What if you dont agree with all Calvanism where does that put you?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Denise Swiney, Jul 18, 2003.

  1. Denise Swiney

    Denise Swiney
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    I have heard it said that all Baptists are Calvanists. I dont know a lot about Arminianism. The one thing that I wrestle with the most is in the deepest areas never seen by any missionary, what happens to those people. I have heard many debates on the subject, but none that ever fully satisfied me. I worship in an Old Fashioned way, however I cannot totally agree with all 5 points of calvanism.
    I would love to hear some responses on this.

    Thanks
    And GOD BLESS
    Sister Denise Swiney [​IMG]
     
  2. Ron Grove

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    "I have heard it said that all Baptists are Calvinists."

    This is most certainly not true.

    "I dont know a lot about Arminianism."

    What is now called Arminianism comes from the name of a Dutchman named Jacob Arminius. He studies under Calvin's succesor Theodore Beza and came to disagree with certain teachings. Years after his return to the Netherlands and sometime after his death many of his students and others influenced by him requested "remonstrance" (sp?) to be able to teach certain things in the Dutch church. The Synod of Dort was convened several years after the requests to make a decision on these points. Out of this 1618-1619 gathering came the responses of the reformed leaders of the day. A synthesis of that document is what is today called the "five points of Calvinism". Like Calvinism, there Arminianism has many variants. Neither side sees everyone walking in theological lockstep and there are as many middle ground positions as there are Christians that have voiced one...

    "The one thing that I wrestle with the most is in the deepest areas never seen by any missionary, what happens to those people. I have heard many debates on the subject, but none that ever fully satisfied me."

    Join the crowd! [​IMG] But as difficult as this topic is, it does not boil down to an Arminian/Calvinist debate in my view. There is much more involved.

    "I worship in an Old Fashioned way"

    So do us Calvinists. [​IMG]

    "however I cannot totally agree with all 5 points of calvanism"

    This is fine, but which point(s) and based upon what scripture?

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  3. Gina B

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    I live in a town packed with Baptist churches. None are reformed.
    If you don't believe in all five points you must change your name appropriately. You're a Calviminian. ;)
    Even the sky testifies of Jesus. Nobody will die without being shown the truth, so the argument doesn't exist no matter which side you're on IMO. It's a hypothetical situation and trying to understand doctrine based on hypotheticals can only lead to hypothetical conclusions.
    Gina
     
  4. Felix

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    Hello dear [​IMG] ,

    I agree, that not all Baptists are Calvinists! In fact, I would say (even as an international student here in the US) that within this one denomination you will find a good number of arminians and/or calvinists and an even more number of those who don't know where they stand or don't care about this issue.

    IMHO, the Bible is not silent on this issue. For one thing, the Bible is clear that Christ is the ONLY way to the Father. There is no other way!!!!
    Second, the way I understand, all Baptist Seminaries (at least Southern Baptist) teach that General Revelation (creation, consciense, etc.) is not enough, or is incomplete to bring salvation to an individual. In other words - as they say - it is enough to damn but not enough to save. That is why in Romans 1 Paul says that 'they' are without excuse.
    Special Revelation, or the Word of God is needed to bring God's Salvation plan to any individual. Salvation is by faith in Christ alone!! This is the Gospel.

    Arminians claim that everyone is given the same chance, the same opportunity. But why is the Gospel not sent (opportunity, chance) sent to everyone, they have no answer.
    Unless you bring God's elective plan into the picture, there will be no answer to this question.

    Please read on and decide for yourself:

    About two month ago, we heard an individual from India give his testimony at our college. Here is what he said: He has never heard the Gospel. One or two of his relatives claimed to believe in a 'certain' Christ as their Savior. That was ALL he knew about Christianity when one night he had a dream. In His dream - he says - he heard a voice saying: "I am the way, the truth and the light". Somehow he was 100% sure that it was Christ who told him this. After this incident, he started searching for the truth and eventually weeks later he accepted the Lord Christ as his personal Saviour.

    Interesting story and humbling at the same time. I know we all should be careful when it comes to dreams and visions and such like, but here is a true story that we can not avoid. Now, I have no reason to suspect that this guy was not telling the truth. But if he was telling the truth, here are a few questions to ponder upon for those who do not believe in God's electing grace:

    How can this be explained by the arminians? Can someone today have a dream that will help or direct him/her towards Christianity? Why are some 'helped in a special way' while others are not?

    In my personal opinion, we should not limit the power of God and claim that God can not work through dreams or heal these days anymore. He does what He wants, when He wants and how He wants it.

    However, if you ask me why dreams like these or 'any special help' is sent to someone and not to the other, I have no answer!! I simply don't know and I don't think anybody knows. God's ways are not our ways, the only thing I can do is to bow my head and knee and worship Him who does everything according to His Perfect Plan.

    Sorry for being a little long...

    In Christ [​IMG]

    Felix
     
  5. Ron Grove

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    "How can this be explained by the arminians? Can someone today have a dream that will help or direct him/her towards Christianity? Why are some 'helped in a special way' while others are not?"

    I am not an Arminian, but I would expect a traditional Arminian theologian to easily respond to this with prevenient grace. In "The Cross and Salvation" Bruce Demarest (a Calvinist) defines it this way (which I believe to accurately reflect the Arminian position):

    "prevenient grace, a benefit that flows from Christ's death on the cross, neutralizes human depravity and restores pre-Christians everywhere the ability to heed God's general call to salvation. Previenient grace and the universal call either may be accepted or rejected. Since God restores to all the ability to repond favorably to spiritual promptings, the determining factor as to whether persons heed the Gospel call is their own free decision."

    Now, I would move from prevenient grace to Paul in Acts 17:26-28.

    "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your poets have said, 'we are his offspring'.

    I would then contest that this man was cooperating with the prevenient grace Christ's death merited for us all and that he was reaching out for the one true, living God. God answered this man's yearnings for him and showed him the truth. This is not normative, but does happen, and when it does it's purely by the grace of an almighty and sovereign God "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph 2:8)

    Do I get any points for giving a good answer to the other side? [​IMG]

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  6. Felix

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    Where in the world do we find Scriptural support for such a mambo jumbo? [​IMG]

    Just because 'God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him' does not imply that men has the will or ability to do so. Just like God commanding to 'be perfect' does not imply that we are able to be perfect.

    Again we are back to the same question. If this is not normative, why is this grace given to some and not to others?

    You certainly do!!! [​IMG] Great arguments and it made me think for a moment. However that prevenient grace thing has no scriptural support, at least not that I know of (and I am always learning..)

    You would be better off arguing for your own side and not feeding 'others' [​IMG] Just kidding.
    Thank you for responding though

    In Christ

    Felix
     
  7. Ron Grove

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    Arminian scholars are also very into the middle knowledge molinist defenses of Christian exclusivity. If you have not read on this theory and are interested in various biblical teachings like "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4.12)

    William Lane Craig is one of the most able defenders of this position. I have quoted the concluding paragraphs below from this article:

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/middle2.html

    "In conclusion, then, I think that a middle knowledge perspective on the problem of the exclusivity of the Christian religion can be quite fruitful. Since all persons are in sin, all are in need of salvation. Since Christ is God's unique expiatory sacrifice for sin, salvation is only through Christ. Since Jesus and his work are historical in character, many persons as a result of historical and geographical accident will not be sufficiently well-informed concerning him and thus unable to respond to him in faith. Such persons who are not sufficiently well-informed about Christ's person and work will be judged on the basis of their response to general revelation and the light that they do have. Perhaps some will be saved through such a response; but on the basis of Scripture we must say that such "anonymous Christians" are relatively rare. Those who are judged and condemned on the basis of their failure to respond to the light of general revelation cannot legitimately complain of unfairness for their not also receiving the light of special revelation, since such persons would not have responded to special revelation had they received it. For God in His providence has so arranged the world that anyone who would receive Christ has the opportunity to do so. Since God loves all persons and desires the salvation of all, He supplies sufficient grace for salvation to every individual, and nobody who would receive Christ if he were to hear the gospel will be denied that opportunity. As Molina puts it, our salvation is in our own hands.

    Finally, I hope that no reader has been offended by what might appear to be a rather dry and dispassionate discussion of the salvation and damnation of people apart from Christ. But with such an emotionally explosive issue on the table, it seems to me that it is prudent to treat it with reserve. No orthodox Christian likes the doctrine of hell or delights in anyone's condemnation. I truly wish that universalism were true, but it is not. My compassion toward those in other world religions is therefore expressed, not in pretending that they are not lost and dying without Christ, but by my supporting and making every effort myself to communicate to them the life-giving message of salvation through Christ."

    Of course, being a reformed baptist, the last sentence of the first paragraph always kills me to read...

    Another one of William Lane Craig's Molinist article's concluding paragraphs is below and may be found at:

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/politically.html

    "On the proposed view, God in His providence can so arrange the world that as the gospel spread out from first century Palestine, He placed people in its path who would believe it if they heard it. In His love and mercy, God ensures that no one who would believe the gospel if he heard it remains ultimately unreached. Once the gospel reaches a people, God providentially places there persons who He knew would respond to it if they heard it. He ensures that those who never hear it are only those who would not accept it if they did hear it. Hence, no one is lost because of a lack of information or due to historical and geographical accident. Anyone who wants or even would want to be saved will be saved."

    Okay my Arminian brothers and sisters, it's absurdly late here in Oregon and that's two good Arminian responses to the challenge provided courtesy of a Calvinist. I think this at least deserves some patience at some later point in time when we disagree. :D Sorry brother Felix, but I am weak when I see a challenge I think I can meet, even if I can't possibly agree with the words coming out of my mouth... ;)

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  8. Ron Grove

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    Brother Felix! You're either up entirely too late or your on the other side of the world or something... What country is your flag from? Is that Hungarian?

    I left any attempts at scriptural justification for a universal, prevenient grace for our Arminian brethren to provide. I have a few examples here somewhere, but I'm comfortable on the couch right now... Besides, this way I may respond in terms I am more comfortable with. [​IMG]

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  9. Felix

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    It is very late here too. But I will get back to this thread. [​IMG]

    Felix
     
  10. Denise Swiney

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    [​IMG] Boy what a can of worms I have opened [​IMG] FIrst of all let me say, I am not equipped to make a lot of judgments on either view, as I am not well informed on their doctines. I know more about Calvanism and honestly knew nothing of Arminianism. First off I am an Independent Baptist, KJV, very conservative in my faith. This is what bothers me.
    Lets take the TULIP
    ok #1 Total Depravity AMEN I believe it

    #2 unconditional election Now either I totally am misunderstanding this priniciple or I have a problem here.

    If it is saying God Elects some for salvation and some for Hell , I would have a hard time in understanding the justice in that. I know that God is a just God, Plenteous in Mercy, and His ways are not our ways, but elected a person for hell to me there is no justice in that.

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    Ok it doesn't say He gave His only begotten son that the elect.
    However Exodus 33:19b and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
    But lets just say that we believe that some are not elected to heaven. Do you see the possible danger in this way. #1 People will be less likely to soul win and evangelize. Whats the point God has made that decision. Make any sense?
    L limited atonement: Well I can say that the death of Jesus would cover the sin of ever person in the world. However if the person rejects Christ, therefore the atonement has not been made for them. SO I would say I could agree with this.
    I irresistable grace. Dont quite know what the meaning is on that one. So I will have to leave it up to one of you who knows to explain that one to me.
    Perseverance of the Saints I believe if I am understanding it properly that I could agree with that. As I believe in Phil:1:6 Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

    Now that I have shown you my ignorance :D maybe you can help me make better sense of it all.

    Baically its predestination I have a big QUESTION MARK on! I have written way to much already but there is ton more I could say, I will try to post again more of my thoughts. My opinion doesnt matter anyway its Gods opinion that counts, and He is the final authority.

    Thanks
    Sister Denise
     
  11. Felix

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    Wow! I personally never heard these views before but it is very appealing. As I was thinking about them, three things came into my mind:
    1. Just by what means or how does God 'place people in the path of the Gospel'? We inherit our beings (body, soul) from our parents. Just when does God intervene in this?
    2.This will not explain why some who accept the gospel are still in the most remote areas possible. Did God forget to place them into the path of the gospel? If He provided the means to reach this individual why not place him closer to the source?
    3.According to this view, God still elects by merit and not by grace.

    For now, I will close with this, but thank you Ron for the very good insight.

    God bless you
    P.S. I will keep in touch
    Felix [​IMG]
     
  12. Ron Grove

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    Hello Denise

    You made many points so I will try to keep this as brief as possible, but that will be difficult... :D

    "#1 Total Depravity AMEN I believe it"

    Are you sure? Let's keep a couple verses in mind as we move forward.

    Romans 8:5-7 "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ."


    "#2 unconditional election Now either I totally am misunderstanding this priniciple or I have a problem here.

    If it is saying God Elects some for salvation and some for Hell , I would have a hard time in understanding the justice in that. I know that God is a just God, Plenteous in Mercy, and His ways are not our ways, but elected a person for hell to me there is no justice in that."

    There are two traditional streams of thought in reformed theology on this. The technical names if you choose to look it up are supralapsarianism (what you described) and infralapsarianism (God has mercy on whom he has mercy and passes over the rest who would never have come to him. Nobody would be saved if he didn't choose to have mercy on us). Please do a careful study on Romans 9:8-23 and you will see the centerpiece of centuries of argument. For a good summary of these views I will recommend a quick read from Philip Johnson's article at http://www.gty.org/~phil/articles/sup_infr.htm. Generally speaking reformed Baptists are Infralapsarian. I have traditionally been Infralapsarian, but William Lane Craig's arguments have convinced me that the traditional Calvinist, Amarauldian, and Arminian views are inadequate to the task of dealing with the omniscience of God. I am very influence these days by John Feinberg. I will quote from John S. Feinberg's book "No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God" some serious issues I have with the basis of the positions you will find well laid out on Philip Johnson's site:

    "... God as omniscient would see a whole interconnected possible world at once; in fact, he would see all possible worlds at once, and then choose to create none of them or to actualize one of them. Hence, God doesn't choose to create Adam, and then decide that Adam will sin; nor does God choose first to save Adam, and then decide to create him, and yet in a further (logically speaking) choice decide that he will sin. Rather God see Adam as part of a whole interconnected possible world. ... But in choosing to actualize any given possible world he would already see Adam and everyone else as sinners or not, and either as saved or not. In worlds with sin which is paid for by Christ's atonement, God would see at once all the sinners, saved and unsaved, along with Christ's sacrifice. There simply is no logical sequence of choices to construct when what God chooses is a whole world, not individual events, actions, etc. Hence it is worng to ask whether God decreed first (logically) to create human beings, to save the elect, or whatever."

    There is much, much more too this than this little snippet, but I am currently leary of the very question itself. As you get into the discussion you will soon come to understand why Calvin spent like two pages in his "Institutes of the Christian Religion" warning people not to get carried away trying to understand the secrets of God. I used to get frustrated at how long it took him to get to the points, but as I have matured as a Christian I understand better now why he took these things so seriously.

    "John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.' Ok it doesn't say He gave His only begotten son that the elect."

    There are a couple of issues here. Who will believe? I would say those who can believe. Who can believe? Only those God has chosen to show mercy according to his perfect will. This is where we come back to Romans 8:7 which I quoted earlier as well as John 1:12-13 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to cecome the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.", Romans 9:15-16 "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor him that runneth, but God that sheweth mercy". We then turn to the context of the passage you gave which was John 3:16. John 3:3 says "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." As Jesus progresses in the conversation note how this concept develops. For example John 3:8 says "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the spirit." So we may ask, Does Jesus clarify what he means any further? I would contest he does in John 6 very clearly. Watch as the chapter works up to one of the most startling events in the book of John in my view. A couple key verses are John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up the last day." John 6:65 says "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked with him no more." Ephesians 2:4-10 is an essential passage for this topic as well. For a little further scripture on election look at Matt 11:27, Eph 1:5,11, 2 Thess 2:13-14, Rom 8:29-30, etc. There are many more but I must move on.

    "L limited atonement: Well I can say that the death of Jesus would cover the sin of ever person in the world. However if the person rejects Christ, therefore the atonement has not been made for them. So I would say I could agree with this."

    I will have to ask this question of you to find out whether you would agree with particular redemtion or not. Wayne Grudem states it as such: "Did Christ pay for the sins of all unbelievers who will be eternally condemned, and did he pay for their sins fully and completely on the cross?" Calvinists answer no. What is yours? It is not a question as to whether Christ's death was sufficient to pay for the sins of everyone in the world. Calvinists would agree that it is, but that Christ died particularly to redeem his flock which he would have mercy upon and draw unto himself. John 10:11,14-15 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. ... I am the good shepherd and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the father knoweth me, even so I know the father: and I lay down my life for the sheep."

    "I irresistable grace. Dont quite know what the meaning is on that one. So I will have to leave it up to one of you who knows to explain that one to me."

    Perhaps you have seen it by now. Calvinists believe in a general call, which is the proclamation of the Gospel to all we proclaim it to, and an efficatious call which the elect recieve. Note John 10:11,14-15 quoted above as well as the host of passages quoted already which speak of a calling of the elect. Also notice in Rom 8:30 that "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called, them he also justified: and whom he justified he also glorified". All those predestined are called, all those called are justified, and all those justified will be glorified. You may notice that Perseverence of the Saints is also dealt with there.

    "But lets just say that we believe that some are not elected to heaven. Do you see the possible danger in this way. #1 People will be less likely to soul win and evangelize. Whats the point God has made that decision. Make any sense?"

    Yes, of course it makes sense to ask this question. The bottom line is that God has ordained us as the vehicle of his message and commanded us to go out and proclaim his word to the world. Not doing this is in direct contradiction to the specific, undeniable command of God and very well could result in fivine discipline in my opinion. What is the purpose, though? I believe this ties in very closely to the question of Why should we pray if God already knows what will happen? We need to proclaim the gospel to the lost and pray because it is part of how God is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. If we do not do as he commands we rob ourselves of this glorious blessing of transformation and improved relationship with him. Look at Duet 6:4 and following. This is how we are *supposed* to live our lives and how he directly blesses it in abundance through our growing relationship to him. If I am seeking to be able to be a good witness to the faith that is within me as Peter commands that means I am reading scripture and praying and being transformed into what God has intended me to be. And I thank God for this grace that he has poured out upon me! [​IMG]

    Hope this response helps answer some of your questions.

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  13. Ron Grove

    Ron Grove
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    "Wow! I personally never heard these views before but it is very appealing. As I was thinking about them, three things came into my mind:"

    Yes, it is very appealing and has been since Molina first put it forward to counter Calvinism.
    Molinism, or middle knowledge, is rapidly gaining popularity among apologists who seek to defend the clear biblical position that sinners are only saved through Christ, and Christ alone.

    "1. Just by what means or how does God 'place people in the path of the Gospel'?"

    This would be grounded Paul's speach in Athens in Acts 17

    "We inherit our beings (body, soul) from our parents. Just when does God intervene in this?"

    I don't think I completely understand what you mean here.

    "2.This will not explain why some who accept the gospel are still in the most remote areas possible. Did God forget to place them into the path of the gospel? If He provided the means to reach this individual why not place him closer to the source?"

    If they came to faith in Christ then God clearly did provide the means for them to come to Christ. Whether it was a missionary, lay Christian, or more miraculous method such as the one you gave example of. The person appeared to be close enough that they were able to search out Christians in a fair amount of time.

    "3.According to this view, God still elects by merit and not by grace."

    We are back to the question of universal, prevenient grace. Unfortunately we have not had an Arminian come in to give a biblical defense of this vital point, but if God did provide everyone with the grace necessary to come to the father, then it would follow that it was indeed by grace through faith that the sinner was saved. If nobody comes forward I may have to break down and make it for them so it is understood by anyone reading the thread.

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  14. Denise Swiney

    Denise Swiney
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    [​IMG] Hello Ron,
    Thanks for your reply, I will definetly study out the scriptures in Romans that you gave. We are on the same page as far as the atonement goes, which is what I meant, but probably did not express it acurately.
    Now another question. I have been witnessing to an atheist in England for a little over 2 years now. He says he is Doomed for Hell. I told him if that were so I would not be talking to him. This is another reason I am wrestling with this. I don't know if he realizes this or not, but he is believing in fatalism. So this is what bothers me. I know of many instances where people have been witnessed to over and over again, and still have died rejecting Christ. How does that fit in?


    Oh and what did Felix mean by God electing by merit and not grace? Grace is unmerited favor anyway? Real confused on that one. Honestly the whole thing is confusing. But I am praying about it all and I will enjoy studying it all out.

    Oh! on the total depravity issue, I may not have the whole concept there. But the way I see it (which I could be very wrong here) is that man is totally depraved without Gods intervention. Unless we yeild to God is that not what we are?

    Ok enough of this novel. [​IMG] Im not getting paid to write this [​IMG] ONLY JOKING [​IMG]
    Thanks for your reply!
    Sis Denise
     
  15. Ron Grove

    Ron Grove
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    Hello Denise,

    "Thanks for your reply, I will definetly study out the scriptures in Romans that you gave. We are on the same page as far as the atonement goes, which is what I meant, but probably did not express it acurately."

    That's okay, most Calvinists and Arminians do not express their views in this area effectively which, in my opinion, leads to everyone talking past one another. A common problem seen on boards such as this...

    "Now another question. I have been witnessing to an atheist in England for a little over 2 years now. He says he is Doomed for Hell. I told him if that were so I would not be talking to him. This is another reason I am wrestling with this. I don't know if he realizes this or not, but he is believing in fatalism."

    As is typical with atheism he is making a statement he can't know the truth of. Atheists say there is no God, but they are not all knowing, therefore they can't "know" this at all. In this case I would say he is doing something similar. He doesn't know what the future holds, therefore you can't really make this statement. We have an elderly brother at church who has powerful testimony which I feel is relevent for your circumstances here. He was an atheist, was in the Hell's Angels, and lived an extremely hardened life. By the providence of God he managed to marry a Baptist woman and when faith got in the way he was so hardened he considered killing her off so he could be done with this irritation. He finally came up with a new plan, which he is convinced God gave him as it was so unlike him, which was to get her into a church so she would take part in their activities and be out of his hair. Over time, not immediately, he spoke to the pastor and had many arguments. He said he always got very emotional and riled up, but the pastor always was patient and longsuffering in these discussions. One day he forced a discussion specifically with the intent of forcing the pastor to lose his cool. He did his best, but in the midst of his most passioned attacks on God, he looked into the pastor's eyes and was convicted by God of his sin at that moment. He *knew* the truth of the gospel *at that moment*. He has been a faithful servant of the Lord ever since and truly is a light to the world. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the spirit." [John 3:8].

    Before I get to the issue of fatalism there are a couple things to note about this that will hopefully help you see what reformed theology means by "Total Depravity". I believe there is still a little confusion about what Calvinists mean by this. It would be better to think of it as "Total Inability" for a fallen person to come to Christ (Rom 8:7) and exercise faith without a regenerating work of the Spirit in that person first (John 3:3, 6:44,65). This work of the Spirit must take place in a person in order for that person to make a true profession of faith. No difference between traditional Arminian and Calvinistic thought on this last sentence. Where the difference comes is in how this grace is given to man. Arminians assert that a prevenient grace extends out from the cross to all people everywhere in time so that all people have the *ability* to exercise faith in Christ. This prevenient grace given to all is resistable. Calvinists assert that this work of grace is particularly applied by the Spirit to convict and bring to repentance and faith those who will believe (the elect if you will). Jesus calls his sheep and they will respond to him. God did not *have* to provide this mercy, but he chose to in accordance with his perfect purpose (Eph 1, Rom 9:15-16, etc).

    It is incumbant upon both sides, in my opinion, to state clearly and unambiguously their position on grace. I believe firmly (surprise) that the calvinist position is the most biblical.

    "So this is what bothers me. I know of many instances where people have been witnessed to over and over again, and still have died rejecting Christ. How does that fit in?"

    Their hearts were hard toward God and he, for reasons only known to him, did not quicken them unto life (Rom 9:11-23). This is the hardest question to deal with and even though I take an unpopular position I am exceedingly comforted that the apostle Paul had to answer this same question in Rom 9:19. There is a mystery in Human responsibility and God's sovereignty that we will never truly understand this side of the grave at least, but we must have faith that our God is a loving, fair and just God and that *all* of his decisions are made in absolute accordance with his attributes. It is very difficult for us to do that as we really wish to understand everything. But some things, we must accept in the end, may never be made known to us.

    Here is an analogy I have heard that may help. A prisoner on death row calls a press conference to complain that he is unjustly being sent to the chair by the governor. He did indeed commit the murder and was not unjustly accused. The governor had pardoned others, but he had not pardoned this particular convicted murderer. Does the prisoner have a legitimate complaint? Is it the governor's fault that he is in the position he is in? And does he deserve the life the others were given soley by the mercy of the governor? Romans 1 shatters the convicts case in biblical terms.

    "Oh and what did Felix mean by God electing by merit and not grace? Grace is unmerited favor anyway? Real confused on that one. Honestly the whole thing is confusing. But I am praying about it all and I will enjoy studying it all out."

    Prayer and study will clear up what he meant by this I am certain. You are absolutely on the right track regardless of where you eventually end up on these issues. I will try to explain his meaning, however a scriptural study of the issue will help you more than anything I can say. Calvinists and classical Arminians both assert that saying a person is able to exercise faith only due to the prior work of grace by the Spirit which makes this exercise of faith possible (as I stated earlier). Because Calvinism rejects a universal, prevenient grace given to all men and instead believes in an efficatious call to all those who will believe a sharp debate ensues. Calvinists, by making this assertion, are insisting that the arminian is claiming natural man can indeed exercise faith apart from the grace of God. This is most commonly because many Calvinists are not well informed of the Arminian concept of prevenient grace and you end up in both sides speaking past one another and fighting straw men. The other thing that happens is uninformed Arminians really do believe that man can make this exercise of faith on their own which gives substance to many Calvinist's straw men. This what is meant by "meriting" salvation. You exercised faith in Christ. Your friend in Britain has not. If not for election you would certainly have something to boast about in your salvation. You would be able to say you chose God because of your research, your study, and then exercised your free will in accepting the gospel's validity. You were indeed sovereign in your salvation and that makes the calvinist cringe (and should make a classical arminian cringe as well), but it's the popular belief of this day. The Calvinist, instead, takes Ephesians 2:1-10 and insists our salvation is all of God by his grace alone. I contributed no part to my salvation whatsoever. I should say that despite the protests of classical Arminians prevenient grace falls under the weight of scripture and therefore they always teeter on the edge of saying they merited salvation of themselves.

    "Oh! on the total depravity issue, I may not have the whole concept there. But the way I see it (which I could be very wrong here) is that man is totally depraved without Gods intervention. Unless we yeild to God is that not what we are?"

    I hope the last section cleared up the reformed position on this point.

    Hope this helps. [​IMG]

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  16. Felix

    Felix
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    Hello Ron,

    I have a question. Those who hold to this view, do they have more Scripture verses to base their theory upon or just this one verse: Acts 17:26? This verse may be interpreted in several ways and - granted - their view could be one of them. However, to build a whole system based on one verse only which could only partially be interpreted that way is a very dangerous thing.

    Also, check this out. It is well worth reading:

    Objections against Molinism

    God bless you

    Felix
     
  17. Eric B

    Eric B
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    I have never heard the name "Molinism" before, but I have recently been thinking of these questions.
    Popular evangelical leaders seem to have toyed with the idea, and then you begin hearing from both the fundies and the Calvinists "such and such no longer believes the name of Christ is necessary". I think Billy graham is one such person.
    One point, is that if we reject it on the basis that Acts 4:12 and others means that the name MUST be believed in/professed by every single person in order for them to be saved, then there could have been no salvation in the Old Testament. I used to hear somewhere (from conservative interpreters) something to the effect that based purely on Gen.3:15 (and later Messianic prophecies) the OT saints had a working knowledge of "Jesus Christ" (just about as clear as ours), as if it went even down to the details of His life, but that is so far fetched. God began revealing bits and parts of the Gospel, but not the name "Jesus Christ", or even enough of the details about Him, that people would gain the clear knowledge that we would say today that all must have to be saved (second person of the Godhead, born of a virgin, lives sinless life, died on a cross for forgiveness of sins, resurrected the third day, etc)
    But Hebrews shows, the people back then were still saved by "faith" (in the true God), and since the true God is Jesus Christ (even though the OT saints didn't know it), it is still that "name" by which they are saved.
    Some would say, this makes the Gospel unnecessary, but God still commands us to preach it to the world, because, having all the truth preached clearly makes it more likely people will believe the whole truth (as the quote above said, people who are saved without the knowledge are rare; it is true that all do not have an "equal chance", but then our job is to offer people more of a chance), plus Christ's name is to be glorified regardless, so why wouldn't we proclaim it to all?
    I'm not dogmatically professing this, but I think it does deserve attention in the battlefield of theories.
     
  18. Denise Swiney

    Denise Swiney
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    Quote all do not have an equal chance.

    I dont know why but that sends a knife through my heart. Im going to continue studying, but its hard once again for me to understand that God would not give everyone the exact same chance to receive him.
    For in the foreknowledge of God He knows who will and who wont. Or if you are correct who he will choose and who will not.
    Regardless no one can not come to Him unless they are drawn. So right now Im saddened.

    Sis Denise
     
  19. Ron Grove

    Ron Grove
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    Do you mean Molinism itself? Or all views that are rooted in the attempt to deal with the question of the decrees of God (such as the one I put forth earlier in this thread through a quote from John Feinberg's book "No One Like Him")? There are many verses in the Bible that are drawn on to deal with discussions of this nature and this is probably number one on the list. That's one of the reasons it gets so complex so quickly.

    Thank you. I will look at it when I have a chance to read through.

    In Christ,
    Ron
     
  20. Ron Grove

    Ron Grove
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    Hello Eric, [​IMG]

    Welcome to the discussion. So have we! [​IMG]

    I do not know Billy Graham's feelings on this matter, but yes, many evangelicals have been looking at this area of apologetics. I would say it's far beyond the toy stage and that it is a regular part of the evangelical apologetic responses to protests against the exclusivity claims in Christianity. That is why I mentioned that the Middle Knowledge view for Denise to look at in her studies.

    When put in those terms it is far fetched. I haven't run into anything like that, but what is true is that they put their faith in the promises the Lord gave them. The promises were of a future messiah as well promises of atonement for sin deeply ingrained typologically into the sacrificial system God ordained in the law. The promises and sacrificial system for atonement all pointed to the Christ who would come. I feel Regeneration was also clearly accomplished by God through the work of the Holy Spirit as well. I rest my case in 1 peter 1:10-12 which states this last assertion in no uncertain terms in my opinion:

    "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look."

    The biblical case must for salvation outside of acceptance of the gospel must be made in accordance with the new covenant I believe. Looking back at old testament saints is different because they had the promise of a coming messiah as well as the sacrificial system that pointed to the future work of that messiah. They were faithful to what had been revealed to them and again I assert 1 Peter 1:10-12 teaches the Holy Spirit was given to the saints then as now.

    I would say we did have an equal chance and we all blew it. I for one gave up my second chance at being perfect seconds after I blew my first chance, and on and on and on to this very moment.

    Romans 1:18-25 says "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen."

    If we are saved it is utterly and completely due to the mercy of God in accordance with his perfect will.

    Eph 2:1-10 states "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

    God is glorified because through his love and mercy he chose to save us even though we set up ourselves as his enemies from the beginning. Sola Gratia, Sola Fida, Soli Deo Gloria!

    I would word this somewhat differently of course. I would say that God uses us to proclaim his Word to the lost. He is practicing what he preaches in some ways in Paul's qote of Deuteronomy in Romans 12:20 "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." I truly believe that our God is a Just and loving God. All who come before Him on Judgement day will have had a chance in some way shape or form. The most obvious one I know of is acceptance of the Gospel, but I also believe that Paul's speach to Athen's fully justifies my belief that we will all come before God without excuse.

    plus Christ's name is to be glorified regardless, so why wouldn't we proclaim it to all? I'm not dogmatically professing this, but I think it does deserve attention in the battlefield of theories. [/QB][/QUOTE]

    All opinions deserve to be heard. This is a tough issue period. One of the reasons I have read so much on the topic is out of love for those in the Bible study group I lead. Anyone that looks at God and his omniscience and has a sincere love in their heart for all people everywhere must deal with this question. It is one of those "trust" issues for us. Do we truly trust God to do the right thing? R.C. Sproul once told a story that I like to relate to people. A man fell off of a cliff, but grabbed a branch just in time. As he hung there he cried out "Is anyone up there?!" A voice answered "Yes, I am here." The man then asked if this voice could help him. The voice said "Yes, but you will have to let go of the branch." The man's response was "Is there anyone else up there?!" I have let go of the branch and he proved his faithfulness. I trust my life in his hands and I trust he will do the right thing for all others in this age just as Acts 17:22-31 states.

    In Christ,
    Ron
     

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