What is calvinism?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by tam_marie, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. tam_marie

    tam_marie
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    Hi all ,
    I am new here. I have a forum at Delphi and I am running into this a lot there, could anyone shed some light on it for me?

    web page
     
  2. JackRUS

    JackRUS
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    Here is a list of definitions:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&oi=defmore&q=define:calvinism

    Basicly the five points of Calvinism are defined in the 'TULIP' of Calvinism. This belief system is spreading like wild-fire throughout America due in part to the teachings of John MacArthur,...

    http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/IA-election.htm

    http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/70-8-6.htm

    R.C. Sproul and others. I am a 0-point Calvinist myself, and if you are a Baptist (Not a Reformed Baptist of course), you are too. Even the fifth point is different from our eternal security stance, but it is similar.

    T
    Total hereditary depravity
    babies inherit the sin of Adam and are totally depraved and therefore unable to respond to the gospel message of Christ.

    U
    Unconditional election
    (or predestination) God had a master list of those who will be saved and those who will go to hell before creation in Gen 1:1. The list is unchangeable.

    L
    Limited atonement
    Christ did not die for all men but only those on the "saved list"

    I
    Irresistible grace
    God sends the Holy Spirit only those on the saved list which removes their depraved nature inherited from Adam and creates within them a saving faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit thereafter guides them directly to understand and correctly interpret the Bible.

    P
    Perseverance of the saints
    A child of God once saved, cannot be lost and will not fall back into sin.

    And BTW, welcome to the board! (I'm new too, but welcome anyway [​IMG] )
     
  3. GeneMBridges

    GeneMBridges
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    These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.

    Total Depravity:
    Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.
    The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick (Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine."
    Calvinism also maintains that because of our s fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

    Unconditional Election:
    God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

    Limited Atonement:
    Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many'; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

    Irresistible Grace:
    When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy"; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.

    Perseverance of the Saints:
    You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.

    (MSSlick)

    You can find all this explained in further detail at www.mslick.com .

    Note: One can not understand Calvinism without fully understanding the way Calvinists understand the sovereignty of God.

    Many who disagree with Calvinism usually do so because they do not fully understand it, and, in point of fact, they find upon understanding it that they have more in common with it than not, unless they are of the type of persons who believe you can lose your salvation, e.g. classic Arminians. Baptists that affirm eternal security are, in fact, considered "moderate Calvinists." Some of them think that we strong Calvinists believe, for example that one can not know He is saved unless He perseveres until the end. This is a misunderstanding of the perseverance of the saints. Perseverance in the current articulation of the doctrine is composed of an assurance of our salvation and a preservation of us. We believe that those that persevere do so because they were preserved. We affirm that all the saved persevere and are preserved. Those that believe in eternal security as definied in the sense given in the post above would argue that all the saved are preserved, but they do not all persevere. All Calvinists believe that Christians backslide. However, most that don't understand what we mean by persevere go right on past what we mean by "not" persevering. "NOt persevering is simply apostasy. The definition of apostasy must include 3 evils: a gradual, sometimes radical moral falling way, a fall from evangelical doctrine, and a repudiation of the gospel. If a person persists in this, he was not truly saved at all. We contend backsliders do not do all three of these. Our views of backsliding and apostasy are straight out of 1 John. Upon understanding what we mean by perseverance, most Baptists I know will say, "Oh, okay, well since you put it that way, yeah, that makes sense." Norman Geisler is an eternal security kinda guy himself, and in his recent Systematic Theology vol. 3, while he can be said to represent JackRUS, portrayal of the other 4 doctrines, he concludes that eternal security and peserverance are, except the HYPERCALVINIST view (which does accurately reflect JackRUS's summary), essentially the same.

    Many objections to Calvinism are based upon caricatures. For example, "Unconditional election is arbitrary and favoritism." This is false. All the doctrine means is that the GROUND or the ANCHOR for election is in God and not in man. That's all. If it is grounded in man, then it is arbitrary, because we teach that God elects with a purpose, not at random. To be arbitrary, election must be random. If God elects according to something anchored in us, even if that thing is faith, then God is acting contingently, which violates the nature of God. Furthermore, that is God playing favorites. Favoritism is, by definition, to ground a choice or decision or action on your part in something found intrinsically in another.
     
  4. tam_marie

    tam_marie
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    Thanks for the replies! I have seen the Tulip postings but didn't know what they were. I will read up on these and get back with ya'll. Thanks again [​IMG]
     
  5. Paul33

    Paul33
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    I would like to add that not all Calvinists believe that Christ died only for the elect. Calvin himself believed that Christ died "actually" for the sins of the whole world, but only intercedes at the Father's right hand for the elect. This is more than semantics. For Calvin, the ground of faith is the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. He could tell everyone to "look to Jesus" because Jesus did in fact die for you. But only the elect "look to Jesus."

    Isaiah 53:6 references the fact that Jesus died for the sins of whole world.

    "Many" can also mean "all" (Romans 5:15).
     
  6. GeneMBridges

    GeneMBridges
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    Of course, the tradtional Calvinist would argue that is an oxymoron, because it would necessitate either a non-effectual actual propitiation or a non-effectual actual atonment ;) .
     
  7. Paul33

    Paul33
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    How about the "propitiation" is effectual in that Christ did pay the penalty for everyone's sins.

    And the "atonement" is effecutal in that Christ does intercede for the elect at the Father's right hand.

    So it necessitates both an effectual actual propitiation of sin and an effectual actual atonement for the elect!

    ;)
     
  8. Kiffin

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    I disagree that Calvin did not believe in Limited Atonement. All Calvinists believe in Limited Atonement BUT Calvinists are often very diverse in defining limited atonement.

    There are really 2 Differant Camps in Calvinism when it comes to defining Limited Atonement

    1. Efficient and Sufficient For Only the Elect - John Owen, John Gill, Tom Nettles, J. I. Packer

    2. Efficient For All but Sufficient For Only the Elect - John Calvin, Canons of Dort, A.A. Hodge, R.B. Kuiper, Johm Macarthur (probably?)

    A good article on this is at http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1027.htm

    There is also the Amyrault "Calvinists" (4.5 point Calvinists) who use the term "Efficient For All but Sufficient For Only the Elect " but their overall view is differant group 2.
     
  9. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Kiffin,

    I think that you got the efficient/sufficient backwards.

    Also, I've read Calvin's commmentaries and so I disagree with your assessment of Calvin.

    I would recommend R.T. Kendall's dissertation on this topic, especially chater one. If after reading it you come to a different conclusion, I would love to discuss it with you.

    Kendall's point is that there is a diffrence between Calvin and the Westminster divines, especially as it has to do with "voluntarism" in regards to salvation. A surprising conclusion is that the Westminster divines were closer to Arminius than to Calvin.
     
  10. GeneMBridges

    GeneMBridges
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    Nope, gotta agree to disagree on that point, because if that's true it's ultimately false. That's why it's an oxymoron.

    You have to equivocate your terms to say that. If he propitiaion and the atonement are actual, eg. definite and effectual, (the effectiveness comes from their actuality) then you are left with an actual ineffectual atonement and propitiation for the unsaved which means leads to double jeopardy for the unsaved person and something God has done for some is left undone for others, but the whole doctrine is that Jesus death really paid for sins, that's what "actual" means Thus, it is a contradiction to say that the atonement actually pays for sins of all, but this is not effective for some, because to be actual is, by definition, to be effective. Moreover, the only logical conclusion is that there is something contingent going on from God to men, in that the effectiveness of the atonement is contingent...that can't be if God is pure actuality without anything potential (e.g. contingent) in Him, e.g. if the propitiation and atonement are truly actual then you have to end up with universalism or particular redemption. If the atonement is really accomplished for some, then you're left with the question, "Why not for others?"
     
  11. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Not so.

    The penalty can be paid for all. But if someone rejects the payment on their behalf, they simply become doubly culpable. [Calvin's words]

    Jesus Christ did take upon himself the sin of the whole world. All of us "can" be declared righteous because of the "work" of Christ on the cross.

    But Scripture also teaches that Jesus only makes intercession for the elect.

    It may be an oxymoron or a paradox or even illogical, but Scripture is clear on the meaning of the propitiation! 1 John 2:2

    I'm not budging. If I can't understand this verse to mean that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, meaning Isaiah 53:6, then I can't understand anything Scripture says.
     
  12. Paul33

    Paul33
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    In the court of heaven, if an innocent by-stander decided to pay the penalty for a offending person's act and did so, the judge could accept that person's act on behalf of the offending party. The penalty for sin has been paid.

    But if the innocent by-stander who paid the penalty for sin decided not to make intercession before the judge for the offending party (for whatever reason), the offending party would still be found guilty by the judge. Since no intercession has been made, the judge declares the offending party guilty.

    Atonement is the result of intercession. Propitiation makes intercession possible. All of this grounded in God before anyone or anything was created.
     
  13. Gina B

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    That is not exactly an accurate statement. I'm a calvinist in an IFB church, and not alone in such a situation. I agree enough with the rest of the doctrine that it's not enough of an issue to make me leave, although I bite my tongue very hard sometimes.
    Gina
     
  14. Kiffin

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    Paul thanks for the correction on efficient/sufficient backwards. [​IMG] Actually I think you are correct there are diffrences between Calvin and the Westminster divines. I think Calvin is much more balanced in his theology than the second generation of Calvinists.

    Westminister however does not define Calvinism. The Canons of Dort do define Calvinism and I would say Dort is consistent with Calvin's teachings. I too have read Calvin's Institutes and commentaries and see no contradictions of Dort.
     
  15. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Hi Kiffin,

    PCA, ARP, EPC base their theology on the Westminster Confession. It's good to hear someone say that Westminster does not define Calvinism.

    I will look up the Canons of Dort. Thanks for the tip. I agree that Calvin seems more balanced than the second generation Calvinists. We would probably do better calling them Bezanites! [​IMG]

    I'm continuing to learn. Kendall's book influenced me greatly, but I'm willing to listen to someone who is Calvinistic who doesn't agree with his conclusions. I am in no way trying to imply that I have an indepth understanding in these matters. I'm enjoying the process of beginning to read the primary sources. Thanks for the dialogue.
     
  16. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Kiffin,

    I just finished reading the Cannon of Dordt. Dordt is definately much closer to Calvin than to the Westminster Confession. In fact, I found nothing in it that would contradict Calvin's belief that Christ died for the sins of the world. From the Cannon of Dordt:

    Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death

    This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

    Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value

    This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the person who suffered it is--as was necessary to be our Savior--not only a true and perfectly holy man, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Another reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God's anger and curse, which we by our sins had fully deserved.

    Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All

    Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

    Article 6: Unbelief Man's Responsibility

    However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent or believe in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross is deficient or insufficient, but because they themselves are at fault.
     
  17. JackRUS

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    That is not exactly an accurate statement. I'm a calvinist in an IFB church, and not alone in such a situation. I agree enough with the rest of the doctrine that it's not enough of an issue to make me leave, although I bite my tongue very hard sometimes.
    Gina
    </font>[/QUOTE]Gina.
    What part isn't accurate? The difference between the Perseverence of the Saints and eternal security, or the fact that most non-Reformed Baptist churches hold to the later?
     
  18. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Having just read the Cannon of Dordt which settled the controversy concerning Arminianism, I would have to say that the summary of the cannon known as TULIP causes more problems than it solves.

    The Cannon is balanced and nuanced. TULIP tends to oversimplify their statement and leads to unnecessary confusion.

    TULIP gives ammunition to the other side because it is too easily caricatured.

    Total inability to do the spiritual good.
    Election is conditioned in God, not man.
    The death of Christ for the sins of the whole world but producing atonement only for the elect as Christ intercedes.
    Grace that is effectual in bringing the elect to God.
    Saints who persevere in their faith to the end because God keeps and preserves them.

    Dordt reflected Calvin's understanding that faith is something that God does to us, not something that we do by an act of the will.
     
  19. tam_marie

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    Wow,
    That is a lot of information, do Calvinists believe in freewill?
     
  20. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Yes,

    Man's will has been so tainted by sin that he freely chooses to remain in bondage to sin.

    Calvin believed that in order for a person to be saved, man's will needed to be effaced so that his mind could be fully persuaded that Christ died for him. This he called faith.

    In other words, faith is a fully persuaded mind.

    By the time we get to the Westminster divines, faith was no longer understood to be a fully persuaded mind but an act of the will. This is actually closer to Arminian thinking than the Calvinism of Calvin!

    For Calvin and Dordt (Dort), faith is a gift from God. Because God gives us the gift of faith we are able to believe and repent.
     

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