Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Neopagan Arminians

kangaroodort, on July 3, 2010 at 12:27 am Said:

Likewise, it seems ridiculous to us (Arminians) that Calvinists cannot understand that a gift is still a gift even if it is received freely, and that grace doesn’t have to be irresitible to be grace. This seems to be an obvious redefining of what “grace” means by Calvinists. Good luck finding any support outside of Calvinistic philosophy for the idea that a gift is only gracious if it is given and received irresistibly, or grace is only grace if it cannot be resisted. Bizarre.

So while the Arminian is working with normal word usage and long standing definitions, the Calvinist redefines many such words (grace, sovereignty, freedom, etc.) and then faults the Arminian for not holding to the Calvinists bizarre definitions, even to the point of calling such Arminians “dishonest”. What a shame.

1. Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t know the elementary difference between the meaning of words and the meaning of concepts.

2. However, if we ignore that blunder for the time being, Ben makes an important point about the crucial difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. For if we apply normal standards to Reformed theism, then God is abnormal.

For instance, some boyfriends, if they give their girlfriend an engagement ring, will take it back if they break up. That’s “normal.”

It’s normal for folks to break their promises. Likewise, it’s normal for folks to be petty, promiscuous, vindictive, shortsighted, backstabbing, and mercurial.

And there are various religions in which the gods are very normal. The gods of the Greek pantheon are very normal. The gods of the Nordic pantheon are very normal. The gods of the Mormon pantheon are very normal.

Clark Pinnock’s theology normalized over the years. He migrated from abnormal Calvinism through Arminianism and open theism, to interfaith dialogue with Mormonism. Can’t get more normal than that!

Ben is welcome to Zeus, but I’ll stick with my abnormal theism.


  1. Just to expand on your point 1, he confuses subject and predicate. Calvinists do not say that "grace" in general is irresistable. They say that the kind of grace that God gives is irresistable. Thus, the concept of irresistable grace. This concept is based not on word definitions but on exegetical factors.

  2. To expand on what Neal said, let me offer an illustration.

    Consider Adam who is brought to court because he owes $100 to Bob. At court, the judge pays the bill himself and rules the case dismissed. This is obviously grace; but can Adam resist this action?

    Suppose Adam is an Arminian and is therefore used to doing irrational things, so he objects to what the judge did on his behalf. But supose that the judge knew in advance that Adam was an Arminian used to doing irrational things and therefore overrules the objection. The debt is paid, the court is satisfied, and Adam cannot do anything about it.

    Can that kind of grace be resisted? The transaction takes place between two parties (the judge and Bob), the debt of the third party is paid regardless of what the third party does in this situation. It is therefore incoherent to claim that such a transaction could even possibly be resisted by Adam.

    Therefore, even if grace can be resisted in some circumstances, it is obviously the case that there are other circumstances in which it cannot be resisted.

  3. Ben's prolly thinking about all those other graces God has given him that He first asked his opinion about, and gave him opportunity to refuse.

    Like being born relatively healthy, in the wealthiest nation on the planet; having eyes to see with and a sense of taste for the food he eats; family who loved him from the beginning, etc. Etc.

    So you can see how having dealt with all those resistable graces all his life, he's just been trained to think that all grace must be resistable to be genuine.