Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 5

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If neither Calvinism nor Arminianism is sufficient explanatory devices, then how can we explain the biblical data? A series of biblical assertions is sufficient to accomplish that task.

#4 He Engages the Human Condition, Based on His Own Will

  • For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (Romans 9:15-18)
  • All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)
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Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 4

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The Calvinism/Arminianism debate considers three essential issues: (1) The degree of God’s activity in human salvation, (2) the degree of human culpability, and (3) the degree of human activity in salvation. Historically Calvin placed strongest emphasis on God’s activity in salvation, whereas Arminius tended towards emphasizing human volition over God’s volition. Ultimately the two theological traditions are trying to resolve the apparent conflict between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, and they both attempt resolution by means of extra-biblical rationalistic constructs. I suggest it is due to the artificial nature of these arguments that there has been no historical resolution to the debate. Because the base of authority for both sides is subjective (rationalistic theology) rather than objective (exegesis), neither side can, in my estimation, claim the full authority of Scripture. Hence, the longstanding and unresolved debate.

In 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul expresses his desire that the Corinthians “learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” In order to maintain the proper humility (and to ensure the highest degree of accuracy), it is best when dealing with the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1) not to expand their definitions beyond what God has revealed. This is an important principle broadly applicable throughout the Christian life, and certainly in resolving any theological difficulty. Read more about Why I'm Not a Calvinist . . . or an Arminian, Part 4

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Myths of Faith #2 - It's About the Amazing and Unexplainable

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“If you can explain what is going on, then God isn’t doing it.”

It’s a great sound byte. Several respected Christian leaders have taught it. And it certainly feels true. In many congregations it would be a reliable “amen!” line. However, not only is the statement itself false but it reflects a damaging and unbiblical way of thinking about faith and Christian living.

Distraction

Just as focusing on the “how much” of faith distracts us from the “what” and “Who” of faith (Myths of Faith #1), so an unbalanced focus on God’s hand in the unexplainable and dramatic distracts us from His very real and powerful activity in the ordinary and every-day. The problem should be fairly easy to see if we take off our “feels true” glasses and put on our “teach me Thy way” lenses instead. The idea that God is only at work in the amazing and unexplainable forces us to accept another conclusion. The sequence goes like this:

  • God is only at work in the extraordinary.
  • By definition, “extraordinary” is what is not happening most of the time in life.
  • Therefore, God is not involved in a meaningful way in my life most of the time.

Tragically, many Christians—including myself, all too often—actually think this way, though more as attitude than as a conscious thought process. And the attitude has devastating results. Read more about Myths of Faith #2 - It's About the Amazing and Unexplainable

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Caving In

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One rare but serious problem during a rainy-weather graveside services is the danger of a cave in. I know a funeral director who heard the rumblings of a cave-in and ordered everyone away from the tented area; a moment later the ground gave way! The reason the ground caved in is because the foundational soil had become too soft.

The term “cave-in” has become the up-to-date term for what we used to call “compromise.” It is a picturesque replacement and especially accurate. Compromise sometimes can be good thing, especially in relationships. Compromise is an art to develop (ideally before marriage). “Caving in,” however, implies making an improper concession because of pressure; we surrender a conviction, for example.

This kind of surrender is particularly bad when the conviction originates from a straightforward interpretation of Scripture. Sadly, many agenda-driven scholars work diligently to persuade us that the straightforward meaning of Scripture is not what is really intended. They are trying to pave the way so that we cave in with a clear conscience. Our answer must be, “Thanks, but no thanks!” Read more about Caving In

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The Tragedy of Self Deception: Relationships

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Posted by permission of Think on These Things and Voice. (Read Part 1.)

The only means we have to free ourselves from habitual self-deception is the mirror of the Word of God.

Anger

Scripture never condemns anger per se. As a matter of fact we are given examples of appropriate, godly anger in the life of Jesus and a number of His followers, and we are actually commanded to “be angry” at times (Eph 4:26a). Obviously if God is angry at sin it cannot be wrong for believers to be angry at the same sins. Righteous anger reacts against actual sin, not against inconvenience or violation of personal preference. Righteous anger, instead, is concerned about the Lord and His glory. It is focused on what offends God and injures others, not about what harms the angry person. Righteous anger is self-controlled and concerned for the good of others. Read more about The Tragedy of Self Deception: Relationships

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The Tragedy of Self Deception: Finances

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Posted by permission of Think on These Things and Voice.

“The power of the human mind to deceive itself seems infinite”1 The Greek philosopher Demosthenes said, “Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be truth.”2 In his confessions Augustine wrote, “Man’s love of truth is such that when he loves something which is not the truth, he pretends to himself that what he loves is the truth, and because he hates to be proved wrong, he will not allow himself to be convinced that he is deceiving himself. So he hates the real truth for the sake of what he takes to his heart in its place.”3

The fact that we are easily self-deceived should surprise no Christian for, as the inspired prophet Jeremiah wrote centuries ago, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it” (Jer 17:9)? Jeremiah quickly adds, I, the Lord, search the heart and I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” (v.10). However, this deceitful heart, which each of us inherits as a result of the fall, leaves us in a bit of a quandary. How are we supposed to function so as to walk authentically before the Lord? If even the best and most sincere can be deceived by their own hearts, then how can we have confidence that any of our actions, thoughts or motives are pure? How can we be sure that we are not deluding ourselves no matter how hard we try to live in integrity? Read more about The Tragedy of Self Deception: Finances

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Inspiration

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(About this series)

CHAPTER II INSPIRATION

BY EVANGELIST L. W. MUNHALL, M. A., D. D., GERMANTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA, AUTHOR OF “THE HIGHEST CRITICS VS. THE HIGHER CRITICS”

The Bible is inspired. It is therefore God’s Word. This is fundamental to the Christian faith.” Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10: 17).

But, it is asked, What do you mean by inspiration? Because there are numerous theories of inspiration, this is a proper question. Also, it is well, before answering the question, to state some of these theories. First, “The thoughts of the penman were inspired.” Second, “The thoughts were partially inspired.” But they who hold to this view are very indefinite in their statements of the extent of this inspiration. Third, “There were different degrees of inspiration.” The advocates of this view use the difference between “illumination” and inspiration to prove their theory. Fourth, “At one time the writers were inspired in the supervision of the work they did;” at another, “In the view they took of the work they were called upon to do;” and at another, “In directing the work.” But in all these views the theorists are at sea, and leave all who trust to their pilotage at sea, as to the exact character and limitations of inspiration. Fifth, “Dynamic inspiration”. But the efforts of those who hold to this view, to explain what they mean by the term are exceedingly vague and misty. But the popular and current theory now is that the “Concept” is inspired. But no one attempts to tell what the “Concept” is; indeed, I doubt if any one knows.

Also let this be said in this connection: Those who hold to any or all of the above named theories, in part or in whole, are Read more about Inspiration

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The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 3)

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Life not from Earth

It is a universal law which, as all scientific laws, has not witnessed an exception: life does not come from non-life. Yet evolutionists, of the non-theistic sort) must teach that it does. Going further back, ex nihilo nihil fit, out of nothing comes nothing. No one has ever seen or heard of something (i.e. that which has properties and permits predication) coming into existence from nothing (that which has no properties and does not permit predication). Yet evolutionist must adhere to the contradiction of this very basic principle. That is, unless they want to teach the eternity of matter.

Is it a sign of rationality and a coherent system to flout two empirically static principles of science at the very outset of ones thinking? So how do they get around it? Read more about The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 3)

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