Monthly Archives For May 2011

The Validity and Urgency of the Altar Call

, posted by arminianbaptist

In recent years, many Calvinists have severely critiqued the altar call, claiming that it is an Arminian innovation designed to manipulate people into making a faith commitment. While many an altar call may indeed be characterized as manipulative and fleshly, there is such a thing as a Spiritual altar call, and it is an appropriate part of Christian worship, arising not out of a misguided Arminianism, but out of biblical urgencies.

The altar call is a natural progression of the sermon. Whether the sermon is evangelistic or meant to challenge believers, the sermon is designed to move individuals toward change in their lives. There should be at least a little movement toward Christ-likeness in every listening-believer’s life, and if the Spirit is calling individuals to make a significant decision, there should be an opportunity for people to make their decisions public. The altar call, then, is an opportunity for people to give public testimony, and this is right and good.

Read Post →

Arminianism, Calvinism, Open Theism & Universalism

, posted by neborg

Here are some thoughts of SEA members on the relationship between
Arminianism, Calvinism, Open Theism, and Universalism. Sometimes
Calvinists accuse Arminianism of being the stepping stone to Open
Theism or Universalism, but is this accusation really founded?

It is true that there is a relationship between the different groups,
but in some ways, it is actually Calvinism that is closer to Open
Theism and Universalism.

Read Post →

Atonement – Under Attack

, posted by wrachele

[Editor’s note: This review is of the book, Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer (ed.), Atonement (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2010).]

This slim collection of essays is rooted in the proposition that the doctrine of atonement is under attack. While I agree that there are a number of views about the nature of atonement and what it accomplished, I dispute the idea that the doctrine itself is under attack. Given the publisher (P & R Publishing) and the group who assembled the project, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, I believe the perceived challenge is to the application of the the Penal Substitution theory. It is not clear as to why this distinction isn’t made clear other than the possible notion that any other theory is so far outside of the range of discussion that it can simply be dismissed.

Read Post →

Calvinism and Harold Camping

, posted by Kevin Jackson

Harold Camping, the fellow who’s teaching that the world will end on May 21, 20011, comes from a staunchly Calvinist background. This, of course, doesn’t prove that Calvinism is wrong, only that one of its adherents is loopy. I’m just glad he’s not a loopy Arminian.

In the pamphlet, “God’s Magnificent Salvation Plan” (1), Camping lays out a detailed systematic argument for the TULIP. Some quotes:

“…It is totally God’s sovereign grace that He saves one and leaves another under His just wrath.”

“As a matter of fact, He [Jesus] did die only for those who were elected of God.”

“Who then can be saved? All of God’s elect will, without fail, be saved.”

Read Post →

John Piper: Are There Two Wills in God? A Response.

, posted by WilliamBirch

John Piper’s chapter, “Are There Two Wills in God?”, found on his website Desiring God, and in the book Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), seeks to “show from Scripture that the simultaneous existence of God’s will for ‘all persons to be saved’ (1 Tim. 2:4) and his will to elect unconditionally those who will actually be saved is not a sign of divine schizophrenia or exegetical confusion.” This post is a response to (not an attack on) Piper’s theory of the two wills in God.

Read Post →

Is It Biblical To Say That God Foreordains Sin?

, posted by Matthew Murphy

Calvinism teaches that: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeable ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 3:1) It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if all things whatsoever are foreordained by God, then God foreordains sin. The idea that God foreordains sin should be abhorrent to Christians, yet it is simply the logical conclusion of Calvinism. Not only is it the logical conclusion of the Calvinistic system, but Calvinists themselves freely declare that God foreordains sin:

“God moves the tongues of men to blaspheme.” (Franciscus Gomarus, as quoted in Laurence Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, p.254)

“Sin is one of the ‘whatsoevers’ that have ‘come to pass’, all of which are ‘ordained’.” (W.G.T. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure and Mixed)

Read Post →

Wesley on Acts 13:48

, posted by Godismyjudge

At first, I wasn’t a big fan of Wesley’s interpretation of Acts 13:48, but lately I have come to admire it’s simplicity. Wesley doesn’t get into technical debates about passive vs. middle voice, disputes about translating tasso as ordain vs. dispose or discussions about reflexive meanings with and without the reflexive pronoun. He is just straight and to the point. Here’s the passage and Wesley’s comments:

———————–

Read Post →

The Freedom of God

, posted by WilliamBirch

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3 NASB). The Psalmist follows this declaration of the sovereignty and capability of God with the inferior and impotent nature of idols: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see;” etc. (Ps. 115:4-5 NASB). The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the living God, and besides Him there is no other (Isaiah 45:5, 14).

God is sovereign and is, in the words of Arminius, “capable of operating externally what things soever He can freely will, and by which He does operate whatever He freely wills.”1 God does not operate with His creatures as one does with a machine, but concurrently, allowing them a measure of freedom to do those things which they desire. But if God has all power in the universe, does this mean that He is free to do whatever can be done?

Read Post →

An Examination of James White

, posted by Kevin Jackson

In the book The Potters Freedom, Calvinist James White sets forth a parable called “The King and the Castle.” The purpose of the parable is to explain why (in White’s view) the concept of “Limited Atonement” does not impugn the character of God. White contrasts his story with one written by non-Calvinist Norm Geisler. A summary of Geisler’s parable can be found here: The Farmer, the Boys, and the Pond.

Here is a paraphrase of “The King and the Castle”:

Read Post →

Augustine on Falling from Grace

, posted by Godismyjudge

The fifth point of Calvinism is Perseverance of the Saints. The Westminster Confession defines Perseverance of the Saints as:

They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. (link)

Read Post →

What is Reprehensible about Calvinism

, posted by WilliamBirch

from The Arminian site

According to The Oxford American College Dictionary, the word reprehensible means “deserving censure or condemnation.” While there are aspects regarding Calvinism which are orthodox, overall I find its analysis of God’s character, and at times actions or decisions attributed to Him by some forms of the system, to be both worthy of censure and condemnation.

In view of Calvinism’s many errors, there are three primary doctrines which warrant “censure and condemnation.” Those three are supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, and the Calvinist’s distorted view of God’s sovereignty. Though I have little to no sympathy for Open Theism, using John Piper’s words in response to that system demonstrates my own thoughts regarding those three errors of Calvinism: They “dishonor God, distort Scripture, damage faith, and would, if left unchecked, destroy churches and lives. Its errors are not peripheral but central.”

Read Post →

A Calvinist Critiques Modern Calvinists

, posted by WilliamBirch

Calvinist Jacob Allee has recently raised several concerns of his regarding many modern Calvinists in his post A Rant against Calvinists (by a Calvinist). I think we all need to critique those within our own particular movement occasionally, noting where some of our own brothers and sisters are, in our opinion, missing the mark with regard to orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I constructed a post recently called Arminians Shooting Themselves in the Foot, complaining that too many Arminians are friendly with beliefs I consider heterodox.

Read Post →

Chrysostom on the ‘drawing’ and ‘giving’ in John 6

, posted by Godismyjudge

Chrysostom makes a great point. John 6:45 really helps explain John 6:37 and 44. God teaches and we learn, if we choose to, but some choose not to learn. Those that learn from the Father are the Father’s. (John 17:6) The Father gives those that learn to the Son. Here are the passages and Chrysostom’s comments [emphasis mine]:

John 6:37
All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.

Read Post →

God’s Sovereignty by the Rules

, posted by WilliamBirch

by Roger Olson

Some comments here are so good that I want to make them posts. I hope “Robert” won’t mind if I do that with his recent comment about God abiding by rules in his interactions with the world. This is simply another way of saying God is sovereign over his sovereignty. He can choose how his sovereignty will be exercised. Only such an explanation (as given by Robert below) explains why God is not arbitrary. Here is Robert’s comment in response to someone who questioned my suggestion (based on the ideas of E. Frank Tupper and Greg Boyd) that God follows rules in exercising his sovereignty.

__________

Read Post →

Arminius on Grounding Election in Jesus Christ

, posted by WilliamBirch

That the Doctrine of Election is taught in Scripture is uncontested: “just as He chose [elected] us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4 NASB). Only in union with Christ Jesus is anyone elected of God. The object of the Christian religion, admits Arminius, is Christ and God.1 The duties or devotion of religion should be performed to Christ and God, “among which reasons, the last is the will of God, and His command that prescribes religion by [practionem] the conditions of a covenant”.2

This election of God unto salvation in Christ is first and foremost “the decree of the good pleasure of God in Christ, by which He determined within Himself from all eternity to justify believers, to adopt them, and to endow them with eternal life”.3 This will bring God honor and praise through our Lord Jesus Christ, and “even for the declaration of His justice.”4 Arminius continues:

Read Post →