Core Essentials of Calvinism/Arminianism

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Paul33, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. Paul33

    Paul33
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    What are the core essentials that one must hold to to be considered a Calvinist? Can you be a Calvinist if you believe in only two or three points of the five points?

    The same is asked of Arminism. What are the essential beliefs that are required to be an Arminian?

    I believe in the perseverence of the Saints and total inability. I believe that man cannot save himself or manufacture faith. I believe that salvation is a gift from God including the faith one needs to repent and believe. However, I do not hold to unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistable grace in the same way that a supralapsarian or infralapsarian Calvinist would. I think sublapsarianism more accurately reflects Calvin's views and the Scriptural testimony.

    Am I a Calvinist?
     
  2. koreahog2005

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    Many five-point Calvinists say that if you deny even one of the points, then you are not a Calvinist. Others say that if you affirm unconditional election, then you can be called a Calvinist. I affirm total depravity, unconditional election, and perseverance, but I don't care whether people call me a Calvinist or not.
     
  3. npetreley

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    Sounds to me like you're much closer to being an Arminian the way Arminius himself described his thinking, which is not the way Arminianism is presented today.
     
  4. Paul33

    Paul33
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    npetreley

    Could you please summarize Arminius' thinking.

    I don't believe that man can respond to the gospel message without God giving the gift of faith. I do believe that man can resist the drawing of Christ and be passed over.

    I also do not believe that man can lose his salvation once God gives the gift of faith.

    Aren't these two beliefs contrary to Arminius?
     
  5. Monergist

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    'The Core Essential' of consistent Calvinistic thought is having a God-centered view of all things, or as someone has described the perspective of Jonathan Edwards- " A God-Entranced View of all Things."

    The so-called 'Five-Points' that create so much controversy are simply a summary of calvinistic thought regarding salvation. These are issues that we all must wrestle with. Too often we reject the truth because of implications that we, for whatever reason, find difficult to accept. Without having a God-centered view, if we are not careful, we elevate man (ourselves) to the place of God and try and put God in the dock, forcing Him to answer our objections to what He has revealed as His will, His plan, and His purpose.
     
  6. Frogman

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    Total Depravity means man cannot respond without God intervening. I believe Christ taught this to Nicodemus, 'except ye be born again' you cannot see nor enter into the kingdom of God.

    Unconditional Election means those for whom Christ died were elected without any conditions, which imho, must also include the foreknowledge of God knowing the conditions being met by believers, otherwise, we make unconditional election fall.

    Limited Atonement means Christ did not die for all mankind; if so, then Unconditional Election cannot stand, although Total Depravity could stand. A general atonement, imho, would mean that God operates on all mankind to provide at the very least a partial quicken (having been born again) man then is 'enabled' to either accept or reject Christ. Therefore, if the redemption is not particular to the elect Unconditional Election cannot stand, and again imho, Tot. Depravity could be questioned because every individual would at some point receive the quickening of God. This would remove the hindrance of Tot. Depravity and cause eternal life to be dependent ultimately upon the will of man.

    Irristable Grace is the fact that God's will cannot be resisted to finality. If it can, then again God is much smaller than his creation.

    Perseverance means that all the elect shall persevere only by the preservation of God. Works will be evident I believe but there is not a clear gaurantee that I will personally see or even always recognize these works.

    This final point cannot stand if any part of the other four points can be over ruled by the will of man. If man by his will can negate his Total Depravity, make his election dependent upon his choice (as seen from the foreknowledge of God), cause his eternal life to spring from his enlightened or partially quickened spirit, or to the contrary cause his eternal damnation by over ruling the power of Holiness which raised Christ from the Grave, can over rule the purpose of God in the work of Atonement (removing the God anointed kinsman redeemer) and replacing Him with him/herself by essentially having his/her choice become thier personal redeemer, thus man can logically either choose to persevere under this same power he possesses or he can choose to live disobediently.

    Either way eternal life becomes a reward for obedience.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  7. npetreley

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    It's hard to quantify how your view agrees with or contradicts that of Arminius, because he spent most of his time attributing everything to "grace", all the while allowing the definition of "grace" in any given situation to be so ambiguous that it is impossible to argue with or against him on his own terms.

    Grace is umerited favor, which implies an undeserved gift. But what is the gift? While you and I may say the gift is faith, I do not believe Arminius ever said so, at least not directly. If anything, Arminius lumped everything into "grace".

    Here is a quote from Arminius, which shows that he actually agreed with and affirmed total depravity:

    In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: "Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing." That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.

    [...]

    The mind of man, in this state, is dark, destitute of the saving knowledge of God, and, according to the Apostle, incapable of those things which belong to the Spirit of God.

    [...]

    To the darkness of the mind succeeds the perverseness of the affections and of the heart, according to which it hates and has an aversion to that which is truly good and pleasing to God; but it loves and pursues what is evil.

    To these let the consideration of the whole of the life of man who is placed under sin, be added, of which the Scriptures exhibit to us the most luminous descriptions; and it will be evident, that nothing can be spoken more truly concerning man in this state, than that he is altogether dead in sin.


    Here's where he says that grace gives man everything - the light and knowledge of Christ, the ability to do good, etc. What he seems to be saying is that grace restores free will, and therefore gives man the ability to choose to believe, as long as he cooperates with grace.

    But far different from this is the consideration of the free will of man, as constituted in the third state of Renewed Righteousness. For when a new light and knowledge of God and Christ, and of the Divine will, have been kindled in his mind; and when new affections, inclinations and motions agreeing with the law of God, have been excited in his heart, and new powers have been produced in him; it comes to pass, that, being liberated from the kingdom of darkness, and being now made "light in the Lord," (Ephes. v. 8,) he understands the true and saving good; that, after the hardness of his stony heart has been changed into the softness of flesh, and the law of God according to the covenant of grace has been inscribed on it, (Jer. 31, 32-35,) he loves and embraces that which is good, just, and holy; and that, being made capable in Christ, co-operating now with God, he prosecutes the good which he knows and loves, and he begins himself to perform it in deed.

    According to Arminius, people remain lost because of man's ability to resist grace of his own free will. How does man manage to do that? I'm not sure, because Arminius seems to think man does not have free will until he receives grace. So where does free will actually play a part with Arminius? Well, if you can decode the following, perhaps there's an answer in there somewhere, but it reads like babble to me:

    "What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves. Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties—one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it." Bernardus, De Libero Arbit. et Gratia.

    Arminius also believed that you could cooperate at first and be saved, and then later fall and lose your salvation.
     
  8. Paul33

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    Interesting.

    Now I see why Kendall says that Beza and Arminius have similarities. Beza says that man receives a passive faith to believe and then receives an active faith that produces sanctification. If active faith isn't forthcoming, the passive faith is only temporary and man remains lost.

    Calvin simply believed in passive faith. The ground of faith/assurance is Christ himself, not sanctification.
     
  9. Paul33

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    For clarification purposes.

    If God gives faith, man will respond to the gospel message. In my thinking (and Calvin's) faith is looking to Jesus.

    At no point can a person have saving faith and not be saved. The faith is the proof of salvation, and God is the one who grants faith.

    In my view, before God gives faith, man can resist the drawing of Christ and be passed over, thereby not receiving the gift of faith.
     
  10. Ray Berrian

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    Christians who read/study the Bible and view God as being a loving and just Lord have a proclivity toward Arminianism.

    Point I Prevenient Grace: This means that before a sinner can come to Christ the Spirit of God must minister to the life of that person. Humans being created in the image of God [James 3:9] while tainted by the Adamic nature have a mind and will that can choose Jesus as only Savior. In our Christian theology sinners are depraved but not so much so that they cannot yield their lives to Christ. [John 1:9]

    Point II Election By Faith In Jesus: [Act 3:16a & Romans 5:1] The elect are chosen through His foreknowledge; Christ has always known who will believe. [I Peter 1:2a]

    Point III Unlimited Atonement: [Romans 5:18] Jesus died for all sinners; only those who trust in Him for salvation and eternal life become the elect. Sufficient for all but only efficient in those who trust in Christ.

    Point IV Resistible Grace: While God desires all to be saved, He has sovereignly ordained the free will of His human creation called men and women. [Isaiah 63:10; Jeremiah 19:15; John 5:40 & Acts 7:51]

    Point V The Possibility of Falling From Grace: [Hebrews 6:1-6 & Hebrews 10:26-29] These two passages are often cited as being proof that a child of God can backslide to the point of losing his or her salvation. Some Arminians like Wesleyan Arminians (Wesleyan Church & Church of the Nazarene and other Holiness Churches believe that when a wilful sin is committed, one falls from grace, while other people in this camp believe that God does not immediately remove the Spirit of God, but chastises the children of God [Hebrews 12:5-]

    As to my personal belief, I agree with the first four above but hold to Eternal Security which is similar to the fifth point of Calvinism.
     
  11. npetreley

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    That is not Arminianism. Arminius agrees with Calvinism on the point that sinners are totally depraved and cannot by themselves yield their lives to Christ.


    Your theology should probably be called the "Feelgood" theology. You believe whatever makes you feel good about yourself - that man has the ability to accept Jesus of his own free will, and having done so, will be eternally secure.

    There are religions that can make you feel even better than that -- care to go shopping?
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    Eternal security is a myth IF one bases his eternal security on his feeling of remorse, on his conviction, on a confession of faith he made followed by a sinner's prayer.

    Eternal security is a fact if the basis is God's mercy for His people, and the blood of Christ shed on that cross for His people.
     
  13. Ray Berrian

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    I was under the impression that those asking about the differences between Arminianism and Calvinism wanted to know what people believe and are thinking today, and not back in the ancient days of the above two men.

    It is my understanding that even Arminius never said that a child of God could backslide and end up in Hell.

    A 'feel good theology' is simply name calling. Real Biblical exegesis and Biblical interpretation requires years of study and not simply prating the party line of Calvinism. Study to show yourself approved unto God. [II Timothy 3:16-17]

    I have never read the theology of Arminius who lived between 1560-1609, but God's Word stands firmly within his concepts.

    Total Depravity has framed the rest of Calvin's ideas. If sinners have no mind, will, and emotions then they cannot be moved toward God, in any dimension whether Arminian or Calvinistic.

    The truth is that sinners are created in God's image [James 3:9] and we have some of blessings which He has created in all the lost. [John 1:9] We have a will [Revelation 20:17f & John 3:16]

    Try explaining these verses with my comments and you will be well on the road to truth about God and His plan for us through the Lord.
     
  14. Paul33

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    Ray,

    You would understand Romans 7 to be refering to pre-conversion Paul?

    I do, but I know most Calvinists do not.

    The will may desire that which is good, but it is not able to carry it out. So without being born again, no one is able to do the good.

    How does what I have just said fit with your view of Arminianism?

    At the core of Arminianism "today" is an understanding of free will that can respond to God's grace? Is that what you are saying?

    I'm interested in what Arminius actually taught as well.

    Ray makes a good point, though. What does the Bible teach regardless of Calvin or Arminius?
     
  15. BobRyan

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    You are as good a three point Calvinist as I have ever seen.

    An Arminian must believe in the ability to choose life or death based on God's supernatural gift - enabling through the drawing by the Holy Spirit.

    The Arminian believes that sinners must be called to repentance and that they must choose life to be saved. They believe that God died for all mankind (the atoning sacrifice for ALL SIN not just the sin of some).

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  16. BobRyan

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    As for Romans 7 - I would argue that the Romans 7 Paul is the converted Paul - but one who sense daily his need to embrace the Romans 8 principle of walking by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Paul calls this "dying daily" in 1Cor 15.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  17. Sularis

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    God makes a call

    I believe me and Ray agree on that this is what is called prevenient grace - whereby God grants man the ability to choose Him - whereas in man's normal state he is unable to do so

    Man does not save himself by making a choice

    A drowning man does not save himself by yelling Yes I am drowning and I want you to help me

    A man with cancer does not spontaneously become healed by acknowledging his disease and asking God to heal it.

    It is of GOD - the viewpoint that non-Calvinists glorify man is the greatest folly - we may raise men up so that we can raise God HIGHER!!

    For who is more powerful - a God that forces His will to be done

    OR

    A God who allows mankind to make choices - but still accomplishes His will.


    This is the vital first step to understand - man has a choice - but God has the power!
     
  18. npetreley

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    This is much closer to defining what Arminius said. But I disagree with you that Ray teaches this, unless I'm getting Ray mixed up with someone else.

    I guess it all depends on what you mean when you say prevenient grace, and how it is applied.

    But as I pointed out by quoting Arminius, the way Arminius portrays the process is self-contradictory. Arminius says man has no free will until grace is applied, yet man is able to resist grace of his own free will. But how is many able to resist grace of his own free will if he doesn't have free will until he receives grace?
     
  19. Sularis

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    He has free will - it is the option that is missing
     
  20. npetreley

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    Arminius described a self-contradictory soteriology. The fact that you believe Arminius is wrong about man not having free will until he receives grace doesn't change that.
     

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