Age of accountability, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism, Calvinism

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by npetreley, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. npetreley

    npetreley
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    Given the arguments I read on this board, I am tempted to ask the moderators to change the name of the section to Calvinism/Pelagianism, since may (but admittedly not all) of the pro-free-will arguments seem more Pelagian in nature than Arminian.

    Here is a question that may help you sort out where you really stand. This passage has been cited as part of an argument for the age of accountability:

    Isaiah 7
    15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.


    My question is simply this: Given that there is a point at which most people learn how to refuse evil and choose good, does that also mean that they are capable - of their own free will, unassisted by grace or the Spirit of God - of refusing evil and choosing good? Are they able to know the difference but unable to do good unless assisted by grace? Are they able to know the difference but unable to do good unless first being regenerated by the Spirit?

    Given your answer, consider how it fits into these categories:

    1. Pelagianism assumes that responsibility implies ability, and that if God commands a thing to be done, we are capable of doing it of our own free will. Grace may assist us in doing good, but it is not absolutely necessary. Man has the moral ability to do good without the assistance of grace.

    2. Semi-Pelagianism assumes that man is fallen, but not totally. He has enough "good" ability left after the fall to move himself to willfully cooperate with grace. Grace is applied to every man in order to enable them to do good, but grace is only effective in producing good when men cooperate with grace by virtue of their own free will.

    3. Arminianism assumes that man is totally fallen, and it is only by grace that they are able to do good. Grace is resistable, however, and man either chooses to cooperate with or resists grace of his own free will. The actual difference between Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism on this point is mostly one of semantics.

    4. Calvinism assumes that man does not of his own free will do any good. Calvinism also assumes that man is inherently under total bondage to sin and cannot possibly cooperate with grace of his own power. The only way man can cooperate with grace is if he is first liberated from his bondage to sin through regeneration by the Spirit. Once liberated, he is free from his slavery to sin and is able to cooperate with grace. (As a side note, his ability to cooperate with grace and do good is still impeded by the desires of the flesh, which is why men liberated from bondage to sin still commit sins.)

    So where do you really stand on this issue? Are you with the Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Arminians, or Calvinists?
     
  2. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    What does it matter?

    Romans 10:13-15
    For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
     
  3. Primitive Baptist

    Primitive Baptist
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    It's that "doctrine doesn't matter" attitude that spawned the Ecumenical movement. Doctrine DOES matter! A believer can't truly understand God's grace until he knows who he was before God saved him. It's not until we understand that we were lost without hope on the road to destruction that we can give God ALL the glory for our salvation. Arminianism is humanism at best and downright pride at worst.
     
  4. billwald

    billwald
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    You all don't trust God? You could worship a god who sends infants to Hell?
     
  5. Ray Berrian

    Ray Berrian
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    Primitive Baptist,

    You said, quote: ' Arminianism is humanism at best and downright pride at worst.'

    Ray--quote: 'Arminianism as is Calvinism is a study of God. We see in the Bible God who is just/fair, the God of love and mercy. We believe that God, in eternity past, ordained that He would give human beings the opportunity to believe in His Son. This was not men and women's choice, but the Lord God's choice. We are hoping that you will not try to take away the agency of men and women in either having faith in Jesus or neglecting 'so great a salvation.' In that this is Almighty God's sovereign plan; it is trillions of miles away from humanism.

    As to whether we are prideful only God knows this and we will be judged accordingly, but He will not withdraw His eternal salvation from our lives.

    You might consider that it might be you who is full of pride about your erring view of Calvinism. At least we are interpreting His Word correctly. That is our job to do being messengers of the Gospel.

    The Lord and not you will judge us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. [John 5:22b & II Cor. 5:10 & I Cor. 3:11-15]
     
  6. Me2

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    The presumption that the unborn are sent to hell is in error. all men must first spiritually die and be judged. both occurances havent happened yet.

    yes the physical death is evident, yet this doesnt provide evidence that their spirit hasnt been delivered into spiritual death.

    secondly, hell is reserved for the reprobate. those specifically called of God to be vessels of wrath.

    those who suffer premature death, and the uncalled are NOT deemed to be, nor specifically called by God to be reprobate. the reprobate must be called of God and identified to be found refusing to live by the tenants of Gods Law.

    so that those premature dead and uncalled havent had the opportunity to be invited into the process of salvation...yet. when coupled with the statement that "all are appointed to spiritually die and be judged" hasnt occured either. this is a future occurrance

    life for many must unfold in the next age along with the invitation of the Gospel being heard by those not capable of hearing it in this age.

    which means that the calvinist model of election works correctly in this age. some are prechosen or elected to be the preachers in the next age. when satan is chained up for 1000 years.

    the election has nothing to do with the will of man. it is the Will of God unfolding over many ages WITHOUT man being capable of gubbering it all up.
     
  7. John Gilmore

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    I agree with Category 4 except that I would add that man has no free will to do either good or evil. Free will, after the fall, is an invention of Satan. However, I do not consider myself a Calvinist. A better term would be Monergist. Calvinism teaches that man cooperates with God although irresistably. Monergism teaches that man does not cooperate at all in justification. Calvinism is the last stage between Pelagianism and Monergism.

    [ August 30, 2004, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: John Gilmore ]
     
  8. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    Never said we weren't lost and need a Savior! But to scratch your head and ponder this fine point seems like time that could be spent preaching the Gospel.

    Maybe God has His elect and it's all decided beforehand. Maybe He doesn't, but since He's God, He knows what we're gonna do. But we're not privy to the "list" in any case, so all can do is preach the Gospel to every creature so they have a chance to respond and be saved.

    So does that make me a Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, Arminian, or a Calvinist? Haven't got the foggiest notion, and don't much care about the label.
     
  9. npetreley

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    I don't see an irresistable response as "cooperation". Perhaps this is just a matter of semantics, but I don't see Calvinism as synergistic at all. Either I don't fully understand Calvinism (which is likely, because I haven't read Calvin), or I'm also a monergist.
     
  10. BobRyan

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    Nick gets that part almost right. And this then answers the question perfectly. It is clearly the best solution once we note that "of his own free will" is in fact only the sovereign choice of God in choosing to supernaturally DRAW all mankind to Himself and thus ENABLE choice.

    (The part Nick always leaves out since it does not serve to make his point).
     
  11. BobRyan

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    Hmm - pretty funny!

    And "yet" you admit that Arminians are saints - and that God is sovereign - and that they do not have free will - and that God owns every spec of action that they take???

    So God "wills these saints to expose the flaws in Calvinism"???

    Or do yo claim "God WILLS the saints to be proud"??
     
  12. koreahog2005

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    I think I am between Calvinism and Arminianism. Some would call me a Calminian, but I prefer to be called a three-point Baptist (TUP). My impression is that Arminians believe that humans always have true free will and that five-point Calvinists believe that humans never have true free will. I believe that some humans sometimes have true free will. Those who experience the special conviction of the Holy Spirit can form a bias from equipoise, as Adam did. Their sinful disposition is exactly balanced by the Holy Spirit, so it is a 50-50 type of equipoise, whereas Adam and Satan experienced a 0-0 type of equipoise before they committed their first sins. To me, true free will means forming a bias from equipoise. If we do not have true free will, we are inclined one way or the other, and thus we are free agents and do what we want to do. A totally depraved person is a free agent who always wants to sin and is incapable of repenting until he experiences the special conviction of the Holy Spirit and is placed in equipoise.
     
  13. Monergist

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    Debby, the passage that you quote is meaningless if it 'doesn't matter.' What is at stake is not some label; what is at stake is the gospel itself. The very fact that there is a true gospel requires that it does matter.

    What is the gospel if it does not include the fact that Jesus died to save sinners? Does that not matter? He died to accomplish something; the salvation of sinners. He did not die just to almost save sinners; HE ACCOMPLISHED THE SALVATION OF SINNERS BY HIS ATONING DEATH! That is a key element of Paul's gospel. That is a key element of any faithful gospel message. It does matter; it matters to the extent that anyone delivering any other gospel is to be accursed.

    When 'it does not matter' becomes the cry of the evangelical church, our pulpits are filled with weak-knee'd 'preachers' like one who was described in Spurgeon's day as believing "...that Christ did something or other, which somehow or other, had some connection or other with salvation."
     
  14. Eric B

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    While "What does it matter" may not be the best way to express it, there is a point to that, that sometimes we overspeculate on things we can't know. Like in order for Christ to have "ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING", and not "almost", "potentially", etc; He must have done it THIS WAY: chose one and passed over the other. Wanted some saved, and didn't want others. So he held them "responsible" for sin they couldn't repent of. Then, and only then, does the monergist conclude that we can't comprehend it, and should still preach the Gospel.
    But Debby is right that the preaching is what is important, and "arguments, contentions", etc. like this are often criticized in the NT.

    I also was going to say basically what Bob said. (What he said in parenthesis was nice too! :D ) So I add that either the "Arminian" category should be revised, or perhaps there is an additional category between Arminianism and Calvinism.

    And the defninition of Calvinism acknowledges this "grace" that is received by all, but still says something ELSE is needed to "cooperate" with it. But it is by Grace ALONE that we are saved. Actually, when monergists throw this verse out, they usually assume the "regeneration" spoken of to be the very grace itself! But here we see it separated, with grace not even being enough by itself.
     
  15. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    When I say "It doesn't matter" I mean that since we'll never really KNOW the answer to this deep question, but just be going around in circles forever debating it, like right here, then maybe the debate is a waste of time.

    Therefore, let's get to the heart of the matter that sinners are lost and in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ who died for their sins. Tell them that they need to repent and recieve Him, accept Christ's atoning work on the cross, and follow Him, if they would care to spend eternity in heaven. Never meant to appear wishy-washy on that.

    DO that instead of debating something that we know we'll never figure out, and just leave it to the Lord.

    Whether we know or not if God's got a list, doesn't change our mission.
     
  16. koreahog2005

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    Debbie, I understand what you're saying. It's easy to get distracted with discussions on soteriology. We need to keep a balance in our lives. Rather than spending a disproportionate amount of time arguing about how a person is saved, we need to spend more time proclaiming the gospel to non-Christians and being used by God in that manner. I think, however, that we need a solid doctrinal foundation so that we will not be in error when we proclaim the essential doctrines related to soteriology. All of us posting on this forum would probably not agree on what all the essential doctrines are, but I think we would all agree that a person's view of the Trinity is more important than whether he is amillennial, post-millennial, or pre-millennial.
     
  17. John Gilmore

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    I don't see an irresistable response as "cooperation". Perhaps this is just a matter of semantics, but I don't see Calvinism as synergistic at all. Either I don't fully understand Calvinism (which is likely, because I haven't read Calvin), or I'm also a monergist. </font>[/QUOTE]I'm not sure whether or not Calvin himself was a Monergist, but here's quotes from two Calvinist confessions that suggest he was not a Monergist:

    Man is enabled to answer the call and then he embraces the grace offered and conveyed in it or by it. In other words, man is enabled to cooperate in his own justification before he can receive grace. Sounds a lot like Arminianism, doesn't it?
     
  18. Ray Berrian

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    John Gilmore,

    You said, quote: 'I agree with Category 4 except that I would add that man has no free
    will to do either good or evil.'

    Ray-- quote: Adam and Eve had a choice in the Garden. The highest angelic being fell from grace and took 1/3 of the angels with him, and was sent down to the earth. God in no way forced the decision of His created beings. What Bible are you reading?

    Calvinism is great at trying to push a few verses of the Bible around the presuppositions of Augustine and later the newly converted Catholic, John Calvin.

    We have both the ability to accept or reject Christ and His Gospel. [Revelation 22:17f] 'Whosoever will . . . ' is the free will which you wrongfully reject.

    We also believe that God is active by His Spirit in drawing sinners to Himself.
     
  19. koreahog2005

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    Ray, you mentioned Augustine. It's interesting that Augustine said that Adam had free will:

    (Augustine, “On Free Will,” Augustine: Earlier Writings, trans.: John H. S. Burleigh, page 215)

    Arthur Pink also believed that Adam had free will:

    (Pink, The Sovereignty of God, 1930, pages 134-135)

    God didn't force Adam or Satan to commit their first sins, and still His sovereign plan came to pass. Obviously, freewill choices are no threat to God's sovereignty. God can utilize freewill decisions to accomplish His sovereign plan. In the case of infants who die in infancy, their deaths somehow fit into His sovereign plan. God has always known, however, what their freewill choices would have been if they had lived past the age of accountability and had the opportunity to hear the gospel under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit. I have heard some five-point Calvinists say that the only way for God to know the future is for Him to force all individuals to make particular choices. He clearly did not force Adam and Satan to commit their first sins. If He had forced them to commit those sins, He would be the author of sin. Obviously, God is not the author of sin. He can know what our choices will be even if He doesn't force them.
     
  20. npetreley

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    These are confessions of faith, not an explanation of Calvinism. So I still don't know if Calvinism itself is monergistic or synergistic. But I agree the wording of these confessions may have been what opened the door to what is now (IMO) rampant semi-pelagianism in the Baptist churches. The wording certainly does imply synergism.

    Edited to add: It almost seems like there should be a new verse in the Bible where Jesus warns, "Whenever two or more people gather together to declare doctrines in My name, there humanism will be with you." ;)
     

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