I Wish More Arminians Were Like Calvinists, by Jerry Walls

[Jerry Walls just posted this on facebook, and I thought it was worth sharing]

I have been thinking the past few days about a Facebook post by Bill Barnwell entitled “Why Do Wesleyan-Arminians Allow Themselves to be Bullied by Calvinists?” Barnwell’s post was inspired by a blog article by Roger Olson in which Olson made some timely comments on Calvinists who infiltrate Arminian denominations, often with little resistance.

Barnwell made several observations on why Calvinists are better at getting their message across: “Calvinism by its nature is triumphalistic; Calvinists are very, very confident; Calvinists pretty much own academia; Calvinists do a better job infiltrating popular culture; Wesleyans are more tolerant than Calvinists; and Wesleyans don’t make as big a deal with their Wesleyanism as Calvinists do their Calvinism.”

I generally agree with all these observations except one, namely, that Calvinists pretty much own the academy. Indeed, Calvinists are a tiny minority in the Church at large, and they hardly own the academy. Among serious scholars, Calvinists are a minority. But they are nevertheless good at conveying the impression that they are the serious scholars, and that they own the academy. This impression is more due to another factor Barnwell notes, that they have been far more successful in infiltrating popular culture. Certainly Calvinists have a lot of popular authors that are widely influential in evangelicalism, but that is hardly the same as owning the academy. In my own field, philosophy, Calvinists are a distinct minority, and indeed it is worth noting that the greatest mind produced by contemporary Calvinism, namely, Alvin Plantinga, is an Arminian.

But back to where Barnwell is right. Calvinists are indeed far more confident, and less tolerant, and make a bigger deal of their theology than Wesleyans do. And I believe these factors are very closely related. Calvinists are intolerant because they are confident that their theology is true, that it is nothing more or less than the gospel, and they are passionate about preaching it and contending for it.

In your average United Methodist Church, by contrast, pastors and leaders take painstaking care not even to use traditional pronouns and language for God, for fear of offending someone, or not being “inclusive” enough. Whereas Calvinists do not shy away from affirming what they take Scripture to teach, even if it offends contemporary sensibilities, Wesleyans walk on eggshells, fearful of offense. To make matters worse, in my experience, there is a tendency in many Wesleyan circles to equate spirituality with milquetoast, passive aggressive personalities.

So here is what I wish were the case. I wish more Arminians were confident, not in themselves, but in the truth of their theology, and had the courage and conviction to teach and preach it more passionately, even aggressively, in the best sense of that word. (I have had more than one Calvinist tell me that I am the first Arminian they had ever met who acted like he really thought his theology was true). I wish Wesleyans were better at distinguishing spirituality and character from personality. I wish more Arminians had a clear grasp of where Calvinism is confused and why it continues to thrive on misleading rhetoric. I wish more Arminian biblical scholars saw what is at stake in the larger culture and church, and would take Calvinism on in a direct, forthright manner
I am not suggesting that Arminians should be arrogant, rude, or narrowly exclusive. We should warmly embrace all who believe orthodox Christian faith and cooperate where we can on mutual concerns. But this does not mean Arminians should passively hand over their churches to Calvinists or give Calvinists free rein to promote Calvinism.

In short, we need more Arminians with an edge. These are Arminians who understand that the claims of Calvinism and Arminianism are mutually exclusive, and they cannot both be right. They understand that there are important issues at stake and that there are large practical implications. Not the least of these is the very character and love of God. Does God truly love all persons, and do we have a gospel of good news for all persons?

We need more, indeed lots more, Wesleyans and Arminians who have thought these issues through carefully enough to understand what is at stake and are prepared to expose Reformed rhetoric for what it is. We need more Arminians who preach about God’s sovereignty, predestination and election, rather than ignoring those doctrines, thereby giving the impression that those are “Calvinist issues.”

I love the recent version of the movie “True Grit.” I love the fact that hearty, hardy Protestant Christianity runs through the film, the sort of Christianity that was vibrant when America was most vitally Christian. One of the killers, as I recall, had a brother who was a Methodist circuit rider. Circuit riders had an edge. They loved God, they loved men, they were gracious. But they had an edge.

I wish more Arminians had True Grit.

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25 Comments

Filed under Arminianism, Jerry Walls

25 responses to “I Wish More Arminians Were Like Calvinists, by Jerry Walls

  1. So do you reckon you are a real wesleyan arminian? I very much doubt it.
    Have you experienced the “entire sanctification”?

  2. I, for one, have always been glad non-Calvinists don’t have the reputation and behavior of Calvinists. I agree in part with the concept of not being bullied, but to call for non-Calvinists to become bullies like some Calvinists doesn’t quite seem on target. I think the behavior of many Calvinists smacks of “me thinkest thou protesteth too loudly” and rather than displaying confidence, their behavior shows their insecurity.

    • Good points. Confidence can be a good thing, but being a jerk is not. :)

    • abundance

      As one who can be labeled a Calvinist, I do understand the concern that other Christians have for their perceiving of a common demeanor of Calvinists. There is a possible explanation, that has scriptural support.

      I am convinced by the Spirit, that Calvinists are spiritually matured in their understanding, at a faster rate and higher level than other Christians (1 Cor 3, So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.) This speed of growth is all for God’s purposes and has nothing to do with an individual being more or less than another.
      Therefor, initially, there is a small amount of frustration when a Calvinists encounters a believer that is still in infancy(spiritually) and resists, or simply can not, eat solid spiritual food. Eventually, through sanctification, this frustration is overcome and a calm patience sets in (fruit of the Spirit).

      A matured Calvinist will acknowledge that God does and will spiritually mature all His children when and at what speed He desires. It can be understood than, that the work of a Calvinist is to “water” the infants of the Kingdom, and be confident that the Lord will cause those infants to grow to maturity, either in this flesh or in the Kingdom. He has a perfect purpose in everything He does for His children.

      I hope this can give some clarity to your concern. I also hope that you can consider reading more on the subject of the doctrines of grace, and then judge the teachings on the foundation of scripture and not judge based on the perceived “bully” attitude that some Calvinists have

      May The Lord richly bless!.

      • Your point–Calvinists are arrogant bullies because they are so spiritually mature and have to deal with immature people all the time–is a fascinating bit of logic.

      • That’s a pretty good summary Jeff. :)

      • A better summary is:

        “The reason we’re perceived as arrogant is because we’re better than you.”

        I hope that comment was someone’s piece of satire because that is excellent satire. If it’s sincere, God help us all.

      • Jeff, It blows me away if someone really believes this. I hope it’s satire. :)

      • abundance

        Brothers, thank you for your replies. Though, the first response is not properly representing what I have written. I made a distinction between spiritual maturity of “understanding”, and maturity by “sanctification”. The maturity of understanding, as I have written, precedes maturity by sanctification for producing patience. (This, as we are discussing, applies to Calvinists who are wrongly perceived as bullies. This is not a universal application. )

        1- I wrote, “Therefor, initially, there is a small amount of frustration when a Calvinists encounters a believer that is still in infancy(spiritually) and resists, or simply can not, eat solid spiritual food.”
        1.1- I used the word “initially”, which means in the beginning, or at first. And in this case, the beginning of maturity of understanding and trying to communicate that understanding to other believers.

        2- I then wrote “Eventually, through sanctification, this frustration is overcome and a calm patience sets in (fruit of the Spirit).”

        3.I then wrote that a matured Calvinist acknowledges God’s right to grow others at any pace He so desires.

        Spiritually mature “in understanding” and matured “through sanctification” are different things. Number 3 is not the same maturity as “matured in their understanding” (see 1). Number 3 is a maturity that is through sanctification (See 2), which produces patience.

        The Calvinist’s patience, toward spiritual infants, has been produced and has increased by the Spirit through sanctification. He has been matured for proper communication with infants. He understands God’s perfect plan of salvation, and he then is sanctified so he can patiently communicate that plan to his brothers and sisters.

        Brothers, there are certainly some Calvinists who are not displaying perfect patience. And I fully acknowledge that that is a part of God’s plan. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It is not something we can produce. Therefor, whenever and through whoever it is produced, it is all God’s doing for His own purpose.

        It is a joy and blessing to communicate with both of you. I am more than willing to explain, in detail, any words that I have written. If you are unsure of anything written, please do not hesitate to ask. My greatest desire for you is that you too can understand God’s perfect plan of salvation and know that Christ is a perfect Savior. And this is my desire for you so that He can be fully glorified in your growth of understanding of Him.

        Thank you, and may The Lord richly bless you!

      • Abundance, Like Jeff said, I really hope this is satire. If you really believe this, your view is arrogant, and prideful. Your understanding is the one that is infantile, because you conflate Calvinism (a man made system) with the gospel, and don’t accept Arminian Christian brothers as equals. In reality, God works in everyone’s life, both Calvinist and Arminian. There are no doubt some Calvinists that are more spiritually mature than I am. And there are no doubt some Arminians that are more spiritually mature than you are. The Spirit’s work is greater than our theological systems. I believe He moves in us and changes us to be more like him only with our consent, as we allow him to work in our lives. I recommend you read “The Transforming Power of Grace” by Thomas Oden, so that you have a better grasp of the consensual orthodox understanding of the nature of grace. God bless.

      • ambudance

        jeff, your comment has not taken into account what I have written. I don’t know what you want it to say, but surely what I wrote and what you think you’re reading are different things. You attack me by labeling me as illogical, full of satire, and then make my words say what they are not saying. All I ask, is that you read the words as carefully and as they are, not as you perceive them to be. If you simply don’t like what I wrote, than please consider reading more into the Doctrines of Grace, for they are God centered just as my words are.

        I wrote, ” This speed of growth is all for God’s purposes and has nothing to do with an individual being more or less than another.”

        There is zero arrogance in what I wrote. I pointed to God as the one, and only one, who has a purpose in growth of understanding. The growth is not based on anything in an individual. It is all because of God and His purposes.
        Do all believers understand as the apostle Paul did? No. Even Peter said that Paul’s letters were difficult to understand. So in what way are the words of Peter not arrogant and full of satire, yet you believe mine are? (2 peter 3:15-16)

        My statements and the apostles statements would only be arrogant if we believed that we were the ones that brought ourselves to the understanding in the first place. Though as I stated, and as the apostles stated, God causes growth and gives understanding.

        I do apologies if my initial comment was not as clear to some as it could have been. If you feel that what I believe in the Spirit is somehow not in harmony with scripture, than please show me why, based on scripture, I am wrong. If there is a superior way for growth and understanding to be acquired, please share with me what it is.

        Once again, it is a joy and blessing to communicate with you. May The Lord richly bless.

      • Abundance, your view is arrogant in that you assume only Calvinism is God centered, and that Arminians are infantile because we do not agree with your Calvinism. You need to acknowledge that Calvinism is not the gospel, Christ is.

      • abudance

        Kevin, I thank you for your comments. Can you please explain how a belief, that is backed by scripture, is arrogant? How is it arrogant to believe that God, and only God, is the one that causes spiritual growth?
        It’s somehow, arrogant, to desire to see others bow the knee to Christ for His perfect work on the cross?

        Not understanding what I wrote and not liking what I wrote are two different things. if you simply don’t like what I wrote, which I presume you may, than just say so. There is no need for name calling or judgmental comments, for those are of the flesh and not the Spirit.

        Did I say that every single Calvinist is a perfect saint? No. Did I not say that I recognize that some Calvinists lack in patience and are yet to be matured? Yes.

        So once again, if you read what I wrote, than you’ll understand that it is a matter of God given understanding and growth, not who’s better than another.

        Your words, “you conflate Calvinism (a man made system) with the gospel, and don’t accept Arminian Christian brothers as equals.”

        You are making a straw man. I never once stated that Arminian brothers and sisters are not equal.

        Calvinism is based on the total and perfect plan of salvation. Do all new believers understand the totality of the gospel, the atonement, redemption, etc., from the moment they are regenerated? No.
        Do Calvinists possess, by the grace of God, a more complete understanding of the gospel and atonement? Yes. And I say ‘yes’ because what they teach is in perfect harmony with scripture, and they do not go outside or insert into scripture.
        And I presume, it is THAT which you don’t like to heard. Though, it’s a true statement. And instead of asking more about the doctrine and seeking to gain more understanding, you have resorted to name calling and passing judgement. I am seeking to glorify God and help others understand His perfect plan of salvation for them. What are you doing?

        Did I not invite all here to read more on the Doctrines of Grace? I did write, ” My greatest desire for you is that you too can understand God’s perfect plan of salvation and know that Christ is a perfect Savior. And this is my desire for you so that He can be fully glorified in your growth of understanding of Him. ”

        You wrote, ” The Spirit’s work is greater than our theological systems. I believe He moves in us and changes us to be more like him only with our consent, as we allow him to work in our lives. ”

        And this is where the dividing line is drawn. The Calvinist believes in a God centered gospel. The Arminian believes in a man centered gospel. And who is correct in their belief can only be found at the cross.
        Did Christ’s sacrifice save anyone? Or did it just make people savable, so long as other requirements are met?

        I will offer you 1 text. And if you can show me, by this verse and any surrounding verses that Christ intercedes for every single individual, than I’ll listen more to what you have to say about Arminian doctrines.
        But if you can’t, than you’ll have to decide what you’ll do next with the verse and all of scripture.

        Once again, please show me where in this verse it says Christ intercedes on behalf of every single individual.

        Hebrews 7:25
        Therefore also he is able to save completely those who draw near to God through him, because he always lives in order to intercede on their behalf.

      • Abundance, All Christians believe God causes the growth. That’s not in dispute. What’s in dispute is your contention that only Calvinists are spiritually mature and all other Christians are infants. I both understand what you wrote and think it is arrogant. You are arrogant because you equate your view with the gospel, and it is not. The gospel is the good news that Christ came to save sinners. Those who believe in him are saved. Calvinism is not the gospel. Arminianism is not the gospel, they are only interpretations of how God works. Christ is the gospel.

        To be frank, I don’t see any of this supposed “spiritual maturity” in your posts. I see a prideful attitude. Calvinism especially lends itself to pride because Calvinists hold that God elected them, and not others. You think you’re special in God’s eyes, and that others are not. That view lends itself to pride.

        You also said “I am convinced by the Spirit, that Calvinists are spiritually matured in their understanding, at a faster rate and higher level than other Christians.” So in fact YOU DO think that Calvinists are better in belief and in spiritual maturity. Just admit it. And you attribute your soteriologial belief system to be the source of spiritual growth, rather than to Christ. You think you are a more mature believer because of your Calvinism, and that Arminians can only be immature believers because of their Arminianism. God is bigger than your system. Even if Calvinism is true (and I don’t think it is), God can give spiritual growth to non-Calvinists if he wants to, can he not? That’s his prerogative. To say otherwise limits God.

        You said “The Calvinist believes in a God centered gospel. The Arminian believes in a man centered gospel.” And again we differ here. No theological system is the gospel. Christ is the gospel. You are putting your system ahead of Christ, and failing to distinguish that a belief system is not the gospel, regardless of how accurate you think it might be.

        Of course, I also believe that Arminianism is Christ centered, is scriptural, and best represents the good character of God. But I don’t have the presumption to call Arminianism the gospel itself. No system is.

        Calvinism on the other hand does terrible things to the character of God, though unwittingly. And that’s why I’m an Arminian, because I believe God is good. I agree with John Wesley that Calvinism (inadvertently) makes God worse than the devil.

        Wesley writes of Calvinism: “Such blasphemy this, as one would think might make the ears of a Christian to tingle…It destroys all his attributes at once: It overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. More false; because the devil, liar as he is, hath never said, “He willeth all men to be saved:” More unjust; because the devil cannot, if he would, be guilty of such injustice as you ascribe to God, when you say that God condemned millions of souls to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, for continuing in sin, which, for want of that grace he will not give them, they cannot avoid: And more cruel; because that unhappy spirit “seeketh rest and findeth none;” so that his own restless misery is a kind of temptation to him to tempt others. But God resteth in his high and holy place; so that to suppose him, of his own mere motion, of his pure will and pleasure, happy as he is, to doom his creatures, whether they will or no, to endless misery, is to impute such cruelty to him as we cannot impute even to the great enemy of God and man. It is to represent the high God (he that hath ears to hear let him hear!) as more cruel, false, and unjust than the devil!”

        Scripture is self evident that Christ intercedes for everyone. Some examples:

        John 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.

        Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

        John 1:9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

        Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

        1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

        John 16:7-8 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.

        Romans 1:18-19 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

        Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

        And again, if you’d like to gain a better understand of the orthodox Christian doctrine of grace, check out “The Transforming Power of Grace”, by Thomas Oden.

        God bless,
        Kevin

      • abudance

        Thank you for your response. I am please and blessed to further this discussion concerning our perfect Savior and His freedom to bless as He wants. I have spent a few hours this morning reading your comments and in preparing a response to you. I hope, that you can read what I have written and respond if you wish. I read your entire comment carefully, and I ask that you show the same reverence to my comments.

        But first I would like to point out your accusation of, ” You are arrogant”.
        These do not sound like words of the Spirit, though since you are insistent on it, I’ll address the matter. I have also directly responded to a large portion of what you wrote. My direct response to your words are highlighted with three ===

        Do you feel that it was arrogant of the apostles to declare some not able to handle solid food? Was that declaration, from scripture? Are we somehow not allowed to point out the infancy of others?
        Do you want me to be arrogant, or do you not believe the scriptures when they say some Christians remain in infancy?
        Clearly, you and I have very different views on God’s handling of maturity. And no matter how many times I explain the scripture, you insist than I am “arrogant”.
        Let’s end the discussion on your assessment of the motive of my heart. I stand with scripture, as I have been doing. ( Romans8 Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.)

        The following are direct responses to your comments.

        You wrote, ” The gospel is the good news that Christ came to save sinners.”
        === I agree.

        You wrote, “To be frank, I don’t see any of this supposed “spiritual maturity” in your posts. I see a prideful attitude.”
        ===( Romans8 Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.)

        You wrote, “Calvinism especially lends itself to pride because Calvinists hold that God elected them, and not others. ”
        ===This is a false statement. You do not fully understand what Calvinists believe scripture teaches. Calvinists believe exactly what scripture teaches; that all those who put their trust in Christ Jesus will find Him to be a perfect Savior. Not to mention, have I not named you as a “brother” since our written exchange began? I indeed have.

        You wrote, ” So in fact YOU DO think that Calvinists are better in belief and in spiritual maturity”
        ===You might be missing the point. I wrote “spiritually matured in their understanding”. How could anyone derive “I’m better than you” from this statement? Anything spiritual is from The Lord. All understanding is a gift from Him. You might be ‘wanting’ me to be something, but my words do not allow for you accusation to stand. I have consistently pointed to God as the one giving the understanding.

        You wrote, “And you attribute your soteriologial belief system to be the source of spiritual growth, rather than to Christ.”
        ===Please, I only ask that you read what I wrote before making so many accusations.
        I wrote, “The growth is not based on anything in an individual. It is all because of God and His purposes.”
        Do you believe that Christ is God? I credit God, and only God, for any and all growth. Consistently.

        You wrote, “You think you are a more mature believer because of your Calvinism”
        ===No. You are only reading what you want to read. As I have said before, Calvinists are given spiritual understanding by GOD for HIS purposes.
        Once again, please read what I wrote before making accusations.

        You wrote, “God is bigger than your system.”
        ===True. Although it is His perfect plan of salvation that we describe in our doctrine which is fully and entirely supported by scripture.

        You wrote, “Even if Calvinism is true (and I don’t think it is), God can give spiritual growth to non-Calvinists if he wants to, can he not? ”
        ===From a Calvinist view; absolutely and to whatever degree He so desires, whenever He desires.
        To an Arminian, that answer might depend on if it’s being given before or after repentance and faith put in Christ. Since giving it before would be some how a “violation of free will”. Though since you are an Arminian, please clarify my view of what your view “might” be.

        You wrote, “You said “The Calvinist believes in a God centered gospel. The Arminian believes in a man centered gospel.” And again we differ here. No theological system is the gospel. Christ is the gospel.”
        === I am under the impression that you are either not reading what I wrote, or you are only reading what you want to read. But please clarify as to which it is.
        To clarify my word, the God centered gospel is the gospel of Christ that is presented to us in the scriptures. That is the gospel I am referring to.
        Though what I think you’re reading is, “Calvinism is what saves someone” and nothing more. Am I right? Please clarify.

        You wrote, “You are putting your system ahead of Christ, and failing to distinguish that a belief system is not the gospel, regardless of how accurate you think it might be.”
        ===These are accusation that I do not feel are from the Spirit. You are making certain assumptions that are not supported by any facts. I do not believe it is necessary to attack and accuse a fellow believer, over and over and over. Let’s recognize that the Spirit gives self control.
        What we are talking about is the Gospel message as it is understood by each. We are not to be making accusations of the motive of each others hearts. Asking for clarification is good. Making accusations is bad.

        You wrote, “Calvinism on the other hand does terrible things to the character of God, though unwittingly. And that’s why I’m an Arminian, because I believe God is good.”
        ===And what terrible things does it do?
        Was God good to Egypt in the same way He was to Israel? Was He good in the same way to the Assyrians as He was to Israel? Is He good to those who are “not of My sheep” in the same way He is to those who are “My sheep”? (John 10:26-27)

        You wrote, “I agree with John Wesley that Calvinism (inadvertently) makes God worse than the devil. ” And then you went on to quote a large portion of his writings.
        ===I’ll only ask three question. Is God somehow unjust for giving to rebel sinners exactly what they deserve? is He somehow unfair for freely choosing to save some and not others? Was He ever obligated to save anyone?

        And now to the very important words, the words of God.

        John 12:32
        If you are asserting that this means Christ will be interceding for every singe individual forever, than you are putting yourself into a position of universalism. As we read in John 6, all that come to Christ are raised up on the last day. Christ is not contradicting Himself than in John 12. The context of this passage should be what gives the natural meaning of the text. The context is the Greeks in search of Christ, and therefor all men implies both Jews and Gentiles.
        As I have said, Christ does no contradict Himself. If all go to Christ, than all must be raised up. But not do. Therefor we must recognize the context and natural meaning of the words.

        Titus 2:11
        The very preceding verses between verse 1 through 9 list many different kinds of people, old men, old woman, young women, children, young men, and slaves.
        The apostle is therefor stating that salvation comes to all categories of people, old, young, married, unmarried, slave or free.
        If this were a general offer of salvation for every single individual, as I presume you assert, than you must explain verse 14 which says “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
        The “us” are the elect (you and me included), the chosen children of God. They are the people that Christ “gave himself for”, the ones He redeems, and the ones He purifies for His own possession.
        You can not separate the work of sacrificial giving, redemption, and purification. The purpose of the giving was to purify a people.
        Are “all people” purified? Surely not.
        Does Christ fail in His work of sacrifice and intercession? Surely not.
        Only those given by the Father are purified.

        John 1:9
        This is not a very useful proof text for your position.
        Once again, context is very important. These opening verses are discussing the Creatorship of Christ. He created everything and everyone and was coming to His creation. As we read on verse 10 and following, “10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

        I quoted verse 12-13 so as to point to the verses that actually do speak on salvation. Notice, the ones that do believe are the ones born of God. In other words, a person is born of God and as a result he/she believes in his/her prefect Savior.
        Christ goes on to explain this in later chapters. John 6 37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
        The giving precedes the coming. God gives a people to the Son, and as a result they come to Christ since they are His ”sheep”.
        John 10
        25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

        The sheep of Christ, given by the Father, born of God are perfectly saved.
        They are safe in the hand of the Son and hand of the Father. They are never cast out. They are given the right to become children of God.
        It’s the same consistent plan of salvation through the entire book. And God is the one doing and initiating all of it in every single child of God.

        Romans 11:32
        This too is not a useful proof text for your position. This passage is discussing the salvation of Israel and God’s mercy on them, along with mercy on those who are called and predestined by God through the gospel. Those whom He also shows saving mercy.
        Because of God’s mercy, all Israel will be saved (verse 26)
        That same saving mercy that is shown to the elect (verse 30)
        Once again, perfect salvation of all those chosen by God.

        1John 2:2
        If Christ is the propitiation for the sins of every single individual, than all would be saved. Christ would be presenting His perfect sacrifice on the behalf of every single individual and the Father would give all gifts in Christ to every single individual.
        Though, this isn’t the case. Not all are saved. So not all had their sins paid for. If they had, Christ would be interceding for them, which would result in perfect salvation. (see Hebrews 7)
        1 John 2:2, presumably written by the same John, parallels very well with John 11:51-52. As the writer is stating, Jesus would die not only for the nation of Israel, but also for the children of God who are scattered abroad. And as we remember chapter 1, the children of God are those who are born of God. The ones who are given to the Son.
        John 11:51-52
        51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

        John 16:7-8
        I don’t understand how this is relevant to your position that Christ intercedes, and presenting His perfect sacrifice, for every single individual. I see no need to comment on it.

        Romans 1:18-19
        If you continue into verse 20, it is stating that those people who undergo the wrath of God, denied their creator by ignoring the evidence of His existence via His creation that surrounds them. Do all people hear the message of the gospel? No. And even those who don’t already deny their Creator and His existence.
        I would question whether your position of “God is good and therefore must be good to everyone equally” (my paraphrase of your position), can hold up to this passage which describes God as full of wrath against those who deny Him, those who are “not my sheep”.

        To further emphasize what you mean, please explain your words “Calvinism on the other hand does terrible things to the character of God, though unwittingly. And that’s why I’m an Arminian, because I believe God is good.”
        Is God good when He pours out His wrath?

        Revelation 3:20 is talking about and to the Church.

        Thank you for your generous response. I pray the God can reveal His perfect plan of salvation of Israel and all the children of God scattered throughout the world; all those born of God. I also pray that you recognize that the work of Christ’s sacrifice and intercession is limited to only those who were given to Him by the Father.

        If you would like to comment on Hebrews 7, as I have asked, please do so.

      • Abundance,

        This is getting old. I’ll make a couple of quick points, and then we are finished. I am not going to permit you to post further.

        Your are arrogant in this way: you equate your system with the words of God. And I have grown tired of pointing this out over and over. I show what is wrong with Calvinism and why it is not scriptural, then you respond with “who will bring any charge against God’s elect”. What a joke. You are only a man (or woman) who thinks he is right. You don’t have the self awareness to recognize the possibility that your view is not synonymous with scripture. Calvinism is not the gospel. Calvinism is not the word of God. It is a man made system that promotes pride, and damages God’s character.

        Consider this: What if God loves the world? What if he really wants all to be saved? That’s what the plain reading of scripture teaches. God loves each person with an infinite amount of love. Jesus is drawing everyone to himself, although each person can resist to his own eternal detriment. Jesus died for every person that has ever lived. God wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Jesus is the propitiation not just for the sins of you and I, but also for the sins of entire world. That’s what the Bible says.

        Scripture teaches that the atonement is both universal and conditional. God loves the world. Whoever believes will be saved (John 3:16). The grace that brings salvation is given to all (Titus 2:11, John 1:9). But since it’s resistible (Acts 7:51, Heb 4:2, Heb 10:29, John 5:34,39,40, Matt.23:37), only those who believe are saved.

        Christ provides for all, but those who reject Christ’s provision will perish. Your arguments all miss that. In reality Calvinism is the root of the heresy of universalism. Universalism can only be true if grace is irresistible. And many Calvinists have become universalists for that reason. Because deep down they know God must be good in order to be worthy of worship. As do you and I.

        Calvinism makes God worse than the devil in this way: it makes a mockery of God’s character and ignores the plain teaching of scripture (just as you have done). Calvinism teaches that God loves only a few and hates the rest, when scripture states the opposite. Calvinism makes God unjust because it teaches that God commands all to repent, but then he withholds the grace from the reprobate that would make it possible for them to repent. Calvinism teaches that God ordained man’s sins, he provides no remedy for the reprobate, and then God blames the reprobate for their state when he caused it and left them helpless in the first place.

        Certainly God could leave most in a helpless state and save only a few, as you propose he does. But scripture does not teach that. And it would make God a liar, and the author of sin. In short, it would make him worse than the devil.

        Romans 8 is about living in the Spirit, versus living in the flesh. It’s not about you. Now, I realize that you are convinced that Calvinism aligns with scripture, and so you think a critique against Calvinism is an attack on “God’s elect”. But you’re wrong. I’m critiquing your non-scriptural view, not believers in general and certainly not God. In addition, I am a believer, and the Spirit tells me that he cares for everyone. Just as the Bible says.

        John 10 is in reference to those Jews who believed before Christ came. The “sheep” were God fearing Jews who were listening to the Father prior to the arrival of Jesus. When Jesus came, all these God fearing Jews (and later Gentiles) were given by the Father to the son. These are the sheep Jesus speaks of. On the other hand, the Pharisees were not listening to God prior to the coming of Jesus, and therefore were not given to him by the Father, and did not recognize Jesus.

        So the passage is not about particular election before faith. It is Jesus explaining to the Pharisees that they were not following him because they were not following the Father in the first place. If they had been following the Father, they would have recognized him. See here for additional info. The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel.

        Hebrews 7:25 states that God is able to save those who come to him. That’s firmly consistent with Arminianism. Note how it states those who come to him. God gives us the grace to come, then it’s up to us to be obedient.

        I’ll close with this: If God hates most and leaves them in their sin that he ordained, he is not good. But I’m fully persuaded that he is good, and his word is true and trustworthy. God is not two faced.

        If God loves the world and wants all to be saved (what the Bible says), then saying otherwise is about the worst thing possible you could do. But since God is love, he loves you anyway. :)

        God bless,
        Kevin

      • I have lost a few friends when they adopt the Calvinist point of view. They belittled me and called me a heretic simply because I believe that God hold us accountable for the choice that we made, whether to follow or not follow Christ. Very sad and hurtful. Like Christ, yes, like Calvinist, no thanks.

  3. ccifenn

    My brother and I were just talking about this exact issue earlier today. Thanks for the thoughts!

  4. michaelstheology

    Amen to that!!

  5. Really Enjoyed your post and agree. I do find that Calvinist tend to hold a more aggressive and close-minded position about their faith. Reading your back and forth with Abundance cemented the exact feeling I have experienced in both regards:

    1) Calvinist are so consumed with confirmation bias that they are unwilling to acknowledge that they may be wrong and furthermore judge others as less mature for not agreeing with their position.

    2) The Calvinist view paints God as worse than the Devil. I was not aware of Wesley’s commentary on Calvinism, but, individually, I’ve had those very same thoughts for the same reasons. It’s actually quite exciting to find such a stark and strong rebuke of the Calvinist doctrine.

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