Understanding predestination

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

  1. calvin4me

    calvin4me
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    "For you see your calling brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has CHOSEN the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has CHOSEN the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has CHOSEN, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that NO flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Cor.1:26-29)

    I am trying to understand this passage.
    Was it only fools, the weak-minded, the morally inferior, the outcasts, as it were, of the world that he FORKNEW? Or did He CHOOSE them, as the Scripture seems to indicate.
    If I am correct, Arminians say that God predestines those He forknew would accept Him... then how is it He is said to CHOOSE those who are fools, weak, not noble or mighty?

    Is it unreasonable to ask: Is it very likely that fools would chose God? ("The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'")

    I use the word "fool" as opposed to "the wise", and get this definition from the almost countless references in the book of Proverbs.

    If "no flesh should glory in His presence", what do we mean by "glory"? To have an occasion for boasting, or pride? But shouldn't I be proud if I just happen to provide a faith that leads to regeneration...as opposed to be put to shame for lack thereof? Could I glory in THAT?
    I doubt it. This is why I cannot understand or accept Arminian dogma concerning faith before regeneration.

    "But the natural man does not recieve the things of the Spirit of God, for they are FOOLISHNESS to him, NOR CAN he know them, for they are spiritially discerned." (1 Cor.2:14)

    "As it is written, 'Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." (Rom. 9:13)

    God could not have "hated" Esau because of His forknowledge of him, because there was NOTHING to forknow. Esau had not yet lived a life that could be hated, nor had Jacob lived a life that could be loved. Esau had yet to do something displeasing. If a man's life has not yet been lived out, in actuallity, then how can anything be forknown about it?

    Thought? Opinions?
     
  2. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    I know what you are thinking because I used to think the same thing about Arminian theology. But I assure you that true Arminians (who know theology) do not merely believe God looks through the corradors of time and sees who will say "yes" and then chooses them.

    God was known as one who KNEW the Jews. They were HIS people, called by HIS name. That knowledge is the ideal that the apostles, especially Paul, was seeking to explain within the context of a world were Jews were rejecting his gospel and Gentiles were accepting it. It was common knowledge at that time that God had only predetermined to save his people, the Israelite nation. That concept was being blown out of the water in the NT.

    Therefore, Paul is continually seeking to show that it has always been God's predetermined will to include the Gentiles into his covenant. He does this by refering to their being "chosen before the foundation of the world" and their being foreknown right along with the Jewish nation. Paul is speaking in general terms and Calvinists make the mistake of trying to interpret it all on an individual basis.

    Let me help you see this from Paul's perspective.

    Pretend with me that race were still a huge issue today and all Christians were only white and none of them believed that any other color would be saved. One day you had a dream like Peter or a road to Damacus experience like Paul and God told you that he loved all colors of people and desired all to be saved and then sent you to preach the message to other colors. The whites hear your message and many of them are angered and rebuke you. Some of them even beat you and imprison you. You continue to plant churches, most of them filled with people of color. You write them letters continually and say things like, "I praise the Lord that he chose you from before the foundation of the earth." You would be praising God for choosing people of all colors from the very beginning. In the midst of your suffering and the suffering of those of color who were being attacked as not being worthy of God's love and acceptance, you write, "All things work for good to all who love God and who are called, people of all colors. God foreknew people of all color and predestined them all who believe to be conformed to Christ's image. And those he predestined, both whites and colored, he called, and those he called, who believed and followed him, he justified, and those he justified he glorifies. For who will bring any charge against those of any color that God calls? But if I could give up my place in heaven for those of my race, I would..."

    You see, it doesn't have to be interpreted as individuals being foreknown and predestined to believe and be saved. Instead, it is God knowing his ultimate plan of bringing people from all nations who love him to salvation and predestining them to be conformed to the image of his son.
     
  3. calvin4me

    calvin4me
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    Thank you for the info.
    At the risk of sounding naive, has this been suggested in the past? I mean, out of all the great minds that have casted thier lot into the C/A debate, are the Scriptures really that hard to understand that a division has existed for centuries, and still exists?
    I don't care about the views of the Roman Church and thier Papal treatises, because they
    elevate thier traditions over the Word; but I cannot fathom why Protestants continue to debate this.
    Can I ask a personal question?
    Before you made your decision for Arminianism, did you read all the Calvinist defense arguements that are undertaken by minds much sharper than ours? (Sharper than mine, anyways) I will confess I am but a layman, but again, as the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, how is it there is so much more Calvinist literature, commentaries, etc than Arminian?
    Augustine can be considered "Calvinist", and Spurgeon obviously was, and Luther himself has been shown to be in agreement with the 5 points,...could all these great minds so saturated with Scripture, be so wrong?
    I am not saying I trust in the wisdom of men only,
    I am just making a (naive! I'm sure) observation.
    :confused: :(
     
  4. Skandelon

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    Well, God obviously knew this would be a point of contention within his church and allowed it to continue. Why? Who really knows. Maybe he uses such contraversy for good in the end...like the debate between Paul and Barnabas leading to two seperate missionary groups. I don't know.

    I know it all seems pretty cut and dry in your mind as it was in my mind at one time. I found myself at times wanting to yell at ignorant Arminians, "CAN'T YOU READ! IT SAYS HE PREDESTINE US TO BE ADOPTED AS HIS SONS! HOW CAN YOU NOT AGREE?" Since then I've realized there is more to it than that. First, who did he predestined? And second what did he predestine them to? Did he predestine certain lost people to be saved OR could it be that God predestined that those who believe would eventually be adopted as his sons. You and I as believers have not yet been adopted as God's sons, that is something we eagerly wait for according to Paul in Romans 8. It is something that will certainly happen because God has predestined us, as believers, to it, but no where does this passage say anything about God predestining certain people to believe to the neglect of others.

    This goes back to the Jew/Gentile issues of his day. The Jewish apostles were taking the message to the Gentiles and Paul is continually assuring them of their being chosen and predestined to be apart of God's redemptive plan. Why? Because all the Jews around them are telling them that they don't belong in God's covenant and that God would never choose to save a bunch of dirty Gentiles. Read Eph 1 from that perspective and just see if it doesn't make perfect sense.

    I wish you could see the library in front of me right now. I have Spurgeon commentaries, Calvin's Institutes, 6 books by Sproul, 5 by Packer, 18 by MacArthur, 2 by Hodge, 4 by Piper, 1 by Pink, most of the Baptist Founder Press journals (Tom Ascol, Nettles), and the list could go on and on. I was a souled out Calvinist and never planned on leaving that fold. In fact, to leave that doctine cost me more than you'll ever know. I didn't want to leave it, I had to eat a lot of crow and swallow a lot more pride. I desprately search for answers to my in questions in much the same way I had done at the age of 19 when I was first introduced to Calvinism. Then I couldn't find Arminians who had any answers so I adopted Calvinism and only became a more convinced Calvinist as I spoke with all the ignorant Arminians in our churches today. I believe the number one reason that Calvinism is resurging today is because of the ignorance of those who disagree with them. Arminians, for the most part, have no idea why they are Arminians and its no wonder that young Calvinists become so certain their beliefs are correct. They have nothing combating them except for some preacher quoting John 3:16 over and over.

    The same question could be asked from the other perspective. I could list Arminian men like John Wesley, CS Lewis, Billy Graham, Jacobus Arminius, Adam Clarke or whoever and ask how could such great men, so saturated in the Word been so wrong? That argument can go either way.

    I really believe that Calvinists are just making an honest mistake in interpretation. Most of their error comes in failing to recognize the context in which the text was written. Let me give you an overly simple example to illustrate my point.

    John 15:16 says, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit."

    Now a Calvinist would say, "See God chose us." But they fail to see that Jesus was speaking to his 12 disciples. He had individually chosen them to be the ones to carry his message to the world and speak with apostolic authority, thus bringing the scripture into existance. We are not chosen to walk with Christ, the incarnate Word, in the flesh. We believe in Christ through their message and we strive to follow in his steps, but we weren't individually chosen by him. This is a key point: Proof that God has individually selected and even effectually called his divine messengers is not proof that God does so with their audiences.

    Proof that God soveriegnly called Jonah to preach to Ninevah in no way proves that the individuals in Ninevah who did believe his message were soveriegnly caused to do so.

    God does step into our world and he does divinly interviene to accomplish His purposes, I believe that. But pointing to God's divine choice and call of his inspired messengers as proof that he deals with all believers in the same way is short sighted at best. I believe it undermines the apostle's authority and scripture's intent.
     
  5. Skandelon

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    BTW, most Calvinistic thought can be linked to Augustine, who had a great mind as well. He is really the father of Western thought and was the scholar that most influenced the reformers such as Luther and Calvin.

    Augustine, though he was an accomplish scholar and contributed greatly to systemizing much of our theology as we know it today, did have some short comings. One, he didn't know Greek. He did all of his studies from translations which I believe lead to his misunderstanding of certain contextual issues. There are many other scholars who preceeded Augustine who did read the Greek who do not seem to agree with his soteriological conclusions. That should be noted because we, as human beings, have a tendency to deify dead authors and scholars because they have the ability to put thoughts, concepts and ideas on paper with such elequence, but in fact they were just men like you and me.
     
  6. jne1611

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    One must be careful in dealing with these matters, because 1Cor. 2, Rom. 9. Both warn about carnal interpretations, made on emotional impressions, and not Scripture.
     
  7. jne1611

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    Emotions fly when dealing with these things.

    You must remember that Chapters like Eph. 1, Rom.8, 1Pet.1, all are centered to beleivers as a whole. You'll have a hard time trying to prove that God determines the destiny of some, and not others. Check Romans 9 for Gods design for individuals, and if you choose to believe that it only speaks of nations, then explane which nation Pharaoh stood for, and if conditional cirsumstances were being explained, then why address the questions that Paul supposes that they would ask?

    [ July 26, 2004, 07:19 PM: Message edited by: jne1611 ]
     
  8. jne1611

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    One question that I would like to be answered is how does one seperate the "Church" from the individuals that make it up?
     
  9. Skandelon

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    You don't seperate the church from the individual that makes it up, but there is a difference between those in the church being predestined to be conformed to Christ's image and an individual being predestined to become a member of the church.

    The scripture speaks of BELIEVERS or THE CHURCH being predestined to be conformed to Christ's image and to be adopted as his children, neither of which have been completed in the lives of individuals in the church. The scripture does not speak of God predestining people to believe and thus become members of his Church, which is the way Calvinists like to interpret it. It only speaks of what believers are predestined to. That is the difference.
     
  10. jne1611

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    A common error with most people, is that they want to make the subject of predestination to be nothing more than a blank hope left only to mans free will. And I will agree with you as to the context of predestination alone deals with the future of believers.

    But you have to understand the doctrine of predestination goes together with the doctrine of election (which has to do with individual salvation) and they are inseperable.
    Read John 6. Only those given to Christ by the Father can or will come saveingly. 2Thess 2:13
    The only reason Paul gives for the salvation of these people is that God had chosen them to be saved. 1Pet. 1:2 Peter makes it clear that the elect only come to obediance of faith because they have been sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

    The issue is not what we like for the Scripture to say (that is the problem) (read Romans 9 for an example of this) the issue is speaking the truth as it is, and not as we would have it to be.
     
  11. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Jne1611

    You are missing a few pieces of very important information which has lead you to your misinterpretations of the scripture.

    1. In John 6 Christ is speaking about those the Father has given him while he was in the flesh (on earth). Christ didn't come to earth to make everyone apostles. He chose twelve Jews (which he goes on to point out in chapter 6) and he trained them for the task of taking the message to the rest of the world. The rest of the Jews were being judicially hardened which is why they couldn't believe in him (John 12:39; Romans 9-12)

    2. Paul was preaching as a Jew to Gentiles in many of his letters, as he was the "apostle to the Gentiles." This is why you see him refer to "us" and "you" throughout many of his writings. So when he says, "I thank God that he has chosen YOU before the foundation of the world...." Couldn't it be that Paul was speaking about the Gentile people? "I thank God that he has chosen to save you the Gentiles from the very beginning despite what all the Jews and judizers might be saying. That was the debate of Paul's day not Calvinism vs. Arminianism.

    3. Israel was an elect nation, but not all of those who were Israel were saved. Later God revealed that the Gentiles were also a chosen people but in the same way not all Gentiles will be saved. Only those who believe in Christ will be saved, for "Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness."

    4. Romans 9 never teaches that God shows mercy to the elect and hardens the non-elect as you presume upon the text. Paul is teaching that God can show mercy to even dirty Gentiles and he can hardened even the elect Jews. Those being shown mercy will only be saved if they believe, just as those who are being hardened will only be saved if they leave their unbelief, which is clearly a possiblity as revealed in Romans 11.
     
  12. jne1611

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    Ok, if what you say is true, then John 6:37 is only addressed to Apostles. (Which context proves wrong).

    Also 2Thess. 2:13 plainly puts the beliveing Gentiles in a different catagory than the unbelieving gentiles mentioned right before he speaks of the elect, and Paul not Calvin puts it plain that the only reason that they are saved is because they are chosen by God.

    Israel is elect according to the flesh, the church is elect according to the Spirit. Rom. 2:28-29

    Rom. 9 is to clear that the pot has no will to be anything but what the potter intends for it to be.
     
  13. Skandelon

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    That is not what I said. He is addressing his audience but it is revelevant for all of us because it tells us that God had only given for some of Israel to come and learn directly from the incarnate Word while here on earth. The context only supports that interpretation as does the rest of the book of John.

    Again, you are not dealing with what I have said. God chose the gentiles but only the believing ones are saved.

    The analogy is in regard to what God does in having mercy upon even the dirty Gentiles while hardening the elect Jews. He, as the creator of the pot, has the right to hardened some Jews and call other ones to be apostles, just has He has the right to show mercy to dirty unclean Gentiles while hardening the elect nation.
     
  14. jne1611

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    So what you are telling me, is that Pharaoh is symbolic for God hardening the Jews in Rom. 9?
     
  15. Skandelon

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    You could say that. I would say Paul is using Pharoah as an example to prove that God can and does harden people in their rebellion, just as he is hardening the Jewish people at that time.

    See, Paul is not anticipating the rebuttal of Arminians, that is absurd. He is anticipating the rebuttal of the Jew, who is saying, "Its not fair! You can't have mercy on dirty unclean Gentiles!!! We are the elect ones! We have been working in the field all day and you want to bring these pagans in and give them the same wages? NOT FAIR! And on top of that your hardening US YOUR CHOSEN PEOPLE???? What?!?"

    And God's response to them is, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy (even dirty Gentiles) so it doesn't depend on how much you work and run after the law (JEWS) but it depends upon the God who shows mercy. I hardened Pharoah in his rebellion and I can hardened you in yours.

    The Jew responds, "Then why would God still blame us for who can resist His will?"

    And you know how God responds to that as He compares them to a lump of clay. Who He can use for common purposes, such as being hardened, or for noble purposes such as apostleship.

    What if God choosing to show his wrath and make his power known put up with the Jews all these years as they fit themselves for destruction....What if he did this to make the riches of his mercy known to the Gentiles who he was now ingrafting into his covenant, which was the plan He had prepared in advance for his own glory.

    That is the point of Paul's discourse in Romans 9.
     

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