Thursday, September 01, 2011

An Arminian View of John 11

If Arminianism is true, then one would have to conclude that Lazarus was not resurrected solely because Jesus commanded it. The only logical conclusion is that the dead man was first granted prevenient grace and then, when offered the choice, made the free-will decision to come out of the tomb -- much in the same way spiritually dead people are raised to new life in Christ.

Let's read that into John 11:43-44:
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out [if you so choose]." The man who had died [heard the call, was given prevenient grace, decided to obey Jesus, and] came out [of his own free will], his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
I suppose Jesus chose to raise Lazarus based on his foreknowledge that Lazarus would choose to obey. Or am I completely off-base here?

17 comments:

William Birch said...

Completely and utterly off base. But I'm sure this is just you joking ; )

Andrew Faris said...

I'm reading this post and hoping that I'm missing a sarcastic joke. If it is a sarcastic joke, it isn't really that funny.

Come on, Lee, no need to throw cheap shots out there. Jesus resuscitated Lazarus. He didn't regenerate him. It's a different issue entirely.

Mark Jr. said...

Dang.
Troll much?

Lee Shelton said...

A bit tongue-in-cheek, yes, but according to Arminianism isn't this exactly what happens on the spiritual level? Jesus was clearly linking the raising of Lazarus to new physical life and the raising of one's soul to spiritual life. He said as much in v. 25: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." Surely that wasn't merely an aside that had nothing to do with the situation at hand.

Are we to believe that Christ's complete sovereignty over granting physical life is somehow different than his sovereignty over granting spiritual life? I think John 11 makes it quite clear that the raising of Lazarus was a physical representation of regeneration. After all, that's exactly how Paul describes it. Resurrection from death is kind of a recurring theme in the New Testament (John 5:21, Romans 6:4 and 8:11, Ephesians 2:5).

Godismyjudge said...

Lee,

If that were true, then faith preceeds regeneration, because A) Lazarus was a believer before he died and B) Christ says 'believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live'.

God be with you,
Dan

Lee Shelton said...

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die (physically like Lazarus), yet shall he live (spiritually)." If this was an illustration to teach that faith precedes generation, then that would make what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:5 wrong.

William Birch said...

Lee, seriously, this is utterly ridiculous on your part. This is nothing shy of Scripture-twisting.

Jesus was making no such illustration. You have presupposed that onto the text. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If a person believes in Him and dies physically, though he or she is dead physically, in Christ he or she is alive spiritually in heaven.

This has nothing to do with free will or being spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins; and for you to think so is very telling of how you interpret Scripture. I had thought you to be above this type of nonsense. Seriously, Lee, I am beside myself.

If I were you, I would take down the post to save face. There are good arguments to make against Arminianism (as there are against Calvinism), but this isn't one of them.

Lee Shelton said...

So am I to understand is that Arminianism really does teach that Christ's sovereignty in granting physical life is substantially different than his sovereignty in granting spiritual life? Everything in John 11 leading up to the miracle of raising Lazarus was to demonstrate that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He said he was glad he wasn't there so that his disciples might believe (v. 15). Believe what? That he could physically raise the dead? You honestly see no link to the spiritual in this chapter?

William Birch said...

Lee,

Please show us in the context of John 11 where Jesus was demonstrating that regeneration must precede faith by the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I wish you much providence in the effort.

Jesus' raising Lazarus demonstrated that He is the Victor over Death, hence Lazarus' resurrection from death. To force this text to, then, mean that Jesus was merely demonstrating that regeneration must precede faith (contrary to texts such as Col. 2:13 et al.) is to completely misunderstand His intent.

So am I to understand is that Arminianism really does teach that Christ's sovereignty in granting physical life is substantially different than his sovereignty in granting spiritual life?

Your apparent angst against Arminian theology is evident, and it is ever-growing in many of your recent posts, I might add. This is unhealthy on your part.

Of course Jesus' sovereignty in granting physical life is not substantially different than His sovereignty in granting spiritual life, and your implication to the contrary for Arminianism is nothing but an embarrassing straw man. Who has God elected to sovereignly save? According to Scripture, God saves believers, i.e., those who trust in Christ (cf. John 3:16; Rom. 10:13-17; 1 Cor. 1:21; Heb. 7:25 et al.).

Lee Shelton said...

I never said the raising of Lazarus was to prove that regeneration precedes faith. Godismyjudge brought that up in his comment at 8:54.

"Jesus' raising Lazarus demonstrated that He is the Victor over Death, hence Lazarus' resurrection from death."

I agree. But he did link this in such a way to show that he is victorious over spiritual death as well. That link is undeniable.

Part of what prompted this post was a clip from the video I will post on the blog momentarily.

Anonymous said...

next you'll be saying that ezekiel 37 is not so much about physically dead dry bones as about the spiritually dead? all that stuff about how God can cause breath to enter them and put His Spirit within them - "I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people" - wasn't so much about God's sovereignty over biological life after all?

yeah, it's not really that unusual a theme in the bible.

but i'm sure there are arminians somewhere who would protest that God pulling lazarus from the bosom of abraham against his will back into this world of sickness and death would have been a Very Bad Thing...

-Charles

morganguyton said...

So in other words, you don't think that Jesus literally raised a man named Lazarus from the dead but this story was planted into the gospel as an allegory to elucidate the propositional systematic theology of Calvinism?

Lee Shelton said...

Really, morganguyton? That's how you read this?

William Birch said...

Lee,

But he did link this in such a way to show that he is victorious over spiritual death as well. That link is undeniable.

But we agree. We just disagree over how the recipients of this spiritual life gain this life.

Lee, you and I both know that many so-called "Arminians" are not really Arminians in the tradition of Arminius but are semi-Pelagians. Let's start calling them semi-Pelagians and not Arminians. I do the same on my site, as well as with those who veer off from Classical Calvinism.

When I read your post, my thought was initially this: Can Christ not appear, in His second advent, unless our free will allows Him? What if our will is not ready for Him to reappear?

As silly as that sounds, that is how silly this post appeared to me today.

Now I will go and listen to the Calvary Chapel post. Calvary Chapel ministers have publicly admitted that they are neither Calvinists NOR Arminians. So I would be very cautious labeling this fellow, whom I have yet to hear, an Arminian, or a representative of the Arminian view.

William Birch said...

Charles is being largely ignored because he is being largely ignorant.

Jeremiah Ritchie said...

I've enjoyed the conversation thread. I think I read this passage differently and may be wrong, so I'm open to critique.

I can't see how this passage has anything to do with post-mortem freedom. Until we have died we can't claim exhaustive knowledge of what choice will look like then (though I can't imagine it will be much different than it is now).

Rather, I see two themes emerge. One, it is our freedom and choice now that are important. v.23-25, Martha believes in the resurrection to come, but Jesus makes the point that he is the resurrection now. He is the new life, re-birth now. The resurrection of Lazarus is a result of the choices he made while living (v.26). Two, Jesus clearly makes the point that the raising of Lazarus is for God's glory and that others would believe in him (v.14-15, v.40). I think we could also imply that Jesus wanted to comfort his friends and restore life to one he loved.

I think you (Lee) could have made a deterministic freedom point had you said that Lazarus had already received regeration (predestined) and was free because he was doing what he wanted to do (obey Jesus), even though obeying Jesus was the only thing he could do.

JR

Anonymous said...

Can an Arminian answer my question based on John 11?

Can a dead man have faith, can a dead man obey, can a dead man have a living mind/heart to believe in God?

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