Monday, December 02, 2013

Teaching Arminians what they believe

This is a sequel to my earlier post:
In response to Olson's own sequel:
I normally confine my remarks to Olson's statements rather than his commenters. Since, however, he accuses many Calvinists of misunderstanding Calvinism, I'll highlight how his supporters misunderstand Arminianism.
But election is something entirely different. Calvin, anyway (and I would argue all true Calvinist theologians), described election in such a way that no prayer could possibly effect it even instrumentally. It is an eternal decree of God “within himself” not dependent on anything outside himself about who will be saved.

Olson is repeating his original blunder. Prayers outside of God originate with God. Just as God predestines the salvation of the elect, God predestines prayers for their salvation. Both election and prayer originate "within God himself." Every prayer is a predestined prayer. Every prayer is the result of predestination. 

The relation between answered prayer and predestination is indirect. God decrees the prayer. God decrees the answer. Predestination is not contingent on prayer. Rather, some decrees are teleologically contingent on other decrees, in a means-ends relation. Some decrees are dependent on teleologically prior decrees. Interdependent elements of a concerted plan. 

Dale Wayman 
Dr Olson - Thanks for this post. It certainly validates my experience with many Calvinists. Calvin complicated the issue with his pesky teaching called evanescent grace where God gives a 'fake grace' to the reprobate to make them think and act as if they were saved and then God can damn them with greater punishment for their deceptive behavior (see Institutes, Book III, Chapter II, Section 11.)
i) In what sense is nonsaving grace "fake grace"? If God treats some of the reprobate better than they deserve, that's not fake.
ii) Arminianism teaches "evanescent grace." You can be born-again, but lose your salvation. You can think you were heavenbound when you're really hellbound. The Arminian God foreknows that by giving future apostates sufficient/prevenient grace to enable them to believe, then regenerating them and sanctifying them subsequent to belief, he is giving them false assurance. A delusive hope. A deceptive expectation. 
When I bring up such, Calvinists say to me, "Oh, you need to read something more modern like Edwards." So then, I talk to Calvinists about Edwards teaching and they say, "you need to read Piper, he put Edwards thoughts together much easier to understand." So, then I talk to them about Piper. They say, "he's a populist, you need to read....." It's like trying to nail jello to a wall. I've discovered that Calvinism means different things to different Calvinists.
Arminianism means different things to different Arminians. Some Arminians espouse eternal security, others deny it. Some Arminians affirm penal substitution, others deny it. Some Armnians espouse middle knowledge, others affirm simple foreknowledge, while others deny God's knowledge of the future. Some Arminians espouse annihilationism while others espouse eternal punishment. Some Arminians espouse purgatory while others deny it. Some Arminians espouse postmortem evangelism while others deny it. Some Arminians espouse conditional election (contingent on foreseen faith) while others espouse corporate election. 
I have so many discussions with Calvinists who can't understand that many do truly understand Calvinism and are not Calvinists. The main reason they are not Calvinists is because they truly do understand it. That is why they reject it.

If some (many?) Arminians truly understood Arminianism, they'd reject it.

...I couldn’t agree with the Calvin teaching that before the creation of the worlds the Son of God (who we know as Jesus) agreed with the Father and Holy Spirit to create multiple millions of men, women and children to be sent to hell for a life of eternal separation from God--possibly in severe eternal anguish or some kind of pain.
i) In classical Arminianism, God creates multiple millions of humans to be sent to hell. 
ii) Calvinism has no uniform position on the fate of dying children (given how little Scripture has to say on that subject, one way or the other).
The prayers of a loved one to save these people is of no value because this decision has already been made and settled and God does not change his mind.
i) Do Arminians think God is undecided about who to save unless or until we pray for them? Do Arminians think prayer changes God's mind?
ii) In Calvinism, some prayers are guaranteed to be successful. 
When I ask Cradle Calvinists "When were you saved", I usually get a blank stare. Many will then say, "I don't know EXACTLY when I was saved, but I know I am saved because I believe."
What, precisely, is wrong with that answer? It's a biblical answer.
Salvation seems to be a vague process, or at least an unknown point in time, for many Calvinists.
That's because regeneration is subconscious. Regeneration is something God does, not something we do. By contrast, faith is the conscious outcome of subliminal, monergistic regeneration. 
Is there anywhere in Scripture where salvation is described as a process? Doesn't Scripture indicate that there is always a moment, an instant, in which God quickens the spiritually dead soul of the sinner, creating faith and belief?
Salvation has three basic stages:
i) The timeless plan of salvation (e.g. election). 
ii) The historical realization of God's plan (e.g. the Incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ).
iii) The personal, individual application (e.g. regeneration).
Pity the poor Calvinist: He must always look inward for his assurance of salvation to the continued existence of HIS faith. 

Do Arminians think we ought to enjoy a faithless assurance of salvation?

He has no external event to which he can point and say: THEN is when GOD saved me!

Salvation has both objective conditions (e.g. the crucifixion) and subjective conditions (e.g. faith). 

Although I disagree with many things about Arminian theology, one belief I do like is that Arminians can point to a specific "when" of salvation. Ask an Arminian Christian when he was saved and he will say something like this: " I was saved June 12, 1974 at 8:15 PM when I walked down the aisle during a revival service at the local Baptist church and sincerely, with all my heart and soul, prayed to ask Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior, and to forgive me of all my sins. I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved!THAT is how salvation happens!
That reduces salvation to an outward ritual. Externals. 
And we are not BORN saved as some hard-core Calvinists will assert.
 There's a sense in which the elect are born saved. However, in evangelical parlance, "saved" is often a synonym for conversion.
Salvation doesn't happen in a vague, drawn-out process as say some Calvinists.
Regeneration isn't a vague, drawn-out process. However, self-awareness of spiritual renewal may be gradual. Take those regenerated in infancy, or the womb. 
God quickens the spiritually dead soul of a sinner at a specific moment in time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the spoken or written Word, creating faith and belief…God then seals you as his in Holy Baptism. Baptism is your mark of ownership from your Heavenly Father. "This soul belongs to God"! It is always the Word that saves and it is the visible act of Baptism that gives you tangible, concrete proof, to KNOW without ANY doubt, that God HAS saved you!
Sounds like Lutheran ritualism. 
Don't look inwardly, Calvinist brothers and sisters, to YOUR feelings of faith...look outwardly to God's act of marking you as his!

In Scripture, faith is a sine qua non of assurance. And saving faith is not reducible to a feeling.

No comments:

Post a Comment