Scoping the Text

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, May 8, 2011.

  1. Van

    Van
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    Calvinism takes spiritual truth, such as some men are blinded by their love of darkness, and extrapolates it into falsehood, asserting wrongly that all men are blinded by the love of darkness and therefore cannot respond affirmatively to the gospel. However, if we consider Matthew 13:1-23, the Parable of the Sower or the Four Soils, we see that only some folks are totally blinded, but the others respond affirmatively to the gospel. This demonstrates that the concept of Calvinism, termed total depravity, but meaning the spiritual inability of all mankind in their fallen state to respond affirmatively to the gospel is a mistaken view of scripture.

    Calvinism takes spiritual truth, God sometimes predestines the circumstances and actions of men, and extrapolates it into falsehood, asserting wrongly that all the circumstances and actions of all mankind are predestined. However, if we consider Deuteronomy 30:11-17 we see that God has not predetermined our choices but instead gives us the opportunity to trust in Him or not.

    One of the areas where Bible scholars disagree is in determining the scope of a statement. If scripture says men are blinded, does this mean all men are blinded or some men are blinded? You cannot tell directly, and so folks draw various inferences, some correct and some incorrect. Sadly, what Calvinism does is pick and choose which inferences to draw, not based on context but on the need to mesh the text to their doctrine, so they assert the scope of the text in Romans 3 is universal, but where Jesus says if I am high and lifted up, I will draw all men, then the scope is limited to all kinds of men.

    Bottom line, true doctrine will be revealed only when a consistent set of interpretation principles is applied to the entire text. Ends driven interpretations both make unwarranted extrapolations, and use man-made inventions to nullify verses that show the doctrine being advocated does not fit with all scripture.

    Here is an example, Jesus says we should seek the kingdom of God, but that does not fit with the idea that fallen man cannot seek God. So Jesus was merely saying what we ought to do, not what we are able to do. Using this idea, the verse is nullified and made to no effect by the traditions of men.

    Another example is the Calvinist misuse of “anthropomorphism.” Basically the term refers to attributing physical form to God, who is spirit, and has no actual form. The Bible employs these illustrations to convey some spiritual attribute God actually has. Thus the “everlasting arms” of God reveals steadfast love – an actual attribute.

    What Calvinism does is say some of God’s actual attributes, such as putting our forgiven sins out of His mind, are merely “anthropomorphisms” and God really has no spiritual attribute of putting knowledge out of His mind. Note how deceptive this argument is: first anthropomorphism is a valid interpretive tool for recognizing figurative language and pausing to consider what the underlying truth being illustrated might be; and second by using the same term to refer to spiritual attributes as if they were figurative and did not actually mean what scripture says, it opens the door to nullifying scripture while appearing to be a careful student.

    Anthropomorphisms can be recognized if God is given physical attributes, hands, arms, front, back, wings, eyes, etc., but when God’s spiritual attributes are being revealed such as intellect, will and emotion, to dismiss these as “anthropomorphisms” is without merit.
    Note in the first case, the literal sense makes no sense because God is spirit and therefore does not have a “physical body.” But when the term is misused to make scripture to no effect, the literal sense makes sense and does not conflict with any revealed truth concerning the attributes of God.

    What Calvinism does is say one of God’s revealed attributes is “total omniscience” and God putting something out of His mind conflicts with that doctrine. But what this reveals is the man-made doctrine is false, not the attribute of God. All these behaviors of God such as obtaining knowledge not known beforehand, or putting knowledge out of His mind, are fully consistent with the Biblical doctrine of “Inherent Omniscience” which says God knows everything His has chosen to know. Since there is a boat load of scripture that attributes will, intellect and emotion to God, Occam's razor suggests the path with the least assumptions and is most consistent with all scripture is not only most probable but highly likely.
     
  2. Iconoclast

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    :laugh::laugh::laugh:

    That" wicked calvinist"...the Apostle John does that here! :thumbs:
     
  3. Greektim

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    Really???

    How about 2 Cor. 4:4 - In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

    Pretty clear... all unbelievers are blinded not b/c they choose to be or simply love darkness but b/c Satan blinds them.

    Straw man much???
     
  4. Van

    Van
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    Hi Greektim, thanks for at least addressing the view with scripture.

    Lets think about your assertions. Does the Evil One not tempt with the lusts of this world? Does not the riches of this world lead people to serve manna rather than God? And why do you say this blindness affects everyone. Are all "unbelievers" totally blinded?

    Here is what Paul actually said. Even "if" our gospel is veiled, indicating it is veiled from some unbelievers, but suggesting it is not veiled from all unbelievers. This simply describes the first soil of Matthew 13:1-23.

    In summary, (1) all unbelievers are not totally blinded by the god of this world, because some unbelievers receive the gospel to some degree; and (2) people are blinded by darkness (1 John 2:11), it is hard to see when you run from the light, and so a love of darkness does blind people, John 3:19.

    Total Spiritual Inability is false doctrine.
     
  5. Greektim

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    random smiley

    :thumbs:
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    A hermeneutic that accepts a view that requires nullifying another passage because it is a parable is without merit. :)

    You seem to accept that the lusts of this world tempt us, yet the love of money is not a "lust of the world."

    Are all unbelievers blinded so they cannot become believers? Nope. They can witness Christ in the lives of others and be drawn to Christ. Thomas was an "unbeliever" but became a believer when he felt the wound of the risen Christ.

    1 Corinthian 14:23-26 clearly teaches that witnessing with clarity results in convincing unbelievers. And oh yet, also written by Paul! :)
     
    #6 Van, May 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2011
  7. Skandelon

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    Ok, let's look at the three proof text presented by Calvinists to support their view that mankind is born unable to respond to God's appeal to be reconciled:

    We need only to back up 5 verses to find the answer to this proof text:

    "5:16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."

    Calvinists would have you believe that the veil must be removed first, so that one could turn to the Lord, but once again scripture says just the opposite.

    Both Cal and Non-Cals affirm that God must reveal the mystery of salvation through the atoning work of Christ and that hasn't been understood from the beginning. This is why God sent messengers and the HS to reveal it to us, as he goes on to explain in the following verses:

    6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

    So, once again Calvinists pluck a verse from it's clear context to support their unfounded premise.

    Again, we all affirm that men naturally prefer sin over holiness and that their deeds are evil. Those condemned will be condemned for their unbelief in the one who can cleanse them of those evil deeds. Nothing is said about man's inability to believe once confronted with the powerful appeal to be reconciled. Again, look at the entire context of this verse:

    16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
     
  8. Greektim

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    random smiley
    :tonofbricks:
     
    #8 Greektim, May 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2011
  9. Van

    Van
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    I providesd a passage that has unbelievers convinced by the witness of the Church and you point out that convinced is passive. Duh! And who is the actor, the one doing the action, the witnesses are convincing the unbelievers such at they come to their senses and believe.

    I see that you selected "convict" rather than "convince" as the best understanding of the author's intent. I think convince fits the bill. And who is convinced? Someone unacquainted with the truths of the gospel!

    The idea is that if the gospel is presented with clarity, i.e in a language the person understands, they will understand the "strong evidence" provided by the witnesses, and be convinced, becoming believers.
     
  10. Van

    Van
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    Thanks Skandelon, I agree with your post #7.
     
  11. Greektim

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    Hold on hold on hold on

    Your argument is that your prooftext outweighs mine? "I provided a text..." WELL SO DID I! Plus... you didn't argue your text. You just assumed its meaning. And you do a great injustice to the text when you assume "convict" = "convince" as though it is obvious. This kind of blase theology gets old quick. That's why I get annoyed trying to discuss this with the likes of you. You don't discuss the text. You say that your passage defeats my passage. Therefore we must reinterpret my passage to fit your passage. I could do the same, but that wouldn't get us much farther than your posts.
     
  12. Van

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    Lets back up and restate our respective positions.

    Van said, "If scripture says men are blinded, does this mean all men are blinded or some men are blinded? in post #1.

    Greektim said, "Pretty clear... all unbelievers are blinded not b/c they choose to be or simply love darkness but b/c Satan blinds them." in post #3.

    Van said, "all unbelievers are not totally blinded by the god of this world, because some unbelievers receive the gospel to some degree;" in post #4. I supported this contention by referring to Matthew 13:1-23.

    Greektim said, "Are all "unbelievers" totally blinded? That's what Paul said" in post #5, referring to 2 Corinthians 4:4, and asserting "blinding the minds of the unbelieving" should be understood to read "blinding the minds of all of the unbelieving, rather than the minds of some of the unbelieving.

    Van said, "Are all unbelievers blinded so they cannot become believers? Nope. They can witness Christ in the lives of others and be drawn to Christ. Thomas was an "unbeliever" but became a believer when he felt the wound of the risen Christ.

    1 Corinthian 14:23-26 clearly teaches that witnessing with clarity results in convincing unbelievers."

    Greektim said, "The issue is that Satan blinds people from seeing the light or truth of the Gospel."

    Van said, "The idea is that if the gospel is presented with clarity, i.e in a language the person understands, they will understand the "strong evidence" provided by the witnesses, and be convinced, becoming believers." This statement referred to 1 Corinthians 14:23-26.

    So to summarize the difference in our views, you assume "minds of unbelievers" refers to all unbelievers, but have offered no support. I believe minds of unbelievers refers to some unbelievers, but have offered Matthew 13:1-23, 1 Corinthians 14:23-26. My hermeneutic is to minimize the assumptions and extrapolations. And so at a minimum, Paul said the minds of some unbelievers are blinded by Satan. This view is supported by passage after passage. Total Spiritual Inability however, is easily shown to be false doctrine by the passages I referenced from Matthew and 1 Corinthians.
     
    #12 Van, May 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2011
  13. Van

    Van
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    According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers. Now whether it is all or some, Greektim and I disagree, but we both agree that Satan blinds them.

    So the inescapable conclusion is that unbelievers were not blind at some point. Therefore, total spiritual inability is again demonstrated false by 2 Corinthians 4:4. If they were conceived blind, then there would be nothing to blind to preclude "seeing the truth or light of the gospel."

    This again illustrates the main point of this thread, scoping the text. Is being spiritually dead equated with being spiritually blind, as Calvinism claims, then there would be no ability to see the spiritual truths or light of the gospel. But if we use the minimalist hermeneutic, being spiritually dead does not equate with spiritual blindness, the passages that say Satan blinds some believers fits with spiritually dead people being able initially to see the truths of the Gospel.

    God Bless
     

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