My questions as I study Reformed Theology

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Nicholas25, Dec 21, 2010.

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  1. Nicholas25

    Nicholas25
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    I have been in some serious study of Reformed Theology/Calvinism/Doctrines of Grace for quite some time now. I do have some questions and thoughts and I would appreciate feedback.

    1. Romans 9:22 says, "And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction?" (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Is there anyway the, "What if" is not talking about something He actually does, but is just making an example of His power?

    2. Has anyone on here ever thought that God may only draw those who He knew would accept, meaning all do not get drawn. I ask because when God drew me to repent I do not feel like I could have refused and if God drew everyone the way He drew me, you would have all kinds of lost people saying, "Man, God tried to get me yesterday at church, but I fought Him off, I would not let Him get me."

    3. I am almost scared to fully embrace Reformed Theology, because if it is not true, then I am saying that God does not attempt to save all, when He actually does. Again, that's if Reformed Theology is not true.

    4. I also struggle with the "world" and "all' verses. I know Reformed theologians teach these words does not mean every, head for head, but I sometimes struggle with the idea that they do not mean every person, head for head, understanding that somtimes they do not, but I struggle to think they do not when the verse(s) are talking about salvation.

    I love studying Reformed Theology. I think it's fascinating, but I am struggling to go all the way. What do you guys think?
     
  2. jbh28

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    Study the Bible. Get your doctrine in line with the Bible and not a theological system. If the Bible teaches it, believe it. If your doctrine lines up with a theological system, fine. But have more concern with your doctrine lining up with the Bible over a theological system.
     
  3. Iconoclast

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    22And if God, willing to shew the wrath and to make known His power, did endure, in much long suffering, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction

    No, God only draws the elect savingly. God does not have to learn anything as He knows all.....no one seks God so there would never be anyone who would accept anything. This is from the 1689 confession of faith;
    Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling
    1._____ Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
    ( Romans 8:30; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; Ephesians 2:1-6; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18; Ezekiel 36:26; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 1:19; Psalm 110:3; Song of Solomon 1:4 )
    2._____ This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
    ( 2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:5; John 5:25; Ephesians 1:19, 20 )

    God does not attempt to save all. All are not going to be saved.All God wants to save His Son accomplishes their redemption, He does not try and save anyone...he actually saves ALL He intends to save.Not one is lost.

    Keep studying your bible...the truth is everywhere once you see it.
     
  4. Luke2427

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    #4 Luke2427, Dec 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2010
  5. BobinKy

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    You could balance your study with Thomas Oden's Systematic Theology (3 vols.)

    ...Bob
     
  6. RAdam

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    Romans 9 is often a mislabeled chapter. It is often called a chapter on election. Now, it is a chapter which deals with election, but it is not about election, but rather it is about the sovereignty of God. In that chapter Paul deals extensively with issues you raised.

    "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." What is this saying but that God will have mercy on whom He will, and no man can question it.

    "Thou wilt then say unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" Huge verse. You said that the way God called you, you don't feel as if you could refuse. You were right. When God draws one to Christ there is no resisting. He makes us willing in the day of His power. The objection then is why does He yet find fault with the wicked? If He called them it would be just as effectual as if was with us. After all, we were the children of wrath same as they. The response from Paul is, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" Eventually you get to the verses you originally quoted. Paul's point in the "if" statement was really to ask us what would we say if God did things that way. Would we claim God isn't being fair? He isn't insinuating God didn't do things that way, but rather is illustrating the point concerning God's sovereignty.

    Man forces his ideas of fairness onto salvation, but that's absurd. Fairness implies that the object of such fairness was owed something. If we say God must be fair to all men, giving every individual a chance, we are saying every individual is owed a chance by God. That's not what the bible says. The bible says we are all lost, hellbound sinners in open rebellion against God by nature. The only thing man deserves from God is condemnation. Salvation isn't about fairness and fairness shouldn't even be brought up. Paul's 9th chapter of Romans isn't about fairness at all, but rather is answering the objection of God being unfair. He answers it, not by illustrating how God is giving people a chance, but by saying God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and we cannot question Him. In other words, Paul points to sovereignty.

    Men are uneasy about the idea that God would intend to save one man and not the next. Their uneasiness is because man struggles with the concept of what he truly is by nature, how holy God truly is, and how truly offensive sin is to God. And really, men reserve rights to themselves that they deny God. It's ok for me to favor my children over other people, to give them things I don't give to other people, to love them in a way I don't other people, but that isn't ok for God.
     
  7. thomas15

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  8. jaigner

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    Unfortunately, it's not all that easy. Exegesis, theology and interpretation are hard processes. We have to get help or we're going to start believing all kinds of weird things.
     
  9. webdog

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    Context is king. Romans 9 - 11 is dealing with God sovereignly electing Israel over other nations.

    Your other questions will be answered when looking at a number of different views coupled with much prayer.
     
  10. RAdam

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    They are not all Israel which are of Israel. That one statement proves your national election idea incorrect.
     
  11. webdog

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    Not really. The 3 chapters taken as a whole are in regards to God's sovereing selection of Israel as His people and from which the Messiah would come through. Only believing Jews made up "true Israel".
     
  12. quantumfaith

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    Nicholas, here is a critique of reformed theology, written by a former calvinist. You may or may not consider it helpful. I thought it was carefully and thoughtfully written.

    http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html

    BTW, I am a graduate of Auburn, but I have no connection or knowledge of the author.
     
  13. quantumfaith

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    If you are truly inquisitive and searching for your place theologically, I would also suggest you read some work by William Lane Craig, most of his work in apologetic in nature. Also, I am currently reading Dr. Keathley's book "Salvation and Sovereignty" (so far a very good work) Dr. Keathley does consider himself to be of the reformed camp. Also, Dr. Norman Geisler is quite helpful.

    Disclaimer:

    I do not endorse,venerate of hold higher these men than any other man. I give them, and any man who spends years of his life in scholarship of the Word, and most knowledge domains honor and respect for that commitment and discipline.
     
  14. webdog

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  15. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Quantum,

    What are Steve Jones credentials?
     
  16. glfredrick

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    I will try to just answer your questions...

    Verse 22 is bouncing off of Paul's thoughts in verse 19:
    19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” (HCSB)

    In essence, Paul is letting the reader know that God has every right to do in the human race due to their sin. We cannot resist His will, except to sin all the more. There is no good thing in us that makes us worthy of salvation. No good work that we can do, including coming to faith, apart from His divine intervention, and that intervention is pure grace on God's part. God has "endured" (or perhaps better, "held off") His wrath for a time "to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory—" literally -- us. God's grace gives us time, not for our sake, so that we might have time to chose God, but for His glory alone. There is no "choice" implied here at all. Pure grace of God to fulfill His will when He wills.

    Yes, and this is a very old way of seeing God's actions. But God does not just draw those He knows will come. He simply draws -- period. To suggest that God only draws those that He knows have "already" come is to suggest that (1) God is not in control, (2) that God is not the author of salvation, but rather a responder, and (3) that the passages that tell us plainly that God has considered the elect before the beginning of time would be a lie.

    You, like everyone who comes to God in true faith (which is different from religious zeal) are only drawn by God, and that by God's grace. Those who think that they had something to do with the process apart from agreeing with God about their state, are mistaken, and in their cause and effect thinking, they fail to realize that God has planned from before we were created that He would draw us to Himself.

    Don't be afraid. You would be in great company with the likes of Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, the Pilgrims, Piper, the first Baptists, the Apostle Paul, etc., etc., etc. True Reformed theology still follows every single Scripture -- something that many on the other side either do not understand or deliberately try to hide. We preach to all persons because WE do not know who are the elect of God. We preach to all persons because GOD commands. We know, because of the Scriptures, especially Paul, that no one comes to salvation without the preaching of the gospel. That is exactly what Scripture says! We preach because we know, based on God's never-failing promise that "His Word will not return void..." and that there are elect everywhere we preach because He has said so. And, so true Calvinists (not the straw man hyper-Calvinist that is often portrayed on this board and otherwise) are VERY evangelistic. We found and fund, not to mention participate, in missions all over the world because we believe the Scriptures and God's promises. Again, it is not WE who decide whom are the elect. That is heresy. God decides, we are faithful to allow Him that decision.

    Neither side actually claims universalism, so in both camps there is an issue for words like "the world" and "all." For both of those phrases to be true in the sense that they are applied to Reformed theology, God would simply save all people in the world, past, present, and future and there would be no need to do a single thing. That is not true for Reformed persons and that is not true for Arminian persons. Universalism is a heresy.

    I already mentioned how we preach to all... That is sufficient. Just check out the largest and greatest missionaries and mission-sending agencies in the history of the church and see where their theology sits. You may be surprised to discover that it is overwhelmingly Reformed in direction.

    There is even a reason for that, which I spoke of above. Fleshed out, those who hold that somehow it is up to a man to convince another man to come to faith in God will likely withhold their efforts if they do not think that they will have "success." We see that in the radical separation, even in this day, of those who are most Arminian in their practice. They dislike everyone who is not like them, including the lost, and they are at war with everyone, including the lost. There is no need for this sort of war if God is in control. All we need then is faithfulness and trust that His grace is sufficient, and so, like Isaiah, we say, "Here am I Lord, send me!"

    I'd say struggle not. Just read, learn, and if your heart is convicted, change your theology. You will be in good company, from a poll done here on the board, it seems that most who are now Reformed have changed from an earlier position due to their study of Scripture.

    And, again (from what I said in another thread) without Reformed doctrine there would be no Baptist church. Reformed doctrine came first. The later change was to add a human-centered element to an otherwise biblical doctrine.
     
  17. quantumfaith

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    EWF, dont know his credentials. I like his writing style and sensitive (mostly) and balanced approach.
     
  18. BobinKy

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    Question 3 from the OP suggests he may be questioning the reformed theology approach to Christian faith.

    Oden's Systematic Theology is an easy-to-read (and understand) approach to the Christian faith by providing both ancient (reaching back 1500 years) and modern theological wisdom for the contemporary Christian. What's more, Oden frequently straddles theological issues from the Arminian perspective, which would bring a balanced approach to the reformed theology the OP is already studying (and questioning).

    Below is a summary of the Oden's Systematic Theology from the publisher.

    Publisher's Description

    Thomas Oden's Systematic Theology classic series (individually titled The Living God, The Word of Life, and Life in the Spirit) provides a consensus view of the Christian faith, delving deeply into ancient Christian tradition and bringing to the contemporary church the best wisdom from its past. In this magisterial work, Oden tackles the central questions of Christian belief and the nature of the trinity.

    Written for clergy, Christian educators, religious scholars, and lay readers alike, Classic Christianity provides the best synthesis of the whole history of Christian thought. Part one explores the most intriguing questions of the study of God—Does God exist? Does Jesus reveal God? Is God personal, compassionate, free?—and presents answers that reflect the broad consensus culled from the breadth of the church's teachers. It is rooted deeply and deliberately in scripture but confronts the contemporary mind with the vitality of the Christian tradition. Part two addresses the perplexing Christological issues of whether God became flesh, whether God became Christ, and whether Christ is the source of salvation. Oden details the core beliefs concerning Jesus Christ that have been handed down for the last two hundred decades, namely, who he was, what he did, and what that means for us today. Part three examines how the work of God in creation and redemption is being brought to consummation by the Holy Spirit in persons, through communities, and in the fullness of human destiny. Oden's magisterial study not only treats the traditional elements of systematical theology but also highlights the foundational exegetes throughout history. Covering the ecumenical councils and early synods; the great teachers of the Eastern church tradition, including Athanasius and John Chrysostom; and the prominent Western figures such as Augustine, Ambrose, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, this book offers the reader the fullest understanding of the Christian faith available.​

    I hope this answers your question.

    ...Bob
     
  19. thomas15

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    OK. The reason I ask is because the OP has stated that he is studying reformed theology, not Methodist Arminian. I would think that if the OP is of the state of mind that he wanted to study Arminian theology he would have the mental ability to do so. I'm not being cranky for the sake of being cranky, just so that you know. But I would assume that from the tone of the OP question, he has an understanding of the concept of election from a calvinist and Arminian point of view and is looking for Biblical information to back up the claims of the reformed in this setting.

    From the preface of Oden's The Living God (Systematic Theology volume 1) " My purpose is not to present the views of a particular branch of modern Christian teaching, such as Roman Catholic or Baptist or Episcopal. Rather it is to listen single-mindedly for the voice of that deeper, ecumenical consensus that has been gratefully celebrated as received teaching by believers of vastly different cultural settings-whether African or European, Eastern or Western, sixth or sixteenth century." On page 331 (vol #1) he writes "Christian Scripture, Christian Tradition, Christian reasoning, and Christian experience all exist in response to God's historical revelation in Israel and Jesus Christ....."

    Just to be clear on this, I have great respect for Dr. Oden. He is one of, if not the most reasonable voice in the UMC today. I have his systematic theology and several other books of his, and even BibSac published a 4 part series of articles in 2010 that he wrote. His credentials with respect to the ECF are unquestioned by me. He is however a mainline protestant, ( i refer to him as a conservative liberal), he is certainly not an evangelical, he does not hold the high view of the Scriptures that many here do, which I think is important to know in the context of this chat group.

    That's all.
    Tom
     
  20. BobinKy

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    thomas15...

    You are right about one thing--Thomas Oden is a Methodist.

    However, your other descriptions of him do not hit the mark.

    While you may say Thomas Oden is not an evangelical--Baker Publishing, Hendricksen Publishers, InterVarsity Press, Zondervan Publishers, and the Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals think otherwise; as does Christianity Today, the most widely-read evangelical journal in North America, where Thomas Oden serves as contributing editor.

    And if doubt still lingers, here is Amazon's list of the 62 books authored or edited by Thomas Oden.

    I stand by my suggestion to the OP--the writings of Thomas Oden add balance to anyone questioning the approach of reformed theology.



    ...Bob
     
    #20 BobinKy, Dec 23, 2010
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