In recording my views on the Calvin vs. Arminius debate ( as it is commonly known), some things are occurring to me. One is that people get frightened of participating, they feel most comfortable in discussing amongst themselves the view to which they most subscribe.
Also , some of dynamics involved in “paradigm shift” begin to appear. When one has felt comfortable within a specific view, and the logic of it, they are increasingly uncomfortable as the unanswered questions within it are raised. They have invested in believing a particular way, and are unsure where the questions lead… so it is easier to just turn off the questions. There are various ways of doing that, and sometimes that is very valid. Sometimes it is good to say you won’t throw something aside just because it has unanswered parts, and submit that it may never be in your lifetime experience to know the answers.
Right now, while I am strengthened in my conviction that the tone of the entire New Testment, and some of the Old is an urgent and evangelistic message, of striving to be found worthy of what is given -worthy by ‘faithfulness to’ not working to achieve. (It is the same in both, but the Old Testament is relegated to the Jewish community in its message of “turn, repent, believe”- except in the notable account of Ninevah, perhaps of Nebuchadnezzar. It expands to the entire globe in the New, but remains urgent, and pivotal.) –
BUT. I do see the points of sovereignty. I am not sure exactly how they fit. e.g. Cyrus. I see that more of the examples given are in the Old Testment, but then there is Judas.
Maybe Judas is the best example to look at. He was foreknown to be the betrayer, yet he was called and given everything that the other disciples were given. So much so that none could discern him as the betrayer. They all doubted within themselves within whether it might be themselves.
He was necessary in the plan of God, but in a negative way.
Could it have been that it could have been another? Or not? Speculative thought there, since we are only given the specifics of the facts as they are played out.
Yet the character of each one was formed before being chosen: they were adults living their lives when called to become disciples.
So the Calvinism has its points. We just don’t know how far to take them. Maybe the mistake is taking them by our own logic to an end they do not have in themselves. That is a possibility.
I still think the point where we are most tripped up is that of the importance God invests in free moral agency of man. I do not believe that any of us explore that enough to know it, except in the most vague way.
For the intellectual process people like me are reliant upon the capabilities of people who Jeremy Pierce described as “philosophers of that caliber”. I believe the answers are there to know within the scriptures, but the systematic compilation of the thought requires someone fitted for that.
Not all are teachers.
But all can be taught by the Holy Spirit the things they need to live a godly life, and to understand their faith. This is where I am. I can’t say the Calvinists have it wrong. They do have an imbalance somewhere, as a system of thought. But what they have right is that you can in no wise discount God in any part of the process, and that is a very important thing to get right – in my experience.
I am of the opinion to leave this topic for awhile. I have exhausted my ability to further give anything to the discussion. But I have tabled this with God: I would like to better harmonize the thought. I would like to be able to verbalize it., but I must wait for God.
And we all end up there eventually, it is a good thing to do volitionally, and it is not without eventual reward.
====added as an edit=====
I have to ask a reverse question, in regards to the “depravity issue”.
I was reading some on Augustine and Pelagius, and the question comes up in my mind concerning original sin: is a man condemned before he does any works? Is this an idea scripturally supported or is it merely a traditional idea based on the logical extrapolations of a specific dotcrinal stance?
Can the case be made that God condemns one apart from acts committed? Does God condemn ahead of time, iow. This seems at the base of what is taught in terms of original sin, rather than the idea that the nature is given to sin. It would be the basis for infant baptism.
But the ideas of Pelagious as entered in this article by Sproul are not the ideas in those churches which have different convictions on original sin and on baptism. “If man has the moral responsibility to obey the law of God, he must also have the moral ability to do it.”
That is not the view of Churches which are not Augustinian or Calvinist. The idea of a fallen nature is not ignored, but the idea of when responsibility is in force, would be.
Also,”Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism” are closer to the Deist concepts of God and man. It is not an idea in Christian thought that there is “indestructable good” in man so much as that there is vestige of the image of God, and the same longings in man that were there before the fall. What did God call to in the garden of Eden? If Adam could not respond, why would God call?
You see, I feel that the Calvinist side takes things too far, it presumes. I might even say it presents a false dilemma. Either it is all God or it not God at all.
This never seems to be the scriptural message.
Can Calvinism Be Taught? Â§
Is this true? Can the doctrines of grace not be taught? Must they only be revealed? I believe this to be the case.
why is it, the farther into the investigation I go on Calvinist thought on such things as “sola gratia” and the place of the Soveriegnty of God the more I see dicey mysticism. I say dicey because I am a firm believer in revelations place, in rhema, in zoe Words, in the miraculous power of God to show Himself in Christ to us and to make us understand Him and His Word. I am a firm believer in the Holy Spirit’s work today.
But that never negates the idea that we may find the support and confirmation in the written Word and that it may be taught and understood.
To think that you are confined to something mystical alone- that is dicey. That seems at odds with sola scriptura.
-edited to change date and bring forward-
4 thoughts on “Implications”
I don’t think the mystical view is representative of Calvinism. Most Calvinists derive their views from the written scriptures and think we should teach them for the very reason that people don’t get the right views unless they know the word.
I think Peter makes it clear in Acts 2 and Acts 4 that Judas’ sin was central to God’s plan and preordained by God in that way exactly.
I think you’re just getting Calvinism wrong if you think it says it’s all God. Calvinists tend to be compatibilists who insist that it’s both God and us. Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and many contemporary Calvinists (e.g. D.A. Carson, who has the most comprehensive contemporary work on the subject) insist on this. They might say it’s more fundamentally God than it is us, but it’s fully us making choices.
I would not say that classical Calvinists say “all God”, they ran into the brick wall and decided to stay there. They find convoluted ways to try to make man’s part and their view of God’s Sovereignty mesh.
I believe we are seeing a change in how Christians of today interpret Calvinism. They feel comfortable with stopping short and retreating into mysticism. I have seen a pattern of it, loosely, in reading the blog-form Calvinist-Reformed views.
You mention Johnathan Edwards. Although he was in the Reformed Calvinist stream, he was also a revivalist. The classic Calvinist lived as compatibilist, but I don’t know if you could say ‘comfortably’.
Today the thinking is moving towards cohesive understanding of the scriptures because modern people are highly uncomfortable with accepting apparent contradictions. We can blame this on criticism of both the liberal and the secularist, but I think it moves us deeper into the meaning of our faith. I do not believe there is any real contradiction within God, or in His expressions. I do think there are contradictions within us and our understandings.
If you will move into an evangelistic gospel you will be moved out of a static unresolved stance.
Do Calvinists, even classical ones not say that God is all in the matter? I think they basically do, but the classical ones recognized that you couldn’t have this static situaion for man in the face of God’s pleading with man and with the command to preach to all men, etc. So they willingly appended this on, but I don’t think they made it compatible that man has his part.
That is the challenge for Calvinist thinkers today.
This is why I do not label myself either truly Calvinist or Reformed even though my thinking is strongly colored with their doctrine and I do accept that we are depraved in our sinful state.
I cannot say I have fully meshed the two, either. I have only rested in the decision that God must have a very strong commitment to man’s free moral agency, so that it is He that keeps himself out if man so wills. Additionally I suspect that man being driven from the garden was for the purpose of salvaging the residual desire for God in man. Maybe. I have not explored those ideas very far.
I find both the examples of Cyrus and Judas to be areas where, superficially at least, there is indication that God chose them and they had no choice in the matter. However, I find that view to be at such variance with how God has otherwise revealed Himself through the scriptures that I am unwilling to accept it without much stronger evidence in His principles.
That we have dispositions from birth? Yes, and those are God-given. what I find difficult is the idea that God sets in concrete the man’s destiny to hell. that makes no sense within the revelation of scripture. It could no longer be said that God wills for men everywhere to repent, then. He cannot will against His own will.
-now there is a favorite direction for atheists to jump off from;)
(…if God is really omnipotent……)
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