Hermeneutics is “the discipline that studies the theory, principles, and methods used to interpret texts, especially ancient ones such as the sacred Scriptures. Traditional hermeneutics focuses primarily on the discovery of the historical meaning as intended by the author and understood by the original audience.”1 Thus a Calvinistic hermeneutic is the discipline that studies the theory, principles, and methods which Calvinists use to interpret the Bible.
Monthly Archives For August 2009
Blogger Ed Thompkins has a post entitled: What is Arminianism and Why am I an Arminian?
Blogger “cpyeager” thinks that John MacArthur has misrepresented Arminian theology.
“…having your mind’s eye enlightened in order to perceive what is the hope of His invitation, what is the glorious wealth of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power into us, the believing, according to the work of His mighty strength…”
These verse piggyback on what Paul says in the verse before, about God giving us a spirit of revelation. These two verse begin to describe what that is to be revealing: God’s power. Mind you, this is not merely speaking of God’s power in general, for it is predicated on Christ’s resurrection in the following verses. However, in the meantime, let us consider what this is saying about God’s power.
Robert Hamilton makes a very good case that passages such as John 10:26 ‘you do not believe, because you are not my sheep’ refers primarily to the faithful sons of Abraham who were God’s children under the covenant as it was revealed in the Old Testament, and who were already prepared by their voluntary faith and repentance to embrace the promised Messiah. (link)
It is often charged by Calvinists that Arminians believe that man must work with God to procure their salvation. Man must make a move toward God and then God will make a move toward them. It is often described as God meeting man half way. Is this what is taught by Arminians? Did Jacobus Arminius believe this way?
The answer is no. Arminians believe the work of salvation is started and completed by God. The Bible says in order for man to come to God, He must draw them to Himself (John 6:44). Arminians believe the initial work of salvation is done by God. God must do this, because due to the effects of sin, man’s will toward faith in Christ has been lost and destroyed. God must free the person’s will in order for them to make a conscious decision whether to accept His gift of grace or not.
Arminius’s comments are presented here in the first person, as though he were addressing you personally.
On the issue of Free Will, Grace, and Synergism, let me ask, “What liberty does the will have in a sinful state?” I distinguished between five kinds of liberty as applied to the will: freedom from control of one who commands, freedom from the government of a superior, freedom from necessity, freedom from sin and its dominion, and freedom from misery. The first two apply only to God; the last, to man, but only before the fall. As for freedom from necessity, it is the very essence of the will. Without it, the will would not be the will.
Let this be distinguished from Pelagianism. I say that the will which is free from necessity may not be free from sin. That is the point in question. Is there within man a freedom of will from sin and its dominion, and how far does it extend? Or rather, what are the powers of the whole man to understand, to will, and to do that which is good? The question must be further restricted to spiritual good. The question, then, is briefly: What is the power of free will in fallen man to perform spiritual good?
At Justin Taylor’s blog, Andy Naselli recently drew attention to a series of seven short essays on “The Reformed Resurgence” by
Colin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).
…that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation on the knowledge of Him…
This verse is a verse about the Father, and, I believe, describes the relationship He has to both the Son and the Spirit. What is more important here is that the context of this passage is prayer for the Ephesians.
In the last couple of verses, Paul said that he has been praying for the Ephesians constantly. Here, he says what he is praying. He does not pray for wealth, prestige, or more numbers. Instead, he prays that they have wisdom and understanding.
I think this is a very good pastoral lesson. Often pastors are motivated by the wrong goals. They try and teach the congregation how to live more comfortably, or what are the right doctrines to have, etc… Instead, Paul’s pastoral heart calls for them to be like Solomon: wise in the ways of God.
Please click on the link to view Paul Copan, “Taking Calvinism Too Far: R.C. Sproul Jr.’s Evil-Creating Deity”.
Benson’s comments on the ‘giving’ and ‘drawing’ in John 6 (Volume 4 pages 563-565) are reasonably simple. First, Benson notes the passage teaches man’s depravity; no man can believe in Christ to the saving of his soul, unless God give him power. The Father draws men to Christ by the several proofs wherewith he has supported his mission, by the doctrine of his gospel, and by those influences of his grace, which are necessary to give men a right discernment of the evidences of religion, and of the certainly and importance of the great truths of it, and to impress these things deeply on their minds. This drawing is powerful but not irresistible as can be seen in Jeremiah 31:3 “With loving kindness have drawn thee”, John 12:32 “If l be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me”, and Hosea 11:4, God “drew Israel with the cords of a man, with bands of love”.
By J.C. Thibodaux
One of the most telling signs of the fallacious nature of Calvinist apologetics in general is its heavy reliance upon caricatures and misrepresentation of the beliefs of other Christians. There are few things more frustrating than trying to explain a concept to someone who simply takes one aspect of what is being said, and runs with it in a half-baked attempt to disprove it, heedless of any details or qualifications, yet this very tactic is something of a staple among Calvinism’s more vocal proponents.
Begging the Question
Special Pleading [given that God has power of contrary choice]
If all men are neutral in prevenient grace was it by chance that one believed and not another? – [A Prayer That a Synergist Won't Pray (An Open Challenge to All Synergists) - yet another winner by John Hendryx]
“Bait and Switch”
“Why are you a Christian and your friends aren’t? … Is it because you are smarter than your friend?” (The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, R.C. Sproul)
…I believe it can be demonstrated with finality that prevenient grace merely begs the question and that under such influences the final decision to believe the gospel still does come from a persons’ “natural capacity” and innate “moral ability”. (typical mischaracterization from John Hendryx)
Calvin Leaves a Divided Legacy in South Africa. “Now, as Protestants worldwide mark the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth, South Africans are remembering how the followers of the Protestant reformer were counted among the most strident supporters of apartheid, and eventually also among its most vociferous opponents.”
Christianity Today has an interesting article about mega church seminaries. It mentions Mars Hill Seattle (Driscoll), Bethlehem Baptist (Piper) and Saddlback (Warren).
Because of this, and because I heard about your faith in Lord Jesus and about your love toward all the saints, I’ve not stopped praying for you, recalling you to mind in my prayers.
The thrust of this passage is about prayer. At first it hits us as a bit of a surprise. This first section in Ephesians is so full of high theology that one hardly expects the sudden intrusion of something practical. But I think this points out an important feature of Christianity.
Many times Christianity is described as a reflective faith. We have a deep history of serious theological and philosophical reflection. However, as much of American evangelicalism has aptly demonstrated, it can also be a very practical faith, and can exist and act separately from high level theology.
Joseph Benson makes several key points in his commentaries on Acts 13:48 page 772. He argues that the Calvinist translation of tasso entails reprobation and impugns the God’s character. He argues that the Calvinist view breaks down the parallel of the rejection in verse 46 with the acceptance in verse 48. He notes that tasso is never understood as predestination and is frequently dispose, place, or appoint.
Benson then makes a vital point: “the Syriac, likewise, one of the most ancient versions of the New Testament, has rendered the passage in the same sense, which is of great moment, as that translation was made before the meaning of this place was disputed by the different sects and parties of Christians.” Benson then he shows that a wide array of scholars translate tasso as ‘disposed’ rather than ‘ordained’ including: Doddridge, Hammond, Heylin, Waterland, Whitby, Dodd and Sellon.
Related Fallacies: Begging the question
Calvinists often pose questions along the lines of, “If 2 people are given the same grace, why does one receive it and another reject it?” This question was popularized on the internet by John Hendryx at monergism.com, who in one rendition of this particular fallacy states: “If prevenient grace places us in a neutral state, then what motivates one man to believe and not another? … What principle in him made him choose what he did?” [A Prayer That a Synergist Won't Pray (An Open Challenge to All Synergists), John Hendryx]
Peter Lumpkins writes about the misuse of the word “monergism” among Calvinistic Southern Baptists.
Ben Henshaw asks: Do you really want to claim John Calvin as your homeboy? Check out the reply thread on this one.
Speaking of which, you can get your Arminian homeboy apparel here.
Chris Skinner asks, does all mean all?
The following post is comprised of comments submitted to our website by firstname.lastname@example.org, slightly revised with the author’s permission. Insofar as such infamous “failed God” arguments clearly assume the doctrine of irresistible grace (grace=force/deterministic salvation)…
In whom you also have heard the word of truth: the gospel of your salvation by which, having believed, you were sealed by the promised Holy Spirit who is the down payment of our allotment, toward the portion’s redemption, to the praise of His glory.
It is important to note how this passage relates to what proceeds it. The switch from speaking in the first person plural (‘we’) to the second person plural here (‘you’) emphasizes that before this point Paul was not talking about the Ephesians. Thus, all of the glorious inheritance that was being talked about before this only belonged to Paul and some group that he is a member of. Based on the rest of the context, this can be shown to be the Jews.
As such, what Paul has essentially been saying is that God as given the Jews this glorious inheritance. However, in this passage he adds that now we (i.e. the Gentiles) have now been added to this inheritance because we heard the gospel, and believed it.