Archive for the ‘Calvinism Defined’ Category
Here is the video from the recent debate between Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian) versus Bruce Bennett (Calvinist) over the subject of, “Who Makes the Final Choice in Salvation – God or Man?” I was blessed to see how this debate, as with Dr. James White, unfolds. It is clear that we can debate each other will respecting each other in Christ.
Here is the debate between Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian) and Dr. James White (Calvinist) at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC.
Here are some questions I found on the Internet. While I didn’t agree with the totality of the article, I found the following questions to be interesting.
1. Why preach ‘repent or perish’ when the non-elect can’t repent and the elect can’t perish?
2. How can God hold the non-elect responsible for ‘not believing’ and damn them for it, when He deliberately did not give them the faith to enable them to believe in the first place?
3. If Christ has already made an efficacious atonement for the sins of an elect person, is that elect person actually lost during the period prior to their being saved?
4. During the period before an elect person gets saved, how are they condemned already (for not believing) when their unbelief (which is a sin) has already been paid for by Christ on the cross?
5. If repentance is a gift only given to the elect, what did Jesus mean when He said that some of the people in hell would have repented if they had had the same opportunity as the people to whom He preached?
6. Why does the Spirit of God strive and convict some sinners who later prove, by dying and going to hell, that they were non-elect? What is the purpose of such movings of the Spirit?
Let me see if I can answer the questions as a Calvinist would.
1. Because God said so (Matthew 28:19). It is simply our job to preach the gospel to all but to allow the Lord to use it to save the elect (John 6:37; 2 Timothy 2:10).
2. All people are born sinners. Therefore, that God saves only a few and condemns the rest is up to Him. He could choose to save none but He has chosen a remnant of grace (Romans 11:5-6). We are condemned period. That He shows us mercy is love divine!
4. It is God’s chosen way. Some Calvinists believe in eternal justification and some believe that we are born sinless because of Christ. The majority of Calvinists would say that Christ did die for the sin of unbelief because He knew that there would be unbelief in your heart and mine.
5. It was merely a statement about judgment and about not rejecting Christ who was there in the flesh.
6. Only those who are elect will remain. The non-elect, despite sometimes even giving assurance to salvation, will not endure. They are false converts. They are not regenerate and are lost. Judas was such a case along with other false disciples (John 6:60-71; Acts 1:25).
Don’t know how I did since I am not a Calvinist but I sought to answer them as I knew Calvinists would. I do find the questions intriguing.
I have seen a few posts lately from Calvinist blogs about why people reject Calvinism. One Calvinist blogger stated that the real reason that people reject Calvinism is because we are prideful and want credit for our own salvation.
Is that really the case for Arminians such as myself? Do I reject Calvinism because I am prideful and I want to share some glory with Jesus for His saving me on the cross?
The real reason that we Arminians reject Calvinism is the character of God. It is not our pride. It is not our love of free will or any other mockery. It is simply that we find the character of God to be loving and good in the Bible (as Calvinists would agree) and from that we believe that He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Further, free will flows not from man being prideful or the center of our theology but from our view that God created us with the capacity to be free moral agents who, through His grace, choose to love Him and worship Him. A forced relationship is not a loving relationship. I love my wife dearly and did not force her to love me. I wooed her with my charms and good looks or maybe my money. I wish. It was nothing of that. When I asked her to marry me, she said yes out of her love for me and not because I pushed her or forced her so that she could do nothing. She chose to marry me as I chose to marry her.
This is true of the Church as well. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says that Jesus redeemed us and He bought us with His own blood (Acts 20:28; cf. John 10:11). Paul warned in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 that he had betrothed the Corinthians to one husband, Christ. Christ is our Savior and Lord and He is our redeemer. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:10). We love Him and follow Him not out of “inward” calls that we could not do otherwise but we follow Him because we love Him and desire to follow Him (John 1:12-13). The very nature of God is seen in John 3:16, that He truly loves the world and desires to save the world through Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 John 2:2). We believe that God demonstrates His great love for us with the giving of His Son (Romans 5:8-9). We come into a saving relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22-27; 5:1; 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 4:10). All those who appropriate the work of Christ are His elect. Those who reject Christ are the lost (Mark 16:15-16).
The bottom line is that we reject Calvinism not because of human pride or that we want credit for our salvation. Rather, we reject Calvinism because of the nature of God. The divine determinism of God in Calvinism is a God who not only controls all things but is the cause of all things even sin. If the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty is correct, God renders all things certain for His own glory and purposes including sin. How does this not make God the author of sin when Scripture clearly says that He is not (James 1:12-15)? Furthermore, the divine determinism of God makes man not free at all. Man does what God has predestined him to do whether it be to praise Him (which seems is few in comparison) or to reject Him. As Dr. Roger Olson has stated, in Calvinism, there is not much difference between God and Satan other than Satan wants to kill all while God wants to kill most. No wonder this view of God, as John Wesley said, makes our blood boil.
I love Calvinists. I reject Calvinism. I can love Calvinists while rejecting their theology. God doesn’t save us because we hold to Arminianism or Calvinism. He saves us by His grace. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 that divisions are not beneficial to the cause of Christ. Divisions break Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-22. Division, according to Romans 16:17 is a sign of rebellion. I would not divide with my Calvinist brother or sister who is passionate for Christ or His kingdom over the issues related to Arminianism and Calvinism. We are saved through faith in Christ alone and not by our theological systems.
Ephesians 1:13 says,
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
Let us work through this text to see the order of salvation.
First, we must hear the gospel (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14-17).
Secondly, we must believe in Jesus (John 3:16; 6:29; 20:31; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:9-10).
Thirdly, at this point we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit or born again (John 3:3-7; Romans 3:21-26; 4:24-5:1; 8:9, 15; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 3:13-14).
So the order of salvation here in Ephesians 1:13 would be:
Hear the Gospel ———> Believe the Gospel ————-> Be Sealed With The Spirit
This runs contrary to the Reformed view that regeneration must precede faith for salvation.
Arminians such as myself are thankful that Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and that the gospel is to be preached to all (Mark 16:15). I am thankful that God calls all to repent (Acts 17:30-31). I am thankful that Jesus died for all so that all can come and be saved through faith in Him (John 1:29; 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; 1 John 2:1-2). All who come to Christ are the elect of God through faith in Christ (1 Timothy 4:10). Those who go to hell go to hell because of their rejection of Christ and their love for sin (Mark 16:16; Revelation 21:7-8).
Calvinism teaches that God also gives a general call to salvation for all to come and be saved. This general call goes to all nations. However, since Christ died only for the elect, only the elect will receive a special, inward call or effectual call that the Holy Spirit works in their hearts to regenerate them so that they can exercise the gift of faith and be saved. Calvinists believe that this general call to salvation is a sincere call from a loving God for people to come to faith in Christ.
The problem is that one will be hard pressed to show that this is a sincere call from God for people to be saved. Consider this, in Calvinism God elects people before time began and He reprobates others (the vast majority in fact). God then sends His Son to die for the elect that He predestined. God then tells the elect to go and preach the gospel to the non-elect whom He has rejected and whom He has left in their sins when He could have chosen them if He wanted to. How is this a sincere call? The fallen creatures cannot respond to the gospel apart from God’s intervention but we are told that God is still sincere in His desire for them to come and be saved despite the fact that A) He has not chosen them to do so and B) He has made sure that they will not hear His effectual call to salvation.
Now the Calvinist says that God is good and loving and that He could have left all in their sins without hope of redemption. This is certainly true but I am thankful that Scripture reveals that God has sent His Son to redeem all of humanity who would come and be saved. When the Philippians jailor asked what he must do to be saved in Acts 16:30, the consistent Calvinist would have to tell him, “Nothing, unless God has called you and then you will respond to His effectual, special call.” Yet Paul told him to look to Christ to be saved. This is the call of the Arminian, to preach to all to look to Christ to be saved and this call is not a hidden, secretive call but a true call to repentance. We believe that our evangelism is consistent with our view that Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2).
Consider this from the book Why I Am Not a Calvinist:
Only the elect can actually accept the offer of salvation and be saved.
Not all are elect.
Not all persons can actually accept the offer of salvation and be saved.
God makes a bona fide offer of salvation to all persons.
A bona fide offer is one that can actually be accepted by the person to whom it is extended.
All persons can actually accept the offer of salvation and be saved.
Do you see the contradiction here? The Calvinist says that God makes a bona fide call for people to be saved. Yet not all can come and be saved since God has elected to save only those whom He has predestined to save. Therefore, this cannot be a bone fide call to salvation. God is not sincere in His call for the lost to be saved in Christ.
Arminianism is superior here because our call is truthful. All can be saved through faith in Christ. Where Jesus is preached, He draws sinners to Himself (John 6:44; 12:32; Romans 10:17). Those who repent are saved through faith and added to the Church (Acts 2:37-39, 47). Our cry to the nations is repent! Our cry is to look to Christ to be saved. There is no salvation apart from Him (John 14:6). Our passion should be to make His name known in all nations so that all can be saved (Romans 10:13). Our passion should be to glorify Christ through faithful preaching of His salvation to all (Luke 24:47). Christ died for all so that all can be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Praise God for that truth!