Friday, August 07, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - August 7, 2009

  • Those pesky Calvinists.

  • Arminian Peter Lumpkins takes on R.C. Sproul.

  • Let me get this straight: Election is based on God's foreknowledge of who will respond to the gospel, but in order to respond to the gospel those people must first be given the grace necessary to do so? Then on what basis does God choose who receives this grace? If Arminians argue that everyone receives the same amount of grace, then salvation is ultimately up to man since it hinges on his decision. If, on the other hand, only certain individuals receive this grace (or receive greater amounts of it), then Arminians are right back to square one on the election issue.

  • Why read Calvin?

  • As far as Catholic M. Barnes is concerned, there is no such thing as Calvinism. He writes, "Calvinism does not exist, at least not any more than the Ku Klux Klan does. Oh sure, there are still several groups that run around in rural communities in the South, calling themselves everything from 'The Traditional Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan' to the 'International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan'. But everyone knows what Nathan Bedford Forrest started over a century ago after the War Between the States has long since disbanded, only to be revitalized by kooks, losers, and provocateurs trying to keep the torch aflame every other decade or so." Talk about your papal bull. He goes on to excoriate Calvinists for their lack of authority and unity. Oh, if only we could learn to be as submissive and unified as Catholics...

11 comments:

William Watson Birch said...

Does Barnes have his head in the sand????

Election: The Foreknowledge view of election cannot be viewed through your Calvinistic lens. That seems to me what you're doing by the comments you made.

I'm not an advocate of the Foreknowledge view (opting for the more biblical -IMO- Corporate view). Nonetheless, I know what they mean by, "God elected those whom he foreknew" (cf. Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:1-2).

You responded: Then on what basis does God choose who receives this grace?

That is a Calvinistic idea which cannot be imposed on the Foreknowledge view. God's "prevenient grace," which is operative in those who hear the Gospel, is not irresistible. Thus those who respond to his grace by faith in Jesus Christ are the elect. God did not choose only certain people to be graced, or certain people to hear the gopsel. He wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). It is our responsibility to preach the gospel (Matt. 28:19).

You hypothosized: If Arminians argue that everyone receives the same amount of grace, then salvation is ultimately up to man since it hinges on his decision.

Are you saying that Calvinists do not make a "decision" to follow Christ, even if that act is a grace gift of God? IMO, it is dishonest for Calvinists to confess that they did absolutely nothing in the salvation process. Faith is a gift. Did you receive it? Then are you not "doing something" for your salvation? We wouldn't word it that way, since it was God's initiative in the first place. Even Jesus is a gift. Did you receive him (cf. John 1:12)? Then are you not "doing something" for your salvation? We wouldn't word it that way, since sending his Son was God's initiative in the first place.

Even MacArthur and others admit that man has the responsibility to believe in Christ Jesus. You cannot with integrity pretend that God bopped you over the head and saved you without your belief in Jesus Christ. And we know that faith is not a work (Rom. 4:4-5).

This syllogism does not work:
1) Everyone receives the same amount of grace
2) Everyone has been graced.
3) Therefore, salvation is up to man.

Salvation is up to God. It is God who saves, not man. Man cannot save himself. God, however, has required faith in his Son in order to be justified (Rom. 5:1) and saved. Still, it is God who saves. Yet it is man who must believe (even if aided by God via regeneration - Calvinism - or through prevenient grace - Arminianism).

IMO, this statement is not true of Arminianism: If, on the other hand, only certain individuals receive this grace (or receive greater amounts of it), then Arminians are right back to square one on the election issue.

When you mention "certain individuals" receiving God's grace, that is a Calvinistic a priori which, again, cannot be imposed upon Arminianism. Those who receive God's grace (not regeneration, but prevenient grace, that grace which enables a person to believe but is not irresistible), are those who hear the gospel. We both agree on the imperative nature of preaching the gospel. You believe it for reaching the elect in scope. We believe it for reaching the world in scope.

And as far as "greater amounts" of grace is concerned, I do not know of any Arminian scholar who admits to such a thing.

God bless, as always.

William Watson Birch said...

This also occurred to me, Lee. For an Arminian who holds to the Foreknowledge view, he is suggesting that God elected / chose to save the one who would believe in Jesus Christ. That is not an inaccurate statement, biblically speaking. For Paul wrote, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe" (1 Cor. 1:21 TNIV, emphasis added).

Backing away from the theory that regeneration must precede faith for a moment, technically speaking, those who hold to the Foreknowledge view certainly have scriptural warrant for their belief.

We can speculate the philosophcial notions or implications of the view (I think that is what you have done on a small scale). But biblically speaking, they are not saying anything which the Bible contradicts.

God bless, again.

Anonymous said...

WWB said: "Salvation is up to God. It is God who saves, not man. Man cannot save himself. God, however, has required faith in his Son in order to be justified (Rom. 5:1) and saved."

this is nonsense. if man can refuse God's effort to save him, then salvation is ultimately dependent on man. if God gives salvation but man can reject it, then God is helpless to save without man's cooperation. this God is not mighty to save, but rather is powerless to accomplish what He intends.

the bible teaches nothing of this incomplete effort.

2 Timothy 2:25
Those who oppose him (an elder) must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth...

paul knows timothy isn't foolish enough to have to ask "well, so what? what if God gives repentance and the guy refuses to accept it." yet for arminians, such a verse must be seen as baffling and useless.

when God gives faith, repentance and salvation, He accomplishes what He intends. the bible is clear that His word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it.

if prevenient grace is merely a rising tide that lifts all the boats, then the captains of the boats that are smart enough and capable enough to motor out of the area of death are acting to save themselves...even if the tide was necessary. at the end of the day, when they look back at the ships which remain trapped after the tide goes back out, they know the tide was a help, but they could accurately take some of the credit for saving themselves.

-charles

Anonymous said...

WWB said "Even MacArthur and others admit that man has the responsibility to believe in Christ Jesus. You cannot with integrity pretend that God bopped you over the head and saved you without your belief in Jesus Christ. And we know that faith is not a work (Rom. 4:4-5)."

calvinists do not tie together responsibility and ability out of the arminian devotion to human philosophy. we are responsible to "be perfect as God is perfect" even if we are naturally incapable of keeping such a command. we are commanded to believe and so we are responsible to believe - it is not some sort of grudging admission to say so. (but there is no logical implication that we must therefore have the ability to believe - that argument only comes from outside of scripture.)

yes, God "bopped us over the head" and saved us...by giving us belief. (Phil1:29) of course faith isn't a work of man, believing in the One sent is the work of God. (John6:29)

just as God gave sight to elisha's servant in 2Kings6:17, so does He give spiritual sight by the regeneration of new birth by His spirit. (John3:3)

Luke10:21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
22All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

the Son is sovereign and simply not obligated by you or any human system of philosophy to reveal Him to every single person.

john12:39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.”

they could not see nor understand. they lacked ability. (john8:43) yet they remained responsible.

it just goes round and round - but it all goes back to whether you trust the bible or man's philosophy which requires that ability and responsibility be linked. you demand the right to sit in judgement of God and determine whether his love and goodness suit your definitions ... but He won't submit to that. (rom9:20)

-charles

William Watson Birch said...

Anonymous,

this is nonsense. if man can refuse God's effort to save him, then salvation is ultimately dependent on man.

Are you not analyzing classical Arminian theology by your Calvinistic a priori of effectual grace? That's a theological no-no. You cannot interpret another's theology by the presuppositions of your own making.

if God gives salvation but man can reject it, then God is helpless to save without man's cooperation. this God is not mighty to save, but rather is powerless to accomplish what He intends.

It seems that YOU are confused as to what salvation is and how it occurs. You have equated grace with salvation. Grace, in classical Arminianism, can be resisted; salvation cannot. Man does not "cooperate" with God in salvation - man responds to God's grace; that is hardly "cooperating."

God enables, man responds. As far as what God "intends" or desires, he has made that clear: he wants "all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4 TNIV).

Your proof-text of 2 Tim. 2:25 was a valiant effort. But nothing in the text necessitates determinism. Even the Calvinist's favorite proof-text (John 6:44) merely mentions a drawing (or enabling, John 6:65). All classical Arminians believe that man is incapable of coming to Jesus Christ without this drawing/enabling of God. However, what is absent from these texts is the Calvinist's conclusion that such is irresistible.

Also, Paul writes that "God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance" (Rom. 2:4 TNIV). Again, God enables, man acts. This is just biblical theology 101.

William Watson Birch said...

Anonymous,

Ahh, another favorite proof-text: Phil. 1:29. Again, you have equated two things that should not be equated: the "granting" of God with cause and effect.

You say that God "gave" you faith. What exactly do you mean? Are YOU not truly believing in Christ? Is God believing for you? The language of God "giving" you faith is reckless. How exactly does God "give" or "implant" a belief in someone's mind/heart?

You are trying to divorce yourself from placing faith in Christ, I assume, because that would mean that you actually had to "do" something in order to be justified and saved by God's grace.

And yet, the Bible delcares that faith in Christ is NOT a work (Rom. 4:4-5), and that faith is required for salavtion (Acts 4:12; Rom. 5:1).

the Son is sovereign and simply not obligated by you or any human system of philosophy to reveal Him to every single person.

I never, ever said that he was "obligated," but thank you for the caricature. God reveals himself to sinners in the preaching of his word (Rom. 1:16) and through the work of the Spirit of God (John 16:8-11) because he desires to do so.

it just goes round and round - but it all goes back to whether you trust the bible or man's philosophy which requires that ability and responsibility be linked.

One of the things I appreciate the least about Calvinists is how they presume that their system is not FULL of philosophical notions! Take Limited Atonement for example. Is that explicitly taught in Scripture? Absolutely not!!! John MacArthur, James White, and a host of others had to be convinced philosophically of the doctrine before becoming 5-point Calvinists.

While I admire your zeal for God's truth, anonymous, I certainly have no respect for your tone here, nor your presumptuous nature concerning what Arminians believe (or what you think they believe); nor the accusation that classical Arminianism is merely a philosophcial theology. We wouldn't have a theology if it were not for God's holy word.

God bless.

Stephen Cochrane said...

Whatever you do don't talk to Lee Shelton about election results!

Lee Shelton IV said...

Oh, Stephen, that reminds me: Thanks for Obama.

Stephen Cochrane said...

No lie - every time I get upset at Obama and what he's doing, I just think about stupid Christians like you who consciously decided to not vote for McCain. So, no, it's you who gets all the thanks, buddy.

Anonymous said...

WWB: "Your proof-text of 2 Tim. 2:25 was a valiant effort."

your lack of a response was unfortunately very typical.

WBB: "As far as what God "intends" or desires, he has made that clear: he wants "all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4 TNIV)."

you complain about prooftexting and yet offer this? had you made more of an effort to understand the culture and language in which the bible was written, it would be clear that "all" ("pas") often means "all kinds" (1Tim6:10) - so it would fall to you to explain why God in certain cases acts against some coming to salvation:

1Sam2:22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD's people. 25 If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the LORD's will to put them to death.

Luke10:21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
22All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”


1sam2 is clear that eli's sons did not repent for one foundational reason: God did not give them repentance. had the Lord willed that they listen to their father, they would have. you would prefer to imagine that God offered them the gift of repentance and they declined...but that's just not there. God intended that they perish (regardless of how you misinterpret 2pet3:9). matt11:21-24 makes clear that God could have saved a number who were lost had He forced another jonah to step up (as nineveh is referenced in matt12:41) - yet He chose not to do so.

WWB: "Take Limited Atonement for example. Is that explicitly taught in Scripture?"

yes. Jesus died for His sheep. He laid down His life for His friends...to save His people...to purify His church. by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

if you actually understand the word "atonement", it's very clear.

WWB: "You say that God "gave" you faith. What exactly do you mean?"

again, i think it's pretty clear. read ezek36. i act consistently with the new nature God gave me by regeneration...but the new birth comes about by the Father's decision, not mine. (much like physical birth...it's an extremely obvious metaphor of God's foundational choosing).

so did paul really work hard or not?

1Cor15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

-charles

Lee Shelton IV said...

Well, Stephen, no one can accuse you of being passive-aggressive.

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