --- through Thomas' substance language; which makes grace an "created reality" instead of an "uncreated reality," which implies an ability for man to cooperate with God in the appropriation of salvation. This is why I assert that both Calvinism/Arminianism work out of the same theological/philosophical situation . . . and thus engage in a dog chasing the tail kind of event.

peace.

Solameanie said...

All of this is illustrative of something very enlightening. This argument has gone on for hundreds of years. We won't settle it today.

Having said that, I am a Calvinist. I was once an Arminian. Reading Scripture and wrestling with it got me to that point. It all started with Romans chapter 9.

Chad V. said...

bossmanham;

You are right about one thing and I will address that now. When Calvinists accuse Arminians of saying that man can believe on his own without any divine grace they are attacking a a straw man. What they are actually describing is full on Palagianism, not Arminianism.

Having said that as a Calvinist I have Arminians regularly attack various and sundry straw men which they perceive as what Calvinism teaches.

What Arminius taught is not typically what we as Calvinists encounter when we argue with Arminians today. For example, Arminians today, paricularly Dispensationalists, tend to hold the Doctrine of Eternal Security, something which Arminius did not believe nor teach. Arminius was uncertain as to whether or not a person could lose his salvation through his own careless backsliding into sin. He agreed that Christ would not abandon the sinner first but seemed to think that a Christian could possibly mess up his own salvation and disqualify himself through his own sin. This particular view is held by WELS Lutherans today.

You've been quoting Arminius a lot on this string and if you follow the Arminius brand of Arminianism then I have a much bigger beef with you than God's sovereignty and that is the efficacy and sufficiency of the Atonement of Christ and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner so that it is not the sinner's deeds that make him righteous before God but Christ's righteousness imputed to him. Furthermore I will take issue with you on the nature of the new birth and precisely what it means to be born again, to be dead to sin and raised in newness of life. Arminius' view completely undermines the gospel. According to Arminius you are saved only to be put, practically speaking, back under the covenant of works. I sincerely hope that you don't subscribe to Arminus' view in this area.

You see bossmanham and theologyofbobby, the central focus of Calvinism is the person and work of Christ and how God will without fail save His people from their sins. Matt 1:21. Christ came to save His people. He shall not fail. Not one of them will be lost.

The Squirrel said...

"All of this is illustrative of something very enlightening. This argument has gone on for hundreds of years. We won't settle it today.

Having said that, I am a Calvinist.
"

Well said, Solameanie. I also am a Calvinist, and Romans 9, along with John 6 and Isaiah 64, were key passages used by God to open my eyes to the Doctrines of Grace. And that is key, God opened my eyes. No one will ever see these things until God, in His Sovereignty, shows it to them.

It is enlightening to think that I know lots of former Arminians who became Calvinists, but I do not personally know any committed Calvinists who have switched to Arminianism. Oh, I'm sure there might be one or two, but I don't know them or know of them. Yet I'd hazard to guess that everyone who has commented in defense of Calvinism was once Arminian in doctrine. Funny that...

~Squirrel

Rita Martinez said...

Solameanie"Having said that, I am a Calvinist. I was once an Arminian. Reading Scripture and wrestling with it got me to that point. It all started with Romans chapter 9."That's the one chapter I kept quoting my arminian friend, and the first one that popped into my head when I started reading all the responses to this post...it just doesn't get more clearer than that.

bossmanham said...

Chad,

Have you ever actually read Arminus? Or are you relying on second party accusations made by men with an ax to grind? You make an accusation that is quite severe and obviously expect me to take it on faith, because you provided no evidence of your accusation. I will not do that.

Arminius wrote an entire disputation on the Justification of Man Before God, arguing in part against the Catholic teachings. He said, "The Justification therefore of a man before God is that by which, when he is placed before the tribunal of God, he is considered and pronounced, by God as a Judge, righteous and worthy of the reward of righteousness; whence also the recompense of reward itself follows by necessity of consequence (Rom. 2.3; Luke 18.14) . . .
"From the premises thus laid down according to the Scriptures we conclude that Justification, when used for the act of a Judge, is... purely the imputation of righteousness through mercy from the throne of grace in Christ the propitiation made to a sinner, but who is a believer (Rom. 1.16-17; Gal. 3.6-7)"
So, you were saying?

bossmanham said...

Squirrel,

I could name several Calvinists-turned-Arminians for you. Many of them blog in support of Arminianism now.

One of the best is: www.classicalarminianism.blogspot.com.

theologyofbobby said...

ChadV,

I'm well aware of the central tenets of Calvinism . . . I don't disagree that their intention is what you state; it's just that, historically, the philosophy behind Calvinism (what I have been alluding to) just does not get you to where you want (I've written numerous articles at my blog on this very issue). I'm really not uninformed on what Calvinists believe, I was 'schooled' by many of them (my bible college and seminary is Calvinist soteriologically); and in fact I am 'Reformed' myself, just in the vein of Karl Barth and T. F. Torrance's 're-framing'.

Why don't you deal with some of what I have asserted in my previous comments though; it seems like you're being a bit presumptuous, assuming I'm unaware of the history of Calvinism. I always find it interesting, typically when someone might be critical of Calvinism, many Calvinists immediately assume it must be because I simply don't understand what Calvinism entails . . . which is really an errant assumption.

Kirby L. Wallace said...

Man... I never get any credit!

I wrote an article over two years ago (I'm NOT making this up) called "Commanding the Impossible".

Last month, I upgraded it from my "Seeds" section (Nov '07) to a full blown article on my main page.

Do ya suppose this guy had been reading my article?

http://www.uniuslibri.com/UniusLibriIndex.asp?action=uniuslibri&articleid=91

;-)

Chad V. said...

bossmanham,

Read what I said again. I said I'd take issue with you on the nature of those doctrines. Not whether or not Arminius taught the imputation of Christ's righteousness. That's why I said quite explicitly that In Arminius' theology "practically one is saved only to be put under the covenant of works again". That's the practical out working of his doctrine. Arminius would have never used that language but that is the end result of a theology where your salvation is not secure. To argue that there is a possibility of losing one's salvation is to undermine the gospel.

Remember, Arminius did not agree with the Calvinistic doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints. He left it in doubt on that point. You can't deny that.


In Arminius' theology Christ can fail to save His people from their sins. He can't save them because there is doubt as to whether the can lose their own salvation. Man can frustrate what Christ's death was supposed to accomplish. If man can frustrate the cause of Christ then Christ cannot fulfill what he we was sent to do which was to save His people from their sins.

Ponder what it means for Christ to save His people, and then consider the Calvinistic doctrines.

This string has gone on way too long. Time to move on to other things.

Chad V. said...

One final comment for postpre who insists on propounding the misconception that the pre-Augustine church was distinctly un-Calvinistic or anti-Calvinistic I give you Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, who taught favorably on Predestination and Election. In this quote Irenaeus is saying that God determined with himself who should be saved.

"God is not so poor and indigent as not to give to every body its own soul as its proper form. Hence plerothentos ton arithmou ou autos par auto proorise, pantes oi engrapheetes eis zoen anastesontai, having completed the number which he before determined with himself, all those who are written, or ordained unto life, shall rise again, having their own bodies, souls, and spirits, in which they pleased God; but those who are deserving of punishment shall go into it, having also their own souls and bodies in which they departed from the grace of God."

That sounds distinctly Pro-Calvinistic to me.

Billy (William Watson) Birch said...

Chad,

Read what I said again. I said I'd take issue with you on the nature of those doctrines. Not whether or not Arminius taught the imputation of Christ's righteousness. That's why I said quite explicitly that In Arminius' theology "practically one is saved only to be put under the covenant of works again". That's the practical out working of his doctrine. Arminius would have never used that language but that is the end result of a theology where your salvation is not secure.I assume you make this error in light of the command for a Christian to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling"? (Phil. 2:12) So, you believe that Arminius was saying that once a person is justified by faith and accounted righteous by the righteousness of Christ, then he placed in the realm of works, becuase now he must work for his salvation?

What kind of confusion has overtaken you? Tell me, although it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to act for his good pleasure, yet not irresitibly so, as is obvious from the preceding verse, then what does it mean to "work out" (not work for) one's salvation with fear and trembling? In the Calvinist's Unconditional Perseverance theory, what is there to "fear and tremble"?

God bless,
Billy

postpre said...

Chad,

Iraneaus a Calvinist?

"And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God, He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. Now, good things are eternal and without end with God, and therefore the loss of these is also eternal and never-ending. It is in this matter just as occurs in the case of a flood of light: those who have blinded themselves, or have been blinded by others, are for ever deprived of the enjoyment of light. It is not, [however], that the light has inflicted upon them the penalty of blindness, but it is that the blindness itself has brought calamity upon them: and therefore the Lord declared, "He that believeth in Me is not condemned," that is, is not separated from God, for he is united to God through faith. On the other hand, He says, "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God;" that is, he separated himself from God of his own accord. "For this is the condemnation, that light is come into this world, and men have loved darkness rather than light. For every one who doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that he has wrought them in God." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. V, XXVII)

Chad V. said...

postpre

I love how you simply don't deal with the cited text and try to just undo my argument with yet another text which no Calvinist I know would disagree with.

Like I said before, you don't really understand Calvinism. I can't continue to debate someone who doesn't know what he's debating against.

I'm surprised this string had gone on this long, usually Pyro strings burn out after a day or so.

Really guys, I have to move on to other things.

Arminian said...

Matt said: "I'd still like to know how any of the Arminians here who believe in penal substitutionary atonement can do so without believing in its corollary - definite (read: limited) atonement."

****Very simple (and actually, there's more than one answer to that, but I'll just give one): because the intent of the propitiatory sacrifice was such that it was sufficient for all but efficient only for believers. I.e., it intended to make provision for all with its actual application conditional on faith. Just look at John 3:16-18 -- "16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (NASB)

Matt said: "God infallibly knows who will and who will not respond in faith to Him. He has this knowledge at the time these people are created. So, in that sense we still have a God who creates people with no chance of going to heaven. Their "choice" is already fixed (in that it is infallibly known) in the mind of God. Sure, and Arminian can respond "But at least they went to Hell by their free will and not by the decree of God". I don't see why this is worth arguing, though, because the fact remains that it is absolutely, infallibly, immutably fixed that these people are going to Hell at the time they are conceived."

****God's knowledge is not what fixes the free choice of the person. God's knowledge of free human choices is contingent on what choice people will actually make. There is a critical difference between certainty and necessity. Moreover, it is not as if God could decide not to create someone he knows is going to reject Christ. For then that person would not ever exist, and therefore that person would never reject Christ, which would then make God's foreknowledge wrong, for while he knew that person would actually reject Christ in the future, the person will not rject Christ in the future, for again, that person will never exist. In sum, God cannot falsify his own foreknowledge. God cannot be wrong. Do you think God can make his knowledge wrong?

Matt said: "If Paul had the Arminian view of election in mind in Romans 9, then why does he anticipate the objection of v.19? That objection would never be leveled against the Arminian view. It would make no sense. The answer he provides to the imaginary objection (vv.20-24) should pretty much seal it."

****There are actually a number of Arminian interpretations of Romans 9:19-24 that make sense of the objection of 9:19 and Paul's answer. (This also adresses other commentators who think mere invocation of Romans 9 settles the Arminain/Calvinist debate; btw, do you really think the debate would have lasted hundreds of years among Bible believing Christians if it was settled so easily?) You could check out Robert Hamilton's recent interpretation: http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/263

Dan Chapa's recent interpretation:
http://www.geocities.com/freewilltheology/romans9.html

Arminius' treatment of the passage, http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/186

An old time commentator, Adam Clarke's interpretation, http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/257

A detailed commentary from the 1800's by James Morison: http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/268


Another detailed commentary from the 1800's, by John Goodwin, An Exposition of the Ninth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans with the Banner of Justification Displayed (http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/330)


Finally, let me say, this has been typical. When one faulty Calvinist argument is refuted, then the Calvinist leaps to another issue in the debate and throws out another faulty argument, and very often throws out several. Eventually, and often very quickly, the one(s) that that particular Calvinist finds most compelling in relation to the heart of the issues is appealed to. It makes for unfocused and lengthy discussion, and is not particularly fit for com box discussion. I guess it is often the route that needs to be followed in leading a Calvinist out of Calvinism into a more bibilcal view (i.e., Arminianism). But it requires more than a com box discussion. So rather than try and continue this convrsation here, let me suggest that anyone who is really intersted in actual Arminian views of these matters go to the website of The Society of Evangelical Arminians and do some research there and, if open minded, contact the society with questions. I should try and address other commenters' questions. But after that, I think I will leave the dicussion. I don't really have the time to fully participate.

Arminian said...

I said: "Enabled by God, he can believe or reject God's offer of salvation."

Donsands said: "What causes one person to believe, and another person to reject?"

****The person himself based on whatever resistible reasons/causes the individual deems most persuasive.

Donsands said: "I will have mercy on whom I will, and harden whom I will.

God has mercy on whom ever He wills, or purposes. And why He would have mercy on any of us is beyond comprehension, and beyond belief."

****But as scripture makes clear, he wills to have mercy on those who believe. And this makes reception of his merciful salvation to be of grace (
For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all). Thanks be to God for his amazing grace and salvation!

Arminian said...

Olan asked: "So would you say, "God helps those who help themselves?""

****No, I would say with Scripture (quotations from the NASB):

"God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Cor 1:19)

"believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31)

"if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Rom 10:9-10)

etc., etc.

Arminian said...

Finally, Squirrel did not addrss his comments at me, but I thought this worth commenting on:

Squirrel: "And that is key, God opened my eyes. No one will ever see these things until God, in His Sovereignty, shows it to them."

****And that is a nice example of what appears as Calvinist arrogance. It's also convenient. If anyone disagrees with you, well, God simply has not shown them the truth yet; he has willed for them to know believe the truth about it yet. With it's exhaustive determinism, Calvinism is stuck with this type of attitude. Puzzling how, following Calvinist presuppositions, God has decided that most of his children should believe the wrong things about him in the area of soteriology, his sovereignty, etc.

postpre said...

Chad,

What type of "love towards God" is Iranaeus speaking of? Is this a true love towards God or a counterfeit? If it is a counterfeit, why so? Those who once had a love towards God decided to depart from Him? Is this a component of your theology?

"And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God, He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness"

Matt said...

Arminian - re: substitionary atonement. You realize that you articulated the Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement, no?

Matt said...

Arminian - the fact that controversy continues to exist is no argument against the perspicuity of Scripture on any topic, including soteriology. To this day Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses continue to say they are Christian, and yet they continue to deny the Trinity.

Matt said...

Arminian: Re: Foreknowledge. You said that it would falsify God's foreknowledge to foreknow what a person would do if He created them. Yet, as far as I can tell, most of us (Arminian or Calvinist) believe in contingent knowledge. God knows all possible outcome, but decrees only one (Matt. 11:21).

It's entirely within the bounds of Arminianism to suggest that God would foreknow that if He created person X, person X would reject Him. This knowledge would not be nullified even if God determined not to make person X.

The point is that Arminians have no "high ground" on the argument that Calvinists believe that God makes people who are bound for Hell. Whether God's decree is prior to His foreknowledge or vice-versa, it is irrevocably fixed before birth whether a person is going to heaven or hell. Either way, God decides to create people who are destined for hell.

Gigi said...

Great post, I myself do not understand why anyone would "choose" to worship a god who is not sovereign... how weak and small the armenian views the Almighty!

Arminian said...

Matt, are you telling me you believe what I said: Jesus' propitiatory sacrifice "intended to make provision for all with its actual application conditional on faith."

You realize that is the Arminian doctrine of unlimited atonement, right?

Arminian said...

Matt said: Arminian - the fact that controversy continues to exist is no argument against the perspicuity of Scripture on any topic, including soteriology. To this day Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses continue to say they are Christian, and yet they continue to deny the Trinity.

****That's true. I think I took you to be saying that the text was so obvious that one could not reasonably have another interpretation. But looking back at your comment, that need not be the implication. I could have imported that from other comments or jumped the gun. Sorry about that.

Arminian said...

Matt said: "Re: Foreknowledge. You said that it would falsify God's foreknowledge to foreknow what a person would do if He created them."

****No, I actually said: "it is not as if God could decide not to create someone he knows is going to reject Christ" and then in that context, that God knew the person would actually reject Christ, which in my forward looking statement did not refer to what he knew they *might* do if created, but what they will in fact do as a person who certainly will exist. Your paraphrase of what I said is incorrect.

Matt said: "Yet, as far as I can tell, most of us (Arminian or Calvinist) believe in contingent knowledge. God knows all possible outcome, but decrees only one (Matt. 11:21)."

****I think you are confused here a bit. That's Molinism, which many Arminians do ahhere to and is more of an Arminian belief than a Calvinist one, but many Arminians do not adhere to it and some Calvinists do.Many Arminians (possibly the majority) do not adhere to Molinism, and so don't believe God decrees one outcome from myriad possibilities. Most Calvinists do not believe God's knowledge is contingent, but that it is non-contingent on anything outside of himself, and basically that it is contingent on his own unconditional decree. I represent the simple foreknowledge position with an added belief that God does know what people who will actually exist would do. However, God cannot know what someone would do if that person never will exist. He cannot know anything about a hypothetical person who never will exist. There's nothing to know about them. In fact, there never is any "them" because "they" never exist. The idea that he would know what a hypothtetical person who never will exist would do if created assumes determinism and begs the question. Therefore, as I said, it is not as if God could decide not to create someone he knows *is going to reject Christ*. For then that person would not ever exist, and therefore that person would never reject Christ, which would then make God's foreknowledge wrong, for while he knew that person would *actually* reject Christ in the future, the person will not reject Christ in the future, for again, that person will never exist. In sum, God cannot falsify his own foreknowledge. God cannot be wrong. Do you think God can make his knowledge wrong?

Matt said: "It's entirely within the bounds of Arminianism to suggest that God would foreknow that if He created person X, person X would reject Him. This knowledge would not be nullified even if God determined not to make person X."

****It is within the bounds of Arminian thought, but not necessarily representative of Arminianism nor the view of most Arminians.

Matt: "The point is that Arminians have no "high ground" on the argument that Calvinists believe that God makes people who are bound for Hell. Whether God's decree is prior to His foreknowledge or vice-versa, it is irrevocably fixed before birth whether a person is going to heaven or hell. Either way, God decides to create people who are destined for hell."

****Actually, the Arminian view I have articulated does have the high ground on this issue. For it accepts God's exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, yet avoids any implication that God decides to create people who are destined for Hell. Come on over to Arminianism and avoid such an unbiblical stance that God creates people to torture them forever in Hell. Embrace the Bible's truth that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).

postpre said...

Gigi,

While I appreciate your passion for God, your comment was seriously misguided and uninformed. Please understand that Arminians believe just as strongly as you do regarding God's sovereignty and power.

The Squirrel said...

Arminian said "If anyone disagrees with you, well, God simply has not shown them the truth yet..."

Why, of course... what's your point?

(c:

~Squirrel

Rick Frueh said...

Arminianism is the gospel.

:)

DJP said...

Pray God not. Then none will be saved.

Mike Riccardi said...

If anyone disagrees with you, well, God simply has not shown them the truth yet...

So then when they do come around and finally agree with you, they get the credit for eventually figuring it out, and not God for opening their eyes to what was always there in the first place.

bossmanham said...

After all the false accusations have been answered and the record set straight, all that is left to do is to display sarcasm, eh?

DJP,

That deduction is certainly based on your philosophical presupposition and not the Bible, is it not? The Bible clearly states who will be saved; those who believe.

DJP said...

And that all are dead, hate God, hate God's law, blind, unable to submit to the law of God, unable to come unless drawn (in which case they will invariably come and be saved).

Hopeless, apart from a sovereign, monergistic work of grace.

olan strickland said...

Arminian: "Faith is certainly synergistsic. But man cannot believe on his own. He is compeltely incapable of doing so on his own. It takes God's enabling grace for man to be able to believe."

Olan: "So would you say, 'God helps those who help themselves?'"

Arminian: "****No, I would say with Scripture (quotations from the NASB):"

At least I don't have to call you Pelagius :)

But seriously, the Scriptures you quoted do not establish a synergistic faith but actually establish a monergistic faith which does not reside in fallen man but must be generated in him through God's decreed means of preaching the Gospel.

You quoted 1 Corinthians 1:18; Acts 16:31; and Romans 10:9-10. However, in each case you did not consider the immediate context and therefore you ended up with a pretext as a proof-text.

Read the rest of 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 - God called, God chose, and by His doing you are in Christ Jesus (1:30)

Read Acts 16:32 - don't leave it out! "And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house."

And Romans 10:17 finishes off your Romans 10:9-10 quote - "So faith comes from hearing [it does not reside in man] and hearing from the word of Christ."

bossmanham said...

I hope you will read some of what we posted here, Dan. Sometimes it feels like you guys aren't listening to us. We clearly believe the work of salvation is of the Lord and we can't move toward Him unless drawn by His grace (John 6:44). The question is, does He draw all to Himself? Yes (John 12:32). Can we reject Him? Yes (Acts 7:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:8).

We will continue to reject the incorrect doctrines of unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistable grace.

God bless :)

DJP said...

Then I reaffirm what I said. Pray God it isn't the Arminian Gospel, leaving the critical factor to dead, God-hating sinners. None would be saved.

Thank God for the Biblical Gospel affirmed by Calvinism, of a gracious God sovereignly, monergistically, and indefeatably saving His elect.

Arminian said...

Olan,

Are you kidding? Forst, I did not quote those passages to prove that faith is synergistic; you took comments from one post and related them to comments from another post! I quoted those passages in answer to your question, "So would you say, 'God helps those who help themselves?'"

Second, do you think that Arminians believe people believe the gospel without hearing it? The fact that hearing the gospel is what excites faith in those who hear is big trouble for the Calvinistic view. It is the preaching of the gospel that is the means for people to be able to respond with a faith response It says nothing about there needing to be regeneration first or something that only specific people get. But the following verses do show that not all who hear the gospel respond in faith. So while preaching of the gospel produces faith, it does not do so irresistibly. I appreciate you kind tone, but honestly, your comments were really strange as if Arminians think that faith comes apart from the preaching of the gospel. That would be like me assuming that Calvinists believe people get saved apart from the gospel since they believe in monergism, and then giving texts you gave to disprove that straw man.

On 1 Cor 1:18-31, I would argue that the context supports the Arminian position. You do know that Arminians believe that we believe by God's grace and that we are in Christ by God's gracious act, right? It's another case of you pointing to things in the context that do not actually contradict our view. (BTW, though I would have no problem with the translation of 1 Cor 1:30 you gave acording to my comments above, I think that respected commentator C.K. Barrett's translation is more accurate, nullifying even the point you tried to make from that v.: "You are related to God in Christ Jesus"; I myself would translate it: "you belong to God in Christ Jesus").

Sir Brass said...

DJP, what we're seeing displayed here is what I heard RC Sproul call, "A happy inconsistancy."

These guys when backed into the theological corner affirm the true gospel, yet with the same tongue they claim that not all who are called are saved and that once effectually called, they can then fall away. They however, will not at all go to the logical conclusion of their soteriology, which is Pelagianism. Thus, they are inconsistant. And we should be glad, for in their inconsistancy they display the doctrine of perseverence in full effect. God is restraining them, for He is keeping them and they will not fall away.

I've said elsewhere that the arminians in heaven are going to be the most surprised. For then they will discover that it truly was not at all of their own will that they were regenerated and kept.

What we calvinists need to do is to stay calm and not get haughty. Just because WE get the gospel correct does not at all make us special in the least. It's not our gospel, it is His gospel, and to Him is the eternal glory.

Soli Deo Gloria,
~Sir Brass

DJP said...

Absolutely.

Chad V. said...

I can't believe this is still going;

Fine postpre. I don't think Irenaeus was saying that a true believer can lose his salvation. I doubt it. As I read that statement it fits perfectly with the Reformed teaching on apostasy. Those who have tasted the heavenly gift and fall away may not be renewed to repentance. I wont get into all those details here. This string is getting way too long. So yes, they would not be born again Christians but those who have a form of Godliness but deny it's power. They would have a false love for God. Like the unbelieving Jews who had a zeal for God but without knowledge, ignorant of the righteousness of God they go about seeking their own righteousness. If you understood Calvinism half as well as you think you do you would know why I say that. Like I keep telling you, you don't really understand all the facets of our theology.

Now stop putting words in my mouth. I never said Irenaeus was a Calvinist. I said the church fathers pre-Augustine weren't universally anti-calvinistic. The citation I provided clearly shows that Irenaeus at least held a doctrine much like, if not exactly the same as Calvinism on Election. A fact that you've chosen to ignore. He was also a proponent of doctrines like Predestination. Another fact that you've chosen to ignore. Your "research tools" clearly haven't helped you much there.

Our debate should be about what the scriptures teach, but you are the one who threw down the church fathers gauntlet. The fathers are certainly not entirely Calvinistic, but they weren't entirely Arminian either. So for you to claim that there is no semblance of Calvinism pre-Augustine shows either a level of ignorance or dishonesty.

I wont debate you any longer postpre. Either you are deliberately twisting my words or you have very poor reading comprehension skills. You have a habit of putting words into my mouth and instead of having a productive debate with you I have to spend time restating myself, all the while you dodge the responses I do try to give, never actually dealing with them. If you are reading the fathers, White, Piper or Grudem as carelessly as you are reading my comments then there is no reason to believe that actually understand what any of those men taught. My writing is a whole lot easier to read than theirs.

olan strickland said...

Arminian,

First of all I was keeping even our conversation in context. The reason I asked you if God helps those who help themselves is because of your comment, "Faith is certainly synergistic...."

Arminian: "I quoted those passages in answer to your question, "So would you say, 'God helps those who help themselves?'"

Actually those passages establish monergism and not synergism - they only establish synergism if you take them out of context and misinterpret them.

Arminian: "The fact that hearing the gospel is what excites faith in those who hear is big trouble for the Calvinistic view."

LOL! Hearing the gospel doesn't excite faith it generates it and that is precisely why faith is monergistic and not synergistic.

Arminian: "But the following verses do show that not all who hear the gospel respond in faith. So while preaching of the gospel produces faith, it does not do so irresistibly."

First of all, which is it: does hearing the gospel excite faith or does it produce faith?

Secondly, it does produce faith irresistibly in those who are being saved - (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24, 30) - and it does not produce faith at all in those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23).

Arminian: 1 Corinthians 1:30 - "You are related to God in Christ Jesus"; I myself would translate it: "you belong to God in Christ Jesus"

But what did you do with the But by His doing part? Let's see: "But by His doing you are related to God in Christ Jesus" or "But by His doing you belong to God in Christ Jesus."

Oh, I see - that's the part you want to leave out.

bossmanham said...

Sir Brass,

You claim we are inconsistent. But you make this statement without any reference to what you are talking about. Point out one statement made by one of us here that has been inconsistent. Please.

I find these broad, general false accusations have become all too common within reformed circles. It leads to libelous statements against fellow believers, such as one I mentioned by John MacArthur. I wonder how you can be comfortable with this? I rarely, if ever, see Arminians do this.

Sir Brass said...

boss, then you spend too much time around us accusing us of libel. I often hear from Arminians,

"You follow Calvin, not Christ,"

or

"I just read my bible, you go read your theology books,"

and other such insults. I've found the Reformed circles to, in general, be much more civil. Not that we don't have our bad apples too. Being a calvinist does NOT make you a nice person by definition. Wrongly seen, a person will become puffed up with the doctrines of grace (a severe abuse of Scripture).

However, we ask y'all specific questions and y'all dodge, throw out the "Macarthur is being libelous" (no he is most certainly not. pinning you against a wall? yes, by taking your soteriology to its logical conclusion to show you where it LEADS).

You are inconsistant because the source of Arminianism is in fact Pelagianism. That does not make Arminians Pelagians, but it DOES show where your theological source is. Trace calvinism back and you'll arrive back at Romans 9 IN CONTEXT.

However, this is a GOOD inconsistancy. If you were consistant, you'be rightly branded a Pelagian heretic. Your inconsistancy is that you turn around and acknowledge God's sovereignty and efficacy in salvation, but then turn around and say that it is then still possible for one for whom Christ efficaciously died to reject the faith, or accept the faith and then fall away. Those stances IGNORE the clear scripture teaching that we are regenerated and THEN respond in faith (not the other way around), and that those whom Christ has called, He keeps.

The Word is exactingly clear on the issue of God's sovereignty in salvation. It is 100% God's work and God's decision and 0% ours. We simply do according to our nature: the elect respond at God's appointed time to believe unto eternal life, and the reprobate respond in rejection constantly unto eternal damnation; both of their volitional will. However, their wills are FAR, FAR from free. The elect of God, when He is efficiatiously called at the appointed time has violence done unto his nature BY God, and it is in his new nature to then respond to the Gospel call gladly and joyfully. Before then, he was just as condemned as the reprobate.

There is and never has been such a thing as an autonomous will for humans. We are either sons of God, or slaves of the Devil (1 John). There is NO neutral ground.

I suggest The Potter's Freedom by James R. White.

Even the famous Arminian, Charles Wesley turned calvinist when he wrote his hymns. He couldn't help it. His redeemed nature wouldn't let him craft hymns about man's decision in regneration, since man has no part in it. As whitfield rightly said of him after seeing one of wesley's hymns, "Where is your arminianism now, Mr. Wesely."

Or, as the great Prince of Preachers said (I'm paraphrasing here), "No one prays like an arminian."

You arminians, in quoting scripture to us borrow from a calvinistic understanding, and rightly so. You see the biblical view and accept it. But you then turn around and cannot get out of your philosophical system long enough to see that it is NOT consistant with scripture.

Thus, it is a happy inconsistancy. You are truly saved, even though the logical outworking of your soteriology when rightly understood with the doctrine of Total Inability would mean that not a soul would be in heaven, but in hell (and justly so). No man can resist the call of God when it is brought to bear upon His spirit, and praise and honor be to Him for that, for otherwise NO MAN would come to Him.

postpre said...

Chad,

My intention was to make one simple point, that is, the early church was distinctly Arminian in their understanding of salvation/election. Think about the ramifications if Calvinism is actually true: the apostles failed miserably in passing on the faith once delivered to the saints. They couldn't even inculcate the biblical gospel to those whom they personally discpled.

You may be able to provide scarce references where you think the early fathers taught Calvinism (not one of them, however, is inconsistent with the Arminian understanding of predestination, foreknowledge, and hardening), while I can provide pages and pages of references indicating that irresisitible grace, perserverance of the saints, limited atonement, and unconditional election were not taught by them. Like I said in my original post, this fact is suspicious at least, and devastating at most.

Iranaeus on more time:

"This expression [of our Lord], “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,” set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spuing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, “But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” “But glory and honor,” he says, “to every one that doeth good.” God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honor, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do."

ChosenClay said...

WOW,

What Sir Brass said!!!

Arminian said...

Olan said: "First of all I was keeping even our conversation in context. The reason I asked you if God helps those who help themselves is because of your comment, "Faith is certainly synergistic...." "

****You picked out one sentence to respond to without cluing anyone in on which one you referred to.

Olan said: "Actually those passages establish monergism and not synergism - they only establish synergism if you take them out of context and misinterpret them."

****First, as I said, I did not quote those passages to prove that faith is synergistic. But in any case, this is ironic. I would say they only establish monergism if you take them out of context and misinterpret them. If your comments on the context of those passages is any indication, then I think just about any unbiased observer would find that you are reading monergism into those passages. There's a reason that Calvinist scholars don't use the fact that the gospel must be preached for faith to be exercised as proof of irresistible grace. It's massive question begging. But that tends to happen when you assume your system and read it into the text of Scripture as you have done.

Olan said: "LOL! Hearing the gospel doesn't excite faith it generates it and that is precisely why faith is monergistic and not synergistic."

I have no problem with saying that the gospel generates faith, just as your post generated mine--resistibly. I could have chosen not to respond to your post. But your post was the main presenting reason I decided to respond to with this post. But let me point out that your langiage is not biblical. The Bible never says that the gospel generates faith, and so playing on any nuance of that word that might suggest irresistibility is invalid. So yeah, the gospel excites faith, generates it, produces it, causes it, elicits it--all resistibly. It's similar to promising someone a great evening with an invitation to dinner, and they then decide to say yes. What produced their acceptance of the invitation? Well, one could probably identify any number of factors. But there would normally be no thought of them being irresistible. What produced their accpetance? Your promise would be one thing, but not irresistibly.

But your position is false by definition. You say that faith is monergistic, but that is impossible since we exercise faith. God does not believe for us, right? We believe. Therefore, faith, our act of believing, is necessarily synergistic-- God enables us to believe, and we believe. How do you get the idea that faith is monergistic out of that?

Olan said: "First of all, which is it: does hearing the gospel excite faith or does it produce faith?

****Both, either, whichever. Whichever word you choose, it is resistible. BTW, maybe I should add that the passage we are discussing does not say generate or produce. It says that faith comes from hearing the gospel. That goes along perfectly with what I am saying. But the fact that the context indicates that hearing the gospel does not always end in faith weighs against yours, since the text tells us that faith comes from hearing, and that faith is not always the response given to hearing the gospel. That stands against the idea that hearing the gospel automatically produces faith. You have to read Calvinistic theology into the text to try and make that point.

Olan said: "Secondly, it does produce faith irresistibly in those who are being saved - (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24, 30) - and it does not produce faith at all in those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23)."

****Good example of reading pruppositions into the text. And a good oppotunity to show how these texts actually support the Arminian position and refute what you say they mean. First, the context says that the gospel saves *those who believe*. That places faith logically prior to being saved, which is the consistent testimony of Scripture, such as Eph 2:8, which says we are saved through faith (as the means by which we are saved, faith logically precedes salvation here), or any number of texts. Take the other ones I quoted for example.

"believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31) -- This was in response to the question, "What must I do to be saved" It could hardly get any clearer.
"if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Rom 10:9-10) Believeing is unto salvation, it logically precedes it.

And to say that the gospel does not produce faith in those who are perishing should be immediately obvious as false, even to you. If salvation is by faith, which is undeniable, then those who are perishing must believe in order to bve saved. In fact, they perish because they do not believe! As John 3:18 says, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

Olan said: But what did you do with the But by His doing part? Let's see: "But by His doing you are related to God in Christ Jesus" or "But by His doing you belong to God in Christ Jesus."

Oh, I see - that's the part you want to leave out."

****Wow, Olan, you really reveal your ignorance here, and I do not mean that as an insult. Literally, you show that you do not know what you're talking about. Apparently you don't know Greek. That's fine, but it might keep you from making a comment like this. First, that comment was a "by the way", and I pointed out I and Arminian theology are fine with the translation you used. But the fact is that the "by his doing" is exactly one of the questions at issue in translating the passage. It is a translation of the same Greek words Barrett translates as "you are related to him" and I would translate as "you belong to him". But it does not really matter since, as I said, Arminians believe that we believe by God's grace and that we are in Christ by God's gracious act. So you ignored my point about that in charging that I wanted to leave the "by his doing" part out. Perhaps you should drop the sarcasm when you don't know what you're talking about.

bossmanham said...

Sir Brass,

Really? I'm sorry some Arminians have said that, but none of us here said that. I can't speak for every Arminian out there. You specifically said we were being inconsistent, yet you still have not provided one example.
=======
"However, we ask y'all specific questions and y'all dodge, throw out the "Macarthur is being libelous" (no he is most certainly not. pinning you against a wall? yes, by taking your soteriology to its logical conclusion to show you where it LEADS)."
-Actually we have answered all of your questions.

The fact remains, MacArthur applied something to Arminians that is not true. He said, "So that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That is essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move, and God will then respond when the sinner makes the first move."

As has been displayed in the responses by Arminians in this combox, none of us believe that. That is plainly and clearly semi-Pelagian theology, not Arminian, which a "scholar" such as MacArthur should be able to differentiate between.
=========
"You are inconsistant because the source of Arminianism is in fact Pelagianism."
-First, No it's not. I ask you for some proof of this. There is no evidence that Arminius ever referenced Pelagius in formulating his ideas. If anything he referenced the scripture and patristic fathers. I defy you to provide any shred of evidence.

You still have not.

Second, this is not an answer to my question. I asked for an example of our inconsistency.
==========
"Your inconsistancy is that you turn around and acknowledge God's sovereignty and efficacy in salvation, but then turn around and say that it is then still possible for one for whom Christ efficaciously died to reject the faith, or accept the faith and then fall away."
-So Luke was misquoting Stephen in Acts 7:51?

Your problem is you have an unbiblical view of sovereignty. Sovereignty is simply INDEPENDENT POWER AND ABILITY. It doesn't mean God is a totalitarian; in which He determines everything we do, it means He can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. People referred to the king of England as sovereign at one point. That didn't mean he controlled the growth of every single blade of grass in his kingdom.

How does the Arminian view make Him any less sovereign? Salvation is still by His grace. It is still through faith. Sovereignty is not meticulous totalitarian control over every minute detail of everything.
=========
"Those stances IGNORE the clear scripture teaching that we are regenerated and THEN respond in faith (not the other way around), and that those whom Christ has called, He keeps."
-Show me the verse that describes this. Please. Calvinists always say there is "clear Biblical evidence of regeneration preceding faith" but I never see this Biblical evidence.

Here's a verse that puts faith before regeneration, "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col. 2:13, emphasis mine). Forgivenss/justification precedes being made alive/born again, for a person can only be forgiven/justified by placing one's faith in Christ Jesus. The result of that action is salvation/regeneration. This is what the Bible teaches.

Unless you believe we are forgiven before placing our faith in Christ.
=========
"The Word is exactingly clear on the issue of God's sovereignty in salvation. It is 100% God's work and God's decision and 0% ours"
-Salvation is 100% God's work, but we are commanded to have faith in order to be saved. Faith is NOT a work of salvation, as displayed over and over in the Bible (Romans 3:27, Romans 9:32, Galatians 3:2, James 2). The work of salvation was performed by Christ on the cross.

We don't believe humans have a "self-determination" to have faith in Christ. We believe mankind's will toward faith in Christ has been lost and destroyed and that God must free a person's will in order for him or her to believe on Christ. We simply believe the Bible clearly teaches this grace is offered to all (Titus 2:11) and is resistable (Acts 7:51).
=========
"I suggest The Potter's Freedom by James R. White."
-You mean the same Potter's Freedom where White ignores the final verses of Romans 9 that speak of conditional election? Read Romans 9:30-33. It's Paul's summary and will help dispell any a priori notions you have about the rest of the chapter, which you clearly misread.
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"Even the famous Arminian, Charles Wesley turned calvinist when he wrote his hymns."
-Ha that's a laugh. This proves your ignorance of Arminian theology.
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"Or, as the great Prince of Preachers said (I'm paraphrasing here), "No one prays like an arminian.""
-That's funny, because unless Spurgeon was preaching specifically on the doctrines of TULIP, he sounded just like any Arminian I've ever heard. Kind of like most Calvinist preachers.

==========

Anyway, that's enough. You never did show me a specific example of inconsistency from any of our posts, which simply works to prove my point. But even though I have addressed all your points, I don't expect you to engage any of my answers.

God bless :)

Sir Brass said...

Why address them when you refuse to properly do so for everyone else?

Other people in this meta have more thoroughly answered you than I could have. I'm just getting sick of this intellectually dishonest bashing of biblical doctrine.

Phil Johnson said...

Thread closed. You can take the discussion to the May 12 post. Thanks.