Where Arminians should critique Calvinism

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by David Ekstrom, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. David Ekstrom

    David Ekstrom
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    IMO, Arminians, because they don't understand the Calvinist's paradigm, often critique Calvinism at the wrong points.
    E.g., on election. Surely one who believes God's word cannot deny that there is something about election. "Corporate election" is an attempt to explain away Eph. 1, that, IMO, misses the mark quite badly. Much better is the argument based on I Pet. 1 that election is 'based on the foreknowledge of God,' i.e., God elected those He knew would believe if given the chance. I think that point falls apart upon closer inspection, but it is a much better argument.
    Where I am on shaky ground is over the state of the non-elect. Arminians should push this point and hopefully enlighten us. Why didn't God choose Jones?
    Yes, it's true that God is not morally obligated to save anyone. That's not the point. I'm not morally obligated to help anyone whose problems are caused by his own sinfulness--which includes 90% of all human problems. But what does it say of my character if I refuse to help someone I could have helped.
    We need to put a name and a face on this. People aren't things or groups. They are individuals. they are somebody's son, brother, daughter, sister, mother, or father. If Jesus commanded me to love my enemies, does God do less? Do I have more compassion than God? It deeply bothers me to consider that some are lost, but it's ok with God?
     
  2. David Ekstrom

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    Another problem with Calvinism is the role of prayer. Ok, prayer doesn't change things; God changes things. I'm cool with that. But how does this work?
    Tomorrow our church is holding a big outreach event. We are blessed with a large, beautiful campus and so we are holding an outdoor funfest. We've planned this for months and are spending a good deal of change on this.
    I pray for good weather. But how does that work? Are not the times in God's hands? From all eternity, He knew what the weather will be like tomorrow.
    I am at peace with surrendering to God's will. I do believe that that is the essence of prayer. But how do we pray that God will DO something?
     
  3. OldRegular

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    I have posted this elsewhere but since you raised the question here it is again:

    God in His omniscience foreknew that Adam and Eve would choose evil, choose sin and death rather than life and righteous obedience, thereby taking upon themselves the sin nature, becoming slaves to sin, and severing their fellowship with God. Unfortunately, through the rebellion of Adam all successive generations of mankind have been heirs to a nature in bondage to sin, also alienated from God and, therefore, subject to the wrath of God.

    Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

    Foreseeing the disobedience of Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind, God the Father, before the foundation of the world, foreknew and chose, out of the mass of humanity, a people to be His own [Ephesians 1:4], thus fulfilling His role in the Covenant of Grace.

    Scripture and theologians frequently use the term election to indicate the Sovereign Choice of God. Scripture speaks of election in three different contexts, only one of which is election unto salvation.

    1. The first context in which the sovereign choice of God is demonstrated is the choice of Israel as a people through which the promised redeemer would come.

    Deuteronomy 7:6,7, KJV
    6 For thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that [are] upon the face of the earth.
    7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:


    Such election is not associated with personal salvation as shown in the following passage.

    Romans 9:6,7, KJV
    6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:
    7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.



    2. The second context in which the sovereign choice of God is demonstrated is vocational.

    God called Aaron and his descendants out of the tribe of Levi to be priests but not all were called to salvation. Jesus Christ called twelve men to be Apostles but only eleven of them were chosen to salvation.


    3. The third context in which the sovereign choice of God is demonstrated is election unto salvation: God the Father Chooses a People For His Own.

    Scripture teaches that God the Father chooses or elects those who, in Jesus Christ, will be saved. That choice or election is the role of God the Father in the Covenant of Grace. Those who are chosen in Jesus Christ will become the Saints, the ‘true believers’.

    The Apostle Paul, writing to the Saints at Ephesus, summarizes this doctrine as follows:

    Ephesians 1:3-6, KJV
    3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:
    4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
    5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
    6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.


    What does Scripture mean when it teaches that God has chosen us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world? We look again at the statement He chose us in Him [that is, Jesus Christ] that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

    James P. Boyce, cofounder and first president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, defines election to salvation as follows [Abstract of Systematic Theology , page 347]:

    “God, of His own purpose, has from eternity determined to save a definite number of mankind as individuals, not for or because of any merit or works of theirs, nor of any value of them to Him; but of His own good pleasure”.

    John L. Dagg in his Manual of Theology [page 309] defines election to salvation simply as:

    “All who will finally be saved, were chosen to salvation by God the Father, before the foundation of the world, and given to Jesus Christ in the Covenant of Grace.”

    Dagg’s definition of election is greatly expanded upon in the text and presupposes an understanding of the Covenant of Grace. He does, however, show what Scripture means by the statement chose us in Him [that is, Jesus Christ]. The elect are given to Jesus Christ in the Covenant of Grace, that is they are saved only through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as atonement for their sins.

    John I. Packer, an Anglican theologian, writes about the doctrine of election as follows [Concise Theology , page 149; see also the New Geneva Bible, page 1784]

    “The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom He would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ. This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and a matter for endless praise, that He should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when His choice involved the giving of His own Son to suffer as sin bearer for the elect.”

    W. T. Conner, a professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological seminary early in the 20th century writes of election as follows [Christian Doctrine , page 155]:

    “It [Election] means that God has decreed to bring certain ones, upon whom His heart has been eternally set, who are the objects of His eternal love, to faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. When a man is saved he is not saved as a matter of chance or accident or fate; he is saved in pursuance of an eternal purpose of God. God saves man because He intends to. He saves a particular man, at a particular time, under a particular set of circumstances, because He intends to.”

    We look now at the Scriptural basis for the above statements of the doctrine of election to salvation. The Scriptural basis for election follows the method presented by John Dagg, page 309ff:

    A. God has a people that He has elected or chosen to salvation.

    1 Peter 2:9, KJV
    9. But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

    2 Thessalonians 2:13, KJV
    13. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

    Acts 13:48, KJV
    48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.


    B. Election is by the sovereign grace of God.

    Romans 9:15,16, KJV
    15. 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.
    16. So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.


    2 Timothy 1:9, KJV
    9. Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

    C. Election is not of works.

    2 Timothy 1:9, KJV
    9. Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

    D. The election of grace is from eternity.

    Ephesians 1:4, KJV
    4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    2 Timothy 1:9, KJV
    9. Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

    Titus 1:2, KJV
    2. In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

    E. Election is not on the basis of foreseen faith.

    Ephesians 1:4, KJV
    4. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    Ephesians 2:8-10, KJV
    8.For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
    9. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


    F. Election is according to the foreknowledge of God.

    1 Peter 1:2, KJV
    2. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

    From the above Scripture we see that election is indeed according to the sovereign grace and purpose of God. These Scripture show the necessity of the sovereignty of God’s grace in salvation. Without election no one would be saved. The Second London Confession of Faith of 1689 states concerning the natural state of man [Lumpkin, page 264]:

    “Man by his fall into a state of sin hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as a natural man, being altogether adverse from good, and dead in sin is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself; or to prepare himself thereunto.”

    Dagg [page 322] comments on the natural man’s inability regarding salvation, as follows:

    “Every proposed method of salvation that leaves the issue dependent on human volition is defective. It has always been found that men will not come to Christ for life. The Gospel is preached to every creature; but all, with one consent, ask to be excused. The will of man must be changed; and this change the will cannot itself effect. Divine grace must here interpose. Unless God works in the sinner to will and to do, salvation is impossible.”

    Herein has been briefly described the doctrine of election, a most precious doctrine that magnifies the sovereign grace of God, a doctrine that was once the bedrock of Baptist beliefs but in recent years has come into disrepute. God’s purpose in election is summarized once again by referring to the passage from Romans:.

    Romans 8:28-30, KJV
    28. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
    29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
    30. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
     
  4. OldRegular

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    It is not unreasonable to question, if God is sovereign why pray at all? We look at an example of a prayer, offered in faith, for a temporal need that was not granted.

    2 Corinthians 12:8,9, NKJV
    8. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
    9. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    One of the best statements regarding prayer is that by W. Bingham Hunter, The God Who Hears, commenting on the above incident in the life of Paul.

    “Paul’s experience highlights the simple but profound truth that prayer is not the means by which we get what we want, rather it is a means that God uses to give us what he wants.”
     
  5. David Ekstrom

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    Excellent posts from Old Regular. My heart was stirred to worship as I reflected on God's sovereign choice to save sinners.
    There is a question remaining, though. Why Smith and why not Jones? We know from Scripture that it wasn't because there was anything in Smith that made him better than Jones. I'm being a pain in the neck pushing a question that will probably have to wait until heaven for an answer, but I think that we Calvinists should recognize the problem. In the end, we trust our good and loving God who loved Jones with an everlasting love and weeps at Jones' loss of salvation. God cannot deny Himself. God cannot compromise His holiness and truthfulness. There is something, it seems, that would demand God to be untrue to Himself if He were to save Jones. This He cannot do.
    A bad solution to this thorny problem, IMO, is to imply that God doesn't desire blessing for Jones. Mal. 1 doesn't mean that God creates souls just so He can torture them.
     
  6. russell55

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    God has a plan for the course of creation that includes every little detail, including things like the weather on any particular day. However, he works those things in time through means, and one of those means is the prayers of human beings. If, before the foundation of the world God decided that he's give you good weather for the funfest, he may also have decided that one of the means by which he is going to bring that good weather to pass is in response to Spirit moved prayer for good weather. So your prayer is an important tool by which God accomplishes his will, in the same way that preaching the gospel is an important tool by which elect persons come to salvation.
     
  7. OldRegular

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    David

    Some weeks back I started a thread in which I discussed my transition from believing that I chose the offer of Salvation by God to believing that Salvation was and is entirely by the Sovereign Grace of God.

    Perhaps the most decisive reason for my change was the study of Scripture, however, one element in my change was the very question that you pose: Why Smith and not Jones, or in a more personal level, why me and not someone I know. In fact someone I know to be a "good" man

    God did not reveal to me my election and Salvation in Jesus Christ until I was 34 years of age. Sometime after that event I began to notice that many of the people with whom I worked showed absolutely no interest in God. Many of those who did, showed only a cursory interest. I began to wonder why. Many of these people were very moral in their lifestyle yet God just did not enter into the equation. Again, I wondered why. I suppose that observation in conjunction with my study of Scripture led me to the point where I am now in my understanding of the Sovereign Grace of God in Salvation.

    It is my belief that God's Sovereign Choice of some to Salvation in Jesus Christ is the most precious doctrine in all of Scripture because it magnifies the Grace of God. Without that Sovereign Choice none would be saved. As for the question; Why Smith and not Jones I believe that answer will have to await until God brings all things to fruition. One thing is certain, we cannot understand the mind of God. There are two passages of Scripture which I believe demonstrate the love of God and yet show the dilemma for man:

    Psalms 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

    Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
     
  8. russell55

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    We are given the answer: It's because of God's purpose. I don't think we can have any other answer than that, because that would involve knowing the mind of God. The whole question is similar to the "Why have you made me like this?' one in Romans 9 to which Paul answers that the potter can make what he wants out of his clay, and the clay can't answer back (or question) the potter. This is one of those places where our inquiring minds have to back off.

    And I don't believe this isn't a weakness of Calvinism, but rather, it's a strength. Calvinism lets God be God in this instance.

    Well, I suspect from the Romans 9 passage that God chooses to leave some in their justly condemned state because he wants to show certain aspects of himself--his just wrath and his power. And the choice to have any particular person remain in their default position of condemnation (to make them into a vessel for ordinary use) is not because they are any worse than those he chooses to save. It is the same lump of clay from which the potter makes the two sorts of pots, so those fitted for destruction and those who are vessels of mercy are identical underneath God's gracious recreative work.

    That God saves Smith and not Jones on the basis of his choice, for reasons that have to to with Himself alone rather than anything within them, preserves God's freedom.

    And of course, once that choice is made, then it is part of God's immutable counsel, and since God is true to his immutable character, he invariable carries out his choice.
     
  9. Wes Outwest

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    God doesn't do the choosing, he made the playing field level for ALL mankind. There is no state man can achieve that puts him in better light with God, because God ruled out man's effort. There is no sin that man can do, save for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, that can prevent man from freely receiving Salvation through faith.

    There is no election of man where one is chosen the other not. All who have faith in God receive Everlasting life, and there is no limitation on who can have faith in God.

    Election, as it is used by Calvinists, is mythology!
     
  10. David Ekstrom

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    Bro. Wes, I can say "Amen" to one of your statements. "There is no state man can achieve that puts him in better light with God, because God rules out man's effort."

    But I do have a problem with the next sentence: "There is no sin that man can do, except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, that can prevent man from freely receiving Salvation through faith." The words themselves are not too bad, but I believe you put a different meaning to them than I do. I understand I Cor. 1-2 to teach that man, in his sinful state, cannot have faith. Rom. 8 seems to teach the same thing. God must grant faith in order for us to be able to believe.
    What do you do with Eph. 1 when you say that election is a myth?
     
  11. Andy T.

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    Unless you are an Open Theist, the Arminian has the same "problem", which has been explained well by Russell55. If you believe in an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God, then whether you are an Arminian or Calvinist, you must realize that prayer is a means that God uses, just like He uses evangelism to win the lost. In fact, if you don't hold to the Biblical view of God, then any prayer must be wishful thinking.

    Just another example of why the two alternatives ultimately are Calvinism or Open Theism.
     
  12. Scott J

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    God doesn't do the choosing, he made the playing field level for ALL mankind.</font>[/QUOTE] That statement is demonstrably, categorically untrue.

    I was raised in a fundamental Bible believing church. The field is not level between a woman raised in Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia and me. It simply isn't.
    Not true if you are correct. If what you have argued here is true then man must hear the gospel and make a decision. You have acknowledged that acceptance of the gospel is meritorious.

    I think you have even written something to the effect that God favors those who have faith in Him. This is "puts him in a better light with God." You also deny that this faith in the individual was caused by a sovereign act of God.
    That simply is not true. God elected the Apostles even by your arguments. Certainly God chose the Israelites and not only condemned the tribes of Canaan but also sent the Israelites in with a command to hasten their arrival.

    Problem with that conclusion is that you have not disproven election as used by calvinism by scripture nor reason. You just keep repeating the same old defeated arguments and demand that we agree with you.
     
  13. BobRyan

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    So what you are saying is that you are the only Calvinist on this board that has not read my 27-times-repeated Calvinist future scenario that zeros in on that VERY point??!!!

    It deals specifically with the problem of the lost and the "need" in Calvinism to have a "disconcern" for them and focus "instead" on the joy of the saved - turning a blind eye to the problem of the lost "arbitrarily" left out in the "arbitrary selection" process that Calvinists call "election"?

    Well then -- I will post a "LINK" to it - since I have posted IT so many times that Calvinists are now complaining about "computer space" to hold all the copies...

    To reference the Basic Calvinist future Scenario “posted” with details “ignored” most recently by Calvinists ON a thread about God not loving the lost click here –

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/35/1543/2.html#000015

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  14. BobRyan

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    Because in the wisdom of Calvinism what they call "election" of the FEW of Matt 7 - (and NOT the MANY of Matt 7) -- the process CAN NOT be found to have a "reason" for SMITH that has anything to DO with Smith!!

    I.E. the poster child for "arbitrary selection".

    And arbitrary selection processes that have NOTHING to do with the PERSON selected REQUIRE a heartless disconcern for the lost - in fact the VERY heartless disconcern that Johnathan Edwards INSISTS is the core of being for the saints who watch their own loved ones writhing in the flames and find this cause "to rejoice" AS they watch!

    (Post to follow).

    In the mean time -- here is Spurgeon agreeing with the point you are making --

    HERE is a direct quote from Charles Haden Spurgeon “Showing” that the arbitrary selection of the elect by God is NOT based on the family status of the lost.
    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/35/1148.html#000000
    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  15. BobRyan

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    Johnathan Edwards confirms and explains the "need" of Calvinism to have a heartless DISCONCERN for the lost -

    IN Christ,

    Bob
     
  16. BobRyan

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  17. Scott J

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    Bob, Do you now or do you have expectations in heaven of rejoicing in the holiness of God?
     
  18. Scott J

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    Oh, and Bob, what is the ultimate cause of one person choosing to believe while another does not?

    Do all get an equal shot? If so, then doesn't that mean that God respects the good choice to believe in faith of some?

    Is it because some hear enough to convince them while others don't? Wouldn't that make God unfair for condeming them to eternal hell?

    When you keep asking why until you get to the prime cause for the decision to believe... what is the answer to that final "Why?"
     
  19. BobRyan

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    The "mystery" of how God created free will and how it actually works has its first "why" in the fall of the perfect, sinless, brilliant and loyal covering cherup - Lucifer.

    And the 2nd why is -- "Why" did God "allow" Lucifer to make that choice. WHY Did God value free will so much as to lose such a perfect being?

    Then the are the "WHYs" about the "mystery" of how God created free will and how it works when it comes to the fall of 1/3 of the perfect, holy, sinless, brilliantly intelligent beings - the Angels of God.

    And of course "why" did God "allow them" to make such a choice? Why let Lucifer debate and argue his case with them. Why let them reason and debate and "conclude" some FOR God and others "against"?

    Why value free will SO highly EVEN if it results in a loss of 1/3 of the Angels?

    And then next set of "WHYs" comes with the fall of Adam.

    Why let Adam choose. Why Let Lucifer conduct the deceptive debate with Eve? Why let them choose? Why risk the human race IF you are simply going to have to send your Son on such a pain-and-suffering mission to redeem them? Why value free will so highly??

    And then of course there is God IN THE GARDEN at the fall PLACING inherent discord BETWEEN humanity and Satan. "I will PUT hatred BETWEEN the children of Adam and the kingdom of Satan" said God.

    Why - why Why does He value free will so highly?

    And of course having PLACED that division BETWEEN the fallen children of mankind AND the Serpent - God ALSO "DRAWS ALL MANKIND" unto Him.

    And so "once again" we see "debate" and "decision" with "Free will" once again ENABLED and choices being made.

    The same thing that we see STILL going on in heaven in Job 1 and 2.

    Notice ALL the chances to ask "why"??

    Notice the CONSISTENT theme of "Free Will"?

    Why pretend not to see it?

    In Christ,

    Bob

    An
     
  20. BobRyan

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    Yes - BUT NOT at the sight of my precious child writhing in the flames!!

    This is why we do NOT see "Every tear wiped away" in heaven until Rev 21 where the new heavens and New earth have been created and the lake of fire event is a thing of the "old earth" - passed.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     

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