Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Of sinners and synergism

Last month, an Arminian (Martin Glynn) attempted to response to something written by  Alan Kurschner. 

I'll comment on Glynn's reply:
So this is a gross oversimplification. The most obvious is that there are more beliefs than just Arminianism and Calvinism.

Alan didn't say those were the only two positions. Rather, those are the only two positions he chose to discuss. And, of course, SEA is obsessed with Calvinism, so, in practice, it acts as though there are only two alternatives: Calvinism and Arminianism.

Arminians, at least, do not believe that humanity’s role in salvation is “necessary”…Indeed, one of our main points is that God’s plan for salvation is not necessary. 

Misses the point. Given God's plan for salvation, as Arminians define it, it is necessary for a sinner to consent to and continually collaborate with saving grace. That autonomous contribution is a sine qua non of salvation. 

Alan weren't discussing a hypothetical alternative. Rather, he was discussing the plan of salvation that Arminians believe God actually implemented. Given that plan, a sinner must consent to and continuously collaborate with grace to be saved. 

Historically Arminians have often referred to Calvinists as necessitarians precisely because we reject the notion that things are necessary.

Don't Arminians believe that God necessarily loves the lost?

It is Calvinists who view things as necessary, not us.

We regard predestined events as conditionally necessary. Whatever God has predestined must happen. That doesn't mean God had to predestine that particular outcome. He was free to predestine a different outcome had he so chosen.

Second, he is clearly intentionally implying that we view the human will as a force which rivals God, which is also clearly wrong. 

No, Alan just saying that according to Arminian theology, it's ultimately up to the sinner to accept or reject saving grace. The human will makes an independent contribution to salvation. 

The human will is autonomous, but in order to do good it is dependent on the Holy Spirit. 

That's unresponsive to what Alan wrote. Arminians believe that sinners can veto saving grace. For Arminians, saving grace is resistible grace. 

It is by grace through faith that we are saved, and apparently Kurschner forgets that Sola Fide is just as important as Sola Gratia.

But how are those related? In Calvinism, faith is the result of grace. In Arminianism, grace may not result in faith. In Arminianism, man's will can thwart God's saving grace.

The Calvinist idea that grace alone must require no human reaction to grace is extreme and unnecessary.

That's the polar opposite of the Calvinist position. According to Calvinism, saving grace causes a human reaction: saving faith.

This is to be compared to Calvinists whose prayers don’t make any sense at all (since what’s going to happen is going to happen regardless of whether they pray or not).

That commits the schoolboy error of confounding predestination (and meticulous providence) with que sera sera fatalism. But Calvinism rejects the notion that what's going to happen will happen come what may. It's not regardless of what human agents do, but in part, through human agents. Human actions are factors in historical causation.

The only way to claim otherwise is to view God’s actions as automatic, as if He couldn’t do otherwise once a person has faith.

Actually, that just means God is rational and consistent. He follows through with his plan. He doesn't make rash decisions, then reverse himself. Does Glynn think God is impetuous and shortsighted? 

However, since Calvinists often see God as compelled by His own nature, I guess I can understand why they would assume this.

I wouldn't say God is "compelled" by his own nature. But does Glynn deny that God must be just (to take one example)?

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