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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 carpenterdaughter » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:19 am

A few things I want to add to the discussion for now. Maybe what the Lord is leading us to understand in this is more about who we are as His Sheep, His Chosen . . .maybe that's what He's wanting me to see here. We are so tied to this life and this flesh and the people and the circumstances here--maybe He's calling us to the inner "holy place" in our own hearts with Him so that we will understand who we are in Him, through Him, and by Him. We resist that, sometimes, because we want to understand Him with our minds, but our minds are part of the problem. God speaks to our hearts, first, and then works to give us the mind of Christ. We have to leave off all our ponderings about other people and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. THEN we live "out there," always knowing that our true worship is in the quiet, holy places of our own hearts--and that those places are only made holy because Jesus' death destroyed the veil between us and God.

We WILL get that settled in us, first--because HE says so, not because we choose it.

I know that I did not give myself the desire and longing for wholeness with God. Why do I know this? Because when I choose to go the "other way" because that road is more comfortable or "reasonable" for me, there is such a violence in my heart, an unrest, a stirring to obey that until I do, there is no peace. HE maketh me to lie down in green pastures. HE leadeth me. It is not me. If it is me, then you might as well say that God does not exist and that He is a product of human imaginings. He is not God if we are able to manipulate Him and explain Him with human reason. We know Him because He reveals Himself to us in our innermost being. When we acknowledge His Sovereignty, we are worshiping Him in Spirit and Truth. I am nothing. For me to live IS CHRIST. The only way I can "get there," is to admit that I did not bring myself here. There is nothing special about me--NOTHING--except that for whatever reason, I belong to Him. I am His, and NO POWER, not even my own will can separate me from Him. I am His. Perhaps that is why I struggle so . . . because the contrast of the "Glory" of what has happened to my soul and the continued journey of throwing off my love for this life in the flesh constantly calls to question in my own mind what has happened to my soul.

Another reason why these "hard" Truths must be Truth--at least from where I am today in what has been given to me to understand--it must be because my flesh resists it. My flesh wants to be the decider of my own fate and even God's purposes. My flesh wants to make a way for every living soul to come to salvation. My love for this life, this world, and the people in it wants to say that ALL people have the free will to choose God. That makes more sense to my fleshly mind and satisfies the burning questions. My mind even wants to say that perhaps, in the fullness of time God is going to save us ALL because of what Jesus did. That is not what the Word of God says. The Word of God says that Jesus chose Judas to be among the "twelve," knowing that he was the "son of perdition." He allowed Judas because Judas' actions paved the way to the crucifixion, by which, God redeemed His Sheep.

Whether we like it or not, there is a divide, y'all. There is a divide--and only the Grace of God can bridge it.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:10 pm

pheeweed wrote:
Anyway, I've been wondering why the preservation of the idea of the free will of man is so important. It seems that you place it on the same level as the sovereignty of God. As I understand scripture, man's free will is given to us by a sovereign God and therefore cannot stand apart from Him. In a sense, all our choices are about Him.


Hi Phee thanks for chiming in. I couldn't agree more. The problem comes into play when people think of "love" as being forced. I think someone else mentioned this already. The non-reformer thinks of the "I" as God breaking into the will of a man and saying, "Now you will by my robot and love and do everything I say and feel everything I command," (exaggeration) But it doesn't happen that way. All God has to do is reveal Himself, "take off the blinders" so to speak, "open the blinded eyes," to who He is, and once we see who Christ is and what He has done for us, we will love Him of our own free will.

The Bible says the unregenerate man loves the darkness. I think in our culture we never "see" what real darkness looks like. I remember we took our daughter on a hike through a cave once in TN and the cave had lanterns here and there so we could see the path. The guide took us to an area of the cave where there were none of these lanterns and the only light we had was his flashlight. He did this to show us what real darkness is like. He turned off his flashlight and we stood there for about 5 minutes in utter blackness. There were no shadows, no flickers, our eyes did not "adjust" and allow some vision, it was complete darkness. This is how the Bible describes someone who has never had God break through that darkness with His light, but when the light comes - of course we follow because it's good, it's salvific, it's freeing.

I'd like to say something about the general call verses the effectual call but I don't have enough time to go into detail. I agree with Mike, and it was my first thought when I was introduced to reformed theology - "If some people cannot repent then why does God ask them to?" It doesn't make sense.

This can be explained by looking at Romans 1 - there is a general call. Paul wrote that every man whose ever lived KNOWS there is a God because God has revealed Himself through the created order. But this word "knows" is general knowledge, not "know" as in an intimate knowledge. So, everyone does receive the general call but only the elect receive the intimate call. This can be found in Romans 8 by examining the Greek word for "foreknowledge." When God calls the elect, He calls them with the intimate call - and then they "know" Him.

Maybe Phee will have time to say more about this.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Come forth » Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:25 pm

CD, first I want to say that I am in complete agreement with almost all that you have said; but I do have some problems with two things.

First you said;

This is the problem we have a hard time accepting. God's ultimate Sovereignty means that He allowed people to be born, knowing that He would never extend "irresistible Grace" to some.


Tit 2:11 says that God's grace has appeared to all men. That word 'men' in the Greek means mankind; all humans, male or female. I don't like the ESV translation of this text because it could be read to mean that ALL men are saved. But a study of this text does lead me to believe that His Grace has appeared before all men and is offered to all mankind. It is not God's will that any should perish; 2Peter 3:9.

I know this still leaves the mystery unanswered; but the statement that His grace is 'irresistible' is, for me, at best questionable. It is questionable because Tit 2:11 says that it has appeared to all mankind; and obviously many have rejected and resisted it.

Secondly;

For me, the "free will" answer is too easy. We give it to satisfy the "mystery," but it's also dangerous because to say we believe it, we have to compromise the power and authority of a Sovereign God.


Not one ounce of the mystery is answered for me and I don't find free will to be an easy answer at all; quite the opposite in fact. As I have said before, for me, the free will side of the discussion has as many failings as the determinism side; neither are fully correct and leave many Scriptures unsatisfied. Maybe that's why I lean, as Mike has said, towards M; but lean not stand firmly on.

One other point. If I have free will, but believe that I can do nothing without doing it in and through Him, then the task before me is to surrender my free will as a living sacrifice; Rom 12:1-2. To believe I have no free will is therefore easier than to admit I have but need to give it up. I don't mean this to be argumentative but to reflect the struggle which I find myself with on a daily basis. We are called to a Christian struggle and battle, one that we can rejoice in and enjoy living in the victory of, but a challenge and a struggle none the less; 2Cor 12:9 is one of many Scriptures where Paul expresses such for himself.

2Cor 12:9 also raises another question for me. Does A, C and M have the true answer about what Grace really is? It certainly cannot be a large umbrella that simply covers our sin and allows us to continue in it; far too many Scriptures tell us to be holy as He is holy and to fight against the carnal nature and put off our sin. And I am not saying that anyone in this forum has implied that it is; but much of the New Testament tells us that the early church understood it that way and the modern church at least seems to often reflect the same understanding.

Eph 4:22 and Col 3:8 are just two of many Scriptures which make it our responsibility to take off the old man and cloth ourselves with the Spiritual new life. But I can't do it without Him; this I readily admit. Once again, I must rest in the Truth that the mystery is not all yet revealed and know that His grace is far more than a simple covering; it is the provision of His Word, the empowerment of His Spirit and the ability to live trusting Him even when I do not understand.

And, as much as I love His Word and will continue to struggle to understand, the Truth is that it is all all beyond our understanding at this point.

Blessings, Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby carpenterdaughter » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:39 pm

Good discussions. I appreciate the opportunity to hear.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby mikeedwards » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:06 am

:thankssign Hey Paula,

I agree that C has some good arguments but I also see several arguments that can be made against C. I have just started a book called Refreshing Grace about this subject (A, C, M). Bea is almost done with it and after these few observations I will be bowing out of this discussion until I read this book.


Last few observations
Looking at Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans states that people are without excuse for rejecting God. Under C they would have an excuse. They were not beneficiaries of Gods regenerating help and irresistible grace. God did not open their eyes to the truth so they would accept Jesus. Under C they absolutely could not come to Christ. At this point some might bring up how the Bible talks of God hardening hearts. I know the Bible says God hardened hearts like Pharaohs for example but whenever the truth is preached it separates. Those who do not want it to be true have their hearts hardened even more. In Pharaohs case he thought he was god. However the evidence was strongly suggesting that he was not. His heart grew hard to justify and retain this belief in his mind, he made excuses for the miracles he saw.

Under C the gospel is also not good news to those who cannot come to Christ.

We have actually had a few members leave the site because we present the gospel as a choice people need to make. Honestly I see no other way to present it. I do not see it presented any other way in scripture then a choice. Repent or perish, choose life or death, If you do not believe I am who I say I am, then at least believe me based on the miracles I do.

Here is where I am at presently.
I believe God is fully in control and absolutely knows who will come to Christ (God is outside of time) and he determined before the beginning of time that those are the elect, the chosen. They are those who freely choose to humble themselves, repent and to place their faith in Christ. Yet he still created everyone (which he could have not done) so some will be objects of his wrath. I believe that everyone has the same opportunity to accept Jesus just like we all have the same conscience that tells us right from wrong. Just like we all have the same knowledge that God exists from natural revelation and our conscience. We also all have the same rebellious nature towards our conscience and thus God. I believe there is one unforgiveable sin and that is rejecting Christ. Now when Jesus calls, he knows who will come. He is gladly welcoming us. We recognize him and we are his sheep determined before the beginning of time.

I also believe Gods saving grace is a gift. I cannot keep Gods standard and I cannot earn a gift. All I can do is trust what God says. If I am not saved there is nothing I can do about it. The only thing I can do is to forget myself and tell others so they might be saved. I believe that satan tries to keep believers questioning their salvation to immobilize them. Focusing on self and fearing what others will think they do not share the gospel.

Now I am bowing out to go back to my corner :lol: and read this book I mentioned and to do the ten thousand other things I need to do. Thank you Paula, Graham, CD aka Frankie, Phee and my Bea for all of your help.


God Bless, Mike :thankssign
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:42 pm

Mike, I will refrain from commenting on some of your points although I am itching too :mrgreen: because I don't want to distract you from doing other things.
Thanks for discussing such a hot topic with grace. I'm thinking of starting another thread and detailing the dreaded TULIP - sound fun? (no need to comment)
Of course, the Gospel should be presented as a choice to the world, we don't know who the elect are. How else would it be presented? "Come and get saved because you will anyway!" haha :)
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious. - Author Unknown

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:58 pm

carpenterdaughter wrote:
I know that I did not give myself the desire and longing for wholeness with God. Why do I know this? Because when I choose to go the "other way" because that road is more comfortable or "reasonable" for me, there is such a violence in my heart, an unrest, a stirring to obey that until I do, there is no peace. HE maketh me to lie down in green pastures. HE leadeth me. It is not me. If it is me, then you might as well say that God does not exist and that He is a product of human imaginings. He is not God if we are able to manipulate Him and explain Him with human reason. We know Him because He reveals Himself to us in our innermost being. When we acknowledge His Sovereignty, we are worshiping Him in Spirit and Truth. I am nothing. For me to live IS CHRIST.

And to die is gain. I see you find the same great comfort in the sovereignty of God as I. I never felt it so intensely until I admitted to myself, without Christ, I am the worm you speak of, or perhaps even lower as Job 25:6 refers to man as a maggot. And so I submit wholly and utterly, burrowing under His wing, nestled in the palm of His hand, knowing I am His, have always been His and my days are His. Nothing can ever change that.
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious. - Author Unknown

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby pheeweed » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:49 pm

I know I joined the discussion late and since Mike is bowing out, I'm not sure I should respond, but I'm going to anyway. It's okay if this is the end of the discussion.

I've thought about what Mike said about needing free will to love. I've always thought love was a choice, but when I think about it, there's so much more to it than that. Children don't make a choice to love, they respond to their parents' love. We respond to God's love in the same way. I John 4:10. I don't think God created Adam in the hopes that he (Adam) would love Him. I think God created Adam so He (God) could love Adam.

I think this is where irresistible grace comes into play, but that probably needs to wait for another day. Paula, I can't wait to see your thread about TULIP.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby carpenterdaughter » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:26 pm

Just throwing this in . . . if everyone's ready to move on and leave this discussion where it is, don't feel obligated to respond. We have to go where He leads, after all. :) But, I really wanted to throw this thought out.

Maybe there are those who respond to the "general call" to salvation and maybe there are those who are absolutely chosen through "irresistible Grace" or whatever you want to call it. Nicodemus came of his own will to question Jesus. The crowds came to Jesus and there are two different accounts in Matthew of people who simply reached out to touch the hem of his garment and were healed. Then, there is Paul who was chosen. Then, there are the disciples. Jesus, Himself, said, "Many are called but few are chosen."

Maybe the TRUTH of it all is found in bits and pieces of everything we've all said, but in the end it is ALWAYS Jesus--however we get there, it's always Jesus. :D

Thank the Sovereign God in Heaven for Jesus!!

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby beaedwards » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:55 am

Great points CD.
I certainly hope just because my precious husband is bowing out for a bit we don't discontinue this insightful discussion!
My 2 cents for the day...
Each of the three systems we have been pondering all have questionable areas. This makes me wonder how necessary it might be for me to join one of the camps, as I have in the past or should I continue to study all I can without potentially making a commitment other than to being a born again, redeemed, justified child of the King.
I will add that the majority of my most influential and life changing mentors have been from the C camp which leads me to a much greater thirst in gaining wisdom to overcome those problem areas.
To think that Charles Spurgeon, Jonathon Edwards, John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, and Francis Chan to name just a few, have been following a false system seems ludicrous at best.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby pheeweed » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:05 pm

According to Sproul, Martin Luther and Augustine also taught C - although they didn't call it that, of course. I've never read anything by Luther and only read Augustine's Confessions, so I can't say if he's right. But my point is that this doctrine is older than Calvin. No, Bea, I don't think they believe something false. But then, I struggle with thinking that John Wesley was wrong. I never really understood sanctification until I went to a Methodist church and learned what Wesley taught.
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Come forth » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:35 pm

To think that Charles Spurgeon, Jonathon Edwards, John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, and Francis Chan to name just a few, have been following a false system seems ludicrous at best.


I don't think any of the great scholars, who have contributed sooo much to our understanding, were following a false system. And in spite of how I may have come across at times, failing to articulate as I grow, I don't really believe that A, C or M are false; they are just not perfect.

The more I reach out for understanding, the more I believe God shows me the individual nature of understanding; yours is different to mine, to the one next door, down the road and so on. If I stand on the street in front of my house, what I see is so familiar to me. Three hundred yards down the road the houses are different; possibly different designs, different gardens, colors and even made of different materials. But we are still on the same road going the same direction.

We are years down the road of revelation to many of these past giants of the faith, and all at different points along the road. None of us are right and none of us wrong; we are just struggling to understand what we see.

Not withstanding that truth, let us not forget that there have been many Biblical giants of the faith (including the wise King Solomon) who still ended up leading people into idolatry. The important thing is to not become fixed within our own minds; having turned into concrete that which is supposed to be a river and a fountain. Even Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52); and at 12 years of age I have no doubt He was still much further along the road than I am at 60.

I don't see myself as A, C, or M but rather as a mixture of all. I agree very much with aspects of all of them, but struggle to understand other aspects or each. As the Lord leads me deeper into understanding His Word maybe I'll come out on one side or the other; but as long as Yeshua is there I don't care which one it is.

Blessings, Graham
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby beaedwards » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:10 pm

Graham you wrote- "The important thing is to not become fixed within our own minds; having turned into concrete that which is supposed to be a river and a fountain. Even Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52)"

Perfect point my friend!! :bow

ps sorry I can't seem to figure out the quote thingy...

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby carpenterdaughter » Wed May 01, 2013 6:23 am

Come forth wrote:
The more I reach out for understanding, the more I believe God shows me the individual nature of understanding; yours is different to mine, to the one next door, down the road and so on. If I stand on the street in front of my house, what I see is so familiar to me. Three hundred yards down the road the houses are different; possibly different designs, different gardens, colors and even made of different materials. But we are still on the same road going the same direction.

We are years down the road of revelation to many of these past giants of the faith, and all at different points along the road. None of us are right and none of us wrong; we are just struggling to understand what we see.



What a lovely way to describe our walks in this life! Something that brings me comfort in the struggle to understand is to remember who God is and why He keeps things a "mystery" for us. He feeds us with food that is convenient for us--gives us what will cause us to grow in the best way for our sakes and for His Glory. It is not because He's withholding from us out of disdain or some cruel game playing--which is what the adversary would like us to think. He knows we are flesh and has kept us here in the flesh for a distinct purpose. If He gave us too much of what it is we all really and truly want (Perfection in Him--in effect, HIM), we would not be able to remain here. We would have absolutely no love for anything in this life, and wouldn't be able to relate to people. He has to leave us here because the work He wants to do to save others by using us is not yet finished. Until it is, we live in the "balance." For me, that is what He is working out in us--allowing just enough affection for this life to keep us useful--but not so much that we are useless. We know there is so much MORE waiting--something better, something good, something beautiful, something exactly perfectly RIGHT . . . but we're "stuck" here, finishing out our days knowing Him as best we can here as we journey ever onward. Our new life has already begun in our spirits, but our flesh still lives here. Thank goodness He didn't save us and leave us all alone to finish the journey!

I am also frequently reminded that we are opposed in this life and that God does not give away all His battle plans because He's actually protecting us from the enemy who would come against those plans and distract us from our purposes. In "warfare" is when I am most comforted by the absolute Sovereignty of God. There is no power on earth that can thwart Him. I have to believe that or all hope is lost.

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Re: Calvinism, Armenianism, Molinism

Postby Paula22466 » Wed May 01, 2013 11:18 am

pheeweed wrote:According to Sproul, Martin Luther and Augustine also taught C - although they didn't call it that, of course. I've never read anything by Luther and only read Augustine's Confessions, so I can't say if he's right. But my point is that this doctrine is older than Calvin. No, Bea, I don't think they believe something false. But then, I struggle with thinking that John Wesley was wrong. I never really understood sanctification until I went to a Methodist church and learned what Wesley taught.


You are correct, Luther and Augustine also taught sola gratia. To say all of these great minds throughout Christian history and even until today were all wrong is, like Bea said, ludicrous at best.

John Wesley wasn't exactly a classic A. When he adopted the A beliefs he taught it with a passion for evangelism, which was lacking from the original concept. Even Wesley believed and taught that no man can come to saving faith apart from the aid of the Holy Spirit, which is more than some around here seem to believe.

Us westerners have been and are being poisoned by relativism. So much so that secular society will now say we can't know what truth is. Everyone has their own truth, it's all relative. This ideology is slowly and surely seeping into the church.

For example, I gave Romans 1 as an example of God's general revelation to mankind. The point of this chapter is to show men have no excuse to be ignorant of God's existence because God has made it plain through creation. And then someone says this:
Maybe there are those who respond to the "general call" to salvation and maybe there are those who are absolutely chosen


Romans 1 has absolutely nothing to do with salvation. If, by some stretch, it were speaking about salvation, and Paul meant to say, "All man ought to be able to come to saving faith just be seeing God's creation," then Paul would be hard pressed to explain why we need the gospel.

Let's get something clear, my friends. There is no Bible, and no Christian (who understands the Bible) who contests the fact that God has made a choice concerning who would be saved and who would be lost before the world began (Ephesians 1:4, Matthew 25:34, Acts 13:48, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:29). The thing we cannot agree on is how God chose. Did He look down through time and know who would say yes to Christ and choose those people, or did He choose people based on His sovereign good pleasure?

We can learn a lot from history. When the USA began, the majority of Christians were Calvinistic Presbyterians and not many questioned the reformed tenets of faith. Over time, with the infiltration of immigrants from largely roman catholic countries - Catholicism grew to be the largest denomination in the country. Catholicism (salvation by works + Christ) mingled with protestantism to form other denominations (although most protestants would never admit it. And as Dr. Sproul always asks, "if you claim to be a Protestant, what exactly are you protesting against?"). Myself being raised baptist, had never even heard of God's choosing or election, or predestination until I was 30. How sad is that? I take partial blame, of course. And now I think we would all agree we are living in a post-Christian, or at least quickly approaching, USA, where no one can know what truth is, and least of all is truth found in the Holy Bible. I said all of that to merely point you to the order of events - it doesn't go from bad to good does it?

While I know we are all writers here, bent toward prose and eloquent speak, let's not forget this is a theology forum and theology apart from Scripture is not theology at all. I see a lot of, "What this means to me..." "This reminds me of..." "I prefer to..." "Maybe it means..."
So, in the spirit of Truth being found in a Person revealed in a Book - let's prayerfully study The Book itself, read the great scholars, and then make an educated decision on what to believe.
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