Some well-meaning Christians make the mistake of using proof texts to prove a theological point without considering the context of the larger passage that the proof text comes from. It is important to keep in mind not only the larger point of the passage, but also the historical context that the author dealt with.
In one of our private discussions, one of our members was wondering about the influence background may play in nudging some toward acceptance of Calvinism. He noted that he knows someone whose family background resulted in legalism and feelings of “not fitting in” to his family, and that these caused a spiritual struggle within him that led him to study the Calvinist branch of Christianity. It was explained to him by a Calvinist evangelist that God “chose” him by “electing him unto salvation.” This was the hook that his friend needed to accept Calvinism as his frame of reference. Another member responded with the following interesting analysis (some of the material quoted in this post has been slightly edited even though enclosed in quotes):
Central to the debate over inevitable perseverance are the the numerous warnings in scripture cautioning the saints against falling away. A prominent explanation offered as to why the scriptures would say such things, if falling away is not truly possible for a believer, is that God uses such warnings as a means to spur Christians on to perseverance. Despite these efforts, the scriptural warnings addressed to genuine believers, some of which pronounce eternal destruction for violating certain commandments of God, constitute an airtight argument against the Calvinist teaching of inevitable perseverance of the saints, in that teaching that what the scriptures warn against could not truly occur strips the divine warnings of all relevance, making them of no effect.
What typically denominates an individual as controversial is not necessarily the truth which he or she promotes but the manner in which one argues against an established dogma. The reason why Arminius was so controversial in his time was because the truth which he proclaimed was at variance with an established form of Calvinism in Holland. John Calvin was not controversial due to the “hard truth” which he proclaimed. Nearly everyone within his theological circle (Reformed) agreed with his teachings. What kind of controversy could possibly be caused by someone whose teachings are nearly unanimously agreed upon by a majority of people?
Both last week and this week I made the mistake of trying to handle Pauls whole sentence from 7 to 10. However, the content is just too full, and there are too many things to consider. So consider this kind of like a two parter.
[It is in the Beloved]that we have redemption through His blood: the excusing of sins according to the abundance of His grace which He teemed into us in all wisdom and understanding…
The most important element of the atonement is that it was completely accomplished by Christ’s sacrifice. We do not add to it, nor can we subtract from it. It is from that graceful act of death that our sins are cast away from us. We do not have redemption through our works, nor through our heritage (which is probably more Paul’s point in this letter). Redemption is strictly a divine activity.
[Disclaimer: the following is tongue-in-cheek. It is the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily represent the view of SEA, which is generally true of SEA blog posts, but perhaps deserves special mention for this post, which is so bold as to suggest on SEA’s own blog ways that Calvin is actually better than Arminius!]
Today is the big 5-0-0 for Mr. John Calvin. Although he isn’t our favorite theologian, he deserves special recognition in honor of his big day. So we humbly offer six ways that Calvin is better than Arminius.
In Joseph Benson’s commentary on Romans 9, he explains that Paul’s refutation of the Jews’ argument that God’s word failed is twofold. Paul deals with national election and also with justification by faith. Benson explains the allegorical sense and justification by faith: “In quoting these words, in Isaac shall thy seed be called, and inferring therefrom that the children of the promise shall be counted for the seed, the apostle does not intend to give the literal sense of the words, but the typical only; and by his interpretation signifies that they were spoken by God in a typical and allegorical, as well as in a literal sense, and that God there declared his counsel concerning those persons whom he purposed to own as his children, and make partakers of the blessings of righteousness and salvation.
Prevenient grace is grace that God gives to begin the process of drawing a person to Himself. Its purpose is to prepare the heart of the non believer to respond to the good news of…
I am shocked at how easily, even in my most rational moments, I can sometimes walk willingly into sin. Even when I know a dozen good reasons why I shouldn’t do it, I can be overwhelmed. Sin has a powerful magnetism if we allow ourselves under its spell. Why?
I think a big part of the answer is hinted at in the following two passages:
Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. . .
But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit. . .
In 1960 Robert Shank published a book called Life in the Son. This book was written to refute the teaching of eternal security. At the time of it’s publication Robert Shank was a Southern Baptist minister. The book caused no little stir among the Southern Baptists and it led to the author eventually leaving the Southern Baptist denomination and joining the Churches of Christ. In this book Shank writes about the way Calvinist Pastors preach and teach the warning passages in Scripture. Though a bit polemical, I found it expresses well the way Arminians view the Calvinist understanding of the warning passages. Following the quote by Shank I will give an example of what he’s talking about from popular Calvinist Pastor John Piper. Shank writes,
“Completely absurd is the assumption that men are to be sincerely persuaded that apostasy is impossible and, at the same time, sincerely alarmed by the warnings…
The following is an analysis and response to the article, What is the biblical evidence for the imputation of Adam’s Sin?, by Desiring God Ministries, retrieved from,
I’ve recently been debating the issue of original sin. I do hold very firmly that it is by Adam’s sin that sin entered into the world and has tainted the nature of his descendants, but am much against the idea that all men are guilty of Adam’s sin. I recently debated the subject on Reformed Mafia, and now take on an article written by the staff of John Piper’s ‘Desiring God’ ministries. We go over their primary pieces of evidence with rebuttal. Piper opens his case for the Calvinist view of original sin with:
Arminian Today is doing a series on different interpretations of Romans 7.
Nick Norelli has a great book review on How to Choose a [Bible] Translation for All It’s Worth.
The Road to Rome? Calvinists who have converted to Catholicism.
James White grabs some low hanging fruit.
Have they found the remains of Saint Paul? Maybe.
Ken Schenck has a thought provoking post on the nature of original sin.
The dichotomy of the freedom and the bondage of the will is both a theological and a practical verity. We know from Scripture that the will of individuals is free to choose from two or more options (cf. Lev. 22:18; 2 Cor. 9:7), and also that it is a slave to sin (Rom. 6:17). To say that a person can only choose to do wrong or evil is a man-constructed theory ~ an effort to persuade others to embrace his or her theology; it is not Scriptural teaching (Luke 11:13; Acts 10:1-2, 34-35). Yet, no one can choose to believe in Christ Jesus whensoever he or she wants: without the working of God’s Holy Spirit, no one could ever be saved. Thus the bondage and freedom of the wil.
Now that is an interesting question. Roger Olson asked, “If Christ’s death satisfied God’s justice for all, why aren’t all saved? Arminius answers: ‘For the sins of those for whom Christ died were in such manner condemned in the flesh of Christ, that they by that fact are not delivered from condemnation, unless they actually believe on Christ.’
“In other words, God decided that the sins of all people would be expiated by Christ’s death in such a way that only if people believe on Christ would their sins actually be forgiven. But Christ’s death actually did reconcile God to sinful humanity [2 Cor. 5.19]; however the communication of the benefits of that reconciliation ~ reconciliation of persons to God, pardon and justification, regeneration ~ depend on human belief:
What is Free Will? It may seem strange to some that there even is a debate as to what constitutes free will. The average person believes that he has free will. Whenever he is confronted…
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, for we are the blessed in all spiritual blessings, in the heavenly things, in Christ, seeing that He chose us in Him before the inception of the world to be holy and unblemished within His presence in love, thus predestining us into adoption to Him through Jesus Christ, according to the good judgement of His will in praise of His glory and His grace by which He favoured us in love.
In Daniel Whedon’s Comentary on Romans 9, he argues that Paul’s quotations of the old testament support the Arminian view of the passage. In some ways, I found Whedon to be a prototype of more recent Arminian explanations of the passage. Specifically, his digging into the context of “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” in Exodus 32-33 was a big step in the right direction. Whedon explains the verses and then refutes Barnes’ (a Calvinist) view. He notes the Calvinist interpretation of defending God’s justice is really a “might makes right” kind of view. He objects: “Power increased infinitely cannot change right. A creature can be supposedly wronged by even an infinite being. The predesinarian interpretation makes Paul pretend to give a reason, but really resorts to force, and seeks to frighten his opponents out of reasoning.”
“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation comes from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us ~ to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days'” (Luke 1. 67-75 TNIV, and henceforth).
By Daniel Whitby – part of Discourses on the 5 Points Editor Note: Archaic spellings and words have been updated, sentences broken down into shorter sentences and links to scripture references inserted. – Godismyjudge SUFFICIENT…
By Daniel Whitby – part of Discourses on the 5 Points
Editor Note: Archaic spellings and words have been updated, sentences broken down into shorter sentences, and links to Scripture references inserted. – Godismyjudge
To proceed now to the arguments which evidently seem to confute this doctrine:
II. ARGUMENT ONE – Sufficient Grace
And (1.) this is evident from those expressions of the holy scripture, which intimate that God had done what was sufficient, and all that reasonably could be expected from Him in order to the reformation of those persons who were not reformed; ‘for what could have been done more, (HEBREW, what was there more to do?) for my vineyard, which I have not done in it? Wherefore then when I looked (or, expected,) that it should have brought forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? (Isaiah 5:4)