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

Read the series so far.

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)

The Father Chose, Foreknew, Predestined

There is no order of process identified here, only statements that He is the accomplisher of these processes.

  • just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6)
  • For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

#5 His Salvation is Legitimately Provided For and Offered to All

The Son Died as a Substitute For All

His death accomplished everything necessary for the salvation of everyone, except for personal application through belief.

  • we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (1 Timothy 4:10)
  • and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

The Father Draws

  • No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

The Spirit Convicts the World

  • And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me (John 16:8-9)

The Son Redeems

As we are purchased with His blood, if He has indeed paid for all sin, then there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). In other words, by virtue of His blood, those who believe in Him are eternally secure.

  • In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7)

Faith and Regeneration are Concurrent, Not Subsequent

There is no cause and effect time stamp discussed in Ephesians 2:5-9 that would justify either the belief that saving faith occurs at a time before regeneration takes place, or that regeneration precedes faith in order to make faith possible. Instead, belief and life are generally spoken of as concurrent happenings (e.g., Jn 6:47).

  • even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)… For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Ephesians 2:5,8)

The Spirit Seals

The Spirit’s sealing is a pledge, or down payment, and underscores the certainty of our ultimate salvation. This is not perseverance of saints, but rather preservation of saints.

  • In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The Father Conforms Believers to the Image of Christ

  • For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30

#6 He Is Sovereign Over Human Response, and Still Holds Humanity Accountable

Though God accomplishes the salvific work on His own, He demands that individuals believe in Him, and holds them accountable if they don’t. And whether or not we believe is within the sphere of His sovereignty (as is everything).

  • For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that the believing one in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16

The personal application of salvation is conditioned upon belief. Once the belief is there, eternal life is there, in the present tense. One cannot possess eternal life at the moment of belief if he could ever lose it at any point in the future (otherwise, it would not be eternal, but rather temporary).

  • Truly, truly, I say to you, the believing one has eternal life. (John 6:47)
  • 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)
  • Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:22-24)
  • and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29)

He Does Not Desire That Any Should Perish

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Nonetheless, Some Do Perish

  • And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

While there is no Biblical explanation for how these two seemingly paradoxical premises can both be true, the Bible asserts them both. Rather than redefine either premise to soften their meaning, it is better (more exegetically derived) to allow the two statements to stand on their own, and for us to recognize that God is the one determining what He wants and what He will get, and as Sovereign, He is the one determining what is possible and what is not. It is therefore possible for one to resist His desire or will in some respects (βουλόμενός, 2 Pet 3:9), though it is not possible to resist His will in others (βουλήματι, Rom 9:19). The Bible never explicitly discusses the difference, so any discussion on this point is merely speculative.

#7 There Is No Conflict Between God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

The premise that God cannot hold His creation accountable for something it did not choose is not an exegetically defensible premise (whether His creation chose or not is irrelevant to this point). Just as the potter has authority over the clay, God has authority over His creation to hold it accountable for whatever He wishes to hold it accountable. He is not caught in any contradiction for doing so. If we don’t like that He is sovereign and still holds His creation accountable, then that is a problem with our submission, not with His justice or righteousness:

  • “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
  • Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
  • But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8
  • Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’ (Isaiah 45:9)
1652 reads

There are 3 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

"The premise that God cannot hold His creation accountable for something it did not choose is not an exegetically defensible premise (whether His creation chose or not is irrelevant to this point)."

Agree. And it seems to me that along with difficulty over the limited atonement concept, the accountability/ability/choice conflict is where most of the passion against  strong views of predestinaiton comes from.

JohnBrian's picture

I was beginning to think that the author was leaning Arminian but then he went and quoted 2 Peter 3:9 in it's entirety!

in Pt 4 on 09/26/14 -10:03am I wrote:
While not directly related to the author's post, I have noticed that when it comes to 2 Peter 3:9, the Calvinist quotes the full verse, whereas the non-Calvinist more frequently quotes only a portion of the verse!

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

AndrewSuttles's picture

To say there is no 'order' to Roman 8:29-30 is simply wrong!

To say that salvation is offered to all is agreed upon by all.  What the author should describe is how he intended to distinguish his view by making that statement.  Did Christ die to make all men savable by removing original sin and providing prevenient grace?  How is the author's view that Christ's death "accomplished everything necessary for the salvation of everyone" any different than the same Calvinist view?  He doesn't say (or doesn't know).

How is the statement that "There is no cause and effect time stamp discussed in Ephesians 2:5-9 that would justify either the belief that saving faith occurs at a time before regeneration takes place, or that regeneration precedes faith in order to make faith possible" any different than what the Calvinists/Arminians have been arguing?  Haven't we (Calvinists and Arminians) said all along that it is a logical priority, and not a time priority?  This is more an argument against a strawman.

The author does distinguish himself from the Calvinist and Arminian in his simple "once saved always saved" philosophy.  Calvinists, of course, believe that those who are sealed by the Spirit will persevere, by God's grace, in their faith until the end.  They may fall away for a season, but they will be renewed.  Those who apostatize from the faith were never believers at all and should not be treated as such (i.e. Bart Ehrman or Sam Harris).

The idea that there are two wills in God is not new to this author, either.

In the end, it seems the author rejects classic systematic formulations of faith that have stood the challenges of time, all the while establishing a systematic formulation of his own not sufficiently differentiated from the two he rejects.  Perhaps the article would have been better if it was a basic introduction into the method for exegetical formulation of systematic theology.  For a guy who piles up letters behind his name, I'd expect better.  His primary concern, and those of several of the readers here, seems to be more centered on rejecting labels than a real debate of doctrine.  I'd have more respect for an effort that picked a side and defended it.  Using this philosophy I could say, I am not a Trinitarian - I just simply believe what the Bible says about God and then list two or three verses about God's nature.  What affect would that achieve?

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.