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Posts Tagged ‘Arminianism’

Calvinism, Arminianism, Biblicism

Posted by Job on April 29, 2008

From Kevin Bauder of Sharper Iron. 

Calvinism, Arminianism, Biblicism

 

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Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Annihilationism And The Christian Metaphysic

Posted by Job on February 18, 2008

Not long after I began this site, a fellow objected to my brazen emphasis on two foundational Christian doctrines: the Holy Trinity and eternal suffering in the lake of fire for sinners that die without accepting the resurrection and Lordship of Jesus Christ. The man dismissed by being “hatefully intolerant and unnecessarily divisive” on the Trinity issue, and further insisted that the doctrine of eternal suffering in the lake of fire was of pagan in origin and made God appear both overly cruel to sinners and choosing to allow evil to exist for eternity rather than causing sinners and fallen angels to simply be consumed and cease to exist, hence annihiliationism.

Now my first impulse was to simply dismiss this fellow, sincere as he was, as someone with marginal views. Now I see how wrong I am. As for modalism, while the number of those that OFFICIALLY align themselves with this heretical doctrine through membership of varied oneness pentecostal denominations is small, 17 million, they exert influence on the rest of Christianity in a manner far greater than their numbers. Apart from them is also the increasing number of liberal and emergent Christians that really see no need for particulars concerning the Godhead because their doctrines do not require Trinity or for that matter even a truly divine Jesus Christ to begin with, for they have centered their beliefs around the false god of manhood anyway.

But it has recently come to my attention that annihiliationism is also gaining traction in evangelical circles, and among its adherents is evangelical giant John Stott. And just like evangelical Christianity did absolutely nothing regarding T. D. Jakes or the many other oneness preachers, it has refused to rise up and discredit Stott and the annihilationist preachers. Why? Because modern evangelicalism hates Christian fundamentalism worse than Christian heresy. Now is it possible to hold certain heretical or blasphemous views without being a heretic on his way to the lake of fire? I myself believe that to be the case, primarily because of my notion there are degrees of seriousness of doctrinal deviation, and also the hearer is only responsible for the portion of sound doctrine that he has been exposed to. But whatever the implications that a particular doctrine might have on the eternal salvation or damnation of its holder, certain views are still quite simply deviate from scripture, and those that preach them are not to be accepted or tolerated because of their standing or of some misguided desire not to be a Pharisee or cause of disunity, and that goes for John Stott and annihilationism, Billy Graham and universalism, or R. C. Sproul and infant baptism.

Now most of the justifications for this doctrine is typical man – centered doctrine, both the notion that God has no right to treat their exalted notion of mankind in such a way (don’t Christians read the Old Testament anymore?) and that having to publicly espouse the doctrine in the presence of those that reject it make them uncomfortable. But there is one legitimate issue that they have raised that I wish to deal with according to my limited ability to do so: the idea advanced by annihiliationists that the eternal punishment cannot be because eternal existence is a gift from God that will be granted only to those that make a decision for Jesus Christ. In other words, in the view of evangelical scholars like Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge, John Sanders, Philip Hughes eternal existence is conditional. Some, but not all, evangelicals that hold this view are open theists, those who hold a doctrine that teaches that God changes His Will in response to man’s actions in history (consider it process theology – lite).

To further make this point, Pinnock for example ultimately denies the reality of the existence of the created spirit – man as described by Numbers 27:16, Job 32:8, Job 34:14, Proverbs 18:14, Ecclesiastes 3:21 to claim for all intents and purposes that man only has a body, and that to support the hellenistic belief of eternal punishment Christian tradition rejected the biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the body in favor of a focus on man’s eternal spirit. It is not so much that Pinnock or other such people deny the existence of the spirit man, but rather they view that the physical human existence as the ultimate reality – this is humanist evangelical Christianity after all, a fact of which they are very proud! – and as a result the spirit man would obviously share the same fate as the natural body.

I suppose that in a different era, we might have had to give this notion some serious consideration. But thanks to the discoveries of one Albert Einstein, we no longer have to. Not that Einstein was much of an innovator, as he merely proved with his theory of relativity what the Bible already said: that time was part of creation along with space. Three – dimensional space and time are not separate entities, but rather creation consists of four – dimensional space – time. And my King James Version says in Revelation 10:6 that on the day of the Lord, time will cease to exist along with the rest of the cosmos, the created order of space, matter, and TIME. “And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.” Please note what the next verse says for reference:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

Now this is very destructive to many open theists because their doctrines make God a function and servant of time in some respects. (More accurately, this theology views God as not so much dependent on time but rather in bondage to the free will decisions of man made in time.) But the truth is that God will do away with time when He ends creation, because time is part of that creation. Before creation there was no time, and after creation there will be no time. And that is the problem with the anniliationist view: they see evil spirits – which includes the spirits of men – as needing to be sustained by God for eternity, which in their view is time running forever, a view that comes from math (and physics) class of eternity consisting of infinite time, with that infinity being able to exist in three ways: from yesterday to infinity (negative infinity), from tomorrow to infinity (positive infinity), and from today to infinity in both directions (total infinity).

But math class does not describe the spiritual realm that God inhabits, only the natural realm. In truth, it does not even accurately describe the natural realm, for astrophysics does not regard negative infinity of time – space but rather it having a definite beginning (the Big Bang!) that confirms the creation of both in Genesis 1 (and John 1), and as just stated Revelation depicts the ending of space – time (as do the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Christ also).

Though spirits may appear in the time – space limitations of creation for a time as do angels in their appearances, as did God in Old Testament theophanies, and Jesus Christ in the incarnation, the true abode for spirits is the spiritual realm where time is nonexistent. That is eternity, that is forever, that is the final state. Each human has a spirit man that will have a final existence, a final status, in the spirit realm where time will not exist. Cessation of existence will not be a factor, because cessation requires TIME which is part of CREATION. Instead, spirits of men – in addition to angels whether fallen or not – will simply exist. The only question is where this existence will be. Those that rebelled against God within the time – space of creation will exist in the lake of fire. Those that obeyed God during the time – space of creation will exist with Him.

Despite the scriptures that the annihilationists use out of context (literary context, the context of the audience to whom the scriptures were first given, and the context of the totality of scripture) that they use to build their case, rest assured that their motivation in applying them is borne of a prior conviction that man is too important and precious for God to treat – and in their opinion mistreat! – in such a fashion. “God cannot do this to me because He has no right to!” is the mindset that motivates this doctrine, and that is primarily why it must be rejected.

Please note that some of the more radical exponents of this doctrine, which does not appear to include Stott, state that the reason why eternal punishment cannot exist is because of the implications of free will. God cannot compel us to serve or love Him, but can only accept our decisions to do so arising from ourselves. Now while in their estimation God can and should bestow limitless blessings on those that accept Him, by that same estimation God simply has no right to make the punishment of those that freely choose to reject Him particularly onerous. Their belief: “it is my choice out of my free will, God, and your only choice is to accept my free will, give me a punishment that I decide to be appropriate, and go on about your business and leave the matter be!” I cannot help but considering it to be the “it is my body, my choice, and my life!” humanistic philosophy of the pro – abortion movement applied to Christian theology. At the very minimum, the very same lying evil spirits are at the root of it, seducing the desperately wicked deceitful hearts of man (Jeremiah 17:9)that harbor imaginations and high things that exalt themselves against God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The final insult is that annihilationism advocates promote their position as the solution to the problem that evangelical pastors are increasingly uncomfortable about the topic of the lake of fire and now rarely mention it, and as a result the doctrine may soon vanish from mainstream respectable Christianity. They propose their view as a way to make divine punishment acceptable enough to the world that evangelical pastors will again start preaching it, and thereby save the doctrine of divine punishment from extinction, making them the TRUE defenders of the orthodox notions of the sovereignty and holiness of God (at least with regards to how those notions relate to the inherent great value of man and his free will). Both the trends of Christian pastors refusing to tread on the topic because of their own cowardice before worldly opinion and the willingness to embrace heretical doctrines to please this same world that rejected and murdered God on the cross is evidence that the great apostasy, the great falling away, is indeed nigh upon us. Sadly, the oneness annihilationist (Laymond was his screen name) was not someone with marginal views, but rather represented one that was on the cutting edge. Instead, the biblical view is the one that is fast becoming marginal.

Posted in apostasy, Bible, blasphemy, Christianity, endtimes, eschatology, evangelical christian, heresy, humanism, prophecy, salvation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why Predestination Is Fairer Than Free Will Arminianism

Posted by Job on February 16, 2008

Yet another attempt of mine to stab at a complex topic from my ignorance, but here goes. It is commonly asserted that the predestination position as regards to salvation must be rejected because it is unfair to condemn someone to such an unspeakable fate as eternity in the lake of fire without that person having a choice in the matter. In our modern humanistic western mindsets, we define fairness as universality and equality of opportunity where each person rises to whatever heights that he may as a function of his own individual merits. Not only have we dedicated immense resources to attempting to conform our world into some utopia where such a thing is possible, but we conform our entire thinking according to this mindset. This explains why such things as racial, class, gender, religious, tribal, national, sexual preference, etc. bigotry, racism, and discrimination were taken as a fact of life worthy of no real consideration just a few short ages ago but are now considered horrible offenses against the human race. Now we do acknowledge that this fairness and equality of opportunity can never be practically reached – nonliberal Christians especially so – but we nonetheless view merely striving for it as a self – rewarding endeavor containing an inherent noble virtue.

It is no surprise, then, that our notions of fairness would influence, and as such be imposed upon, our theology. For God to be righteous means that God has to be fair, and fairness means giving everyone equality of opportunity by virtue of making salvation a free will choice to accept Jesus Christ. As far as the people who have never heard the gospel? Well that is an allowance for the fact that the utopia of equality cannot be achieved in a world that fell into sin through Adam.

The truth is, however, that there is a real tension: the fairness only applies to people that hear the gospel. The people that hear the gospel and choose to accept or reject it are the only ones that receive the sort of fair and equal treatment that is mandated by such things as the 14th amendment or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For people who never hear the message of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, this standard of “fairness” and “equality” is as irrelevant as are the 14th amendment and the Civil Rights Act to anyone living in China or Sudan right now. Just as the great many western human rights activists could honestly care less about the inequality and unfairness experienced by people who live in those regimes, their theological counterparts truthfully must limit their notion of fairness to a single subset: the very tiny percentage of the population in human history that has ever been in a position to respond to an offer of covenant relationship with God through special revelation. So then, if the truth be known universalism (not the belief that everyone will be saved but rather that there is saving grace present in all religions) is the only thing that can satisfy this notion of equality and fairness.

So it leaves the real problem: how can making salvation conditional on one’s personal decision for Jesus Christ be fair in any sense when so many have never had the opportunity to meet the condition? In that respect, it is grotesquely, manifestly UNFAIR that I was born in modern America as opposed to, say, inland China in 42 AD. It is unfair not only to my ancient Chinese counterpart, but it is unfair to ME that I should have my own fate in my own hands while tainted with the effects of original sin.

God forbid that this should transpire regarding myself, but for the sake of exercise imagine if at some point in our mutual shared torment my ancient Chinese counterpart is sitting in the flame next to me. That fellow would turn to me and say “My fate is quite understandable, but what is your excuse?” My response would have to be “None save than the love of sin that I not only could not overpower by my own strength, but truthfully did not want to even if I could have.” What would be the only honest rejoinder that my companion in torment would be capable of making? “Ah well, then I have nothing to complain about, for had the choice been up to me I would done the same as you.”

And that would be perfectly true, because even the appearance of choice would have been but the cruelest of illusions. It would have been the pretense of an equal fair choice when in truth there would have been no choice at all, a “heads I win, tails you lose” situation. For what can overpower sin but the grace of God? And if original sin can be overcome by the mere choice of a sinner, then why is grace needed in the first place? Free will makes grace not only incidental and superfluous, but a hindrance to the execution of true justice in terms of both the individual sinner and cosmic terms, and unspeakably cruel not only to those that are never offered it, but those that are offered it but lack the strength to receive it by their own initiative.

There is more still. Aren’t some people just inherently stronger than others? More moral? More virtuous? The Bible certainly says so, even to the point of there being even places in the kingdom of heaven according to one’s righteousness. So if salvation is based on free will, cannot the person that failed to exercise it blame the God that created and foreknew him for “making him weak”? If it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, then why, God, did you suffer me to be born into an extremely wealthy family? How, God, was that fair? Sure, I heard the gospel, but You said in and by Your own Word “blessed are the poor!” So then I did not have an equal fair chance to the slave person living in poverty and oppression that accepted Jesus Christ as her only hope and reason for living!

For those and many other reasons, it cannot be said that the free will position is more fair, more equal, more just, and again not only for the sakes of those that do not hear the gospel, but those who hear it but choose to live in their natural state of original sin and love of the world. Instead, it can only be fair if God Himself chooses whom He will save – and whom He will not – according to His own prerogative just as He exercised a similar sole prerogative through creation in the first place.

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, predestination, salvation, universalism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Reformed Christianity: Does God Create Unbelief? The Divine Initiative

Posted by Job on November 27, 2007

R.C. Sproul series 2 http://ligonier.org

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, predestination | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Reformed Christianity: The Meaning of Free Will And Man’s Radical Fallenness

Posted by Job on November 27, 2007

R.C. Sproul series 2 http://ligonier.org

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, humanism, predestination | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Have No Choice Left But To Join The Predestination Camp

Posted by Job on November 22, 2007

Update: though I am now TULIP, I will not take the chauvinistic attitudes against LILAC Christians as exhibited by things like this link: The “god” Of Arminianism and this: Free-Willism Preaches Another Jesus. Claiming that free will Christians aren’t going to heaven cannot be supported by honest interpretation of scripture. Thank you. 

I was raised in free will Christianity and had an entire worldview shaped around it that seemed quite logical to me. However, it is now based on that same logic that I must reject the doctrine of Jacobus Arminius with regards to the salvation of man. The tipping point for me was reading an excerpt of a letter from Pelagius, opponent of Augustine and Jerome, to Demetrias. In it, Pelagius, who espoused free will and denied the existence of original sin, asserted that God had given all men the strength to choose good or evil, and that it was our responsibility to use it. He did allow that said strength was somewhat limited, but that God knew that limitation for He knew how much strength He gave us. Still, God gave us sufficient strength to continuously exercise good over evil.

Keep in mind that this is a holy God who hates sin and loves His creation. So then, why then would this God not give us enough strength never to sin at all, knowing that the result would not only be the corruption that He hates but the damnation of His creation to eternal wrath? It it has to be because either He would not or that He could not. Go one way and God is not a God of love. Go another way and God is not all powerful. The result of either is having no God at all.

Also, consider that man does have the ability to choose salvation, even if this ability is not inherent in man but rather a gift of the same common grace that is available to all men. That, then place the responsibility on God to get men to accept salvation. To use a business analogy, God would then be the salesman, humanity would be the consumer, and Jesus Christ would be the product. If this is so, then that makes God the worst salesman in the history of the universe! Consider that fast food restaurants have no problem selling expensive unhealthy low quality food that any benefits derived from eating will disappear like chaff in a furnace (the negative health effects will last somewhat longer especially if you consume such “food” with any regularity) but God’s Son is available for free with immeasurable benefits that accrue over time and last an eternity.

And what are the consequences of passing up McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or the Chinese food buffet? Missing a meal or having to “settle” for a sandwich made from whatever you can find in your refrigerator. (I suggest living with those consequences whenever possible.) But the consequences of passing up Jesus Christ is eternal wrath. So is our God so incompetent a salesman that He is unable to convince even an utter fool of the merits of His FREE merchandise? Considering not so much that the sovereign holy righteous God would never immolate and humiliate Himself before man in order to beg His acceptance in the first place, but this scenario requires believing that He would do such a thing only to be grotesquely incompetent at it.

Make no mistake, the existence of free will makes every the failure of each and every man that rejects God a failure of God … a failure due to some flaw, unrighteousness, or lack of knowledge in God that cannot be blamed on man. And this is very important in questions regarding the goodness or fairness of God. You may with your human judgment condemn God for being partial, arbitrary, and even cruel for refusing to save everyone. That is fine with me. The reason is that for me the existence of God is made self evident by virtue of creation. I find the existence of a God that may appear less than fair according to limited human understanding by refusing to save everyone preferable to that of a God that is clearly incompetent by any understanding that wants to save everyone but is not only incapable of accomplishing it, but moreover only succeeds in saving a small number! It appears that we are so often needful to believe in a God that is “fair” to suit our own purposes that that even a reasonably competent God – let alone the God of the Bible that is sovereign, holy, high and lifted up, righteous, loving, gracious, and powerful – gets rejected in the process.

So I am now forced to cease resisting the meaning of John 10:25-28Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

Are you willing to accept the free gift of salvation? If so, please follow the Three Step Salvation Plan.

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, election, predestination, Theodicy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments »

The Book of Job and the Sovereignty of God

Posted by Job on November 20, 2007

From Theology.Wordpress.com:

The Book of Job and the Sovereignty of God

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ, Moshiach, Ruach Hakadosh, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jesus Christ’s Limited Atonement Opposed By Titus 2:11?

Posted by Job on November 17, 2007

While the video below makes an excellent case, to me it does not adequately deal with Titus 2:10b-11: – “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”  Were the Reformed Christians themselves not the one making the proposition of common grace – the grace that is given to all men – is not saving grace – the irresistable grace given to the predestined elect to bring about their salvation – I would make nothing of Titus 2:10b-11, especially since my employment of this scripture violates my own rule of only using scripture in context, as the passage in which it appears seems to be more about how those already saved should live than about salvation. Yet Titus 2:10b-11 does exist, so it must be dealt with.

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, election, predestination, salvation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

How NOT To Defend Free Will Christianity!

Posted by Job on November 15, 2007

Even if I ultimately reject the doctrines of predestination, election, and partial atonement to go with Jacobus Arminus, it will not be because of clumsy arguments like these.

Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, election, predestination | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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