All or Nothing?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Brian Bosse, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse
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    Hello Everyone,

    I just read a post where someone claimed to be a 4-point Calvinist. This particular individual rejected the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. Normally, it is Limited Atonement that is rejected, but this is beside the point. My question to the board is, "Is the position of the 4-point Calvinist consistent?"

    I am not looking to defend or attack Calvinism per se. Rather, I would like to discuss the assertion: If someone holds to, say the doctrine of Total Depravity as properly understood within the Calvinistic framework, then the rest of the 5 points necessarily follow. Once again, "Is the position of the 4-point (or 3,2,1) Calvinist consistent?"

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  2. Jacob

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    My personal opinion is that each of the 5 points are logically consistent with one another and they all stand or fall together. In my mind there aren't 3 pt or 4 pt Calvinists. If you dig deep you will normally find that their 3 or 4 points are not defined the same as a true Calvinist would define them.

    My $0.02

    Jacob.
    (A moderate Calvinist)
     
  3. Yelsew

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    Post removed due to failure to be on topic. Discuss the topic of this thread or start your own thread.

    [ February 02, 2004, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  4. Monergist

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    Hey Brian,
    This is just my opinion & a little something from my personal experience, for what its worth; but it has a lot to do with a person's background, level of biblical knowledge and understanding of God. Allow me to explain, because I may not be making much sense.

    Its true that all 5 points are linked together (actually they are more just a short summary of one doctrine than anything else-- that being the Glory of God). But none of us know God fully yet. And we all start at different points on our journey.

    I started out a 5 point Armininian, thats all I knew for 30+ years. The first point I picked up was Perseverance of the Saints (That point really took awawy the tension between the general view of OSAS and scripture requiring perseverance). The came Unconditional Election and I was soon a 4-pointer. Limited Atonement took awhile, and quite honestly I recognized it to be unescapably true for a good while before I embraced it.

    You ask if one who claims to be less than a five-pointer is consistent. Technically, the answer is no. But it may just be that God is moving them in the right direction, but He hasn't just got them all the way there yet. You remember what Paul said about giving too much meat too soon?

    So I wouldn't criticize someone as inconsistent who desires too see clearly and can't quite do so, yet. There's a huge difference between that and just being obstinate, don't you think?
     
  5. Skandelon

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    I say no. If one truely holds to any of the 5 points, as they are truly intended to be understood, he would only be consistant in holding to the remaining four points.

    Personally, I believe they all really hang upon the "T" of Tulip in Calvinism's understand of Total Depravity. Some non-Calvinists think they agree with Calvinism at this point but usually further examination proves otherwise. Most believers will confirm the doctrine of Original Sin but few Christians would ever say that mankind is born unable to believe the gospel message as Calvinism asserts.

    While the doctrine of Original Sin is clearly supported in the scripture, there is absolutely no biblical support that shows Calvinism's teaching of Total Depravity to be true.
     
  6. AllOfGrace

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    I do believe the only logically and Biblically consistent view is to accept all five Doctrines of Grace.

    (I will admit that Arminianism, if taken as a whole, is intellectually honest in itself, but does not, in my opinion, agree with scripture.)

    I agree wholeheartedly with Skandelon. The Doctrine of Total Depravity is the one that is the biggest stumbling block. While Arminians would say Limited Atonement is the problem, I think a proper view of our original condition demands that grace, in all its points, is the only possible hope.

    If I am under Paul's indictment in Romans 3, then I am unable to come to God myself because I am, by nature, positively inclined to sin.

    That being the case, then it must be God's intervention (Irresistible Grace) by His choosing (Election), His payment for the sins of those He chose (Limited Atonement) that brings me to Him and secures me there (Preservation of the Saints).

    All Of Grace
     
  7. Yelsew

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    If you think Paul is saying that man has no "socially redeeming qualities", then you are misreading Paul. Every person who has ever lived, is living or ever will live has some righteous in him, therefore Total Depravity is not a true doctrine but rather a false doctrine!

    If the grace of God can be resisted by even a single human being, and we have written evidence that is the case, then irresistible Grace is also a false doctrine!

    Two shots! Two kills!
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    FYI, the doctrine of Total Depravity doesn't teach that man has not socially redeeming graces.

    And the doctrine of irresistable grace doesn't teach that God's grace can never be resisted.

    But alas, you were shooting at the wrong target.

    I constantly encourage people, as I do again now, to learn what your opponent actually believes. It does not good to destroy straw men that no one believes in. Learn your opponents beliefs, then address those.
     
  9. AllOfGrace

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    Thank you Pastor Larry.

    I have repeatedly said that Total Depravity does not mean that "people are as bad as they can be" only that "people are as BAD OFF as they can be."

    Paul describes them as "dead in trespasses and sins." Dead means dead, not a little bit alive. We may be able to possess as kind of morality, but we are completely incapable to bring ourselves to God. (By grace are ye saved.)
     
  10. Yelsew

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    By faith are ye saved! Grace enables faith!

    Then drop the word "total" it has no bearing on the condition of man! Man is steeped in depravity, dead in sin, but there is nothing total about any of that, because man is redeemable and it is God's desire to redeem all who will hear HIS word and believe (that is have faith which saves). If man is redeemable then man is not totally anything! Just drop the word "total" and you'll get little argument from me. But as long as you retain it I will oppose it!
     
  11. AllOfGrace

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    If you have a problem with "by grace ye are saved" youre problem is opposing the Apostle Paul, not me. [​IMG]
     
  12. Ransom

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    Yelsew said:

    If you think Paul is saying that man has no "socially redeeming qualities",

    Every time I see someone, who has been as vocal in his criticisms of Calvinism as Yelsew has, demonstrate his ignorance of the subject by a blunder such as the above, I still have to do this: :rolleyes:

    No Calvinist believes total depravity is about "socially redeeming qualities." Total depravity means that left to himself, it is impossible for man to attain redemption from slavery to sin and indeed does not want to.

    Every person who has ever lived, is living or ever will live has some righteous in him

    "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it" (Rom. 7:18).

    If the grace of God can be resisted by even a single human being, and we have written evidence that is the case

    Really? Present your evidence, and let's examine it.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    Let's get this back on topic ...

    Calvinism is not an all or nothing proposition though all five points are related. Calvinism in general refers to the belief that God sovereingly elects certain individuals to salvation with the result that their salvation is assured. A Calvinist can deny limited atonement; he can deny perseverance. To me, a calvinist affirms unconditional election. An arminian (the only opposing view) denies it.

    The five points are related but they are not inseparable, depending on what is being emphasized in each.
     
  14. Skandelon

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    I can agree to this but I cannot agree to the assertion that man cannot, when confronted with the powerful Holy Spirit wrought message of the gospel, respond positively. That is not supported in the text.
    No where in scripture does "dead" mean unable to respond to a life giving message brought to us by the Holy Spirit's intervention.

    Dead very simply could mean that without a work of God man would be without hope. Arminians agree with this.

    But we acknowledge the fact that Christ's coming, sending of the apostles, the Holy Spirit and the gospel message into the world was a sufficient work and that it does not need to be added to by teaching a secret, irresistable calling that scripture never teaches.
     
  15. Yelsew

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    In the scheme of God’s creation, there is no time when man is left to himself!

    Paul is acknowledging his failures and limitations in same manner that we all must come to the point where there is nothing that we have the power to do that gets us salvation. IT IS TOTALLY A MATTER OF BELIEVING WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DONE, A TOTALLY COMPLETED WORK, FOR US AND ACCEPTING IT FOR OUR SALVATION. Paul is not saying that he is so TOTALLY DEPRAVED that he cannot do anything, He is declaring that He understands that God has already done it all!

    Really? Present your evidence, and let's examine it. </font>[/QUOTE]Well look at Egypt and the Children of Israel. Not just when Moses came on the scene, but after Joseph departed the scene. What did the Egyptians do to the Children of Israel? Egypt resisted the Grace of God and made the children slaves. In scripture, everywhere that man is found doing that which is not the will of God, man is resisting the Grace of God!

    One must understand what Grace is before one can understand whether or not grace is irresistible. Grace is not a force that God uses against man to cause man to do something or to submit to something. Grace is the environment that God established for man to operate. It is while God’s grace prevails that man not only sins, but man also hears the word of God and chooses to believe or ignore God. Grace is not an agent, but the environment in which God’s agents work with or upon man, and in which man exercises his God given talents in “life”.

    Grace is the environment in which God withholds his justice against man. Scriptures say the penalty for sin is death. Surely then if God was not behaving in accordance with HIS GRACE, the minute a man sins the man would die, because the just punishment for sin is death! Yet, We sin and continue to live! That is because of God’s gracious behavior toward his created man. His will is that we live, LIFE is what he created us to. So He has demonstrated His grace to us by not carrying out his justice immediately. He gives us every opportunity to receive Him, to confess our sins, to receive forgiveness and cleansing, and to come to faith, so that we can have everlasting life. It is not grace that saves, it is faith! Grace is the enabler!
     
  16. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Guys,

    I appreciate all of the responses. I will try and address each one of you individually.

    Jacob

    I agree with your position. The gentlemen who claims to be a 4-point Calvinist probably has a misunderstanding of some point concerning Calvinism.

    Monergist

    You make a great point. I realize most people do not realize the implications of the individual doctrines of grace. As they grow in their understanding, then they begin to see how all 5 points necessarily follow from each other.

    Skandelon

    I agree with your assessment.

    I can appreciate your position, but arguing for the truth/falsity of any of the 5 points is beyond the purpose of this thread. (You obviously understood this by your previous response. I just thought I would point it out because not everyone got this.)

    AllOfGrace

    Thank you for your thoughts. Your claim that Arminianism is internally consistent is interesting. It is beyond the purpose of this thread, but it would fun to discuss.

    Yelsew

    Your comments are off topic. Again, the issue is this: Some claim to be 4 (or 3,2,1)- point Calvinist. Is this claim consistent? The issue is not whether you agree with a particular doctrine or not.

    Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry, I agree that there are many “Calvinists” who do not subscribe to all five points. I would argue that they are inconsistent. In other words, the denial of any particular point would lead to a contradiction with one of the other points. Even you illustrate this when you affirm in one breath that God’s sovereignty assures salvation, but in another breath you take it away when you say they can deny perseverance. (Perhaps, all you are saying is they do deny this, but you are not claiming them to be consistent?) Also, if a Calvinist affirms Unconditional Election, then doesn’t that presuppose Total Depravity? I sure would appreciate clarification.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    Inconsistency could be a bit slippery because we have to ask "inconsistent with what?" I am much more concerned with biblical and exegetical accuracy than I am with systematic coherency. While I do not believe that any doctrine of Scripture contradicts another (one reason why I am a dispensationalist), I do not believe that we can fully understand how it fits together. So we must maintain allegiance to accurate exegesis of the text and arrange our system around that.

    Most people would consider me a five pointer. I don't quibble with that at all. The reality is that all of us live with some inconsistency. We have just chosen what inconsistency we are willing to live with. Both sides have this issue.

    But the connection between election and perseverance is not a strictly exegetical one, i.e., Paul does not say "those who are elect will also persevere exactly in this manner." We are left to put some things together. Some people say that perseverance deals with believing, i.e., they won't abandon their faith finally and completely, rather than with behavior. Both cases can be made and while I lean toward the latter, I must admit that believers can and do live in sin for various periods of time. Ultimately we simply cannot know the true state of someone else's perseverance until heaven. They may be suffering tremendous conviction on the inside that we do not know anything about.

    On this, I would say Yes. I would argue that effectual calling (or irresistable grace as it is sometimes called) is a by product of total depravity. Limited atonement is not. It is conceivable that unlimited atonement can fit in with total depravity and unconditional election. I do affirm the limited nature of hte atonement in its efficiency, but I can understand the other view and there are some very difficult passages for those who deny it.

    In the end, I think we have to maintain that exegesis of the text is king, not the five points (which I don't think anyone would necessarily disagree with). I would just caution against saying "You have to believe all of them or none of them."
     
  18. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Pastor Larry,

    I would argue that you presuppose the Bible to be consistent when you exegete. I grant there is a difference between the practice of exegesis and Systematic Theology, but they are not completely separate. My bet is that you hold to certain hermeneutical principles that assume the Bible is consistent.

    I agree we must allow scripture alone to form our theological framework (not an easy thing to do), rather than bringing to the text our unbiblical precommitments like dispensationalism! ;)

    Perhaps, perhaps not. If I am inconsistent, then I assume my understanding is wrong, and I try to remedy it. I am not willing to live with it. I will grant that I do not have it all figured out, and will not figure it all out. But this is different from choosing to live with inconsistencies.

    I agree, but a consistent Calvinist would say those who are not in heaven were never the elect. Therefore, they are consistent when they say the elect will persevere to the end.

    I do not deny the difficulties. However, if you have a proper understanding of Unconditional Election, then Limited Atonement logically follows. You may deny it because you don’t see it in scripture. But if you accept Unconditional Election, then it necessarily follows that God and not man has limited the atonement (or its efficacy).

    I agree with you. However, as I have already stated, consistency is assumed when you speak of exegesis. My point is that a 4–point Calvinist is not consistent. He may be more Biblical, but he is not consistent. I see Open Theists as being consistent Arminians. However, I think most Arminians are more Biblically accurate than Open Theists. So, to once again acknowledge your point: someone can be consistent to a theological system, but not be Biblically accurate. Of the two, I would choose to be more Biblically accurate.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    Yes, but hermeneutical principles do not make a text consistent. The text is consistent because of the simplicity of God. He cannot reveal contradictory truths. Therefore, his word cannot have contradictions. That is a presupposition to exegesis in a sense. In another sense, it is the result of exegesis that brought us to the conclusions about the nature of God. In this light, Osborne's Hermeneutical Spiral is clearly shown.

    But case in point, dispensationalism is the result of the hermeneutic applied to Scripture. It is not a precommitment brought to the text. It is outgrowth of the exegesis of the text. Consistent exegetes are always dispenationalists. Not all dispensationalists are consistent exegetes and not all covenantalists are worthless. I have a high regard for many of them in different areas. But in dispensationalism, the hermeneutic comes first, then the text, then the system.

    When I say inconsistencies, I mean things like believing that God loved the world and does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked while at the same time not electing those wicked to salvation. Many would say that it an inconsistency. I agree that it appears such. But since the Bible is the authority rather than my logic or understanding, I am willing to live with that inconsistency. I find that more tenable thatn saying that God is sovereign (clearly taught) while man has contra causal freedom.

    I agree, but perservere in what??? What does perseverance look like and how do we know it? The fact is that we don't (with which I think you are agreeing). To say they will persevere however is not a matter of consistency with election, at least that I have seen in Scripture. I am willing to be convinced. Please show me where perseverance is a necessary correlary of election. The most I see is that election is made sure by perseverance (2 Peter 1). I think this passage teaches that we can be sure of our election by perseverance and growth; it does not teach that it is necessary to persevere to be elect.

    But how so? I think the closest you come here is appealign to the view called "Consequent Absolute Necessity" with which I agree. But that does not necessarily limit the atonement. God could have provided an atonement for all the world without at the same time limiting its application by decree.

    I am not sure I agree with the first, but since you stipulate the second I will concede.

    As do I. I would say that an arminian is an open theist who decided he could live with the inconsistencies in his system.

    I would agree and hope that all would. Unfortunately, I have seen too much to be so naive to believe that everyone would agree. :(
     
  20. Brian Bosse

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    Hello Pastor Larry,

    This is my point. Consistency is a hallmark of truth. You cannot say it is ok to have inconsistencies. I would say that inconsistencies in your belief system are sinful, and as such we should try and resolve them. However, I will acknowledge that there are doctrines that appear to be inconsistent (hypostatic union), but we are obligated to assume that they are not.

    This is just asserted, and as such is not convincing at all. Please explain to me how you can approach any text without extra-biblical presuppositions? In terms of the noetic effects of sin, this is not tenable. I do not doubt your sincerity when you approach the text of scripture. However, I think you are naive to think you do not approach it with extra-biblical presuppositions.

    You say the word of God cannot be contradictory. You say the word of God is more authoritative than my understanding. I agree. Then you say you are willing to live with “that inconsistency.” If our understanding is inconsistent, then aren’t we morally obligated to attempt to resolve that inconsistency? I am just reacting to the idea of “being willing to live with inconsistency.” As human, I might neccesarily always be inconsistent while in this world, but I believe we are obligated to strive for consistency. This sounds a lot like sanctification. I agree that I am a sinner, but I am commanded not to continue in my sin. I agree I am inconsistent, but I am not willing to live there.

    This is a good question. I have not really thought much about it. My guess is that we persevere in terms of the “sufferings of this present time” until we are glorified. Romans 8:23-25 seems to be a pertinent passage. Frankly, this whole section (Romans 8) deals with the doctrine.

    Let’s try this proof. Assume someone holds to the other four points, but not Limited Atonement.

    Prove A: The 4-point Calvinist is inconsistent.
    Assume ~A: The 4-point Calvinist is consistent.
    ~A--&gt;B: Jesus atoned for the sins of every human being, past, present, and future.
    B--&gt;C: No one is punished for his or her sins.
    ~C: The non-elect remains in their sins, and is punished (Unconditional Election as it relates to the Doctrine of Reprobation).
    ~B by Modus Tollens (MT).
    ~~A by MT.
    A by law of non-contradiction (LNC). Q.E.D.

    Now, some may object to the implication B--&gt;C saying, ”Only those who believe appropriate the work of Christ.” (I assume that God will not punish someone unjustly, and that there is no basis for punishment for someone whose sin has been atoned for.)The question that needs to be answered then is why do those that don’t believe end up damned? I am sure you are familiar with John Owen’s famous argument. The essence of it is if Jesus died for all sins, then there is no basis for God to damn anyone. God damns people. Therefore, Jesus did not die for all the sins. Of course, many people will say they are damned for not accepting the work of Christ on their behalf. But of course, this too is a sin. If Jesus did not die for this sin, then Jesus did not die for all sins. This is a very informal proof demonstrating the validity of B--&gt;C, but if you need me to formalize it I will. Nevertheless, to assert universal atonement is to deny unconditional election.

    Pastor Larry, go ahead and press me on this proof. This is exactly where I was hoping this thread would go.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     

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