Logical Inconsistency?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by doulous, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. doulous

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    I have a theory sometimes there is a logical inconsistency in our theology. Often we place self-imposed "detours" around the logical conclusion(s) of our theology. Allow me to give two examples:

    "Max" is Calvinist. He says all the right things about the sovereignty of God. He knows all the right verses and can quote the Synods of Dort and the London Baptist Confession of 1689 in his sleep. Yet Max views God's election and predestination as entrance into a special club. He does not believe in sharing his faith. He belongs to a church that has no outreach in the community. The gospel is never heard either from his mouth or from anyone in his church. Max believes that God will save the elect on His own and it is not his job to interfere. Max is a "hyper-Calvinist." His view is unbiblical.

    "Ted" is Arminian. He goes to a vibrant soul-winning church that never ceases to share their faith in Christ. It seems that every weekend their is some soul-winning activity taking place. In fact the emphasis of Ted and his church is that of preaching the gospel to both the saved and unsaved. Many of the same people go up at the weekly altar calls. Ted's church teaches that man cooperates with God in salvation. He also believes it is possible to fall from grace and lose your salvation. Ted's view is also unbiblical.

    Both of these views are the caricatures that are created of hyper-Calvinism and full Arminianism. The Calvinist's that post in here would disavow their caricature and so would the Arminian's. We would profess to operate to the left of these extreme positions. But here is my question:

    Isn't that logically inconsistent?

    If so, why? If not, why?

    The logical conclusion of Calvinism is hyper-Calvinism. The logical conclusion of Arminianism is historical Arminianism. (Note: Historical Arminianism would be consistent with the beliefs held by the Remonstrants at the Synod of Dordt. For a summary of what they believed click HERE). The truth is that there are few who would hold to either view today. IMHO we have sometimes stopped short of crossing the line into the more extreme views of our theologies by creating artifical detours or barricades. To make my point here are two more examples:

    "Penny" is a modern day Arminian. She believes that God is sovereign but He will not force His will on anyone. Penny holds to the "foreknowledge view", that God looked down the corridor of time and elected those whom He knew whould choose Him. God does, indeed, bring the person to the lake but they have to decide to drink. She believes that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and that He desires all to be saved, although not all will. She rejects the teaching of the Remonstrants on the issue of falling from grace. "Once saved, always saved" is her cry.

    "Sally" is a Calvinist. She believes that the Reformation got it right and that God has chosen His elect before the foundation of the earth. Sally believes the elect are chosen by God after the counsel of His own will and that all who are chosen will come to faith in Christ. The universal call of salvation goes out to all, and should be preached to all, but only the elect will respond. Since God has chosen the foolishness of preaching as the means of calling the elect she has a fervent heart for evangelism. She agrees with Penny that, "Once saved, always saved."

    As you can see in these two examples both Penny and Sally do not cross over to the extreme sides of Arminianism or Calvinism. One of two things has happened. 1. They have created boundaries that keep them from "crossing over" to their theology's extreme view. 2. They have solid biblical rationale that keeps them from "crossing over."

    Why would someone create those detours or boundaries? Well for starters, some just don't know their theology. They have been taught a certain way but they honestly don't know how to defend it. Both sides "pass off" their doctrine as irrefutable fact and many (if not most) people in the pews take it for gospel. These people sound like broken records...constantly saying the same thing over and over again. They know a few passages but that is it. They cannot defend what they believe. Both sides have them.

    How about the other group? These are the ones who have studied the scriptures. They have prayed and researched. They have invested "sweat equity" into their theology. When pressed about what they believe they are able to defend it biblically. They do not pull random passages out of thin air. They know what it means to remain in context. This group is not guilty of logical inconsistency (so far as their approach and commitment to uncover the truth). Both sides have some of these folks, but they are the minority in the church today.

    It is amazing that most of us have not gone to the extremes of our theology. My only question is: have you not gone extreme because you do know what you believe or because you don't know what you believe?

    [ April 28, 2006, 01:23 PM: Message edited by: doulous ]
     
  2. webdog

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    Could it be the Holy Spirit will only allow you to go so far?
     
  3. doulous

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    Could it be the Holy Spirit will only allow you to go so far? </font>[/QUOTE]Dog, that is a great point. I believe that both extemes are examples of those who have not been saved. They are false gospels...so yeah, if a person is truly a child of God they will not remain consistent in heresy.*

    * I say "consistent" because all of us can be fooled into wrong doctrine, but a true believer will never remain that way (Phil. 1:6).
     
  4. npetreley

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    It would be logically inconsistent for a Calvinist to withhold the Gospel.

    Read Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will. It amounts to "This is what the Bible says, period. All your philosophical contortions won't make it say anything different." The Bible also says to spread the Gospel. If we believe election because the the Bible teaches election, then it would be logically inconsistent to respect the part of the Bible that teaches election but reject the part that says to evangelize.

    Is there a logical inconsistency between election and evangelism? No, because God uses people according to His good pleasure to accomplish His will. But even if Calvinism was logically inconsistent with evangelism, Calvinists who believe what they believe because "the Bible says so" will also evangelize, because "the Bible says so".
     
  5. doulous

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    Not my point. I am trying to pin it down to the individual believer. Why do you believe what you believe? Do you believe it because of what Luther wrote in "Bondage of the Will", or do you believe it for other reasons?

    What is the underlying reason that supports your theology?
     
  6. npetreley

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    I guess I don't understand your point.

    I don't agree that the logical extreme of election is to fail to evangelize, although I recognize that some people think that way. But I would have to guess that they arrived at that logical extreme because they are only thinking about what election means, and not WHY they believe it. Maybe they believe it for the wrong reasons. I don't know.

    I believe election because it is what the Bible teaches. To me, the logical extreme is to respect everything the Bible teaches, not only election.
     
  7. doulous

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    I guess I don't understand your point.

    I don't agree that the logical extreme of election is to fail to evangelize, although I recognize that some people think that way. But I would have to guess that they arrived at that logical extreme because they are only thinking about what election means, and not WHY they believe it. Maybe they believe it for the wrong reasons. I don't know.

    I believe election because it is what the Bible teaches. To me, the logical extreme is to respect everything the Bible teaches, not only election.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Yes, we're not communicating. Let me try this another way.

    A Calvinist that goes to the far right of Calvinist doctrine strays into hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinist's have a distorted view of God's sovereignty. Yes, they believe God elects those who will come to faith in Him, but they do so from a fatalistic standpoint. Not only do they believe God elects, but they advocate no human involvement in evangelism. The gospel is not preached because God is the one who does the work. This is not the only marker of hyper-Calvinism, but it certainly is the most well known. This would be the logical extreme of the biblical Calvinist position if left unchecked. It is checked (imho) by biblical teaching. Or it SHOULD be checked by biblical teaching. When a person rejects biblical teaching on God's sovereignty and develops that distorted view of election, then they stray into the heresy of hyper-Calvinism. Likewise the modern-day Arminian can stray into Historical Arminianism (which I introduced in the OP).
     
  8. npetreley

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    I get you now. But I don't have much of a response. IMO that's a problem that extends way beyond the C/A/P (P=pelagian) debate. Anytime you take one Biblical principle and amplify it so much that you begin to contradict other teachings of scripture, you're bound to wander into heresy sooner or later. That's often how spinoff denominations turn into cults. ;)
     
  9. whatever

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    I vitriolically disagree with this statement. [​IMG]

    One has to ignore plain commands in the Bible, or to conclude that God doesn't really mean for all men everywhere to repent, for hyper-C to be logical. If we take a set of propositions and draw unbiblical conclusions then we are being illogical, no matter how much our conclusions may "make sense" to us.

    I'm also not sure that I would say that a synergist is not saved. Maybe you don't mean that but it's what "I believe that both extemes are examples of those who have not been saved" sounds like to me. Hopefully I've not misunderstood, but if I have I apologize in advance.

    I think we are all logically inconsistent to some degree, but it is too the degree that our beliefs are formed by what we think makes sense as opposed to what Scripture teaches.
     
  10. doulous

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    I vitriolically disagree with this statement. [​IMG]

    One has to ignore plain commands in the Bible, or to conclude that God doesn't really mean for all men everywhere to repent, for hyper-C to be logical. If we take a set of propositions and draw unbiblical conclusions then we are being illogical, no matter how much our conclusions may "make sense" to us.

    I'm also not sure that I would say that a synergist is not saved. Maybe you don't mean that but it's what "I believe that both extemes are examples of those who have not been saved" sounds like to me. Hopefully I've not misunderstood, but if I have I apologize in advance.

    I think we are all logically inconsistent to some degree, but it is too the degree that our beliefs are formed by what we think makes sense as opposed to what Scripture teaches.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Let me rephrase. If Calvinism is carried to it's logical extreme it will result in hyper-Calvinism. The emphasis is on "logical extreme." It is my contention that those involved in heresy, as a practice, are not believers. If Calvinism is carried to it's logical conclusion it will result in a biblical faith. My first attempt at saying th is was worded poorly. Thanks for the correction.
     
  11. Brother Bob

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    Its because the Arminians are up and about their Father's business. [​IMG] Amen,
     
  12. rsr

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    And we were doing so well ...
     
  13. Brother Bob

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    I will get out of your way. Please forgive.
     
  14. JackRUS

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    My theology would fall right between Penny and Sally.

    On election I would say that Penny is wrong in saying that "God looked down the corridor of time and elected those whom He knew whould choose Him."

    God does the dynamic choosing (Rom. 9:15) based on the hearer of the Gospel agreeing with God's Word (Isa. 66:2) that they are lost sinners (Rom. 3:10,23) in need of the only Savior that can save them (John 6:40,47; 14:6; Acts 4:10) based on the account from Scripture of His finished work on the cross. (1 Cor. 1,15; Rom. 10, etc.) He makes the real decision, but we must make a decision of our own to repent and believe. Repentance only being a sorrow for the sin that we can't actually turn from until we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit through regeneration (Rom. 6).

    And I actually agree with everything that Sally believes except that she needs more information from Scripture to add to her theology. The elect are saved not because God just put together a list of believers willy-nilly or capriciously (if there is another reason that Calvinists defend, let me know), but because they chose to fear God and believe the Gospel ans Biblical accound of Christ. Which is a passive cry for grace and mercy from a comdemned sinner, or a forensic criminal if you will.

    Of course the account given in John 3:18,36; 12:48 gives information about what happens when one refuses to do this, and believe. One is a present guilt, and the other is a warning against an ongoing rejection of Christ.

    And I fully agree with you that the natural result of Calvinism is hyper-Calvinism. If God has already compiled His full list of believers, and it is not based on any decision or acts of man, then the natural conclusion is that to go out with the Gospel would save exactly no one extra. God will save then anyhow.

    Those Calvinists that find this belief syatem repuslive, and they should, are in denial if they think otherwise. Another reason that I reject Calvinism.
     
  15. Ransom

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    doulous said:

    The logical conclusion of Calvinism is hyper-Calvinism.

    Not true.

    It would be more accurate to say that "If not for the fact that Scripture teaches:

    </font>
    • "that God uses the works of men to accomplish his purposes in the world;</font>
    • "that it is the responsibility of all men to repent of their sin and believe in Christ; and</font>
    • "that it is the responsibility of all Christians to proclaim the Gospel to the world,</font>
    "then the logical conclusion of Calvinism would be hyper-Calvinism. However, due to these mitigating factors, that is not the case."
     
  16. Scott J

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    These two sentences are contradictory.

    First, Christ work didn't finish anything if it is dependent on the good will of man to be effective. It is ever short of its intent.

    Second, whatever "dynamic choosing" happens to be the next statement is directly contradictory to scripture. Agreeing with God's Word based a purely human decision is indeed "good that we have done". You cannot characterize it any other way. You require that we did it... and it is certainly good. Further, you make God's respect for man's good will the deciding factor in salvation rather than His respect for Christ's atoning death.

    In the second sentence you assert that we must make a decision "of our own". That directly makes salvation dependent on goodness that is wholly human and independent of God's goodness. Again, you have made salvation dependent on man's goodness and not God's grace.
    Repentance is not complete without turning. It is never only "a sorrow".
    Neither of those are reasons I have seen calvinists defend. Most just say it is according to God's pleasure... because that is EXACTLY what scripture says.
    Again, man is saved by his own goodness.
    A passive cry? A cry or calling out in anguish is NOT a passive act.

    And your agreement has absolutely nothing to do with what is "true". Calvinism does not naturally result in hyper-calvinism.

    Calvinism says that all are worthy of condemnation and God graciously saves some of those who are none the less STILL unworthy. He "passively" allows the rest to do exactly as they wish according to their own depraved wills. Hypercalvinism says that God actively chooses to condemn the lost in such a way that He bars them from repenting. Non-calvinism like what you have espoused here asserts that God saves the worthy... those who were somehow discerning enough to choose good.
    Not the point of evangelism. Evangelism is the method God has chosen to His own glory to save every one of the elect... and we don't know who they are so in obedience to God we should share the gospel with all.
    Calvinists don't assert that nor do their behaviors bear it out. Calvinists have been every bit as evangelical as non-calvinists... and probably more so with respect to the actual gospel of scripture.

    Basing salvation on man's decision places the emphasis on one's ability to convince someone to decide favorably and away from the finished work of Jesus Christ.

    No. It isn't denial because it isn't true. If you have been around here long and have made such assertions then you have no doubt been corrected with even more reason than I gave. You can reject anything you want. But the alternative you supplied above is nothing less than salvation based on human merit- a total contradiction to the word "grace" and the gospel as taught in the Bible.
     
  17. doulous

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    I had already made the correction. You did not read this:

     
  18. JackRUS

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    Scott.
    You wrote:
    This all a total misrepresentation of my belief, or indeed the belief of Arminians. It is a classic Calvinist strawman argument.

    Believing God that we all all condemned sinners on our way to Hell is not, as you put it "good that we have done." Nor is it our "good will."

    If a human judge told you that you were guilty of murder and you were guilty. And then he said that one would take your place and you believed his unique offer and took him up on it. That would not make you a do-gooder, nor would it make your will good. It is merely a gracious gift received.

    And according to Galatians no one that is saved accepts any other Gospel. So you are arguing that only Calvinists are saved.

    And I argued that man's choice is passive in that only God can make the salvation decision and the regeneration.

    You wrote:
    Why exactly do we have to tell them anything before God saves them if, according to Calvinists, He already chose them, and according to Romans 8:30 it's a done deal? Exactly how can evangelism increase the number of saved? And if it doesn't, please go back to question one.

    you wrote:
    Then you don't believe your own doctrine on election or total depravity.

    As I said, all Calvinism naturally leads to hyper-Calvinism in the area of evangelism by their definition of election. It's inescapable.
     
  19. doulous

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    Jack, interesting statement. It seems close to the Calvinist view of man's will but doesn't quite close the gap.

    Classical Calvinism teaches that man does make a choice in salvation. The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is that Calvinist's believe the choice takes place after God has sovereignly regenerated the heart therefore making it possible for man to choose. Arminiansim teaches that man chooses even in his fallen condition. His choice is always his own and is not predicated on any work of God. It is the "you can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" line of reasoning.

    It is my contention (and that of the Dutch Reformers at the Synod of Dort, 1618-19) that Arminianism, despite what it claims, does not support that man is fallen in all his faculties. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of the sinner, lies a small spark. It is able to understand and appropriate the gospel message. It has enough faith, albeit miniscule, to respond to the gospel and be saved. Calvinism believes that no such spark exists. Man is irrefutably dead in his sins (Eph. 2:1) and wholly incapable of understanding the spiritual truth of the gospel (1 Cor. 2:14). The conclusions of both views? Calvinism recognizes that all the work of salvation belongs to God, the calling (election), regeneration and justification. It is after regeneration that man believes, by faith, in Christ. Arminianism also claims to believe in the calling (election), regeneration and justification of the sinner. It redefines election into the foreknowledge view (God elects those who will choose Him) and denies the fallen nature of man.

    So both sides do believe that man chooses, we just define it differently.
     
  20. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I disagree. The logical conclusion of Calvinism is only hyper-calvinism if you are in a liberal church which denies the inerrancy of scripture and the commands of Christ. Calvinists don't witness to the lost because they believe they are their savior or that God could not do it without them (which I certainly believe he could). Calvinists witness to the lost because their Lord has commanded them to do it. This is not logically at odds with Calvinism, and does not automatically logically lead to hyper calvinism. Since we have been reborn, and given a new mind in Christ, our desire is to please God, who is our master. We please God through obeying his Word.

    Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria,

    Joseph Botwinick
     

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