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Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

For those who like to discuss and debate theology. This is a forum for people who enjoy strong and lively debate with people who may not be likeminded. Participants are requested to always treat other opinions with respect.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:12 pm

swfdoc1 wrote:Hey Paula,

Long time!


Hi, good to "see" you :) I've got so much to tell you, about the other thing. I'll message you asap.
Sorry my first interaction in such a long time is in opposition to a point you made. Over decades, I have found that many of my Reformed friends are too quick to call “heresy.”

I've noticed that too. And why are they so arrogant?
I suppose the first point in any post discussing heresy is to note how problematic any working definition of that term is. I suspect that you know that almost all (and probably flat “ALL”) Protestants are heretics even under definitions that some of us accept. (Huh? Well, some of us accept those definitions without thinking through the implications.) Second, even those Protestant—but let’s cut to the chase and talk about “Reformed”—theologians who are smarter than that, e.g., R.C. and R.C., Jr., have struggled to fashion a working definition.

Be all that as it may, even Reformed theologians with outstanding credentials assert that Arminians are not heretics. Besides R.C. and R. C., Jr. (who sometimes seem to be trying to have it both ways), hereis just one example. Here is a man with significant credentials—although with those credentials, he ought to understand the view he is opposing MUCH, MUCH more accurately—who declines to call Arminians heretics, EVEN with such false views as he ascribes to them. Fortunately, he understands the concept of heresy and declines to ascribe it to Arminians.

I write this about Arminians because I have read some of the key primary sources. I have not done so with Molinism, so I will not pass judgment. I will say however, that having read multiple, not just con-, but also pro-, secondary sources; I have serious reservations about it.

Mostly, I used the word "heresy" to get a rise out of folks and maybe bring some people out of the woodwork. ;) But...my understanding of heresy is any view that is in opposition to orthodox doctrine. In my view, salvation by grace has always been orthodox and any system which adds anything to grace is heresy. Now, most protestant A's will not admit their view of salvation includes works, nevertheless...carried to its logical end, it does. I can see you know much more about the term "heresy," than I do, so perhaps it implies other things as well. For example, I don't believe someone cannot be regenerate while believing A (or M for that matter). I read the article you provided, it was helpful although I couldn't find the author. I assume RC Jr. has the same beliefs as his dad although I don't care for his teaching so haven't read much of it.
By the way, I am always perplexed that my Reformed friends (at least those who are well-informed about the theological label they claim) are so quick to call “heresy,” when so much of their own system is made up out of whole cloth—a point I made earlier in this thread. Looking at the first 2 Sproul videos that you recommended, I was glad to see that he admitted that the Bible doesn’t directly support the Covenant of Redemption. (And he mentioned in passing the doctrine of “probation.” I assume he would also admit that the Bible does not directly support this doctrine, since he seems willing to be truthful about doctrine origins.) Unfortunately, Sproul claimed that the Covenant of Redemption is based on “inference” from the Bible. That stretches the meaning of “inference” WAY beyond any normal or (in my opinion, legitimate) meaning.


When you use the idiom, 'made up out of whole cloth," aren't you saying the reformed system ("so much of it") is based on a lie with no biblical support? I'm not too familiar with that term, just want to clarify.

Also, I don't believe one must wholeheartedly agree with Covenant Theology to call themselves reformed. As for the Mosaic Law, I prefer New Covenant Theology over CT. If I'm correct, MacArthur is a dispensationalist and Piper claims to be a mix of all three.

As for the covenant of redemption, I try not to get too sideways over the names of these things. I'm sure you would agree, at some point (eternity past?) the Godhead agreed with each other to make the redemption of the elect possible. Kind of like the word "trinity" is not explicit in the Bible but the concept is certainly there. Maybe we should not call these things "covenants," as there must be a sign and a ceremony evidenced although it was between the Godhead? And if there were a sign wouldn't it be the cross? Anyway, it makes me nervous when you disagree with me, try not to do that, ok?

By the way, I am not—as you may remember—(completely) an Arminian, and I am not (at all) a Dispensationalist, if that makes you feel better. Obviously, I reject the view of 5-point Calvinists (as opposed to 4-point and 4 ½-point Calvinists) and their Armenian counterparts that it is “all or nothing.”
I would be interested in knowing which of the 5 points you reject. Have a great evening!
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Colswann1 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:06 pm

To take Calvinism to its extreme, Jesus only died for his elect and no-one else. Doesn't sound like dying for the whole world, just the chosen few. I don't think God meant that to be the Gospel.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:18 pm

I've got three deadlines to hit before I leave town early Wed. a.m., so I may or may not reply substantively before I leave. If I can't, I'll try to do so from the road, but worst case, it could be Sun. night. However, I can certainly read a PM, but with any response from me subject to the same schedule as above.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:04 pm

Hi Colin, if you believe Jesus bore the sins of everyone (even the sin of unbelief) you must be a universalist. I understand the gospel to be that God made a way through Jesus so the "many" i.e. His sheep, could be saved. It's very good news, since He could have left everyone to perish. (Matthew 26:28, Isaiah 53:12, John 10:11-15)

Steve, no hurry.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Colswann1 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:55 pm

No Paula, I'm not a universalist I just like the triune God's heart that's revealed in in 2 Peter chpt. 3 verse 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promises as some count slowness, but is forebearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:36 pm

Colswann1 wrote:No Paula, I'm not a universalist I just like the triune God's heart that's revealed in in 2 Peter chpt. 3 verse 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promises as some count slowness, but is forebearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.


I'm glad to hear you aren't a universalist Colin! I was kidding, anyway. :)
2 Peter 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Peter is addressing believers in this chapter, if you look at vs 8, he calls them "beloved," and goes on to instruct them how to behave, "remember the commandments of the Lord," etc. Notice in vs. 9 Peter says, "patient toward you," - "you" refers back to the beloved - fellow believers. Therefore, I don't think the "any" can mean "any person in the world," but rather refers to the same people Jesus speaks of in John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Colswann1 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:25 pm

Jesus, who is the Word, could have spoken from the Cross and intimated he was dying there because the Godhood so loved the world he was dying for everyone who would believe on him. So much more to the truth than him saying, what some would like, that he wasn't dying for world that he loved, but just for a favoured few.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby carpenterdaughter » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:15 am

Read John 17.

We come to faith because we are gifts from God the Father to Jesus the Son. We do not do it for ourselves. We cannot do it for ourselves because our flesh is dead, dead, dead--sold to sin. God chose to redeem some of us to glorify His name and display His righteousness in all the world. We come to Christ because He comes to us first and shows us the glory of God that we would not be able to see any other way. He demonstrates His love for us first and then we believe that we are, indeed, children of God.

As much as our human sense of "fairness" objects to the idea that God does not reveal Himself to everyone, we have to let go of that. He doesn't. I look at my own life experiences and can come to no other conclusion. How come I can see and understand what Christ did but someone living under the same roof doesn't see? Is there something special and extraordinary about me? I'm just a "better" person because I want to know more? NO! I want to know more because something outside of me happened to me. I have eyes to see Christ because God gave me those eyes--there is no other explanation. Apart from Christ, there is nothing in me that is any better than any other human being. I follow Christ because He chose me. When He chose me, I could have refused Him--but who in the world would refuse that kind of love when you have your heart opened to taste it? Why was my heart opened in the first place? Because I have belonged to Christ from the foundations of the world.

We want to keep the idea that all people are capable of choosing Christ all by themselves without intervention of the grace and mercy of God for many reasons. To acknowledge that they can't, first of all, frightens us because it causes us to question our long-held definitions of the love of God. At least, this is true for me--this was what once caused me to object most strongly to the ideas of pre-destination or election. But, when I began to search for answers in scripture and then see these doctrines over and over again in scripture--well, I don't know how to describe it but to say that I was humbled, and I also had to admit the fact that much of what I have believed about God and even my own salvation has been more human reasoning than Biblical truth.

For me, understanding better these difficult things hasn't made me stop sharing the gospel. It has made the gospel more precious and made me want to tell it more. It has also compelled me to pray desperate prayers for the lives of people. It has helped me to see what a gift salvation is--it has given me a better view of the Triune God.

Has anyone else read fellow faithwriter, Robert Bernecker's, book Who's Your Father? I highly recommend it. He discusses these issues in "lay person" terms, and he backs up everything he writes with abundant scripture.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Colswann1 » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:10 am

Maybe we don't fully know what predestination really means. That could be a subject that could be looked at subjectively away from preconceived ideas.

How's this for starters: http://www.gospelway.com/salvation/predestination.php
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby carpenterdaughter » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:03 am

John 17 settles the conflict for me. It is Jesus' prayer.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them."

If God did leave it up to all of us to choose to come to Christ without intervening and giving us what our fallen flesh does not have (spiritual eyesight), every last one of us would be condemned to hell. Dead people don't even know they are dead, and they certainly cannot give themselves life. Go back to the story of Ezekiel's dry bones or to Lazarus. . . Who decides to quicken the dead? God does, and when He decides to do it, NOTHING stops Him.

God doesn't save us to prove our love for Him or our faithfulness. He saves us to display HIS faithfulness and His righteousness and His keeping of a promise. He is proving His steadfast love and mercy toward His children.

Whether it makes sense to us or not or satisfies our sense of justice or fairness, every last person on earth is deserving of eternal separation from God because we cannot live up to the demands of holiness--and if God did not choose to come to us and give us a promise of redemption, we would all die and go to hell. Now . . . sometimes we have trouble with that view of God because we want to see Him as standing in heaven begging people to accept Him--because that satisfies our ideas of a loving God. But . . . is that really the God of the Bible? Does he really stand and wait on men to decide to believe in Him? Definitely, he is patient with our foolish unbelief, but the God I read about in the Bible NEVER begs anyone. Did He beg Paul on the road to Damascus? No, he didn't. Paul was His and had been from the foundations of the world; Paul just hadn't always known it. God reveals Himself and then keeps His Word.

The problem I have with believing that God waits on people to decide to believe Him is that I know better in my own personal life. He doesn't sit and wait on me to "get it right." What kind of a God is subject to the actions of those He created? In His love and mercy, He chose to save me from the miry mess of a dead-end, self-serving life. Personal knowledge of who He is and accepting His invitation did not come to me because I was lying dead in my spiritual grave and one day decided that I wanted life. NO! I responded to the voice of the Shepherd calling me because I am His and always have been. People cannot accept a personal calling to follow Christ, if they never get a personal invitation. HE must issue the invitation to life. It is not something that we just decide one day we are going to do. Definitely, the outward showing of what has happened in the inner man always involves people making the choice to follow Christ. I suppose I could have refused Him, but that would be like me telling my mother at birth, "Uh . . . wait a minute, I do not want to be born."

So what happens with people who are under the pricking of conviction but never repent? It happens. I know it happens. They are doing exactly what I would have done had the love of God not breathed life in me and given me the faith and belief to choose. ALL men know that they have been created by God (according to Romans) but they don't all worship Him--because they are dead and slaves of sin. Something outside of them has to act on their behalf. We respond to Christ because we were created by God the Father TO respond to Christ. We are going home where we belong when we answer His call. Of course we choose to go, like I choose chocolate over vanilla because I LOVE chocolate. Did I give myself that preference? No. It's just who I am.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby swfdoc1 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:34 am

Finally, a reply:

One of many problems with the term “heresy” is that it is often based upon the Ecumenical Councils (or the first seven of them or the first four of them), yet there are things in the canons of these councils that many Protestants (and others) find problematic.

I do think that any Protestant would probably agree that any view that adds anything to grace is heretical. However, Arminians don’t do this, nor is it logically implied in their view. The Five Articles of Remonstrance is Arminianism’s foundational document. And Article 3 of the Five Articles states:

That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

The Synod of Dordt, of course, declared the Five Articles to be heresy. In my view, this was clear error. It elevates reformed doctrinal statements to a position of infallibility and defines heresy as departure from those statements. (As a side note, this approach becomes very problematic when one finds contradictory doctrines in the Larger and Shorter Westminster Catechisms.)

I used the idiom “made up out of whole cloth” to emphasize the fact that much of Reformed Theology is based on what Sproul called “inference” but which I deny is based on “inference,” as normally defined. Rather it is based on a desire to impose a uniformity and/or a structure on Scripture that doesn’t actually exist. It is based on a desire to force all of Salvation History (to use the term Sproul used in the videos) into 3 covenants (with other subordinate covenants also present). Because I believe this effort comes from a pure heart but is absolutely erroneous and invented, I used the term “made up out of whole cloth” rather than the word “lie.”

The problem with the “Covenant of Redemption” is that a covenant is not an agreement or a plan or a vow or anything similar. A covenant has specific components and the promise is only one part. The problem is that covenant theology pre-dates our knowledge of what a covenant looks like. Archeology has revealed much of our knowledge of covenant to us, and the match between the Ancient Near Eastern suzerainty treaty and biblical covenant is amazingly one-for-one.

Sproul is obviously familiar with this scholarship from things that he says in the 2 videos. For example, he says that he believes that the New Covenant began when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He says this because he knows that every covenant includes a covenant-initiating ceremony. He also says that baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. He says this because he knows that every covenant includes a covenant sign. (By the way, this is an example of a VALID inference, since Scripture never states that baptism is the sign of the New Covenant, but all stories in which Christian baptism occurs indicates that baptism is indeed the sign.)

Yet, Sproul persists in teaching the Covenant of Redemption. This PRESUPPOSES—based on nothing—that God must act internally the same way He interacts with mankind. There is no warrant for this belief. Far better would be to repudiate the doctrine or at least emphasize its speculative and likely-invalid nature.

Again, I cannot imagine the normal covenant components playing out within the Godhead. Even “promise” is problematic—would God really have to promise God anything? And as for the cross being the sign, the problem with that is that the sign of the covenant seems (I don’t want to be too dogmatic) to have always pre-existed the covenant in which it is used. For example, rainbows pre-existed the covenant with Noah (unless one believes the (in my view) wacky theories that it never rained before the flood); other tribes/nations used circumcision before the Abrahamic covenant; and other religions used baptism before the New Covenant.

Again the point is not to quibble about a promise or a plan vs. a covenant. The point is that when modern reformed theologians insist on still teaching the Covenant of Redemption, it is just one thing they do to impose an artificial uniformity/structure on Scripture. I find it very dangerous to do this to Scripture—God’s Word is what it is, and it is very dangerous to force it to fit our pre-conceived ideas.

Time forbids me to discuss each element of Covenant Theology that is based on similar unsupported presuppositions. I’ve already mentioned (in a previous post) the doctrine of probation and the artificially imposed structure of the 3 overarching covenants (redemption, works, and grace).

As far for the 5 points of TULIP, I generally agree with those points that agree with the Five Articles of Remonstrance. Despite the Five Articles being intended as a counter-statement to the TULIP aspects of the Belgic Confession, despite the label of heresy placed on the Five Articles, and despite SOME reformed theologians claiming there are no points of agreement; as MANY theologians of ALL stripes acknowledge there ARE points of agreement. As for the shorthand 5 points, I believe the best view is that total depravity can easily separated from the rest, and that perseverance of the saints can also (less easily and perhaps strainedly) be separated from the rest. (I don’t have time to defend all of this.) So there are really 3 main points. On those points, I think reformed theology gets total depravity right and gets perseverance of the saints and the "election cluster" wrong. However, even in accepting total depravity, I do so in conjunction with the doctrine of common grace, which some reformed theologians accept and some reject.

If we move beyond the 5 points of TULIP, I find more to agree with in Reformed Theology than just total depravity. As just one example, I believe that much of the reformed doctrine of providence (and its sub-doctrines such as concursus) can be separated from the parts of TULIP I reject, and that reformed theology gets many of these things right.

P.S. for Paula: if you sent that PM, I never got it.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:25 pm

Steve, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I will post a reply asap, I have a few things to ask you about:
I do think that any Protestant would probably agree that any view that adds anything to grace is heretical. However, Arminians don’t do this, nor is it logically implied in their view. The Five Articles of Remonstrance is Arminianism’s foundational document. And Article 3 of the Five Articles states:

That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby swfdoc1 » Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:09 pm

Paula,

Did you mean that you are going to ask me about the quote in the future or did something drop out of your post?

Steve
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:51 pm

.
Last edited by Paula22466 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:52 pm

Yes, I want to ask you about the quote - Article three. There was so much in your previous post I must take small chunks at a time.

Since Article three affirms the T in Tulip,
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
it doesn't seem to be referring to whether or not A's add anything to grace, as we discussed earlier, rather speaking to the depravity of man. I'm talking about, as you know, the grace offered to effect salvation.

A's must and do add something in Article 1 of the Remonstrance,
That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath 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 3:36: ‘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”

According to Article 1, salvation is conditioned on whether man believes and whether he perseveres rather than God's unconditional election according to His will (Romans 9:16). I know historically A's have believed God gives all men the ability to believe, but then he must exercise the will in order to choose. This is in direct opposition to their own Article 3 - that man cannot do anything good apart from Christ. How is this not synergism? I would go further and say most evangelicals today are more semi-pelagianists than true Armenians. Just go back and read some older posts to discover that truth.

Ephesians 1:4-5 states God predestines according to the purpose of His will, not because of man's choice. Ephesians 2:8-9 says salvation is not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Any way you cut it, whether God gives people the ability to choose, and/or especially if people are able to choose Christ completely of their own will - there is reason to boast. If everyone has the same chance to be born again, and one person says yes - not because of God's sovereign election, but completely because of their own independent ability to make the "right choice," - meaning God only offered but did not in any way compel them to say yes - there is reason to boast.

Let's say God does offer salvation this way, He offers to all, man gets to choose. Why, in Romans 9 (my other thread) does Paul anticipate his hearers are going to cry out unfairness on God's part? if A's are correct, there is nothing unfair about it. (I don't see anything unfair about God electing who He elects, just making a point) Why do we think God owes everyone the same grace He gives to some? If that were true, it would not be grace...
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious. - Author Unknown

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