Debate on the Five Points of Calvinism – Video

The Society of Evangelical Arminians has posted a link to a recent debate about the five points of Calvinism. It was between Arminian Dr. Phil Fernandes and Calvinist Chris Comis.

The debate took place on June 22, 2011 – at  Grace Community Church in Auburn, Washington.  The video can be found here.  There is also audio  available at this website: Institute of Biblical Defense (see the sermon link on the side).

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18 Comments

Filed under Arminian Audio, Arminian Video

18 responses to “Debate on the Five Points of Calvinism – Video

  1. Laura

    I watched the debate. Dr. Phil did an excellent job defending the gospel. On the other hand Chris Comis seemed arrogant and impatient as he repeated what appeared to be the pat answers he learned in his Calvinist Bible college.

    I’m sorry; I just don’t see how we can have fellowship with Calvinists. Their god saves a remnant of men while damning the majority of men to hell for his good pleasure…how is that good news for all mankind? Why are we Armenians so gracious? We don’t accept Jehovah Witnesses or Mormon’s…why pretend to have fellowship with those whose god is monster?

    I’m not attempting to be sarcastic…this is a real question. Please comment.
    Laura

    • TCM

      I have a hard time seeing how Arminianism could solve the problem of God damning the majority of people to hell. God knew he would damn people before he even created them. So it seems as though the only answer to this dilemma for the Arminian is that God takes more good pleasure in giving people a liberterian free choice to go to hell than he does in not creating them in the first place so no one would go to hell.
      I know many people that would call this Arminian God, the one who would rather have people tormented in hell for all eternity instead having of no people at all in hell, a monster.

      • The Arminian wouldn’t necessarily affirm that “God knew he would damn people before he even created them.” That is really more of a Calvinistic assertion about God’s decrees and the nature of his foreknowledge.

        The Arminian position is that God knew some people would chose to reject him after he determined to create them.

      • TCM

        And he also knew that he would damn them for their rejection of him before he created them, unless you think he just knew people would reject him but hadn’t figured out what he was going to do about it yet. That is not a strictly Calvinist assertion, it’s simply an observation about what God knows if he knows the future, there’s a lot of non-Calvinists who agree that God knows the future but they have different ways of explaining why he created in the first place knowing he would damn many of his creations.

        My point is that God chose to create a world where he knew people would go to hell and that causes many to judge God as a monster for having done so. The real question then becomes what is the criteria upon which we judge God as being a monster or not.

      • Again, you are using Calvinistic assumptions about the nature of God’s foreknowledge. Calvinists believe God knows what he knows because he decrees it. Arminians believe that God knows what he knows because we do it. His foreknowledge of our actions is contingent on our existence. If we never exist, how would God know what we do? It is meaningless to talk about God knowing the free actions of creatures that never exist. It would be like you saying God knows what happened after I kicked the leprechaun yesterday. He doesn’t know that fact because there is no leprechaun.

        Calvinism
        1) God damns
        2) God determines to create

        Arminianism
        1) God determines to create
        2) Man rejects God
        3) God damns.

        You may not believe that is how God’s foreknowledge works, but at least recognize that your assumptions are not something that Arminians hold to.

      • TCM

        I didn’t mean to misrepresent what Arminians believe, maybe I’ve been misinformed because I thought God not knowing the future was an aspect of Open Theism that many Arminians disagree with. But you have clearly misrepresented what Calvinists believe, certainly what infralapsarians believe. We both have some homework to do.

        Are the order of events you listed all logical in God’s mind before creation?

        Or do you believe this is the temporal order:
        1. God determines to create
        2. God physically creates everything
        3. Now that men are created God knows what they will do.
        4. Man rejects God
        5. God damns

      • Hi TCM, You’re correct, I described the superlapsarian view, not the infralapsarian one. I was going with your definition that “God knew he would damn people before he even created them.” In my view, Infralapsarians are inconsistent on this point. But I do appreciate their motivation to clear God of the charge of ordaining the fall. As far as I know, all Calvinists agree that God knows the future because he ordained it.

        There is a nice chart summary of the different views on the logical order of God’s decrees here: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/sup_infr.htm It’s from a Calvinist site, but I generally agree with the representation there.

        Arminians do believe that God exhaustively knows the future, but we reject that he knows it because he ordained it. When discussing the source of God’s foreknowledge, we’re speaking of a logical order, not a temporal one. The future is certain but not necessary. God knows what will happen because it will happen, not because he ordained it. Just like we can know things that happened in the past without causing them, God can know things in the future without causing them. Likewise, just as we can’t know what didn’t happen yesterday, God can’t know what doesn’t happen tomorrow.

        BTW, There are some Arminians (Molinists) who believe that God can know things that don’t happen, but I’m not one of them. :)

  2. Thanks for your comment Laura. I agree that Calvinism is flawed, but do accept them as brothers in Christ. Generally speaking, Calvinists have a good motivation. They hold to their theology because they are attempting to protect the sovereignty of God. Here’s a post on their motivations. Differences in Calvinism and Arminianism

    • Laura

      The article you referenced is very gracious…I cannot however over look this final statement:
      ‘God elects to save certain individuals and passes over others.’
      That is a different gospel!

      Calvinism is a misrepresentation of the nature of the God of the Bible. How does one walk together in unity with a Calvinist when we are not worshipping the same God?

      • Hi Laura, I believe that Calvinist do worship the same God as I. I’ve met lots of good ones who love the Lord with all their heart. They misunderstand an aspect of God’s character, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t saved, or that God can’t work in their lives, or that I can’t worship with them. An as an Arminian, I believe that God is drawing everyone towards himself, including the inconsistent Calvinist.

  3. TCM

    Kevin,

    I’m glad you’re not an open theist, understanding different vocabularies among different traditions can get tricky.

    I didn’t mean to say that from an Arminian perspective God was ordaining what the future would bring in the Calvinist sense, just that he knew that libertarian free creatures would reject him before he created and what punishment he would give them when they did. A looking down the corridors of time to see what will happen, not an ordaining of what will happen. It seems to me like the logical order of God’s thoughts doesn’t affect my point because I was speaking of what God knew in a temporal sequence of:

    1. God looking down the corridors of time to see people will go to hell if he creates the world
    2. God creates the world anyway

    A lot of people don’t like that (I had in mind unbelievers and Open Theists). So in order for the Arminian to defend this position against them (if you agree this is the position) one would have to appeal not to common sense or human philosophy, but to what the scriptures have to say about God being the perfectly just judge of the universe. Not that he is good because there is some universally good rules outside of himself he follows, but because he acts according to his character which is the definition of what is good. So we must go to scripture to find out what he has revealed to us about how he has acted and what is good, not decide what kind of God we would like and make scripture conform to that.

    • TCM

      Just in case you think I’m confusing you with a Molinist, let me rephrase the temporal sequence:

      1.God, who exhaustively knows the future without ordaining it, knows in the future people will go to hell before he creates the world.

      2.God creates the world.

      • Hi TCM,

        Sorry I didn’t get back to right away. I was having too much fun writing up the post about Liberal Christians.

        I understand where you’re coming from. But as an Arminian, I reject that view of foreknowledge. You are describing counterfactuals (a type of Molinism) – that God knows things that do not exist. I hold to “simple foreknowledge”. If something doesn’t exist and never will, there is nothing for God to know about what “it” would do, because there is no “it”. Or put differently, there are no “corridors of time” for God to look down, until he decides to create them. Here is a nice short description of the Arminian concept of simple foreknowledge.

  4. TCM

    Thanks for the online book, Kevin. Also, Your LC post did make me chuckle a bit.

  5. Kent

    Dave Hunt’s answer to the question: ‘Why did God create humanity knowing that many of them will reject Him and be in Hell forever?’

    In effect, this is the idea of the answer (pardon my English. English is my second language):

    God desires the salvation of all men. He wants all to repent and turn to Him.

    Now, humanity comes in a package. You are here because of your parents. Your parents are here because of your grandparents. Your grandparents are or where here because of your great grand parents. Ultimately, we can all trace ourselves back to Adam and Eve.

    If you will not repent and trust in the Savior for salvation, if you will reject God’s salvation, that’s your personal decision. But your children might think differently or your children’s children after them might decide differently. Your children or your grandchildren might be one of the people who will be saved and be in heaven as prophesied in the book of Revelation who will forever be with God.

    God won’t drop His plan of creating human beings just because you will reject Him. What about your children or your grandchildren who will enjoy Him forever because they will repent and turn to God? Millions of people won’t be created who would repent and turn to Him and experience the indescribable joy of being with God forever just because you would rebel and reject God?

    No, God created humanity for the sake of those people who He foreknew that would receive His salvation and be with Him forever. If you choose to reject God’s free offer of salvation, it is your fault. But for the sake of your children and grandchildren and many other people like them who will not reject Him, God created humanity.

  6. Kent

    I am Filipino. Thanks for the site. Will Birch’s site, Roger Olson’s and yours are some of the Arminian sites I visit every day.

    Sometimes I don’t even sleep. I want to know so much about Arminianism. I have been studying about it now for about three weeks daily. I am now convinced that this is the correct view compared to Calvinism.

    I just recently dropped my Calvinism. I am committed to destroying it if possible. It caused my backsliding for years. It affected my health (I took it so seriously), my family relationships and day to day living FOR YEARS.

    The first time I was saved by reading my own Bible I was so filled with the love of God. It all gradually tapered off when I joined this Calvinistic church and heard all these Calvinistic teachings. It shocked me and made me afraid of God. But I resigned to it and decided to live with it. “I guess that’s just what it is.”

    The love turned into fear (fright). There were times that I was just literally cringing in fright thinking of God, feeling so helpless about this kind of God. Then it somewhat turned into hatred against God.

    Then just this year, I became terribly worse. All caused by my misconception of God because of Calvinism. I became so hard to live with. My wife kept on crying because of my attitude and behavior.

    It was when I dared to watch a debate between a Calvinist and an Arminian just last month (Dr. Phil Fernandez on youtube) that I recovered after many long years.

    It opened my eyes. I realized that I was wrong about my view of God. After many years, I cried and told God with tears in my eyes: “God I love you!” I was wrong about God. Now, I am back. I love my Bible again. My wife noticed the significant change in my life.

    I wanted to join SEA but for me Calvinism is HERESY. I have a very strong emotional reaction against it now.

    Thanks, sorry for the long post.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Kent. It’s encouraging to know that this blog had a small roll in your move away from Calvinism. I fear that often disillusioned Calvinists completely give up on Christianity instead of finding an alternative like you have.

      Consider posting your account on the Arminian Perspetives blog, your experience may help others who have had similar struggles. http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/x-calvinist-corner/ And by the way, that blog is another excellent resource.

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