September 30, 2015

Arminianism & Its Hazards

by Eric Davis

calvins flowerChances are you’ve discussed it lately. Who chose whom? God? Man? Both? Whose will and choice triggers salvation? Man’s? God’s? Both? It’s a common occurrence to spar over Calvinism (the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace) vs. Arminianism.

This post could not possibly address all the issues. Instead, it will take a brief look at some of Arminianism’s consequences. But first, a quick reminder of common Arminian teaching.

Arminianism typically holds that God elects individuals to salvation based on his foreknowledge of their personal worthiness. It’s claimed that God’s election means that he chose those whom he foresaw would trust in Christ for salvation prior to them doing so. God chose those whom he foreknew would choose him. Humanity, therefore, is fallen, but not incapable of seeking God. Though sinful, man is still able to arouse his will so as to choose God savingly. Some reject election, arguing that it is incompatible with human freedom and responsibility, thus rendering things like evangelism, prayer, and discipleship unnecessary. It follows, then, that many argue that one is able to lose their salvation.

arminian flower

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Arminianism has had its propagators over the years. Jacob Arminius, of course. Later, John Wesley wrote, “I reject the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination…I would sooner be a Turk, a Deist, yea an atheist, than I could believe this” (Cited in Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 102). About 100 years later, Charles Finney held that there are essentially two types of people; the savable and the unsavable. God chose those who inherently possessed the ability by their freedom to choose God and be saved. Some contemporary proponents include F. Leroy Forlines and Roger Olson, to name a few.

Wherever we might find ourselves theologically, there are a number of hazards for consideration which are consequent of Arminian teaching:

  1. Harming the plain sense of a large amount of Scripture.
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At best, much Arminian teaching must violate the natural reading of many passages. For example, the assertion of free will is biblically untenable. Free will indicates that man is free to do as he pleases.

However, our will has two big constraints, rendering it not free. The first is God’s sovereignty (e.g. Prov. 19:21 “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand”). We are only free to do what God has ordained. The second constraint is human depravity. We are unwilling to seek/choose God so as to be saved (Rom. 3:11 “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God”). We are unable to seek/choose God so as to be saved (Eph. 2:1 “You were dead in your trespasses and sins”). Whatever the word “dead” asserts, it is not man’s ability. The dead are not able to do anything but stay dead. Thus, Arminianism’s assertion that man is able, and even willing, to choose God is untenable.

God is the only Being whose will is free: “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases” (Ps. 115:3). No such statements are made of man. And incredibly, God uses his will, in love, to unlock ours from sin. When it comes to salvation, the only one willing and able to do the choosing and seeking is God. For that reason, Scripture speaks of salvation is an act of grace (Eph. 2:8-9).

Regarding God’s sovereign choice of his people, Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” From this text, and many like it, we simply cannot responsibly conclude that, “God chose us because he saw that we would choose him.” The word, “chose,” is an aorist middle, indicating an active, willful choice on the part of the subject (God), independent and unconditional of the object of choice (believers). Finally, contrary to much Arminian reasoning, God did not chose because he saw that we would choose, but “according to the purpose of his will.” And the passage continues, emphasizing that God’s work in salvation had nothing to do with man’s foreknown actions, but to the praise of God’s glory.

But what about the word “foreknew” in Romans 8:29? When speaking of God, the word can refer to either the simple knowing of something before or foreordaining. In the biblical context of salvation, to “know” or “foreknow” can refer to an intimate love, thus speaking of God’s independent choice to love his chosen. Further, the focus of the text is not on man’s actions; that God foreknew man would choose him, but on God’s actions; that God foreknew because he sovereignly decided to bestow grace on those he chose to love (hence the word, “predestined,” in v. 30).

sure thing

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Romans 9 is another passage which contains several massive problems for Arminianism. Arminian friends often ask, “Why do you guys always go to Romans 9 to argue your case?” For the same reason that the Bears always handed off to William “Refrigerator” Perry, when it was 4th and goal at the one yard line.

Some propose that the choosing spoken of in Romans 9 is concerned with nations and groups, not individuals. But that will not do, since Paul mentions individuals (e.g. Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh), as objects of his sovereign choice who serve as illustrations of God’s sovereign dealings with humanity. Then, that truth is crystallized, shown to be the manner of God’s sovereign prerogative, as Creator, with all humanity, his creation, in vv. 20-24. If God did not ordain some for salvation and others, not, Romans 9 is not a good way to say that.

Furthermore, v. 19 and following is Paul’s response to Arminian-like rejection. “How can God find fault? If election is true, who can resist his will?” And, if Paul were not arguing for the case of God’s sovereign election of individuals in salvation, then his anticipation of the rejection as stated in v. 19, followed by his response in vv. 20-26 (e.g. “…Has the potter no right over the lay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable useand another for dishonorable use?…”) makes no sense. If Paul is not saying that God chooses individuals for salvation according to his own will, then why ask, “Then who resists his will?”

Many other passages could be brought into the discussion, such as John 1:12-13, John 3, John 6:39, 44, and 65, to name a few. I would point us to thorough treatments on the issue, such as R.C. Sproul’s, Chosen by God, or Bruce Demarest’s, The Cross and Salvation, to name a few contemporary writers.

  1. Tending towards salvation by works. 

Arminian soteriology asserts that the cause of salvation is both God’s grace and man’s ability. The Holy Spirit saves by cooperating with man’s will. Man and God partner to accomplish salvation. Consequently, salvation is the product, in part, of man’s will or ability. Another way to say that is man’s salvation is partly due to his doing, or, his work.

noBut Romans 9:16 is telling. Speaking of the divine election of individuals, the Apostle Paul says, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” The issue could not be more clear. And to that we could add the overwhelming testimony of Scripture declaring that salvation is purely the work of God’s grace (e.g. Eph. 2:8-9). The determining factor pertaining to who will be saved is not man’s will, decision, or ability, but God’s sovereign decision to extend saving mercy.

And as a sidenote, if we are going to reject God’s sovereign grace for Arminianism, then we should stop praying for anyone’s salvation. We should instead pray to the particular man for that man’s salvation: his will is the Sovereign when it comes to his salvation.

  1. Exalting man’s ability to reason over the plain sense of God’s word.

Though not all, much of Arminianism’s rebuttals to the doctrines of grace take the form of, “Then how can God…?” or, “How can man…?” For example:

“How can God be fair and loving if he’s already fixed who will be saved? He cannot be, because he is not really giving everyone the opportunity to be saved.” Paul settled this in Romans 9:20-26. The answer ultimately lies in God and his sovereign prerogative by virtue of being God. Further, if we struggle to understand his love there, let us take an unrushed walk around the cross as a fresh reminder. Perhaps the more clear sheds light on the less.

Bareback rider bucked off, Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, Montana, Richard Wilson, MODEL RELEASED on Rider only.

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“How can man have a free will if he is called to repent but God chooses?” Scripture never says that man’s will is free, but that he is dead in sin. And, the call for man to be saved should not be taken ipso facto that his will is free. Instead, it should be taken plainly: man is responsible to repent. We do well to leash our reasonings from going beyond what is written.

“How can God be loving if he only chose some? Why didn’t he choose more?” On the contrary, even if we are never saved, it would only be right for us to marvel that God would choose to save even one in light of man’s wickedness. Furthermore, Scripture clearly says that God is loving, thus we joyfully submit to the truth, whether or not we can ascertain how God’s dealings are loving in our radically finite minds.

“How can the call for all to be saved be genuine? It is a farce—a false offer—since God has already determined some, not all, to be saved.” God did not come to redeem all humanity (universalism is not true), but his people. And, salvation is a command (Acts 17:30). Just because man is unable and unwilling to obey a command of God’s does not invalidate the command.

“How can we really evangelize? Isn’t it pointless?” Wesley claimed that evangelism would be futile if election was true. But that some are chosen is far more motivation to evangelize than if the choice was up to man. If salvation were contingent on man’s will, then evangelism would be futile since man is unwilling and unable to choose and seek God in his natural state.

The problem with these objections is clear and singular. What is the governing authority common in the rebuttals? Man’s ability to figure out the “How can?” If he cannot, then the plain sense of Scripture is rejected. It boils down to man’s ability to reason.

For the most part Arminianism is man’s fallen philosophical response to God’s clear, biblical self-disclosure. Thus, it appears almost as a theology of response. Many of the objections center more on our fallen philosophical conundrums, than the plain sense of Scripture.

  1. Forbidding God from doing as he wishes. 

Perhaps the most God-ness thing about God is his sovereignty. His sovereignty rules over all (Ps. 103:19). And long, long before puny, sinful man was around to comment on the extent and limitations of that sovereignty, he did as he does now: whatever he pleases. His plan of salvation is simply one area in which he exercises his sovereignty, both in the designing and doing of the plan.

fence

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Sadly, however, we come along (as a consequence of God’s sovereignty), and strap him with boundaries. And, we do so through the grid of our not-Godness; our non-sovereignty. We do things like question and complain and resist the most God thing about God. We are all, by nature, a bit Arminian (cause for more alarm).

But Arminianism permits God to do as he wishes, except when it comes to his most prized doings in history: salvation. He is permitted sovereignty over rocks, rain, rhinoceroses, and raises, but not the plan around which all these things revolve: redemption. God sits in the heavens and does whatever he pleases, except when it comes to exercising his grace. Something is amiss.

Charles Spurgeon said it well: “Some men cannot endure to hear the doctrine of election. I suppose they like to choose their own wives, but they are not willing that Christ should choose his own bride, the church.”

  1. Disregarding the testimony of church history.
(c) Palace of Westminster; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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A brief look at church history demonstrates the scores of faithful men who have embraced the doctrines of grace over Arminianism. A small sampling of those includes Tertullian (2nd-3rd century), Athanasius (4th), Augustine (4th-5th), John Knox (15-16th), Luther (16th), Calvin (16th), John Bunyan (17th), the some 150 Westminster Divines (17th), John Gill (18th), Charles Spurgeon (19th), and Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20th). It could not be said that these men were theological novices. And it’s not that they are above theological examination. But it is to say that we do well to carefully examine a teaching, first, because it is backed by sound exegesis and hermeneutics, and second, because it was held by many competent theologians.

I tremble when I hear so many in our day spurn the doctrines of grace as if they are a strange teaching fabricated by theological lightweights.

  1. Man shares glory and credit with God for salvation.

The reason there are so many passages ascribing glory to God in the context of salvation is because he did, and does all, of the work, since man cannot and would not.

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

good job man

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Now, if salvation depends even the slightest bit upon man (whether his choice or ability to seek God), then man deserves part of the glory and credit for it. If man is able to choose, he contributes something to his salvation, and should be praised for that contribution. We must laud him for his choosing abilities and accomplishment. Ephesians 2:8-9 should, then, be edited to read: “For by grace and your choice you have been saved, through faith and your ability to choose. And this is partly your doing; it is both a gift of God and your ability to choose, so that you and God may boast it up together.”

Bottom line: when it comes to our God’s glorious plan of salvation, we do well to step away from his throne by letting the clear testimony of Scripture speak, permitting him to choose, ordain, predestine, and foreknew whom he wishes from a hopelessly rebellious human race.

Charles Spurgeon: “I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that doctrine.”

“Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

*Update: Above, it was mentioned that free will indicates that man is free to do as he pleases. A correction is needed. Many of the Arminian persuasion do not equate free will to unrestricted free will. Many hold to a libertarian free will. Man is naturally depraved, being unable and unwilling to please God, some hold. Many assert that prevenient grace is universally given by God, which then enables depraved man to cooperate with God by savingly trusting in Christ. 

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Tim Bates

    Excellent post and, at least in my estimation, a fair representation of Arminians.

    I most thoroughly agree that Romans 9:19-26 make little sense if Paul is not talking about salvation. Not only because of the context of that chapter but also because of the context of the whole book up to that point and immediately after.

    Why would anyone ask “why does He still find fault?” if Paul weren’t talking about divine election??? I’m just restating your case so forgive me.

    I pray this post will be received well and help many see the peace that surpasses all understanding in knowing that God is the holy wholly-sovereign Lord.

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Tim.

  • Randy

    If you are brutally honest with yourself as a Christian then we MUST admit we had nothing to do with our salvation, aside from scripture, just as the excellent quote from Spurgeon says.

    I never even knew what Arminianism was even as a member (20 plus years) of a church that believed that way and yet when I started learning of Gods Sovereignty in salvation and the doctrines of grace (as a believer) they just make sense to a humble believer seeking (after God sought me of course) God and His Truth. They just make me want to shout out praise to a Holy and forgiving God for such a beautiful plan of salvation from before the foundation of the world.

    (For you who would like to read an excellent short explanation of Gods overall plan of salvation from eternity past and haven’t done so already, I would suggest the forward from John MacArthur in Steve Lawson’s book Foundations of Grace. What a Glorious picture of our salvation for it is WAY beyond our pathetic puny brains and our simple felt needs!)

    Thank you Eric for this article and its truths.

    And I especially liked one of your last articles about choosing a church. It helped me greatly.

    Hope you are feeling well.

    • Eric Davis

      Amen and amen, Randy. God’s sovereign grace in our lives gives traction for worship. And I am feeling a tad better each day. Thank you.

  • Bottom line: we want to take credit for God’s work.

    • Eric Davis

      Hi Debbie – exactly. Thank you for the insight.

  • tovlogos

    “We are only free to do what God has ordained.” Absolutely. I find a similar misunderstanding in Matthew 18:18: “…whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    It is not the initiative of the Apostles, such that they initiate God’s policy. Their adherence in obedience to God’s will put them in the position to be instrumental in deliberating God’s will.

    A literal translation here is indispensable: (In Matthew 16:19)

    “And I shall give you the keys to the kingdom of heavens. And whatever you shall bind on the earth shall be as having been bound in the heavens; and whatever you shall loose on the earth shall be as having been loosed in the heavens.” Notwithstanding, this is the first time “ekkelesia” ~ church, is mentioned in the New Testament. The grammar renders the verbs, bind and loosed in the passive tense, meaning that the Apostles received the action, and didn’t initiate it.

    There is a temporal church, and one “of the heavens”. And so on.

    “We are only free to do what God has ordained. The second constraint is human depravity. We are unwilling to seek/choose God so as to be saved” Yes, you nailed that one, Eric. Thanks, I can never get enough of this subject.

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for your comments, Mark. I, too, cannot get enough.

      • Randy

        I will second, or maybe its a third actually, of not being able to get enough of this subject. Not in a hyper way, but in a genuine love for the truth. Rom. 8:16
        Would love to see a series of articles on the Doctrines of Grace, the five points or the solas, or all the above for that matter.

  • Dale Torres

    Does Calvinism have any hazards?
    Does Calvinism harm the plain sense of any scriptures?

    • Nikon1isAwesome!

      Yes, which is one reason Baptist have generally been neither Calvinist nor Arminians – holding to a strong view of providence, according to which, down
      to the smallest detail things are as they are because God knowingly decided to
      create this world and yet also maintaining a libertarian conception of
      free will.

      • Eric Davis

        Nikon – could you point out from Scripture where you the errors?

        • Nikon1isAwesome!

          The Biblical issues are well documented; whether you buy into the issues being real issues are a matter of ermeneutics. I’ll assume you mean errors in Calvinism by your question. More and more Calvinist are admitting that Calvinism requires a theologically driven hermeneutic in order to handle problematic verses (Moises Silva for instance).

          As far as issues with Calvinism in general, it seems clear that they miss the mark on the atonement. Here is a link to a short explanation of why one Calvinist abandons the limited view in a desire to be Biblical rather than Logical….

          http://betweenthetimes.com/index.php/2012/04/25/for-the-record-john-hammett-being-biblical-more-than-logical-or-why-i-am-a-four-point-calvinist/

    • Eric Davis

      Hi Dale – when it comes to the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace, no, there are no hazards there since they are simply truths observed from sound exegesis and hermeneutics. Thanks for the question.

      • Dale Torres

        Hi Eric, Thank you for the reply. Can you comment as to the other question posed? The one pertaining to whether Calvinism poses harm to the plain sense of any scriptures? Thanks again.

        • Matt Mumma

          Maybe I am not understanding you, but it seems like he already answered it by saying that these are truth that come from “sound exegesis and hermeneutics.” The doctrines of God’s sovereign grace pose no harm to the plain sense of Scripture when properly understood.

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            Yes, shockingly, the Calvinist too often has to resort to “…when properly understood” in order to make the plain sense mean something other than the plain reading of the text. 1 John 2:1-2 as a really clear example.

          • Michael

            Take some time to word study “whole” “world” in the NT and come back to us, Nikon.

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            Already done, and this is all well documented in many other places so no need to repeat it all here. The issue is hermeneutics, and the problem with Calvinism is that theology drives hermeneutics. I have read the common Calvinist explanations of why 1 John 2:1-2 must mean something other than what is so plainly says, and I reject that hermeneutical approach as you would reject my consistently literal application of the historical-grammatical method.

            Discussion conclusions does little good, as the issues are with presuppositions.

          • Matt Mumma

            So what do passages like Eph 1:4-5, 2:4-5; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9; Rom 9:16, and many other passages that speak about God choosing, mean in your understanding? These seem pretty clear as you say.

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            Yes, the words of the Bible mean exactly what they say – allowing for local context and literary form.

            All of scripture is congruent with the idea that God’s
            grace is both monergistic and resistible, that God has an elective purpose and all that ultimately transpires conforms to that purpose, and that man is totally responsible for his actions and faced with the necessity of choosing either to reject or to accept the atonement of Christ.

          • Matt

            So what makes you different from those who do not believe?

          • Eric Davis

            Nikon – in lieu of your 1 John 2:2 comment, and if I understand your position correctly, are you saying that the sins of all humanity are propitiated?

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            I think that Albert Barnes get’s it right here….

            “‘But also for the sins of the whole world’– The phrase “the sins of” is not in the original, but is not improperly supplied, for the connexion demands it. This is one of the expressions occurring in the New Testament which demonstrate that the atonement was made for all men, and which cannot be reconciled with any other opinion, if he had died only for a part of the race, this language could not have been used. The phrase, “the whole world,” is one which naturally embraces all men; is such as would be used if it be supposed that the apostle meant to teach that Christ died for all men; and is such as cannot be explained on any other supposition. If he died only for the elect, it is not true that he is the “propitiation for the sins of the whole world” in any proper sense, nor would it be possible then to assign a sense in which it could be true. This passage, interpreted in its plain and obvious meaning, teaches the following things:

            (1.) That the atonement in its own nature is adapted to all men, or that it is as much fitted to one individual, or One class, as another;

            (2,) that it is sufficient in merit for all; that is, that if any more
            should be saved than actually will be, there would be no need of any additional suffering in order to save them;

            (3,) that it has no special adaptedness to one person or class more than another; that is, that in its own nature it did not render the salvation of one more easy than that of another. It so magnified the law, so honoured God, so fully expressed the Divine sense of the evil of sin in respect to all men, that the offer of salvation might be made as freely to one as to another, and that any and all might take shelter under it and be safe. Whether, however, God might not, for wise reasons, resolve that its benefits should be applied to a part only, is another question, and one which does not affect the inquiry about the intrinsic nature of the atonement.”

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            By saying “the whole world” I believe John was referring to the inclusion of the gentiles unto salvation, which prior to Christ was reserved for Israel.

            “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 3:6)

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            I am familiar with that understanding, and appreciate that sincere folks disagree. Consider the following from a Calvinist and follow the link to a VERY short article:

            “Those who support limited atonement argue that the “whole world” does not mean every individual but all types of people, or all races, classes, or times of people. Those are possible arguments, and if this was the only verse, it might be exegetically fair to infer such a reading. But there are other verses, and there is nothing in the context to indicate a limitation of the scope of “world.”” – Dr. Hammett, SEBTS.

            http://betweenthetimes.com/index.php/2012/04/25/for-the-record-john-hammett-being-biblical-more-than-logical-or-why-i-am-a-four-point-calvinist/

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Nikon, that was an interesting article, but I’m not sure the verses he uses to make his argument are real convincing.

            For example, he claims that “2 Pet. 2:1 affirms that some of those “bought” by Christ have become false teachers, deny Christ and bring destruction upon themselves.” He adds, “This sounds very much as if they are lost individuals, and yet they had been bought by Christ. It again sounds as if those for whom Christ died extend beyond those who are saved.”

            That seems like a bit of a stretch to me given how Peter later described these men in verse 12 as “brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.” Not exactly a description of being saved.

            As far as 1 Timothy 4:10 that says, “savior of all men, especially those who believe” I have understood that to include those who were before Christ whom Peter referenced in 1 Peter 3:19.

            Again, no theologian here, but the few verses he uses to prove his point don’t outweigh the many that speak of limited atonement.

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            Jane,
            Isn’t it a joy to study His word? I does seem that on 2 Peter 2:1, I think you missed his point. He is saying that they sound like “lost” individuals that had been “bought by Christ”, so your understanding is correct that it isn’t a “description of being saved”, but rather an indication of un-saved (i.e. lost) individuals being “bought by Christ”. Thus, a general atonement that is certainly sufficient, but not effecient since they do not “believe”

            It is a short blog post, but many Calvinist have issues with the “L” as it is certainly the weakest of the five points.

            I find Dr. Hammett an interesting source, as he is a long-term Calvinist who has struggled with the Biblical basis for limited atonement, and has finally determined that despite the beauty and logic of the system, the Bible simply says otherwise in psuch a way that it cannot be ignored.

            This is the weakness of a Calvinistic hermeneutic, as one’s theology must inform exegesis to harmonize troublesome parts of the Bible. This does result in speculative theology and fanciful interpretations. Which is what I consider any but the plain sense reading of the text to be. There must be a local contextual reason to understand any part of the text outside of it’s plain sense meaning. The fact than an accepted theological concept is incongruent with the text is ot sufficient reason to assume the text means anything more than what it says. Black ink on white paper.

            Thanks for interacting.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Nikon, yes it is a joy to study God’s word. However, I am learning how many different approaches there are to understanding it. For example, I would simply assume that the words “bought” and “saved” were one in the same. I was unaware that entirely different schools of thought can extend from there.

            I guess at the end of the day the beauty of the gospel remains the same, and the mystery of just how God accomplishes all He wills is something I will leave to the seminarians. Thanks for being gentle though.

  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    This was wonderful…thank you. Every day my prayer begins with, “Thank you for choosing me, Lord.” So humbling.

  • Bobby

    Another fine post Eric, thanks.

    I have no argument with the Calvinist position, it’s what I believe as well.
    I do have a question though.

    We play no part in our salvation, not being able to seek Him unless He ordains that we will, not even being able to believe unless God allows us to. Not being able to repent unless God repents us.

    It is heart wrenching to me that we be allowed to believe and seek and yet not be saved.
    The admonition that even the demons believe, chills my blood. How can we ever have certainty?

    • 1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
      The answer to your question deserves more space, but simply based on this statement, I am going to say that understanding 1 John is a good place to start.

      Seriously, read it every day of October, Bobby, and then let us know if you feel like you have better understanding Nov 1. It’ll only take about 10 minutes a day.

      • Bobby

        Thank you Michael. I’m going to do that.

    • Eric Davis

      Bobby, thanks for the comment and question. I would refer you to Michael’s helpful comment on reading 1 John. Also, we did a post on assurance a few months ago: http://thecripplegate.com/when-assurance-is-lacking/

  • Scott Christensen

    Eric, I appreciate your post, you represent the differences between Calvinism and
    Arminianism fairly well, but I have a few quibbles in your presentation. I should state at the outset that I have written a book on this topic to be published by P&R Publishing in February of 2016 entitled, “What About Free Will? Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty.” A number of scholars reviewed my manuscript prior to publication and helped me immensely in avoiding some misrepresentations of Arminianism. Among those was Matthew Barrett, whose book “Salvation by Grace” is excellent. Another was James N. Anderson (prof. at RTS Charlotte, blogs at Analogical Thoughts). I consider Anderson to be contemporary Calvinism’s best defender against Arminian views of free will, known as libertarianism. He practically had me in tears when he critiqued my critiques of Arminian free will. I thought about throwing in the towel, but he encouraged me to put my nose to the grind-stone and
    represent Arminian teaching accurately. I am reminded of a recent FB post by James White excoriating conservative Evangelicals for misrepresenting RCC
    teaching as one who has debated the very best RCC apologists.

    Anyway, here are a few of my quibbles concerning your otherwise excellent post.
    First, we must distinguish what the average Christian believes in distinction from careful Arminian theologians. For example, you state: “Arminianism typically holds that God elects individuals to salvation based on his foreknowledge of their personal worthiness.” I don’t know any Arminian writer who would make this statement (i.e. “personal worthiness”). Classic Arminianism agrees with Calvinism on the doctrine of depravity. However, their view of previenent grace mitigates the force of the doctrine. Your next sentence is more accurate in terms of the Arminian view.

    Secondly, you cite Pelagius as teaching a sort of nascent version of Arminianism. This is not true. Again, every Arminian theologian I have read would reject
    Pelagianism. Even most would reject semi-Pelagianiam. This would include the
    Pelagianism of Finney. It is a straw man to equate Arminianism with Pelagianism. We don’t need to make that argument to show that Arminianism is deficient Biblically.

    Thirdly, you make a few sweeping statements about free will without ever defining what Arminians mean by the term. Furthermore, ever since Jonathan Edwards’ seminal work “Freedom of the Will”, many Calvinists have refined their own understanding of free agency. While Arminianism adopts what can best be
    described as libertarian free will, many of the best contemporary Calvinists
    (e.g. John Frame, John Feinberg, D. A. Carson, Bruce Ware, Paul Helm, James
    Anderson, Michael Horton, Wayne Grudem, and Sam Storms to name a few) endorse a view of free will called compatibilism. This is what I defend in my book.

    Some clarity is needed on what free agency entails. For example, you state the
    Arminian position as saying: “Free will indicates that man is free to do as he pleases.” That is technically not true. For example Classic Arminianism says it is impossible to choose Christ without a prior work of grace. Divine grace is ‘necessary,’ but not ‘sufficient.’ A person must cooperate with a prior work of grace. He can either accept or reject it. This corresponds to the libertarian notion of ‘contrary choice.’ One can always choose otherwise and no prior causal factors are sufficient to determine the choice that is made, including God. Again you state the Arminian position as saying: “The Holy Spirit saves by cooperating with man’s will.”
    Actually, this needs to be reversed. Man is saved by cooperating with God’s prior effusions of grace.

    Fourthy, another area of clarification concerns your statement: “God is the only Being whose will is free.” This seems to assume a libertarian view of freedom at first glance (which I believe is falsified by scripture, experience and reason as I know you would agree) which states that one can always choose contrary to the choice he makes. You cite Psa. 115:3 which needs further interpretive clarification. The implication seems to be that even though man is “not free to do as he pleases”, God is. That is not true. God cannot lie. He cannot stop perfectly loving the Son, etc. In fact, God cannot do anything that is contradictory to his nature or a contradiction to logic, period (Frame in his Doctrine of God book covers this issue well).

    This starts to get to the heart of compatibilistic freedom which states that one is ONLY free to act in accordance with his most compelling desires (Thanks Jonathan Edwards!). Those desires are in turn conditioned upon one’s fundamental nature whether good or bad (Matt. 7:17-19; 12:33-35). God’s nature being perfectly holy and righteous is only free to act in accordance with that nature. The same is true of man. That is why regeneration is an important doctrine in this debate. Prior to
    regeneration, man is only free to act according to his spiritually dead nature.
    But once the Holy Spirit regenerates man’s nature, he suddenly is freed to ‘freely’
    choose what he couldn’t choose before. In this sense, unregenerate human beings
    are free in one sense and in bondage in another. They are free to choose
    according to their corrupted sin nature, but they can never choose contrary to this
    nature. Subsequently, when a person is regenerated they are both ‘willing’ and ‘able’ to believe. Prior to regeneration they were unwilling and unable to believe
    (Rom. 8:7).

    I wrote my book because there is so much confusion and a lack of clarity on this issue from both Calvinists and Arminians. When a compatibilist view of God’s sovereignty and human free agency is clearly understood I believe it sweeps away all the objections to Calvinism and shows it to answer difficult issues like the problem of evil and moral culpability among many other practical issues like evangelism and sanctification. In either case, aside from these few quibbles, I think you have written an otherwise excellent treatment of the issues.

    • toddzrx

      Scott,

      I very much appreciate your reply; it is well though out and it is good to see a Calvinist correcting another Calvinist on misrepresenting Arminian views. I also appreciate that you had your book reviewed by several scholars who schooled you on Arminian views. However, I would still ask: Did you actually read any Arminian theology, written by an Arminian? Did you consider sending your text to an Arminian scholar to ensure the text accurately states Arminian views?

      • Scott Christensen

        I read extensively and quote extensively from Arminian scholars for the positions I critique. My main sources were Olson, Forlines, Picirilli, Walls and Dongell, several older volumes edited by Pinnock, the volume edited by Allen and Lemke, among other libertarian defenders such as Open Theists, and scholars like Craig and Moreland. Unfortunately, I did not have an Arminian scholar review the manuscript, although Anderson recommended I do. At that point, I was under a deadline to get my manuscript to the publisher. In either case, I am confident I have represented their views well. That of course remains to be seen once my book comes out and is reviewed by Arminian and libertarian advocates.

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for chiming in, Scott. I will reply to your helpful comments below, also addressing Todd.

  • toddzrx

    I read this post because my brother-in-law sent me the link, asking “Is this a fair representation or a caricature?”. Unfortunately, it is a massive caricature. (Obviously, I’m an Arminian.)

    I’ll limit this reply to one point. In the 3rd paragraph from the top, you make the claim that Arminians hold that: “Humanity, therefore, is fallen, but not incapable of seeking God. Though
    sinful, man is still able to arouse his will so as to choose God
    savingly.” This is not what Arminianism claims. True Reformation Arminianism, and what Jacobus claimed, is the same as what Calvinists claim: total depravity. As evidence, please read this statement right from the SEA website:

    “In their natural state, human beings are hostile toward God and cannot
    submit to his Law nor please him (Rom 8:7-8). Thus, human beings are not
    able to think, will, nor do anything good in and of themselves. We are
    unable do anything that merits favor from God and we cannot do anything
    to save ourselves from the judgment and condemnation of God that we
    deserve for our sin. We cannot even believe the gospel on our own (John
    6:44). If anyone is to be saved, God must take the initiative.”

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/the-facts-of-salvationt-total-depravity/

    Here are some more on Total Depravity:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/who-believes-in-total-depravity/

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/do-arminians-believe-in-total-depravity/

    I cannot think of a clearer definition of total depravity, yet Calvinists consistently try to argue that Arminians don’t espouse it. Please, instead of talking into the echo chamber that is the internet, sit down and actually read some Arminian theology that’s written by an Arminian, not by a Calvinist. Please stop posting straw man arguments against Arminianism: let Arminians speak for themselves.

    • aslannn

      What you say, of course, is accurate. Of course, the Arminian response to the problem is Prevenient Grace. Recognizing your critique, however, raises another other questions. Perhaps you can provide some answers.

      You have said you believe, “human beings are not able to think, will, nor do anything good in and of themselves. We are unable do anything that merits favor from God and we cannot do anything to save ourselves from the judgment and condemnation of God that we deserve for our sin. We cannot even believe the gospel on our own (John 6:44)”.

      That being the case…
      1. Would you say that human beings can come to Christ only because of Prevenient Grace?
      2. If so, is this same grace given to everyone?
      3. If so, what makes men to differ? Why do some come and others not?
      4. How can this grace be made effectual in regard to those who never hear the name of Christ?

      Thanks. I look forward to reading your responses.

      • Eric Davis

        Good questions. If prevenient grace can be resisted by some, then we have a problem.

      • toddzrx

        My point here is not to get drawn into an Arminian vs. Calvinism debate. We will all be here for the rest of our lives discussing it and probably never agree on each other’s interpretation of scripture, so let’s just get it out of the way now: let’s agree to disagree and be glad that we are all believers in the Gospel.

        That said, my point in my original answer was not to get into an Arminian vs. Calvinism debate. It was to critique Eric’s straw man arguments as stated in the original post. I stand with prominent Arminian authors/theologians like Roger Olsen who are exhausted by the severe misrepresentation of Arminianism by Calvinist authors/theologians. As I stated before: let Arminianism speak for itself.

        • aslannn

          Drat. Foiled again. lol I live in hope of the day an Arminian will actually help me reconcile a universal prevenient grace with the sinners inability to boast. Alas, not today it seems.

    • Eric Davis

      Scott, Todd – thank you both for your correction and comments. I appreciate it. Just a few replies. First, I too would take a compatibilist view of God’s sovereignty and human freedom. That was assumed in the post and I thought about qualifying my statement re: God’s free will & Ps 115:3, but did not for space’s sake. I should not have though. I assumed the reader would understand that God will not do anything contrary to his character and nature (lying, committing evil, etc). As mentioned in the brief post, man’s will is restricted by his nature, thus, upon regeneration, he becomes both willing & able (praise God!) to please God.

      Agreed that full-blown Pelagianism is not to be equated with Arminianism. While I do think that some Arminianism resembles semi-Pelagianism (more on that in a minute), I will remove Pelagius’ name from my post so as to more accurately represent the view. I do, though, often run into individuals whose anthropology and soteriology often resembles some form of semi-Pelagianism. I understand there are shades there, thus I am not equating all Arminians with semi-Pelagianism.

      For that reason, I started the article mentioning that I am not covering all shades and streams of Arminianism. My intention, as I attempted to do in the 3rd paragraph, was to feature Arminian arguments that I often run into (through written word and conversation), and interact with those. I am not claiming to represent nor interact with all Arminian streams. For example, in this post, I attempted to interact with SEA article #7 (election conditioned upon faith), which is something I run into (in various forms) quite often and, in my understanding of Scripture, is biblically untenable (see above on Eph. 1:4-5). And, though I did not get into the details of it, I attempted to interact with SEA article #5, which you, Todd, quoted. I understand that many Arminians hold that prevenient grace prepares the depraved for regeneration and repentance. However, I find that view untenable, again, on the grounds of unconditional election. Conditional election (held by Roger Olson and many others) is exegetically shaky at best. You simply can’t get there from the language of places like Eph 1:4-5 and Rom 9.

      Along these lines, some Arminians hold that prevenient grace can be resisted and, thus, must be not resisted by their own decision, or will. Man must cooperate with prevenient grace. There is a problem here, which I attempted to briefly address in the post about man’s ability to resist or decide savingly. If a man can resist prevenient grace, then he possesses inherent ability to stiff-arm God’s act of predestining him. So, in eternity past, God may have predestined him, but, by resisting prevenient grace, the past predestining effectually seems to get undone. That view seems to resemble semi-Pelagianism, and is biblically shaky.

      • toddzrx

        That’s a really long non-answer. I made one point: that Calvinism and Reformation Arminianism agree on Total Depravity, but you addressed this no where in this post.

        To put it mildly, the Calvinist/Arminian/Open Theist debate is an extraordinarily complex one, which is why I restricted my point. That’s why posts like your original article and the answer to my original post do no good; you have to break down these complex ideas and take them one at a time.

        • Eric Davis

          Todd, there’s a bit of irony here, friend. You gave quite a non-answer to the questions above relating to prevenient grace. Further, you jumped in the ring and began the discussion w/ some strong claims about this post, hence the need to interact on the complex ideas. Your reply, as well as claims of a non-answer and straw men necessitate some interaction relating mostly to prevenient grace. See my argument regarding prevenient grace and man’s cooperation/non-cooperation. Would be curious as to your response. Thanks Todd

          • toddzrx

            No irony. As I stated in my answer to Aslannn below, I’m not going to get drawn into an Arminianism vs. Calvinist debate; we’ll be here for the rest of time debating it. The problem I have are all of the sweeping statements you make about Arminian claims that are incorrect. I bring up just one issue to make my point: that of Total Depravity. Your assertion of the Arminian view in the 3rd paragraph is incorrect:

            “Humanity, therefore, is fallen, but not incapable of seeking God. Though
            sinful, man is still able to arouse his will so as to choose God
            savingly.”

            Reformed Arminians do not believe this; they agree with the T of the Calvinist TULIP. It is disingenuous to say otherwise. That is the only point I am trying to make. I’m not debating Calvinism vs Arminianism, I’m rejecting your straw man.

    • Eric Davis

      Todd, thank you for chiming in. I would refer you to my response to both you and Scott. But your sweeping statement that the entire post was a caricature is inaccurate. I have, and did, read from Arminians, including Arminius, some of whose ideas are represented in the article. Again, the views, argumentation, and reasoning which I stated, though not representing every Arminian theologian, nevertheless are heard from the Arminian side frequently.

  • Scott Christensen

    Eric, you are gracious. A few more thoughts about prevenient grace. Not all Arminians agree on when it is dispensed and who are the recipients of it. However, as I understand it, prevenient grace is broadly understood to be universal and irresistible. In other words, you get it whether you want it or not (funny how that works for those who believe divine determinism and irresistible grace entails coercion). Furthermore, the purpose of prevenient grace is to restore man’s (libertarian) free will that was destroyed by the Fall.

    Olson says: “This common (not universal) Arminian doctrine of
    universal prevenient grace means that because of Jesus Christ and the Holy
    Spirit no human being is actually in a state of absolute darkness and
    depravity. Because of original sin, helplessness to do good is the natural
    state of humanity, but because of the work of Christ and the operation of the
    Holy Spirit universally no human being actually exists in that natural state” (Arminian Theology, 154).

    But in order to be saved, one must have further effusions of saving grace. This apparently is only dispensed when the gospel is preached, although if God is so concerned that all be saved, I don’t know why he wouldn’t dispense this universally as well. In either case, while prevenient grace cannot be resisted, saving grace can be. Again, saving grace is necessary, but not sufficient for salvation. Only human cooperation with this grace can guarantee salvation according to Arminianism. God must initiate, but man must close the deal if he is to be saved. Everything hinges on the Arminian definition of free will and its restoration.

    The best critique and antidote to prevenient grace I have discovered is found in Matthew Barrett’s book “Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration.” I wish more people become aware of this fantastic book. Another excellent and devastating critique of libertarian free will is another little known book by Thaddeus Williams called “Love, Freedom and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will?” He is a brilliant thinker.

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you, Scott. Appreciate your help and grace, here.

    • aslannn

      Olson says: “This common (not universal) Arminian doctrine of
      universal prevenient grace means that because of Jesus Christ and the Holy
      Spirit no human being is actually in a state of absolute darkness and
      depravity. Because of original sin, helplessness to do good is the natural
      state of humanity, but because of the work of Christ and the operation of the
      Holy Spirit universally no human being actually exists in that natural state” (Arminian Theology, 154).

      Two, um…curiosities…in this Olson quote:

      In the first statement, Olson says that prevenient grace is not universal. And then, in the very next sentence, he says, “…universally no human being actually exists in that natural state.” Hmmm. It’s not universal, but there is no one who does not receive it. How does that work, exactly?

      Then, of course, there is that last statement itself. “…universally no human being actually exists in the natural state.” How is this not a denial of total depravity? Todd says that Arminians believe in Total Depravity. But if what Olson says is true, then TD is nothing more than an abstract concept devoid of any reality. So when Paul writes in 1 Cor. 2:14 about the inability of the natural man to understand spiritual things, was he writing about people who don’t actually exist? When Jesus spoke in John 6 about those who are unable to come to Him, was he speaking about people who don’t exist?

      Universal…no universal? Total depravity….no total depravity? Inability…no inability?

      Hmmmm. I’m glad Scripture isn’t this confusing and contradictory.

      • Scott Christensen

        The phrase “not universal” in parentheses is to indicate that his view is not universally accepted by Arminians. But it is the standard view as he quotes from multiple standard Arminian theologies. However, I believe you are correct in your statement about Total Depravity. The doctrine of prevenient grace eviscerates the force of depravity, at least as far as it it concerns the human will.

        • aslannn

          Thanks for clarifying that. My bad on that point.

          I believe the remainder stands.

    • Eric Davis

      That is interesting about Olson. I have heard his explanation of prevenient grace, and he indicated that it was resistible. He says that in our natural state, we are like a dead man lying in a hole. Then, God’s prevenient grace is like water slowly poured into the hole. If man will simply relax, not resist, and allow himself, he can float on the water and be lifted by the water of prev. grace to the top of the hole.

      • Scott Christensen

        I haven’t heard that illustration. Sometimes I find Olson confusing. He says one thing that seems to contradict what he says elsewhere. In either case, he still seems to be the go-to-guy in Arminian circles. I think Jerry Walls is a much more consistent thinker among Arminians (probably due to his philosophical training), but he doesn’t seems to get as much traction as Olson.

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  • Jason

    Amazing article!

    I think the biggest factor behind all the rejections to this doctrine I’ve ever encountered is that it opposes what many of us (including even those who recognize the truth of the doctrine) have been taught about the purpose of evangelism.

    Evangelism isn’t a sales pitch of Christianity. It’s not about having the right packaging or format to advertise. We’re not trying to make the gospel more appealing to the world so that someone who doesn’t want it will buy it. We’re not even trying to make the truth pretty enough that we can get our foot in the door when a person may not accept all of the gospel (though we should also not be making in unnecessarily difficult because of ourselves either [Romans 14:13]).

    The goal of evangelism is to deliver the good news of God’s work to those whom God has given faith. These are people who have a confidence in what they hope for and a conviction of things unseen(Hebrews 11:1) who still don’t have any reason for those confidences and convictions.

    Those poor people are wondering through life in the midst of all the hopeless and compromising attitudes that surround them every day with no reason for the hope and convictions they have. We know that those who seek God find him (Proverbs 8:17, Matthew 7:8) and our part isn’t to make people seek Him, but to be there to help the seeker find Him (Romans 10:14).

    Evangelism becomes a lot less confrontational when we realize that it’s not about generating faith in someone who doesn’t have any, but rather to find those who are desperate for beliefs to go with the faith they have.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Great explanation.

      • Archepoimen follower

        Jane,
        You really think that an explanation that makes evangelism about helping others find the faith that they have already is accurate? I wonder why the scripture would say ” faith comes by hearing and hearing the words about Christ” rather than faith is revealed thru words about Christ?

        I ask you instead of Jason since I have often observed your faithfulness to the scriptures on this blog!

        your fellow sojourner,

        Tim

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          Tim, on reading Jason’s post a second time, I guess I took Jason’s words, “to find the faith they already have” as him meaning that God has predestined some to hear the gospel and believe vs. saying they could have any faith in and of themselves prior to hearing. If Jason was saying otherwise, then I misread.

          I see now that Jason said, “The goal of evangelism is to deliver the good news of God’s work to those whom God has given faith.” I guess I would reword that to say, “to those whom God has predestined to believe.” I just assumed that is what he meant.

          I like to think we are all on the same page because we read the same Bible and love the same Savior. I am learning there are many different boxes of thought in this theology warehouse, most of which I can’t explain or even spell.

          But I am learning! And what a privilege it is to listen in on such wisdom and learn from others.

          • Archepoimen follower

            Jane,
            It is a privilege indeed! I appreciate your response! Surely, we know we have the command to make disciples and we know we have the means, God’s Word. We also know that all are fallen and none seek Him. Certainly, that is enough!
            Our God is Good and loved us enough that even while we were still sinners, He saved us!

            In Him whose Grace is sufficient,

            Tim

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Amen!

  • Jbrooks MusicAcadmey

    Hello… I’ve read a lot of stuff by Calvnists and Armianists. Honestly, both sides have some convincing arguments. I’m not looking to argue with anyone… I really just have a question that I was hoping someone could answer. What does the Calvinist view teach about Adam and Eve sinning? Did God make them sin? Allow them to sin? or did they choose to sin themselves? This is where I have a hard time reconciling the sovereignty of God with the free will of man. I believe God is sovereign, but when I read Scripture, it seems to me Adam and Eve exercised their choice (free will) to obey or disobey… so, I’m just wondering what the Calvinists teach about this. Thanks.

  • The Bible repeatedly declares a basic message—sin and salvation by grace alone. In our day, most churches have drifted away from even Arminianism towards Pelagianism, and in far too many cases they have become Pelagian in their outlook. This denial of a basic gospel message causes extensive harm by deluding people about their circumstance. We need more of this type of discussion—keep up the good work.

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Blair. I, too, am thankful for the good, robust discussion we’ve been having.

  • Craig Giddens

    Based on what
    Ephesians 1:4 actually says both the Calvinistic and Arminian views are in
    error. God did not choose any individual to salvation. He chose that those in
    Christ would be holy and blameless. How a person gets in Christ is explained in
    Ephesians 1:13 and no matter how you attempt to explain it away you must believe
    after hearing the word of truth.

    Scripture
    never equates being dead in sins as man having no will.

    God didn’t fix
    who would be saved in eternity past, otherwise the Bible would say hell was
    created for the devil, his angels. and the non-elect.

    Romans 9:16
    says nothing about the divine election of individuals whether you’re reading it
    as a stand-alone verse or reading in the context. Ephesians 2:8-9 says
    salvation is a gift. In other words you don’t work for a gift, but receive it
    by faith. Ephesians 1:13 clearly states you must trust and believe.

    None of the
    individuals in Romans 9 (e.g. Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh) were born
    again, baptized into the body of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
    Nowhere does it day they serve as illustrations of God’s sovereign dealings
    with humanity. What it does say is that the elder shall serve the younger which
    has nothing to do with salvation.

    The most “God-ness” thing
    about God is His holiness (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8)! Compare the number of
    times sovereign or sovereignty is used in the Bible verses the word Holy.

    All you’ve
    done is taken snippets of scripture and tried to run them through your man made
    theological system. One of your subtitles states “Exalting
    man’s ability to reason over the plain sense of God’s word” yet when
    it comes to verses such as John 3:14-16, you will pummel them with your TULIP to remove the plain clear teaching of these
    Bible verses that say salvation is for whosoever will believe.

    • Helk

      Ephesians 1 is written to Christians so the context is that it is written to the elect, who come into Christ by believing and trusting Christ. God did choose some people to salvation- they are called the elect. Elect by name, elect by nature. Unless of course, elect means something else.

      Being dead in sin is contrasted in the same passage to being made alive by God. No dead man ever willed himself to life.

      God chose the elect for his purposes before the foundations of the world- Ephesians 1:4
      To take Romans 9:16 and say it doesn’t speak about individuals, while the verses before and after speak about individuals is unwise. Whether God elects individuals or groups, he is in the end still choosing individuals whether they are in a group or not.

      As for one to presume what the Bible should say about hell and the non-elect in a particular verse reeks of unspeakable hubris.

      Salvation is a gift received by faith which is also a gift according to Ephesians 2:8-9.

      God is indeed holy but that doesn’t negate his sovereignty- it actually defines it. His sovereignty is holy.

      No believer in the doctrines of grace denies that salvation is to those who believe. The contention is how you get to believe. You seem to think that some people can do it of their own accord while others can’t or won’t. You can’t explain why that is so and those that do believe can actually boast as having done a good work to earn salvation.
      The truth is man is dead in sin, unable to do any good (even believe God for salvation), deserving eternal damnation but God who is rich in mercy saves as he wills.
      TULIP may have been invented by man as a system but it is orthodox and is based on scripture. Calvin, Luther, Wycliffe, Anselm, Athanasius, Augustine and Clement all believed in these and other matters. They could all be mistaken but it’s highly unlikely and on these comments in no way correct any supposed eisigesis.

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