You Must Be a Calvinist or an Arminian!

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TylerR's picture

Editor

See the sermon link for my notes. Don't want to get into the weeds on that here. The question I asked the congregation was this:

  • Does God deliberately harden hearts and blind eyes so people will not believe, or does He allow unbelievers to do that to themselves?

I answered:

  • God doesn't directly step in to harden anybody's heart or blind anybody's eyes. Unbelievers do that to themselves, and He lets them do it (i.e. He withholds His grace in effectual calling and gives them the desire of their hearts). 

The basic point is that, no matter what shade of monergism you want to come down on, passages like this make it very difficult to opt for synergism in general. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

James K's picture

Sadly the DBTS profs had to continue to frame this as either or.  Since they are calvinists (little c), they have to present it as the best of only two options.  The alternative has to be something that would rob God of glory.  In fact, Arminians might even, gulp, share God's glory.

This is sad because even a freshman Bible student should be able to see through this rhetoric presented by 2 guys with doctorates (for what that is worth).

Quick question: Did Arminius teach that a person can be saved apart from the Spirit first working in his heart?

Quick question: Do Calvinists believe that a person can be saved apart from faith?

Quick question: Can you define monergism?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

KLengel's picture

James, 

No, "divine grace" was required for salvation. 

Here is one statement on Free will. . .

"The Free Will of Man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except as excited by Divine grace."

Works of Arminius, Volume 2 p192 

KML

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Still not interacting with the proposition presented by Combs:

In Calvinism faith is the result of election; in Arminianism election is the result of faith. 

If you believe this is a false proposition, demonstrate how it is false.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

KLengel's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Ken,

As you read through the example that follows, Combs illustrates the absolute binary nature of the issue - it's either one or the other.

One answer is that God chose Joe (unconditional election) and gave him grace (efficacious) that caused him to believe. He owes his salvation completely to God (monergism). Joe cannot boast in his salvation (1 Cor 1:28–29; Eph 2:8–9). This is Calvinism.

The other, and only other[2] possible, answer is that God chose Joe because Joe chose God (conditional election). God looked down the corridors of time and saw that Joe would one day believe the gospel, so he elected Joe. But actually God did not make any independent choice. If Joe chooses God, God must choose Joe, but if Joe rejects God, God cannot choose Joe. God simply ratifies whatever choice Joe makes.

Chip,

The problem with their "other, and only other [2] possible solution", is that this is the Calvinist explanation of Arminianism. Arminians believe that by God's divine grace thru Christ via the Holy Spirit, man's will was freed to believe on Christ.  It was a joint effort, not just Joe choosing God alone. Calvinists must believe that God regenerated a person, then they had faith to believe. Arminians believe God via the Spirit freed man's will to make a choice unto salvation, not election. Election and salvation are not one in the same.  Calvinists constantly use this false argument to defend their position, but it is not the position of Arminians. 

Ken   

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

KLengel wrote:

 

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 

Ken,

As you read through the example that follows, Combs illustrates the absolute binary nature of the issue - it's either one or the other.

One answer is that God chose Joe (unconditional election) and gave him grace (efficacious) that caused him to believe. He owes his salvation completely to God (monergism). Joe cannot boast in his salvation (1 Cor 1:28–29; Eph 2:8–9). This is Calvinism.

The other, and only other[2] possible, answer is that God chose Joe because Joe chose God (conditional election). God looked down the corridors of time and saw that Joe would one day believe the gospel, so he elected Joe. But actually God did not make any independent choice. If Joe chooses God, God must choose Joe, but if Joe rejects God, God cannot choose Joe. God simply ratifies whatever choice Joe makes.

 

 

Chip,

The problem with their "other, and only other [2] possible solution", is that this is the Calvinist explanation of Arminianism. Arminians believe that by God's divine grace thru Christ via the Holy Spirit, man's will was freed to believe on Christ.  It was a joint effort, not just Joe choosing God alone. Calvinists must believe that God regenerated a person, then they had faith to believe. Arminians believe God via the Spirit freed man's will to make a choice unto salvation, not election. Election and salvation are not one in the same.  Calvinists constantly use this false argument to defend their position, but it is not the position of Arminians. 

Ken   

So Ken, Dr. Combs was accurate when he said this to support the aforementioned proposition,

In Arminianism, prevenient grace is given to all people, or at least to all who hear the gospel, and enables them to be saved by cooperating with God’s grace (synergism), but this prevenient grace may be rejected. Again, there are only two choices. Either God’s grace is efficacious and ultimately overcomes the individual’s depravity and brings him to faith in Christ (Calvinism), or God’s grace is just prevenient, that is, it is sufficient to overcome depravity, but the individual may reject this grace (Arminianism).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

KLengel's picture

Chip, 

My point was two fold. One, Calvinists tend to argue a binary option between Calvinism vs Arminian, synergism vs monergism. They do that to show their viewpoint alone is better than the other.  (ignore, deny other options as valid)  Second, they normally do so, by misrepresenting the single (in their mind) opposing argument.  Calvinists have done this for quite some time.

As James K stated, this was a feeble attempt to defend their viewpoint in a binary approach to election. 

Thanks,

Ken 

 

DavidO's picture

But, Ken, you don't believe any viewpoint is better than yours do you?  How many valid approaches to election are there.  Is yours the only possibly correct view?

 

KLengel's picture

DavidO wrote:

But, Ken, you don't believe any viewpoint is better than yours do you?  How many valid approaches to election are there.  Is yours the only possibly correct view?

David, 

You are out of line. 

I never mentioned my views. 

There is only one right view on anything.

Most anyone I know believes their view is right. We all choose a view. We all believe it.

Even Dr. Combs believes his view of only two options is right.  Does that make him not worthy to listen to?

Have a great day!

Ken 

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

KLengel wrote:

Chip, 

My point was two fold. One, Calvinists tend to argue a binary option between Calvinism vs Arminian, synergism vs monergism. They do that to show their viewpoint alone is better than the other.  (ignore, deny other options as valid)  Second, they normally do so, by misrepresenting the single (in their mind) opposing argument.  Calvinists have done this for quite some time.

As James K stated, this was a feeble attempt to defend their viewpoint in a binary approach to election. 

Thanks,

Ken 

 

Claiming a statement is wrong is not the same as showing where it is wrong. The quote I provided earlier and resubmit below seems to agree with what you have said, making it an accurate representation of at least one point of Arminianism. Here again is what Dr. Combs said,

In Arminianism, prevenient grace is given to all people, or at least to all who hear the gospel, and enables them to be saved by cooperating with God’s grace (synergism), but this prevenient grace may be rejected. Again, there are only two choices. Either God’s grace is efficacious and ultimately overcomes the individual’s depravity and brings him to faith in Christ (Calvinism), or God’s grace is just prevenient, that is, it is sufficient to overcome depravity, but the individual may reject this grace (Arminianism).

If this is false, please demonstrate where you believe the error lies instead of just declaring it false from your point of view.

 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

KLengel's picture

Chip,

I never said that statement was false.  Did you read my original post? 

"Don't you think Combs' point is a misrepresentation of Arminians? I do not believe Arminians believe the sinner is the "ultimate decider" or that "he deserves to share in that glory". That appears to be an extrapolation of Combs logic, not the opinion of Arminians. (For the record, I am neither) In fact, I think the whole Calvinism vs. Arminianism is a false dilemma in itself. It's why no one ever comes to the actual truth on the matter."

Arminians don't believe what Combs suggested. Read Olson's book on Arminian Theology, Myth 6.  He clearly outlines what Arminius and his followers believed. 

Read Arminius' work. As James K stated, any first year Bible Student would know this was a misrepresentation of Arminian Theology.

I said it was a misrepresentation of Arminian Theology and it is.  It's the way calvinists argue. 

Ken

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

KLengel,

I posed two earlier questions to you that you will hopefully get to answer soon.

In the meantime, you claim that Dr. Combs misrepresents what Arminians believe.

You say: Arminians believe that by God's divine grace thru Christ via the Holy Spirit, man's will was freed to believe on Christ.

Dr. Combs says: In Arminianism, prevenient grace is given to all people, or at least to all who hear the gospel, and enables them to be saved by cooperating with God’s grace (synergism), but this prevenient grace may be rejected.

Isn't this the same thing? In other words, you seem to agree with Dr. Combs about what Arminians believe (although he used their word, "prevenient," where you did not). How is he misrepresenting them? Can you clarify for us?

KLengel's picture

"It was a joint effort, not just Joe choosing God alone. Calvinists must believe that God regenerated a person, then they had faith to believe. Arminians believe God via the Spirit freed man's will to make a choice unto salvation, not election. Election and salvation are not one in the same.  Calvinists constantly use this false argument to defend their position, but it is not the position of Arminians."

KML 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Ken,

You keep dancing around the heart of the issue. Combs agrees that it is a joint effort.

Both Calvinists and Arminians agree that the sinner chooses Christ. The sinner is not coerced into a decision for Christ. The major difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is what ultimately and finally causes a depraved sinner to choose Christ. 

The question you refuse to answer or acknowledge is the cause. Something has to begin the process. This is the binary issue you are avoiding. You write, "Arminians believe God via the Spirit freed man's will to make a choice unto salvation, not election." You have agreed with Combs (and the other Calvinists you attack) that God's action hinges on man's decision. God made it available, but man decided the issue for himself. Arminians teach that man chooses or rejects God, and that God identifies the elect on the basis of their choice in salvation. This is exactly what Combs started with.

In Calvinism faith is the result of election; in Arminianism election is the result of faith.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

DavidO's picture

Out of line?  How?  Of course Calvinists makes the arguments he makes to "show their viewpoint alone is better than the others".  That's what everyone who makes an argument does.  Including you (which is why I brought your view of your own view into the discussion).  So the reason the Calvinists make it a binary choice is moot.  The question is, is it really a binary choice?

Hence Larry's attempts to find some differentiation between what you say [Arminians] affirm and what Combs says [Arminians] affirm.  And I must say I don't see any difference either.  So what's your objection exactly?

 

(EDITED for accuracy in attribution of views)

KLengel's picture

David,

Read my first post. My objection was to the binary approach to this topic, it is not moot. Unfortunately, it has been argued that way for centuries. Christopher Cone presented a series on here on SI for a third way. Calvinists just dismiss it and say, "Sorry only two options." Forget the Bible, we have calvinism.  

Instead of DBTS professors saying why a "third way was wrong" they write an article and say. . ."Sorry, only two options".  Typical calvinism.

David, you are very confusing.  You challenge me by stating that I don't think anyone's view is right besides my own, but then state that DBTS professors of course think theirs is right. But you act like I can't have my view that theirs is wrong, because I am then somewhat conceded. Can it not be, that we both believe we are right, without the innuendo that one of us is conceded for thinking so?  I did not call them conceded. I just believe they try to promote their views by limiting the debate, and dismissing others. 

That was my whole reason for responding to Tyler to begin with. 

For His glory,

Ken

Paul Henebury's picture

Larry wrote:

That depends on what you mean by unconditional election.  I believe in it, but I disagree with its usual formulation in Calvinist theologies.

Generally, there's not of debate, right? Unconditional election means that God, in eternity past, chose individuals to salvation without regard to anything in the individual.

 

What's that got to do with what I said about Arminianism and Calvinism?  I was only saying that the nuances in the discussion may preclude a simple dichotomy.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Anything related to Calvinism seems to run off the rails!

I think the reason why Combs, et al have tried to strip the issue down to bare essentials is because there are so many shades and nuances in-between the different positions. 

I liken it to a play. We see what is happening on stage. Folks hear the Gospel, some believe and some don't. It is a fact that each person made a free, intelligent decision to accept or reject the Gospel. Let's unite and proclaim this wonderful truth. 

However, let's also step behind the curtain and get a glimpse of the goings-on backstage that lead to what is happening out on stage. Why do some accept, and others reject the Gospel?

  • Is man's decision autonomous (without assistance from), semi-autonomous (with assistance from God) or is the only reason why some men accept the Gospel due to God's grace alone? 

Their whole point has been about stripping away the layers and distilling the matter down to it's bare essentials. It isn't necessarily about pigeonholing somebody into a category group; it's more about determining which way you tilt:

  • To some shade of monergism, even if you appeal to mystery a lot?
  • Or, to a place where you prefer to emphasize the cooperation of God and man to some degree (i.e. synergism)?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry's picture

Moderator

What's that got to do with what I said about Arminianism and Calvinism?  I was only saying that the nuances in the discussion may preclude a simple dichotomy.

Here's how we got here:

  • You said there was a middle way.
  • I asked what it was.
  • You said it depends on what you mean by unconditional election.
  • I gave the standard definition of unconditional election.
  • You ask what that has to do with CvA.

And here we are.

So we are back to the initial question of what the via media is between conditional and unconditional election. People, including you seemingly, say it's not binary, but so far, no one has given a third option that I have seen. That was my question to you. What is the via media that you suggest exists?

Larry's picture

Moderator

"It was a joint effort, not just Joe choosing God alone. Calvinists must believe that God regenerated a person, then they had faith to believe. Arminians believe God via the Spirit freed man's will to make a choice unto salvation, not election. Election and salvation are not one in the same.  Calvinists constantly use this false argument to defend their position, but it is not the position of Arminians."

Assuming that was a response to me, here's a couple of things. (1) There is no evidence here that I can see that Dr. Combs misrepresented Arminianism. Dr. Combs said nothing about Joe choosing God alone, did he? That is your (mis?) representation of what he said, isn't it? Dr. Combs affirmed that Joe's choosing was based on prevenient grace from God. (2) If what you say here is your view (It's a joint effort, not man alone) is your view, then you have just claimed the side of Arminianism, haven't you?

That takes us back to the original questions I asked you which were: (1) Who does an Arminian believe is the ultimate decider? and (2) How do you know no one ever comes to the truth on the matter?

Paul Henebury's picture

Larry asks, "What is the via media that you suggest exists?"

I have said, "I understand Dr Combs (and Roger Olson) when they make it either/or, but the subtleties of the question, especially when one introduces e.g. K. Keathley's arguments in Salvation & Sovereignty seem to demand a via media."

 

 

 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

KLengel's picture

Larry, 

Here is an excerpt. . .

"The other, and only other[2] possible, answer is that God chose Joe because Joe chose God (conditional election). God looked down the corridors of time and saw that Joe would one day believe the gospel, so he elected Joe. But actually God did not make any independent choice. If Joe chooses God, God must choose Joe, but if Joe rejects God, God cannot choose Joe. God simply ratifies whatever choice Joe makes. Joe has the same grace (prevenient) necessary to believe the gospel as his brother Jack. According to this view, everyone who hears the gospel has the prevenient grace necessary to believe the gospel. But if that is so, how do we explain why Joe accepted the gospel and Jack rejected it? The only answer is that there is something in Joe, something superior in Joe (intelligence, merit, goodness—something) that caused him to believe—something that Joe had but Jack lacked. This difference between Joe and Jack is not due to God. God does exactly the same thing for both Joe and Jack. They had the same opportunity, the same grace (prevenient). The only conclusion that can be drawn is that in some way Joe must be better than Jack. Joe did not do it all, or most of it, but he deserves some credit. This is Arminianism."

Arminians would not agree with this line of reasoning (in bold) as being their own. Again, Read Olson's book - Myth 6. They do misrepresent Arminian Theology. 

Why did Adam reject God's command to avoid eating from the fruit of the tree?  

To answer your question, No, I am not an Arminian. I do not believe the Bible provides a complete answer regarding the Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of Man. I know the present two primary systems of thought are incomplete, ingrained in religion, and both faulty because of my previous point.

If you want to chat more, please send me a private message via SI. This is my last post on this thread.

Thanks,

Ken 

 

 

 

KLengel's picture

You write innuendos, insult me with your latest post, who would want to participate. 

You started this way and just continued. Call it what you will, but I don't waste my breath (or keystrokes) on foolish people.

Ken 

 

Todd Wood's picture

That is a word easily thrown around, isn't it?  Out here in my neck of the woods, first the term is given in regards to the Bible, second in regards to the Tri-unity of God, and third, anytime I say I am an inconsistent Calvinist or Arminian, depending on what Bible passage I am studying.

I try not to be incoherent because who is attracted to an incoherent theology?  But I know I am inconsistent, and that is continually sourced in my limitations and weakness.  It is both frustrating and humbling.

Paul Henebury's picture

Ken is certainly right to point out that Combs' characterization of Arminianism (highlighted in his post above) is wrong.  You can't read Arminius and say what Combs says.  I am not Arminian but I have read Arminians and they do not believe what Combs puts into their heads.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I need to read Arminius. I've been meaning to, but I haven't yet! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

DavidO's picture

Ken, I have to say I'm at a genuine loss.  If you care to point out any specific insult or innuendo of mine I'll be happy to discuss, even apologize.  I must say at the outset, though, I don't think playing the "jade's trick" card is beyond the pale in this forum.  I will happily be moderated on this, however.

It seemed to me that, prior to my first post, you were complaining that the Calvinists thought their view the only valid one (which of course is what we all believe about our theological view).  I hope I correct that here by conceding that I misread you.  My bad.

On the flip side, you weren't really clear to some of us as to how Combs misrepresented actual Arminians.  For several posts in this thread at least, you simply made the assertion without telling us what they actually believed over against what Combs said they believed.  For future reference, you could probably save alot of time by clarifying such things up front. 

Be well.

 

Paul Henebury's picture

TylerR wrote:

I need to read Arminius. I've been meaning to, but I haven't yet! 

He's not easy reading.  Very logical and incisive (even if one disagrees).  Really like his responses to Gomarus and Perkins.  If you haven't read Olson's Arminian Theology you really should.  Too Thomas Oden's Systematic Theology is really good, though I still go for Erickson or Culver.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

AndrewSuttles's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

 I am not Arminian but I have read Arminians and they do not believe what Combs puts into their heads.  

You simply cannot deny that Arminians believe that election is based on foreseen faith.

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