Trying to understand Arminianism

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by calvin4me, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. calvin4me

    calvin4me
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    If I am correct, Arminians believe that man does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe; faith, in effect, becomes man's gift to God instead of the opposite.

    How is this possible?
    "The WHOLE head is sick, and the WHOLE heart fainsts. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is NO soundness in it" (Isa.1:5,6)

    I was raised Roman Catholic, did my time in private school, and was exposed to the Gospel for years...I knew ABOUT Jesus, but I certainly did not know Him personally. Where does this act of faith originate from? This act of faith, on the part of man, seems very questionable to me. Are there not people who believe, but to no avail? ("Many will say, Lord, Lord, didn't we cast out demons in Your name...Depart, I never knew thee")
    Indeed, the whole "movement" concerning the concept of "believism" is certainly a pipe dream.

    By saying that we have within ourselves the power, or ability, to "manufacture" our own faith, which in turn qualifies us for regeneration, seems to give us more credit than Scripture does. Everybody knows this passage: "The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are ANY who understand, who seek God. They have ALL turned aside, they have together become corrupt' there is NONE who does good, no, not one." (Ps.14:2,3)
    Do we really have it in our power to perform an act of faith that leads to regeneration, or is this saving faith a gift from God?
    (I personally believe it is a gift of God)

    We are saved by a faith that is given to us by God: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that NOT of YOURSELVES; it is the GIFT of God" (Eph.2:8)

    If I can say, "See, it is all my doing; it was MY faith, after all, that brought me to regeneration. So I have at least THAT to boast of." But Paul says, "But God forbid that I should boast EXCEPT in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has be crucified to me, and I to the world."

    When Paul was writing to the saints in Philippi, he said "For to you it has been GRANTED on behalf of Christ, not only TO believe in Him, but also suffer for His sake" (Phil.1:29)
    Or am I misuderstanding the word "granted"?
    If I was "dead in trespasses and sin", how then can anything of such importance like saving faith originate from me? A rotten tree brings forth rotten fruit, does it not?

    "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has BLINDED, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." (2 Cor.4:3,4)

    Now, I am wondering, does this Scripture speak of the secret workings of God in our heart, ENABELING us to a saving faith: "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone IN OUR HEARTS to GIVE the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor.4:6)

    Don't we have to be "made alive" first, then have faith?
    "And you He made alive, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, ACCORDING TO the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobediance, among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." (Eph.2:1-3)

    The doctrine of Total Depravity gives all the glory to God, and leaves not the slightest opportunity for man to boast of ANYTHING, even a faith that brings regeneration.

    Can man really trust himself to such a responsibily of the most gravest importance, one for which the most dreadful consequences follow if he doesn't?

    What about those who are mentally retarded, psychotic, have organic brain disease like Alzheimer's, those who are aborted in the womb or die at birth? Automatically we assume that God extends His mercy to them, to those who lack the capacity to form a faith that leads to regeneration. But that is just my point! Upheld to the standard of goodness and holiness, we are ALL "mentally retarded", "psychotic", malformed in mind and heart, etc. "It is the sick who are in need of a physician".

    Total Depravity favors no man, and respects no persons.
    If we say we must have faith BEFORE regeneration, instead of after, then we presuppose a LOT of things. Think about it.

    After studying psychology for ten years, I became absolutely convinced of the doctrine of Total Depravity. Now I realize that not all psychology is worthy of study, that it is secular, and that there are many branches of it, but I am speaking of "descriptive psychology", a science of observation based on scientific method. Based on alot of theories, such as behaviorism and psychological determinism, a man makes decisions based on all his life experiences. I am not saying I but all of this, but there is some truth to it.
    The point I am trying to make is: Can we really, and I mean REALLY, trust ourselves to "manufacture" or construct a faith that leads to regeneration.
    I can only believe that it is regeneration that leads to faith, which is a GIFT.
     
  2. massdak

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    good post

    and i believe you will not get many arminians to respond to this post of yours.
    it is probably very uncomfortable for those who believe it is a human right to decide for heaven or hell based maybe with a little coaxing from God that can be resisted with human will and strength. but i thank God that when we were without strength Christ died for the ungodly.
    i fear that arminians may not know this truth
     
  3. npetreley

    npetreley
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    The grammar of the verse Eph 2:8 (even in the Greek) makes it difficult to interpret the verse to mean anything else but that faith is the GIFT of God - and you don't even need to add the part about boasting to show that.

    Let's look at the verse again (emphasis mine):

    You are saved by grace - the unmerited gift of God.

    What is the process by which God has saved you? Through faith.

    Now here is the big question - when he says "that" is not of yourselves, to what does "that" refer? Grammatically, "that" does not refer back to "saved". It is not grammatically correct to say "It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that [saved] is not of yourselves."

    Paul was a brilliant writer, and any good writer who wanted to communicate the message that it is salvation we receive as a gift would have had to say, "For it is by grace you have received salvation through faith, and that [salvation] is not of yourselves." So while it is remotely possible this is what Paul meant, it is atypical of Paul to have made this grammatic error in order to communicate this point.

    That leaves only two things left - grace and faith. Either he means "that [grace] is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" or "that [faith] is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God".

    The former is redundant. Grace is, by definition, the unmerited favor or unmerited gift of God. To say that grace is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God is simply to say grace is grace. While such a tautology is true, it's not like Paul to indulge in tautologies.

    That leaves only one way to interpret this verse and respect Paul's ability to communicate clearly.

    Not only is this the most grammatically acceptable interpretation, it is confirmed by many other verses in the Bible. For one of many examples...

    It has been granted to us -- for the benefit of Christ -- to believe on Him. And so on...
     
  4. Skandelon

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    I could argue the point that faith is of man but I don't believe that, nor do I think true Arminians believe that. Faith is certainly a gift from God that comes through the hearing of the gospel. All good things come from God.

    But in this debate we need to ask ourselves what point Paul was striving to make when he stated, "lest any man should boast." Was he trying to debunk the Arminian idea that people are "saving themselves" by having faith in God? Did he see that people were taking glory from God by claiming faith as their work? Well, I think it is best to allow scripture to interpret scripture. Where else does Paul refer to men boasting. How about Romans 3?

    Notice that once again Paul refers to boasting. Are the people boasting of their faith? No, quite the contrayary, they are boasting in their works of the law which is held up as the antithesis of faith. So too, in Eph. Paul is telling them that men are saved by faith and that salvation is not of themselves, that is by works of the law, but that salvation is by Grace through faith, the antithesis of works based salvation.

    It is clear what Paul's intent is in this passage. He is not fighting against us heritical glory grabbing Arminians as you seem to suppose. He is fighting against those who are seeking righteousness through the law of righteousness instead of the righteousness of faith.

     
  5. Skandelon

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    Arminians believe that faith in Christ, which comes by the gospel, gives us new birth.

    Notice this verse clearly teaches that we are "born again through the word of God." Now, Calvinists would have us believe that "word" was an irresistable calling, but read what the passage goes on to say...

    The same word that brings us new birth is the same word that was preached to us.

    God gives us new birth through faith and faith comes through the hearing of the word as Romans 10 teaches.
     
  6. calvin4me

    calvin4me
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    If faith comes by the hearing of the word of God, then why doesn't everyone who hears it believe?

    If God gives us new birth through faith, how can I be sure how genuine is my faith? Is there a standard "criteria" that determines whether I make the so grade? The demons have faith, and tremble. Any faith that is not given by God Himself is a faulty faith because if it originates within man alone, than it is undoubetedly rooted in the most pathetic motives, like narcississim, ego-centric fantasy, selfishness, desire for gain instead of love...with some people, fear mimicks faith. Whatever passes for faith, if held up an exposed by God's perfect holiness, is nothing but human grandiosity. Can I possibly say, "God, reward my faith by giving me new birth", can I honestly trust that my "faith" is worthy?
    "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing? No one!" (Job 14:4)
    The Word causes faith which causes new birth...but that matters very little for the "natural man who cannot RECIEVE the things of the Spirit" (Romans)

    Anyman who claims he is responsible for his own faith is therefore giving opportunity to boast and glory in himself.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    I don't many Calvinists who would say that. In fact, I don't know any, but there may be some. The point is that regeneration does not come apart from the word, but rather in conjunction with the word. This verse is talking about the necessity of the preached/communicated word in the regeneration of men.
     
  8. Skandelon

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    I don't many Calvinists who would say that. In fact, I don't know any, but there may be some. The point is that regeneration does not come apart from the word, but rather in conjunction with the word. This verse is talking about the necessity of the preached/communicated word in the regeneration of men. </font>[/QUOTE]That is what I was refering to...the fact that Calvinists insist that the word being preached is not enough, there must also be the irresistable calling. The problem is that the passage doesn't refer to being reborn through the irresistable calling, it says it comes through the preaching of the word. That is the means God chose, no other means is ever mentioned.
     
  9. Skandelon

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    The first problem with your question is that it begins with "if". Its not a matter of "if". The scripture clearly states, "faith comes by hearing," in Romans 10:17. The question should be, "Since faith comes by the hearing of the word of God, then why doesn't everyone who hears it believe?"

    The answer to that question is that some people are unwilling to believe or accept what they hear. (Matt. 23:37) Some resist the Holy Spirit. (Act 7:51) But the reason is certainly not because God did not give them all that they needed to repent and believe as Calvinism asserts.

    And James goes on to say that true faith will work. That is how you know its true faith, by its fruit. You will know them by their fruits. So we are not saved through works but we certainly can be assured of the geniuness of faith by them.

    Amen! Preach it!

    You are not worthy because of your sin and whatever measure of faith you have came as a direct result of God's work in bringing the Holy Spirit wrought gospel message to this unworthy world. Your faith will falter which is why God gives us an examples of men who struggled with faith such as Thomas and another example of the man who prayed, "Lord help my unbelief."

    God can and does through the means he has appointed. What means? The Word.

    Actually I think you are quoting from I Corinthians, but that verse is not teaching us that the lost cannot recieve the gospel as you are applying. In fact if you continue on into the next few verses you will see that the Corithian church could recieved the "deep things of God" to which Paul was referring. Its apparent therefore that Paul is not speaking of natural men inability to recieve the gospel message, but instead that it is impossible for them to understand the "deep things of God" which are spiritually decerned, things that even the carnal Christians of Corith had failed to recieve to that point.

    So you are saying man is not responsible for his own faith? So he is not responsible for his lack of faith either, right? Why does Christ rebuke men for their unbelief? Shouldn't he rebuke God for not giving them faith? Remember Paul is not addressing Armianism. He is not fighting against men who are boasting in their faith. If he were he certainly wouldn't have said, "FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," without qualifing that with some explaination. He was fighting against those who believed in salvation through the law and it works. Those are the ones "boasting" and those are the ones Paul is addressing. By appling that to our discussion you are taking Paul's intent aimed toward those who believe in salvation through works and pointing toward those who believe in salvation through faith. That is poor hermenuetics at best and hersy at its worst.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Sure there are other means mentioned. Scripture often talks of hte call, illumination, giving, etc. The point is that just becuase a verse does not specifically mention something, that does not mean that thing is excluded. It is a given that something else is necessary. Scripture teaches it elsewhere.
     
  11. Skandelon

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    I agree. In fact I wish Calvinists would remember that when we discuss Romans 8 where Paul doesn't mention men's response to God's calling as being apart of the process listed there. But in that case I have tons of scripture that speaks of faith being a requirement, what we need from you is some verse that says the irrestiable call is a requirement for new birth to show that the gospel isn't enough. 1 Peter gives us the means for new birth as the word of God. Could you list the verses that give other means required for new birth. Thanks
     
  12. calvin4me

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    Scandelon-

    You asked why Christ rebuked men for thier lack of faith.
    He rebuked men for several things, as he was pointing out the imperfections of thier nature.
    By rebuking thier unbelief, He was drawing attention to the inherent faithlessness within man. God is said to give to some the gift of celebacy...should not Christ complain to God why He didn't give that gift to adulterers and fornicators?
    Can you explain 2 Cor. 4:3,4 to me?If Scripture says the god of this world has blinded the minds
    of men, do we truly understand how deep and disabling this blindness is?
    As far as poor hermenuetics, I confess I am still learning. I am not a trained minister, so I have to learn on my own (slowly but surly!)

    Perhaps I will always be an incurable Calvinist, because I am absolutely conviced that God controls EVERYTHING, and whatever we have that in anyway pleases Him comes purly out of His mercy and grace alone.
    "Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding ALL things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb.1:3)
     
  13. calvin4me

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    I should qualify my above post.
    When I say God conrols everything, I meant that all things are done out of His good pleasure, infinite wisdom and boundless grace.
    There is an instinctive part of me that constantly thinks upon His sovereigny, and that all things fall within the purpose HE wants.
     
  14. Skandelon

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    First, where does the scripture say that there is a "gift of celebacy"? I'm just not fimiliar with that and would like to look it over. Thanks.

    Second, God does call fornicators to repent. The call itself is implies ability. I don't know any man, with a "gift or celebacy" or not, who could not mess up and commit fornication. It is possible. This is where your comparison falls short because your doctrine says its not possible for certain men who are rebuked for their lack of faith to have faith, but it would be possible for one who had this so called 'gift of celebacy' to commit fornication. The ability for man to respond is what makes him responsible. (response able)

    Here are some questions you should ask:

    1. Is the blindness from birth or do men become blinded by the world in time?

    2. Does this blindness have a cure?

    3. Is the Holy Spirit wrought gospel message enough of a cure to heal one blinded by this world?

    If that is all that is required to be a Calvinists then count me in. [​IMG]
     
  15. Taufgesinnter

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    Also grammatically speaking of Eph. 2:8-9, where Paul says "For you are being saved by grace through faith," the word through can only mean "by means of" rather than "because of." That's because there are two meanings of dia and which one is intended is indicated by the gender used, genitive or accusative. Paul used the gender (genitive) that restricts dia exclusively to "by means of." So God uses faith as the means of grace that saves; he does not give saving grace on the basis that one's own faith has "earned" it.

    Tauf (Arminian)
     

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