Friday, February 24, 2017

6 Historical Positions on Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom

Here is a good overview:


  1. Hi!
    Could you comment on "Calvinism has never uniformly taught a definite or 'limited' atonement", and "the extent of the atonement should not be treated as a defining issue in describing the Calvinist position"?
    Also, while I think the hyper-calvinist description is an adequate summary description, do you agree with the "label" that describes the "moderate calvinist"? (Is that a valid term, or is something kind of trying to show "balance", a la Norman Geisler?)

    1. i) There's a raging debate about whether Calvin taught limited atonement. Likewise, there's a debate about whether Amyraldianism is an authentic expression of Calvinism.

      The answer depends in part on whether we use historical theology as our standard of comparison, or the internal logic of Calvinism. 4-point Calvinism is ad hoc.

      ii) The problem with "hypercalvinism" is that that label is used as an umbrella term for disparate positions.

      iii) Geisler's usage is idiosyncratic. The Calvinism of Dordt and the Westminster Confession is mainstream Calvinism. He is free to take issue with their expression Calvinism, but it's special pleading for him to act as though that's on the fringe, when it occupies the center.

    2. Thanks for your reply, Steve.

      Don't all the people trying to avoid or avail the "soundness" of a label (e.g., "I'm not a calvinist because those guys teach that man have no responsibilites", or "I'm going to say that I am a calvinist to show balance") kind of turn those labels in an unending battle of terms, instead of discussing descriptions?

      I mean, I find myself often saying "what do you mean with 'freewill'?", or "what do you mean with 'author of evil'?". As I became a calvinist I found that many, many, many things I believe are misunderstood by non-calvinists. Don't matter that "election" is in the Bible: people hear it, people dislike it.

      As I read Geisler work, I found myself thinking "wait a minute, that guy is not only calling me a hypercalvinist, but is also saying he is a calvinist, being a practical [modified] arminian".

      As self-refuting as it is people saying "I'm not into labels", don't these guys (mention in my first paragraph) ruin all the utility in using those labels?

      I enjoyed a lot of your posts discussing what is a reformed, and I agree with you that most of amyraldians are not 4-point calvinists (as they reinterpret the terms, but continue to use them).

      What do you think, Steve? Are people trying so much to use, or avoid terms, that these days they aren't so useful?

      I mean, even with the debate wether Calvin believed limited atonement, don't the phrase "the extent of the atonement should not be treated as a defining issue in describing the Calvinist position" seems a little undefining? When we see a book called "why I am not a calvinist", can't I assume that the "limited atonement" will be discussed (and rejected)?

      Whats your opinion on that division of "moderate calvinist" and "historic calvinist"?

  2. The link says

    These aren't the droids you're looking for...

  3. The list of positions is there on that website.

    The only difference seems to be that it does not have a forward slash at the end.