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#28900 Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:17 PM
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Tom Offline OP
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If you are like me (and I am sure you are) many Arminians have come to you using what I like to refer to as "if" passages, to combat Calvinist claims (usually done against predestination).
I am interested in seeing how others responded to these "if" passages using examples.

Also, I would be interested in hearing the kind of responce you recieved back.

I ask this not because I don't have an answer to these "if" passages that Arminians like to use. But rather, I thought it wouldn't hurt to see if there are better approaches to take for this matter than I am doing.

I hope that makes sense.

Tom

Tom #28901 Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:00 AM
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Tom said:
I ask this not because I don't have an answer to these "if" passages that Arminians like to use. But rather, I thought it wouldn't hurt to see if there are better approaches to take for this matter than I am doing.
It would be more productive, Tom, IF you gave a few examples of these controversial "if" passages which Arminians have used. And, even more, how about giving us a few examples of the responses you have personally used. grin

In His grace,


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Pilgrim #28902 Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:19 PM
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Well, here's what I would give.

We start be realizing that the "if" passages are descriptive, not imperative. If I tell someone "if you have no hair, you are bald," there's no sense of a command to grow hair or anything like that- I'm simply saying that if they display certain characteristics then this thing is true of them.

Take Col. 1 for example:

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation...

An Arminian translates that "if" as saying, "you won't get presented holy and blameless and above reproach before Him if you don't continue in the faith! So you'd better work hard to keep continuing or else you'll lose your salvation!"

A Biblical interpretation views the "if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel" as an adjective of sorts, describing and identifying those who will be presented holy and blameless before Him. i.e. "here's how you can tell if you are one of the poeple who will be presented before Him..."

That being said, one could press the point and say, that's fine about that being descriptive, but what happens if someone looses that description, i.e. stops continuing in the faith? If that "if" phrase is descriptive, is there not also a sense in which it is conditional? (For example, what if the man in the previous example started to grow hair? The description of him as being bald is conditional and contingent upon him remaining hairless.)

To which we reply: yes, in that sense continuing in the faith is a condition of salvation- a condition of the new covanent- but a condition God has fulfilled for us already. Salvation is monergistic; it is a work of God from start to finish. What he starts, he will never let go. Therefore, if remaining in Him is a condition of salvation, we can rest assured that He has fulfilled it for us already. That is the sense in which the "if" phrases are descriptive.

So we would encourage believers to strive to continue in the faith, but to realize that this continueance is itself guaranteed by their salvation, and that a true believer cannot help but continue in the faith.

"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Phil 2:12-13, ESV)


(Latin phrase goes here.)

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