15 May 2009

An unkind word, which is better than a kiss from an enemy

by Frank Turk

I’ll admit it: yesterday went badly.

Mostly, there was an abject refusal to obey the rules I asked all players to abide by, and while Dan valiantly tried to stem the tide, it all went completely downhill sometime around the place where I posted my reply to Adam O. Calvinists and their deniers were all to blame, so please everyone pause for a moment of repentance and shame.




OK. Now that you are all appropriately chastised, I have a couple-three observations about yesterday’s meta, and then a couple of words regarding why you should just stop pretending that modern-day objections to “Calvinism” are really “Arminian”, really not “pelagian”, and really do any good for you as you think about and proclaim the Gospel.

On the meta:
  1. Isn’t it somewhat bizarre that, given the opportunity to simply shine and show off how logical and biblically-cohesive their view is, the non-calvinists/anti-calvinists didn’t have much to say until the meta fell apart?
  2. And isn’t it completely telling that, as Dan pointed out, you can’t make the non-calvinist position make any sense in 500 words – you have to go long and hope that the reader isn’t paying close attention?
  3. Most importantly, isn’t it most telling that the non-calvinists really wind up being people who don’t receive Paul’s answer to the hypothetical questioner in Romans 9 with any kind of seriousness? You know: Romans 9 where God has apparently failed in His promise and man is sort of just a victim of God’s capricious choice to save or not.
Now, that all said, I know this post has a tone of simple disdain. I know it because I cannot avoid it – I really try to have patience for the non-calvinist, but the truth is that they don’t really have any patience for the Calvinist under any circumstance, and they as a group don’t really listen: they just want to bluster on about God being the author of evil as if the book of Job didn’t exist, or the point of Acts 2 wasn’t God’s final sovereignty over the most heinous act in the history of the world.

But here’s the thing: almost none of these people are really “arminian”: they are post-Finney revivalists who are afraid that the Gospel in Calvinistic terms is too hard on God. It makes God too seriously-involved in the real world so that He might be (mis)construed as the author of evil. But the consequences of that concern have consequences these people do not have any regard for. For example:
  1. If God does not (in the Gen 50 sense) “intend” evil in any way, he certainly does not “superintend” the acts of the universe – so the future, while God may “know of it” in some way, is not in His control. The case the Bible makes plainly that God knows even if a single sparrow falls to the ground, and how many hairs are left on your head, and He knows the content of men’s hearts, and He does nothing without knowing the end from the beginning. No “arminian” makes any sense of this problem – which is a foundationally-biblical problem as it is actually the point of most of the Bible.
  2. Suffering has to make sense in this world. It is too pervasive a state for a “gospel” which is to be declared to every man to ignore – and the “arminian” who is trying to protect God from being sovereign over ever evil is stripping the Gospel of any credibility in a world where children starve, babies are murdered, old people suffer in pain and loneliness, nations suffer under despotic and vile men, and acts of nature dispossess people of life, liberty, and property every single minute of every day. The rosy world of the anti-calvinist simple, blithely, whistles past the pervasive nature of evil and pain in this world. If God is not in charge of it in some meaningful way, the universe He is allegedly running is running away from Him.
  3. The death of Christ cannot be explained if God did not intend it is some direct and specific way. It was an evil act: make no mistake. Peter says in Acts 2 it was an act of evil men. But He also then says it was God’s plan accomplished by God’s means. There is no meaningful explanation of the crucifixion of Christ unless it is to say that God intended it specifically and particularly.
These other explanations dismantle the Gospel and make Christ’s work, and the whole world, about how man can do better – and you people haven’t been reading Pelagius, so I don’t imagine that you’re enamoured of him and want that to be your patron saint. But what you have (unintentionally) done is become influenced by the children of Charles Finney.

Finney was himself a virulent anti-calvinist, so much so that it is hard not to call him a full-blown pelagian. His view that the faith should be about new methods and moral reform plainly spell out the problem: he doesn’t see man as essentially unable to be faithful to God – and frankly, that's Pelagius version 2.0. We sort of admit in humility that we are “sinners”, but that label doesn’t imply, for example, real enmity and rejection of God: it only means we make mistakes.

The Gospel comes, and Christ is sacrificed on a cross, not because you didn’t try hard enough. Christ’s work wasn’t made so you had an example of how to live a better life. The wall of enmity had to be torn down, and the only power strong enough to do it was perfect obedience and God’s authority. So I am sure you people will run the meta into the ground again today – because you didn’t really know this about yourselves, and it’s hard to hear. Listen: I’m on vacation. I’m not headed back this way today. You make sure you abide by the normal rules of this blog, and you can have the last word.

And go ahead and be in God’s house with God’s people on God’s day this week, and you could there repent of thinking God isn’t really great enough to be in authority over evil without being the author of evil. I forgive you – if you repent. God offers you the same deal – and it’s his opinion which should matter to you.

And I lack my normal sig file, so you'll have to suffer through ...

[Perhaps I can help — DJP]



95 comments:

Tim Bertolet said...

Finney as Pelagius 2.0, that's classic. Not only did Finney have issues with God's sovereignty, he had major issues with justification by faith. Sometimes I wonder why he even gets regarded as this great evangelical hero.

stratagem said...

Frank: If you are reading this on Friday, stop! Go enjoy your vacation!

Fred Butler said...

There was a meta meltdown?
And I missed it?

I need to get out more often.

Rick Frueh said...

I seen much worse threads. Frustration, as defined by "you didn't come over to my side", is the standard ambiance of the Calvinist/Arminian debate.

Throw out a piece of doctrinal red meat, and there just may be some clean up necessary which was contributed to from all sides. Human beings - I love this game!

olan strickland said...

Frank: "...repent of thinking God isn't really great enough to be in authority over evil without being the author of evil."

Amen Frank! God in His sovereignty and His indescribable power and His inscrutable wisdom causes evil to serve His purposes because omnipotence and omniscience has no lack of servants – not even evil can thwart or frustrate the plans of God but must at His bidding accomplish the same – and that without even being able to touch one iota of the immutable holiness of God. So then God is able to cause evil to cause good without causing the evil itself!

A.M. Mallett said...

I am guessing you feel really good about yourself. I am going to add this Neo-Calvinist polemic to the next Wed. evening class. Our recent focus has dealt with the conflict between religious philosophy and evangelical fellowship. It usually results in a lot of prayer time.

Shawn said...

"But here’s the thing: almost none of these people are really “arminian”..."


Just like none of the so called calvinists are really "calvinists"

http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/how-many-points/

Gene Thomas said...

The first sector of my life (the non-Christian sector) had free will running wild. And straight for hell. As I look back, Free Will was my master and I, the dutiful slave, followed obediently.

The second sector of my life (the Christ seeking sector) finds me obediently following Jesus, as an ever improving apprentice. Thing is, I feel like I'm doing that of my own free will, too.

So, while I am a Calvinist, I can see how some Calvinist' think they are not.

Aric said...

We sort of admit in humility that we are “sinners”, but that label doesn’t imply, for example, real enmity and rejection of God: it only means we make mistakes.

Wow! Great reminder. I'll admit I often forget the enmity and rejection part. If you don't mind, I'm going to share this with friends and family. Enjoy your vacation Frank.

greglong said...

Right on.

I've always thought that the three definitive answers to the question of God's relationship to evil and man's responsibility are named Joseph (Gen. 50:20), Job (Job 1-2, 40-42), and Jesus (Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28).

A.M. Mallett said...

Shawn,
That is an interesting point. Scot McKnight recently blogged this issue at http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2009/02/who-are-the-neoreformed.html
I have to wonder if John Calvin himself would recognize what passes for his namesake.

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

I am guessing you feel really good about yourself. I am going to add this Neo-Calvinist polemic to the next Wed. evening class. Our recent focus has dealt with the conflict between religious philosophy and evangelical fellowship. It usually results in a lot of prayer time.

I bet the people in your class feel really good about themselves because they aren't constrained by silly encumbrances like doctrine, as the rest of us narrow-minded saps are.

SolaMom said...

Spot on, Frank. But, I must admit I liked this line...

"God knows...how many hairs are left on your head."

Chuckle, chuckle. My husband concurs.

SolaMom said...

Wow, A.M. Mallett. Snark much?

Chad V. said...

Arminians, your objections to Calvinism are really just objections to your own system.

Typical Arminian objection:

"Why would God offer salvation to people whom he never purposed to save? How could he offer it to the reprobate? It doesn't make any sense."

Here's the thing Arminian. You see, this is really the problem of your system, not Calvinism. Consider this. If God knows before hand who will believe and elects based on that knowledge then only those whom God knows will believe can believe. To those whom God has not foreseen as coming to faith there is no possibility of their being able to repent and believe. None, if there were God would be wrong in His foreknowledge. Yet God offers them the Gospel anyhow, even though there is no chance of them believing. Considered in this light the Calvinistic doctrine doesn't look so ridiculous, does it?

Now you have another problem. You like to complain that we make God the author of evil. Well, you have the same problem really. I mean, your God knowingly created beings who would do evil and chose to create them anyhow. Your God brought evil into the world. He's responsible for evil's existence. He knew it would happen and did it anyhow. He also created people knowing they would never believe. He knowingly created people who would burn in hell forever. He could have spared that soul the horrors of hell by not creating them but created them anyhow.

The only way to keep God from being utterly irresponsible and utterly cruel in your system is to become and open-theist and say that God didn't know what these people would do. In other words, you'd have to make God a god like the pagan gods. impotent and ignorant. Nothing more than a super-sized version of man with an ego to match.


At least the Calvinistic explanation has a purpose to God's ordaining the evil actions of men. Your God has no direct purpose, He didn't ordain them, He didn't purpose them, He just lets them happen out of "love".

See, you really don't have any objections against the Calvinist. You really just have objections to your own doctrine.

olan strickland said...

Gene, the first sector of your life you weren't exercising free-will but a sin-enslaved will - you were a slave to sin (Romans 6:16).

The second sector of your life you became obedient from the heart and became a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).

Mike Riccardi said...

Our recent focus has dealt with the conflict between religious philosophy and evangelical fellowship.True fellowship that's not based on sound doctrine isn't fellowship. It's hanging out. If not united around the truth revealed in the Word of God, our churches, small groups, Sunday school meetings, youth groups, etc. are all just social clubs.

DJP said...

Frank: Most importantly, isn’t it most telling that the non-calvinists really wind up being people who don’t receive Paul’s answer to the hypothetical questioner in Romans 9 with any kind of seriousness? You know: Romans 9 where God has apparently failed in His promise and man is sort of just a victim of God’s capricious choice to save or no.

Bingo; I'll see that, Frank, and raise you one.

The following theme recurred often enough I was surprised more wasn't made of it: "I cannot accept... I cannot see..." and so forth. This is theology as autobiography.

As FF Bruce once said, people who talk this way are telling us a lot about themselves, and nothing about God.

Thirty-seven years ago, I could not accept the notion of a God that was angry at us. I could not see how we had to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. I could not believe that God would send us to Hell.

Then I came to accept, believe, and see that that was idolatry.

The believing-creaturely thing to do is start with the Word as far as we're enabled, and build the concept of God from there.

And here's a hint: if you see anything in creation that can trump God's determined will, that is God. Worship it.

Aric said...

I promised myself I wouldn't comment again, but I am weak, weak, weak. So, I will (most likely) end my comments today with this potpourri of thoughts, which are at least tangentially related to today’s post:

The book of Job brings a lot to the table we don’t like to talk about: God permitting Satan to destroy Job’s possessions and family, Job attributing the decimation to God, Job not sinning by attributing the evil to God, and then Job seeking answers, but given a ton of questions instead of an answer. Tough book.

As for the whole ‘choice’ thing, what usually happens in conversations I have is the real issue at hand comes down to man (generic man for mankind) needing a choice so he will suffer hell because he actively chose it (as if our sin didn’t already do that for us). The conversation normally goes something like this:

Friend: “God must give man a chance to either choose or reject him.”
Me: “Let’s ignore the fact that the repeated calls to repent and choose God may actually be more evidence to condemn us by showing that man is depraved and a slave to sin, and tell me why man must have a choice.”
F: “If no choice, God would be unjust/unkind/unloving to sentence someone to Hell forever. If man is given a choice, then he will suffer for his choice. If someone ends up in Hell, they are getting what they deserve.”
M: “So, because man can choose to put faith in Christ, if someone doesn’t, they will go to Hell and get what they deserve?”
F: “Yes. It is their choice, so they deserve Hell.”
M: “And because you choose Christ, you deserve . . . “

I already know the objections coming, so you can save your typing time, if you choose :0). I’m just relaying conversations I normally have. The point is to mull over how our sin-hardened hearts are not enough to condemn us to Hell, but we need a choice as to be saved.

One final flake in the potpourri that may show how little I know about theology/biblical interpretation (as if my other comments haven’t). If biblical interpretation needs to account for the type of literature, setting, audience, etc., and if the recipients of certain letters were Jews, then wouldn’t we need to account for how those people would interpret/understand certain phrases and words in the letters?

For example, if I was raised on a hearty diet of the OT, then words like called and chosen would have distinct meanings attached, especially in reference to God’s people. Then, when someone wrote to me about being one of God’s chosen/called/elect people, wouldn’t I understand it in light of how God chose/called/elected His people? Just something I’ve mulled a bit over the last few days.

Sorry for throwing down my longest post ever, but I do feel better :0). Have a great Friday!

Mark B. Hanson said...

One of the things that bothers me about Arminian theology is that it fails to do justice to the major theme of the Old Testament - God choosing a people for himself, lifting them out of idolatry, and being faithful through their disobedience and outright hatred of His ways. It's clear from Moses' words in Deuteronomy 6-8 that there was nothing in Israel to recommend them to God, no difference between them and other nations, but He chose them as His for His own reasons.

And if this is true (and the point is made over and over again in the OT), what about God's people in the New Testament? Should we believe that God now looks in us for something to recommend us to Him (even if it is only our response to His word)? Are we better than Abraham?

Silly.

olan strickland said...

DJP: "The following theme recurred often enough I was surprised more wasn't made of it: "I cannot accept... I cannot see..." and so forth. This is theology as autobiography."

They are only exercising their free-will! :)

You are right Dan and suppressing God's revealed truth about Himself is idolatry!

Solameanie said...

Wow. Before even reading Pyro today, I happened on the following clip from John Calvin and emailed it to a few people in batches. I hope it's not inappropriate to post Calvin's comment here, because it deals with the subject of "if it's by works, then grace is no more grace."

This amplification is derived from a comparison between things of an opposite character; for such is the case between God's grace and the merit of works, that he who establishes the one overturns the other.

But if no regard to works can be admitted in election, without obscuring the gratuitous goodness of God, which He designed thereby to be so much commended to us, what answer can be given by Paul to those infatuated persons, (phrenetici—insane) who make the cause of election to be that worthiness in us that God has foreseen? For whether you introduce works future or past, this declaration of Paul opposes you; for he says that grace leaves nothing to works.

Paul speaks not here of our reconciliation with God, nor of the means, nor of the proximate causes of our salvation; but he ascends higher, even to this— why God, before the foundation of the world, chose only some and passed by others: and he declares that God was led to make this difference by nothing else but His own good pleasure; for if any place is given to works, so much, he maintains, is taken away from grace.

It hence follows that it is absurd to blend foreknowledge of works with election. For if God chooses some and rejects others, as he has foreseen them to be worthy or unworthy of salvation, then the grace of God, the reward of works being established, cannot reign alone, but must be only in part the cause of our election. For as Paul has reasoned before concerning the justification of Abraham, that where reward is paid, there grace is not freely bestowed; so now he draws his argument from the same fountain— that if works come to the account, when God adopts a certain number of men unto salvation, reward is a matter of debt, and that therefore it is not a free gift
.

Sir Brass said...

So shawn, just because I firmly believe that paedobaptism is a left-over remnant of Romanism, that means I can't REALLY be a calvinist?

Or are you just directly that shot from Riddlebarger and Muller against Calvinistic Dispensationalists? I'm hoping it's the later, not the former.

I'd be very careful about who you charge with not REALLY being a Calvinist on this meta. That starts to stink of the "Truly Reformed", "The TR is the only valid greek original" elitism that has cropped up on the internet some time ago.

One thing I do get sick of hearing is how Reformed Baptists aren't really Reformed. Some paedobaptists need to get their heads out of the WCoF and read the 1689 LBCF sometime :).

~ A Covenantal, Amillenial, Calvinistic Baptist

DJP said...

Riddlebarger is really something.

I had some fun with that one over here.

Dave said...

I don't know that I fully understand the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, but I have a an observation I'd like to share:
Both systems believe that God knows who will be saved and who will go to Hell in the end. A question both camps need to answer is why did God even create those he knew would end up in Hell. It seems to me that the Cavinist answer is Biblically informed, though it is hard to accept as it says God's glory is more valuable than all of creation. The Arminian answer comes across sounding more like a philosophical argument based on who they believe their God is. They take their ideas about who they think God is and read the Bible through that lens.
I think that if Arminians want to hold on to their philosophies about God and his goodness and be consistent philosophically, they need to throw out his foreknowledge and become Open-theists.
If an Arminian can answer the "why" question I asked above, they must come up with some God ordained purpose for why those doomed folks get created in the first place.
God knew who Hitler, Stalin, and Pharaoh would become, yet he still created them. Why? You always answer "why" questions with "purpose" answers. Arminians must either believe that God created people for destruction for a reason, which gets them pretty close to Calvinism, or they must believe that God doesn't know the future, he just hopes for the best.
Please let me know if I have misunderstood these different positions.
God Bless you all as you discuss these things,
-Dave

David said...

The power of choice in this matter is entirely the power of rejection.

Jesus has been declared both Lord and Christ by God the Father. That means that He is Lord of the universe, maker of all things in the heavens and on earth, in whom all things consist. I have been found guilty in His sight.

To agree with this is not a choice. It is a confession. And in that confession, we find that He is redeeming all things to Himself.

To resist, now, that's a choice. And whoever makes that choice will bear the burden of it.

Gary said...

Always a fave of mine...

Then another difficulty comes in; not only is everything made contingent, but it does seem to us as if man were thus made to be the supreme being in the universe. According to the freewill theory the Lord intends to do good, but he must subject his will to his own creature to know what his intention is; God wills good and would do it, but he cannot, because he has an unwilling man who will not have God's good thing put into effect. What do you do, you who believe in the freewill of man, but drag the Eternal from his throne, and lift up into it that fallen creature, man: for man, according to your theory nods, and his nod is destiny. You must have a destiny somewhere; it must either be as God wills or as man wills. If it is as God wills, then Jehovah sits as sovereign on his throne of glory, and all of creation obeys him, and the world is safe; if not God, then you put man there, to say. “I will” or “I will not; if I will it I will enter heaven; if I will it I will despise the grace of God; if I will it I will conquer the Holy Sprit, for I am stronger than God, and stronger than omnipotence; if I will it I will make the blood of Christ of no effect, for I am mightier than that blood, mightier than the blood of the Son of God himself; though God has his purpose, yet I will laugh at his purpose; it will be my purpose that will make his purpose stand, or make it fall.” Why, you who believe in the absolute freewill of man, if this is not Atheism, it is idolatry; it is putting man where God should be, and I shrink with solemn awe and horror from that doctrine which makes the grandest of God's works-the salvation man-to be dependent on the will of his creature whether it will be accomplished or not. I can and must glory in my text in its fullest sense. “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.”

- Spurgeon, "God's Will and Man's Will", March 30th, 1862

What is most striking about this sermon to me is how Spurgeon essentially ends it with an "altar call". He passionately argues for the sovereignty of God and then passionately argues the roll of mans will in salvation, using it to call people to repentence.

“Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

Andrew Faris said...

Frank wrote: I really try to have patience for the non-calvinist, but the truth is that they don’t really have any patience for the Calvinist under any circumstance, and they as a group don’t really listen: they just want to bluster on about God being the author of evil as if the book of Job didn’t exist, or the point of Acts 2 wasn’t God’s final sovereignty over the most heinous act in the history of the world."Ah! Come on Frank, you really don't think this goes both ways? You don't think Arminians could say the same about us (only with different passages in mind)?

This blog, in particular, is often characterized by a tone of "we're writing our opinions and not listening to y'all." Even though I tend to agree with your points and love your writing, that can be so frustrating to read.

Come on now Frank, you're better than that. This one goes both ways. We Calvinists are in fact notorious for not listening to those who disagree.

Andrew

Andrew Faris said...

Just great, I messed up the spacing on my comment...

DJP said...

That's OK, we weren't listening anyway.

MSC said...

DJP,
What struck me in Riddlebarger's post was a line in the lengthy quote from Muller haranguing the so-called non-reformed pastor he met:

"He recognized no creeds or confessions of the church as binding in any way."

"Binding in any way"? That speaks volumes about the sources of real authority for some Reformed types. Why would anyone have the chutzpah to use the word "binding" apart from scripture?

Sir Brass said...

"We Calvinists are in fact notorious for not listening to those who disagree."

Maybe some, but just as many on the other end are the same way so saying that this is a characterizing feature is not very valid.

What most folks mean when they say the above quoted line is that they don't like it that we hold our ground.

I'd like to see someone try and prove to someone like Dr. James White (one who I doubt ANYONE can make a valid claim of NOT being Reformed) that he doesn't indeed listen to his opponents. The thing is that he and others like him LISTEN, but the same old, tired, refuted arguments keep getting presented like they're new and novel. Same old song and dance, and it gets old fast.

Roberto G said...

Having only recently joined in the fun on this site, I must confess not a little surprise at the seeming exepmtion from our Lord's command to love. Well, at least some aspects of love. Certainly, we each believe we have the truth and offer it to "the other side". However, sometimes it is offered on a platter of sarcasm, ridicule, and with a garnish of ad hominem. None of us is exempt. But as a staunch calvinist guest here, I recognize, acknowledge, and accept that at times, "the other side" certainly does have a basis to bluster against the failings of calvinists and this gets in the way of commending the truths of calvinism I love and love to share and defend.

Rick Frueh said...

The amusement some of us Arminians receive from the nano-parsing in the "I'm a true Calvinist you are not debate" among Calvinists is thrilling. And the satire, snarkyism, and erudite elitism only adds to the WWE atmosphere.

And the reasoning that goes "Arminians will not address the Scriptures" is also a wonderful diversion. If only we had a Bible. (See, satirical snarkiness is not owned by the C crowd!!)

It's like Dan said...fun!!

Reformant said...

It is difficult to not get frustrated with the non-Calvinist, if they refuse to acknowledge the scripture put forth. Or reconcile the logical/biblical fallacies in their belief, as Dave so well presented.

For anyone looking for a great resource on the relationship between God and evil, get your hands on:

God and Evil
The Problem Solved
by Gordon H. Clarke

Only about 70pgs long, but an eye opening response to a common question.

DJP said...

Yeah. So I have an idea.

Anyone want to talk about THE TOPIC AND CONTENTS OF THE POST?

Just a thought.

Sir Brass said...

Sure, dan.

AMEN. Anything more would be rehashing everything Frank already said :).

Rick Frueh said...

As to the post:

I agree, God is in control of everything.

David said...

http://failblog.org/2009/05/15/church-sign-fail/

Rachael Starke said...

I vote Rick Freuh Mr. Arminian Congeniality.

A.M. Mallett said...

Mike Riccardi said...
True fellowship that's not based on sound doctrine isn't fellowship. It's hanging out. If not united around the truth revealed in the Word of God, our churches, small groups, Sunday school meetings, youth groups, etc. are all just social clubs.
This type of response is particularly what will be discussed. Truth and sound doctrine being interpreted as the Calvinist distinctives are exalted as the narrow ground of fellowship in what you view as the Christian community. It is a hallmark of the Neo-Reformed movement and a ground from which you distance yourselves from the greater Body of Christ.

Now of course, many of you hold that those refused fellowship are not really Christians to begin with blurring the distinctions from yourselves with the hyper-Calvinists many try to distance themselves from. Keep in mind, those of us who examine these patterns and discuss the impact of them in fellowship gatherings are not bemoaning the slight. This is where the immature accusations of whining and crying "wha" fall into the category of shrill nothings. Instead, (and this is important for you to come to terms with) we are working contrary to such foolishness and pointing to these very types of threads and comments as evidence of what one tends to become when they succumb to the doctrines promoted. It is quite an eye opener for many. In other words we are not seeking your acceptance but rather we are demonstrating from your own examples why Christians need to avoid falling into the philosophical trap of Neo-Calvinism.

Darrin said...

Guess I missed the "meta mess" on the other posts, thankfully. Once there's over 500 comments, I don't even bother. :)

However, the thoughts from Frank here, and some of the comments from Dan and others are outstanding. Thank you for them. Praise God for any insight He has given you.

What a gracious, sovereign God! Indeed we must avoid the tendency to impose our own feeble notions of what is "good" upon Him. All He does is good, whether it seems so to us or not. Elementary, but there - I wrote it anyway.

Thanks brothers. Resting in grace alone.

Darrin said...

A.M.,

Sorry you feel that way. Glad you're not distancing yourself from us.

Hey, has your group gone through "The Shack" yet?

Chad V. said...

Mallett According to John 17:1-18 the basis of our fellowship can be summed up in this verse; " “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you."

Now Christ manifested the Father only to those whom the Father gave Him. They have kept His word. This is the basis of Christian unity and fellowship. In other words the doctrine of Election is the basis of our unity and fellowship. If you decide to work against that doctrine then you are the one disrupting fellowship.

I don't know of any Calvinists who exclude Arminians from fellowship. I certainly don't. My church doesn't. My fiancee doesn't and none of my Calvinist friends do. However my direct experience is that when Arminians find out you are a Calvinist you get treated like you're in a cult. In fact that's exactly what happened to me when I became a Calvinist. One of my best Arminian friends at the time told me that he thought Calvinism was a cult. He promptly ceased to associate with me. Another friend of mine and I were called sick freaks and I've heard numerous sermons by Arminian pastors calling Calvinism evil and Satanic. Usually it's the Arminian who disfellowships from the Calvinist, not the other way around.

Now, read John 17 again. What's the basis of Christian fellowship and unity? Truth and specifically the truth that the Father gave the Son people out of the world.

Rick Frueh said...

I distance myself from many Arminains and almost no Calvinists. Isn't that strange?

Stefan said...

Fortunately, at least no one has yet come here and called him or herself a "Calminian."

That's a small mercy.

SolaMom said...

"However my direct experience is that when Arminians find out you are a Calvinist you get treated like you're in a cult. In fact that's exactly what happened to me when I became a Calvinist. One of my best Arminian friends at the time told me that he thought Calvinism was a cult."

I can second this comment from Chad V. Our small ministry in the virtual world of Second Life has been publicly denounced as a cult by the more predominant Arminian (and semi-Pelagian) groups there. We have been ostracized and attacked repeatedly, all by what we call the "Peace and Love Crowd".

Strong Tower said...

"It's hanging out."

Lets not start that again.

Frank, you need a vaction.

"and raise you one"

I'll see you one will and raise you another.

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy she'll beatyou...

...the queen of hearts is always your...

Read'em and weep...

Deal the cards, again, oh why won't you deal the cards again...



Persistent with the card similtudes... Well, then:

Aflush in bushes is worth more than pair of ducks aflight, I always say.

You're not gambling again are you DJ?

Speaking of gambling. What a gamble the game becomes if the bet is laid down upon what is not asolutely known when the stakes are of eternal proportion. Who would go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line? How much more comforting is faith which it is sure of the outcome of the choice? But then, to be sure of the outcome, the player would have to know for sure what the outcome would be. And if sure that one option is life and the other is death, what kind of rational free-will would ever choose death? Unless it is not rational to believe that "options" in salvation are equal but oppositional choices. If it were a deception that would make them appear as such. One evil and the other good, but which one? You take the blue pill and... I heard that story once. However, God does not tempt, does he? But speaks the truth. It is the Devil who presents the choice alternative as good.

Wut if God sets the mind straight, removing the deception, then what? Would someone not deceived ever pick what is not good?

A very interesting dilema then crops up for the Armenpelagianiuseses, namely that, for libertarian free-will to be true, the opposition "choices" must be equally satisfying, even if of differnt natures. Kinda like, "You shall be as God" stuff and all. But that would result in something more closely resembling the light and dark side of the force, or merely the flip of a coin. Then nothing more than a gamble. Heads you win one thing, tails you win too, just a different thing. You marry the evil twin, or your true love. Either way you get married.

What if, though, God put the thing in right perspective, like: See I have a coin, it is life and good, choose it, cuz I am going to flip it, but see here, it is the same on both sides, life and good. But not only did he present it that way, and commanded it be the only choice, but he gave the winnings before hand so that there was no doubt about it.

Then what? Who would refuse such an offer? You get your true love, pure and undefiled, instead of a maggot infested rotted look alike. And there is no chance involved.

Suppose that God in his infinite mercy shows some that it isn't really a matter of equality of choice, at all. But actually makes known that one is death, and the other is life, not just that they are different, but in equilibrium, so that there is no doubt (i.e. gives faith) then what? What if he draws back the veil so some see the bride's face? Wouldn't the chooser choose the gooder, bigger, better rest bed, rather than the wooden flamey cot? Unless of course the chooser guy was of a corrupt mind and didn't understand the difference between a maggoty babe and one who was not. But, what if 1 Corinthians 2 is really, really, really, honestly true and God has given us His Spirit and the Mind of Christ so that we know that God is not offering just another flamey cot in heaven as opposed to a flamey cot in hell. Then, just maybe, the new minded man might only choose the gooderer, because he knows the Truth and the Truth has set him free.

Seems like irresistable logic to me.

If God has given all men the 1 Corinthians 2 blessing, drawn the veil back for all to see, then all are in their right mind, and none would choose except for Christ, rationally speaking, would they? I mean, you'd have to be crazy, woounya?


Then again... Only a crazy man would go on vacation and take his puter instead of a putter.

Anyway, Gin.

Aric said...

Frank said: "So I am sure you people will run the meta into the ground again today . . . .

I guess Frank has the gift of prophesy! :0)

Daryl said...

"I distance myself from many Arminains and almost no Calvinists. Isn't that strange?"

Rick, I've read enough of your imput to various Pyro posts to disagree with that comment.

I'd be willing to bet that you distance yourself from people who call themselves Arminians but who are really variants of Pelagians.

As a real Arminian you have more in common with Calvinists than you do with Pelagians or even semi-Pelagians.

And it shows.

That's why we like you so much even though we disagree with you.

Gary said...

Lots of chatter, but still no one addressing the post itself...

Strong Tower said...

Who's Frank?

DJP said...

I'm candid.

How's that?

Shawn said...

@ Sir Bass and DJP,

I was merely attempting to point out the irony of Frank's statement regarding who is and who isn't a real arminian.

According to Riddlebarger, Muller, Horton, Scott Clark, et. al. (read Westminster & Calvin Sem.) they would be saying the same thing about Frank, Dan, Phil, etc.

I think they do have a point, that the reformed title used to be defined by the 3 forms of unity, rather than just the 5 points of Dort.

But, I guess if I am a convenantal, amillenial, pedo-, 4 pointer, most of the guys over here wouldn't call me a calvinist either.

So, to stay in topic, how do we define a TRUE arminian and a TRUE calvinist? Is it on the basis of soteriology alone?

Mark | hereiblog said...

As to Calvinism and dispensationalism, Jason disagrees and in point 10 of 11 says Calvinism is not consistent with Dispensationalism. This is at What Calvinism is Not.

Can he make this make sense? :)

A.M. Mallett said...

Chad V, John17 is referring to those who are in Christ. It is not referring to the Calvinist doctrine of election. In other words, Christians. Now if you equate your doctrine of election with being Christian, then the statement you made following that is rather empty You wrote:

"Now Christ manifested the Father only to those whom the Father gave Him. They have kept His word. This is the basis of Christian unity and fellowship. In other words the doctrine of Election is the basis of our unity and fellowship. If you decide to work against that doctrine then you are the one disrupting fellowship.

I don't know of any Calvinists who exclude Arminians from fellowship. I certainly don't. My church doesn't. My fiancee doesn't and none of my Calvinist friends do. "

How do you reconcile defining unity and fellowship being grounded in Calvinist election and not disfellowshipping most of the Body of Christ that rejects your understanding of election?

A.M. Mallett said...

Darrin,
Assuming your comment was not in jest, we have no interest in "The Shack". Nor do we hold any stock in a "Purpose Driven" viewpoint, Emergent Theology or Openess. I and several others left a church over a couple of these issues.

Daryl said...

A.M.,

John 6 explains John 17 nicely, where Jesus states that all those the Father gives to him, will come to him, and He will raise them up on the last day.

The Father giving clearly precedes the coming to Jesus.

So, yeah, it is about election.

DJP said...

Yeah, Mark, it's 'way more than a river in Egypt over there. That kind of silliness is a large reason why I never bother visiting that site anymore. Too much effort wasted on insisting the nekkid ain't nekkid.

One Dan's opinion, your mileage may vary.

Rick Frueh said...

I appreciate the gracious words, Daryl.

"Almost persuadest thou me to become a Calvinist!" :)

Darrin said...

A.M., I was kind of jesting. Sorry about the cheap shot.

I am glad you are against the doctrines you mentioned, as am I. And you obviously feel strongly about them to separate from a church regarding them.

So where do you draw the line? Is it OK to separate from emergents, etc., but wrong for a reformed believer to become distanced from those who have a different view of justification by grace?

Moderators, I hope this is in keeping with the theme of the post.

Respectabiggle said...

So, Arminians, was God surprised at Satan's rebellion?

If he was, you're following Open Theism, pretty much by definition.

If not, how did He not ordain that rebellion? He created every bit of Satan's body & spirit (or whatever angels are made of) and created Satan's heart and every condition in which he existed. Unlike man, angels are not moral free agents (Or do y'all think they are, and they're just Pelagian superstars because they succeed in choosing not to sin?), so saying that Satan exercised his free will isn't an answer - it's like me exercising my wings.

Dustin said...

hey guys. a friend of mine wrote this.

"Anyway, I believe God will have mercy on those folk and judge them according to how they have responded to the unwritten law that He has placed in every man. I think it's against God's character to make men suffer in hell for eternity, even though they have tried to live to unwritten commandments during their lives, because they didn't hear one scrap of the words of Jesus. I cannot - will not - believe in a God that does that. If that somehow means that I am not a Christian anymore, then so be it, but I know for sure that the God of the Bible that I believe in wouldn't do such a thing."

if anyone could help me and offer a strong rebuttal to it, that would be great :)

Eric said...

Dustin -

Start with DJP's post at 7:10.

olan strickland said...

Dustin,

Ask your friend how a holy God can forgive sinners without violating His divine justice. There is only one answer to that question that will allow God to do it and remain just - Penal Substitution!

Rick Frueh said...

I believe the word ordained must be unpacked.

Ordained - God planned and caused all things to occur.

Ordained - God knew that all things would occur, and those things that were against His nature He wove into the overall plan of eternity.

I subscribe to the second.

DJP said...

Ah. A passive spectator, responding to events beyond His control. Interesting.

Not Biblical. But interesting.

NoLongerBlind said...

Rick--from Acts 2:23:

ESV: "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

NASB: "this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."

Did God the Father ordain His Son's death on the cross?

Tom

Rick Frueh said...

"A passive spectator, responding to events beyond His control"

Nothing is beyond His control. (reference my previous comment) But there are things that occur under the auspices of His sovereign allowance. He chooses to intervene according to the dictates within the Godhead, but all things remain within His control.

The word "responding" is somewhat misleading since it suggests God operates within the constructs of time and space. It would be impossible to completely assess the operational mechanics of an eternal Spirit interacting with a finite creation.

God has placed interventions already embedded in the creative narrative set to be revealed as the time and events arrive (from our perspective). This has happened before He spoke creation into existence and , again, there is no hope of any finite being comprehending such things in anything more than a divine principle.

Hence, ":His ways are past finding out".

Rick Frueh said...

NoLongerBlind - Yes.

Both definitions of ordained are applicable as it pertains to different events.

DJP said...

Then you're retracting your statement, "God knew that all things would occur, and those things that were against His nature He wove into the overall plan of eternity"?

Sir Brass said...

NLB, another verse to add to the ones in Acts:

"It pleased the Father to bruise Him."

I'm not very good at citing book, chapter, and verse, but that verse is in one of the messianic psalms.

Prophecy from the Father to the psalmist.

What is the mystery is NOT how God is sovereign and yet does not ordain sin. It is how God is sovereign over good and evil as He says He is, and is not the author of sin. I'm not doubting His Word, as I believe fully that He is NOT the author of sin, and I believe Him to be sovereign over both good and evil and to have ordained both. It's how that all works out that I do not understand.

However, that is something He has not deemed to be something that ought to be revealed to us. "The secret things belong to the Lord." And so, I take Him at His word.

He is sovereign, good, and also has ordained for evil and sin to occur but is not also at the same time (ironic I have to use temporal terms here) the author of sin. So the best we can do is take Him at His Word.

A word of caution to our TA (True Arminian) here: do not try and declare that God is NOT responsible for things that He Himself in His Word has declared to be His doing.

"Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated." This, He said, before either child was able to choose Him or not choose Him.

And in another place, He says that from His mouth proceeds both blessing and cursing. And in yet another place He says that He ordains both good and evil. And in a psalm He inspires the psalmist to write, "Our God is in the heavens, and He does whatever He pleases."

Rick Frueh said...

No, I am amplifying my statement to reveal that "all things that would occur" includes things He directly caused and things He did not. In attempting to explain this I am limited by human language and intellect.

But it is a genuine represenation of what I believe Scripture teaches on a profoundly limited level.

NoLongerBlind said...

Here's a couple of propheticexamples of God's predetermined plan of events.

Isaiah 53:6 & 10:

NASB: (6)"But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
(10)"But the Lord was pleased to crush Him (think about the implications of THAT!), putting Him to grief;"

Tom

Rick Frueh said...

NLB - I would doubt anyone would disagree with your examples. I surely do not.

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

Mallett Frank is right, why is it that Arminians don't seem to listen to what we say?

Did I ever equate understanding the doctrine of election with being a Christian? DId I imply it? No I didn't.

I said if you fight against it you're disrupting the basis of Christian unity. In fact my exact words were " If you decide to work against that doctrine then you are the one disrupting fellowship."

Pay attention!

Rick Frueh said...

I generally understand Calvinist/reformed doctrine, especially the unconditional election view. And in full disclosure, there are many Scriptures that directly support that view, so I do not consider my Calvinist brothers to be twisting or ignoring Scripture.

Chad V. said...

Mallet I know it's about those in Christ, It's also about WHY they're in Christ.

BrettR said...

This post was a great reminder of how I came to know that I was so inconsistent in my belief in God's sovereignty. I had to sit on the fact that God made the cross and his own Son's agony and death happen (as he said he would). This didn't sit well with my flannel graph educated point of view. Thanks for bringing me back to how great our God is in all things.

Strong Tower said...

"It pleased the Father to bruise Him."

I like crush because that is what the Hebrew really means and in, if I remember the same root as humbled, or at least is the same idea.

That means, as Jesus said, "You would have no power over me except the Father gave it to you."

Then we have this picture that the will to crush Him and the power to do so was from the Father. That then makes Israel the High Priests knife in the sacrifice of the life of the Father's Son. An Abraham moment provided by the Holy Spirit.

How humbling really to think that He is working not only in his saints to will and to do of his good pleasure but also in those who are his servants determined beforehand for destruction.

I know that conservative are not going to like this, but in this case it is weapons who kill people.

Here's the case, God is present in the actions, both willing that they be done and empowering their doing, yet it is the creation, and not God who does what is being done.

Now if man is responsible for sin and not God, and it is beyong doubt that God has done this thing in the Propitiation, yet without sin, why is it that God is responsible for man's actions in salvation and all glory goes to him, when it is left to man do choose?

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

It's NOT THE NON-cALVINISTS but THE ANTI-CALVINISTS that cannot GET ALONG with those holding to THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE. THE issue is this; Either Salvation is all of God, or it isn't. If it isn't, there is no salvation by grace. If it is, Salvation to dead sinners comes by the grace of God, to those He gave to Christ, in the covenant of grace. There is no middle ground.

Rick Frueh said...

There is no middle ground.

Middle ground being defined as not seeing it as I see it, or how the Bible teaches it, which are one in the same.

It's not the Calvinists that cannot get along with others, it's the anti-nonCalvinists. :)

NoLongerBlind said...

Does God sovereignly ordain evil?

NASB - "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.'"

Challenging verse....?

Tom

NoLongerBlind said...

Sorry! Forgot this:

2 Samuel 12:11

Sir Brass said...

Dustin,

Your friend is NO Christian if he believes such. Pray for him.

But do NOT hold back on him. Show him what the Word says, and show Him how it is God's RIGHT to do with His Creation as He pleases, and that it is NOT fair for any of us to go to heaven. Basically, give him the gospel, and see how he responds. Either way, it is in God's hands; your duty therefore is to faithfully proclaim the message in truth with a spirit of love.

Andrew Faris said...

Sir Brass,

Your earlier response to me was exactly my point: Arminians and Calivnists both do this.

DJP,

That was funny.

Andrew

Dustin said...

sir brass-[or anyone else] why wouldn't he be a christian?

donsands said...

"We sort of admit in humility that we are “sinners”, but that label doesn’t imply, for example, real enmity and rejection of God: it only means we make mistakes."

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"

What a blessing for Peter, huh. And for all who have genuine conversions.

God hates sin, and He he dealt with his holy hate.

Simon Peter came to understand this.
And so must we all.

God saves a dead sinner in a split half second, and that sinner will never be more saved. And yet this new creation needs to drink milk for a season, and become spiritually healthy, and so then begin to eat meat.
A lot of Christians are still drinking milk, and haven't touched their meat.

Another good post from the Centurion. Thanks. Have a wonderful, and peaceful Lord's Day as well.

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

Dustin,

I think the reason is because the God he says he refuses to believe in is the God who is.

God does, in fact, punish all those who fail to believe in Christ for their salvation before God, whether they've heard the Gospel or not. To not believe in that God is to not believe in the God of the Bible.

Frank Turk said...

Comment #1 on this meta:

Let's make sure that, historically, we get our facts straight. Reformed theology is not a response to Arminian theology: quite the reverse. So let's makes sure that as we understand the relationship between the two, let's remember that the Arminians are the ones who filed the Remonstrance because, as Arminius was careful to do, he rejects the "Calvinistic" form of soteriology.

As we talk about this, there should be no question that it is the "Arminian" (and the much more common post-Finneyian) who is rejecting his reformed adversary -- even if the Reformed are in the minority today.

Frank Turk said...

Comment #2 about this meta:

I have a feeling that the real grit in the eye of the "Arminians" reading this thread is that I called them unwitting Pelagians. I know that actual Arminians take offense to this, and they should.

But anyone reading this thread and taking offense should ask himself:

"Self: do I believe that God chose me because I chose him, or do I believe that election is toward a final state and not of a particular people?"

The latter is Arminian; the former is not. The former is just ridiculous talk covering up the supremacy of man's will in "salvation".

Frank Turk said...

Comment #3 on this meta:

It's a shame a guy like "A. M. Mallet" has to drive by and simply ignore everything said before a post like this in order to score points with the anti-calvinist watchbloggers and the various species of anti-theological tsk-tskers.

And that's all I have to say about that. Thread closed. Have a nice weekend.