Need Constructive Criticism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Dr. Bob, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Semipelagianism is a theological construct defining salvation between the positions of Augustine and Pelagius.
    1. Augustine taught that man cannot come to God without the grace of God and this grace is 100% of God and not any act of man. God redeems and regenerates sinful man, giving him faith to repent and believe the Gospel.
    2. Pelagius taught that within man is the capability and will to come to God, effecting his own salvation.
    In Semipelagian thought, a distinction is made between the beginning of faith and the growing of faith. Semipelagian thought teaches that God gives a general call to all mankind and that the beginning of faith is an act inate within man's free will to respond to the Gospel, while the latter half - growing in faith - is the work of God. Grace is seen supervening only later, after man's initial inate faith and belief of the Gospel.

    As was Pelagianism before, semipelagianism was declared heresy in the Second Council of Orange, AD 529.

    In the Reformation of the Church, two schools of thought developed around this divide:
    1. Calvinism adopted the Augustinian view that regeneration is solely of God without any work of man. The nature and thus the will of the elect is changed by the holy Spirit and only then will man in response both repent and believe the Gospel.
    2. Arminianism took a position between semipelagian heresy and Augustine. God takes initiative in the salvation process and His grace comes to every individual. This grace draws people strongly towards salvation, thus enabling the possibility of man's will to faith. This faith leads to regeneration unless finally resisted. The offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method but rather in an influence-response fashion that could be either freely accepted and freely denied.
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    I am working on a presentation for August and the topic is "semi-pelagian belief system". Since we have a broad spectrum on the BB that run the gamut from some elements of everything in the summary above, I would covet your input.

    Where am I unclear or worse, unfair in presentation. I know that there are nuances of differences within every "camp" - not all calvinists I associate with are progressive dispensational/new covenant like I am. Not all arminians are semi-pelagian "cooperate with God" school.

    So while by now we probably know where we all fit on the spectrum I am NOT looking to debate but to define clearly so that the listeners will be able to see "working definitions" in a historical setting of semipelagian position.

    Thanks in advance.

    (You don't have to critique everything, just what relates to your position or understanding)
     
  3. mandym

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    That is not an Arminian. They hold that one can fall from grace as well. If one denies that they can fall from grace they are not Arminian. But it would seem to me that those who are truly concerned with doing as God would have them do and obeying clear scripture would refrain from labeling systems after men since Paul made a clear case against that.
     
    #3 mandym, Jun 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2011
  4. revmwc

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    Before God created man He formed the plan for our salvation. So God planned for our salvation, He would provide the saviour that being the person of the Son.
    How would man be saved well we are told by Grace through faith. There becomes your question. Since I am not a Calvanist nor an Arminialist, neither camp in all thier views.
    Faith for salvation who should we look to for an example, well how about Cain?
    Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
    4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
    5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
    6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
    7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

    What did God command offer the proper offering. He had to do what God who was right there talking to him sadi. Yet what was his choice reject what God required.

    How about Korah? Numbers 16:
    23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
    24 Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
    25 And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
    26 And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of their's, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.
    27 So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.
    28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
    29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
    30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
    31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
    32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
    33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

    The choice believe God and follow Moses His chosen leader or reject and perish. Have faith God will do what He said or reject it.

    Acts 26:
    27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
    28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
    29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

    King Agrrippa fell under conviction, he believed the prophets but he refused to believe on Christ. Even under the heaviest conviction he rejected and perished.

    Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
    21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
    22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
    23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
    24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
    25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
    26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
    27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
    28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    So we are justified because of Faith, that is Faith that Christ died for our sins. Faith like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That is the Faith we have in Christ work of salvation.

    But about Faith for everyday life?

    Hebrews 4:
    1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
    2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
    3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
    4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
    5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
    6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

    We enter into rest according to verse 1, this would be faith in Time. As we walk through this life we must have faith that God will take care of our needs and I burdens. Paul said in Phillipians my God shall supply All of yours needs according to His riches, that takes faith. Peter said "casting all your cares on Him for HE cares for you" this too takes faith for living.

    So you have faith to believe as the Holy Spirit brings conviction and you make a concious choice as Cain, Korah and those with hium as Agrippa or you chose as Peter, James, John and Saul (Paul) to chose for Christ.
    Then we must chose to walk by faith in trusting Him in lifes situations.

    Not sure if this helps or cause more confusion. It is how I see it and Paul made it real clear Faith is what it takes for slavation. Agrippa was definitely under conviction for he Paul "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
    The Holy Spirit convicted and Agrippa rejected he made a choice a concious choice within himself.
    What I really think about with Agrippa as he opened his eyes in hell and realized he was just that close and how tormented he will be because of knowing that.
     
  5. Skandelon

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    Dr. Bob, I think you give a fair description of the views, though as you noted, there will be various nuances in each camp which would be next to impossible to fully represent.

    The only point I'd like to make is in regard to the declaration of "heresy." I'm not attempting to defend Pelagian teaching as we know of it today, but to be perfectly fair to the man all we know of him is what his critics said since all his works were destroyed. People in that day weren't known for their objectivity and value on education and open discussion of ideas. If the majority didn't agree with you they burned you and your writings. I know I wouldn't want a group like that attempting to describe my views, especially considering the way in which opponents here (which the actual words still able to be seen) have maligned each other's views.

    Considering all the points of doctrine that Augustine supported which today would be considered in error I think it is only fair to accurately represent the opposing views as being presented by two equally flawed theologians, rather than presenting Augustine as a flawless inspired hero and Pelagian as the heretic simply because the Council sided with Augustine on this matter. Do we need to go back and see how many mistakes counsels made after all?

    I'm just saying that the views themselves need to stand or fall on their own merit in light of scripture, not on what Counsels have decreed. And consideration should be given in cases where one view is only being represented by one's opponents, rather than by their actual teachings. IOW, imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and the Counsel would have sided with Pelagian and Augustine's work was burned and all we had of his teaching was what Pelagian and his followers said about him. How would you then present the very same information for consideration?
     
  6. drfuss

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    Augustine also trught that a Christian can fall from Grace. Augustine taught that Grace was irresistible before salvation; but after salvation, a Christian can fall from Grace by stopping believing. Luther was an Augustine Monk and the Lutherans still believe this today.

    So one could say that Augustine was a Calvinists before salvation, and an Arminian after salvation.
     
  7. mandym

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    That may be but the description above does not fit an Arminian. An Arminian must always be associated with holding to the belief that one can fall from grace.
     
  8. drfuss

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    Dr. Bob,

    I think a source of information that may be helpful in your quest would be a book entitled "4 Views on Eternal Security" put out by Zondervan, in 2002.

    The book is written by four Theology seminary professors each presenting his different view and the other three professors commenting on each other's chapter.
     
  9. Allan

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    This definition is incorrect as far as I have studied the systems in question.
    Just taking some definitions from the net it should show fairly quickly the distinctions. Especially the fact that both Pelagains and Semi-Pelagains believe man is the initiator in coming to God a part from ANY divine influence or grace. The difference between Pel and semi-Pel is that Pel believes man can save himself; semi-pels hold that after man initially comes to God, man realizes he can't save himself and due to his efforts, God rewards him with grace to save him. Both are strictly works based salvation and both hold that man coming to God is completely man's doing and is 'completely' a part from any working of God. This is noted many times over...

    For example.. from Theopedia:
    Or this from CARM
    When many speak of the 'cooperation' aspect that many 'try' to equate Arminianism with Semi-Pels.. they almost always ignore what this Semi-Pel cooperation actually entails and that it is diametrically opposed to the Classical Arminian and Classical Weslyan systems.

    Or from GotQuestions.com
    Or Monergism.com
    And of course there are many others.. including the dreaded Wiki :)

    Anyway the point being is that Semi-Pelagainism begins with man coming to God a part from any divine aid, just as the Pelagain view does. There is no general calling involved here.

    Hope that helps correct it a bit.
     
    #9 Allan, Jun 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2011
  10. Dr. Bob

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    That is a completely different aspect, not under consideration. It is an error they believe (I agree). We are looking at the "how" of salvation, not keeping or losing it.
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Thank you. And all for suggestions thus far. Time to think about editing, AFTER services Sunday and not after a long day today!!
     
  12. Iconoclast

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  13. preachinjesus

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    I'd recommend checking out the Remonstrance of 1610 and cross reference it with your observations of semi-Pelagianism.

    I'm away from my resources for now and won't be able to give you a more suitable reply. Suffice to say one thing you might consider is defining the difference between semi-Pelagianism and "moderate Augustinianism."
     
  14. Iconoclast

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    Here is a portion of the paper ,DR.Bob;
    HE COMMON GROUND BETWEEN EVANGELICAL ARMINIANISM AND MODERN PELAGIANISM
    In general, both Wesleyan or Evangelical Arminianism936 and modern Pelagianism, as taught by Charles Finney, held to the following:
    • Both approached the Scriptures with a rationalistic bent, rejecting what truths seemed to them to be contrary to or unworthy of God, ideas of justice or human reason. Both placed reason prior to or above faith, rather than the biblical order.937 Pelagianism, with its doctrine of plenary ability, viewed human reasoning a priori, or intuition, as almost infallible.

    934 George P. Fisher, Loc. cit. 935 See Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age Vol. III, The Nineteenth Century Outside Europe, p. 29; G. M. Rosell, “Finney, Charles Grandison,” Dictionary of Christianity in America, pp. 439–440, where Rosell refers to Finney as a “New School Calvinist,” and then to “his special brand of ‘Arminianized Calvinism’”; Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 260; Bruce L. Shelley, Op. cit., p. 376. 936 Evangelical or Wesleyan Arminianism marks a further departure from the truth than the older, theological Arminianism of the Dutch Remonstrants. 937 The essence of rationalism and Pelagianism is Intelligo et credo, “I understand and I believe.” Everything must be subjected to allegedly unimpaired human reason. Against such a view stands the priority of faith (as expressed by Augustine of Hippo [354–430], Anselm of Canterbury [1033–1109] and others), “I believe in order that I might understand” [Credo ut intelligam]. Note the Divine order in Heb. 11:1–3 (Pi,stei noou/men…i.e., “Through faith we understand…”). Scripture gives the priority to faith, not reason. 333

    • Both denied the absolute sovereignty of God in the affairs of men, especially in the matter of salvation. They necessarily posited a finite “god,” i.e., a “god” of external moral self–limitations.
    • Both taught that human accountability or responsibility is based on ability, i.e., that God has no right to command a person to do what he or she cannot do.938
    • Both denied unconditional predestination and election. Both held to a predestination or election conditioned by or based upon foreseen faith and the actions of men.
    • Both held to a general atonement, i.e., that the Lord Jesus Christ in some sense died for all men in general, and yet did not make a satisfaction for anyone in particular. They were necessarily driven to the Grotian or Moral Governmental Theory of the atonement, i.e., that God, upon the acceptance of the sufferings of Christ, is willing to accept men on their faith, the “atonement” was simply a removal of obstacles in God’s moral government of the universe. (When modern Arminians and Pelagians state that they believe in a “vicarious and substitutionary atonement,” they are either ignorant of the inherent contradiction or irrational, as such an atonement can only be consistently held by the actual or particular redemption of the Calvinistic system.)
    • Both denied the efficacious or infallible nature of saving grace. They held to a general, fallible dispensation of grace, and that sinners may perish despite the attempts of both God and men to convert them.
    • Both believed that true Christians, though converted and for a time living a godly life, may fall away and perish forever in damnation.
    • Both consistently held that continued sanctification is necessary for continued justification, i.e., if one loses his sanctification [ceases to live a godly or holy life], he necessarily becomes unjustified and so lost. Inherent in this view is a denial of the forensic nature of justification and the believer’s union with Christ.
    • Both held to a “relative perfectionism,” i.e., not a sinless perfectionism, as held by ancient Pelagianism, but a “Christian perfectionism” which is conditioned on the individual’s personal ability to conform to a given standard.939
    • Both modified various truths in the realm of anthropology and soteriology to accommodate their central thrust, which was their perfectionist scheme.
    • Both emphasized moral and social concerns as issues which arose from their views on human ability and responsibility.

    938 The Calvinistic system, following the Scriptures, bases human responsibility on accountability to God as the absolute power and authority, Creator and Redeemer. 939 John Wesley was indecisive about his view of “Christian perfectionism,” wavering back and forth from sinless perfection to a relative perfection. Cf. Arnold Dallimore, The Two Wesleys, a taped lecture given at Toronto Baptist Seminary. Finney was very definite concerning his relative and individualistic view of perfection in the earlier Oberlin idea (c. 1837), but changed dramatically to a “sinless perfection” in the later development of Oberlin Theology (c. 1839). 334
    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EVANGELICAL ARMINIANISM AND MODERN PELAGIANISM
    Although these two systems had much in common, there were differences to be noted, as modern Pelagianism marked a further departure from the truth than Evangelical Arminianism:
    • Arminianism viewed man as possessing a sinful or depraved nature. Pelagianism denied the sinfulness of human nature and viewed sin as merely an act of the will.
    • Arminianism viewed the nature of man as depraved to the extent that his will must be acted upon by the Holy Spirit in a liberating fashion in conversion and regeneration. Pelagianism totally denied the fall of man, viewing Adam as merely a bad example, and denying the immediate or even the mediate imputation of Adam’s sin. Pelagianism regarded the work of the Spirit in regeneration as mere moral suasion.
    • Arminianism placed conversion [faith and repentance] before regeneration. Pelagianism maintained the identity of regeneration with conversion, reduced the Spirit’s role in regeneration or conversion to moral suasion, and man’s role to an immediate psychological “decision” or change in the direction of the will.
    • Arminianism held that the Holy Spirit brings sinners to the point of conversion by prevenient grace, the final decision being left to man’s liberated will. Pelagianism held to the plenary ability of man, and thus held regeneration to be merely a change in the direction of the will. Conversion is thus not spiritual, but merely psychological.
    • Arminianism viewed faith somewhat nebulously because of its doctrine of human depravity and prevenient grace. Pelagianism necessarily viewed faith as the natural ability and product of human nature—mere human trust—and so the trust or decision of the natural man. This is inescapably autosoterism.940
    • Arminianism, giving a definite, though modified place to the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, gave a prominent and necessary place for the work of the Spirit in revival. Pelagianism viewed revival [“revivalism”] as merely the result of certain promotional means, and entirely the work of man. It was “revival” upon demand, which could occur at any time the right conditions were met and the right measures were successfully adopted.
    • Arminianism held to the priority of preaching and prayer in revival. Pelagianism majored on religious excitement, innovations, pragmatism, denunciatory preaching, and rousing the emotions or feelings to the highest pitch.
     
  15. JesusFan

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    Just a brief question...

    Does a semi'pel version mreasn that we 'co operate" with the grace of God, that He enable us means to respond in faith to Christ, still up to us do make the choice for Christ, free will?

    if so, is that consodered "classical" Arminianism?
     
  16. TomVols

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    I'd like to hear more on this as well.
     
  17. Jerome

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    Here's something else that Council declared that you may want to highlight in your presentation (or you may not:laugh:):

     
    #17 Jerome, Jun 8, 2011
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