Friday, October 16, 2009

Arminianism vs. Calvinism: my unpolished personal view.

Leaving aside “Catholic” and “Orthodox” believers, there seems to be a tendency to try to divide the rest of the Christian world into two neat camps: Arminian and Calvinist.

Despite being A Christian since the mid 70s I didn’t become aware of Calvinism until about 4 years ago when I read the contributions of a Calvinist writer on a Christian forum. I was appalled by the beliefs he was promoting. However I had no personal contact with Calvinists until two years ago. At that time I started to do some research and I found it hard to believe that any professing Christian could hold to such an aberrant view God.

My introduction to Arminianism came through my being accused of being an Arminian. While I find Arminian doctrine to be much closer to the truth than that of Calvinism, there is still the fact that its adherents are devoted to, and prize, the theology of a man. It is my view that there would be NO Arminianism/Calvinism debate if importance was genuinely placed on Scripture alone – something that both sides ironically claim is the basis of their doctrine. I would more easily believe that was the case if the devotion to Arminius and Calvin (and the associated religious systems) were repented of and the labels dropped.

I’ve been frequenting “Arminian” blogs for a few months now and have appreciated the interaction I’ve had with several people on those blogs. But one thing I have repeatedly noticed is that so much of the disagreement between Arminians and Calvinists is often demonstrated through multi-syllabic theological terminology and theological ideas instead of through plain and simple application of scriptural revelation. The result of this is disagreement over differing ideas of man-made philosophical concepts rather than God’s revelation of Himself through His word.

Infralapsarian, Supralapsarian, supraduperlapsarian… all meaningless and worthless twaddle just like so much of the vain concepts that take centre stage in man’s theology. Most of them are merely intellectual sounding alternatives to that age old question of how many angels fit on a pin head.

Get back to the gospel people. Turn to God’s Word and not mans’.

Because there is too much reliance on human theology and wanting to identify with a label rather than with a lifestyle, “Faith” to many has become a matter of assent to a series of tenets Why not DEMONSTRATE the truths we believe rather than try to give a short cut by identifying with a theological system?

Surely this IS what Paul was writing about when he criticised some for saying “I am of Apollos or I am of Paul” Was Arminius or Calvin crucified for you?

I am definitely NOT a Calvinist (as if anyone would mistake me for one) and neither am I associated with any of the theological labels that others have tried to pin on me. In all my weakness, with all of my faults and despite stumbling many times – it is my desire to be nothing more or less than a disciple of Jesus.

All of the rest: the theological posturing and labelling, are dangerous distractions.

23 comments:

Karn said...

I totally agree with you, Sola Scriptura.
But where in the scripture are we allowed to take (even the smallest part) of our own salvation?
I agree that labels doesn't matter at all. But I would be very very fearful to ascribed myself even the smallest part of my salvation.
Sola Scriptura is a must, but for my personal relationship with the Lord, Soli Deo Gloria is much more important.
Solus Christos.

Onesimus said...

KArn,
Thank you for your comment. However it grieves me that you have been seduced by the cliched arguments of the Calvinist. Whether you would identify yourself as a Calvinsit of not you use the same confused argument about people ascribing salvation to themseves.
Nothing could be further from the truth and NO ONE i have ever come across has in any way considered they have contributed anything to their own salvation.
No one can receive what they were not first given.
God gave the gift of His Son who died as a ransom for all. However not all are willing to recognise that gift and so all do not receive what was freely given.
That receiving is by faith not by any kind of works.

I can not decide to be a millionare merely by my own choice. However, if Bill Gates made a million dollars available to anyone who would receive it, then it would be up to me whether I wanted to benefit from what was freely given.

God has given salvation to whoever will receive it through faith in His Son.

Further correspondence which merely goes over old ground and continually raises the same old Calvinist arguments and cliches will not be passed through moderation. I do not have time for thecontinued repetaion and the continued answering of the same things over and over again.
Turn to SCRIPTURE for the truth and seek the Holy Spirit's revealtion. Don't put trust in the teaching of theologians.

Josef said...

Brother
the issue is not calvinismn or not
the issue is the doctrine of regeneration.
though im a calvinist i can tell you some church history for your infomartion.
calvinism is not something that Calvin brought up.
he came from Luthers doctrines
and very few thing differ him from luther.
but the root och arminiasm comes from pelagius.
Pelagius doctrines where rejected by the church counsil in cartago in the 397 after christ
theese bunch of people in the church counsil in carthago where also the ones deciding what books should be in the bible or not.
if it wasnt for them the bible would had been full of other letter also that where fakes.
they and augustine stood against the doctrines of pelagius
because he rejected the doctrince of origin sin that men is not that evil so he is able on his own to choose God.
this was rejected by augustine and the church counsil in carthago thoose who decided what book will be in the bible.
then in history the doctrines that calvin had have been all over the history already it was nothing new calvin came with.
Calvin came from luthers reformation and his doctrines where almost all based on his doctrines
just that calvin went one step further preaching double predistination instead on the simple that Luther belived in.

I do not say that arminians are not born again or have a false gospel i do not go so far because i know in church history are many arminians that where annoited by God.
Wesley, Ravenhill, William Carey, Hudsom Taylor, Tozer
but there where also plenty of calvinists.
Edwards, spurgeon, Knox, Whitefield
etc

Onesimus said...

Josef,
While I'm definitely not a Calvinist (I think the doctrines of Calvinism are demonic), neither am I an Arminian.

Both are man's attempts to make sense of God and His ways.

But judging by your understanding of "arminianism" it is clear that you trust your Calvinist teachers too much.

Arminianism has not more in common with Pelagianism that Calvinism does. That link between Arminianism and Pelagius is a lie perpetuated by less than honest Calvinists.

Whether or not Augustine rejected a doctrine proves nothing. Much of the false teaching affecting the church for over 1500 years originated with him or was promoted by him.

Onesimus said...

Josef,
Before making your comment did you read the article?

Turning to God for understanding through His word by His Spirit will help free people from the theologies and theological arguments of men.

_______

correction of some typos in my previous comment. This is how one statement SHOULD read:

Arminianism has no more in common with Pelagianism than Calvinism does.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brother,
You said that receiving Grace is by faith. Is faith not also from the Lord?
1Ti 1:14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

I agree that Armenianism has it's differences with Pelagianism. I happen to be fluent in Dutch, so I have read the original version of Jacobus Hermanszoon (the birth name of Armenius). And although they can be regarded as in the "same corner", as we are spliiting hairs here, the differences are important as well.

The following is not old ground, Google it. :-)
We can agree on total depravity, right? That a mortal can't come to Christ by himself.
So, when nothing is done, we are all doomed to eternal fire.
Now, in case of Arminianism, God enables us (Wesley calls it Previnient Grace) to accept salvation. Without this, we are unable.
But, this enabling Grace is not enough to "draw" us over the line. If it were that we are drawn over the line, then it becomes Divine Election as God is the one pulling you over the line. We can't have that in Arminianism.
So, the next is God gives not enough of it and we need to crawl the last femtometer. This is not good as well, it is unbiblical as it would be Grace plus works.
So, God gives us just enough to be "ON" the line, no less, no more.
We are in a state of meta stability, we could "effortless" fall either side.

Now, what makes one then choose for the right side and others the wrong side?
We can't apportion it to God's outward calling, as that will be election again. We also can't aportion it to the individual himself, as that would be Grace plus again.
So, the third option is Chance. But we know that open Theism is a heresy. So, I ask, who is ultimately the owner of one's salvation?
If the analogy of the line is not graphic enough, imagine a palying card.
One side is Death, the other Eternal Live.
Enabling Grace brings the card from the dead side to an upright position, exactly upright, but not falling to the saved side. What is ultimately the cause of the card falling one or the other side?
Soli Deo Gloria.

Onesimus said...

If we are interested in the truth of the gospel we will not find it in any of men's theological camps.

Search the scriptures and trust the Holy Spirit's teaching instead of man's ideas.

If we start from any of men's theological viewpoints we will end up on the wrong path and find ourselves going in circles.

God is not holding anyone back from being relationship with Him. He has done what is necessary to make Himself accessible to all.

He has made the way possible and
He has shown the way.

It is up to us all whether we choose to turn towards Him or continue walking away from Him.

Karn said...

Hi Onesimus,

Can you please point me to passages of the Scripture where our own free will is written? May be we can one by one study it.
In my decades of bible reading, I have yet to come across a passage where free will is written. Pre destination on the otherhand, is plentifull.
I agree with you to drop all our human theories. In fact, let's for the sake of this study, we both temporarely become agnostics, no pre dispositions at all.
I am very intrique where I can find the truth as you have seen it.... (seriously)

Onesimus said...

Karn,
If only you would put aside the theology you have been taught and start reading your bible for yourself - ALL of it.

Instead of seeking proof texts to support a doctrine, get to know God and His ways through the revelation He has provided.

The bible is NOT a collection of texts to enable us to build and prove a systematic theology.
It is the story of God and His relationship with mankind.
It shows us HOW He relates to us and why through real life events and real life relationship.

The bible was not given as a doctrinal text it was given so we could get to know who God is, what He is like and what He desires.

I've spent more than enough time on the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. People will continue to choose the path they prefer - many idolise theology, others are more interesting in knowing God Himself.

I am one of the latter and I trust the revelation He chose to give mankind above the vain theologies that men try to offer as an alternative.

Karn said...

I agree with you about starting with a blank page. In fact, in my 20's I was an atheist. When still seeking, I have read Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Islam, Mormon, Jehova Witness and obviously also Protentantism.
As an academic with a double degree, I am sceptical of everything and I read many sides first without prejudice.
At highschool in Holland we had to learn Greek and Latin besides German, French, English and Dutch. So I counter check bible translation through Strong numbers with the original Greek text. And I can only conclude that many misunderstandings from the "free will" camp is due to ambiguity of translation. Greek is very precise.

After a few decades of reading the bible, I felt joy in my heart which I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit when I read about my Sovereign Master. An Almighty, Sovereign, self-glorifying, All knowing and Omni present God, Father, Master and Lord.
I am elated when I read that my Master is Glorified.

I cam from a blank page and only discover that the God I know from the Bible is an All-In-All, He is Who He is. An absolute ruler and controlling heaven and earth.
Who am I, His creation, to talk back?
The Master I know from the Bible is a jealous and the absolute centre of the universe. Self glorifying Being.

Let me quote from John McDuff:
GOD orders all our affairs. Whatever He gives us let us thankfully receive it. Whatever He denies us let us be satisfied without it. Whatever He takes from us let us uncomplainingly part with it. Whatever trials He lays on us let us endeavour patiently to bear it. Yes, our lot in life with all its attendance circumstances is chosen by GOD.
Let the sun of prosperity shine or let the cloud of adversity lower, let our path be smooth or let it be rugged we should be disposed to say 'It is the LORD's will, let Him do what He thinks best'.
We may not see now how it is good but let's... think of the wisdom and love of Him who place us there. Whether we understand it or not He is too wise to err and too good to be unkind. God who gives supremely good is no less good when He denies. Even crosses in His sovereign Hand are blessings in disguise.

PS. I am not after converting other's beliefs. But I would rejoice if someone sees the beauty of a Sovereign God, not antropocentrism like in the song "How About Me?". I realise that only the Holy Spirit can reveal this beauty and squash all human desires.

Onesimus said...

I had to seriously consider whether to post Karn's cooment above because it presents such a distorted view of the sovereign God.

He says:
"I realise that only the Holy Spirit can reveal this beauty..."

And yet the protrayal of God that he gives could hardly be further from the beauty of the TRUE God who loved the world and gave His Son to make it possible for mankind to be brought back into relationship with Him.

The TRUE God who desires all to be saved but forces no one to be saved.

Warning - no more Calvinism promoting comments will be allowed.

Onesimus said...

Karn has left a new [now deleted] comment on your post "Arminianism vs. Calvinism: my unpolished personal ...":

1Co 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
------------------

Karn,
I would suggest you need the Spirit and NOT man’s theology in order to spiritually discern anything.

And your continual reverence for Calvin above the clear and simple word of scripture shows that your heart is with man’s theology and not with scripture OR the Spirit.

Karn, I’ve seen and heard your arguments and out of context proof texts before from every other Calvinist I’ve come across. The telling thing is, the arguments are all the same – as if from the same source, but not one of the arguments is consistent with scripture. SO the source is clearly not God’s truth.

I therefore have no reason or desire to discuss this further via this blog or by email. From experience I have learned that those clinging to man’s teachings above the clear word of scripture will hold to their chosen doctrines no matter what scripture shows us.

Karn also said:
“Are you also against the father of Protestantism, Maarten Luther?”

And then continued with arguments made by Luther against “free will”.
------------------
Firstly, I am against ALL teachings based on man’s reasoning and man’s theology and I don’t put any man on a pedestal above God’s word – no matter how historically revered a man may be, whether he is a pope, or a protestant equivalent.

Secondly I do not believe in or promote “free will”. I believe in GOD GIVEN will – that God has given mankind enough ability to choose to obtain what HE wants to achieve HIS purposes.

An important part of what He wants is a willing bride for His Son, a loving people to live with Him in His new creation without coercion or manipulation.

Karn said...

Secondly I do not believe in or promote “free will”. I believe in GOD GIVEN will – that God has given mankind enough ability to choose to obtain what HE wants to achieve HIS purposes.

Amen.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

Karn.

PS. I just noticed that you are an artist, what art do you make?

Onesimus said...

Karn,

Don’t forget this part regarding God’s purposes:

“He wants is a willing bride for His Son, a loving people to live with Him in His new creation without coercion or manipulation.”

God has given mankind the ability to make certain choices and take certain actions to obtain that willing bride and loving people.

Those choices allow ALL to have the opportunity to repent and turn to Him – or to remain in rebellion.


________________


My profile lists me as an “otherwise employed artist” – I am otherwise employed because I don’t have enough technical ability to bring my ideas into reality and therefore could never make a living out of any artistic endeavour.

I have some skill in drawing which perhaps could be developed if I put in the time to practice and have attempted painting and might benefit from a suitable painting course. Many years ago I made short films and videos with very basic equipment.

But my main artistic outlet has been as a writer.

Anonymous said...

A few questions for you regarding Gods purposes;

Out of how many nations did God choose [ yes , He chose them , and not vice versa] Israel in order to bestow mercy .


In choosing Israel, was Gods mercy availiable to all other nations.


Was God unjust in showing mercy to the Jews while with holding the same from other nations.


Is God the same yesterday, today and tommorrow.?

Onesimus said...

Genesis 18:18
Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

Genesis 22:18
…and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Israel was not chosen for salvation. They were chosen to be a conduit of blessing for all the nations – so the nations weren’t exempt from God’s blessing by His choice of Israel*.

If the nations HAD been exempt we would have been excluded from the possibility of salvation through faith in Jesus, unless we were Hebrews.

Israel being chosen by God was a two edged sword to them and their descendants. Attached to their election was their choice between God’s curse and God’s blessing. The result of obedience would be God’s incredible blessing. The result of disobedience would be God’s equally incredible curses. Mostly, throughout their history, they have experienced the latter because of their disobedience.

Taking your use of God’s election of Israel, in which you seemingly attempt to justify Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election: I would have to ask what happened to God’s chosen people? His election of Israel does not seem to have done Israel any good – considering they are mostly in unbelief. Surely you do not think they are saved because of their election despite their rejection of Jesus?

Israel is NOT saved due to their election. They will be saved only through recognition and acceptance of their Messiah Jesus. That time will come according to Paul and the OT prophets, but it will be a remnant of Israel and not every person descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Israel are not saved through being the chosen people of Israel. They will be saved only through faith in Jesus.

Yes God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. He still gives the choice of blessing and cursing and makes us responsible for our own choices. Turn to Jesus through faith and be saved. Continue to reject Jesus and be damned. The God given choice is ours.


_________________

*Unlike the unchosen reprobates according to Calvinist theology.

Onesimus said...

Clearly God did not choose Israel for salvation neither was His choice of Israel exclusive of other nations:

Acts 1:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

Revelation 5:9
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Revelation 7:9
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Russ said...

Hello Onesimus, I must say that I personally thought I was somewhere in between Arminianism and Calvinism, until I started to read about "Classical Arminianism" which is quite different what is labeled as Arminianism in this day, which is nothing more than Semi-Pelagianism. Just and FYI, take it or leave it. There's a website that really had some great historical to present day resources regarding Arminianism and the whole debate between Arminianism and Calvinism.. Thank you, Russ

Onesimus said...

G’Day Russ,

Thank you for your comment.

I now try to steer clear of the “debate between Arminianism and Calvinism”. It is a fruitless debate centred on man’s theology. While the attention remains on the “ism” it is being diverted from what is really important: the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I find “Arminianism” to lean much closer to the truth than its reactionary spin-off (Beza’s Calvinism with its floral five points) but I find it is essential to search the scriptures for ourselves without the prior influence of any interpretive theological system. It is a sad fact that some people become so caught up in debating Arminianism and Calvinism that they miss the gospel of the Kingdom.

The debate can become focused on defending what a favoured theology teaches rather than a desire to find, embrace and share the truth of Jesus Christ.

Chris said...

Hey, just to encourage all you Semi-Pelicans, this debate was the raging topic in my Bible College back in 1961, and my son was still hotly debating it with someone called KingPhatCow (and his mother) on a forum abt 45 yrs later.

No one ever changed their mind.

They all finally went off shaking their collective heads at the unteachableness of Christians, certain that they alone had the Biblical balance of truth :)

Maybe we need to call a worldwide truce and just get on with what our Lord and Master Jesus Christ told us to do:

"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak with new tongues..."(Mark 16:15-17)

Yes, let's meditate on nice uncontroversial straightforward simple words like that, and leave all this unending profitless timewasting controversy behind. Agreed?

Blessings in Jesus,

Chris.

Onesimus said...

AGREED!!!

Thanks Chris.

This article was posted almost 2 years ago and is STILL consistently one of the most viewed posts each week: which I think proves the point of what I said in the article.

People are too caught up with man's theology to get on with the job Jesus gave us.

Frank Blasi said...

Hi Onesimus,
I came across your page as I was reading Steve Finnell's blog. As a Christian myself since 1973, I have looked into this Calvinist/Arminian debate.
And let me say that for Christians everywhere, it is a sorry state that not only does this debate exists but it is burning with full flame to this day, as this page demonstrates, and it shows no sign of dying out.
I am aware of people such as David Pawson telling his audience to "Forget this idea of Once saved always saved" and such similar messages.
I have now come to the point in realising that no man has the right to tell me whether I can lose my salvation or not. Because really, it is none of his business!
Each one of us is accountable to God only, and to God alone will I either stand or fall, and God has the power to make me stand. If I want to believe in Eternal Security of the believer, then that is between God and me only, and not the likes of David Pawson and other "Arminians", "Pelagians" or for that matter, Roman Catholics to say on this matter. If I'm wrong to believe in Eternal Security, then to God alone will I have to give an account.
May God bless you in all you do.
Frank.

Onesimus said...

Hi Frank,
Unfortunately many are introduced to Jesus through a “gospel” of easy believism. Add OSAS to that mix and we create a foundation of false security.

The security of salvation is found in Him and only in Him.
If we remain in Him our salvation remains secure.