Calvinist vs. Arminian preaching

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by npetreley, Jul 17, 2004.

  1. npetreley

    npetreley
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    In another thread, someone asked...

    The powerless, pitiful Christ vs. the Sovereign LORD.

    No doubt someone will think or respond that it doesn't matter to a Calvinist, anyway, since Calvinists don't have to preach the word -- whoever is elect will get saved anyway.

    That is an oft-debated criticism Arminians tend to lodge against Calvinists.

    IMO, it is about time to point out the danger of the other side. In fact, IMO, the Arminian approach to preaching actually poses the greater danger.

    It's bad enough that the preached message is error instead of truth - that salvation comes by a free-will choice. It's bad enough that they are appealing to the pride of the listener and dishonoring the Sovereignty of God.

    There's yet another danger people rarely address. If the preacher begins with the presumption that the salvation of anyone in the audience depends on their free-will choice, that tempts the preacher to do whatever is necessary to "win their souls to Christ".

    Preaching the Word becomes a matter of quality of salesmanship. If one approach doesn't get a decent alter-call response, then perhaps another will. And if you have to wrap the truth in a little sweeter candy each time to get a better response, so what if it's not entirely Biblical, as long as more souls are "saved"?

    Do all preachers who believe in free will salvation fall into this trap? Of course not, but I've witnessed too many who have. One is too many, IMO, and I've witnessed well more than one.

    Calvinists are humans, too, and make mistakes. But they are far less likely to be tempted to sweeten and potentially pervert the message.

    Calvinists can preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with the knowledge that God will use it for His own good pleasure. Even if God uses the preached word to harden some and save others, to God be all the Glory and power.

    A Calvinist preacher never has any reason to be discouraged by a small alter-call response. God uses one to plant a seed, another to water it, but God gives the increase. Calvinists know that God's word will not return void, and that cannot be measured by the visible response of the people who receive the message.
     
  2. Skandelon

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    I agree that Arminians could have the tendency to manipulate just as Calvinist could have the tendency to neglect evangelism. Both groups have their ditches.

    But lets really examine who is doing the most damage if they are wrong shall we?

    If Calvinists are right and Arminians are wrong the same number of people are going to be in heaven.

    If Arminians become manipulative with alter calls and salesmen type evangelism, what real eternal harm has been done? The reprobates will still go to hell and the elect will still be saved in the end. Some might get confused along the way and some of the churches may have gone way off track, but the eternal impact will not change, if indeed Calvinists are right.

    However, let's consider the implications of what damage Calvinism has caused if Arminianism is right. Think of the number of people turned off by that view of God. Think of the number of people who didn't hear because a church fell in the ditch of hyperism. Think of the number of hours, days, weeks, months and even years that ministers and other believers spent dealing with Calvinistic debates, church splits and contraversy over this issue. Think of how many may have heard and believed if Calvinism wasn't in the way.

    It seems you have much more at stake if you are wrong. Please, please be completely certain before you teach such a damaging doctrine.
     
  3. John Gilmore

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    The dangers of Calvinist and Arminian preaching are similar. The hearer may look within himself for evidence of salvation rather than to Christ alone through faith alone in the promise of the gospel alone.

    The Calvinist asks, "Am I one of the elect?" The Arminian asks, "Is my decision sincere?" Only when a person despairs of everything in himself is he prepared to receive the grace of God.

    The Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not to the Word and Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling until they feel that God has received them into grace.
    C.F.W. Walter, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel

    [ July 18, 2004, 07:35 AM: Message edited by: John Gilmore ]
     
  4. LaymansTermsPlease

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    What then is meant by the following verse?

    I have no doubt that it's all about grace instead of works, but I've often wondered what this verse means, then, knowing that grace is the context of salvation? And all the following language about pressing on toward the prize, and the "that I may win Christ" parts?


     
  5. John Gilmore

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    LaymansTermsPlease,

    As your second Philippians quote states, we do not earn grace through good works. We do not have our own righteousness but that of Christ obtained through faith alone.

    In Philippians 2:12, Paul is addressing believers who are already in a state of grace. They are not being urged to work their way into a state of grace through their own prayers and wrestlings but rather to do good works to persevere in grace given them by God. As the following verse states, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

    C.F.W. Walther, on the other hand, is addressing a situation where sinners have been brought to a knowledge of their sins through the preaching of the law. The preacher should then preach the full and free forgiveness of all sins through Christ alone by faith alone. Our own prayers and strugglings are not means whereby we can merit or obtain grace.
     
  6. BobRyan

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    hmm "not biblical"??

    Paul is looking to "MOTIVATE" the lost - he does not conclude that God will irresistibly force them to be saved.
    Instead of using God's power to alter the will as the "means" to save them, God uses the appeal to CHOICE,
    imperfect "motives" - the APPEAL is made and the hope is that some will take it.

    And of course there is the example of Christ in Luke 7 where Christ SHOWS the different methods being used to try to reach them.

    Luke 7
    As "IF" trying different things was what God was "supposed" to be doing to reach them???!!!

    hmmph!

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. psr.2

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    quote;
    The powerless, pitiful Christ vs. the Sovereign LORD.

    npetreley;
    Move on man! This all you ever talk about. I have a hunch the Holy Spirit of God is convoctong you of error im your understanding of scripture.
    Rather than dealing with the conviction you turn it into a fight with men to prove your point.

    The truth is that God would be cruel to say "Whosoever will" when only the ones that were the chosen could.

    By the way did you know that the bible teaches that Judas was chosen?
    John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
    71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

    I would suggest that if all you see everytime you open the bible is election that you spend some time in prayer asking God why it is that you have not learned anything else.
     
  8. StefanM

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    I believe the apostle Paul addressed something similar to this.

    Romans 9:11-21 (KJV)

    11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
    12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
    13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
    14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
    15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
    16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
    17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
    18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
    19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
    20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
    21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
     
  9. Skandelon

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    Stefan,

    Paul is not addressing that in this passage.

    You think the passage means:
    Those being shown mercy = the elect
    Those being hardened = the non-elect

    That is not possible and I'll show you why.

    The correct interpretation is:
    Those being shown mercy = Gentiles
    Those being hardened = Jews

    If you read on through the chapter and into chapter 11 you will see that those who are hardened are the Jews, with the exception of the remnant who he reserved from Israel to take the message of the cross to the world, the rest were hardened. Were they hardened unto certain destruction? NO. Romans 11:14 clearly states that those who were hardened may be saved and therefore those being hardened CANNOT = the non-elect, because the non-elect cannot be saved.
     
  10. StefanM

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    Skandelon, my point was that God is not bound by our concepts of what is fair or what is cruel.
     
  11. npetreley

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    I was speaking from the perspective of the preacher, not the hearer or the message.
     
  12. Skandelon

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    Oh, I totally agree with that. But as it pertains to this discussion I think it is important to point out that the objection Arminians raise about Calvinistic dogma is a much greater objection than the one Paul is responding to in Romans 9.

    Let's briefly compare the two objections:

    The objection Paul is addressing in Romans 9:
    God would never show mercy to dirty unclean Gentiles while temporarily hardening his chosen people who He made a promise to in scripture.

    The objection Arminians raise against Calvinism:
    God would never have men hardened from birth so that they couldn't see, hear or even understand his word by which they will be judged and condemned

    See the difference?

    Paul is addressing someone who may be upset about God temporarily hardening a group of people who have continually rejected God's messages despite his "longing to gather them" (Matt. 23:37) and his "holding out his hands to them" (Rom. 10:21).

    After that, it could be argued that the Jews deserved to be hardened, yet God didn't hardened them unto certain condemnation. Romans 11 teaches they still have hope in that they may be provoked to envy and be saved (vs. 14)

    That is TOTALLY different from the objection Arminians are raising on this board. We object to a God who hardens men from birth so they are unable to understand or respond to the word by which they are judged. Romans 9 doesn't answer that objection.
     
  13. StefanM

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    To be fair, the Calvinist response would be that your argument is setting up a straw man of Calvinism.

    Calvinism does not argue that God hardens individuals who would otherwise be able to respond to the gospel. It is a clear Biblical teaching that mankind is totally lost in sin and unable to respond to the gospel without the work of the Holy Spirit. God is under NO obligation to offer salvation to anyone, for we all deserve hell. Who is responsible for this sin? Mankind itself. God is not the author of sin.

    My point is this. If the Holy Spirit were taken out of the equation, 100% of individuals would go to hell, and this would be completely just.

    God does not have to harden individuals against the gospel. If he did nothing, people would still go to hell. If he chooses to divinely intensify the hardening for his purpose, then that is his prerogative to do so. The end result will not change.

    -----
    Romans 10:13-17 (ESV)

    13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
    14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    ------

    Acts 4:8-12
    8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. 11This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

    -----

    The Biblical testimony is clear. There is no salvation apart from faith in Christ subsequent to hearing the gospel.

    Using your line of reasoning, this would not be right because God has created people who have never heard the gospel, thereby leaving them only condemnation and judgment.

    The fact of the matter is that God is not obligated to do anything. He has never tried to be fair with respect to salvation. No one deserves salvation, and under both Arminianism and Calvinism there are individuals that will never have the chance to be saved.

    If one objects to unconditional election and irresistible grace, one may do so through other means, but using the argument that "God wouldn't prevent people from being saved" falls flat on its face.

    If you still find this unacceptable, your only other options are universalism, inclusivism, and pluralism, all of which are unbiblical.

    At any rate, we can all gather together as Christians in praise of Almighty God. [​IMG]
     
  14. npetreley

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    Well put.

    Where Arminians err in this case is that they start with the assumption that salvation is "offered". If it is offered as an option to one, then it is only fair to offer it to all.

    But grace and mercy are by definition undeserved gifts, not undeserved offers.

    If two men are guilty of a crime and both are sentenced to death, it is the sovereign ruler's discretion as to whether or not to have mercy on one, both, or none. If he gives one of them a full pardon via grace and mercy, it requires no decision or action on on the part of the criminal who is saved from execution. And it doesn't magically elevate the "privileges" of the other such that he suddenly "deserves" to receive mercy for HIS crimes.

    Granted, that analogy is inadequate, because we are not only saved from eternal punishment, we are given new hearts and an intimate relationship with our blessed redeemer! We truly love Him because He first loved us.
     
  15. Skandelon

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    I know that. That is their problem because that is what scripture teaches.

    Act 28:23   When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.
    Act 28:24   Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.
    Act 28:25   And when they did not agree with one another, they {began} leaving after Paul had spoken one {parting} word, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,
    Act 28:26   saying, 'GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, "YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
    Act 28:27   FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'"
    Act 28:28   "Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen."


    Did you notice the word OTHERWISE in this passage? It tells us the natural man's ability before being hardened in sin is that they "might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return" so God would heal them. In other words, had they not BECOME hardened by their sinful rebellion and then God's judicial hardening they might have been saved. This is the Calvinistic blind spot!


    First of all, the gospel IS the work of the Holy Spirit. Christ's words are spirit and life and the gospel message is the power of God unto salvation. The Gospel is wrought by the Holy Spirit and the word has power to save. Just because we don't believe it is irresistable power doesn't mean its not sufficient to supply all that one needs to believe.

    Can you show me the passage that teaches that men are unable to respond in faith to the Holy Spirit wrought gospel message? Thanks.

    I couldn't agree more and the fact that you think I would have an issue with this only proves you don't know that with which you contend.

    I agree, because if the HS were taken out of the equation we wouldn't have the gospel. Arminians believe that the HS is apart of the equation, we just don't believe that he calls only certain people irresistably.

    If God doesn't have to harden individuals against the gospel then why does he do it? And what purpose would it serve to "intensify" the hardening of people born totally hardened? How does one become harder than totally depraved? And why does scripture indicate that if they didn't become hardened that they might have been saved? And why does scripture teach that Christ hid the gospel in parables so that they wouldn't believe and repent if indeed they were already unable to believe and repent in the first place? Why blind a man who was born totally blind? Why hid the message from a man who was born unable to hear it anyway? Your doctrine makes no sense in light of the truth.

    According to scripture we will be judged by the word that we hear (John 12). No scholar is perfectly clear about how God will judge and hold men responsible who never hear the truth, but it seems clear to me from Romans that all men have what is necessary for faith in God and we see in the example of Abraham that his faith is credited to him as righteousness. If you notice its not Abraham's faith based response to the gospel of Christ but his faith based response to God. Cornelious and Lydia both feared or worshiped God before they ever heard the message of Christ, I believe that their faith would have been credited to them as righteousness had they never heard the full message of the cross. Look at Rahab. Did she know the gospel message of Christ, or did she believe what she was reveled at that time? Now, don't miss quote me. All are saved through the atonement of Christ and him alone, but not all have been fully aware of the story and provision of that atonement, they simply believed the revelation of God known to them and that was credited to them as righteousness, which was bought in full by Christ on the cross.

    I agree. God is not fair, He is merciful. This is not about what God is obligated to do, this is about what scripture reveals He has chosen to do.

    All men have clearly seen and understood the divine qualities and eternal nature of our God and therefore stand before God without excuse. Everyone has a chance to believe and acknowledge God as God. That is all He requires.

    You are still missing it. There is a big difference between God "preventing people from being saved" from birth and God temporarily preventing people from being saved in order to bring the world salvation. Calvinists make the mistake of taking passages that refer to the latter to support the former.
     
  16. John Gilmore

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    I was speaking from the perspective of the preacher, not the hearer or the message. </font>[/QUOTE]Yes, but, if the Calvinist preaches limited atonement or if the Arminian preaches the decision for Christ, the sinner is encouraged to look within himself for worthiness rather than to Christ alone. Both preachers are dangerous.

    However, I agree with your main point. Arminian preachers are generally more dangerous than Calvinist. For example, Jonathon Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is an excellent sermon that does not appeal to itching ears.

    If the Calvinist preacher is not concerned with numbers, why have an altar call? The preached word is efficacious. No validation is necessary.
     
  17. BobRyan

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    In my previous post I addressed the issue of "trying different ways" to move the lost - to motivate them to choose eternal life.

    What Calvinism teaches "by contrast" is that nothing the preacher says and nothing the lost choose - makes any difference at all. The lost person is "dead" so they can't choose and can't be motivated.

    Calvinism insists they must be born-again via arbitrary selection "first" so that they "can" hear and choose.

    But if they are already forgiven and born-again by the time they "start to hear" -- what message "Should they hear"?

    Should they hear that they are lost, unforgiven, in sin and on their way to hell? -- as a born-again saint?

    No.

    They should hear that they are born-again, forgiven saints that they need to do nothing EXCEPT to CONTINUE in the path they are now on!!

    To endure - to "persevere".

    Yet - is THIS the message Calvinist preach to the lost??? Is this the way they motivate the lost to stop, and turn and choose another course?

    No.

    This is instructive.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  18. npetreley

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    I was simply making a point that the Calvinist preacher need not be discouraged because, as you said, the word is efficacious. Indeed, if one does an "alter-call" just to see how many people responde, then there is no purpose for the Calvinist unless it's just curiosity. But an alter-call can also bring glory to God as people visibly proclaim the change in their lives to others. IMO, it's up to the preacher and how he's led by the Spirit how he handles things like this.
     
  19. npetreley

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    You are not only misrepresenting Calvinism, you are presenting only half the story.

    First, everyone starts out "lost" in the sense that we start out spiritually dead. The difference is whether or not the person is among the elect.

    But it is not at all true that it doesn't matter what a preacher says. The preacher speaks as he is led by the Holy Spirit. The word will fall on some deaf ears, it will plant a seed in others, it will harden still others, it will be the final catalyst used by the Holy Spirit to save others, and so on. The way the word is applied is up to God, not man. The duty of the preacher is to preach the truth, that's all.
     
  20. John Gilmore

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    npetreley,
    Isn't the altar call just one more parlor trick used by the Arminians to induce people to make a decision for Christ? The bandwagon effect of streams of people coming forward induces others to come forward so they will not be left behind. The Arminian preachers do not trust the efficacy of the Word but rely instead on human emotions to make converts.
     

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