Time Gaps in Arminianism and Calvinism

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by koreahog2005, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. koreahog2005

    koreahog2005
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    I've noticed that there is not always a consensus of opinion among five-point Calvinists about whether there can be a time gap between regeneration and faith/repentance. In other words, some believe that in logical order, regeneration precedes faith/repentance, but in temporal order, they say there is no gap; they say regeneration and faith/repentance occur at the same point in time. Other five-point Calvinists (those who espouse the elongated view) say there can be a time gap between regeneration and faith/repentance. I'm wondering if there is a similar difference of opinion among Arminians about prevenient grace. All Arminians believe that prevenient grace precedes faith/repentance in logical order. Do some Arminians see prevenient grace as always occurring at the same point in time as faith/repentance? Can there be several or many times when prevenient grace is applied to the non-Christian to counteract his depravity? Is there just one application of prevenient grace that gives the non-Christian permanent free will? When is prevenient grace usually applied to the non-Christian? (at the age of accountability?) I'm a three-pointer, so I'm just trying to get my facts straight on the views of Arminians and five-point Calvinists.
     
  2. npetreley

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    I have no idea if there is a time gap. I think it was A.W. Pink who put it this way (or something like it): Regeneration/faith is like making a blind man see. The moment his sight is restored, he sees. So while he cannot see until his sight is restored, the parallel being that there is no faith until regeneration, there is no perceptible "time gap" between having his sight restored and the fact that he can now see. In this case, seeing is believing -- having eyes to see, he is enlightened to the truth and accepts it as truth.

    That makes sense to me, so I am inclined to think there is no meaningful time gap. But I don't know if the analogy is an accurate representation of regeneration and faith, so I'm open to alternative views.

    Arminianism seems to require a time gap. Prevenient grace simply restores a person's ability to perceive the Gospel. It doesn't have anything to do with that person actually accepting or believing the Gospel. That is left up to man's free will after having been made able to see. So it is like restoring a blind man's sight, after which he is asked to look at what he can see and decide if he believes his own eyes. Even if there wasn't a mountain of scriptural evidence against this view, I have difficulty buying into this analogy, simply because once the Gospel is understood -- SPIRITUALLY understood -- I don't see how anyone could reject it.
     
  3. koreahog2005

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    Npetreley, thanks for your analysis. All five-point Calvinists believe regeneration precedes faith/repentance, but there seems to be a difference of opinion about a possible time gap. I have looked for specifics on when prevenient grace occurs, but I haven't yet found any Arminian theologians who explain that in detail. I guess I'll continue looking.
     
  4. Southern

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    Korea,
    Most Hardshells (Primitive Baptist)are probably the only ones that would say that there is any "time gap". And yes, many Calvinists would say that Regeneration 'logically' rather than 'temporaly' precedes faith (R.C. Sproul). I would believe with A.H. Strong and many Baptist's and ask "What comes first the rays of the sun or the sun?". You cannot have a sun without rays and you can't have rays without the sun.
    Regeneration is God's side and faith is the human side (I would qualify this). A great essay is available from Pilgrim Publications by Bob L. Ross (Calvinist Baptist) called "Regeneration" which discusses this issue by viewing the theories of Strong v. Berkhoff.


    May God bless you in your studies
     
  5. npetreley

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    Good luck! When I can find prevenient grace in the Bible, I'll worry about when it occurs. Until then, I think I'll concern myself with other things...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. Ray Berrian

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    Being a four point Arminian I believe that pervenient grace is often reapplied to the sinner, whenever the Spirit sees fit to convict a lost one of his or her need of Christ. As we know, God is not required to speak in conviction more than once. To turn away from Jesus may be their last opportunity to prepare their life before the Lord.
     
  7. Ray Berrian

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    Don Sailer,

    This is a falsehood, though unintentional. John 3:16 means that all sinners are included in His plan. Their resistance to Jesus makes them responsible for their destination. If anything the sinners pass over Christ and His plan of redemption.

    You last sentence directly above is incongruous with your words which say, 'He passes over those who are not in Christ.' He cannot want all to be saved if He intentionally passes over some who will never have one opportunity to know Jesus.

    I think there are some younger in faith who understand what I am saying here, but you clearly do not fathom the truth of Scripture, at least at this point. Was Jesus ransom only for the elect? Was His ransom for all lost souls?[ John 3:16 & I Timothy 2:6 & II Peter 3:9 & Revelation 3:20 & I John 5:13 & Revelation 22:17]

    Don't bother answering, we are used to your brethren's oversight on good old plain truth. If you could kick John Calvin out of your mind for a second, maybe the Spirit of God would still lead you into all truth. [John 14:26 & I John 2:27]

    It is interesting that God reminded the Apostle John of the importance of the Holy Spirit guiding us in our understanding of His Words; John emphasized it twice in the New Testament.
    [​IMG] Berrian, Th.D.
     
  8. koreahog2005

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    Ray, thanks for your comments. I am guessing that your second post was meant for a different thread. As a three-pointer (TUP, not TULIP) I don't think regeneration precedes faith/repentance. I do believe, however, that there is a special conviction of the Holy Spirit that is necessary to counteract total depravity before faith/repentance can occur. I think this special conviction is what is being discussed in Hebrews 6:4-6.

    In Hebrews 6:4 the key phrase is “who have once been enlightened.” The word “enlightened” is a passive participle in Greek. The Greek adverb translated as “once” ( hapax ) means “once for all time.” It is also used in 1 Peter 3:18 where Christ is said to have died for sins “once for all,” in Hebrews 9:27 where men are said to die “once,” in Hebrews 9:28 where Christ is said to have been “offered once to bear the sins of many,” and in Jude 3 where the faith is said to have been “once for all delivered to the saints.” Clearly, the most literal meaning of the phrase in Hebrews 6:4 is “having been once for all time enlightened.” Thus, the enlightenment in Hebrews 6:4 refers to a one-time event from which people fell in Hebrews 6:6. The reception of common grace, however, is not viewed by anyone as a one-time event. The enlightenment mentioned in Hebrews 6:4 must be viewed as a special event.

    Some Arminians interpret the enlightenment of Hebrews 6:4 as something experienced by every person as in John 1:9: “There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” The light in John 1:9 is clearly a reference to common, universal grace. Some non-elect people never have the opportunity to hear the gospel, but they still benefit from common grace. It is clear from Hebrews 10:32, however, that a special type of enlightenment occurred which was followed by persecution: “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings.” Hebrews 6:4, John 1:9, and Hebrews 10:32 all use the Greek word for “enlighten” ( phōtízō ), but the contexts clarify the different meanings. The Hebrews verses refer to a special enlightenment that is not experienced by all people.

    My impression is that most Arminians believe that all people experience prevenient grace, even though they may not ever hear the gospel. I have not yet heard from Arminians about when this occurs. I'm guessing that they generally believe that it happens at the age of accountability. Since I am not a five-point Calvinist, some five-pointers say I am Arminian, but I believe that all elect people past the age of accountability and some non-elect people experience the special conviction of the Holy Spirit. So, if I am Arminian, I'm not typical.

    [ October 08, 2004, 03:09 AM: Message edited by: koreahog2005 ]
     
  9. Ray Berrian

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    koreahog2005,

    I like what you have said about the various verses. I can tell that you have studied these portions and have not 'blown them off' as some of the other brethren have just to prop up their theology.

    I liked your explanation of 'enlightened'. It is all true.

    I may go one step beyond you, I don't know for sure, but personally I believe these people in Hebrews six were born again believers, saved, because they 'partook of the Holy Spirit' but some of these Hebrews/Jews had backsliden away from the vibrant faith they once enjoyed. Some had apparently returned to Judaistic principles of understanding and belief. Moreover, I believe that they went to Heaven not because of their faithfulness but because of the intercession of Christ. [Hebrews 7:25] They entered the Presence of God because He cannot deny Himself. [II Timothy 2:12-13 & I John 3:9] As you know the main purpose of the Book of Hebrews was to stop the flow of these Israelites back to their O.T. faith and belief system.

    I believe this enlightenment in John 1:9 probably is latent in every newborn, but only comes to fruition when that child develops mentally where they begin to learn andunderstand who Jesus is and His plan of salvation for lost people.

    The Light to the Gentiles in Isaiah 49:6 has also been the Light to the Jews. Without Christ there would be no need for this inner illumination and enlightenment spoken of by John in the Gospel, vs. 1:9. Personally, I do not like the term, Pervenient grace' because to me the word grace should be exclusively reserved for matters to do with the saved, those who are in the fold of Christ. But since Arminian theologians have set up this term to explain something deep in theology, I will go along with our term. More fitting words would be, Pervenient Illumination.

    Thanks for your insights.
     
  10. koreahog2005

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    Ray, thanks for your insights, too.
     
  11. BobRyan

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    The power of God is as Jesus described it in John 3 - it moves like the wind and is not first perceieved by the person. God enlightens everyone according to John 1 and His doing so is not traceable to one point in time.

    God moves upon the soul (as the future scenario for Arminians posted here illustrates) with wave after wave of grace. How well the soul consciously recognizes each one as a supernatural event is not evident.

    Further, God moves upon even the lost to do the right thing (See Cirus in the book of Ezra).

    You can not argue that God can only move the elect, or the saved to do something or that God is limited to any particular time in your life.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  12. koreahog2005

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    Bob, thanks for your thoughts. I have struggled with this issue for a long time, and I will revise my position on special conviction if I am convinced to do so from Scripture. As I mentioned earlier, I see Hebrews 6:4-6 as describing a one-time special conviction event that can be resisted. I think the passage is talking about non-Christians under special conviction who refuse to surrender their lives to Christ in repentance and faith. I will briefly deal with the other interpretations of Hebrews 6:4-6 and its parallel passage, Hebrews 10:26-29:

    First, some interpreters think that the Hebrews 6:4-6 passage describes an impossible hypothetical situation. It would not be logical, however, for the Bible to warn people about such a serious situation that is impossible.

    Second, other interpreters believe that the two passages refer to the arrested spiritual growth of Christians and the loss of possible rewards. The Hebrews 10:26-29 passage, however, describes the burning of adversaries, not the burning of rewards.

    Finally, five-point Arminians believe that the two parallel passages refer to Christians becoming non-Christians. Hebrews 10:29 seems to refer to people who are “sanctified,” and thus Arminians can argue that these people were Christians who rejected Christ. Other people, however, believe that the word “sanctified” refers to Jesus. In any case it is clear from 1 Corinthians 7:14 that non-Christians can in some sense be sanctified: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” Non-Christians can be in a special sphere of Christian influence, and in that sense, they are sanctified. Arminians believe that if Christians lose their salvation, they can later become Christians again. The two passages in Hebrews, on the contrary, state that people who have fallen away by committing willful sin will have no future opportunity to receive salvation. I believe that those non-Christians who make an ultimate, final decision with their free will to reject Jesus have committed an unpardonable sin.

    While I believe there is only one application of this special conviction of the Holy Spirit which brings a non-Christian to a state of equipoise (neutrality) from which he can form a bias and make an ultimate, final choice to accept or reject Jesus, I also recognize that there can be many preparatory events in the realm of common grace that prepare the non-Christian for the decisive special conviction event. These preparatory events make the non-Christian intellectually and emotionally ready for the climactic special conviction event. After being exposed to the plan of salvation and other biblical truth over a rather short period of time, some rapidly develop readiness and quickly become Christians when the gospel is presented. Others are more resistant due to their religious background or other circumstances and thus need more time and more preparatory experiences than do others. For the past two years I have been interacting with an agnostic via email. He has many intellectual and emotional barriers to Christianity that must be dealt with through such preparatory events. Hopefully, he will soon be ready for the climactic special conviction event. On the other hand, a teenager who has been raised in a marvelous Christian home that is largely devoid of hypocrisy and who has been well prepared by his parents probably needs very few preparation events before he is ready to receive Christ during the special conviction event. Of course, teenagers raised in marvelous Christian homes do not always become Christians. That is the nature of free will and election.
     
  13. BobRyan

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    I believe in total depravity - so I can't go along with the total depraved having their own ability and their own power to "enlighten themselves, taste of the heavenly gift (Holy Spirit), make themselves PARTAKERS of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good Word of God AND of the POWERS of the age TO COME" so that having achieved this great salvation event they are now in a position to "fall away" from such self-created self-sustained grace.

    How in the world could they "fall" from being "fallen"?

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  14. Paul33

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    Ray,

    Guys like you make me smile. If I knew as much as you do, I wouldn't need to be in this forum.

    You might want to practice 1 Cor. 13 the next time you post.

    The fact that you can't make the distinction between what God may have decided in the counsel of his will before the foundation of the world and what takes place in real time is unfathomable.

    I can tell from your answer to my posts that you have no idea what I'm talking about. It is clearly over your head, so I won't waste my time trying to explain it to you.

    However, the very thing you accuse Calvinists of, you practice in your eisegesis of Hebrews 6. Shameful.
     
  15. Paul33

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    By the way, Ray, what post in this thread were you refering to?
     
  16. koreahog2005

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    Bob, you said the following:

    I also believe in total depravity. I think all of us would say that total depravity must be counteracted before non-Christians can surrender their lives to Christ in repentance and faith. Five-point Calvinists say it is counteracted by regeneration. Classic Arminians say it is counteracted by universal, prevenient grace. Three-pointers like me say it is counteracted by the special conviction of the Holy Spirit.

    Bob, in answer to your comment, I will say that I agree with you that totally depraved people do not have their own ability and their own power to enlighten themselves, taste of the heavenly gift, make themselves partakers of the Holy Spirit, etc. The Holy Spirit must act on totally depraved people in a special way. The special conviction of the Holy Spirit is irresistible in the sense that non-Christians do not have any choice about being placed under it. On the other hand, the special conviction is resistible in the sense that once they are under conviction, they can make a freewill choice to surrender their lives to Christ in repentance and faith.

    Bob, you also asked how non-Christians could fall while already fallen. I think an example of fallen people falling is found in 2 Peter 2:20-22:

    (NASV)

    The last state is worse because they have committed a willful, unforgivable sin (Hebrews 10:26) by making an ultimate, final decision to reject Jesus while under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit. Permanent hardening will occur in the last state. In the first state they had committed sins of ignorance, but they could be placed under the special, enlightening conviction of the Holy Spirit and have an opportunity to receive God’s free gift of salvation. In the last state they can no longer be placed under the special, enlightening conviction of the Holy Spirit. These non-elect false teachers had in some sense been “bought” by Jesus (2 Peter 2:1), but they had “trampled under foot the Son of God” and “insulted the Spirit of Grace” (Hebrews 10:29). Thus, the fallen people fell.
     
  17. Ray Berrian

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    Citing a couple of passages in Hebrews does not prove Total Depravity. Though we are tainted with the Adamic nature, all sinners are fashioned something like God and His Personality. [Genesis 9:6 & John 1:9 & James 3:9] Let's be fair and balanced. James, the half brother of our Lord, recognizes all of the good human qualities that the Lord has placed in every person. Sinners have a conscience, a will, a mind, a soul, and a spirit. These persons have an understanding if they go against the laws of their nation, any where from that of speeding on the highway to that of murder and incest, for example.

    Most people become enlightened to the fact that Calvin's Catholicism did not have all of the truth, merely because of his conversion. Post-Reformation theologians have for a long time have been studying all of the Word of God, with more tools and more illuminated Christians to bounce their ideas 'off of,' thus arriving at a more Biblical understanding of Almighty God.

    No one really believes deep down that after Jesus commands us to preach and witness to the Gospel [Mark 16:16] and then does not attend that message with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. What would be the point?! This is a retorical question. The next verse tell us why we must preach and witness, so those who belive and are baptized will be saved.

    The Bible does not speak of a favored calling, the Effectual Call, and then a deluted General Call for those most unfortunate souls who have been Xed forever for the regions of the damned. These ungodly concepts about God come from the minds of men like Dr. R.C. Sproul, Mr. Harold Camping {Family Radio} and the late pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. These ideas 'fly in the face' of the attributes of God such as His infinite love and Divine justice. The Lord treats all people fairly, thus insuring His Divine Justice.
     
  18. koreahog2005

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    Ray, I agree that all people still have the image of God, though marred from the fall. I also agree that all people are born with a functioning conscience. I think that the conscience can eventually malfunction because of false teaching and the continuing influence of depravity. Thus, we see people who feel guilty about killing a mosquito. I agree that God treats all people fairly. God knows what all people would do if they had the opportunity to hear the gospel under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit. He makes sure all the elect people past the age of accountability have that opportunity. Some non-elect people also have that opportunity. Other non-elect people, however, never have the opportunity to hear the gospel. Does that make God unfair? No, because He has always known that they would refuse to surrender their lives to Jesus if they could hear the gospel under any circumstances. One might ask why God did not create an actual world in which all humans and angels are elect. The Bible tells us God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), and He is “is not wishing for any to perish” (2 Peter 3:9). So, why did God not create a world in which every person is eventually saved? One can presume that the world God actually created is the one He has always known would have the most elect people and the least non-elect people. Perhaps other imagined worlds had fewer non-elect people but also fewer elect people. The actions of non-elect people can be used by God to influence elect people to receive Christ as the elect people see God triumphing over evil. The actual world God created presumably had the ideal balance of elect and non-elect people.

    Sadly, sometimes people have “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (Luke 7:30). Although God in one sense desires all people to be saved, He does not force them to be saved. According to the latter part of 1 Peter 2:8, He has always known that those who disbelieve would not be saved: “They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”
     
  19. Ray Berrian

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    Brother koreahog,

    If you believe that God is fair toward all sinners, as you said, then you have a problem with Effectual Calling, because this is exclusively sent by the Spirit to save the fortunate lost souls; and destruction to the rest of the unfortunate ones.

    Also, the Greek scholar says of I Peter 2:8 that Dr. Bigg says, 'Their disobedience is not ordain,the penalty of their disobedience is.' And then Dr. A.T. Robertson, the Greek scholar says, 'They rebelled against God and paid the penalty.' "Word Pictures of the N.T." Volume VI, p. 98.

    Rejecting the Word means rejecting Christ and the result we both understand.

    Dr. Berrian
     
  20. koreahog2005

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    Ray, I don’t believe in the five-point Calvinist concept of effectual, irresistible calling. I believe that the calling is resistible. Regarding 1 Peter 2:8, I don’t think God in any sense caused the non-elect to reject Jesus. As I said, He has always known who would disbelieve, and He has always known that those who would disbelieve would not be saved. In that sense they were appointed to doom. In fact, every world event fits perfectly into God’s plan and is appointed (predestined) to happen. That doesn’t mean that God causes every event to happen (determinism), but it does mean that every event will happen exactly as appointed. An example is the first sin of Adam. It was the result of a freewill decision and was self-caused. God didn’t cause it to happen, but it happened exactly according to His sovereign plan. God was not surprised by Adam’s first sin or Satan’s first sin. He has always known exactly when their sins would occur, and their sins fit into His plan perfectly. Five-point Calvinists assume that when God predestines something He causes it. Three-pointers like me understand that He can utilize foreseen, self-caused, freewill decisions to accomplish His sovereign will. Thus, He can predestine an event without causing it. Because of His infinite knowledge of an infinite number of imagined people and what they would do under an infinite number of circumstances, He has always known which individuals He would create that would do exactly what He wanted under exactly the right circumstances. It's bedtime in South Korea. [​IMG]
     

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