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"Is Calvinism the Gospel?" #49124
Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:18 PM
Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:18 PM
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Skarlet Offline OP
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Recently, I read the article: Is "Calvinism" the Gospel?

For the most part, I think that the article does an excellent job of delineating precisely what is and is not meant by that claim. For a first who first hears it, it sounds like it means that you have to be a Calvinist to be saved, but the article, of course, clarifies that this is not the case.

The only thing I really has against the article is it's description of Arminianism does not describe mainstream Arminianism or even classical Arminianism (what Arminius himself actually taught). It MIGHT describe a minority strand of belief that some modern Arminians hold, but that's really the best I can say, because each claim (but one) about what Arminians believe is denies by Classical Arminian doctrine:


Claim: "Under the Arminian system, man is not so depraved that he cannot savingly believe in Christ."

This is true. Arminians believe that God is powerful enough that He has the option of giving enough grace that a man can believe without giving so much that man has no option but to believe. Arminians also believe that without grace, no man would come to God at all.


Claim: Under the Arminian system, God chose certain men only because He foresaw that they would believe.

This is not true. According to Arminus, God chooses believers in advance only because it is His Sovereign will and desire to save only those who, in response to His grace, accept faith and cease their suppression of the truth. God chose certain men because it's His unsearchable and sovereign will to do so.


Claim: Redemption under the Arminian system cannot save anyone unless man contributes his own faith.

This is not true. In the Arminian system, redemption is not applied to anyone who does not accept faith. Redemption can and DOES save everyone is it applied to, but it is only applied to the elect, who are chosen conditionally according to God's good pleasure. [To reiterate: Arminans hold that God CAN save anyone, with or without faith, but He only wants to save those who have faith].


Claim: Under the Arminian system God cannot regenerate a man until he responds in faith to the Gospel.

This is not true. The Arminian system hold that God is all-powerful, that God CAN regenerate any man at any point in time for any reason, with or without faith. It is not a lack of power that keeps God from saving all men. Rather, Arminians hold that God deliberately, according to His sovereign will, chooses only to regenerate those who respond in faith. There is a big difference between saying that God "cannot" and that He "will not."


Claim: And Arminianism views “grace” merely as a universal provision of salvation for all men...

This is not true. Arminians believe in many forms of grace. Common grace, previnient grace, saving grace, sanctifying grace, etc. Previnient grace is "merely" a universal provision (if you are bold enough to judge any of God's grace as a "mere" something), but that is exactly what God designed it to do. It is efficient for it's intended purpose. Similarly, saving grace, which is only applied to those who believe, is efficient for it's intended purpose and saves all to whom it is applies.


Perhaps the author is not familiar with Classical Arminianism?


Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49126
Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:26 PM
Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:26 PM
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Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Recently, I read the article: Is "Calvinism" the Gospel?

The only thing I really has against the article is it's description of Arminianism does not describe mainstream Arminianism or even classical Arminianism (what Arminius himself actually taught). It MIGHT describe a minority strand of belief that some modern Arminians hold, but that's really the best I can say, because each claim (but one) about what Arminians believe is denies by Classical Arminian doctrine:

I agree that the term "Arminian" as used in the article is a misnomer. But, I do understand that most who are not 'schooled' theologically aren't aware of the distinctions between Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. The popular use of the term "Arminian" to describe the majority of Evangelicals really represents "semi-Pelagian" beliefs. A very informative article that most would do well to read is The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, by R.C. Sproul, Sr.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: "Under the Arminian system, man is not so depraved that he cannot savingly believe in Christ."

This is true. Arminians believe that God is powerful enough that He has the option of giving enough grace that a man can believe without giving so much that man has no option but to believe. Arminians also believe that without grace, no man would come to God at all.

True, if the term "Arminian" is understood historically, i.e., as stated in the original Arminian "Remonstrance" submitted and debated at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619). However, rarely would you find this view espoused today. Perhaps there are still some classic Methodists who still hold this view. But the majority of modern Protestant churches, being semi-Pelagian, believe that fallen man, in and of himself is capable of believing upon Christ with his innate "free-will".


Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: Under the Arminian system, God chose certain men only because He foresaw that they would believe.

This is not true. According to Arminus, God chooses believers in advance only because it is His Sovereign will and desire to save only those who, in response to His grace, accept faith and cease their suppression of the truth. God chose certain men because it's His unsearchable and sovereign will to do so.

Methinks this is saying the same thing, i.e., God chose those who would believe. The 'cause' of the belief is of no consequence as distinguished between Arminianianism and semi-Pelagianism. Here is the actual statement as found in the "Remonstrance":

Article I
That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, has determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ's sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the gospel in John iii. 36: 'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,' and according to other passages of Scripture also.

Both systems deny UNconditional Election as a consequence of an eternal PREdestination and in contradistinction, posit "POSTdestination". They both hold that God predestines and elects after the fact of faith having been exercised.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: Redemption under the Arminian system cannot save anyone unless man contributes his own faith.

This is not true. In the Arminian system, redemption is not applied to anyone who does not accept faith. Redemption can and DOES save everyone is it applied to, but it is only applied to the elect, who are chosen conditionally according to God's good pleasure. [To reiterate: Arminans hold that God CAN save anyone, with or without faith, but He only wants to save those who have faith].

1. The "Claim" is 100% accurate. Faith in Christ is absolutely necessary unto salvation in the Arminian schema. It is the view of some semi-Pelagians, including Roman Catholicism, that God can and does save some outside of Christ, e.g., God judges men's performance of morality according to the "light of nature" which they have. One of the leading proponents of this view is Billy Graham, who also adds a "second chance" theology into the mix.

2. In the Arminian system, God does NOT save everyone redemption is applied to. Article 5 of the Remonstrance states that it may be possible for a true believer to fall away from grace and perish. The Arminians were not absolutely sure that all who have been saved will infallibly persevere to the end and receive eternal life. I can provide the exact words of "Article 5" if needed.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: Under the Arminian system God cannot regenerate a man until he responds in faith to the Gospel.

This is not true. The Arminian system hold that God is all-powerful, that God CAN regenerate any man at any point in time for any reason, with or without faith. It is not a lack of power that keeps God from saving all men. Rather, Arminians hold that God deliberately, according to His sovereign will, chooses only to regenerate those who respond in faith. There is a big difference between saying that God "cannot" and that He "will not."

Perhaps hypothetically there were some Arminians who held that God CAN regenerate a sinner with or without faith being exercised. But the official position of the "Remonstrance" is that regeneration follows faith. This was soundly rejected in the Canons; "Third and Fourth Head of Doctrine, Articles 11-13". What the Arminians' position declared is that God provides a universal "prevenient grace" to all and which must then be either used or resisted in order to believe. And, upon exercising faith in Christ, the Spirit regenerates the soul. (cf. "Remonstrance: Article IV")

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: And Arminianism views “grace” merely as a universal provision of salvation for all men...

This is not true. Arminians believe in many forms of grace. Common grace, prevenient grace, saving grace, sanctifying grace, etc. Previnient grace is "merely" a universal provision (if you are bold enough to judge any of God's grace as a "mere" something), but that is exactly what God designed it to do. It is efficient for it's intended purpose. Similarly, saving grace, which is only applied to those who believe, is efficient for it's intended purpose and saves all to whom it is applies.

See my response to the previous "Claim". "Saving grace" in the Arminian view is granted AFTER and upon CONDITION of a sinner choosing to use Prevenient grace and thus believing upon Christ as a free-will choice. The, "saving grace" in Arminianism is no grace at all, but rather a reward for believing. And "believing/faith" becomes a work. (See my article, Do You REALLY Believe that Salvation is by Grace Alone?).

I do not know how familiar the author of the article is concerning classic Arminianism. But I am quite familiar with the "Quinquarticular Controversy", aka: "Canons of Dordt" of 1618-19 and the history which preceded it since I did my Master's Thesis on this subject. The full "Canons of Dordt with Rejection of Errors" can be found HERE. grin


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Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Pilgrim] #49129
Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:23 PM
Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:23 PM
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Skarlet Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
But the majority of modern Protestant churches, being semi-Pelagian, believe that fallen man, in and of himself is capable of believing upon Christ with his innate 'free-will'.

Are you saying that they believe that man is able to believe upon Christ without grace being given to them at all?

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Methinks this is saying the same thing, i.e., God chose those who would believe

Both systems deny UNconditional Election as a consequence of an eternal PREdestination and in contradistinction, posit "POSTdestination". They both hold that God predestines and elects after the fact of faith having been exercised.”

First of all, it is not the same thing at all to say that God did something [only because He knows something] and to say that God did something [with full knowledge, only because its part of His sovereign and unsearchable will, according to His own good pleasure]. The former posits knowledge as the key, and indeed solitary, motive. The latter frames knowledge only as part of the method used to fulfill God's holy and unquestionable will.

To me, those cannot be possibly seen as “the same thing.” They are miles apart.

Yes, both system deny unconditional election. Arminianism holds to unearned, conditional election (similar to unearned conditional grace, also described by John Piper in his book “Future Grace.”). But I'm afraid the usage of “post” and “pre” in your sentence is confusing. If you use “pre” to mean “before, in regard to time,” then both systems DO hold to predestination. If you use “pre” to mean “logically prior to,” then both systems hold to postdestination.

The Arminian view holds that the Biblical meaning of “pre” in that context is in reference to time. (“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Ephesians 1:4). They believe that the word refers to temporal rather than than logical order (“before time/before the world” rather than “logically preceding”). The Article that you cite, actually, seems to posit a similar interpretation, that is, of temporary order being implied: “before the foundation of the world...”

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
“Claim: Redemption under the Arminian system cannot save anyone unless man contributes his own faith.”

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
1. The 'Claim' is 100% accurate. Faith in Christ is absolutely necessary unto salvation in the Arminian schema. It is the view of some semi-Pelagians, including Roman Catholicism, that God can and does save some outside of Christ...

Without getting into the topic of whether those who die in infancy go to heaven or are capable of faith, I notice that you miss responding to an important point. You say that semi-Pelagians claims that God can and DOES save people who do not have faith. Thus, you deny that Arminians not only believe that God does save people without faith, but that Arminianism holds that God CANNOT (does not even have the option or power to) save people without faith.

Even if we accept that Arminianism denies that God saves people without faith, can you point me to any part of their doctrine that states that this is due to a lack of power (cannot), rather than an intentional choice?

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
2. In the Arminian system, God does NOT save everyone redemption is applied to. Article 5 of the Remonstrance states that it may be possible for a true believer to fall away from grace and perish.

Ah yes, you are correct about this. Some Arminians believe in the security of salvation (and therefore believe that God saves everyone that He applies redemption to). Other Arminians believe that one can “lose” the promise of salvation, which would mean what you said above. Article 5 accepts both types of Arminians since it denounces neither belief: stating that it may (and by logically implication may not) be possible for believers to lose their salvation.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Perhaps hypothetically there were some Arminians who held that God CAN regenerate a sinner with or without faith being exercised. But the official position of the "Remonstrance" is that regeneration follows faith.

Yes, and this is key. The Remonstance held that God intentionally chooses to regenerate those who already have faith. But I have never read that they held that this is because of a lack of power of His part. In fact, Arminians seem to hold strongly to the notion that God is all-powerful and His choices in salvation are never due to weakness, inability, or a lack of power, but rather that every point of salvation and the way that God chooses to do things and to deal with people stems from His sovereignty, intentionality, and volition: His pleasure and will.

That is why it was such a poor representation of Arminianism for the article to state that it teaches that God can't do this, or can't do that. Any classical Arminian reading that would surely reject it as a strawmen or else a serious misunderstanding of the foundations of their faith.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: And Arminianism views “grace” merely as a universal provision of salvation for all men...”quote]
[quote=Pilgrim]The, "saving grace" in Arminianism is no grace at all

While an interesting topic, I do not see how this addresses the validity of the claim. Even if every form of grace Arminians believed was “really” not grace at all, it would be incorrect to sat that Arminianism “views” grace as non-existent. That would not be an Arminian view at all – in this hypothetical – the Arminian view would be that non-grace things are grace.

Similarly, there is no “merely” in the Arminian doctrine. There are many types of forms of grace. Paul even refers to the various spirit gifts as a form of grace. An opponent may say “their view of grace is flawed,” and it would be easier for an Arminian to take that seriously – because at least it would not be a misstatement of the Arminian view itself.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
'Saving grace' in the Arminian view is granted AFTER and upon CONDITION of a sinner choosing to use Prevenient grace and thus believing upon Christ as a free-will choice. The, "saving grace" in Arminianism is no grace at all...

If you reject the possibility of conditional grace, then this is true from an outside perspective (that is, non-Arminians would see that it's no grace at all, yet Arminians would believe that it is grace). Your statement does seem to imply that you reject the existence of conditional grace. John Piper, a Calvinist even, recognizes that grace in the lives of believers is often conditional – yet still completely unearned and unmerited. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Arminians accept this same viewpoint: grace in the lives of believes can be given out conditionally, yet be unmerited. Similarly, saving grace is given out conditionally, and yet is unmerited.

Example of that style of thinking: I reward my little brother every time he turns left, but not any time that he turns right. This does not make turning left any more moral or righteous than turning right – it just means, simply, that turning left is rewarded.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
I do not know how familiar the author of the article is concerning classic Arminianism. But I am quite familiar with the "Quinquarticular Controversy", aka: "Canons of Dordt" of 1618-19 and the history which preceded it since I did my Master's Thesis on this subject.

Yes, you yourself seem quite knowledgeable on the topic. But I do think that the author of the article will be unable to persuade true Arminians, since they will read it and think: "But I don't believe any of that stuff he says I do. Of course that stuff is all wrong."

I have read the first article that you linked to in this post, but have not yet gotten around to reading the second or third, both of which appear to be intriguing.

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49130
Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:23 PM
Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:23 PM
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Pilgrim Offline

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I will do my best to be as brief as possible, at the risk of being misunderstood, because of the length of your response. grin

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
But the majority of modern Protestant churches, being semi-Pelagian, believe that fallen man, in and of himself is capable of believing upon Christ with his innate 'free-will'.

Are you saying that they believe that man is able to believe upon Christ without grace being given to them at all?

My statement was in reference to semi-Pelagianism, not classic Arminianism. The Remonstrant's statement on the state of fallen man, "Article III" as written is most agreeable to Calvinism; Total Depravity. This is why they held to the necessity of Prevenient Grace. The caveat is that this prevenient "grace" doesn't save but only provides for the possibility of salvation if a sinner cooperates with it and exercises one's inherent free-will.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Methinks this is saying the same thing, i.e., God chose those who would believe.
Both systems deny UNconditional Election as a consequence of an eternal PREdestination and in contradistinction, posit "POSTdestination". They both hold that God predestines and elects after the fact of faith having been exercised.

First of all, it is not the same thing at all to say that God did something [only because He knows something] and to say that God did something [with full knowledge, only because its part of His sovereign and unsearchable will, according to His own good pleasure]. The former posits knowledge as the key, and indeed solitary, motive. The latter frames knowledge only as part of the method used to fulfill God's holy and unquestionable will.

To me, those cannot be possibly seen as “the same thing.” They are miles apart.

Yes, both system deny unconditional election. Arminianism holds to unearned, conditional election (similar to unearned conditional grace, also described by John Piper in his book “Future Grace.”). But I'm afraid the usage of “post” and “pre” in your sentence is confusing. If you use “pre” to mean “before, in regard to time,” then both systems DO hold to predestination. If you use “pre” to mean “logically prior to,” then both systems hold to postdestination.

The Arminian position is, once again:

That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, has determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; (Article I)

Here we need to understand the Arminian concept and definition of "foreknowledge". It is antithetical to the Calvinist doctrine. In the Arminian schema, God's "foreknowledge" determines His decree, determinate council, predestination, etc. Therefore, when the article speaks of God's "eternal, unchangeable purpose... before the foundation of the world", it is referring to God as being "outside of time", yet His foreknowledge is bare prescience and not determinative in and of itself. Since the Arminians rejected the doctrines as formulated in the "Belgic Confessions" which was the impetus for their Remonstrance, they posited that God "knows" who would believe because He "foresaw" those who would cooperate with the aforementioned prevenient grace.

Thus, my describing of the Arminians and semi-Pelagians position as being "POST-destination" aptly and accurately describes the fact that they hold that God predestinates and elects certain sinners on the basis of their exercising faith; the necessary condition before regeneration and the indwelling of the Spirit is given. Put another way, the Arminians hold that God predestinates certain individuals who show evidence of having faith, but Calvinists hold that God predestinates certain individuals to have faith. In the "Rejection of Errors" this is clearly spelled out in detail as to what the Arminians believed and how the Synod responded to it.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
“Claim: Redemption under the Arminian system cannot save anyone unless man contributes his own faith.”

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
1. The 'Claim' is 100% accurate. Faith in Christ is absolutely necessary unto salvation in the Arminian schema. It is the view of some semi-Pelagians, including Roman Catholicism, that God can and does save some outside of Christ...

Without getting into the topic of whether those who die in infancy go to heaven or are capable of faith, I notice that you miss responding to an important point. You say that semi-Pelagians claims that God can and DOES save people who do not have faith. Thus, you deny that Arminians not only believe that God does save people without faith, but that Arminianism holds that God CANNOT (does not even have the option or power to) save people without faith.

Sorry, I'm a little confused about what you are trying to point out.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Claim: And Arminianism views “grace” merely as a universal provision of salvation for all men...

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
The, "saving grace" in Arminianism is no grace at all

While an interesting topic, I do not see how this addresses the validity of the claim. Even if every form of grace Arminians believed was “really” not grace at all, it would be incorrect to sat that Arminianism “views” grace as non-existent. That would not be an Arminian view at all – in this hypothetical – the Arminian view would be that non-grace things are grace.

Sorry for the confusion on this one too. I did not mean to imply that Arminians themselves view their concept of "grace" as non-existent. nope It is my conclusion and critique of the Arminian concept of "grace" as being no grace at all. For, the Arminian and semi-Pelagian concept of grace accomplishes NOTHING in and of itself, i.e., "grace" in those systems does not save, but rather it simply provides a means, a way in which a willing sinner can be saved. (see below) The same is likewise true of the Arminian and semi-Pelagian doctrine on the atonement.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Perhaps hypothetically there were some Arminians who held that God CAN regenerate a sinner with or without faith being exercised. But the official position of the "Remonstrance" is that regeneration follows faith.

Yes, and this is key. The Remonstance held that God intentionally chooses to regenerate those who already have faith. But I have never read that they held that this is because of a lack of power of His part. In fact, Arminians seem to hold strongly to the notion that God is all-powerful and His choices in salvation are never due to weakness, inability, or a lack of power, but rather that every point of salvation and the way that God chooses to do things and to deal with people stems from His sovereignty, intentionality, and volition: His pleasure and will.

God, in the Arminian system speaks in language which could be misconstrued as consistent with the biblical doctrines of God's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence. But digging below the surface one comes to realize that they in fact deny all three of these doctrines due to their insistence that God cannot and will not violate man's free-will. Ironically, a true Calvinist would agree that God never does anything that would violate man's will... He recreates the will, e.g., in regeneration, thus effectively making him willing. I could expand and expound on this but methinks that a separate thread would be more appropriate to do so.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
'Saving grace' in the Arminian view is granted AFTER and upon CONDITION of a sinner choosing to use Prevenient grace and thus believing upon Christ as a free-will choice. The, "saving grace" in Arminianism is no grace at all...

If you reject the possibility of conditional grace, then this is true from an outside perspective (that is, non-Arminians would see that it's no grace at all, yet Arminians would believe that it is grace). Your statement does seem to imply that you reject the existence of conditional grace. John Piper, a Calvinist even, recognizes that grace in the lives of believers is often conditional – yet still completely unearned and unmerited. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Arminians accept this same viewpoint: grace in the lives of believes can be given out conditionally, yet be unmerited. Similarly, saving grace is given out conditionally, and yet is unmerited.

The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism here is that Calvinism holds that there are degrees of "reward" for faithfulness in sanctification and that only, which as you rightly wrote, are non-meritorious. Arminians/semi-Pelagians, however, hold that salvation (justification) is dependent upon the sinner's cooperation with grace. Again, my article which I gave a link to will open this up in detail.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
I do not know how familiar the author of the article is concerning classic Arminianism. But I am quite familiar with the "Quinquarticular Controversy", aka: "Canons of Dordt" of 1618-19 and the history which preceded it since I did my Master's Thesis on this subject.

Yes, you yourself seem quite knowledgeable on the topic. But I do think that the author of the article will be unable to persuade true Arminians, since they will read it and think: "But I don't believe any of that stuff he says I do. Of course that stuff is all wrong."

You may be correct in your assessment. But as I tried to point out at the beginning of my first reply to you, it may be the case that the author is using the term "Arminian(ism)" not in reference to classic Arminianism; the teachings based upon the writings of Jacob Harmsen [Latinized it was Jacobus Arminius], but rather in reference to the teachings popularly held in most Evangelical (non-Reformed) and in some alleged Reformed churches today, aka: semi-Pelagianism. What also may be true is that most who read that article won't know what classic Arminianism is. giggle


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Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Pilgrim] #49131
Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:43 PM
Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:43 PM
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I'm sorry if I am being confusing. I shall try to communicate more clearly in response to your most recent reply here.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Originally Posted By: Skarlet
“You say that semi-Pelagians claims that God can and DOES save people who do not have faith. Thus, you deny that Arminians not only believe that God does save people without faith, but that Arminianism holds that God CANNOT (does not even have the option or power to) save people without faith.”

Sorry, I'm a little confused about what you are trying to point out.

What I am trying to point out is this:

Semi-Pelegianism: God does not AND cannot (is not able to) save people without faith
Arminianism: God does not BUT can (is able to) save people without faith

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
God, in the Arminian system speaks in language which could be misconstrued as consistent with the biblical doctrines of God's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence. But digging below the surface one comes to realize that they in fact deny all three of these doctrines due to their insistence that God cannot and will not violate man's free-will.


I cannot say that I agree with your last statement for, for in fact this is the Arminian insistence:
God CAN and will not (according to His sovereign will and good pleasure) “violate” man's “free” will.

I put violate and free in quotation marks there because not all Arminians agree about the practical meaning of these terms, and also Calvinists usually do not know what Arminians mean when they use these terms.

But the main point is this: You keep stating that Arminians believe that God cannot do this or that. You seem to think that the system teaches that God lacks the power to do this or to do that. But you are mistaken since, in anything that Arminians teach that God does not do, they teach that this is a result of His intentional choice, His sovereignty, not a lack of power.

Can you see how your interpretation of their beliefs, then, differs from their actual beliefs in the case of the extension of God's power?

As I said previously, and I believe this to be true: Arminians hold strongly to the notion that God is all-powerful and His choices in salvation are never due to weakness, inability, or a lack of power, but rather that every point of salvation and the way that God chooses to do things and to deal with people stems from His sovereignty, intentionality, and volition: His pleasure and will.


Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
In the Arminian schema, God's "foreknowledge" determines His decree, determinate council, predestination, etc... they posited that God "knows" who would believe because He "foresaw" those who would cooperate with the aforementioned prevenient grace.

I agree with the latter part of this: that Arminians posit that God knows who would believe before time (though “cease resisting” is a better word than “cooperate” to describe the response of believers toward grace in their view).

But the former part is a far cry from their doctrine. Arminius himself, and classical Arminians, maintain that God's "foreknowledge" absolutely and positively does not determines His decree: That God's sovereign will determines His decree.

He does not elect because He foresees.
He elects, with foreknowledge, because He wants to save those stop resisting His grace.

I know that the distinction between those two may seem unclear, and so I will give an analogy to try to make their view clear:

Suppose that I plan to go to school the next day and kill all the red-heads.
Furthermore, suppose that I specifically hate red-heads, and I want to kill those red-heads because I hate red-heads.
Since it is my school, I know who the attending red-heads are, and I make a list of them.
I plan to kill everyone on this list.

Which of the following statements would be true, in this hypothetical, about my motivation:
A – I plan ahead to kill specific people because I know which are red-heads (knowledge causes behavior)
B – I plan to kill all red-heads at my school, with the knowledge of their names, because I hate red-heads and want to see them die. (Motive causes behavior)

Arminians believe that “B” would be the correct answer. That motive, not knowledge, causes behavior. Given motive, knowledge may be used in executing the desired plan – but that knowledge is NOT the cause nor the determinant of the behavior.

Bringing this back to the Arminian view of God,
Calvinists say: God plans ahead to save specific people because He knows which will believe (Knowledge causes/determines behavior)
Arminians say: God's chooses to save those who will believe, with the eternal knowledge of their identities, because it is His good pleasure and Sovereign will to do so. (Motive causes/determines behavior).

This is presented in the same format as the “A” and “B” options of the Red-head hypothetical. Hopefully the distinction is clear, so that when I say: “In the Arminian schema, God's 'foreknowledge' absolutely does not determines His decree,” you will understand why I say that.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
For, the Arminian and semi-Pelagian concept of grace accomplishes NOTHING in and of itself, i.e., "grace" in those systems does not save, but rather it simply provides a means, a way in which a willing sinner can be saved.

I think that you equivocating salvation with everything. Your reasoning seems to follow this line of thought:

1 – Arminians say that one type of grace does not accomplish salvation
2 – Salvation is everything
3 – Therefore, Arminians say that one type of grace accomplishes nothing
4 – One type is an entire “concept of grace” in general. No other types exist.
5 – Therefore, Arminians entire concept of grace is that accomplishes nothing.

But given that arguments 2 and 4 are untrue, the final claim (5) about the belief of Arminians does not follow. All you can rightfully say is they believe that one type of grace (previnient grace) accomplishes something other than salvation.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism here is that Calvinism holds that there are degrees of "reward" for faithfulness in sanctification and that only, which as you rightly wrote, are non-meritorious. Arminians/semi-Pelagians, however, hold that salvation (justification) is dependent upon the sinner's cooperation with grace. Again, my article which I gave a link to will open this up in detail.

Which of the articles are you referring to? But I do not understand your distinction here between Calvinism's teaching that grace(help) is a reward for faithfulness in sanctification, but that it's not “dependent upon” cooperation like the Arminian view is.

That is, if the Arminian view is summarized as grace being “dependent upon” cooperation, is not the Calvinist view of grace in the lives of believes “dependent upon” cooperation?

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49132
Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:49 PM
Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:49 PM
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Pilgrim Offline

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Originally Posted By: Skarlet
“You say that semi-Pelagians claims that God can and DOES save people who do not have faith. Thus, you deny that Arminians not only believe that God does save people without faith, but that Arminianism holds that God CANNOT (does not even have the option or power to) save people without faith.”
Semi-Pelegianism: God does not AND cannot (is not able to) save people without faith
Arminianism: God does not BUT can (is able to) save people without faith.

- Semi-Pelagianism: God does and thus obviously can save people without faith.
- Arminianism: God typically does not save people without faith but can and sometimes does, e.g., the death of infants and those who have not reached the "age of discretion".

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
God, in the Arminian system speaks in language which could be misconstrued as consistent with the biblical doctrines of God's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence. But digging below the surface one comes to realize that they in fact deny all three of these doctrines due to their insistence that God cannot and will not violate man's free-will.


I cannot say that I agree with your last statement for, for in fact this is the Arminian insistence:
God CAN and will not (according to His sovereign will and good pleasure) “violate” man's “free” will.

I put violate and free in quotation marks there because not all Arminians agree about the practical meaning of these terms, and also Calvinists usually do not know what Arminians mean when they use these terms.

But the main point is this: You keep stating that Arminians believe that God cannot do this or that. You seem to think that the system teaches that God lacks the power to do this or to do that. But you are mistaken since, in anything that Arminians teach that God does not do, they teach that this is a result of His intentional choice, His sovereignty, not a lack of power.

Can you see how your interpretation of their beliefs, then, differs from their actual beliefs in the case of the extension of God's power?

As I said previously, and I believe this to be true: Arminians hold strongly to the notion that God is all-powerful and His choices in salvation are never due to weakness, inability, or a lack of power, but rather that every point of salvation and the way that God chooses to do things and to deal with people stems from His sovereignty, intentionality, and volition: His pleasure and will.

Quick response...There is a difference between "free-agency" (Calvinism) and "free-will" (Arminianism).

Calvinism believes that God created man as a free agent, i.e., he has the ability to choose and is responsible for the choices made. Further, the nature of man (intellect, affections, and will) determines every person's choice. Man ALWAYS chooses that which is most important to him in every situation and circumstance. Thus, fallen man is bound by his corrupt nature and will not and thus cannot choose anything that pertains to God or anything that is good. What is required for man to even desire after God is regeneration; the re-creation, resurrection, rebirth of a spiritual nature. Being a free-agent, man is responsible for all that he chooses to think, feel and do. Further, man is responsible to obey every command of God regardless of his spiritual state. Thus, even though fallen man CANNOT keep God's commandments, he is still accountable to do so and is guilty for not doing so.

Arminianism (classic... not semi-Pelagianism) believes that man is a free-agent AND has a free-will, i.e., he can choose contrary to his nature. They hold that fallen man is dead in sin no less than Calvinism teaches but contrariwise, regeneration is not needed for man to seek after God, i.e., the necessity of a radical change of nature. Arminianism teaches that God provides "prevenient grace", which provides man with the ability to either choose God or reject God with his now unfettered free-will. Consequently, those who choose to seek after God and believe upon Christ are THEN given a new nature. In the Arminian system God does not sovereignly save by His eternal decree without consideration of what man does; exercise his free-will. Thus, God is NOT "all powerful" at all, for he CANNOT save unless and until a sinner takes advantage of the general prevenient grace and makes a free-will choice.

The difference between the two systems is infinite. The Synod of Dordt understood these differences and thus judged Arminianism as damnable heresy; not simply a different perspective with a similar end. It is unfortunate that the majority of those who profess to embrace Calvinism reject or are ignorant of the antithesis of the two systems and that Arminianism is "damnable", i.e., it is contrary to the biblical doctrines of Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Solus Christus, thus it is teaching another God, another Jesus, another Spirit and another Gospel.


Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
In the Arminian schema, God's "foreknowledge" determines His decree, determinate council, predestination, etc... they posited that God "knows" who would believe because He "foresaw" those who would cooperate with the aforementioned prevenient grace.

I agree with the latter part of this: that Arminians posit that God knows who would believe before time (though “cease resisting” is a better word than “cooperate” to describe the response of believers toward grace in their view).

But the former part is a far cry from their doctrine. Arminius himself, and classical Arminians, maintain that God's "foreknowledge" absolutely and positively does not determines His decree: That God's sovereign will determines His decree.

He does not elect because He foresees.
He elects, with foreknowledge, because He wants to save those stop resisting His grace.

Hopefully the distinction is clear, so that when I say: “In the Arminian schema, God's 'foreknowledge' absolutely does not determines His decree,” you will understand why I say that. (lots of cuts made)

Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with your understanding of Arminianism in regard to their definition of foreknowledge and its relationship to God's decrees of predestination and election. In the Arminian system, foreknowledge is bare prescience; knowledge of facts. And, the source of that knowledge is contradictory to the biblical doctrine of Omniscience, for God must "see" what man will allegedly do BEFORE He issues the decree. Further it is self-contradictory and self-defeating, for if God "foresees" that Joe Smith will believe on Tuesday, December 5th at 11:00 a.m. and therefore decrees to elect Joe Smith unto salvation, then Joe Smith MUST be infallibly saved on that date and time. There is no room for Joe Smith exercising his free-will and potentially reject the Gospel. I have written tomes on this subject to show all the convolutions involved in Arminianism's understanding of foreknowedge. In fact, taken to its logical end, one will end up with "Open Theism".

For a good article on the biblical doctrine of foreknowledge and its counterfeits, see HERE.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
For, the Arminian and semi-Pelagian concept of grace accomplishes NOTHING in and of itself, i.e., "grace" in those systems does not save, but rather it simply provides a means, a way in which a willing sinner can be saved.

I think that you equivocating salvation with everything.... major cut

This is hardly the case of my equivocating salvation with everything. The fact is that salvation, from the eternal decree of God to the glorification of the saints and beyond is all of God. Again, I will state most dogmatically, in the Arminian and also the semi-Pelagian systems, "grace" accomplishes nothing. Both systems posit a synergistic system of salvation, all the while claiming to hold that salvation is all of grace. What they do as does most every heretical system is to redefine terms and typically without making known of the redefinition(s). What the Arminian calls "grace" is not what the Bible teaches about grace. The Arminian unabashedly believes that "grace" is resistible. Calvinism and the Bible teaches that grace infallibly saves.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism here is that Calvinism holds that there are degrees of "reward" for faithfulness in sanctification and that only, which as you rightly wrote, are non-meritorious. Arminians/semi-Pelagians, however, hold that salvation (justification) is dependent upon the sinner's cooperation with grace. Again, my article which I gave a link to will open this up in detail.

Which of the articles are you referring to?

This one: Do You REALLY Believe that Salvation is by Grace Alone?

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
But I do not understand your distinction here between Calvinism's teaching that grace(help) is a reward for faithfulness in sanctification, but that it's not “dependent upon” cooperation like the Arminian view is.

That is, if the Arminian view is summarized as grace being “dependent upon” cooperation, is not the Calvinist view of grace in the lives of believes “dependent upon” cooperation?

Calvinism has never taught that 'grace' is "help". Grace always accomplishes its intended purpose, i.e., to save sinners from sin and judgment. Further, Calvinism has never taught that God is "dependent upon cooperation from man. As Jesus said, "without me you can do nothing" (Jh 15:5). A sinner is regenerated by grace, called by irresistible grace, sanctified by the sovereign grace of the indwelling Spirit, redeemed by the grace of Christ's vicarious substitutionary atonement, etc. GRACE according to Scripture and Calvinism is in full agreement as witnessed in the historic Reformed Confessions and Catechisms is particular and efficacious. For example, and specifically to this issue; sanctification... It is most often referred to as the "Perseverance of the Saints". But although that is certainly true, it is only half true. For it is also called the "Preservation of the Saints". Christ's sheep are "made willing" through the power of God, yet without any violation to their will. (Ps 110:3; Rom 8:29,30; Eph 1:4; 2:10; Phil 2:12,13).


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Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Pilgrim] #49133
Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:05 PM
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Skarlet Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
- Semi-Pelagianism: God does and thus obviously can save people without faith.
- Arminianism: God typically does not save people without faith but can and sometimes does, e.g., the death of infants and those who have not reached the "age of discretion".

Ahh, okay. So you agree, then, that in Arminianism, God is able to save people without faith, because He is able to (and has the power to) save whomever He wishes? That if He does not save someone, in that system, it is due to His sovereign will and not to a lack of power or ability?

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Arminianism teaches that God provides "prevenient grace", which provides man with the ability to either choose God or reject God with his now unfettered free-will.

I would agree with this if only you were to take “unfettered free-will” out of the equation.

Arminianism teaches that God is powerful enough to provide a type of grace which supernaturally provides man with the ability to either choose God or reject God, though he is enslaved to sin.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Consequently, those who choose to seek after God and believe upon Christ are THEN given a new nature.

I would agree with this, if you would change “choose to seek after” to “stop resisting.”

No one seeks after God, in Arminianism. Rather, salvation comes to those who stop resisting God's grace, stop suppressing the truth, and stop kicking against the goads. (It's passive, not active).

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
In the Arminian system God does not sovereignly save by His eternal decree without consideration of what man does; exercise his free-will.

Still following...

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Thus, God is NOT "all powerful" at all, for he CANNOT save unless and until a sinner takes advantage of the general prevenient grace and makes a free-will choice.

That is a non-sequitar. You said that in Arminianism God makes man able to believe (I agree), that who who ceases to resist God's grace is regenerated (I agree), and that God chooses intentionally not to save without considering whether man has met His condition that He set (I agree).

Thus far, we agree about what Arminianism teaches, but then out of nowhere, you suggest that these three facts imply that God A – is not all powerful and B – cannot save a man that does not meet His condition that He set.

To me, that is like saying: Today is Saturday, and the sky blue, therefore 3 and 3 makes 12. It's a complete non-sequitar. I don't even see how you think such a leap makes any sense.

According to Arminianism:
1 – God has the power to save anyone
2 – God does not choose to save everyone
3 – According to His good pleasure and sovereign choice, He chooses only to save those who meet His condition

According to you:
4 – Therefore, (it would follow from their logic) God does not have the power to save anyone, for He has not the power to save those who do not meet His condition

But your 4th premise would deny the first premise. It would not logically follow AT ALL.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
The Synod of Dordt understood these differences and thus judged Arminianism as damnable heresy

This is an interesting approach. Do you believe that all Arminians are unregenerate people who will be damned, even through they believe on Christ as Lord and Savior? That they are not even brothers and sisters in Christ?

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with your understanding of Arminianism in regard to their definition of foreknowledge and its relationship to God's decrees of predestination and election. In the Arminian system, foreknowledge is bare prescience; knowledge of facts

Now, what I had said was this: In the Arminian system,

He does not elect because He foresees.
He elects, with foreknowledge, because He wants to save those stop resisting His grace.

You respond here that their idea of foreknowledge is just knowledge. I did not disagree with this. What I said is that it is not knowledge (foreknowledge) which is said to motivate, cause, or determine God's choice.

God's will is said to determine His choice, and He uses His knowledge/foreknowledge in electing specific people. (According to one of the two main branches of Arminianism – for one branch holds to “corporate election,” whereas I am here referring to the Arminian branch that holds to individual election).

Therefore, when you say that you disagree about Arminianism, and then tell me something that I agree with (about foreknowledge being seen as knowledge of facts), I do not understand how you disagree.

Do you disagree that in the Arminian system, motive and not knowledge/foreknowledge is seen as the cause/determinant of God's choice?

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
And, the source of that knowledge is contradictory to the biblical doctrine of Omniscience, for God must 'see' what man will allegedly do BEFORE He issues the decree.

I think you mean that it is contrary to the Calvinist interpretation of the Bible in regard to the doctrine of Omniscience.

“Further it is self-contradictory and self-defeating, for if God "foresees" that Joe Smith will believe on Tuesday, December 5th at 11:00 a.m. and therefore decrees to elect Joe Smith unto salvation, then Joe Smith MUST be infallibly saved on that date and time. There is no room for Joe Smith exercising his free-will and potentially reject the Gospel.[/quote]
Then you misunderstand Arminian free will. In the Arminian system, free will means self-determined choices. In the scenario given above, Joe is the determinant of his choice to stop resisting the grace of God. God, of course, knows when and how this choice will be made from all eternity past, and chooses that He good pleasure is to save this Joe person who will stop resisting grace in the future. He then, logically following Joe's determination to stop resisting, elects Joe to justified and conformed to the image of Christ.

It is certain that Joe will believe, of course – for Joe Smith MUST be infallibly saved on that date and time. But what makes that certain? What determined that that would happen, rather than rejection at that time? Joe was the determinant.

You can know something without determining it. Therefore, there is no contradiction between Joe determining to stop resisting, and God knowing with certainty that Joe certainly chooses to stop resisting at that time. Everything in life is determined. The free will debate is only about who determines the choices of men. In BOTH systems, everything is determined and certain – except in open theism which is another thing altogether.

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Grace always accomplishes its intended purpose, i.e., to save sinners from sin and judgment.

Arminianism also teaches that grace always accomplishes its intended purpose. However, it does not teach that saving sinners from sin and judgment is the only intention or type of grace. Arminians affirm at least 4 different types/forms of grace. For example, you are aware that grace is present in the lives of believers? The intention of that grace is not regeneration/justification, but rather sanctification. That grace is also said to be conditional. John Piper wrote about this extensively in his book, “Future Grace.”

Therefore, even Calvinism in general affirms different forms of grace, and different intended purposes for the various types. Like “common grace,” in Calvinism, you would agree that it's intended purpose is NOT to save sinners from sin and judgment, yes?

So, if Calvinism, then, accepts that there are types of grace which accomplish it's intended purpose, that purpose being other than salvation of sinners, then why do you charge Arminians, which also accepts that there are types of grace which accomplish it's intended purpose, that purpose being other than salvation of sinners, as teaching that every form (all 4+) types of Arminian"grace" accomplishes nothing

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Further, Calvinism has never taught that God is 'dependent upon cooperation from man.'

Neither does Arminianism. What I was asking is this: If conditional yet unearned grace is recognized in Calvinism as “grace,” why is conditional yet unearned grace in the Arminian system suddenly called “dependent upon cooperation from man.”

Isn't that just a double standard of labeling? If not, what is the difference between conditional yet unearned grace and conditional yet unearned grace?

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
This is hardly the case of my equivocating salvation with everything.

But look at it this way: you said that Arminian grace accomplishes nothing at all. I ask for support, and you explain that Arminian grace accomplishes nothing in that [one specific type of grace in the Arminian system] does not accomplish salvation.

The only way that saying “it does not save” would logically lead to “it does nothing” is IF you believe that salvation is everything and another other than salvation is nothing. Do you see what I am trying to say here?

Furthermore, when you say that Arminian grace does not accomplish anything, you seem only to refer to one type of grace believe in: previnient grace. You do not address any other types of grace at all. For what reason, I do not know.

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49141
Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:26 AM
Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:26 AM
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Pilgrim Offline

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Unfortunately, this discussion is becoming ponderous, so much so that I am wondering if visitors/members are losing interest due to the effort required to work through such long posts. However, I'll let it continue for a bit more in its present form. And if it increases in size, should the discussion continue, methinks I may break it down into smaller bits and give its various topics their own thread. grin

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
- Semi-Pelagianism: God does and thus obviously can save people without faith.
- Arminianism: God typically does not save people without faith but can and sometimes does, e.g., the death of infants and those who have not reached the "age of discretion".

Ahh, okay. So you agree, then, that in Arminianism, God is able to save people without faith, because He is able to (and has the power to) save whomever He wishes? That if He does not save someone, in that system, it is due to His sovereign will and not to a lack of power or ability?

Please note that I at least tried to make clear that in the Arminian system (fyi also in some Reformed circles, including Dordt; cf. First Head of Doctrine: Article 17) that infants dying in infancy is an exception and not paradigmatic. ALL others are saved only by faith.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Arminianism teaches that God provides "prevenient grace", which provides man with the ability to either choose God or reject God with his now unfettered free-will.

I would agree with this if only you were to take “unfettered free-will” out of the equation.

Removing "unfettered free-will" would, a) be contrary to what the Remonstrants held to be true in regad to the will of man, i.e., all men infra- and supra- the Fall are endowed with free-will. And b) it would contradict what Arminianism teaches in regard to prevenient grace, i.e., it 'frees', gives man the 'ability' to either believe or not believe due to the will's bondage prior to the application of prevenient grace.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Consequently, those who choose to seek after God and believe upon Christ are THEN given a new nature.

I would agree with this, if you would change “choose to seek after” to “stop resisting.”

No one seeks after God, in Arminianism. Rather, salvation comes to those who stop resisting God's grace, stop suppressing the truth, and stop kicking against the goads. (It's passive, not active).

To the contrary, the effect of prevenient grace, in the Arminian system, frees man from the bondage of sin, at least to the degree that it provides the power/ability of a sinner to seek after God and believe on Christ. To cease resisting is not synonomous to agreeing with or joining with that which was formally resisted. One can stop fighting an oppressor for many reasons, e.g., the impossibility of overthrowing an enemy, but that which was the basis for the resistance remains odious and worthy of resistance nonetheless. Combining something you wrote further down with this response, Arminianism nowhere teaches that sinners are saved via "non-resistance", but rather only through faith, with the noted exception of infants dying in infancy.

Perhaps this would be the appropriate time to ask a question that has developed in my mind after reading your responses here in several places. What is your source(s) from which you have come to understand what Arminianism teaches? My sources are first and foremost, The Arminian "Remonstrance", the Canons of the Synod of Dort (the official Reformed response to the "Remonstrance"), and some 60+ books plus tomes of articles that specifically deal with historic, classic Arminianism, including the works of Jacobus Arminius. I do not recall ever reading any notion whatsoever, that Arminianism teaches that prevenient grace simply removes a sinner's resistance and consequently is saved without faith.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
In the Arminian system God does not sovereignly save by His eternal decree without consideration of what man does; exercise his free-will.

Still following...

Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Thus, God is NOT "all powerful" at all, for he CANNOT save unless and until a sinner takes advantage of the general prevenient grace and makes a free-will choice.

That is a non-sequitar. You said that in Arminianism God makes man able to believe (I agree), that who who ceases to resist God's grace is regenerated (I agree), and that God chooses intentionally not to save without considering whether man has met His condition that He set (I agree).

Thus far, we agree about what Arminianism teaches, but then out of nowhere, you suggest that these three facts imply that God A – is not all powerful and B – cannot save a man that does not meet His condition that He set.

To me, that is like saying: Today is Saturday, and the sky blue, therefore 3 and 3 makes 12. It's a complete non-sequitar. I don't even see how you think such a leap makes any sense.

According to Arminianism:
1 – God has the power to save anyone
2 – God does not choose to save everyone
3 – According to His good pleasure and sovereign choice, He chooses only to save those who meet His condition

According to you:
4 – Therefore, (it would follow from their logic) God does not have the power to save anyone, for He has not the power to save those who do not meet His condition

But your 4th premise would deny the first premise. It would not logically follow AT ALL.

Wrong! grin In the Arminian system, God does NOT have the power to save everyone. Only in the Calvinistic system is that possible. God cannot save anyone outside of Christ. I'm going to assume that you understand this fundamental truth; the atonement of Christ was antecedently, absolutely necessary in order for God to save even one sinner. Calvinism is the ONLY theological system, in total harmony with Scripture, that teaches that ALL THINGS have been determined, eternally decreed by God without consideration of the objects affected, aka: Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, Preservation of the Saints, etc. Contrariwise, Arminianism's "god" CANNOT save a single sinner who doesn't believe on Christ due to the exercising of the alleged "free-will". Arminianism's "god" can save and only chooses to save those whom he foresees as believing as consequent to the giving of prevenient grace. In Arminianism, "god" only provides the means by which a sinner may take advantage of and choose to embrace. The choice to do so lies solely at the discretion of the sinner, not God. Again, these things are perspiciously laid out in the Canons of Dordt.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
The Synod of Dordt understood these differences and thus judged Arminianism as damnable heresy

This is an interesting approach. Do you believe that all Arminians are unregenerate people who will be damned, even through they believe on Christ as Lord and Savior? That they are not even brothers and sisters in Christ?

I am not sure why you think this is an "interesting approach" since it is historical fact. scratchchin

I believe there are is a very small minority of professing Arminians and semi-Pelagians who are genuinely regenerate and have truly embraced the person of the Lord Christ with a Holy Spirit wrought faith. The overwhelming majority of them, I believe, are not genuinely regenerated and converted, i.e., they are yet under the just wrath of God and dead in sin. Therefore de facto, I do not consider carte blanche, those who profess to hold to Arminianism or semi-Pelagianism "brothers and sisters in Christ". As I have stated before, Arminianism and even more so semi-Pelagianism believes in a different God, different Christ, different Holy Spirit, another Gospel and thus their doctrine of soteriology (salvation) is synergistic, which is a flat denial of the Bible's doctrine of salvation which is monergistic.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with your understanding of Arminianism in regard to their definition of foreknowledge and its relationship to God's decrees of predestination and election. In the Arminian system, foreknowledge is bare prescience; knowledge of facts

Now, what I had said was this: In the Arminian system,

He does not elect because He foresees.
He elects, with foreknowledge, because He wants to save those stop resisting His grace.

Again, what you say is the Arminian teaching in regard election in the Arminian system is totally erroneous. The Arminians clearly and openly posited that election is grounded upon "foreseen faith", aka: "Conditional Election". Please consult the OFFICIAL statements, rulings and rejections of the Arminian position in the Canons of Dordt - First Head of Doctrine which specifically addresses the matter of Predestination and Election.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Do you disagree that in the Arminian system, motive and not knowledge/foreknowledge is seen as the cause/determinant of God's choice?

Let me answer in this manner... In Arminianism, God "loves" every man, woman and child indiscriminately. But this proposed "love" is ONLY emotive. This alleged "love" has no power of its own, i.e., it accomplishes nothing of itself. The election of certain sinners is clearly not based upon that "motive" for the simple fact that not all of mankind is saved. Arminianism officially teaches that the election to salvation of certain sinners is God's alleged "foreseen faith"; God elects believers. Historic, confessional Calvinism teaches the exact opposite. From all eternity, God in His infinite love, mercy and grace determined to save a certain number of Adma's fallen race in Christ. Thus, foreknowing (appointing/loving) them, He provides the necessary means to that salvation and infallibly brings His eternal decree to pass to and for His own glory.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
And, the source of that knowledge is contradictory to the biblical doctrine of Omniscience, for God must 'see' what man will allegedly do BEFORE He issues the decree.

I think you mean that it is contrary to the Calvinist interpretation of the Bible in regard to the doctrine of Omniscience.

As far as I am concerned the Calvinist teaching concerning the doctrine of God, and specifically of the fundamental attribute of deity, Omniscience, is one and the same with what Scripture teaches. God's foreknowledge is 1) not mere prescience, 2) based upon God's decree(s) [God knows all things because He has eternally determined all things], and 3) by definition an "appointment of..." and/or "love for" someone or thing.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Further it is self-contradictory and self-defeating, for if God "foresees" that Joe Smith will believe on Tuesday, December 5th at 11:00 a.m. and therefore decrees to elect Joe Smith unto salvation, then Joe Smith MUST be infallibly saved on that date and time. There is no room for Joe Smith exercising his free-will and potentially reject the Gospel.

Then you misunderstand Arminian free will. In the Arminian system, free will means self-determined choices. In the scenario given above, Joe is the determinant of his choice to stop resisting the grace of God. God, of course, knows when and how this choice will be made from all eternity past, and chooses that He good pleasure is to save this Joe person who will stop resisting grace in the future. He then, logically following Joe's determination to stop resisting, elects Joe to justified and conformed to the image of Christ.... cut

I am more than acquainted with the Arminian doctrine of "free-will" and my understanding is in total accord with its evaluation by such notables as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, et al. Unfortunately, you didn't get the point I was trying to make with my illustration using Joe Smith. IF, as the Arminian system teaches, free-will is indubitably "free", i.e., God does not and cannot force Joe Smith to do that which he chooses not to, nor prevent Joe Smith to do what he wills to do, then it is undeniably possible that in space and time, Joe Smith could choose either to beleive or to not believe at any particular time. Since the will of man is "free" there is no possibility, even for God to know infallibly, what any man will do at any particular time under any particular circumstance. Again, if as the Arminians posited, God "foresaw" who would believe (exercised their free-will) and determined that this would actually come to pass (aka: POSTdestination - determined what was to be after it had happened) then the doctrine of free-will is null and void for this would eliminate any possibility of a man choosing contrary to what God foresaw and decreed. This is a major and insurmountable hurdle for Arminianism.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
You can know something without determining it. Therefore, there is no contradiction between Joe determining to stop resisting, and God knowing with certainty that Joe certainly chooses to stop resisting at that time. Everything in life is determined. The free will debate is only about who determines the choices of men. In BOTH systems, everything is determined and certain – except in open theism which is another thing altogether.

This is ONLY applicable to man because he is not Omniscient. But God knows all things because He has determined all things. Again, God's "foreknowledge" is based solely upon what He has eternally decreed. An architect can know exactly what a building that doesn't even exist will be like in every detail because of the very fact that he has designed it. However, those who didn't design the building must wait until its completion before they can know anything about it. Arminianism's "god" is nothing more than a grand deitisic mirror of man. Aseity, in reality, doesn't exist in Arminian theology.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Arminianism also teaches that grace always accomplishes its intended purpose. However, it does not teach that saving sinners from sin and judgment is the only intention or type of grace. Arminians affirm at least 4 different types/forms of grace. For example, you are aware that grace is present in the lives of believers? The intention of that grace is not regeneration/justification, but rather sanctification. That grace is also said to be conditional. John Piper wrote about this extensively in his book, “Future Grace.”

And John Piper has been soundly criticized for several things he wrote in that book, which evidently were due to the influence of the teaching of Daniel Fuller.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Therefore, even Calvinism in general affirms different forms of grace, and different intended purposes for the various types. Like “common grace,” in Calvinism, you would agree that it's intended purpose is NOT to save sinners from sin and judgment, yes?

NO! nope God's grace ALWAYS accomplishes its purpose... to save a sinner from sin and to grant eternal life. Salvation, according to Scripture and classic, historic Calvinism is ONE... from the eternal decree to save specific individuals to their final glorification and continued existence on the New Earth. The giving of the Holy Spirit's indwelling in the elect is no less effectual grace than regeneration. Sanctification is certain no less than Justification. There is no salvation apart from sanctification because it is an integral part of that salvation determined by God.


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Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Pilgrim] #49142
Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:22 PM
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Skarlet Offline OP
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Yes, I agree with you that the posts are becoming excessively long. I will try to make my answer here much more abbreviated. I agree with most everything you have written about Calvinism, but disagree with most everything you have written about Arminianism. For the sake of brevity, I will boil down all the claims you have made that I disagree with.


_______________________________________
You seem to claim that, in the Arminian system:

1) Infants are an exception to the rule that God cannot, is not able to, and is completely powerless to save those who do not have faith

2) Unregenerates have unfettered free-will, and are no longer considered slaves to sin.

3) God does NOT have the power to save everyone. If He does not save everyone, it is not due to sovereign choice, but due to a lack of power.

4) Salvation itself (not faith, but justification and regeneration) is synergistic. Man accomplishes part of the process of justifying or regenerating himself.

5) Knowledge alone causes God to act in election. He has no desires or volition of His own in the matter.

6) Man has free-will such that God cannot know for CERTAIN what man will do at any specific point in time.

7) And therefore, Arminians are damned heretics (for the most part).
_______________________________________

On the other hand, this is not at all what Arminians or Arminius himself taught. And I can tell you think from what I have read from Arminus, what I have read in articles written by the current Society of Evangelical Arminians, what I have heard from the many many many Arminians whom I have known, that none of points 1-7 is true:

1) Arminians teach that God CAN and IS ABLE TO and HAS ENOUGH POWER to do anything that He wants. To give you a quote: “Our God is the God of the impossible; He's a God who can do anything (that) He allows Himself to do.” In the majority of cases, infants being excepted, God only chooses intentionally (according to His sovereign will) to save those who have faith.

Yet you claim that they believe or teach that this is because God lacks the power to save people who do not have faith. But in fact, it is due to His will, and not a lack of power, that He does this. I will not punch the wall today. With your logic, you must deduce that I choose not to punch the wall because I lack the physical strength to do so – but in my view, it is because I intentionally choose not to. It is ridiculous for you to argue that God does not save all, in the Arminian view, because He is powerless to do so. I challenge you to give me one classical Arminian quote that specifically teaches this doctrine of God's inability.

2) Unregenerates have unfettered free-will, and are no longer considered slaves to sin.
Arminians believe that all people have free-will in two ways: that they self-determine their choices (and are therefore responsible for what they have determined), and that they are, by the grace of God, able to believe in Christ. There are many types of freedom that this “free will” does not contain: for instance, it is not a freedom of power – a person with free-will in this view is not “free to defy gravity” for that is a question of power and not choice.

Secondly, “unfettered” cannot be applied to unregenerate people, since their free-will (free in the above two ways) in the Arminian view is still enslaved to sin. And will remain enslaved until they believe in Christ, are saved and the power of sin over their life is broken.

You admit yourself that your view of Arminian-free-will comes from Calvinists, such as John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards. They obviously did not know what Arminian free-will consists it, since what they spoke against is not what Arminians believe. Why don't you instead ask a knowledgeable Arminian what the Arminian view is?


3) This is your most obvious flaw. You say that in Arminianism, “God does NOT have the power to save everyone.” The reason you give for believing this is that Arminianism “God” does not save a single sinner who does not believe on Christ, and therefore, you conclude, if God does not do something, it must imply that He is unable to do it.

That's a logical fallacy. By that logic, God (in Calvinism) created only two humans in the Garden of Eden, and therefore we can conclude that this was because in Calvinism God lacked the ability or power to create more than two humans at that time.

You will say, “rubbish! That does not logically follow.” And I would agree. If God CHOOSES to do something or not do something, it does not logically imply that He must simply lack the power. Yet if you cling to saying “God didn't, therefore He can't,” then you must apply that to Calvinism as well and say that God cannot ever have done anything other than He did, because He didn't have enough power.

4) Salvation itself (not faith, but justification and regeneration) is monergistic. According to Arminianism, faith is what requires cooperation. Salvation (including election, justification, regeneration, and glorification) is monergistic, while salvation (sanctification) is also synergistic.

Man does not, in this view, accomplish part of the process of justifying or regenerating himself. It is only when “faith” is seen as part of “salvation” that people can say “Arminians believe that salvation is synergistic.” And this saying is misleading, for then it sounds like they are claiming that Arminians believe that justification or regeneration is synergistic.

Unfortunately, Arminians have been called “synergists” for so long that most accept the label without really thinking about what it means, or how it might be misunderstood. But again, if you disagree, I challenge you to give me one Arminian quote stating that man assists God in justifying or regenerating him.

5) Your claim is that (according to Arminianism) knowledge alone causes God to act in election; that He has no desires or volition of His own in the matter. This is nonsense. My position is not “totally erroneous,” it is based on my readings from Arminian writers, speaking with many many Arminians, and so on. Not ONE believes what you claim they do – that knowledge causes behavior.

It is true, as you said, that election is grounded upon "foreseen faith," and that is it conditional. It is conditional because God's will is only to save people upon condition. If God has a will in the matter, it blows your claim that God has no desires or volition in the matter to pieces. God's will is a motive, and motives motive action.

No one with an once of brain in their head would believe that knowledge (rather than motive) could possible cause or determine any behavior. Knowledge is used in conjuntion with motive to execute a certain decision. Knowledge does not replace motive. God uses knowledge of who will have faith in conjuntion with His motive to save those who have faith in order to elect specific people to salvation ahead of time.

Knowledge is not a motive. That's why Articifical Intelligence is not real at this point. The computers have knowledge, that is, they store facts. But facts are NOT the same as motivation. Your argument is that since God uses knowledge – that He uses His knowledge of who will have faith – in order to decide who He wants to save, that God has no motivation... that knowledge (and not motive of any sort) propels Him. That is nonsense. It is not only untrue about the Arminian position, but it's also simply ridiculous.

Does a child steal a cookie “only because” he knows where the cookies are?
Of course not! He steals it, using his knowledge of where it is, because he WANTS a cookie.
Motive, not knowledge, motivates behavior.


6) Now, I don't blame you for thinking that, in Arminianism, man has free-will such that God cannot know for CERTAIN what man will do at any specific point in time. It's a hard concept to get one's head around, but I shall explain it to you as simply as I can.

1 – Any behavior that is determined is absolutely certain
2 – Anything certain can be known even by those who did not determine it
3 – In Arminianism, man determines his own choices
4 – Therefore, his choices are certain
5 – God can know things for certain even about things He did not determine, which we know from point 2.

Now, you may disagree with this. You have, in fact, postulated that man is capable of knowing things that he did not determine, but that God is not capable of that. That God knows all because He causes/decrees all, and further that that is the only possible way God would be able to know everything.

But even given those beliefs that you hold, you cannot deny that the Arminians (not open theists) hold to points 1 through 5, as listed above. Arminian free-will, then, is compatable with God knowing everything for certain. Molinism goes a step beyond and says that God also knows what any being would do in any hypothetical situation. Many Arminians follow many aspects of Molinism as well.

“Then the doctrine of free-will is null and void for this would eliminate any possibility of a man choosing contrary to what God foresaw and decreed.” - You

Free-will = self-determined, in this case. Man cannot possibly choose contrary to what God foresaw, because man's choice at that time is certain. Yet who made it certain? The man himself is the determinant. He made the choice certain. Therefore, though it is certain, it is free-will because the determinant was the man himself.

7) I won't get into this with you. I will merely say that I disagree, and I've only ever talked to one other Calvinist who agreed with you that self-professed born-again believers, living Godly lives, beliving in Arminianism theology are (most all of them) damned and going to hell.

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49143
Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:48 PM
Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:48 PM
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Tom Offline
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Skarlet
Forgive me if I have missed something in this discussion, I do not want to interrupt this conversation. However, unless I have missed something you believe that God looks down the corridors of time and sees who will believe and elects those who will believe. Is that correct?
In relation to that you said:
Quote:
Free-will = self-determined, in this case. Man cannot possibly choose contrary to what God foresaw, because man's choice at that time is certain. Yet who made it certain? The man himself is the determinant. He made the choice certain. Therefore, though it is certain, it is free-will because the determinant was the man himself.

Even with your quote in mind, unless I am missing something, how can this be monergystic; seeing it is man’s faith that is the determining factor for their salvation? To be sure, man must exercise faith in Christ alone to be justified. However, faith itself is a gift (Eph.2:8-10) and those whom God gives to Christ will be given faith in Christ alone (John 6:37). God leads to faith all whom He plans to redeem. The redemption of the elect is certain. Christ promises acceptance to anyone who truly believes. (Other appropriate verses to consider are Acts 13:48 & Phil.1:29.)
One of the important aspects of this issue is the use of the word “foresaw”, or “foreknow” as used in Romans 8:29 is determining what is meant by this word in context. I do not have time to go in detail, or for that matter defend what I am about to say. However, in context the word does not have the connotation of looking through the “corridors of time”, rather the connotation is “foreloved”. Meaning God had intimately personal relationship; not merely awareness of facts and circumstances.
We see no indication of a prevenient grace in Scripture that indicates that a person can reject faith once it is given to them. Rather we do as I indicated above see an irresistible faith given to all God’s elect. “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me,…” (Jn.6:37 NKJV)
Tom

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49145
Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:38 AM
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Originally Posted By: Skarlet
You seem to claim that, in the Arminian system:

1) Infants are an exception to the rule that God cannot, is not able to, and is completely powerless to save those who do not have faith.

Yes, God cannot contradict that which He has eternally decreed. Thus, on the basis of Arminianism's insistence that God predestinates/elects on the basis of "foreseen faith", He cannot save those whom He has not "foreseen" as believing. ONLY those whom God has given the 'ability' to believe in the dispensing of prevenient grace can believe, all others are doomed to damnation.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
2) Unregenerates have unfettered free-will, and are no longer considered slaves to sin.

This is exactly what CLASSIC Arminianism teaches. What they affirmed in "Article III" (Remonstrance) and countered in the "Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine" (Canons of Dort), that man is Totally Depraved, they redefine and contradict in "Article IV" of the Remonstrance and countered in the "Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine" of the Canons. If man is DEAD in sin, i.e., spiritually dead (Gen 6:5; 8:21; Eph 2:1-5; 4:17-19; etc.) there is absolutely no inclination, no predisposition toward God, negatively stated and but rather an inherent hatred of God and all that is good, positively stated. Secondly, Arminianism teaches that regeneration (a creating of a new nature and recreation of the will), which results in a spiritual inclination, a predisposition, a love for God and all that is good, out of which flows repentance and faith, all of which is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit follows faith. Then it is logically and utterly impossible that an unregenerate sinner could even desire to believe upon Christ. Yet, Arminianism posits that "prevenient grace", which is nowhere to be found in Scripture, allows, gives the ability to an UNREGENERATE sinner to exercise his free-will and believe upon Christ.

This is not simply MY understanding and assessment of CLASSIC Arminianism, but the understanding, assessment and condemnation by unanimous decision of every representative of the Protestant Church who attended the great Synod of Dordtrect after nearly 18 months of deliberation. Further, this is the same understanding, assessment and condemnation of all the Puritans and the official Confessions and Catechisms of the Reformed Churches worldwide. And this same view was held by all the Reformed (Protestant) churches that followed. Yet, you suggest that "I" am mistaken in my understanding of the teachings of Arminianism. IF that was factual, then the entire Protestant (Reformational) Church is to be charged the same; they were ALL in error. I think that is most unlikely and actually absurd.

Lastly, on this point... Your objection is "classic" in that the crux of the matter is not primarily the doctrines of predestination, election nor even the atonement, albeit they are certainly matters of serious dispute and fundamental to the doctrine of soteriology. But rather, the 'rub' always comes down to the doctrine of "Total Depravity"; the doctrine of Original Sin and the noetic effects of the Fall. If man is as depraved and dead as the Bible teaches he is (post lapsarian), then the sovereign work of regeneration is absolutely prerequisite. Unregenerate sinners are totally incapable of choosing a God who they hate. The bottom line is that Arminianism and semi-Pelagianism both clearly teach that sinners are capable of and do choose that which is contrary to their fallen nature, which even God Himself is incapable of doing. rolleyes2

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
3) God does NOT have the power to save everyone. If He does not save everyone, it is not due to sovereign choice, but due to a lack of power.

It is NOT the question of God's "power" but "desire/will" to save everyone. God could have just as easily determined to save all. But the fact is, He did not desire to set His love upon all but only a remnant of Adam's fallen race to receive His mercy and grace in Christ.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
4) Salvation itself (not faith, but justification and regeneration) is synergistic. Man accomplishes part of the process of justifying or regenerating himself.

That is not what I wrote. In the Arminian system, "faith" is monergistic. Man believes on his own after receiving the alleged "prevenient grace". Arminianism teaches that faith is an inherent 'quality' within man which he can exercise after he is given the 'ability' to express. The Bible and Calvinism, in contradistinction teaches that faith and repentance are gifts of God, which the Spirit creates in the heart and which is part of the "new spiritual nature" of regenerate man. (Acts 5:31: 11:18; 13:48; 16:14; Jh 10:16,26; Rom 8:30; 11:7; Eph 1:19; 2:5-10; 2Th 2:13-14; 2Tim 2:25)

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
5) Knowledge alone causes God to act in election. He has no desires or volition of His own in the matter.

True. Arminianism teaches God has a universal and indiscriminate "love" for all mankind and "desires" to save ALL. Yet, despite this alleged universal love for all mankind, not all are predestined to eternal life in Christ. Arminianism insists that God elects only those whom He "foresees" as believing. Those who do not believe, are sent to eternal hell even though God alleged "loves" them.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
6) Man has free-will such that God cannot know for CERTAIN what man will do at any specific point in time.

True. This is incontrovertible. I already gave you an illustration in Joe Smith. The Arminian system is self-contradictory in that it tries to have its cake and eat it too. 1) God's decree is immutable. 2) Man's will is totally free to determine whatsoever it desires.

1) God allegedly "foresees" Joe Smith as believing and decrees that he will believe. Thus at the given time Joe Smith does not have the option of not believing. Thus his will is not "free"; there is no choice to do anything but believe regardless of the circumstances. 2) God allegedly "foresees" Joe Smith as believing and decrees that he will believe. But at the given moment which God allegedly "foresaw" Joe Smith believing, he gets a call on his cell phone that his daughter has just been hit by a speeding car and is being rushed to the hospital. Consequently, Joe Smith drops everything and rushes to the hospital to see his daughter. His "foreseen" believing never takes place. Thus, God's sovereign decree is thwarted.

The same can be said about all of the "Five Points" of the Arminian system of soteriology. Every point can be said to be dependent upon what MAN chooses and that God's Omnipotence can be potentially thwarted. a) God desires to save all, but most are not. b) Christ died for all, paying the penalty for all their sins, but yet the majority of mankind is cast into hell despite Christ's atonement in their behalf. c) God gives prevenient grace to all so that they can believe, but the majority resist this influence and remain in unbelief. d) The Holy Spirit is given to all who believe, but potentially some, many, all can fall away.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
7) And therefore, Arminians are damned heretics (for the most part).

True. How could it be otherwise, given that Arminianism teaches a synergistic salvation; Man saves himself with God's help.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
You admit yourself that your view of Arminian-free-will comes from Calvinists, such as John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards. They obviously did not know what Arminian free-will consists it, since what they spoke against is not what Arminians believe. Why don't you instead ask a knowledgeable Arminian what the Arminian view is?

False! nope What I wrote was that I have read in excess of 60 books and tomes of articles which included the writings of Jacobus Arminius and his followers... as well as the official documents submitted by the Remonstrants and the recorded documents which rejected them. Without question, I have also consulted the writings of Calvinists, e.g., Reformers and Puritans who were more than aware of what CLASSIC Arminianism and semi-Pelagianism taught, critiqued those systems and soundly refuted them. On the other hand, it appears that your main source of information concerning Arminianism is the writings and dialog with modern Arminians... and perhaps your own favorable studies.

If one wanted to know what Presbyterianism teaches, it would be a gross mistake to consult the writings of modern so-called Presbyterians, e.g., the PCUSA, UPC, many in the EPC, et al. For they reject what historic CLASSIC Presbyterians believed. The same can be said, and even more so concerning Congregationalism. It would be fool hearty to consult 99%+ of the modern Congregationalists in order to ascertain what Congregationalism teaches. The intelligent choice would be to consult the "Savoy Declaration" and those who held to it faithfully, e.g., Thomas Goodwin, John Owen, etc.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
4) Salvation itself (not faith, but justification and regeneration) is monergistic. According to Arminianism, faith is what requires cooperation. Salvation (including election, justification, regeneration, and glorification) is monergistic, while salvation (sanctification) is also synergistic.

Man does not, in this view, accomplish part of the process of justifying or regenerating himself. It is only when “faith” is seen as part of “salvation” that people can say “Arminians believe that salvation is synergistic.” And this saying is misleading, for then it sounds like they are claiming that Arminians believe that justification or regeneration is synergistic.

Already answered above. Arminianism teaches that God elects those who He "foresees" as believing (conditional election based upon man's determinative action). Arminianism teaches UNREGENERATE sinners have the ability to believe on Christ or to reject Christ. This believing is solely the prerogative of man and his free-will. All that God has done and willed is dependent upon this one act of man. As Billy Graham wrote, "God has done everything He can do to save you... Now it's up to you." (How to Be Born Again). Thus, "faith" in the Arminian system is man's contribution to salvation, aka: synergism.

It is essential to remember, that the doctrines submitted to the Synod of Dordt were in essence an attempt to return to Rome, albeit taking a mediating position for Roman Catholicism is semi-Pelagian.

Originally Posted By: Skarlet
Originally Posted By: Pilgrim
Then the doctrine of free-will is null and void for this would eliminate any possibility of a man choosing contrary to what God foresaw and decreed.

Free-will = self-determined, in this case. Man cannot possibly choose contrary to what God foresaw, because man's choice at that time is certain. Yet who made it certain? The man himself is the determinant. He made the choice certain. Therefore, though it is certain, it is free-will because the determinant was the man himself.

This is nonsense and totally illogical. IF, as you insist as do all Arminians insist that man's will is "free = self-determined" then man is capable of choosing anything he so desires at any particular time and under any circumstance. What God allegedly "foresees" is only a possibility, a theoretical situation. For if man's will is as free as you would say it is, then the one "foreseen" is more than capable of not believing, cf. my illustration above. If that alleged "foreseen faith" is fixed by God's decree, then that person's will is no longer free to choose to the contrary.


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Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Tom] #49147
Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:42 PM
Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:42 PM
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Skarlet Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Tom
Forgive me if I have missed something in this discussion, I do not want to interrupt this conversation. However, unless I have missed something you believe that God looks down the corridors of time and sees who will believe and elects those who will believe. Is that correct?

Since it's a public board, I don't think that it's an interruption at all for you to chose to interact with the topic. smile

You ask whether it's the Arminian position that “God looks down the corridors of time and sees who will believe and elects those who will believe.”

Metaphors can produce clarity, but they also can hinder clarity. If I was using visual and spacial metaphors for the position, I would probably say that God sees into time (rather than saying that He looks through time). But even more briefly, I could say that God knows all, including everything in time. Seeing itself is a metaphor for God's knowledge.

Metaphors aside, though, Arminians do hold that God knows who believes (at any point in time) and chooses to elect those people to salvation. So you are absolutely correct there. But those are only two steps in the situation. The whole situation looks something like this:

[Note: Saying that God knows that a man “will” have faith implies that God looks into the future. God is outside of time and therefore it is not “future” to Him. Saying “in time” is more precise than saying “will” from the perspective of eternity.]

1 – (Optional to the Arminian position, Molinists believe:) God knows what any creature would do given any situation
2 – God determines who He wants to make, where in time He wants to put them, what grace to give, and what situations to put each one in
3 – Given these situations, God know who has faith in time (and who will lose weight, and who will like Star Trek and everything else about every human at every point in time)
4 – God's good pleasure is to save those who, being in time, have faith
5 – Therefore, God uses His knowledge (of who has faith) to accomplish His desire/motive of electing each man and woman who has faith in Him to eternal life, and predestining them to be conformed to the image of His son.

You summarized point 3 and part of point 5. So I would agree with you that that is the Arminian position, but I would add clarification so that you do not think that those points are the whole of the Arminian position. It holds that God uses knowledge to accomplish His good pleasure and sovereign will. Any description of the position that does not address that is, therefore, too brief.


Originally Posted By: Tom
Even with your quote in mind, unless I am missing something, how can this be monergystic; seeing it is man’s faith that is the determining factor for their salvation?

“Ergy” is greek that means “work.” It also, I think, is the root from which we get “energy.”
Mon-ergy, then, means “one Being working” or “one energy working” or “one energy being applied.” Syn-ergy, on the other hand, means “two beings working together” or “two energy sources combined” or “two energy sources being applied.”

So, if you ask an Arminian: Who does the work in justification?
A: God does 100% of Justification
Q: Who does the work in regeneration?
A: God does 100% of the work in regeneration. Man's energy is applied to neither.

With justification and regeneration (salvation), God does 100% of the work, and is the only Being whose energy is being applied to the matter. Therefore, mon-ergy is the only word that would describe the accomplishment of justification and regeneration.

It does not matter, to the question of how many people/Beings are applying energy to produce a result, who the determinant is. Even if Armianian determine their own salvation, the process of salvation itself would be a work of God 100%, and therefore monergistic.

However, to answer whether they believe that or not, we'd need to get discuss what “determine” means. If I tell my brother that I will punch him, if he sits down, and then he sits down and I punch him – who would you say “determined” the outcome? Was it me for deciding to punch him if he sat down? Or was it him for fulfilling the condition I reacted to?

Personally, I believe that the person making the decision to act is the determinant. In the above story, I would be the one who determined to punch him (and would be responsible). In Arminian theology, God would be the one who determined to save believers (and would be responsible).

Originally Posted By: Tom
I do not have time to go in detail, or for that matter defend what I am about to say. However, in context the word does not have the connotation of looking through the “corridors of time”, rather the connotation is “foreloved”

Yes, and that's fine that you don't have time to really get into a discussion about it.

I agree that foreknow, in that context, isn't simply about knowledge. (Though I already rejected the time corridor analogy for the Arminian viewpoint)

Arminians believe that God “foreloves” (using your term) those who have faith in time. Not just the loe with which He loves the world, but a more intimate love for the Bride of Christ.

Originally Posted By: Tom
We see no indication of a prevenient grace in Scripture that indicates that a person can reject faith once it is given to them.

My topic in this thread isn't even about whether Arminian theology is right or wrong. My topic was merely regarding what Arminian theology does and does not claim. smile

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49156
Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:23 AM
Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:23 AM
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Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Tom Offline
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Tom  Offline
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You said:
Quote:
My topic in this thread isn't even about whether Arminian theology is right or wrong. My topic was merely regarding what Arminian theology does and does not claim.


One of the things that we should try to remember when discussing a subject like this one, is where these topics originate. For instance the 5 points of Calvinism, basically came as a response to the 5 points of Arminianism.
Pilgrim went into more detail than I did here concerning that point.
If I am understanding what you are saying (maybe in not so many words) is that the 5 points of Calvinism, were actually created from a misunderstanding of the 5 points of Arminianism. Am I correct on that accessment?

If I am correct, please show us where the writers of the 5 points of Calvinism misunderstood the 5 points of Arminianism.
I would like you to do so, via the points themselves as they were originally given by both sides of the debate.

Thank you
Tom

Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Tom] #49174
Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:20 PM
Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:20 PM
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Colorado Springs, Co
Skarlet Offline OP
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Skarlet  Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Tom
For instance the 5 points of Calvinism, basically came as a response to the 5 points of Arminianism.

That is true of the “5 points” that are said to summarize Calvinism, but Calvinism itself, stemming from Augustine, and continuing with Calvin and Calvin's student Beza were all teachings that were around before the Remonstrance. In fact, Arminius himself wrote against many of the claims that the calvinists of his time were making – yes, Calvinists before the Synod of Dort, before the “5 points.”

Originally Posted By: Tom
If I am understanding what you are saying (maybe in not so many words) is that the 5 points of Calvinism, were actually created from a misunderstanding of the 5 points of Arminianism. Am I correct on that accessment?

What I was saying is that the statements that Pilgrim was making about Arminianism were incorrect. I am not as familiar with the Synod of Dort as Pilgrim is, and so I do not whether they themselves were right or wrong about Arminianism (though it is certainly true that they did not allow any Arminians to be part of that counsel when discussing it).

Originally Posted By: Tom
If I am correct, please show us where the writers of the 5 points of Calvinism misunderstood the 5 points of Arminianism.

Well, as I said, I am not as familiar with the original Calvinist beliefs about Arminians 400 years ago. I am more familiar with the works of Arminius and Arminians themselves.

Therefore, I will tell you at which points Pilgrim misunderstands Arminianism, and will try to support each counter-point with both modern and ancient texts.

________________________________________________________________________
From the discussion:


Claim about Arminianism #1 Knowledge (of faith) alone causes God to act in election. He has no desires or volition of His own in the matter.

Claim denied:

Quote:
“The freedom of the goodness of God is declared... when He communicated it only on the condition, which He has been pleased to impose.” - Arminius

“That predestination is the decree of the good pleasure of God, in Christ, by which he determined, within himself, from all eternity, to justify believers, to adopt them, and to endow them with eternal life, 'to the praise of the glory of his grace,' and even for the declaration of his justice.” - Arminius

“The decree of election, by which God determines to justify and save believers, precedes the decree concerning the bestowment of faith. For faith is unnecessary, nay it is useless, without this previous decree.” - Arminius

Remonstance: “That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Christ Jesus His Son, before the foundations of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christs's sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe...”

“What seems clear is that God unconditionally (sovereignly) decreed to administer salvation conditionally... When God decreed the plan of salvation, He did so with nothing outside Himself imposing any conditional on Him. Whatever He decreed, He did so in absolute sovereignty, being under no obligations to any consideration except those reflecting His own nature.” - Robert Picirilli


Summary: I deny the first claim on the basis that Arminius, the Remonstrants, and modern Classical Arminians hold that God's election is not caused by God's knowledge, but rather comes from God's good pleasure, decrees, and determination which He set forward from His position in absolutely Sovereignty. Arminians hold that God's will and good pleasure, not His knowledge, motivates His to elect believers.



Claim about Arminianism #2 Infants are an exception to the rule that God cannot, is not able to, and is completely powerless to save those who do not have faith

Quote:
“...Not impelled by necessity, as if He was unable to complete his own work without the aid of the creature; but through a desire to demonstrate his manifold wisdom.” - Arminius

“That is, God has made a decree for electing only believers, and for condemning unbelievers.” - Arminius

“Whatever He decreed, He did so in absolute sovereignty, being under no obligations to any consideration except those reflecting His own nature.” - Robert Picirilli


Summary: These three statements spell out clearly that God IS able to save those without faith, but that He chooses to act according to His own wisdom. Wisdom, therefore, not a lack of power, is cited as the reason for God not saving those without faith. Similarly, God's decree (and not a lack of power) is cited as explanation for why not all are saved. And finally, it is clarified (again) that any of God's decrees do not stem from coercion, necessity, a lack of choices, or a lack of power – but rather all decrees are made from God's position of all-powerful Sovereign in the universe.



Claim about Arminianism #3 God does NOT have the power to save everyone. If He does not save everyone, it is not due to sovereign choice, but due to a lack of power.

As we saw above, from Arminius, God's choice IS said to be due to sovereign choice. But I will not simply cite the same quotations again (you can simply go back and read them again if there is still any confusion about whether God's decree stemmed from a lack of power or from “absolute sovereignty). Here are some other ones:

Quote:
“'[faith] is a condition prescribed and required by God...' and: 'This is the will of God, that whosoever believeth in the God hath eternal life...'” - Arminius [The reason God only saves those with faith is God's will]

“There is therefore in God no other will, by which he wills anyone to be absolutely saved without consideration of faith.” - Arminius [God does not will to save anyone without faith]

Plain English: “my God is big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do.


Summary: The condition of faith stems from God's will, God's will stems from His Sovereignty (not a lack of power). Nowhere is lack of power or ability given as a reason for which God does not save unbelievers -EVERY explanation points to the will and good pleasure of God.



Claim about Arminianism #4 Unregenerates have unfettered free-will, and are no longer considered slaves to sin.

Quote:
"[Free will] is flexible by it's own nature, and as it is addicted to evil in it's sinful state.” - Arminius

“In this state, 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 such as are excited by Divine grace.” - Arminius

The Remonstrance, in fact, speak specifically to say that born-again believers still do not have unfettered free will: “...the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and co-operating grace, can neither think, nor will, not do good, not withstanding any temptations to evil...”

“This is not absolute freedom... this freedom is therefore a limited, conditioned, 'governed' freedom.” - Robert Picirilli


Summary: “Free-will” to choose either this or that in a given situation (which Arminians hold to) is NOT the same as unfettered free-will. Free-will is still said to be limited, conditioned, governed in all cases, imprisoned destroyed and lost in the case of the unregenerate, and unable (without grace) in the case of the believer. To sum up this belief as “unfettered” would be a gross error.



Claim about Arminianism #5 Salvation itself (not faith, but justification and regeneration) is synergistic. Man accomplishes part of the process of justifying or regenerating himself.

This claim is denied:

Quote:
“I am not conscious to myself, of having taught or entertained any other sentiments concerning the justification of man before God, than those which are held unanimously by the Reformed and Protestant Churches, and which are in complete agreement with their expressed opinions.” - Arminius

“Salvation is wholly the gracious work of God, thus yielding no credit or merit to man. There is no room for 'synergism' (the view that God and man work together to accomplish salvation.” - Robert Picirilli

“It is God who justifies.” - Romans 8:33 [Affirmed by all Arminians]

“...that we may distinguish [faith] from Regeneration which is 'the act of God.'” - Arminius


Summary: Arminius agreed publicly with the normal reformed/protestant Christian understanding of justification – that is entirely 100% a work of God. Synergism (the term) is explicitly denied by modern Classical Arminian author Picilli. Specific works are cited to show that justification and regeneration are believed to be solely works of God – not a case of man and God working together.




Claim about Arminianism #6 Man has free-will such that God cannot know for CERTAIN what man will do at any specific point in time.

Quote:
“I wish that you would consider, that certainty of an event results properly from the prescience of God.” - Arminius

“[Arminius] also insisted that God's foreknowledge of man choices did not cause or make those choices necessary [but rather certain].” - Robert Picirilli

“The question is not... about the certainty of moral actions, that is, whether they will happen or not; but about the nature of them [whether contingent or necessary].” - Richard Watson

“[to distinguish] between what is done infallibly[meaning “certainly”] and what is done necessarily. The former depends on the infinity of the knowledge of God, the latter of the act of His will.” - Arminius

[This in contrast to the view of Richard Rice, who claims that decisions not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known ever by God.]

“All things that occur are certainly foreknown by God. Every happening is certain and known as such by God from all eternity.

Everything that will happen will happen; and if I add 'certainly' to the statement – 'everything that will happen will certainly happen' – I have added nothing. The so-called 'certainty' of an event means nothing more than it's 'eventness,' the simple face that it will occur – and God knows it will.

The free acts of a morally responsible persons are contingent (as opposed to necessary). A contingency is anything that really can take place in more than one way. This freedom to choose does not contradict certainty. Certainty relates to the 'factness' of an event, to whether it will be or not; contingency relates to its nature as free or necessary. The same event can be both certain and contingent at the same time.

Events that can transpire in just one way, that must inevitably be the way they are, is said to be necessary. For such events there were causes leading to the event that allowed no freedom of choice, causes that necessarily produced the event...

An event can be certain without being necessary: 'Shall be' (certainty) is not the same as 'must be' (necessary). Some events are 'necessary'; that is, they are inevitable cause by a prior influence. Others are 'contingent;' that is, they are free, capable of more than one possibility depending on an unforced choice. Both kinds are equally certain, as known to God.” - Robert Picirilli


Summary: It's hard to wrap ones mind around, but Arminus believes that facts (which are certain, by definition) can be either necessary or contingent. If a fact can be contingent, then it (being a fact) is still certain and known by God from outside of time.

All facts are certain; all facts are known by God; it does not matter whether the fact is necessary or contingent in this case – insomuch as a fact has 'factness' it has 'certainty' and will infallibly happen in (from our viewpoint) the past, present, or future. To God, the future is full of facts just like the past is.

Last edited by Skarlet; Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:21 PM.
Re: "Is Calvinism the Gospel?" [Re: Skarlet] #49175
Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:10 PM
Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:10 PM
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Pilgrim Offline

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First, let's get the history of historic, officially recorded Arminianism right, shall we? Secondly, you have all but admitted that you are not overly familiar with the Canons of the Synod of Dordt. Without having at least a working knowledge of this document, it is impossible to know what historic, classic Arminianism believes. Here is a brief summary of the history that led up to the emergence of Arminianism and its unanimous rejection and refutation by all the Protestant and Reformed churches of that day.

Historical Background

1. The Doctrines of Grace were well known and believed long before John Calvin.
a. Waldensians - 13th and 14th century in Holland.
b. Brethren of the Common Life brought biblical literacy to the region.
c. 1445 lay organizations, "Redenrijkerskamers" were criticizing abuses within the R.C.C.
d. Lauren Koster was instrumental in publishing many books that were distributed.

2. Augustinian monks, around 1578 traveled throughout Holland preaching evangelical doctrines.

3. Soon after the N.T. appeared in the German language in 1522 it was translated into Dutch. Other editions soon followed, which were distributed among the people.

4. Calvinism as a system of doctrine finally arrived somewhere around 1544, flowing in from Geneva through France to the Southern Provinces where the people spoke mainly French. It was here that the churches were first organized.

5. Jacob Harmsen [Latinized it was Jacobus Arminius] soon after his ordination to the Christian ministry in 1588, was asked to refute the views of a man named Coornhert who held to a view of the doctrine of election which was contrary to that taught in the Belgic Confession (1561) and the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). It was during his study of Coornhert’s heretical views that he began to question his own views. Later, having kept his change of view secret, he was sent to Geneva where he studied under Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza. Thereafter he was appointed chair of Theology at the University of Leiden in 1602. This was only 14 years after his ordination.

6. From what Arminius had taught, much in private for fear of persecution and possible expulsion, there was a group of men, mostly ministers who composed a document, known later as the “Remonstrance. They claimed their purpose was simply to suggest revisions to the confessions of the church, i.e., the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism, and not to change them. During 1610, these followers of the teachings of Arminius officially submitted their Remonstrance to the church for consideration.

7. It was in response to this “Remonstrance” that the Synod of Dordrecht was convened.

8. The importance of recognizing the modus operandi, tactics of the Arminians for today:
a. They used recognized terms but having redefined them secretly.
b. They used “proof texting” without sound exegetical support; out of context.
c. They constantly pleaded for “tolerance” by those in opposition.
d. They always professed to be Reformed, i.e., in complete agreement with the church.


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