Monday, August 31, 2009

Does Arminianism "Depersonalize" the Gospel?

James White claims Arminianism "depersonalizes" the gospel in this video. I will comment on certain parts of it.

As an Arminian, I obviously take umbrage with just about everything White says.

He starts off by poisoning the well saying "Arminianism is a man-centered faith." That is false. Arminians give all the glory to God in salvation. We do think, as 1 John 2:2 states, that Jesus died for all men and wants all to repent, as 2 Peter 3:9 says.

He then claims we think God makes salvation a "possibility." he saves in response to our faith, that does not somehow make it him and us doing the saving. That is a completely unusual use of language. If a doctor performs an operation on me in response to my consent, that does not somehow make it me and the doctor who performed the operation. No, the doctor and the doctor alone performs the operation even though he performs it in response to my consent. Almost no one would dream of saying the patient performed some of the operation, not even .000000000000001%. It was the doctor 100%. God alone saves us. But he does so in response to our faith. He does so by our faith.

God does not "try" to save people. God performed the work of salvation on the cross 2000 years ago. He commands us to have faith to have that gift applied to us. God does save those who believe, as the scripture states.

"Frightening, sad, depersonalize," way to continue poisoning the well.

I'm not an open theist, but I do know that they absolutely do NOT think man is sovereign.

On Romans 8:29-30:

Romans 8: 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Notice, this entire "chain" is based on God's foreknowledge. Just because God foreknows something doesn't mean He has irresistibly decreed it. Those He foreknew He predestined to be like His Son. Not it does not say predestined "TO BE SAVED." No, we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Every other statement is a recall to this statement, to be conformed to the image of His Son. We are then called, justified, and ultimately glorified. The calling comes after the predestination to be conformed to the image of His Son, and the predestination comes after the foreknowledge. What does God foreknow? Who will come to Him in faith, as made clear by the context of the book of Romans.

"God does not give all men all things in this universe..."

What does this have to do with anything?

"God justly condemns some..."

For sins HE determined they would commit.

"The elect is a nameless faceless group."

No, the elect are the ones who, in response to the grace of God, accept Him. Then they are elect IN CHRIST.

"If God knows can man be free?"

Because God's knowledge is based on events that will happen. Free creatures decide to sin, God knows because they will sin, not because God's foreknowledge causes them to sin.

"how do you bring a charge against nameless faces"

Again, White's poisoning of the well causes him to misrepresent the Arminian position.

"God alone justifies..."

What planet does White think Arminians believe any differently?

"Entire character of the gospel changes..."

He doesn't explain why, but I would say God decreeing sin is pretty much not included in the gospel.

"...return to Catholicism..."

I can't believe it took him 14 minutes to get to this. Ha.

"Arminianism leads to universalism."

This is a logical fallacy known as the slippery slope. It's a nice try from White, but when people remain true to the Biblical teachings of Arminius and Wesley, they don't adopt universalism. We could just as easily say the same about Calvinism leading to Neo-Orthodoxy.

"No grounds for hope..."

White continues with his silly emotional appeal. In Calvinism, for many, there truly is no hope. Some people are created for the express purpose of damnation. In Arminianism there is hope for all.

"If I do this, if I do that, if I remain faithful."

1 Corinthians 15:2
"if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain."

Colossians 1:21-23
"And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard"

"...Then it's you, you, you. God already tried His best...."

What!? First he says it's all about us, and then he brings God into it? He's defeating his own silly argument.

"Dr Craig closer to Catholicism than Calvinism."

If they're more consistent with the Bible than Calvinists, then I'd rather be closer to them.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Dilemma for Calvinists

A big reason Calvinists criticize Arminians is they think Arminian theology gives man control over his salvation because Arminians think man must exercise faith in Christ. They also think this entails man working, in some way, for salvation. This is not to mention all of the theological nuances that exist in each system (i.e. Calvinists also believe man has to have faith but it is caused by God; whereas Arminians think faith is a response to God's prevenient grace).

But, I have a question for my Calvinist brothers and sisters. They claim God determines everything that happens in a proactive manner, even sin, yet without God being responsible for that sin somehow. They also, as I stated, believe that faith is caused by God in the same manner, and He gets all the credit for that faith. Their concern is that man not claim credit for his faith. Here's the rub: how can God determine sin and not be responsible for it, yet at the same time determine faith and be completely responsible for it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Greg Koukl on if God is Culpable for the Sin He Knows Will Happen

Steve Hays of Triablogue (click here) and I have been discussing whether God, in Arminianism, is culpable for the sin He foreknows His creatures will perform. Early on I used the parallel of parents having children they know will sin not being culpable for that child's sin. Likewise, I contend that God is also not culpable for his children's sin, even if He foreknows they will sin.

Turns out, Greg Koukl of the apologetics ministry Stand To Reason (click here) agrees with me. In an article on his website he writes:
I would say that the parallel between you and God is precise. You do know that your child is going to do some things wrong. The only difference between you and God in this case is that God knows the particular things that every one of His children is going to do wrong. You don't know the particulars, but you know it's inevitable. If it is true that God is morally responsible for what His children do because He knows in advance, then it is also true that you're morally responsible. But if it's true that you're not morally responsible because you know in advance, then it's also true that God is not responsible. That's why I argue that neither is morally responsible because the wild card, in a sense, in this discussion is free moral agency.

Human beings are not mechanistic. If you take a long stick and poke somebody in the eye with that long stick, that stick is not at fault. It is merely responding in a mechanistic way to your will. That's why the person that initiates the action with the stick is the one that is culpable, the person to blame. But if what's standing in your way is not a mechanism, but another human being that has free moral agency, that removes your culpable role in the process because you are not causing somebody to do something else. You merely give birth to somebody else who then makes choices for themselves. Because men can make choices, good choices and bad choices, they are moral agents in themselves and it's not appropriate to look back on you as the parent or God as the creator as the one who is morally responsible. That's true because men are not mechanistic, they are moral agents.
The rest of the article is here (click here). Koukl actually takes what seems to be a Calvinistic stance on soteriology, which I disagree with, but the part I have posted is very helpful. I know Hays won't agree with Koukl on everything and will probably write a ten page essay on why he's right and everyone else is wrong, but hopefully it's insightful for the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

James 1:12-18 Against the Divine Determination of Evil

Calvinist theology holds in some manner that God has determined everything, even the evil acts that will happen. Now, to be completely fair, Calvinists insist God does not perform evil acts or coerce people to perform evil acts. But God has in some way determined that certain people would choose to do evil acts out of their own desires. The fall of man, for instance, was fore-ordained by God to happen, not simply foreknown. Basically, instead of the Arminian contention that God foreknows events because they will happen, the Calvinist contends that all events will happen because God determined them to happen, including evil.

James 1:12-18 says:

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Here James seems to systematically lay out how sin originates and leads to death. He even goes so far as to state explicitly that God does not tempt, and God remains conspicuously absent from the entire process. James does not say, "God decrees that a sin will happen, but takes no part in it, and then allows the agent to carry out that sin of his or her own will that God determined."

Note that I am not saying Calvinists think God tempts. They clearly do not. But they think that God at some point has determined that a temptation will happen, which in my view simply moves the causality of the temptation back one step. That would work against James' contention that good things come from God without "variation or shadow of turning" (v 17).

Seeing as how James never includes God in this progression, and how explicit he is to say God in no way tempts anyone, I contend that the Arminian position that God simply allows the sin of man is the correct position. Man's sin originates in his heart due to his own selfish desires. God has not fore-ordained or decreed in any manner that sin would happen, otherwise God is libeled as the ultimate cause of that sin. God, as He exercises providential sovereign care over His creation, must allow the sin to happen if it is to happen, but He is not in any way the cause of that sin.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Does Location Change What You Are?

Americans believe humans have rights. Most of us believe, as the founders stated in the Declaration of Independence, that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet we don't afford babies in the womb the same dignity. Why not? Is it because they're still in the womb? That would seem to be one of the main considerations for the pro-abortionist. Some even think that if the head is still in the womb, the child is still not human.

But how does this make any sense? Think about it. Basically we are contending that because the baby is in a different place, namely the mother's womb, it does not deserve human rights. But, if the baby travels 8 inches or so through the birth canal, it somehow magically attains humanity. So location determines humanity...? Who determines what location makes you human or not? Are Mexicans less human than Americans because they live to the south of the US border?

You know, there was a decision that decided that it was okay to treat certain people below a certain parallel as sub-human. It was called the Missouri Compromise. Below the 36°30' it was okay to own a slave.

Location does not determine your humanity. Simply because a human is inside the mother's womb does not mean it is any less valuable, just like living below the 36°30' parallel doesn't give people the right to own you as a slave.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Communion Meditation

This is a communion meditation I gave in church a few weeks ago. I hope it blesses you in some way.

• Why do bad things happen to good people? This has become a popular question in our time.
• Perhaps we need to be asking this question in a profoundly different way. Why does anything good happen to us at all? The Bible makes it clear that there are no “good” people. Jesus said in Mark 10:18 that no one is good but God. The Bible makes it clear that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
• This puts things in a slightly different perspective. All of the evil and suffering in this world is brought about by our sins, and the Bible says in Romans 6:23 that, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is only by the kind grace of God that He does not wipe out Adam’s race when He sees all of the sin in the world and in our hearts every day.
• This is why this meal (communion) is so profound. We are reminded that the spotless lamb, Jesus of Nazareth, had His body broken and His blood spilled because of us. Our sins were placed directly on Jesus on the cross.
• This isn’t just a wafer. It is a symbol of our Lord’s body, as He said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24b).
• This isn’t just a little cup of grape juice. This is a symbol reminding us that Christ is the Passover lamb. As He said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:25b). God now looks at Jesus’ righteousness instead of our sins if we have faith in Him.
• We should, therefore, approach this table humbly, but also with great joy, knowing and remembering what the lover of our souls did for us!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Difference Between the Brothers Wesley and the Triabloguers

For some reason (certainly not me) my good friends at Triablogue have been calling us Arminians out for calling them out on being meanies. They specifically cite John and Charles Wesley, who both happened to be awesome. They have quoted several occasions where J & C used invective language against the system known as Calvinism. But I believe we see a HUGEMONGOUS difference in how the brothers acted and how my good friends sometimes act. J & C voiced their strong disapproval for a system of theology. The T-bloggers attack, belittle, and insult individuals. As if two wrongs made a right anyway.

Anyhoo, just pointing that out. Cheerio.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Thought on the "Birther" Movement

Is ensuring that the constitution isn't egregiously violated a silly proposition? Why is that conspiratorial? How does asking to see someones proof of citizenship make you a loon? I have to do that to renew my driver's license! Janitors in the White House have to show more identification than Obamuhh has!

Do I think Obamuhh was born in Hawaii? Yeah, he probably was. I'd feel a lot better about it if every government official had to provide the proof of their citizenship, though.