Monthly Archives For August 2010

Pelagianism: A Monergist Model of Redemption

, posted by Martin Glynn

“Pelagianism? Monergist? Martin, I think you need to recheck your definitions.”

No, it’s true! For those that read mostly internet Calvinist literature, the word “monergism” is understood to be synonymous with determinism. However, the term specifically means that only one party’s actions (energy) matters within the processes of redemption and sanctification. The process involves two parties: God and the human. Therefore, monergism is any belief system that views either party as the only effective actor within the process, whether it be God (Calvinism/Augustinianism) or the human (Pelagianism).

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Jerry Walls, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH CALVINISM?”

, posted by SEA

Taken from http://www.catalystresources.org/issues/351Walls.htm

WHAT IS WRONG WITH CALVINISM?

One of the most longstanding debates in the history of theology concerns the relationship between predestination and human freedom. On one side of this dispute, the most famous name is John Calvin, and on the other the most noted name is probably John Wesley. Although Wesley was primarily concerned with evangelism and church renewal, the very nature of his work required him to take positions on certain controversial issues. Perhaps the most significant of these involved his disputes with Calvinism; indeed, his work on these issues represents one of his most important contributions to historical theology.

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Arminians are Christians, Barely

, posted by WilliamBirch

In the introduction to his book, Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will, R. C. Sproul, Sr., when asked if he thinks Arminians are Christians, answers, “‘Yes, barely.’ They are Christians by what we call a felicitous inconsistency.”1 He agrees with J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, who insist that Arminians, because they reject the (unproven and eminently philosophical) theory that regeneration must precede faith, they “thereby deny man’s utter helplessness in sin, and affirm that a form of semi-Pelagianism is true after all.”2 This is the reason, so the authors are convinced, that “Reformed theology condemned Arminianism as being in principal a return to Rome (because in effect it turned faith into a meritorious work) and a betrayal of the Reformation (because it denied the sovereignty of God in saving sinners . . .).3

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Unconditional Election and Universal Atonement

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

Contrary to what one respondent claims, classical Calvinism does believe that God’s election of persons to salvation is absolutely unconditional. To say it is not absolutely unconditional because it is based on God’s “good pleasure” does nothing to ease the problem. What causes God’s “good pleasure” to be found in electing one person and not another to salvation? I have read literally scores of classical Calvinist authors on this very subject (from Calvin to Piper) and found no hint of any answer to why God chooses one person and rejects another. The answer is always an appeal to mystery or something like “God has his good reasons” (without any suggestion what they might be), or “according to his good pleasure,” which doesn’t even begin to answer the question. Jonathan Edwards was consistent in admitting it is an arbitrary choice on God’s part. I just wish more contemporary Calvinists would admit that.

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Diversity of Calvinism / Reformed Theology

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

One person, responding to one of my postings, said something about the diversity of Arminianism compared to Calvinism. The thrust of his message, as I recall, was that Arminianism is so much more diverse than Calvinism that it makes it difficult to respond to Arminianism.

I argue that Calvinism or Reformed theology today is just as diverse if not more diverse than Arminianism.

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Grace and Free Will: A Parable

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

A Calvinist seminary professor lectured on the incompatibility of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and belief that, in order to be saved, a person must freely accept the grace of God. “Arminianism makes the individual person’s free choice the decisive factor in his salvation. Therefore, in his theology, salvation cannot be a free gift. By choosing it freely the person is contributing something to his own salvation. That’s a meritorious work and therefore his salvation would not be absolutely the work of God.”

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The Problem with Calvinism is . . .

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

People often ask me what is my single most serious problem with Calvinism. Why am I not a Calvinist? First, I like to point out that nobody is obligated to be one. Some evangelicals are under the mistaken impression that Calvinism is the norm for all evangelicalism and that if you’re not a Calvinist you’re somehow defectively evangelical. It is wrongly believed to be the default theology of authentic evangelicalism.

I grew up in the thick of evangelicalism — spiritually nurtured by mentors and peers in Youth for Christ where I rubbed shoulders with evangelicals of many different denominations. We used to debate Calvinism versus Arminianism all the time and we generally agreed to disagree and nevertheless worship and witness together. I don’t remember anyone then telling me I had to be a Calvinist to be a faithful Christian or an evangelical.

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And Now, A Word About Arminianism

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

My blog is called “My evangelical, Arminian theological musings.” I’ve “mused” about evangelicalism. Now it’s time to begin a brief (I hope) series of posts about Arminianism.

Not long ago I met a well-known philosopher-theologian whose first comment to me was “Well, I’ve never met anyone who actually called himself an Arminian before.” Many years ago John Wesley wrote a brief essay entitled “The Question ‘What Is an Arminian?’ Answered by a Lover of Free Grace.” He began it with this line: “To say ‘This man is an Arminian,’ has the same effect on many hearers, as to say ‘This man is a mad dog’.” Near the essay’s end Wesley wrote, “[h]ow can any man know what Arminius held, who has never read one page of his writings? Let no man bawl against Arminians, till he knows what the term means….”

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What is an Arminian?

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

Contrary to what some critics say, an Arminian is someone who believes that salvation is all of grace and through faith alone without any merit (except, of course, the merits of Christ). An Arminian is also someone who believes, contrary to Calvinism, that the person being saved is enabled by grace to cooperate in his or her salvation without “contributing” anything meritorious to it. In other words, God does all the saving but he won’t save without our consent.

All this is spelled out so clearly in Arminius and Wesley and other classical Arminians that one has to wonder about those who say otherwise. For example, Calvinists and some Lutheran critics who argue that Arminianism makes “man” his own savior. One leader of the “young, restless, Reformed” movement says that according to Arminianism the cross of Jesus Christ doesn’t actually save anyone but only gives people the opportunity to save themselves. That is, of course, pure hogwash.

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What is Evangelicalism?

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

I proudly consider myself an evangelical Christian theologian, but some commentators on evangelicalism probably do not consider me that. I recently wrote a chapter on the subject for a forthcoming edited volume on evangelicalism to be published in 2011 by Zondervan. There I argue that “evangelical” is an essentially contested concept without boundaries. In other words, contrary to many commentators, I do not believe “evangelical” is a bounded-set category.

Evangelicalism is a movement marked by certain common characteristics or family resemblances. Movements, by their very nature, cannot have boundaries. As soon as they have boundaries they are no longer movements but organizations. Movements are centered-set categories. Other examples from religion are “charismatic,” “New Age” and “fundamentalist.” These, like evangelicalism, have no headquarters, no magisterium (controlling authority) and no definite membership.

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The Enemy of my Enemy

, posted by Godismyjudge

Calvinist Greg Welty states: Clearly then, the controversy between Calvinists and non-Calvinists over unconditional election is not the Calvinists’ assertion that God elects some for salvation, since non-Calvinists believe this too. Rather, the controversy is over the Calvinists’ negative claim, namely, the denial that divine election unto salvation is on the basis of works or foreseen faith. (link)

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Arminius’ Impact on Calvinism

, posted by Godismyjudge

Arminius didn’t teach anything new, but his shoulders were strong enough to carry the cause of the many non-Calvinist Protestants of his day. While his influence on non-Calvinists was the strongest, I did want to point out his influence on Calvinism.

As those familiar with Arminius know, his primary issue with Calvinism was supra-lapsarianism – the idea that the decree of unconditional election logically precedes the decree of the fall. In supra-lapsarianism, God uses the fall as a means of coming up with the end. It’s like planning a trip. First you set the destination, then you plan the route. In supra-lapsarianism, God first decides who to glorify and who to destroy, then He plans for man to fall so they will need salvation and punishment in Hell.

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