Calvinism Explained in 10 Minutes – Greg Boyd

Here’s a nice concise presentation by Greg Boyd on the differences between Calvinism and Arminianim.  HT: Society of Evangelical Arminians

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Filed under Arminian Video, Arminianism, Calvinism, Greg Boyd, John Wesley, Wesleyanism

Man Goes Bankrupt After Refusing to Sign Check

Local resident Calvin deKlein declared bankruptcy today after refusing to sign a check that would have paid off the debt for him. deKlein was reportedly heard muttering, “If I sign the check, it means I did all the work.”

Judge Peyda Piper says she has never come across a case like this before. “I repeatedly asked deKlein why he refused to sign the check, and he was unable to provide a coherent answer.”

Wealthy philanthropist Jesse Pagotodo was left shaking his head. “I wrote the check out to deKlein, put it in his hand, and even drove him to the bank.  But he refused to sign it when we arrived”.  Pagotodo went on to say. “I don’t know what else he expected me to do, I couldn’t sign the check for him, that would have been forgery.”

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Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism, humor

Thomas Oden

A great theologian, a brilliant man.  He will be missed.  His book “The Transforming Power of Grace” is the best book out there about grace written from a broadly Wesleyan perspective.

Here’s a lecture he gave a few years ago at Seattle Pacific University about classical Christianity.

Here’s a fun account of someone (a Calvinist!) who went to Oden’s house uninvited in order to meet him.

Christianity Today: Died: Thomas Oden, Methodist Theologian Who Found Classical Christianity

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The Arminian Theology of “What’s in the Bible”

What’s in the Bible is a DVD / video teaching series for children about the Bible.  It is produced by Phil Vischer, one of the makers of “VeggieTales”.

Anyway, I’ve been watching the series with my son Alexander.  He really enjoys it.  I do too.  I’ve appreciated how well done the series is.  It is entertaining, but not at the expense of accuracy.  It overviews the entire Bible, from beginning to end.  It add in little tidbits here and there (like the difference between a canon and a cannon), and in the process teaches about Jewish and Christian history, and how and why we have the Bible today with the books that it contains.

witb

I’ve noticed (and appreciated) how very Arminian the series is.  God is described as relational, loving, and all powerful.  The series also takes a high view of scripture, when the opening song asks, “Is it true, is it reliable, absolutely verifiable?” (and concludes that it is).

Here is a sample of dialog from episode 2 “Who wrote the Bible?”.

Sunday School Lady: “God loves us more than anything else he’s ever made. And He loves it when we love Him back.  But it has to be our choice. God could make us love him, but that isn’t love at all.  We’d be like robots, like toasters. You press the toast button, you get toast.  You press the love button, you get love.”

Ian: “My toaster doesn’t have a love button.”

Sunday School Lady: “Nope, neither does a robot. Love is a choice.  So God gave us a powerful, dangerous gift.  He gave us the freedom to choose.”

Brother Louie: “Dangerous, what’s so dangerous about being able to choose, Sunday School Lady?”

Sunday School Lady: “We can choose to love God or we can reject him.  We can choose to love each other or hurt each other.  Through the years people chosen to do wonderful things and terrible terrible things.  Love is so important to God that the risk is worth it.  God’s heart aches when we choose to hurt each other and reject him.  But he still lets us choose.”

Buck Denver: “Wow, that’s really big.”

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Filed under Arminian Video, Arminianism, Calvinism

Does Our Choosing of God Take Away from His Glory?

I recently received an email from a reader asking this question.  I thought it would be worth sharing, as it comes up occasionally.  I’ve received permission to share our correspondence, but have removed the specifics for privacy.

[From the reader]
Hello was really hoping for some help.

I fell down the Calvinist rabbit hole and have been trying to get out. I sometimes sway back and forth between unconditional election and conditional. I have a question which has been really tough for me. How does us freely choosing God apart from his sovereign election not take away from his glory? Or doesn’t us choosing Christ and therefore choosing correctly give us something to boast about? Like we chose right everyone else chose wrong?

I’ve really been struggling with this and it seems safer to see salvation as a monergistic work of God, and I’m fearful to believe anything else is to steal glory that is owed to him. Please I would really appreciate some insight or help you could offer.

In our dear Lord and Savior,
[name redacted]

[My Reply]
Thanks for the email.  To specifically answer your question, I don’t think God allowing us to believe or not believe steals from his glory or causes boasting.

First, I think God deliberately created a world where people can make choices.  This is by his sovereign design.  He prefers to have genuine relationships – where people choose him.  CS Lewis said it like this:

“God has made it a rule for Himself that He won’t alter people’s character by force. He can and will alter them – but only if the people will let Him. In that way He has really and truly limited His power. Sometimes we wonder why He has done so, or even wish that He hadn’t. But apparently He thinks it worth doing. He would rather have a world of free beings, with all its risks, than a world of people who did right like machines because they couldn’t do anything else.”

Second, the very nature of faith precludes boasting about it.  Faith is knowing that I’m a sinner, and that my only hope is to trust in Jesus to save me.  The minute I start bragging it’s no longer faith.  It’s like the parable of the prayers of Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18).  The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like the tax collector, while the tax collector prayed “God have mercy on me a sinner.”  Jesus said the tax collector was the one who was justified.

In reality, I think holding to Limited Atonement can cause boasting.  Because the nature of monergistic election puts one in a special class where others are excluded. And this can cause pride.  Wesley said in describing the Calvinistic concept of grace that it naturally inspires contempt and coldness to those whom we suppose to be outcast from God.  I’ve seen this in some Calvinists (though certainly not all), and you probably have too.

I leaned towards Calvinism for a while too, but what brought me to Arminianism is that I think it best represents the character and heart of God.  If God loves the world and Jesus died for all, and monergism were true, then everyone would believe, because God would ensure it.

But since not everyone does believe, we must settle between God loving everyone and allowing people to to reject him, or that God doesn’t love all in a meaningful and eternal way.  To me, the most scriptural position and the position that best represents God’s character, is to believe that he loves everyone yet allows people to reject him.

Hope that helps and blessings!

 

 

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Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism, questions

The World is Gonna Change Tonight

Here is a Christmas song written and mixed by my daughter Heidi, age 14.  Hope you enjoy it.  The lyrics are Arminian, of course. Merry Christmas!

 

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Filed under Arminianism, General Interest, music, Uncategorized

Can God Answer Prayers About the Past?

Roger Olson has recently done a couple of interesting posts about whether or not God can change the past.  He argues that God cannot change the past.  Here are the links:

Can the Past Be Changed (Even By God)? Some Musings about Time

Follow Up to Musings about Whether the Past Can Be Changed

In the second post he suggests that prayers about the past are probably not effective, and don’t have a Biblical precedent:

And I struggle with why the Bible contains no examples of petitionary prayer about the past at all so far as I know—not even prayers about events not yet known as to their nature and outcome but certain to have happened. This is to me a strong indication that such prayer cannot have any effect other than satisfying some psychological need and causing consternation and confusion.

I agree with Olson that God cannot (or does not) change the past.  For example, it does no good to pray that the Holocaust will not have taken place.

Having said that, I do think that prayers about the past can influence what God will have done.  I occasionally pray about the recent past.  For example, I sometimes pray that a loved one who has been traveling will have made it home safe.  I don’t think that God goes back and changes the past because of the prayer, but rather that he will have already done something to have kept them safe because of the prayer.  God knows that I will pray later, and can answer that prayer.  C.S. Lewis argues for something like this in “Miracles”.

When we are praying about the result, say, of a battle or a medical consultation the thought will often cross our minds that (if only we knew it) the event is already decided one way or the other. I believe this to be no good reason for ceasing our prayers. The event certainly has been decided—in a sense it was decided ‘before all worlds’. But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering. Thus, shocking as it may sound, I conclude that we can at noon become part causes of an event occurring at ten a.m. (Some scientists would find this easier than popular thought does.) The imagination will, no doubt, try to play all sorts of tricks on us at this point. It will ask, ‘Then if I stop praying can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes has been the fact that you are asking such questions instead of praying. It will ask, ‘Then if I begin to pray can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes is your present prayer. Thus something does really depend on my choice. My free act contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or ‘before all worlds’; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series.

So I agree with Olson that God can’t change the past. But I still think it’s worthwhile to pray about past events, especially events where we don’t know the outcome, and that God hears and can use those prayers.

Side note: Here’s an interesting article about praying for the past by Wesleyan/Nazarene philosopher Kevin Timpe.  Prayers for the Past. He calls them PIPs (past-directed impetratory prayers).  He argues that PIPs make logical sense for those who hold to Simple Foreknowledge, the Eternal-Now theory (Lewis’ view), or to Molinism.  But not for those who hold to Open Theism (because in Open Theism God would at best only have predictive knowledge that someone would pray).

What do you think?  Are prayers about the past ever effective?

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Filed under Kevin Timpe, Prayer, roger olson