Monthly Archives For December 2010

Differences in Calvinism and Arminianism

, posted by Kevin Jackson

It is easier to respect the position of someone whom you disagree with if you can understand their motivation. Therefore, it is helpful to identify the foundational differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.

God’s Primary Attribute: Calvinists understand God primarily in terms of power and authority. God is sovereign in a deterministic sense. Nothing happens without God’s decree. Any doctrine that limits God’s power is viewed with suspicion by the Calvinist, even if it’s a self imposed limitation of God’s choosing. Arminians understand God primarily as relational. Arminians believe that God is willing to set aside his rights in order to be reconciled with humanity. God did this because of his great love for humanity. Power vs Relationship is the primary difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.

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Pascal’s Wager Against Calvinism

, posted by TheMessianicDrew

Many of you have heard of Pascal’s Wager as a motivator to believe in God, but I think it also applies to the Calvinist/Arminian debate.

Here is Pascal’s Wager: Belief in God, if God exists, gives infinite gain; God does not exist, gives finite loss.
Unbelief in God, if God exists, gives infinite loss; if God does not exist, gives finite gain.

I think that this can be applied to the debate of whether human free will plays a part in salvation.

If Calvinism is true and (by implication) our witness makes no difference in other people’s salvation (because salvation does not depend on human will or exertion), then our beliefs in Calvinism and Arminianism make no difference in the salvation of others. X number of people get saved if we all become Calvinists, and X number of people get saved if we all become Arminian.

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Index of Articles by Robert Hamilton

, posted by Kevin Jackson

Here is a list of articles available on our site that were written by Robert Hamilton. Hamilton has written a number of essays on topics of interest to Arminians. He does an excellent job presenting clear, concise, and compelling arguments for Arminian theology and from an Arminian viewpoint (though we do not necessarily endorse everything he says). His most important essays have been marked with an asterisk.

Thoughts on Original Sin
The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel*
God’s Righteousness Revealed
Three Lies About Sin
Allegiance: What Must I do to be Saved?

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For God so Loved the World

, posted by WilliamBirch

Merry Christmas all. This post was first published by Dr. Olson on the 8th of Decemeber, hence it being an “Advent Meditation”. However, we felt that it was such a wonderful expression of God’s love through Christ that it would be perfect for Christmas day:

by Roger E. Olson

For God so loved the world . . . that He couldn’t stay away. Yes, to academics and scholars it sounds simplistic and even smacks of folk religion. But if you strip from it any connotation of God being “lonely” or absent it’s an apt statement of the gospel itself. And it nicely expresses the essence of Arminian theology: that God’s love for the whole world demonstrated in the incarnation and cross stands at the center of theology as its critical principle.

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Merry Christmas!!!

, posted by Martin Glynn

This year, for Christmas, we are taking a step back from the debate. We’ve posted on this a couple of times, but I wanted to emphasize now for the Christmas season: we at SEA believe that Calvinists are our Christian brothers, and we have every expectation of worshiping our common Lord and King, Jesus Christ with them for all of eternity.

Christmas is unique in that it is the day of the year that we celebrate who Christ is: fully human and fully God. It is the celebration of the incarnation of God on the earth, when God came down here with us and got His hands dirty with our mess.

This is belief that we hold in common with Calvinism. So let us stand together this Christmas and celebrate Emmanuel: God with us. For He is with us, and calls us to be one people.

Merry Christmas!

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Calvinism Leads to Universalism

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

Okay, maybe Calvinism doesn’t lead to universalism inexorably — as if every Calvinist must become a universalist. However, many leading universalist theologians are/were Reformed and believed that their Calvinist concepts of God’s sovereignty eventually compelled them to embrace universalism.

Two notable examples come to mind: Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth. Yes, I know some Reformed people will reject one or both of them as not truly Reformed. However, one cannot read Schleiermacher’s The Christian Faith and miss his strong Calvinist principles. For Schleiermacher God is the all-determining reality and that is why he rejects petitionary prayer — because it implies God does not already know what is best. For Schleiermacher, whatever is happening, including sin and evil, are foreordained and rendered certain by God.

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Dear Calvinists

, posted by WilliamBirch

In light of Justin Taylor’s post titled Dear Arminians, I offer a likewise peace from authors Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell, from their book Why I am not a Calvinist (purchase here), the counter to authors Robert Peterson and Michael Williams’s book Why I am not an Arminian (purchase here), both published by InterVarsity Press, 2004. Walls and Dongell write the following.

__________

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Laurence Womock, The Calvinists Cabinet Unlock’d

, posted by SEA

Laurence Womock, The Calvinists Cabinet Unlock’d is a major anti-Calvinistic work written by Laurence Womock, a 17th century English Puritan Arminian bishop and theologian, published in 1659. Book length is 634 pages. The full title is: Arcana dogmatum anti-remonstrantium. Or the Calvinists cabinet unlock’d. In an apology for Tilenus, against a pretended vindication of the synod of Dort. At the provocation of Master R. Baxter, held forth in the preface to his Grotian religion. Together, with a few soft drops let fall upon the papers of Master Hickman.

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God’s Sovereignty in the Crucifixion of Jesus

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

One critic has argued against my maxim that, “God is in charge but not in control” by pointing to Acts 2:23, which says that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” (RSV) The critic argues that this verse proves that God controlled the crucifixion of Jesus such that, although wicked men did it, God is its ultimate cause. I take it what the gentleman means is that God foreordained and rendered it certain. This is supposed to be a test case to prove that God controls all events including the decisions and actions of wicked people.

Let’s take a closer look to see if it actually does prove that.

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My Encounter with a Fine, Young, Calvinist Christian College Student

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger E. Olson

Last evening I spent about an hour in conversation with a 22 year old ministry student at a Christian liberal arts university. We came together at a mutual friend’s home for dinner and dialogue. This young man is a “four point Calvinist” by his own confession; he struggles with limited atonement but not with the other four points of TULIP. His own denominational background is not Reformed; he came to his Calvinist convictions through friends, his own Bible study and reading web sites and listening to sermons and talks on the internet by John Piper and other Calvinists.

I think this young man is typical of many (and perhaps most) “young, restless, Reformed” evangelical Christians — bright, personable, committed to Christ, determined to be biblically faithful, sincerely interested in knowing the truth. Unfortunately, like most I have encountered, he did not know very much about Arminianism, except what he had heard or read from Calvinists such as Piper.

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God, Evil, and Grace in Calvinist and Arminian Theology

, posted by Eric Landstrom

As early as Episcopius Arminians have argued that if acts arise necessarily from decree, then God must have included within his decree for the implementation of how to bring the decree to fruition. Popularly it is said that God wills not only the ends but also the means to accomplish the ends. But if this is so, then it logically follows that God is the cause of sin. Calvinists counter-claim that God foreknows and that God’s foreknowledge necessitates what he knows. They argue that this must be true since, according to Calvinism, God foreknows because he first predestined everything and there is nothing that has not first been predestined by God. What the Calvinist scheme means is that neither our most joyful moments or our most wicked are set outside of God’s determining decree since God predestined all things because God is sovereign.

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