Saturday, March 31, 2018

Not very reassuring

I'll comment on this:

A bit of background for those not already steeped in the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. Calvinists have often claimed that only their theology provides true assurance of salvation—because, in that theology, God does everything in our salvation. We contribute nothing and don’t even cooperate with God’s grace. So, many Calvinist have claimed that insofar as free will plays any role in salvation (Arminianism), assurance of salvation is undermined.

Really? What about this:

(1) The soul after regeneration continues dependent upon the constant gracious operations of the Holy Spirit, but is, through grace, able to cooperate with them.

(2) The sanctifying operations of the Spirit are supernatural, and yet effected in connection with and through the instrumentality of means: the means of sanctification being either internal, such as faith and the cooperation of the regenerated will with grace, or external, such as the word of God, sacraments, prayer, Christian fellowship, and the providential discipline of our heavenly Father. "Sanctification", “A. A. Hodge and revised by B.B. Warfield.”

In Calvinism, the elect don't cooperate in the libertarian sense, yet they are agents rather than passive spectators. 

“In Calvinism, when someone moves from professing faith in Christ and being a Christian worker to cynicism about the Bible and the God revealed there (specific examples come to mind)  we would say they have become apostate.

In response to the assurance question with an apostate believer, most Calvinists say they were never saved to begin with.  They were deceived on that point (usually accompanied with a citation from James 2:19).  This seems to be their least problematic response to that circumstance.

However, it also creates a bigger issue for them.  They are saying it is quite possible in Calvinism to live for years believing you have saving faith, professing Christ, and being affirmed as an evangelical believer in Christ (or even a Christian worker/leader) while being unsaved and completely deceived. Logically, therefore, no one could be assured they are not currently living in a deceived state unless or until they died still professing faith.  That is no assurance for the living, walking believer and would violate 1 John 5:13 and other passages that speak to our ability to have confidence now.

According to Arminianism, it's quite possible for churchgoers to live for years believing they are heavenbound, while being unsaved and self-deceived. Much of the evangelistic ministry of John and Charles Wesley was directed at spiritually complacent churchgoers who suffered from a false confidence about their state of grace. Indeed, John and Charles thought they themselves suffered from the false assurance of dead formalism until their own awakening. 

By contrast, if people truly have both a choice in, and a choice out (I don’t believe that people apostate due moral sinning [sic]-2 Timothy 2:13, but rather due to failure to remain in their faith-Colossians 1:21-23), then they would always have confidence and assurance of where they stood with Christ.  If I am depending on Christ alone, then I have confidence that Jesus will embrace me. If I have changed my mind and “moved past” that belief, I have rejected Christ as my savior and would know that I have no assurance if it turns out that Jesus is actually the only way to God.  This is ultimate assurance.  I would never be confused.

Thus, Calvinism leads to no assurance in this life until the moment of death, while a view that affirms free will imparts complete assurance through every stage of the human condition.”

i) But according to Arminianism, you can only enjoy the assurance of salvation from one day to the next. For you may drop out of the race before you cross the finish line. 

ii) In Arminianism, you're not depending on Christ alone. You rely on your willpower. 

iii) Likewise, there's no confusion in Calvinism, for if you change your mind, if you subsequently recant the Christian faith, then you don't continue to believe that you're to be saved if it turns out that faith in Christ is a sine qua non for salvation. 

iv) In Calvinism, the elect and reprobate, regenerate and unregenerate, don't have the same spiritual experience, so just because a nominal Christian might be self-deluded doesn't mean a born-again Christian is in the same epistemic situation. To the contrary, a born-again Christian enjoys the witness of the Spirit. 

In Calvinism, some born-again Christians lack the assurance of salvation, not because they lack the relevant experience, but due to emotional, intellectual, and theological impediments. It's not a matter of layering assurance onto saving faith, but scraping layers away that impede the spontaneous sense of assurance.

v) Finally, an oldie but goodie:

1 comment:

  1. ". . . a born-again Christian enjoys the witness of the Spirit."

    Please describe that experience, so that I can distinguish between it and false-faith deception.