What is Free Will? It may seem strange to some that there even is a debate as to what constitutes free will. The average person believes that he has free will. Whenever he is confronted…
Monthly Archives For June 2009
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, for we are the blessed in all spiritual blessings, in the heavenly things, in Christ, seeing that He chose us in Him before the inception of the world to be holy and unblemished within His presence in love, thus predestining us into adoption to Him through Jesus Christ, according to the good judgement of His will in praise of His glory and His grace by which He favoured us in love.
In Daniel Whedon’s Comentary on Romans 9, he argues that Paul’s quotations of the old testament support the Arminian view of the passage. In some ways, I found Whedon to be a prototype of more recent Arminian explanations of the passage. Specifically, his digging into the context of “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” in Exodus 32-33 was a big step in the right direction. Whedon explains the verses and then refutes Barnes’ (a Calvinist) view. He notes the Calvinist interpretation of defending God’s justice is really a “might makes right” kind of view. He objects: “Power increased infinitely cannot change right. A creature can be supposedly wronged by even an infinite being. The predesinarian interpretation makes Paul pretend to give a reason, but really resorts to force, and seeks to frighten his opponents out of reasoning.”
“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation comes from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us ~ to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days'” (Luke 1. 67-75 TNIV, and henceforth).
By Daniel Whitby – part of Discourses on the 5 Points Editor Note: Archaic spellings and words have been updated, sentences broken down into shorter sentences and links to scripture references inserted. – Godismyjudge SUFFICIENT…
By Daniel Whitby – part of Discourses on the 5 Points
Editor Note: Archaic spellings and words have been updated, sentences broken down into shorter sentences, and links to Scripture references inserted. – Godismyjudge
To proceed now to the arguments which evidently seem to confute this doctrine:
II. ARGUMENT ONE – Sufficient Grace
And (1.) this is evident from those expressions of the holy scripture, which intimate that God had done what was sufficient, and all that reasonably could be expected from Him in order to the reformation of those persons who were not reformed; ‘for what could have been done more, (HEBREW, what was there more to do?) for my vineyard, which I have not done in it? Wherefore then when I looked (or, expected,) that it should have brought forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? (Isaiah 5:4)
By Daniel Whitby – part of Discourses on the 5 Points
Editor Note: Archaic spellings and words have been updated, sentences broken down into shorter sentences and links to scripture references inserted. – Godismyjudge
Answering the arguments produced to prove, First, that man is purely passive in the work of conversion, and that it is done by an irresistible or unfrustrable act of God.
These arguments, for method-sake, may be reduced to four heads,
First. Arguments taken from the nature of the work itself; as v. g. it being represented by such acts:
Admittedly, no systematic theology is perfect. That takes a load of pressure off of every sincere Bible student. Not one of us will ever have all of his or her doctrines correct. C. I. Scofield wrote that there will always exist a measure of false teaching in true, orthodox Christianity, due to our fallen nature and our design as finite creatures.
I was once convinced that Calvinism was right because people showed me a lot of proof texts to propagate this theology. I had read Chosen by God by R. C. Sproul and concluded that he, too, was correct. How could I have missed out on this teaching for so long? I will never forget what affect Sproul’s book had on my heart. How could God have chosen me and not others? Moreover, why would God have chosen me and not others?
The Bible Tools, “Sabbath-keeping, non-Trinitarian” post I was viewing read, “God Himself has kept Israel from seeing and hearing (understanding and applying) His truth, giving Israel a spirit of slumber to make possible the salvation of the Gentiles. He has determined to call and choose only a limited number from Israel in this age, allowing the rest to remain blinded . . .”
According to this errant view, the only way for God to offer salvation to the Gentiles was to blind Israel from seeing and hearing His truth (which is contradictory to its own thesis, as will be pointed out momentarily). Poor God: He cannot seem to save people without damning others; and His gospel does not seem to contain the life-changing power it boasts (Rom. 1.16) without God first regenerating the sinner.
Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ through God’s will. To the saints: the residents in Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul uses three terms to denote the recipants of his letter: saints, residents, and faithful. I found it very difficult to determine the exact relationship between these three denotations, and I found that most translations simply skipped the second (residents). But I feel that this misses the relationship between being ‘in Ephesus’ and ‘in Christ Jesus’ which is a bit more obvious in the Greek, and I wanted to tease this out.
In Joseph Agar Beet’s commentary on Romans 9 (pages 255 -288 in his A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans) he explains that Paul is teaching that God’s plan was to save through the Gospel not the Law. Beet is a good author – he asks good questions and gets right to the point. I love the way he explains why the word ‘faith’ doesn’t appear in the first part of the text. “Paul puts, not faith, but Him that calls, in contrast to works. For God’s purpose is no more a result of faith than of works.” The objection in verse 14 is that “we are working so hard and God is letting in believers who hadn’t been previously working”. Paul responds by explaining God is being merciful, so merit doesn’t come into play. Beet sees hardening as a punishment for prior sins that makes obedience more difficult, but not impossible.
Arminius wrote, “Not only does the very nature of God and of things themselves, but likewise the Scriptures and experience do evidently show that Providence belongs to God. But Providence denotes some property of God, not a quality, or . . . a capability, or a habit; but it is an act which is not ad intra nor internal, but which is ad extra and external; and which is about an object . . . different from God, and that is not united to Him from all eternity in His understanding, but as separate and really existing.”1
The ordo salutis is the “order of salvation.” It focuses on the process of salvation and the logical order of that process. The main difference between the Arminian and Calvinist ordo concerns faith and regeneration. Strictly speaking, faith is not part of salvation in the Arminian ordo since it is the condition that is met prior to God’s act of saving. All that follows faith is salvation in the Arminian ordo while in the Calvinist ordo faith is the result of salvation in some sense. What follows is how I see the Arminian ordo compared to the Calvinist ordo along with why I find the Calvinist ordo theologically problematic.
Arminian ordo salutis:
[Union with Christ]
Notes on Arminian ordo:
The ever insightful Calvin: :
Since we are now finished with I John, it is time to start a new book for this devotional series. I gave the matter some thought. Eventually I settled on the book of Ephesians, not because of its place within the A/C debate, but because I love its ecclesiology. In my mind, I’ve nicknamed Ephesians “the epistle of unity”, much as I think of Philippians as “the epistle of joy” or I Corinthians as “the epistle of discipline”.
In Frederic Louis Godet takes a “National Election” approach in his commentary on Romans 9. He summarizes the flow of Romans 9-11 as follows: “1. That of God’s absolute liberty in regard to every alleged required right, upon Him, on man’s part; this is the subject of chap. ix. 2. That of the legitimacy of the use which God has made of His liberty in the case in question; such is the subject of chap, x., where Paul shows that Israel by their want of understanding drew upon themselves the lot which has overtaken them. 3. That of the utility of this so unexpected measure: this forms the subject of chap, xi., where the beneficent consequences of Israel’s rejection down to their glory one final result are unfolded.” Godet explains the chapter verse by verse and along the way he picks apart the grammatical details to draw out Paul’s point.
Free Will and the Why of Creation
I am not a big fan of arguing for free will. In general, I think it is a given for the moral character of humanity. Even Calvinists postulate some degree of freedom through the concept of secondary agency to present some kind of intelligible concept of morality. So generally, we are debating what everyone seems to really accept when we look at it rationally. But a conversation prompted me to post the following.
An acquaintance was listening to a Youtube presentation by a popular Calvinist concerning God’s knowledge of the future and its relationship to sin and free will. The Calvinist posed the common question posed by many Calvinists, which I have paraphrased below.
- If, as Arminians believe, God infallibly knew exactly what was going to happen when he created, and knew that sin would occur as a result of his creation, then why did he create in the first place?
The following is an attempt at satire about stuff young Calvinists like. The idea came from this blog (which is funny but crass). Hopefully you will find this in good taste.
In most cases there is an obvious Arminian corollary. These are listed in italics.
The House Fire (Arminian version):
Once upon a time there was a house on fire. Inside were three children. The dad was outside, and went in to rescue his children. He helped one child get out, but the other two refused to come. They died in the fire. Afterwords, forensics determined that the fire was lit by the children inside the house. They were playing with matches.
The House Fire (Calvinist version):
Once upon a time there was a house on fire. Inside were three children. The dad was outside, and went in to rescue one child. He took one child out, and left the other two to burn. They died in the fire. Afterwords, forensics determined that the fire was deliberately lit by the dad. The dad admitted that he planned the whole thing because he wanted to be a hero. He also claimed that he started the fire, but not in such a way that it was his fault.
The biblical concept of mystery is simple. Mystery is an aspect of God’s plan which has not been revealed to humanity. Indeed, the biblical usage of mystery is always in anticipation of the mystery’s revelation. Therefore, biblically, the concept of mystery is intimately connected to revelation.
But we’re not here to talk about the Bible. We’re here to talk about Calvinism, something completely different.