Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Calvin's Hobble

If a 4 point Calvinist is in fact an Arminian, does a 4 point Arminian then become a Calvinist?

29 comments:

jazzycat said...

Jim,
I enjoyed your visit to Jazzycat blog. Although it is off subject here, I would like to remind you of an April post where you promised an answer to the following question I had concerning this statement of yours:

You said,
(“They were simply being carnal christians who were not exercising the faith they had received and therefore did not express the reality of a life lived by the Spirit.”)

I have a three questions about this statement.
1. What is a ‘carnal Christian’? Please define.
2. Since they are not exercising the faith, how should they exercise the faith they received?
3. Do these ‘carnal Christians’ pass the Christian test Paul gives in 2 Cor. 13:5?

I would still like an answer. It was the 66 comment post you had in April.

Thanks,
Jazzycat

Kc said...

Good question Jim but even better is the fact that YOU HAVE A NEW POST! ;-)

What about a 2-3/4 pointer? Does that make me a Cal, a vin or an ist? (hehe)

Jim said...

Jazzycat,

Were you a teacher before? :)

I actually have those questions printed out on my desk still waiting for proper answers. Thanks for the reminder to give you a decent answer.

God bless,
Jim

Jim said...

Kc, I am surprised that you were actually still checking...I am honoured.

I hope to post more of substance soon.

In Christ,
Jim

jazzycat said...

Jim,
I am not a teacher and as you can probably tell I like to keep things simple and to the point. I do not believe theology has to be as complicated as some of all points of view sometimes want to make it.

Jazzycat

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Why is a four-point Calvinist an Arminian?

Jim said...

Because to a Calvinist it's all or nothing.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Well, in that case a 4 point Arminian is not a Calvinist.

Daniel said...

Jim - good to see you posting again. Sorry I missed the debut!

You answered your own question - unless one rejects all of Arminianism, they cannot be a Calvinist, and remain an Arminian.

Jim said...

Daniel, there is a basic assumption in your statement:

Namely that one by default begins as an Arminian and then moves to the enlightened state of Calvinism.

That seems a bit judgemental of anyone who cannot in good faith agree to all five points of Calvinism.

Surely there are many who reject the basic premise of Arminianism, yet remain aloof of fully embracing the doctrines of grace.

I am concerned you are placing a burden upon people which the scriptures do not require.

Jim said...

Matthew, did you fail to see the sarcasm in my question? ~:)

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jim, I am not very good at dealing with sarcasm.

You really must read 'Beyond Calvinism and Armininianism' by C. Gordon Olson. It argues for what Olson describes as an 'Inductive Mediate' view of salvation.

The book does some really great theology.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Jim said...

Thanks for the recommendation Matthew.

Do you never jest with your family?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes I do.

Daniel said...

Jim said: Daniel, there is a basic assumption in your statement:

You are correct, there is a basic assumption in my statement, but it isn't "one by default begins as an Arminian and then moves to ...Calvinism."

I agree with you, the assumption you have mistakenly projected upon me is a bit judgmental of anyone who cannot in good faith agree to all five points of Calvinism - but as I don't make that assumption myself, I can (like yourself) only note it as judgmental. To that end, you need not concern yourself that I am placing a burden upon people which the scriptures do not require - at least not on account of your having saddled me with this misplaced assumption. ;-)

Having confessed that there -is- a basic assumption in my statement, I suppose I ought to share it before more foul assumptions are projected into what I have said? LOL!

Christ said in John 6:37, 44 & 65:

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. "

"And he said, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.'"

My basic asumption is that I could not have faith in Christ, and would not have come to Him unless God Himself drew me to do so - just as scripture says.

I cannot abandon reason in order to circumvent these truths by insisting that God, from eternity past, "saw my choice in the future" and reacted to it by electing me in the past. If that were the case, I would be the one giving myself as a gift to Christ, instead of God giving me as a gift to Christ - and scripture makes it plain to me that this is not the case.

Scripture does not describe -me- as the author of my own faith - but Christ.

Anyone who understands that God is utterly sovereign in our salvation is going to end up a Calvinist - Not that they are going to study Calvin - but rather they will inevitably come to the same conclusions Calvin has come to - because Calvinism does nothing but explain God's sovereignty in our salvation - as described in scripture.

If anything, such knowledge removes burdens.

Jim said...

Daniel said...
My basic asumption is that I could not have faith in Christ, and would not have come to Him unless God Himself drew me to do so - just as scripture says.

I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.

Daniel said...
I cannot abandon reason in order to circumvent these truths by insisting that God, from eternity past, "saw my choice in the future" and reacted to it by electing me in the past. If that were the case, I would be the one giving myself as a gift to Christ, instead of God giving me as a gift to Christ - and scripture makes it plain to me that this is not the case.

When did I ever make a statement or infer that?

Daniel said...
Scripture does not describe -me- as the author of my own faith - but Christ.

Amen to that brother, He is the author and the finisher.

Daniel said...
Anyone who understands that God is utterly sovereign in our salvation is going to end up a Calvinist...

Now this is where I respectfully disagree. What is wrong with simply understanding God is sovereign in our salvation without attaching a name to it?

Daniel said...
...Not that they are going to study Calvin...

But they do...and hold up his writings on parr with scripture.


Daniel said...
but rather they will inevitably come to the same conclusions Calvin has come to...

Why not call the doctrine Paulism? After all, he wrote about them?

Daniel said...
...because Calvinism does nothing but explain God's sovereignty in our salvation - as described in scripture.

Only scripture is a perfect reflection of the sovereignty of God. Anything else is but an imperfect representation, no matter how close.

My point is that by taking the lens of Calvinism to understand scripture, we in effect prevent the Holy Spirit from the freedom of granting us truth through revelation, and instead rely upon the wisdom of scholarly men to interpret the correct meaning of God's word.

Daniel said...

Jim said: What is wrong with simply understanding God is sovereign in our salvation without attaching a name to it?

Nothing is wrong with simply understanding that God is sovereign in our salvation.

The "label" (Calvinism) was affixed to what had always been understood as orthodoxy only after the remonstrants invented, then codified their five refutations of what had been (up until then) accepted as orthodoxy since the start of the reformation. We commonly refer to these five refutations of orthodoxy as "Arminianism" - and the label "Calvinism" was applied to those who refused to jump on board this new theology - which wasn't really all that new, being simply a new form of an older, well documented heresy.

Jim said: But they do [study Calvin] ...and hold up [Calvin's] writings on parr with scripture.

I think anyone that holds up Calvin's writings as being on par with scripture is making a rather foolish blunder - and I think every Calvinist I know would agree.

Scripture teaches the sovereignty of God, a sovereignty that is denied and/or muddied by what is called Arminianism today. "Calvinism" simply articulates what is wrong with the Arminian persuasion by identifying what has been the orthodox position of the reformation.

I don't doubt that somewhere some Calvinist is teaching Calvin instead of scripture - but that would be, IMO, the exception, and not the rule.

If you know of any Calvinist who is putting Calvin's writing on par with scripture - rebuke him! I certainly would, and so would most Calvinists.

Jim said: Why not call the doctrine Paulism? After all, he wrote about them?

The label wouldn't change anything. "Paulism," Historic Orthodoxy," "Reformational theology," "The-thing-that-everyone-understood-to-be-christianity-prior-to-Arminius" - it doesn't matter what you call the orthodox position, it was rejected by the remonstrants, and now it is just the label we apply to orthodox faith.


Jim said: Only scripture is a perfect reflection of the sovereignty of God. Anything else is but an imperfect representation, no matter how close.

Amen!

Calvinism isn't the bible - it is an the orthodox refutation of Arminianism. It ought not to be taught instead of scripture - nor even alongside scripture. It's only purpose is as a categorical label: "Anti-Arminian" would be just as descriptive.

Jim said: My point is that by taking the lens of Calvinism to understand scripture, we in effect prevent the Holy Spirit from the freedom of granting us truth through revelation, and instead rely upon the wisdom of scholarly men to interpret the correct meaning of God's word.

It is wrong to filter our understanding of scripture through the lens of -any- bias. We could replace the word Calvinism with Arminianism (amongst others) and the statement would be just as true.

It is good to stand up against this sort of thing, but your focus on Calvinism seems misplaced. Certain individuals may well fit your caricature - but although they make this error, it has nothing to do with their soteriology.

I am reminded of my old room-mate who felt justified in his racism against aboriginals, since when he was growing up his neighbors were aboriginal and they used to get drunk and abuse one another outside his window in the wee hours of the night.

There is a label (go figure?) for this sort of error - association fallacy, that is, someone from some group does something stupid, and we associate this stupidity with the remainder of the group - even through the act of stupidity has nothing to do with the group.

So too I would caution against charging all Calvinists with looking at scripture through a lens - when that particular buffoonery has nothing to do with Calvinism.

I should answer this also, Jim asked, When did I ever make a statement or infer that?

Never. I just added that because it fit in so nice. ;-)

Jim said...

Daniel, it is true that we perhaps underestimate the heresies of the past and their influence upon the Church.

Good men spent much time refuting these errors. Unfortunately each generation faces a new battle to keep the purity of the doctrines.

I think your definition of Calvinism being a refutation of Arminianism puts me a bit at ease.

I must confess being ignorant to the tenets of both ism's until coming to GBC.

I will try to read future comments in the light of your statements.

In Christ,
Jim

Rose~ said...

Jim,
I remember my specific thought on this. The thing that bothers me is that it is given as an either/or choice. I have a good Calvinist friend at church and he uses those words C/A as though if you are not one, then you are the other. I think this is very dismissive of the complexity of theology. My husband is a four-point Calvinist. I told this to the friend and he said there is no such thing as a four point Calvinist. It is all or nothing, like you say above. Well, he had been quick to label me as Arminian (which I do not accept). So I asked him, "If one does not agree with one point of your theology, they are not allowed, from your perspective, to claim its label. Why then, if one disagrees with much of another theology, do you slap the label of said theology onto that person who does not agree with it?"
It seems a very haughty and presumptuous thing to me. Then again, I am not a Calvinist, so I would say somehting like that. ;~)

Bhedr said...

I guess he becomes a Calminian pinball.

As the old joke by J Vernon Mcgee goes. A man showed up at a Calvinist Bible study and they asked why he came and how he found out about it. He said "I heard about it and came of my own free will."

Then they said he wasn't allowed to study with them and sent them in the direction of the freewill Arminian bible study. When he got there they asked how he came. He told them, "I was sent here."

Thinking him to be a Calvinist they wouldn't let him study with them either.

Daniel said...

For anyone who has fiddled with colors on web pages, we know that "white" is made with 100% Red, 100% Green, and 100% blue. Anything less is not white.

If someone were to say that having 100% red and 100% blue made a two-point "white" we might suggest that "100% purple" would be a better description.

Truly, with web page colors at least, "white" is not an approximation - but an exact value.

A proper understanding of Calvinism is the same. If a person doesn't agree with all five points, they are not a "Calvinist" per se.

Having said that, I think it is more than a little cliquish (Elitist? Bordering on theological snobbery?) to highjack a label and demand it only be used where it can be applied to a "five pointer." We all know what a four pointer, and a three pointer, etc. are talking about - to demand that the label only apply to the "innermost circle" is more than a little high strung.

I shudder every time Calvinism is tossed around like a status symbol, or badge of honor. If Calvinism reflects the truths of the gospel, where is the boasting?? If we understand a thing it isn't because we are especially clever, it is because God has granted us grace to see it, so why do people boast - not just about Calvinism - but anything they believe themselves to understand.

Knowledge puffs up indeed. ;-)

Jim said...

Rose, those are my exact feelings on the matter too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jim said...

Brian, that is a good one. :)

A Calminian...I like it. Perhaps we should come up with the 5 points of Calminianism.

Anyone for a rough draft?

Thanks for the humour.

Jim said...

Daniel, being exact in definition and explanation is a virtue.

However, I think you are beginning to see some of our frustrations with the elitism of Calvinism.

The spiritual "I told you so", "I'm right, you're wrong" attitudes are very revulting.

And rather than finding our oneness in Christ and His shed blood, we boil down our unity to agreeing upon some preset terminology that distills the riches of scripture to a number of points.

Spiritual pride is by no means limited to those boasting in the doctrines of grace. There are numerous issues that we get hung up on, and make them central to the acceptance of others.

While eucumenism is definitely a compromise and intolerable, we must be willing to give each other latitude. This does not mean we need to accept what they believe or say, but rather than pass condemnation or judgement, attempt to use rational and coherent language to demonstrate why we believe what we do.

Daniel, I appreciate your desire to be as conciliatory as possible. Having fellowshipped with you in person, I know your kind demeanor. This unfortunately does not always come across on the written page, and therefore each one of us must attempt to construct our messages in such a way as to avoid misinterpretation.

If Sola Scriptura means that we base all decisions and beliefs solely on the basis of God's Word, then I say a hearty amen!

However, I believe it can also be hijacked to mean, "This is actually what scripture teaches and you must agree".

I appreciate your godly writings and desire for the Holy Spirit's leading in all that we do and say. Praise the Lord for His Spirit that leads us into all truth and unity.

In Christ,
Jim

bobby grow said...

Daniel said:

"The "label" (Calvinism) was affixed to what had always been understood as orthodoxy only after the remonstrants invented, then codified their five refutations of what had been (up until then) accepted as orthodoxy since the start of the reformation. We commonly refer to these five refutations of orthodoxy as "Arminianism" - and the label "Calvinism" was applied to those who refused to jump on board this new theology - which wasn't really all that new, being simply a new form of an older, well documented heresy."

Actually this is not true! The council of Ephesus in the 5th (431 ad) cent. did not endorse the strict predestinarianism (i.e. supralapsarianism) or view of election that Calvinism does. Just wanted to clarify that Calvinism is not "just" defending what "always" has been the teaching of the church in regards to salvation.

Jim said...

Bobby, having not read the history of this glorious debate, I can only take your word.

God bless,
Jim

Daniel said...

Bobby, - I was careful to append, "since the start of the reformation" to my assertion; meaning, the view was regarded as the orthodox view since the reformation - though I felt it was a little clumsy at the time. My apologies that this distinction, although stated, wasn't clear enough. I do confess; even at the time I wrote it I was concerned that you in particular would call me on it if I didn't make that plain - now I feel sorry you either missed it, or I didn't make it clear enough - it really was a "just for Bobby Grow" caveat! ;-)

My assertion therefore, again, is that Calvinism is just defending what has (since the reformation) always been the teaching of the (evangelical) church.

The other thing you mentioned however has caught my interest.

You equated supralapsarianism with strict predestination, and then suggest that Calvinism holds to a supralapsarian position, which is actually a bit of an exaggeration. While there are a few Calvinists who hold to a supralapsarian order of decrees, most Calvinists hold to what was endorsed at Dordt - that is, an infralapsarian position.

Finally, you said that the Council at Ephesus did not endorse the strict predestinarianism (i.e. supralapsarianism) or view of election that Calvinism does - and while I would be interested in the exact reference to where that is discussed, I must remind myself that this same council would have been incapable of endorsing the Trinity in the same way Calvin did.

The rudiments were there of course, but the final articulation came around 1200 AD with the Athanasian Creed. By Calvin's day the Trinity was universally accepted as the Orthodox position of the church throughout the ages, not that the church had articulated it as precisely in the past, but that had they done so, it would have looked that way.

My point is that even if the council of Ephesus was wishy washy on predestination - scripture isn't, and by the time of the reformation it was a universally settled orthodox position (amongst reformers).

Bobby can correct me if I am off here, but I think that is how it plays out.

bobby grow said...

Daniel,

thanks for the "caveat" :-), unfortunately I wasn't as careful in reading it as you were in articulating it ;~). Nevertheless, I would contend with you on the position of "most" Calvinists, but I would have to engage in making a hasty generalization since my "sampling" of Calvinists is limited to a much too limited range in order for me to make the counter-claim that you're wrong on that point. Of course, I'm not sure what this does to your assertion ;~) (i.e. that most Calvinists hold to infralapsarianism--I do by the way--although I'm not a Calvinist)!

Your analogy on the trinity and predestination is interesting. But again, I'm not quite sure how you can establish your assertion that predestination was a universally accepted doctrine amongst the Reformers when in fact there was so much disparity amongst the reformers on various doctrinal points (inclusive of predestinarian issues). Anyway, your caveat, that I missed, makes most of my prior comment, moot; so anyway . . .

Correction: I mispook, it wasn't the Council of Ephesus, which was dealing with the theotokos (Mary--God-bearer) issue; it was actually the II Council of Orange that went Semi-Augustinian--diverging from Augustine's strict double-predestinarian view on election (but maintaining the concept of original righteousness and original sin articulated by Augustine contra Pelagius).

In Christ,

Bobby G.

BTW, most of my profs both in college and seminary were double-predestinarian (supra) in their view of election--there's my "hasty generalization" ;~)!

Daniel said...

Bobby - no worries. ;-)