Society of Evangelical Arminians: What is Arminianism?

The following is by Dan Chapa of the Society of Evangelical Arminians (SEA). Since theologically serious alternatives to Calvinism seem to be in short supply these days, SharperIron contacted SEA recently about the possibility of representing classical Arminianism for the SI audience. To learn more about the SEA, see their About Us page.

Arminianism is a summary of our understanding of the Scripture’s teaching on salvation. The name comes from Jacob Arminius, who led 17th century opposition to Calvinism, but the idea stems from Scripture and has deep roots in the early church fathers. Many non-Arminians have mistaken notions about Arminianism—as do many Arminians. This post will define and defend the essential aspects of Arminianism (total depravity, resistible grace, unlimited atonement and conditional election), without critiquing Calvinism.

Total Depravity

Both Calvinists and Arminians believe in total depravity—the idea that fallen man requires God’s grace through the beginning, middle and end of the salvation process. Adam’s fall left us unable, of our own strength, to repent and believe or live a life pleasing to God. But total depravity is not utter depravity; the lost don’t commit the worst sins possible on every occasion. Still without God’s grace, sin impacts every aspect of life and we cannot seek God on our own. Rather, He seeks us and enables us to believe.

Resistible Grace

Arminians may vary on exactly how God’s grace works; but all Arminians hold to the necessity of prevenient grace (grace that comes before conversion that enables us to believe). When God’s grace starts drawing us to conversion, we can choose to say no and reject Christ. God hasn’t predetermined repentance and faith; nothing causes these such that rejection is impossible and we cannot choose otherwise. But believing does not earn or cause salvation; God chooses to have mercy on believers.

Arminians find resistible grace in passages speaking of God’s grace and man’s rejection of it. God is seeking, drawing and inviting mankind to Himself (John 1:9, 4:23, 7:17, 12:32, 16:8; Rom. 2:4, Titus 2:11, Rev. 22:17). In Isaiah 5:4, God asks what more He could have done (showing the sufficiency of His grace) and He invites Israel to judge itself (showing the reasonableness of His requirements). The reasonableness of God’s commands and invitations shows that God treats us as if we can obey Him, which implies that we can, and this harmonizes with our moral intuitions.

In Matthew 11:21, Christ says Tyre and Sidon would have repented if the same works He had done in Chorazin and Bethsaida had been done there. Tyre and Sidon were bywords for sinfulness, so they were neither elect nor regenerate. Yet the same divine works would have brought about repentance in them, showing the fitness of God’s works to bring about repentance and placing the difference in man’s response.

Also, the divine lament passages strongly affirm the resistibility of grace (Ps. 81:13; Luke 13:33-34, 19:41). Some passages plainly say people reject and resist God’s efforts to bring them to Him (Gen. 6:3, Jer. 13:11, Ezek. 24:13, Luke 7:30, Acts 7:51). God hardens hearts by turning over people to their own sinful lusts (Rom. 1:18-28). This implies that God’s grace was softening their hearts and restraining their wickedness. Additionally, the highly controversial Hebrews warning passages (however interpreted) indicate that God’s grace is resistible (Heb. 2:1-3, 3:6-14, 6:4-6, 10:26-29, 12:15). (Most self-identified “Arminians” have held that true believers can forsake Christ and perish as unbelievers, but the earliest formal statement of Arminian theology—the 5 points of the Remonstrants—expressed uncertainty about the point and, conceptually, it is not an essential tenet of Arminian theology.)

Resistible grace often leads to the controversial question of whether faith or regeneration comes first. Some disagreement stems from defining regeneration. Does regeneration include God’s imparting eternal life to us? Does regeneration include God’s enabling belief? Arminians typically answer yes to the first question and no to the second, so naturally we see faith as preceding regeneration. Ephesians 1:13, John 1:12-13, John 5:24-28, Romans 6:2-6, Galatians 3:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 support this order. Notice the issue is which grace enables man to believe (prevenient grace or regeneration) not the depth of man’s depravity without grace.

Scriptures say we have wills and choose (Deut. 30:19, Josh. 24:15, 1 Cor. 7:37). “Choose” is normally defined as “to select from a number of possible alternatives” and we reject imposing on Scripture definitions of “choose” that either remove essential elements or are stipulated philosophical definitions. God tests us—whether we will obey or not—which implies that at least sometimes obedience is up to us (Exod. 16:4). God promises that we will not be tempted beyond our abilities (1 Cor. 10:13), which implies that we can choose to obey or not. God’s desire to have a relationship with free creatures magnifies His love, and His ability to providentially govern and rule a world with free creatures magnifies His sovereignty.

Unlimited Atonement

Christ died for everyone. This is not universalism; the benefits of Christ’s death are conditionally applied, not automatically or necessarily applied. Just as the Passover Lamb was slain and the blood applied, so also we distinguish between Christ’s death and the application of His blood to believers. Christ’s death makes salvation possible for all, and God desires all to believe and be saved through His blood, but only believers are actually cleansed by Christ’s blood.

We see conditionality in the application of Christ’s blood because justification is by faith (Rom. 3:21-26) and because Christ died for some who ultimately perish. Christ said to all the apostles, including Judas, my blood is “shed for you” (Luke 22:21-22). The apostates in Hebrews 10:26-29 were sanctified by Christ’s blood. The false prophets in 2 Peter 2:1 denied the Lord that bought them. 1 John 1:7 and Colossians 1:22-23 plainly teach conditionality in the application of Christ’s blood.

The many passages saying Christ died for the world or all men ground our belief that Christ died for everyone (John 1:29, 3:16-17, 4:42, 6:33, 6:51, 12:47; 1 John 2:1-2, 4:14; 2 Cor. 5:14-19; Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6, 4:10). While “world” has a broad range of meanings, that range does not include any definition that would avoid the conclusion that Christ died for everyone, nor do we see validity in inventing a specially plead definition of world to avoid unlimited atonement. We see Christ’s sacrifice for all as the foundation of the sincere offer of the gospel to all in that everyone can be saved through what Christ accomplished on the cross.

Conditional Election

God gave pre-fallen Adam the ability to obey Him—He wanted Adam to be free to have a relationship with Him. God did not causally determine Adam’s sin such that he couldn’t obey and necessarily fell—such would be inconsistent with God’s holiness and hatred of sin (James 1:13, Jer. 7:31, Ps. 45:7). Thus, Arminians insist that God is not the author of sin, and free will is essential to Arminian theodicy. Our freedom lies between God and sin; otherwise God is ultimately responsible for sin.

In election, God considered man as fallen sinners. God chooses to have mercy (Rom. 9:16). Scripture calls the non-elect vessels of wrath, or appointed to wrath (Rom. 9:22, 1 Thess. 5:9). Now mercy on the one hand, and wrath on the other, presuppose sin. So Arminians view election as fixing the sin problem, rather than seeing the fall as something God planned in order to accomplish His goal of sending His chosen to heaven and the rest to hell.

Election automatically excluded unbelievers. So we see symmetry in some essential respects between election and non-election. Hellfire is a punishment for sins, so rejection is conditional on unbelief and impenitence.

Freely fallen sinners is one starting point in explaining election—God’s amazing love is another. He does not desire the death of the wicked, nor is He willing that any should perish, but rather He wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (Ezek. 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:4-6). God’s love of the world moved Him to send His Son so that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17). Given man’s fall, the Father chose His Son as the basis and foundation for salvation, and our election is in Him (Matt. 12:18; 1 Pet. 1:20, 2:4; Eph. 1:4).

Just as rejection is conditional, based on sin and impenitence, election to salvation is likewise conditional, not based on works or merit, but based on God’s choice to have mercy on believers. Scripture describes predestination as God’s choosing to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21, 2:7); election is said to be in sanctification and in belief in the truth (1 Pet. 1:2, 2 Thess. 2:13). Conditional election includes God’s plan from before time to save through the gospel. Before the foundation of the world, God, in Christ, chose to glorify Himself by saving believers out of fallen mankind.

While all Arminians agree that election is Christocentric and conditional, Arminians may disagree on whether election is primarily corporate (election of the Church as a group with individuals sharing in the group’s election by faith) or primarily based on God’s foreknowledge of each individual’s faith.

Closing Thoughts

When I was first challenged by a Calvinist friend regarding Romans 9, I couldn’t explain the passage. And since his explanation made sense, I reluctantly accepted Calvinism. Then one night, I was shocked by the warning in Hebrews 10 and decided to devote time to digging into Scripture on the issues. I studied for years and came out of that process an Arminian. It was difficult; Arminian resources were scarce and Arminians scarcer still. SEA fixes all of that, giving us resources and a community in which to build each other up. Space hasn’t permitted a detailed exegesis of each of the passages cited, but much more detail is available on the SEA website.

[node:bio/danchapa body]

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There are 91 Comments

danchapa's picture

Jay,

Quote:
Of course I would have preferred that Dallas drafted all punters, but that's just me.

lol. Good one.

God be with you,
Dan

danchapa's picture

Ed,

Quote:
I think maybe it is time we return to the old paradox mentality.

My understanding is that among Calvinists there are those who favor Van Til and embrace paradox and those who favor Gordon Clark and avoid paradox and emphasize logic. They end up about the same place but it's fascinating how wildly different the roads are they take to get there.

God be with you,
Dan

DavidO's picture

danchapa wrote:
He could have chosen to save via works or baptism or saying the word blue three times in a row.

Could He really have and still be the God He actually is?

danchapa's picture

Hi David,

Well I think it's biblical to speak of God's choosing to save through faith (1 Cor. 1:21). But it appears inconsistent to me to say God had to save through faith but He was free to choose who He did.

God be with you,
Dan

Charlie's picture

I don't think it's true that people (which people?) used to reconcile Calvinism and Arminianism through paradox. Such a thing is impossible, since paradox is not contradiction, and between C&A there are contradictions.

On the other hand, many Calvinists have invoked paradox (or antinomy) to explain the compatibility of unconditional election with human responsibility. Examples of this include J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God; Henry Krabbendam, Sovereignty and Responsibility ( http://www.worldevangelicals.org/lausanne/data/resources/Henry%20Krabben... ]read online here ); and James Anderson, Paradox in Christian Theology.

Ed, as surprising as this sounds coming from me, I completely agree that the emphasis on "Calvinism" does not produce the fruit proponents have proffered. I think that's because some people have tried to embrace the so-called "5 points" without actually embracing Reformed theology, which grounds and directs those points in a robust, well-balanced manner. These days I'm more wary of Calvinist Baptists than I am of Arminians.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

MTMurphy's picture

CAWatson wrote:

Quote:
How then do those who hold an Arminian position maintain the aseity and independence of God?

J.C. Thibodaux has written on the subject:

http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/the-fallacies-of-ca... The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics - Fallacy #11: The Arminian View of Divine Foreknowledge Attacks God's Aseity

You might also want to see:

http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/the-fallacies-of-ca... The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics - Fallacies #12 & #13: The Arminian View of Divine Foreknowledge Attacks God's Simplicity and Immutability

Larry's picture

Moderator

danchapa wrote:
However, it does seem to me that many people who hold to Arminianism don’t claim the name.
Noted Arminian professor and author Roger Olson said the same thing recently concerning the John 3:16 conference/book, that what some of those guys were espousing was classic Arminianism. They just wouldn't claim the name. I have always contended that (always meaning for a decade or more, which is is because "all" doesn't always mean all). I think most who prefer the name "non-Calvinists" are Arminian because they affirm some form of unlimited atonement and conditional election. Many are actually Pelagian because they deny total depravity.

Ed Vasicek wrote:
The Scriptures present man as unable to contribute to his own salvation, yet responsible to respond of his own accord.
This isn't different than soteriological Calvinism, is it?. Calvinism teaches that all men are totally depraved and unable to respond, yet are responsible to respond. That is one of the major arguments against it, that it is a system where men are held responsible for something which they are unable to do. I would say this is the result of a system that is not driven by logic, but rather by the plain statements of Scripture.

It also reminds me again that people who claim not to be something usually are. They just either don't know it, or don't want to claim it because they don't want a man's name attached to their beliefs. But a rose by any other name smells just as sweet ... so denying that one is Arminian or Calvinist or Pelagian is actually irrelevant. I think it tends just to make one look uninformed. What you believe is what determines whether or not one fits the category, not whether or not one accepts the label.

Charlie wrote:
I think that's because some people have tried to embrace the so-called "5 points" without actually embracing Reformed theology, which grounds and directs those points in a robust, well-balanced manner. These days I'm more wary of Calvinist Baptists than I am of Arminians.
This is always a bit strange to me, though I have seen it other places as well. For me, the hermeneutic that makes me Calvinistic in my soteriology is the same hermeneutic that makes me dispensationalist and Baptist. I think this was the idea behind MacArthur's infamous message a couple years ago at the Shepherd's conference. I don't find full orbed reformed theology to be balanced and robust at all. I find it filled with exegetical problems and inconsistencies (which others say about my dispensationalism, which is fine with me). I remember one professor saying that Reformed theology is a great theological construct. It just isn't a good exegetical one.

A final note, here are two issues that perhaps danchapa can address in some way.

First, I am always curious about those who affirm Arminianism in an attempt to protect the free will of man to choose without being forced. But they do not seem to show the same respect for God's free will. Why should God be "un"-free while man is free (assuming that if man chooses God, God is not free to reject that man)? Why should God be forced to respond only to man's "free will choices," but man should not be forced to respond to God's free will choices? Why is man's free will protected at the expense of God's?

Secondly, I am unconvinced that the typical arminian idea of foreknowledge actually helps protects man's freedom. If God is omniscient (always knowing all things from eternity past), then he knows who will believe (and so He chooses them ... is that really a choice if He can't not choose them?). If he knows that "Bob" will believe at some point in his life (say the summer of 2011), is Bob actually free to change his mind? If God's knowledge is accurate, then it seems that Bob is not free to change his mind in the summer of 2011 (or anytime before or after that; IOW, he can't believe in the spring of 2011 or the fall of 2012). If, on the other hand, Bob is actually free and has the ability to either believe or not believe, then God's knowledge is at least possibly wrong. Dan, can you help me understand how you would answer this?

(I realize that I have just presented a case that all whose overriding aim in the "election discussion" is to protect man's free will must become open theists to be consistent, and I am aware that the same type of argument is leveled about Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. But I am just looking to see how Dan addresses this.)

Ron Bean's picture

My thanks to Brother Chapa for his clear presentation of Arminianism. Sadly, too many have reduced Arminianism to "they believe you can lose your salvation." (or they've called people who hold the position "Armenians" Smile )

I'm sure there will be some who, after reading the article, will be faced with a personal conflict. They will admit that the article states their position but will deny that they are Arminian.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

danchapa's picture

Charlie,

That’s a good point. There’s a big difference between saying both Calvinism and Arminianism have some truths and it’s a mystery and saying Calvinism is true and it’s a mystery as to how man is responsible for his actions. Both Van Til and Clark were Calvinists.

God be with you,
Dan

danchapa's picture

Hi Larry,

Quote:
Why should God be "un"-free while man is free (assuming that if man chooses God, God is not free to reject that man)?

Well God didn't have to chose to have mercy on believers. So are you really ask that now that He has committed Himself via His promise to save believers why can't He go against that promise?

Warning, the following falls under ‘musing’.

God's various choices are interconnected in various ways and at some level may be looked at as one big choice for His entire plan. While we (given our limitations) look at different aspects as distinct in a logical order (and with different effects at various moments in time), in and of it's self it's all one. So while God's choice to save believers logically precedes His choice to save this or that individual, it's really all part of God's master plan which He chose in total.

God be with you,
Dan

Larry's picture

Moderator

Thanks Dan for the gracious interaction with all in this thread.

Quote:
So are you really ask that now that He has committed Himself via His promise to save believers why can't He go against that promise?
Two things: First, so far as I can recall, God's election in the Bible is always of people, not a method. In other words, the "election" idea is never used for the way that God saves, but for the people he saves. So while he has committed himself to save believers, that really isn't the point here.

Second, what I am asking is why God's freedom to choose is subjugated to man's freedom to choose? If God chooses man and man has to accept, then people say man's free will is violated. But if man chooses God and God has to accept, God's free will is never even brought into the discussion. So why is it okay to bind God's free will to man's choice but not bind man's free will to God's choice?

danchapa's picture

Hi Larry,

Quote:
Secondly, I am unconvinced that the typical arminian idea of foreknowledge actually helps protects man's freedom. If God is omniscient (always knowing all things from eternity past), then he knows who will believe (and so He chooses them ... is that really a choice if He can't not choose them?). If he knows that "Bob" will believe at some point in his life (say the summer of 2011), is Bob actually free to change his mind? If God's knowledge is accurate, then it seems that Bob is not free to change his mind in the summer of 2011 (or anytime before or after that; IOW, he can't believe in the spring of 2011 or the fall of 2012). If, on the other hand, Bob is actually free and has the ability to either believe or not believe, then God's knowledge is at least possibly wrong. Dan, can you help me understand how you would answer this?

I view this issue as fairly important. Some look at the foreknowledge arguments as philosophical speculation – but it has deep practical aspects in terms of how we understand many passages of scripture and helps shape our views of election and providence.

I categorize foreknowledge arguments into two kinds, general intuitive appeals and structured logical proofs. General intuitive appeals are simple to understand and quite powerful. Your argument here is a good example. If you had intended this to be a rigorous logical proof, I would say the problem is that there’s a distinction between ‘will not’ and ‘can not’ so your conclusion does not follow. But I think a lot of people would be left with some question as to if the issue runs deeper.

On the other hand, if something is ‘obviously wrong’ it should be simple enough to structure some logical proof walking step by step through true premises to a valid conclusion. And I have reviewed many such attempts – all of which have some fatal flaw. And because of the failures of the structured logical proofs, I worry that the general foreknowledge argument confuses people rather than sheds light on the issue.

Here’s a few distinctions I have found helpful in overcoming various foreknowledge arguments:
1) Will not vs. can not (self explanatory, I think)
2) Certainty vs. necessity (i.e. in God’s mind vs. in the thing itself)
3) Logical impossibility vs. causal impossibility (i.e. a contradiction vs. a lack of power in an agent)
4) Truth vs. the basis of truth (the proposition ‘Bob is eating an ice cream cone’ vs. Bob himself eating the ice cream cone’)
5) Sufficient conditions and sufficient causes (i.e. given proposition X, proposition Y is logically deductable vs. given event X, event Y always happens
6) The ability to cause X vs. the ability to change propositions about X from possibly true to actual true
7) Divided and compound sense (statements about one thing verse statements about the combination of two things)

I personally haven’t seen a foreknowledge argument that runs afoul of one of these distinctions.

God be with you,
Dan

danchapa's picture

Thanks Ron, hopefully I will get people in touch with their true feelings rather than cause them conflict. Smile

God be with you,
Dan

nbanuchi's picture

DavidO wrote:
danchapa wrote:
He could have chosen to save via works or baptism or saying the word blue three times in a row.

Could He really have and still be the God He actually is?


I would think so if the claim holds (as many Calvinists remind us) that God does whatever he pleases.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Ron,

Thanks for the election illustration. I must say, it doesn't seem to me to address the question, but rather than debate an illustration, maybe you could offer clarification on the way you understand election. Do you view election as choosing individuals, or something else?

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these doctrines.

Cordially,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

G. N. Barkman's picture

Calvinism teaches that God does whatever He chooses, but only that which is consistent with His character. God couldn't have saved in any way that does not satisfy both His Holy justice as well as His mercy. It is hard to explain how any other way of salvation apart from the atonement of Christ could save. Am I missing something here?

G. N. Barkman

Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie wrote:

Quote:
Ed, as surprising as this sounds coming from me, I completely agree that the emphasis on "Calvinism" does not produce the fruit proponents have proffered. I think that's because some people have tried to embrace the so-called "5 points" without actually embracing Reformed theology, which grounds and directs those points in a robust, well-balanced manner. These days I'm more wary of Calvinist Baptists than I am of Arminians.

My experience is the opposite. Not that I do not enjoy some Reformed friends, but I have long felt more at home with the less Calvinistic, though I strongly believe in Sovereign Grace. But this is a purely subjective assessment. Another person might testify in the other direction, as you are doing.
But Charlie, the word "robust?"

As far as paradox, I am more and more impressed with a view I used to hold to decades ago, that these are indeed a paradox (the Arminian and Calvinistic perspective) and that they do, in fact, reconcile in heaven much as the Trinity does. It is one thing to say that something is not logical on a human plane with all our limitations of understanding. What we mean is that we cannot see the logic; that does not mean it is illogical. A man from the 15th century would think the workings of a computer make no logical sense, but they do. Leaving room for the limitations of human knowledge and ability to reason is not escape from reason, although it can be.

When you try to explain the boundaries of the Trinity to a Jehovah's Witness, they will comment, "that's not logical.' And, in a sense, they are right. But then again they are wrong: it is logical, just beyond us. That is what I am saying with the paradox concept. As you mentioned, J.I. Packer does that (I remember reading his books decades ago) as do many others (although not with all the points of Arminianism).

"The Midrash Detective"

Ed Vasicek's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:
Calvinism teaches that God does whatever He chooses, but only that which is consistent with His character. God couldn't have saved in any way that does not satisfy both His Holy justice as well as His mercy. It is hard to explain how any other way of salvation apart from the atonement of Christ could save. Am I missing something here?

This is correct. But limiting this to Calvinism is a mistake. Most Wesleyans, I would think, would also agree with this. I would argue that MANY non-Calvinists or partial Calvinists would agree with this. This, to my way of thinking, is a crucial truth in defining fundamentalism. The cup could not pass from Jesus precisely because there was no other way. God has to be both just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus.

"The Midrash Detective"

nbanuchi's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:
Calvinism teaches that God does whatever He chooses, but only that which is consistent with His character. God couldn't have saved in any way that does not satisfy both His Holy justice as well as His mercy. It is hard to explain how any other way of salvation apart from the atonement of Christ could save. Am I missing something here?

But would not that be bringing God down to our level of understanding of morality? Is not God's morality higher than ours?

If God deems that His justice is satisfied by nailing a rabbit to the Cross and/or having the objects of His mercy say "Blue" three times, freely choosing to save man as sinners on one or both of these terms, how can we deny God's freedom to do so and render such means as unsatisfactory?

Who and by what authority does one have to tell God how men ought to be saved?

Martin_G's picture

Hey Ed,

i would have to disagree that a paradox between Arminianism and Calvinism makes sense. In order to do so, one would have to reduce both systems to specific ideas, and ignore the nuances within those systems.

Personally, I don't believe that a middle ground can exist between the two, or that paradox makes sense, because the two positions are too similar. It is like finding the middle ground between the living room and the hallway: there just isn't enough space there. On the other hand, they are devided by a wall: election is either conditional or unconditional, and saving grace can either be resisted or not. Why or how election is conditional or unconditional can be varied, but you are on one side or the other.

your brother in Christ,

Martin
Alpha and omega forever

Martin_G's picture

As an Arminian, I would not refer to God's selection of the faithful as being a ratification of their descions. First of all, God is involved in the entire process. It is not like God is in heaven waiting to find our who is being saved and who isn't. Second, like Dan has already said, faith being the requirement is God's descion, and there was nothing that forced Him to have that be the condition. It was His choice.

What is interesting is the idea that in order for something to be a legitamate choice, it must be unconditional. That doesn't really hold up in life. I usually have some basis for the choices that i make.

your brother in Christ,

Martin
Alpha and omega forever

Martin_G's picture

To Wayne Wilson,

You said that you would like SEA to focus more on the Anti-calvinists of the internet. What would you like to see? How could we improve in that area in your opinion?

your brother in Christ,

Martin
Alpha and omega forever

DavidO's picture

nbanuchi wrote:
If God deems that His justice is satisfied by nailing a rabbit to the Cross and/or having the objects of His mercy say "Blue" three times, freely choosing to save man as sinners on one or both of these terms, how can we deny God's freedom to do so and render such means as unsatisfactory?

Who and by what authority does one have to tell God how men ought to be saved?

If the blood of bulls and goats could never have taken away sin, I doubt a rabbit would suffice. I don't have explicit scriptural support, but I think the fact that it took the bloody death of the God-Man has more to do with His character than caprice.

So I say nothing by my authority, I'm trying to be consistent with revelation.

danchapa's picture

Larry,

Quote:
First, so far as I can recall, God's election in the Bible is always of people, not a method. In other words, the "election" idea is never used for the way that God saves, but for the people he saves. So while he has committed himself to save believers, that really isn't the point here.

Here’s where I think the idea of corporation election can be very helpful. God choose Israel as a Nation. In the NT, many passages speak of God choosing whole churches or believers as a group. And if seen as a collective or group or corporate body, one can see the strong implication that the category that groups them (i.e. faith) is firmly in view.

However, I do think that 1 Corinthians 1:21 directly addresses the issue and if you trace the outbound context through, it’s an important part of the wisdom God predestined in 1 Corinthians 2:7. I also think that Romans 9 teaches the same thing (but I certainly understand that’s highly controversial). Fundamentally, it helps explain why Paul brings up election in the first place. He is showing that the Gospel was God’s plan all along.

BTW, I hope you can see why I would view the word 'subjugated' as a bit of an overstatement.

God be with you,
Dan

danchapa's picture

Greg,

Quote:
Do you view election as choosing individuals, or something else?

Both. Wink

As to a general summary of my views on election, I break it into 4 main elements:

1) God’s choice of Christ as the foundation of salvation
2) God’s choice of faith as the condition of salvation
3) God’s choice to give provide the grace needed to bring men to faith
4) God’s choice to save the group of people He foreknew would believe.

God be with you,
Dan

danchapa's picture

Greg,

Quote:
Calvinism teaches that God does whatever He chooses, but only that which is consistent with His character. God couldn't have saved in any way that does not satisfy both His Holy justice as well as His mercy. It is hard to explain how any other way of salvation apart from the atonement of Christ could save. Am I missing something here?

I agree, I think. I am not saying God could have choosen to save without Christ. Rather, what I am saying is the condition by which we recieve Christ (i.e. faith) could have been different.

God be with you,
Dan

danchapa's picture

Ed,

Quote:
When you try to explain the boundaries of the Trinity to a Jehovah's Witness, they will comment, "that's not logical.' And, in a sense, they are right. But then again they are wrong: it is logical, just beyond us.

There's nothing illogical about the Trinity, either in the aspects that we can understand or in the aspects that we can't. Just because we cannot understand something does not make it illogical.

God be with you,
Dan

G. N. Barkman's picture

Dan,

When you say you believe election is God's choice to save the group of people He knew would believe, do you mean God chose each member of that group individually, or only that He chose to save the group? Whoever places themselves into that group by believing becomes, thereby, the elect of God?

Cordially,
Greg

G. N. Barkman

Ed Vasicek's picture

danchapa wrote:
Ed,

Quote:
When you try to explain the boundaries of the Trinity to a Jehovah's Witness, they will comment, "that's not logical.' And, in a sense, they are right. But then again they are wrong: it is logical, just beyond us.

There's nothing illogical about the Trinity, either in the aspects that we can understand or in the aspects that we can't. Just because we cannot understand something does not make it illogical.

God be with you,
Dan

Dan, that is exactly what I am saying!

"The Midrash Detective"

Ed Vasicek's picture

Martin_G wrote:
Hey Ed,

i would have to disagree that a paradox between Arminianism and Calvinism makes sense. In order to do so, one would have to reduce both systems to specific ideas, and ignore the nuances within those systems.

Personally, I don't believe that a middle ground can exist between the two, or that paradox makes sense, because the two positions are too similar. It is like finding the middle ground between the living room and the hallway: there just isn't enough space there. On the other hand, they are devided by a wall: election is either conditional or unconditional, and saving grace can either be resisted or not. Why or how election is conditional or unconditional can be varied, but you are on one side or the other.

Martin, I agree that one accepts unconditional election or one does not. I writes as one who does. But I would argue that the Scriptures themselves come at these matters from both directions. We know, for example, that we cannot save ourselves. Yet Acts 2:40 exhorts us to do just that:

Quote:
And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation."

I am saying that the Scriptures describe salvation in both Sovereign Grace terms and Arminian terms.

"The Midrash Detective"

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