Please note that the author of this article is not an Arminian, but that we have made the article available because it has some good material related to the Arminian/Calvinist debate. SEA does not necessarily endorse everything in the article
Please click on the attachment to view Daniel Gracely, “Divine Sovereignty”
The Southern Baptist Convention has been perhaps the greatest means by which the Gospel has been presented to the world, at least during the history of the United States. No other Protestant denomination has achieved as much in their 163 years of existence. Thus, all Disciples of Jesus should consider important the developments that occur within the Convention. If your particular groups or movements aren’t going through what the Convention has, they either already have or likely they will.
That is why a conference held last week was, in my view, important enough to for me to attend. The “John 3:16 Conference” was held Thursday, November 6 and Friday, November 7, 2008, at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia. The purpose of “John 3:16” was to construct a theological answer to the burgeoning resurgence of Calvinism within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Edwards splits necessity into two categories: natural and moral. Natural necessity relates to our actions, moral necessity relates to our wills. If an act is naturally necessary, it is either against or without our will, and whether we will or not the result is the same. Edwards says that natural necessity is the common meaning of necessity and moral necessity is philosophical. Natural necessity (common necessity) is a sense wholly different than that used in the Calvinist/Arminian debate. Most people go through their whole lives without thinking about moral necessity (philosophical necessity) and its relationship with responsibility.
For the Calvinist, the “doctrines of grace” is a synonym for TULIP theology. So, do the Biblical Doctrines of Grace of Arminianism also follow a system, such as TULIP? Arminianism proper has not historically employed an acronym as the one used for nearly four centuries by Calvinists.
Let it be stated, however, that if it had not been for the followers of Arminius (the Remonstrants) presenting their five arguments to the state to be approved as orthodox consent, then the TULIP would have never been constructed. And the original order of the Remonstrants was Conditional Election (to those in Christ), Unlimited Atonement, Total Depravity, Resistible Grace, and Conditional Perseverance.
If the Calvinists had strictly followed the Arminian system, it would have spelled ULTIP, which is a bad acronym, considering Ultip is not a word. Worse off, the Arminian acronym would have been CUTRC. The best sense which we could make out of that construct is TRUCC, also not a word.
The word grace, from Genesis 6:8 to Revelation 22:21, is a word meaning “graciousness of manner or act” (literally), or “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life” (figuratively).1
Grace is a special favor bestowed upon an undeserving individual. Thus when a Christian minister quotes Paul as saying, “For it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:8), he or she means that the one saved was saved not by merit but by grace, undeserved favor. This is how to use the word grace biblically. In this we do not go beyond its clear meaning, nor do we fall short of what the Bible teaches.
For everything born out of God conquers the world and this is the conquest, the conquering of the world: our faith. What is the conquering of the world if not faith that Jesus is the Son of God?
The above is my own translation. I wanted to point out a few grammatical things in the Greek. I think most of the translations miss the power and passion that is there in the Greek, and I hoped to bring that out a bit more.
This passage is a powerful testimony about faith. I recently heard atheist Richard Dawkins say that faith is a dangerous thing, something which threatens the world. This is only partitially true. Faith is a powerful thing, something which can tame the world. Faith drives people to action, even actions which otherwise seem impossible. It is what we have faith in which determines whether it threatens or restores.
This week, we are starting something new that I intend to do from here on out once a week. For those who may not know, this is not intended to be a blog site. The point of this website is to be a repository of Arminian resources, and a resource itself when debating Calvinists. The purpose of the blog is to draw attention to the many Arminian bloggers that are out there, as well as providing a consistant stream of true Arminian thought.
However, since this is not meant to be a blog site, we wanted to point you to some of the articles that we have here, since they are more dear to the hearts of those of us at SEA. So, every Friday, I’m going to be pointing out a particular article that we have on file here for your review. Articles are longer, and are often far more scholarly.
Libertarian Free Will (LFW) is the idea that man is able to choose otherwise than he will choose. It’s contrasted with Compatiblism Free Will (CFW), the idea that free will and determinism are compatible. These are alternative views of the will; both can’t be true about a persons’ will at the same time.
The descriptions “libertarian” and “free” distinguish LFW from CFW, but are otherwise redundant. For those holding to LFW, the will is always at liberty, and is always free, else it’s not a will. Arminius put it: “the will cannot be forced”.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Peter is prophesying about a falling away. He speaks of false teachers who deny the Lord that bought them.
My argument is simple.
P1: Christ bought the false teachers
P2: the false teachers ultimately perish
C1: therefore Christ bought those that ultimately perish
This argument is based on Judas and the Lord’s supper.
17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
This passage is the institution of the Lord’s supper. Christ gives the bread to the disciples (including Judas) and says that it’s given for you. My argument is simple:
There are several passages of the word of God that teach that Christ died for those that ultimately perish. These passages don’t teach that Christ died for all, because they only talk about specific groups or even one individual. Never-the-less, these are powerful arguments that Christ died for all, because they disprove substantially every Calvinist argument for limited atonement.
I plan on examining three passages starting with Hebrews 10.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
1 John 5:1-3 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
I think it is hard for us to remember that keeping the commandments of God is an aspect of loving Him. We Protestants are often so afraid of Pelagianism that we don’t talk or teach about being righteous. This is a huge mistake. Though good works do not save us, we still are commanded to be good. The one who is not good is not a child of God.
The discussion concerning God’s sovereignty usually spurs more arguments than decent dialogue. Place a Calvinist and an Arminian in a room to discuss God’s sovereignty and an hour later nothing was settled except the agreement to disagree. Why is this so?
I have no hope whatsoever that Calvinists and Arminians will ever reach an agreement on determining the boundaries of the definition of God’s sovereignty. Most Calvinists will not budge from defining the term as meaning God’s absolute control over every event in the known universe, including the choices which human beings make.
On the other hand, Arminians are determined (no pun intended) to maintain that God can remain sovereign (in control) over His creatures even while granting them the freedom to make their own choices. After all, the Arminian will argue, where is it written that, in order for God to be sovereign, He must control the choices which people make?
The “invitation” or “altar call” is a common tradition in many “low church” bodies. Invitations to accept Christ are not new, however, the specific form of invitation known as an “altar call” is a relatively new practice. It started with the evangelist Charles Finney, back in the 1830′s. Other evangelists who have popularized the practice include D.L Moody, Billy Sunday, Corrie ten Boom, and Billy Graham.
The 400th anniversary of Arminius’ “Declaration of Sentiments” occurred last week. We missed the opportunity to mark the anniversary on its exact day here at our site. But it is still worth drawing attention to the anniversary, and more importantly, the declaration it marks. (See below for a link to the document itself.)
Here are some comments from Dr. Keith Stanglin about this important treatise:
“On Oct. 30, 1608, Jacobus Arminius delivered his now famous
Declaration of Sentiments. On Oct. 20, he was summoned to the Hague to present his views to the States of Holland on the controversial doctrines of the day. He spent most of the speech deconstructing the Calvinist view of predestination later known as supralapsarianism. He then presented his positive view of predestination, and briefly addressed other important topics.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. -John 3:16-17
Who did Jesus die for? Did he die for everyone as Arminians believe (Universal Atonement), or did he die for the elect as Calvinists believe (Limited Atonement)?
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
How can we love God, yet hate that which God loves? When you truly love someone whole heartedly, you begin to become passionate for the things that they are passionate about. Now this doesn’t mean that you must like the things that they like. There are lots of things that I like which my wife couldn’t care less about. But, the things that I am passionate over, she becomes concerned over, because she loves me.
The same goes with us and God. If we truly loved God, we want to see His heart fulfilled; we want to see Him with joy. How then can we despise the very things which will give His heart the greatest joy?
I’m taking a brief break today from the Arminian/Calvinist debate to say a few words about All Saints Day. I’ll post the weekly devotional tomorrow. As many might know, Halloween was originally All Hallows Eve. This was the day before All Hallows Day, a.k.a. All Saints Day.
Originally, this was a day that was set aside to celebrate the day of death for all the martyrs of the church, because celebrating each individually became too cumbersome. Eventually it was expanded to celebrate all of the Saints of the church when persecution died down. It became a day devoted to acknowledging the faithful in the church, and remembering the great heroes of the faith. It is a wonderful holiday to recognize what the power of the Spirit can truly do in us.