Arminian, Calvinism and a third view

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Timtoolman, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. Timtoolman

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    Dispite what calvinst may claim there are more views then just two. I really enjoyed this brothers view. I think it is about as close as you can get to where I am at.

    REVIVAL magazine Issue 1: A Call to Prayer

    For centuries theological thinkers have debated over the seeming contradiction between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Often, those in the debate feel misrepresented. Sometimes this is true, yet sometimes there is substantive disagreement that needs to be admitted. Undoubtedly, some of the debate rises no higher than “words to no profit.” Yet, unfounded ideas can impact; therefore, obvious errors need to be confronted.

    Occasionally, I hear or read the comment, “You are either an Arminian or a Calvinist, and any attempt for a central position is actually a cover for Arminianism.” Obviously, thoroughgoing Calvinists propound this idea. While it is true that there are two poles, which constitute the tension, it is not true that there are only two grids of theology formed around each pole.

    A third grid of theology exists. When I was in college, I was introduced to the idea that the correct position is to recognize this issue as a “mystery.” A mystery occurs when the Bible explicitly teaches truths which seem to contradict. The Trinity and the two natures of Christ are examples. Just like we take the hypostatic union of Christ to be a mystery, because the Bible teaches Christ was very God and very man at the same time; likewise, God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility must be taken as a mystery. A third grid on these issues is not a position that synthesizes the two truths (e.g. on the two natures of Christ making Christ half God and half man), but a position, which accepts both truths because each one is explicitly taught in the Scriptures. Jim Van Gelderen calls this “paradox theology.” Steve Hankins labels it “paradoxology.” These excellent labels preserve the mystery.

    Anyone with a heart for God would claim that their position is “biblical.” Also, each of the positions begins with explicit biblical statements. While it is legitimate to draw conclusions from the explicit statements, the danger lies in logically systematizing conclusions that eventually contradict explicit statements on the other side of the issue. When explicit statements seemingly contradict other explicit statements, God is giving us a mystery that is beyond our finite understanding. This we must accept by faith. However, when implicit conclusions are extrapolated to the degree that they start contradicting explicit statements on the other side of the issue, then man is in error.

    Analogies are not perfect but often helpful. I like to think of this issue in terms of the globe of planet earth. Let’s call the southern hemisphere Arminianism and the northern hemisphere Calvinism. The equator is the dividing line between the two hemispheres. Now let’s note several observations:


    1. Both extreme poles are in a frozen condition! Is it not true that full-blown

    Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism lead people into a cold spiritual condition? Signs of coldness include first a “struggle theology” seen in the Arminian sphere through flesh-dependence in order to get saved and/or stay saved, and in the Calvinistic sphere through flesh-dependence in order to “persevere” in salvation. Another sign of coldness is a lack of evangelism (personally and corporately) as seen in the liberal extremes of Arminianism an in the hyper extremes of Calvinism. A third sign of coldness is a lack of effective evangelism (although there is evangelism) as seen in flesh-dependent soulwinning producing “easy-believism” (acknowledgement-only) decisions on the Arminian side. And on the Calvinistic side a lack of effective evangelism is seen in “duty-soulwinning” which may be from a sincere heart but which diminishes expectant faith.

    2. Each hemisphere has varying latitudes from the equator to the pole. Is it not true that there are varying degrees of Arminianism and varying degrees or “points” of Calvinism? Some positions are closer to the equator and others are closer to the pole. Therefore, an “extreme” position is not based on one’s view of others’ positions in relation to his own, but rather one’s position in relation to the “north” or “south” pole.

    3. The equator is not in either hemisphere. Is this not “the third grid”? There is a third position that does not side with one or the other pole of thought.

    4. The equator is the warmest region. Is it not true that the farther one is from the extreme positions the warmer the vital Christianity?

    5. The region around the equator is also warm. Is it not true that there are those in one hemisphere or the other but close enough to the equator to have warm fellowship and to have very little clash? It is when the climate begins to significantly change that a clash is inevitable.

    6. One’s position on the globe affects one’s perspective. Is it not true that through-

    going Arminians would see the equator (“the third-grid”) as Calvinistic? And is it

    not true that through-going Calvinists would see the equator as Arminian?

    God is sovereign. This is explicitly clear. Man is responsible. This is also explicitly clear. Faith, regarding both truths, is the link between the two, which is not a synthesis but an acceptance of both truths. This is “the third grid.”

    The danger, which keeps one from the equator of truth, is in a misconception of faith. Simply put, thoroughgoing Arminians have the misconception of a “misfocused faith.” The focus of faith is on man’s faith. Man is believed to have unfettered choice so that man can without divine initiation (convincement) choose to trust Christ. But the Bible explicitly says, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). Without Holy Spirit conviction, man will never seek God on his own. Also, the wrong focus of faith is revealed in man having to live right in order to stay saved; otherwise, he could lose his salvation. All of this focuses on man.

    However, the key to faith is not man’s faith, but rather the object of his faith. Christ is the object of faith and the Word is the warrant of faith. God-dependence (faith) is dependence on God based on His words. God’s promise provides the security, not man’s performance.

    Thoroughgoing Calvinists have the misconception of an “inevitable faith.” In order not to violate “all of grace,” faith is conceived of as something that God bestows to a person. All benefactors obviously believe. This occurs through God granting regeneration to a person. To the Calvinistic mind, man has a “free will” but can only exercise that will according to his nature. Therefore, regeneration (a new nature) is necessary in order to believe on Christ. Life must be imparted to free the will in order to believe. When this occurs it is believed to be irresistible. It would be impossible to be regenerated and not believe. This is “inevitable faith.”

    This is logical, but is it really what the Bible plainly teaches? Is not the emphasis of Scripture that one believes in order to have life (John 3:15-16; 5:24; 6:47) and not that one has life in order to believe? John 12:36 says, “Believe in the light, that [in order that] ye may be the children of light.” Taken at face value, one believes in order to become one of the sons of light and not the other way around. Taken at face value, believing precedes regeneration. Only by man’s conclusions can one “get around” such plain statements of Scripture, which are many. If the first choice of faith for salvation is irresistible, and if faith is made to be irresistible, then is it really a responsible faith, or is it now a fatalistic faith?

    The Third Grid claim’s a “responsible faith.” Clearly, God is sovereign; and in His sovereignty, He has made man truly responsible. God is powerful enough to maintain His sovereignty through the responsible will of man without violating man’s real will or diminishing His sovereignty. This is a mystery. This is a paradoxology. This is a great and supreme God! This does not violate “all of grace” which demands no human merit because faith is not a work. Romans 4:5 explicitly says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Faith is not a work. God says so in His Word. Also faith is not man-centered. How can God-dependence be man-centered? To demand the impartation of life in order to believe is to nearly make faith a work that demands animation. However, faith is simply recognizing one’s impotency and casting oneself on the person and power of God to impart life.

    While it is true that faith is a necessary gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), the gift of faith is not to be thought of as an outside, foreign element entered into one’s being. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance [reality] of things hoped for, the evidence [conviction/convincement] of things not seen.” Evidence is the noun of the verb “reprove” in John 16:8 when Christ speaks of the Holy Spirit reproving the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Therefore, faith is not a foreign element entered into one’s being (regeneration before faith), but faith comes when one is convinced of the worthiness of the object of faith. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Combining John 16:8 and Romans 10:17, we learn that faith comes when the Spirit convinces one of the Word. Christ is the living Word (John 1). Hebrews 12:2 therefore says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” The Spirit of Christ authors faith for salvation by convincing one of sin, righteousness, and judgment based on the Word. The Spirit finishes faith through bringing to pass the promise of the Word that is being depended upon —giving everlasting life. However, between the divine initiation and the divine enablement is man’s responsibility –our faith. Faith is the simple choice to depend on the reality of the words of God (before you see it or feel it). Faith does not save, rather it links one to Jesus, and Jesus saves!

    Divine initiation (convincement) is necessary because there is none that seeketh after God, but faith is not inevitable because it is our faith. Just as when one chooses to entrust himself to a certain doctor because someone else convinced him of the worthiness of that doctor (the gift of faith), so man can only trust Christ when convinced by the Spirit through the Word of the worthiness of the Savior. This is the gift of faith, but man is wicked enough to reject that gift as is seen in Acts 7:51, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit.”

    The Third Grid accepts, for example, what Jesus said in John 6:44, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” Divine initiation through convincement of the Word by the Spirit is necessary, but note that this does not say that everyone the Father draws, comes. For Jesus also said in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” The word for draw is the same in both contexts. Yet obviously all men do not come to Christ. Not everyone drawn, comes; but everyone who comes has been drawn. And God does draw all men. This fits with the statement: “Who will have all men to be saved” (I Timothy 2:4) and “not willing that any should perish” (II Peter 3:9). It is God’s will that everyone be saved. This is explicit, but man can miss out on God’s will. Faith brings man into union with God’s will. Unbelief causes one to miss out on God’s sovereign will. God draws, but man is responsible to come.

    One must be drawn in order to come to Christ. This counters the misfocused faith of Arminianism. But not everyone who has been drawn comes. This counters the inevitable faith of Calvinism. However, everyone who comes to Christ has been drawn. This articulates the responsible faith of the Third Grid. The Third Grid takes each passage at face value without the need for linguistic diplomacy to fit one’s hemispheric (unbalanced) grid.

    At the bottom of the controversy is one’s view of faith. Misfocused faith focuses on man and leaves out the necessity of divine initiation as well as the keeping power of divine enablement. Inevitable faith diminishes man’s responsibility in a noble effort to glorify a sovereign God, but which leaves man in a fatalistic situation. Responsible faith acknowledges man’s depravity and need for ‘all of grace’ but keeps man with a real will and full responsibility. When man responsibly responds to God, God responds to him. Responsible faith then brings the greatest glory to God because it is not self-contrived or inevitable. Rather, it is a prodigal responding to the Savior who came to seek and to save that which was lost.





    http://www.ptwm.org/pages/ezines.asp?Magazine=REVIVAL+Magazine%3A+A+Call+to+Prayer&Title=Third-Grid+Theology
     
  2. James_Newman

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  3. James_Newman

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    I think it must be the devil who got a bunch of Christians to argue about how they got saved, instead of worrying about what they should be doing now that they are saved.
     
  4. Me4Him

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    There's a little principle to understanding scripture that I refer to as IT IS, BUT IT AINT depending on the context of scripture, and understanding/using this principle is the only way to have a proper understanding of scripture.

    The Jews rejected "God", why, he was in the form of the son.

    The jews reject the leadership of the son, and never will accept his leadership until "GOD" beats hell out of them using the AC as a "rod".

    You can tell who is leading/dealing with who just by the type of leadership, law and Prophets/Holy Ghost.

    God is Jesus but he aint, the son
    Jesus is God but he aint, the Father

    depending on the context of scripture.

    God "Foreknew" every single individual who would chose to be saved and wrote their names,

    But the names he wrote wasn't because of his chosing, but foreknowledge of our chosing.

    Through Foreknowledge God IS aware of the future, BUT IT AINT a future God predestinted.

    Just as the Jews can't "rightly divide" the WORD (Father/Son) to see the truth in them,

    most Christians can't rightly divided the WORD (Scripture) to see the truth in them.

    The point calvinist miss is the fact that foreknowledge doesn't predestine the future, it can be changed, God came close to destroying all Israel and making a nation from Moses, then GOD repented,

    foreknowledge doesn't bind God to any "particular plan", if the firstborn reject God, he can go with the second born. (Esau)

    It IS true, God knows the future, but it aint true, God predestined that future, his "WILL/PLAN" was for none to perish through the death of Jesus.

    Just as God came close to destroying Israel for their sins, then repented, he can also change his mind about the future of the world,


    God most certainly would "HONOR" the death of Jesus for the sins of the whole world, IF man would believe, and that is a "possibility" which no Christian can deny.


    Sure, God knows what the future IS going to be and many cast into hell,

    But it aint his will for it to happen.
     
  5. webdog

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    [​IMG] Good find.
     
  6. Helen

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    Thanks, Tim.
     
  7. Andy T.

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    This whole third view line is just another pious way of saying "I'm right, you're wrong." It's pious-speak in that it claims to somehow rise above the idiots on either side of them.

    Look, no one has denied that there is a "third view". In fact, there are several "views" in this debate when you get into some of the details. We all fall along the spectrum from one end to the other. Most of the non-Calvinists on this board are not rank Arminians or Pelagians. Likewise, most of the Calvinists are not hyper-C's either.

    The issue is not whether you think you've found some mediating position. The issue is whether what you believe is true or not.
     
  8. Helen

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    If Tim did not believe it was true, he would not have posted it. If I did not agree, I would not have thanked him. I presume the same holds for the rest of those who responded.
     
  9. Andy T.

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    But Helen, based on some of your other posts, you don't agree with this part of the article:
    The author clearly believes Rom. 3:11 applies to everyone. You don't. This is just one example of how far outside you are from normative Evangelical doctrine, Calvinist or not. I'm sure you don't care, but your views on sin, hell and judgment would make the most ardent, rank Arminian squirm.
     
  10. Helen

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    AAGGGHHH! I have answered this so many times I think I will write up something and ask Barry to put it on his website so I can just cut and paste after this!

    Paul's quotes in Romans 3 are ALL taken from passages in the Old Testament which have to do with 'fools' who say there is no God, wicked men who prey on others, those who delight in evil, etc.

    It is not in the least applying to normal, average sinners who aren't saved! It is part of Paul's argument that despite the law, both Jews and Gentiles are the same in that either can sink to the lowest levels of depravity. Remember, chapter 3 in Romans starts with "What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?" He responds to himself saying there is much in every say, but then he says, in verse 9, "What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all!" That is his point -- that the law does not save! If it did, then the references he uses which often refer to Jews themselves and not just Gentiles in verses 10-18 lose their meaning.

    If this is not the meaning of Psalm 14 then how do you explain "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord... Jeremiah 29:13

    or

    "Seek me and live;
    do not seek Bethel,
    do not go to Gilgal,
    do not journey to Beersheba,
    for Gilgal will surely go into exile,
    and Bethel will be reduced to nothing."
    Seek the Lord and live,
    or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire.

    Amos 5:4-6

    Is that only for Israel to seek God? Or is He the God and Savior of the Gentiles, too?

    Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 6:33 to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness...

    Hebrews 11:6 says God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

    So please know it is imperative you put things into the context in which they are intended. What Paul was saying in Romans 3 had a definite intent and it was not to say that all men are hopelessly wicked, evil, and that none seek God. He is referring to those who delight in evil, which some, but not all, unsaved people do. And he was writing that for the purpose of showing that the law could not save, for the Jew could sink as low as the Gentile.

    Context is everything.
     
  11. Helen

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    So yes, I disagree with that part of the article (I punched the post button too early), but that does not mean I don't appreciate what Tim put up and agree with it in large part.
     
  12. Andy T.

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    Fine, Helen - that is your take on the matter. But just a reminder - you disagree with the author above (a non-Calvinist) and with the vast majority of Evangelical Christians throughout the ages. Shoot, I'll even throw in the Catholics - they probably disagree with you, too (this is just a guess - I stand to be corrected), which puts you way out in left field.

    But worse than your disagreement with the majority of Christendom, your view is wrong.
     
  13. Andy T.

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    BTW, Paul was not expounding on those OT verses in particular. He was using biblical language to communicate the truth that ALL are under sin. The fact that he quoted verses from texts that are dealing with a particular type of sin or sinner does not negate the immediate context from which Paul is writing in his book to the Romans. It is so very clear from a plain reading that Paul is stating the fact that all are under sin - under a curse - and have nothing good within themselves to cure it.

    That is the right view, and the view held by the vast majority of Christians throughout the ages. Yours is the wrong view, Helen.
     
  14. Calvibaptist

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    First of all, Tim, thanks for the post. I am now a 5-point Calvinist, so, obviously, I disagree with the view of the author. But it is a view I used to hold, so I understand the attraction, and don't find it quite as distasteful as what I have seen from some on this board.

    Secondly, Helen, when a NT author, such as Paul quotes a passage of the OT in support of a point he is making, we can gain a little understanding of what he is talking about by looking at it in its OT context. BUT, the chief area of concern is how he uses it in his NT context.

    The passage in Romans 3 is pulled out of a few Psalms talking about the fools who have rejected God. BUT, in Romans, it is in the context of all of humanity - pagans, moralists, Jews, and Gentiles. Context does matter, but here it is the context of the letter.

    A similar example would be this: in Romans 4, Paul quotes David again as saying...

    Romans 4:7-8 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin."

    If we took Helen's method, we would have to say that Paul was saying that the blessedness of forgiven sin only comes to kings of Israel who have committed adultery and murder, because Psalm 32 was written by David after his forgiveness by God for his sin with Bathsheba.

    But the context of Romans 4 shows that Paul is pulling the illustration of David into a new context to describe the blessings of justification for everyone who believes.

    Always look to the context of the NT passage to see what a NT author means by his usage of an OT quote.
     
  15. Me4Him

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    Wonder why no one tries to put God/Jesus mission to save "ALL MEN",..."In Context"??? :D [​IMG]
     
  16. Frenchy

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    I read the whole article (who else actually did?) and i noticed that although it started off sounding neutral and good, it took a slippery slope towards Arninism. how could it not? if no one can explain this mystery like the author said cannot be done, why did he take a side? everyone does have a side don't they? so in reality it isn't a third veiw, I do agree it is a paradox.
     
  17. Frenchy

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    Calvibaptist
    I tried explaning this to Helen before but she seems to think I do not know the scriptures very well :eek:

    After I quoted Romans 3:9-whatever no one seeketh after God...she wrote this to me

     
  18. Frenchy

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    In which I responded

    I forgot to add are not all those who reject God...FOOLS! duhhhh
     
  19. Helen

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    The Bible defines the fool as one who states there is no God. So rejecting God does not make you biblically a fool. Especially if you are rejecting something you know is true and consciously preferring the lie, which a large number of people admit they do.

    Pharoah acknowledged God and His existence and still chose otherwise. That did not make him, biblically, a fool. It did make him very lost and condemned, however! Judas walked with Jesus and knew He was for real. He never said 'there is no God'. So he was not a biblical fool either. He was the betrayer. That is very different.

    No, you should not use Romans 3 in witnessing unless you use it in context. Besides, why try to convince people they are rotten? If they don't already know they are in deep trouble on the inside, they are not going to care what sort of remedy you are proposing!

    It is the Holy Spirit's job to condemn. We are told to answer questions for our hope. We are told to disciple each other. We are told to tell the world the Good News.

    We are NEVER told that it is our job to try to convince/convict people regarding their sin.

    So no, don't use Romans 3. It is actually part of an argument Paul was using to help the legalistic Jews understand that, despite the advantage of the law, they were no different in essence than the Gentile. That is rarely an argument needed now.

    If you look at Romans 2, you will find it is God's lovingkindness which draws people to Him in repentance, not anyone hitting them over the head with evidence of their rottenness!

    Our job is to show the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, to live Christ in us, as a glove responding to the Hand (that example, by the way, came from a wonderful sermon by John MacArthur which I was privileged to help interpret for some deaf friends).

    So PLEASE, NEVER use Romans 3.

    Edit -- never use it in that way, is what I was trying to say. If you look at Paul's words after the verses he took from the Old Testament, however, you will find that ALL sin has been atoned for anyway! THIS is wonderful to share. So if you must use the quoted verses, don't stop there, please. Keep going:

    Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin.

    But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished -- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.


    The atonement was for all. That is clearly stated. And having faith in Jesus -- to believe -- is all that is mentioned in this entire section regarding redemption. NEVER does Paul say that only the chosen are those who can believe. In fact, that appears to be the exact opposite of what he is talking about, for the Jews considered themselves chosen and Paul's entire argument is not only that they can be just as depraved as any Gentile, but that ALL have sinned. But in the same sentence as saying all have sinned, he comes directly to the point that this same 'all' are justified freely through grace by faith in Jesus.

    No mention of any elect, and, in fact, chapter three denies explicitly the idea of the Jews that they are somehow special. I think Calvinists should take this to heart as well.

    [ March 24, 2006, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: Helen ]
     
  20. rjprince

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    Frechy,

    You are right, it is not a third view, it is a paradox.

    Correct doctrine is all about balance, you can fall off either side of this issue as with many others.

    God chose. I chose. Scripture presents both as true. However, Scripture is also abundantly clear that I could never have chosen Him if He has not chosen me first, it is by His Grace, not my own goodness or merit. What can't they see this? and just accept the paradox...
     

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