Thursday, March 13, 2014

Who would really, really want to be a Calvinist?

Calvinism is one of those tricky things among the "isms". A bit like Communism, perhaps, which is easy to oppose on the basis of lived out reality (think oppression in the USSR and Mao's China) and difficult to completely reject on the basis of its core idealism (think, Christianly, how close communism is to Acts 2:44,45) and continuing handy critique of capitalism (while capitalism is a tide which lifts all boats, is it really a good thing for humanity if some have leaky, rotten rowboats while others have floating gin palaces? Resentment does tend to spawn violent revolution ...).

This stirring critique of Calvinism - 5 Reasons Why Calvinism Makes Me Want To Gouge My Eyes Out - opposes Calvinism partly on the basis of the lived out reality of Calvinism as a theological driver for church life and partly on the basis of the terrifying logic of Calvinism's attempt to systematise the theology of Scripture. Excerpt below.

Yet is Calvinism easy to reject completely? Scripture after all has a strong theme of election (think tiny Israel chosen from among the nations), and concern that only a minority are saved is not necessarily ameliorated by promoting Arminianism over Calvinism: whether we subscribe to either "isms", we have a Lord and Saviour who taught that only a few find the way. On one aspect of Calvinism I suggest no simple solution exists: predestination versus free-will can be couched in such a way that predestination seems absurd. Yet I remember from first year philosophy reading a (non-theological) treatise on determinism versus free-will which opened my eyes to how difficult the concept of free-will is!

I am curious about one line within the argument:

'We don’t need a belief system that leaves us wondering as to whether or not we got picked; we need a belief system that assures us we were already picked and that we’re free to enjoy the benefits of being picked.'
Is that not Calvinism? If so, then the writer's main objection to Calvinism seems to boil down to understanding the concept called 'limited atonement'. A concept which I see as paradoxical: if Christ died for all, but not all are saved (whether we make the choice, God makes the choice, or both) then the effects of the atonement are limited.

Nevertheless my attraction to this post concerns what the writer says about the toxicity of Calvinism within church culture. Is Calvinism as a theological system good for the church? For example, does it contribute to the flourishing of love within congregational life or does it enhance commitment to world-facing mission? The comments below the post are worth a look if engaging with such questions.

Here is one excerpt from the post:

'One of the key aspects of Calvinism is a concept called “predestination” which essentially means, God picked the people who are going to heaven. Where it gets sick is on the flip side of that same coin (a position held by Calvin), that God also picks the people who go to hell. There are no choices involved– before God even created us, he hand picked who would go to heaven and who he would burn in hell for all of eternity. 
Now, we know from the teachings of Jesus that the group of people in history who embrace God is smaller than the group who do not (broad vs. narrow road). If both Calvinists and Jesus are equally correct, the result is purely evil. This would mean that God created a MAJORITY of humanity for the sole purpose of torturing them in hell for all of eternity, and that they never had a choice. God would have created them for the sole purpose of torturing them. I just don’t think I can worship a god who would do something like that. 
Case in point: if I get to heaven and find out that my beautiful daughter Johanna is in hell and that she’s in hell because God chose her before the foundations of the world to burn for all eternity, I won’t be able to worship him in good conscience. Perhaps I would bow down out of total fear, but I would NOT worship him because he was holy, beautiful, and “all together wonderful” as Boyd often describes him. Instead, I would bow down because he would be a sick and twisted god who scared the crap out of me.'
For myself I wonder if Calvinism is asking the wrong questions of Scripture. Predestination in the hands of Paul in Ephesians, for instance, is a wonderful answer to the question, 'Will God save me?' Or, 'Is God committed to saving me?' Conversely it is a poor answer to questions such as, 'Who will be saved?' 'How can I be saved?' 'Are some people destined not to be saved?'

The very ability of humanity to ask questions such as these is a testimony to the reality of free-will: it would be absurd of God to create people who can ask, 'How can I be saved?' while destining such questioners to an answer, 'Don't bother, you are not going to be saved, you cannot choose to be saved.'

In the paradoxes involved in these matters I suggest it would also be absurd to conclude from human ability to choose that God is only interested in people making choices, disinterested in whether anyone chooses to follow Christ and neutral over the possibility that potentially no one might be saved because all choose to reject Christ. If Scripture teaches anything, from Genesis to Revelation, it is that God is intentionally and intensely committed to having a people of God for eternity.

As an Anglican I find myself a little bit Calvinist and a little bit Arminian and hopefully without toxicity.

48 comments:

Scott Mackay said...

The problem with this critique of Calvinism is that the Arminian God doesn't really get us off the hook. In the latter scheme God still chooses to create human beings he knows will reject him. If he knows this in advance before creating them, then why does he create them knowing they will end up facing judgement?

Moreover, the Calvinist position does in fact include human decision, contrary to the linked article. Just because the author can't conceive of how that works doesn't mean the Calvinist position doesn't explicitly recognise the place of human accountability and choice.

Isn't there a particularly fine Anglican Article on this very topic? :)

Peter Carrell said...

That would be Article 43 wouldn't it, Scott?
:)

camostar said...

Election sounds nicer and I think is more biblically faithful when conceived in terms of the people of God instead of is this or that individual saved. I think also that if God is on the side of the oppressed, who have historically been robbed of free will then the subversive potential of election is shown, flipping over the way things are.

Kurt said...

"I just don’t think I can worship a god who would do something like that."

AMEN!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Scott Mackay said...

I think it's interesting to note that during the predestinarian controversy in the 17th century, the Laudians were concerned about Calvinism mainly because they thought it would undermine the role of the church in mediating salvation via the sacraments. Today we're concerned about predestination for quite different reasons.

Anonymous said...

Given that the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century pretty much tore itself to bits over the Calvinist controversy I'm not quite sure why you want risk stirring up the by no means cool embers today Peter!
Rhys

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rhys
I have no control over what I post ...
:)

carl jacobs said...

I must admit that I get tired of seeing the Doctrines of Grace portrayed as some kind of virulent disease. But I understand the reason. Modern man's view of himself is inherently rooted in autonomy. And Calvinism is at its foundation a denial of autonomy. Calvinism offends because it cuts across the grain of Lockean thought and its conception of the sovereign individual.

In my experience, all objections to Calvinism are objections to Total Depravity for that is,what offends,the pride of man. "How dare someone suggest that I might not be worthy in my own right?". That of course is the attraction of Arminianism. Man keeps sovereignty over his own destiny. It tells him he is not an evil idolatrous rebel worthy of damnation lest God intervene. It denies that man is helpless to change himself. It tells him instead that he may choose wisely in his own right. It removes the sting of the offense of the Gospel.

Who would want to be a Calvinist? Me. Why? Because it is the Truth.

I do wish there was a better word for it, though.

carl

David Brainerd said...

"I must admit that I get tired of seeing the Doctrines of Grace portrayed as some kind of virulent disease."

Calvinism is a virulent disease that ultimately creates virulent atheism. The Calvinist portrayal of God is the single greatest driver in atheism today. Calvinism is but a tool of the NWO to create more atheists, who in turn will support the NWO. This is what the Masons created it for.

Jean said...

Wow you folk convict me totally of my lack of theological knowledge!

Not knowing entirely the Calvist or the Arminianism position, based purely on my own pondering.

I think the verses on predestination indicate - Before the creation of the world God knew that if He gave man free will man would sin so knowing all who would be born he planned a way for us to be re-united through Christ. And He has a plan for all people for His good purpose which is worked out if a person follows Christ.
He created us knowing who would reject Him? No But He created us with free will - for love can't exist in a relationship without it - so he knew that some would.

Now Peter reading all your (those in blog) knowlegable comments I am ending up in the position of 'teaching my mother to suck eggs". Stop writing intriguing blog posts, I am going to hold you completely responsible for my lack of Lent reflection. (Just Joking!!)

If you want to know something nice. A friend of mine after He became a christian was afraid Jesus would 'let go of him'. And He very clearly heard a response, "I have waited for you for 30 years I am not going to let you go now."

4Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.5For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[B]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]--6[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.7In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor,

Ephesians 1:4-7 (AMP)

10For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [G]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)
.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
On Calvinism and Arminianism I have a lot to learn but the verses you quote from Ephesians are the teaching in Scripture which keeps me from dismissing Calvinism out of hand.

Father Ron Smith said...

Article XVII is just one reason I cannot accept the authority of the 39 Artifacts 'holus bolus'.

For me, the credal statements are sufficient as a code of belief.

I believe that God's mercy - as exhibited through Jesus in his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and glorification demonstrates the desire of God, which is not the death of a sinner (that's all of us) but that s/he should turn from his wickedness and live. (Remembering, that we are all sinners.)

Calvin, I believe, like all of us who strive to understand the great love and mercy of our Creator God, is a bit like the curate's egg - good in parts.

"The great love of God is revealed in the Son" - i.e. perfectly, in a way no other human being could prove it's efficacy.

Kurt said...

“And yet what are all the absurd opinions of all the Romanists in the world, compared to that [Calvinist] one, that the God of love, the wise, just, merciful Father of the spirits of all flesh, has, from all eternity, fixed an absolute, unchangeable, irresistible, decree, that part of all mankind shall be saved, do what they will; and the rest damned, do what they can!” –The Rev. John Wesley, Sermon 55

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

carl jacobs said...

Egad! The plot has been exposed. The connection to the Masons. The secret plan to convert the world to atheism. The entire Presbyterian artifice has been uncovered. It's only a matter of time before they trace us to the Knights Templars and then our usefulness to the Illuminati will be completely undone.

But this still leaves a question. What shall I do with the black helicopters?

carl
A cog in the International Calvinist Conspiracy.

"Are you now or have you ever been a Calvinist?"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Article 17 is Anglicanism at its best, framing our statements of belief carefully according to what Scripture says and not making presumptions about what it doesn't say.

Consequently it is a concern to me as your colleague that your approach to Article 17 appears to also bring into question the veracity of Scripture ... that generally is not an Anglican approach to Scripture, let alone an Anglo-Catholic approach.

Kurt said...

“Are you now or have you ever been a Calvinist?"--carl

Well carl, I've been on several discernment committees, and I expect to be on several more. And, you are right, I always ask this question—in various ways and guises. A true, dyed-in-the-wool Calvinist, in my opinion, is unfit to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. I could never support a candidate who believed in predestination or limited atonement. Fortunately, I've never found such a candidate to present him/herself in the dioceses I have served.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY






Peter Carrell said...

That is TEC's loss, Kurt. On predestination it sounds like the Rev Augustine Hippo and the Rev Paul Tarsus would never get a job in TEC!

Kurt said...

Augustine I have little use for; he was one of the original snake-oil salesmen of the ancient world. Paul was hardly a Calvinist, Peter! In fact, some folks think he was gay.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

MichaelA said...

I have some sympathy for a couple of things in the linked article. There is a root issue of definition, however (and this is by no means just the author's fault):

"Hang around the average Calvinist very long, and there’s a good chance you’re going to get a mental picture of God that is largely defined by anger and wrath."

What in heck is "the average Calvinist"? That's like saying "the average Evangelical" or the average liberal Christian". Sometimes its a helpful classification, but often it isn't.

How about this: "The average person who was born into a Mennonite family, then moved to the Exclusive Brethren before seeing the light and embracing neo-Calvinism of the John MacArthur variety, but with a strong dose of Cornelius van Til". :|

There is in reality a fairly wide variety of belief among those who call themselves Calvinists, and there are a couple of issues on which the author focusses where the range of belief is very wide.

In particular, many who call themselves Calvinists today have never read any Calvin, and get very uncomfortable when they read what he actually wrote!

MichaelA said...

Benjamin Corey writes:

"Or maybe it’s the way being told ... that God “might not have picked me” ..."

If he was told this, then I agree there is a problem at that point. I suggest anyone who truly understands the doctrine of predestination as taught by Augustine, or by Calvin, or as expounded in Article 17, would never say it.

Predestination is just one part of God's sovereign will, which we cannot comprehend. We only know it exists because it is mentioned in a couple of places in Scripture. Its like the doctrine of the Trinity – we know it is true because it can be found in Scripture, but our limited human understanding cannot truly grasp how God is one and yet three at the same time.

Scripture never tells anyone to make decisions on the basis that they might or might not have been predestined by God. Rather, it tells each of us that God requires us to call on him for salvation, and warns us what will happen if we do not.

Calvin himself sounds a warning to those who presume to think they know anything more about God's sovereign or secret will, beyond what is directly revealed to us in divine teaching, i.e. scripture:

"In the same way, when the tumultuous aspect of human affairs unfits us for judging, we should still hold that God, in the pure light of his justice and wisdom, keeps all these commotions in due subordination, and conducts them to their proper end. And certainly in this matter many display monstrous infatuation, presuming to subject the works of God to their calculation, and discuss his secret counsels, as well as to pass a precipitate judgement on things unknown, and that with greater license than on the doings of mortal men. What can be more preposterous than to show modesty toward our equals, and choose rather to suspend our judgement than incur the blame of rashness, while we petulantly insult the hidden judgements of God, judgements which it becomes us to look up to and revere." [Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chap 17]

Father Ron Smith said...

Granted, Peter, that God is omnipotent, and therefore having all knowledge of what has been, what is, and what is to come.

However, one can hardly perceive the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ actually being, of God's own volition, capable of both predestination, and at the same time offering Free Will to God's children.

If God;s mind is already made up about who will, and who will not be saved; what's the point of hypothetical Free Will? Even Jesus had His options!

For God to pretend to allow us the choice of following God's purpose in our lives - or not; while yet having already determined the outcome - where would be be the whole point of the Faith Hope and Love shown clearly in the Gospel

It doesn't seem possible - never mind, reasonable!

Perhaps that's the big difference between me and Calvin.

carl jacobs said...

Kurt

I could never support a candidate who believed in predestination or limited atonement.

You obviously didn't get the memo. You are supposed to do stuff like that, but you aren't supposed to admit it publicly. It submarines your leadership when they deny it.

A true, dyed-in-the-wool Calvinist, in my opinion, is unfit to be a priest in the Episcopal Church.

Since the demographic trends in TEC have taken on the flight characteristics of a falling brick, it soon won't matter who is fit to be a priest in TEC.

But I don't take it personally. I can't complain about you expunging the likes of me when I would just as surely expunge the likes of you.

It's a good thing to have no illusions.

carl

tachesterton said...

I wait with bated breath to see if the Calvinist/Arminian argument can be solved here! :)

Tim C.

Peter Carrell said...

Well, Tim, one solution being propounded here is (so to speak): Choose you this day which -ism you will serve :)

Father Ron Smith said...

I tell you straight away, Peter, that, despite the blandishments I find from some of your commenters so far; no 'ISM' captures either my imagination or my loyalty. I do not worship the words in the Book, which speaks of Jesus, but the divine Ultimate to which they point - the Word-made-flesh in Jesus.

Christ is my corner-stone, on Him alone I build. I can say no other.

This does not mean that I do not set great store by the Scriptures. I read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them on a daily basis - and every time within the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Had the Word not been made flesh and dwelt among us, I might never have found Faith in God.

Without the infilling of the Holy Spirit in my Baptism, and in my partaking of the life of Christ in Holy Communion, I would not have had access to the fullness of the glory of God in my life.

Kurt said...

“However, one can hardly perceive the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ actually being, of God's own volition, capable of both predestination, and at the same time offering Free Will to God's children.

“If God’s mind is already made up about who will, and who will not be saved; what's the point of hypothetical Free Will? Even Jesus had His options!”—Fr. Ron

Well said, Father Ron! My feelings exactly! The core Calvinist doctrines make no sense to me, either.

“In particular, many who call themselves Calvinists today have never read any Calvin, and get very uncomfortable when they read what he actually wrote!”—Michael A

Well said and quite true, Michael. I’m always pleasantly surprised how many of the American Presbyterians I talk to don’t believe in the core doctrines of Calvinism! That’s even true of folks I’ve spoken to from Princeton Theological, where Jonathan (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) Edwards taught.

“Predestination is just one part of God's sovereign will, which we cannot comprehend. We only know it exists because it is mentioned in a couple of places in Scripture. Its like the doctrine of the Trinity – we know it is true because it can be found in Scripture, but our limited human understanding cannot truly grasp how God is one and yet three at the same time.”—MichaelA

Sorry Michael, I can’t agree with you here. The Trinity is a core doctrine that was developed by the Church over centuries and is inferred from many passages of Scripture.

This is not the case with predestination. It is true that it is “mentioned in a couple of places in Scripture.” There are plenty of things that are mentioned in the Bible a couple of times, but few people (other than Baptist and Pentecostal snake handlers, for example) try to make a grand theological system of them. (But, of course, there was Calvin…)

“Since the demographic trends in TEC have taken on the flight characteristics of a falling brick, it soon won't matter who is fit to be a priest in TEC.

“But I don't take it personally. I can't complain about you expunging the likes of me when I would just as surely expunge the likes of you.

“It's a good thing to have no illusions.”--carl

Yes, carl, we American Anglicans (Episcopalians) and you American Calvinists (Puritans) understand things perfectly between us; we always have throughout the centuries. I just hope and pray that you live long enough to be totally disconcerted when “the falling brick” levitates again—as it has done before during the past 435 years of American Anglican history. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY


Jean said...

Okay so a question:

Jesus was since the beginning of time the Son of God, and he was predestined to die on the cross for our salvation. Yet he also had free will but chose God's, "yet not my will but yours be done".

Now here predestination and free will are present simultaneously, how does this work? Are they or are they not mutually exclusive?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
Your question gets to the heart of the matter (whether we are talking theologically about predestination/freewill or philosophically about determinism/freewill).

Further the crucial theological linkage between predestination and the gospel (in my view) is that our predestination is linked to the predestination of Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Father Ron Smith said...

That's not a bad answer, Peter - considering the fact that there are more things about God and the will of God that we, as mere mortals, could hardly comprehend.

Peter Carrell said...

Do I get a C- or a C, Ron?
:)

Father Ron Smith said...

I think, Peter, perhaps a B- considering the probability that, as Jesus was fully God as well as fully human, things just might have been a little different for Him.

We simply cannot know, can we? O'm quite happy not knowing everything about God's dealings with us - except that Jesus, by His words and actions, assures of us God's mercy and forgiveness is we ask.

Mark said...

I agree in part with Father Ron Smith that it is the God of Scripture that we love and serve not the Scripture itself. But we only know who God is through Scripture - you can't have one without the other.

I've never studied Calvinism and, to be honest, I don't plan to either. Whether it's Calvinism, Armenianism or any other "ism" I have a genuine question about predestination which someone who knows more than me might be able to help me with:
What is the actual meaning in the original language/text of the word translated "predestined"? Does it mean pre-determined? Does it mean pre-intended? Is there a better definition or description?

Father Ron Smith said...

I've just got it on good authroity - from Bishop Pierre Whalon, of the Episcopal Diocese of Europe - that Austin Farrer (distinguished English theologian)had this to say about our theology vis a vis the scriptures:

"....we don’t read Scripture to do theology, we do theology in order to read Scripture. And believe."

Makes yer think, dunnit?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mark

Important words from Ephesians are:

eklegomai (E 1:4) I pick out for myself, I choose

proorizo (E1:5,11) I foreordain (lit: I bind/limit beforehand)

kleroo (E1:11) I choose by lot, I appoint by lot [related to kleros =a lot, a portion assigned; but in the middle form I assign in myself, choose; and in passive form (E1:11), I am assigned, I am chosen as God's portion.

My own view is that 'predestined' captures the meaning of proorizo: God wills from beforehand that something should happen, that is destiny is worked out before its actuality takes place.

What theologians are grappling with is whether this means for the individual believer there is no actual choice on our part when God has chosen us. What I think we can understand is that God wills from before its existence a people who will be the people of God.

Father Ron Smith said...

On re-reading this thread, My eye just caught this little gem:

"n my experience, all objections to Calvinism are objections to Total Depravity" - carl jacobs March 13 -

My response is to question carl's harshness towards the Calvinists: I'm not sure they are 'totally depraved'. I wonder if that's what the commenter really wanted to say?.

carl jacobs said...

FRS

My reaction is that you don't seem to know what Total Depravity means. I said exactly what I intended. Understand that I used to argue alot about Calvinism. I have heard most of the arguments against it. At root I found that they all traced back to a demand for human contingency in salvation.

carl

MichaelA said...

"However, one can hardly perceive the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ actually being, of God's own volition, capable of both predestination, and at the same time offering Free Will to God's children."

Why not?

He is capable of being one and three at the same time; why can't he do these things?

I don't see why God should be viewed through your rather restricted lens, Fr Ron!

MichaelA said...

"Sorry Michael, I can’t agree with you here. The Trinity is a core doctrine that was developed by the Church over centuries and is inferred from many passages of Scripture."

Hi Kurt,

Firstly, this is phrased as a refutation, but doesn't seem to really respond to what I wrote, which was this:

“Predestination is just one part of God's sovereign will, which we cannot comprehend. We only know it exists because it is mentioned in a couple of places in Scripture. Its like the doctrine of the Trinity – we know it is true because it can be found in Scripture, but our limited human understanding cannot truly grasp how God is one and yet three at the same time.”

Secondly, the Trinity wasn't "developed by the Church over the centuries" in the sense you appear to mean. It derives from Scripture alone, as does all our doctrine. It is true that heretics came into the church and attempted to twist what scripture teaches, and as a result, formulations or summaries of scriptural truth were produced to set out why the church opposed them. But those formulations didn't change the nature of what had already been taught by the apostles, rather they brought the church back to it.

Thirdly, predestination derives from scripture, the same as the Trinity. I am intrigued by your assertion that there are more passages of scripture supporting the Trinity – I doubt that, actually, but I am not sure what the point is of counting up passages – does one use an abacus? And, unless you are very familiar with the scripture passages that support each, on what basis do you make such a judgment?

Fourthly, the Trinity is no more "core" doctrine than anything else. It is about the very nature of God, so in that sense it is fundamental. But then so is the doctrine of God's sovereign will (which includes but is not limited to predestination).

"(But, of course, there was Calvin…)"

I do get the impression from your posts that you have never read Calvin on the subject (apologies if that is not correct), so again, on what basis do you make this judgment?

"Yes, carl, we American Anglicans (Episcopalians) and you American Calvinists (Puritans) understand things perfectly between us; …"

Errr, actually, Kurt, this is not your call to make. You aren't the only American Anglicans.

Mark said...

Thanks Peter - I'll keep looking into it a bit further.
Eph 1:11 is interesting and, based on what you've said Peter about the words used in Eph 1, I wonder if I've previously read these verses from the wrong perspective. I'm happy to stand corrected if I go off on a tangent or misrepresent God's Word but, in the context of the verses in Eph 1, here's my take on it:
God has chosen us (v4), picked out FOR HIMSELF those who have chosen by their own free will to accept His salvation as this is in accordance with His will (see 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is...not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance). Those He has chosen He has predestined or foreordained (v5) to be adopted as sons of God for His glory (v6).
Further in v11 we are predestined to show the glory of God which is the salvation HE has provided for all mankind. HE deserves the glory, honour and praise because HE has provided our salvation.

So, rather than reading predestination as being about God hand picking a limited number of people to receive his salvation, perhaps it is about those who have chosen to accept His salvation and God has therefore picked out for Himself. Their predetermined destiny (i.e. predestination) is that their position before God in and through Christ shows God's glory and the gloriousness of His salvation.

Similarly, Romans 8:29 refers to God's foreknowledge of those who would be in Christ and predestined to be conformed to be like Christ. God knew before time who would accept His salvation and those who have (and will) accept His salvation are predestined to be conformed to be like Christ.

Food for thought and, as I said, I'm happy to be corrected if I'm way off track.

Father Ron Smith said...

'Anonymous MichaelA said...
"However, one can hardly perceive the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ actually being, of God's own volition, capable of both predestination, and at the same time offering Free Will to God's children."

Why not?

He is capable of being one and three at the same time; why can't he do these things?'

My answer to you, MichaelA, is based on the direct opposition of the meaning of 'predestination' and 'freewill'.
________________________________

To carljacobs:

Please put you spectacles on and read again what you said, thus:

'"n my experience, all objections to Calvinism are objections to Total Depravity" - carl jacobs'

There can be no other logical understanding of this statement of yours, than that "ALL objections ARE objections to Total Depravity.

ergo: Calvinism is Total Deparvity

I still believe you didn't mean to actually say this. Admit it!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
My two cents' worth:
- a plausible way to understand freewill and predestination is to see them as both true (and paradoxical), a little like light being particles and waves, a lot like philosophers recognising the strength of arguments for both freewill and determinism;
- I think you misunderstand Carl. I understand him to be saying that the core of Calvinism is its anthropology in relation to theology: humanity in relation to God is 'totally depraved', infected by sin in every aspect of our lives and thus in need of a complete Saviour to wholly save us. From that basic supposition Calvin(ists) build Calvinism.

MichaelA said...

"My answer to you, MichaelA, is based on the direct opposition of the meaning of 'predestination' and 'freewill'."

And my question was based on the direct opposition of the meaning of 'three'and 'one'. So you still haven't answered it.

MichaelA said...

Peter, Fr Ron's repeated question merely demonstrates his ignorance of Calvinism - any true Calvinist will immediately agree that they themselves are totally depraved.

If they don't, they aren't really Calvinist.

carl jacobs said...

FRS

When people argue against Calvinism, they typically argue against the first four points. Most Arminians don't object to Perseverance. They simply corrupt it into OSAS, which is not the same thing. Hence the joke:

What do you call a one-point Calvinist?

An Arminian.


So the argument focuses on Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, and Limited Atonement. When you analyze the arguments presented against these four doctrines, you will quickly discern that the objections to these doctrines all focus on their implications for the nature of man. This is the offense of the Gospel to which I referred earlier. It has nothing to do with Total Depravity being the essence of Calvinism. People react to what offends them and their cherished self-image.

Calvinism begins with Sovereign God and His Sovereign purpose to redeem a people for Himself. It begins with the knowledge that Creation is about God and not us; that He created us to display His glory through us. For that is the whole purpose of man - to display the glory of God. And every mother's son of us will fulfill that purpose.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

Ah, yes, Michael, but if you think of yourself as totally depraved, are you a Calvinist?
:)

Jean said...

Hi Mark

I agree with your comment. I do not think predestination and free-will are at odds. Just as God knows "what we think before we thiink it"; does not mean God chooses what we think.

In my opinion predestination means becoming like Christ but also a little wider in interpretation, that is God using who we are personally to perform specific jobs/tasks set out for us in advance.

If it is helpful I often use the online bluelletter bible which has a lexicon which gives the meaning of the original hebrew and greek words as a tool if I am looking at a scripture passage wanting to understand it more.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for revealing these things to the simple"
- Jesus -

Sometimes, it's just a benefit to become (if one is not already) simply 'simple'. All this controversy about predestination & free will just gives me a wee headache. It advances not one jot, tittle or iota, my Faith in God.

"Where are your wise men now?"
(OR your wise women for that matter).

David Brainerd said...

"Sometimes, it's just a benefit to become (if one is not already) simply 'simple'."

True. But unfortunately Paul (who dares warn us against letting anyone rob us of the simplicity that is in Christ) robs us of the simplicity that is in Christ with all his hairbrained theories.