Arminian, Calvinist, Biblicist

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Herald

    Herald
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    I came across a neat little pamphlet that addresses those who call themselves Biblicists.

    Now, us Calvinists and Arminians know who we are. But what of those who claim to hold to a third position? They claim to be neutral, but are they really? The pamphlet lists the Arminian and Calvinist positions and then asks the Biblicist to state his own position.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    What is a Biblicist? In the on-going controversy of the Doctrines of Grace, we constantly come across the argument, "Well, I am either a Calvinist nor an Arminian. I am a Biblicist." The person making the statement is clearly attempting to separate himself from either of the first two positions named and is alleging that he is of the third position. We can only assume that he can can see a difference between his position and the other two. But most I have talked to have had some real difficulty clarifying their position. In the hope of getting that clarification, I offer this worksheet. If you consider yourself a "Biblicist," please fill out the middle column and show your "third" view on each point.

    Arminian

    Man's depravity is only partial. Man is not left in totally helpless state. His will is not affected by sin. It is still free to choose good over evil, and could repent and believe. Faith is the sinner's contribution to his salvation. His eternal destiny depends on how he uses his free will.

    Calvinist

    Man is a free moral agent, and his will is in bondage to his nature. He cannot change his nature. He cannot make choices contrary to his nature. He is dead in his trespasses and sins and is drawn to the god of the dead.

    Biblicist

    [State position]


    Arminian

    Election is based upon God's foreknowledge, which means He looked down the corridors of time and saw who would believe the gospel, and so chose those who were willing to choose Him.

    Calvinist

    God saw that no one would believe on his own, so He chose some before the foundation of the world, according to His own pleasure and purpose, and gives them the faith to believe.

    Biblicist

    [State position]


    Arminian

    Christ's death was "sufficient" for all but "efficient" only for the ones who would believe. It had unlimited purpose but a limited power (limited by man's free will). It did not in fact secure the salvation for anyone, it only made salvation possible.

    Calvinist

    The intention of Christ's redeeming work was to save the elect and in fact secured salvation for them. God has a limited purpose (save the elect) and an unlimited power. Christ secured the salvation of those for whom He died.

    Biblicist

    [State position]


    Arminian

    God wants to save everybody, but inasmuch as man is free, he can resist God's will. The Holy Spirit can draw only those that allow Him to draw them. They first have to be willing to believe.

    Calvinist

    The external call given to the all who hear the gospel can be and often is rejected. The internal call made by the Spirit to the elect cannot be ultimately resisted. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to believe, repent, and come willingly to Christ.

    Biblicist

    [State position]


    Arminian

    Believers who are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith. As man's will is the instrument of his salvation, it can also be the instrument of his falling from grace. The Christian must persevere to the end or be lost. (Some who believe in the other points of Arminianism reject the idea of falling from grace and embrace eternal security.)

    Calvinist

    While the saint is preserved by God, true faith will persevere, even though it may stumble and fail. They will arise and go on in the faith. They are eternally saved.

    Biblicist

    [State position]

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Now, the purpose of this post isn't to pit Arminians vs. Calvinists against each other. There's enough of that. The purpose is to find out whether there really is a third position on the Doctrines of Grace.

    In order to make the exercise honest the author of the pamphlet continues:

    If some of you fall into the category of "Biblicist", how would you respond to the third position?
     
  2. Skandelon

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    The "Arminian" statements are laughable and completely misrepresentative of what Jacobus Arminius taught, or what most reputable 'Arminian' believers teach today.
     
  3. Skandelon

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    Nevertheless, I'll play along:

    Depravity: Man is born depraved, sinful and in need of a savior. He is born as God's enemy and in need of reconciliation. (This doesn't mean he is born unable to willingly respond to God's appeal for reconciliation however. The Gospel is more powerful than man's depravity. What is the point in sending a message that is insufficient to make an appeal?)

    Election: God elected the nation of Israel to bring redemption to the rest of the world by bringing the message (the Gospel) and the means (Christ our Savior). Thus, he handpicked particular messengers from Israel to ensure His message was correctly delivered. He chooses to send his appeal first to Israel and then to the rest of the world. He has predestined to justify, adopt, conform and glorify whosoever believes in Christ.

    Atonement: Christ's atoning work satisfied God's justice and appeased His wrath once and for all time. No one perishes for lack of atonement; they only perish for refusing to believe.

    Calling: The means God has chosen to make an appeal to all his enemies for reconciliation is called the GOSPEL. It is powerful and effective and NEVER fails to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent, which is TO MAKE THE APPEAL and thus enable the response. Whosoever hears has been enabled to come to Christ, and thus stand without excuse at judgement where they will be judged by the very words of Christ. (With regard to those who never hear the gospel, there is some indication that God can and has previously credited those with some measure of faith in the revelation they have received.)

    Perseverance: The question, "Can a saved person lose their salvation," is the wrong question. The real question is, "How do we know if someone has truly been saved?" You will know them by their fruits, one of which is preserving to the end. Those who don't, were never saved. "If they have gone away from us then they were never of us." The doctrine of predestination actually has more to do with this point than the others in that anyone who has truly believed has been given the HOly Spirit as a guarantee of their adoption. God has predetermined what will happen to all those who believe in Christ, whether they are a Jew or a Gentile.
     
    #3 Skandelon, Jun 2, 2012
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  4. Herald

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    Well, I didn't write the pamphlet. I'm sure theologians on both sides can more adequately explain their own positions. But the point really isn't about Arminians and Calvinists, it's about what self-described Biblicists believe.
     
  5. pilgrim_99

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    Whatever the failings or misrepresentations that may be contained in the pamphlet that he posted, the issue Herald raises is a good one in my view in that Biblicism really means nothing from a doctrinal standpoint. It's an aspiration, a method, a statement that one is going to follow the Bible as best as he can without being beholden to any particular tradition, etc. But as far as being a label that describes what a man actually believes, it's not very helpful at all.
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    I'm sure that most people who describe themselves as Biblicist are intending to say that they don't like Calvinist, Arminian, Pelagian as labels, and they intend to convey that what they believe comes from the Bible.

    But it doesn't come across that way. I take it, probably wrongly, as a somewhat smug way of saying, "I follow the scriptures, and you don't."

    It's a not-too-subtle way of saying that I follow the Bible, while you follow man-made doctrine. That makes me more spiritual than you.

    What am I? I'm a Calvinist Biblicist. One can't be any more spiritual than that.
     
  7. Van

    Van
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    Response with a third position

    Hi Herald, here are alternate positions based on specific scriptures.



    Arminian

    Man's depravity is only partial. Man is not left in totally helpless state. His will is not affected by sin. It is still free to choose good over evil, and could repent and believe. Faith is the sinner's contribution to his salvation. His eternal destiny depends on how he uses his free will.

    Calvinist

    Man is a free moral agent, and his will is in bondage to his nature. He cannot change his nature. He cannot make choices contrary to his nature. He is dead in his trespasses and sins and is drawn to the god of the dead.

    Biblical Position

    Man's natural fallen spiritual ability is limited. Men of flesh, i.e. not regenerated and thus spiritually separated from God, can understand the milk of the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3) but not spiritual meat, which requires being indwelt with the Holy Spirit.


    Arminian

    Election is based upon God's foreknowledge, which means He looked down the corridors of time and saw who would believe the gospel, and so chose those who were willing to choose Him.

    Calvinist

    God saw that no one would believe on his own, so He chose some before the foundation of the world, according to His own pleasure and purpose, and gives them the faith to believe.

    Biblical Position

    Ephesians 1:4 says God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. Both Calvinists and Arminians read "chose us individually in Him" into the text. However, in light of other scriptures i.e. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which say God chose us through faith in the truth, Ephesians 1:4 must be understood to say God chose us in Him corporately before the foundation of the world. In other words, God chose the Word to be His Lamb, His Redeemer, and therefore in effect chose everyone subsequently redeemed by the Redeemer.


    Arminian

    Christ's death was "sufficient" for all but "efficient" only for the ones who would believe. It had unlimited purpose but a limited power (limited by man's free will). It did not in fact secure the salvation for anyone, it only made salvation possible.

    Calvinist

    The intention of Christ's redeeming work was to save the elect and in fact secured salvation for them. God has a limited purpose (save the elect) and an unlimited power. Christ secured the salvation of those for whom He died.

    Biblical Position

    Christ died for all mankind because God desires all men to be saved according to His purpose and plan. But no one receives the reconciliation provided by Christ's sacrifice unless God credits their faith as righteousness (Romans 4:5) and spiritually places them in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). So Christ both provides reconciliation to all mankind and provides salvation for all those spiritually placed in Christ by God.


    Arminian

    God wants to save everybody, but inasmuch as man is free, he can resist God's will. The Holy Spirit can draw only those that allow Him to draw them. They first have to be willing to believe.

    Calvinist

    The external call given to the all who hear the gospel can be and often is rejected. The internal call made by the Spirit to the elect cannot be ultimately resisted. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to believe, repent, and come willingly to Christ.

    Biblical Position

    God does desire all men to be saved but according to His purpose and plan which is to choose those whose faith He credits as righteousness. God's plan is not to compel faith via irresistible grace, but to be glorified by those who autonomously repent and trust in God. God grants repentance by providing the opportunity through His revelatory grace, i.e. the gospel of Christ, and by not prohibiting repentance by hardening, except in cases where the hardening is in according with His purpose, i.e. the unbelieving Jews of Romans 11.


    Arminian

    Believers who are truly saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith. As man's will is the instrument of his salvation, it can also be the instrument of his falling from grace. The Christian must persevere to the end or be lost. (Some who believe in the other points of Arminianism reject the idea of falling from grace and embrace eternal security.)

    Calvinist

    While the saint is preserved by God, true faith will persevere, even though it may stumble and fail. They will arise and go on in the faith. They are eternally saved.

    Biblical Position

    Once a person is spiritually placed in Christ, they are sealed in Him forever, so once a person is actually saved by God putting them spiritually in Christ, they are saved forever. God also protects their faith and devotion to Christ, 1 Peter 1:3-5, keeping them as in a locked cell, but He does not protect a person's ministry so we might build with perishable stuff and enter heaven as one escaping from a fire.
     
    #7 Van, Jun 2, 2012
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  8. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    That's quite an arrogant statement -- if you meant it seriously. If you didn't, I apologize in advance.
     
  9. Michael Wrenn

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    Hebrews 6 refutes that. So, calling this the "Biblical Position" is not justifiable.
     
  10. psalms109:31

    psalms109:31
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    I have been listening to Calvinist, Arminian bicker back and forth for a while. Spurgeon was the only one I have ever respected not because he is my Rabi, Jesus Christ is because of my signature that came from him. This quarreling over words that ruin the listener and trying to make Orthodoxy more important than the inspired word of God, the living word without it none of us would have life in us, none of us would be born again.

    We as believers do need each other we are to help each other out so we don't wonder from the truth.

    Hebrews 3 :
    12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

    Why do you think it to be crime to have men desire for others to acknowledge the work of Jesus is what saved us not what we have done?

    If they acknowledge this and enter Christ rest did they work for their salvation?
     
    #10 psalms109:31, Jun 2, 2012
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  11. Herald

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    Orthodoxy defined is, "That which is considered proper belief."* The pursuit of doctrinal truth is not quarreling over words. We have an obligation to properly understand Scripture (2 Tim. 2:15). For those of us who are pastors and elders we have a responsibility not only to understand it, but to teach it (2 Tim. 4:2) and to take great care in doing so (Jas. 3:1). I arrived at my theological convictions because I believe that is what Scripture teaches. That is orthodoxy.

    *Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Donald K. McKim
     
  12. psalms109:31

    psalms109:31
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    The simplest answer is the hardest for the wise to accept, the wise love to use everything in their disposal not to believe but change to meet their own understanding. There is nothing wrong with being a biblicists to test every spirit. We are told to trust in the Lord over our own understanding. We can't trust this carnal mind that we live with and fight against every day. The Spirit that is found in His word is the sword that God gave us.
     
    #12 psalms109:31, Jun 2, 2012
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  13. Herald

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    Just some food for thought. If 1,000 people are given the same text and asked to come up with the interpretation, chances are they'll come up with hundreds of different conclusions and use the same reasoning you did. "Hey, I'm trusting the Spirit and taking the Bible at face value." There's a danger in that. That's why the study of theology is important. I like the way R.C. Sproul put it:

     
  14. psalms109:31

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    "What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they,—"that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "Who will have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself; for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.""

    C.H.Spurgeon

    If they alter or change text to get what they want out of it then they are lifting up a sword of their own making?

    Acts 4:12
    Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
     
    #14 psalms109:31, Jun 2, 2012
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  15. psalms109:31

    psalms109:31
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    John 6 :
    53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
    Many Disciples Desert Jesus

    60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

    61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[Or are Spirit; or are spirit] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

    66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

    67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

    68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

    70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

    I got from this is following a crowd does not mean you was drawn by the Father.

    This does.


    John 6 :
    45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[Isaiah 54:13] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.

    John 14:24
    Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    John 6:63
    The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

    Matthew 11:29
    Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
     
    #15 psalms109:31, Jun 2, 2012
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  16. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    No apology necessary.

    I can see how you could take the last sentence as arrogant.
    Strictly tongue-in-cheek.

    And my comment on those who adopt the label Biblicist was not intended to impugn the motives of anyone. I was trying to explain, not what they intended, but how I took it.

    I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.
     
  17. Michael Wrenn

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    No problem. :)
     
  18. Herald

    Herald
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    I apologize, I'm probably doing a poor job of making my point.

    Taking the above statement by you; what if a person says that same thing about your conclusions from scripture? They accuse you of lifting up a sword of your own making because your interpretation disagrees with theirs. That's my real point. Who is the arbiter? Who says you're right and they're wrong when both parties are saying they're right?

    Spurgeon believed in the plain meaning of Scripture, but he also had a theological compass heading. He was mostly in agreement with the framers of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. He believed the Confession was an accurate commentary on biblical doctrine. The Particular (today called Reformed) Baptist schema guided his interpretation of scripture. Yet, he would say to you that his understanding of scripture was based on it's plain normative meaning.

    We all come to scripture with our presuppositions. That's why a Calvinist and an Arminian can read John 3:16 and come up with two different interpretations. And the person who says, "Well, put away your 'system' and just believe the text" doesn't understand that he, too, has a interpretive system he is using.
     
  19. psalms109:31

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    Throw my understanding in the trash and trust in the Lord. We can not lean on our own understanding and I do try not to reconcile scripture. Everything that comes from the word of God can't be contained in a 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. We must live on every word that comes from the mouth of God

    Ephesians 6 :
    10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
     
    #19 psalms109:31, Jun 2, 2012
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  20. Herald

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    We're obviously not communicating very well. Have a blessed Lord's Day tomorrow.
     

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