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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JesusFan, May 11, 2011.
Any particular Bible passages?
It wasn't so much any particular verse that convinced me to leave Calvinism. It was understanding the historical context of those passages which first lead me to Calvinism. John 6 for example makes so much more sense when you understand that Jesus' audience (Israel) was being judicially hardened in their rebellion, which was the reason they could not "come to him." They weren't being "drawn" because the gospel (the means of drawing) hadn't been sent to them yet. It was being hidden from them in parables (Mk 4; Matt 13; Jn 12:39). And it wasn't until Jesus died and was raised that he would draw all men to himself by sending that gospel appeal to all creatures.
In Eph 1 and Rom 8, the passages also make so much more sense when you understand that Paul is speaking about believers being predestined to be conformed into Christ's image and adopted as sons. In other words, its not about God predestining certain lost people to become believers, it is about God predestining all believers to become sanctified and glorified.
And in Romans 9, the grandfather of all Calvinistic texts, has much more clarity when you see that those being hardened or "cut off" may be "provoked by envy" and saved if they "leave their unbelief" as Paul explains in Romans 11.
So, it's really about fully understanding the historical context and purpose of God's overall plan of redemption for mankind that lead me away from Calvinism.
Im not sure that anyone starts out as a Calvinist although I could be wrong. I know I certainly didnt so did you go from Arminian to Calvinist to Arminian ? And if so, what made you go from an Arminian and/or Non-Calvinist to Calvinist in the 1st place? Then lastly, are you finally settled or are you movining in another direction?:wavey:
Sure, there are many. My nephew was raised in a Reformed church and was taught Calvinism from childhood so that's all he knew. He has left Calvinism since then when he started studying in college, but he is just one example I know of.
No, I would say I went from ignorance of the subject to Calvinism to Arminianism, but never liked the labels for the same reason most here don't like them.
I didn't know how to explain those passages I just mentioned any other way. My first real exposure to them was with commentary from a Calvinistic author (John MacArthur), so I could only really understand them from the perspective that had been explained, and they seemed very cut and dry at the time. What was even more convincing was that most of the non-Cal pastors I went to talk to about this didn't have any real answers either, they would quote John 3:16 and 2 Peter 3:9 and think that should convince me, but they wouldn't explain what those passages meant if Calvinism wasn't true. It wasn't until I really dove in and studied the scholars on the subject that I began to see and understand the other perspective. I didn't like it at first because I thought it was cool being Calvinistic and I hated to admit I was wrong, especially since most of my friends and mentors were reformed guys....some that I had converted to Calvinism myself. It was a 3 year battle.
Well, I've been wrong before so I never say never, but knowing what I know now and having been on both sides of this debate, I don't see myself going back to Calvinism, if that's what you are asking. It would take a "irresistible call" to get me to go back, I think.
Hi Skandelon, so what you seem to be saying is once you viewed the passages that supported Calvinism based on the whole train of thought, the context if you will, then they did not support Calvinism at all.
Now one of the problems with the "hasty generalization" is that when flaws are noticed, rather than consider the alternate, the alternate is questioned and dismissed and never really considered.
So why did you not, as so many of the Calvinists posting on this board seem to have done, simply invent reasons why the alternate could not be true because of the emotional investment in your heartfelt beliefs.
So would you say your an Arminian or something else?
My journey is similar but somewhat amplified.
In my life, I have gone from being Arminian to being a supralapsarian Calvinist to being Universalist and open theist (trinitarian flavor) back to Arminian then back to Calvinist (infralapsarian) then, (most recently) back to Arminian--interestingly enough, this last shift was due to recent debate on the Baptist Board.
Although I have gone like a ping-pong ball back and forth, I tend to view the shifts as being formative. The shifts have brought me to a middle ground avoiding the extremes of hypercalvinism and open theism. It has also allowed me to understand both sides more fairly.
Here is another guy with an ax to grind.
Yeah, its like the quote in my sig says, "The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” - George Bernard Shaw
I can't speak for them, but for me, I did do that for a long time. I wanted so badly to stay reformed. My family was invested in a reformed church and most of my extended family was reformed, all my best friends...it was the hardest thing I've ever gone through.
Honestly, if I hadn't been a debater in high school and college I think I would still be a Calvinists today. In logic/debate courses you are taught to study and defend both sides of a debate, which is not natural. If you don't believe me, try defending abortion or some other very convicting subject. Try making yourself stand in the others shoes and come up with sound reasonable arguments. That skill was drilled into me for 8 years and forced me to be able to objectively look at issues from more than one perspective. If I hadn't been taught that skill I don't think I could have been convinced to look at those passages from another vantage point. I had been a Cal for a decade of my life. I was VERY convinced I was right and it wasn't until I forced myself to take up the defense of Arminianism and give it a fair and objective look that I became convinced to leave Calvinism.
Interesting you go through so many gyrations...to each his own I guess but its just served to strengthen my own beliefs & point me in the right direction concerning church assembly. I love DoG & Election & love is really too small a word for what I feel about it....more like unspeakable Joy.
How recent and with who, if you don't mind me asking? I'm always curious as to what arguments lead people to change their perspectives.
Just a few weeks ago, actually.
It was from webdog:
This didn't seal the deal, but it got the ball rolling.
Well I never understood WD anyway..... & he was right it appears filled with emotional tripe.
Actually there was no bible passage, rather it was my conversion that changed me. I was going to an Arminian Church however & hating it.....the sermon, the Pastor, the congregation..... just thinking each week why am I here? Even the music grated on me & I normally like music.
When I saw the light I was 52 years old & had no inkling toward religious life.....I viewed that as some awful punishment & I pretty much decided Id had enough of it. Then one day driving down the Highway I was listening to a CD my brother got me by George Whitfield & I remember saying why am I listening to this rubbish. Well Whitfield convicted me with the Method of Grace Sermon....he described me & how I always had not believed, told me that my Unbelief was really hatred for God....I was thinking how does this Whitfield guy actually know me...LOL. Then it began....a hunger for the Scriptures. the desire to know more & more & more. And then I developed a conscience & I couldnt do the bad things I used to do....had no wish to. All I know that for what ever reason the HS had changed me. Made me new. Ive never looked back. Id not asked for this quickening & I didnt want it in my previous life. I was having too much fun being evil....heck allot of fun actually. But when he comes after you....he is coming back with you, I'm testimony to that!
I still wake up in the morning wondering what happened to the old man.....but I'm firmly convinced that this is a work of God through the Holy Spirit & I just thank him & praise him every darn day. What a blessed gift. Praise God! :godisgood:
Thanks Skandelon, you provided an even better answer than the one I anticipated!
Yeah, I doubt the sovereign Lord who created every part of us would want to have anything to do with that "emotional tripe" involving our love for the children he gives us.
It's compelling to speak of our love for our children, but I can't atone for the sins of my kids. Thus, we're talking about apples and oranges. This is one of many differences that makes this analogy false.
This response misses the point.
I can't atone for the sins of my children, but I would if I could.
If a child is reprobate, then Christ could have atoned for his sins, but he chose not to do so.
In this case, I would have the desire but not the ability. Christ would have the ability but not the desire.
For me it was a combination of things but it started and ended with researching and studying out not only what regeneration is but 'how' it does what it does, when it does it.
When you look at all that the reformed view 'says' regeneration does to the sinner (and we all agree it makes them alive, but the rest as well) it makes good sense - UNTIL - you notice that each aspect of what they claim regeneration does, scripture states is brought about 'by faith'.
I have 'tried' to debate this very topic on here and not many will venture in.
I used Packer as the ground work and few reformed friends (on here) specific statements about what the Reformed doctrine is to establish uniformity of view, then and now. Still pretty much the same
1. a new nature (old things are passed away behold all things have become new - IOW - you are no longer what you were);
2. the Holy Spirit indwells them;
3. their relationship to God has been reconciled (justified);
4. they have been sanctified unto God;
4. they are now IN Christ (thus alive);
5. and are given faith and repentence to be used for salvation.
Now here is the problem with what you have stated if all the above are imparted at regeneration (which includes faith) that precedes the excersizing of one's faith.
None of the above, biblically, are imparted to man except 'by faith'.
Look at what 'scripture' states about each of the above:
It is not before faith is excersized that these are imparted to us (your view of regeneration) but 'after' we have believed.
Therefore if all of the above happened 'at' the regeneration, which includes the giving of faith (The reformed view of regeneration preceding faith), then we have a conflict with scripture which states the exact opposite. I do agree that all stated happens 'at' the regeneration (aside from faith). But scripturally if one holds that regeneration entails the above, regeneration can not precede faith for it is by faith all of the above is imparted to man. Then you must conclude that faith precedes regeneration.
There are many verse which show this as well, and from a Greek standpoint it is quite hard to get around this verse (as well as some others):
NOTE: They were slaves 'when' called. The Greek bears this out more clearly.. basically put - they were still in chains when God called them to faith, not that they were set free.. then called. If they were still slaves then they have not received a new nature but are operating from their old.
You can see this also in other verses such as Acts 26:18 and John 12:46, ect..
It is of note however that historically Calvinists (especially those with strong Greek Skills) have maintained that Ordo Salutis (order of salvation) regarding regeneration preceding faith, was a LOGICAL conclusion and NOT one found in scripture. It is only JUST recently that many of the Reformed view are stating it IS found in scripture. What happened? Was there some new discovery regarding the Greek that these historical giants of the Reformed faith were not privy to?
Another point after grappling with that and yet in addition to it, is researching what 'dead' means in a spiritual sense, and that if the definition is correct (unable) then it applies every time it used in a spiritual sense. It was here that another problem arose where we have Paul stating that Believers ARE 'dead' TO sin (this referring to our spiritual state).. thus the reformed definition must be applied here as well meaning that Believers ARE unable TO sin. Then a few verses down after Paul states we are 'unable/dead' he states we are to 'consider ourselves dead TO sin. - Now here is the big problem comes into play, with obvious initial one that believers are 'unable' to sin - but that being a state whereby we 'ARE' dead/unable, now declares that we are to live out our faith remembering we are dead to sin and thus CHOOSING not to sin.
How can a person go against their nature?
How can a believer who IS dead TO sin (regarding our new nature as opposed to the old nature), while maintaining the reformed definition of dead being 'unable', how are we as believers (being dead to sin) able TO sin since it goes against their nature? I thought we can only choose according to our nature?
The issues were becoming stark and yet clear. Much of this was based upon theological presupposition and had built 'up' the case from there. Much like some hotels that are pretty solid but in some places having paper thin walls, where any amount pressure could tear through.
Then of course you have the order of decrees, which have no basis in scripture whatsoever, but are established upon theological suppositions, which by-the-way are used to help establish mans inability.
Which again brought me back to not only what Regeneration does, but HOW (and therefore when) it does it
These are all very quick summations of path I walked through 7 years of study on the subject. It goes much deeper, and wider, and has much more substance but I am merely pointing out some of the finer points of my travel in a condensed form.
Skan, StephanM, Allan,
Your stories are amazing to me. I am in the midst of a similar theological tussle but not near as arduous as yours. Your stories (and hopefully there'll be others added) have been very helpful and will continue to be as I study these pivotal issues that you have faced.
I would be interested in knowing other aspects of your life changes in respect to your 'coming-out', in your case, of Calvinism per the OP (and post #9) of the thread I started here if you wouldn't mind.