Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Response to Free Will or Calvinism?

image from http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2009/09/calvin-free-market

It seems in our day there is a big controversy between the teachings known as Arminiansim (Free Will) and that of Calvinism (Doctrines of Grace).  I went to a website that I really appreciate, (www.eternal-productions.org/articles.html)and I found and read an article posted there entitled Free Will or Calvinism. Reading the paper, I saw a few faults and thought I would type up a response.  Because this has been and continues to be such a major disagreement, I thought I would share my thoughts on it here.

Under the heading of “T” in defining the doctrine of Calvinism, you said: “that man is spiritually dead in trespasses and is incapable of responding to the gospel unless God regenerates first” (p. 4). This is not a true statement. Calvinism teaches that man does have a free will, with regard to everything except salvation. You cited numerous verses that states we are dead in our sins, and that no one can rouse himself to seek God.

I think you believe God raises the dead to life (i.e. quickens), and then if they reject the gospel, He lets them fall dead again?

There are points I would like for you to consider from an Arminian, free-will standpoint:

What about the apostle Paul? Did he have a choice of free-will in his salvation? Did God not literally choose Him? What about the disciples? We know one was predestined to hell. What of the others, if God knows all things? Didn’t He choose them? And what about Abraham? Was he not chosen by God out of the land of Ur? What of the Jews? We know they are God’s “chosen” people! And certainly through no merit of their own.

God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Can he have a different method of salvation for the Jew and the Gentile? I think not.

Let’s look at some other passages:

Matthew 13:13-15 13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 "In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; 15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'

Did Jesus just say that he speaks to them people in parables, so that they will not be healed? But what about their free-will and free-choice? Isn’t that being infringed on by God?

The prophet says: 17 Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways

And harden our heart from fearing You?

Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.

Isaiah 63:17 (NASB95)

Let’s examine the passage Paul writes about the condition of Israel. Did all the Jews in their free-will choose to turn away from God?

Romans 11:8-11 8 just as it is written, "GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY." 9 And David says, "LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM. 10 "LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT, AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER." 11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

Paul is hear quoting from Deut. 29:4 and Psalm 69:22-3, and is telling us that God gave the Jews a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, to respond to His commands of recognizing the new covenant with Messiah. And why did God do this? He did it to bring the gospel to the Gentiles! Isaiah 49:6 6 He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

Where you err my friend is in your assumption that people who are commanded to follow God are able to do so if they choose. There are two types of people, scriptures tell us. Those controlled by the Spirit, and those controlled by the flesh. Let’s look again to what Paul says about those controlled by the flesh, (i.e. the sinful-nature).

Romans 8:6-7 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

For the letter “U” you state: "Calvinism teaches that God decides on no basis whatsoever but by the mystery of His will to save the elect and to allow the rest to go to hell even though He could save them all." From here you draw this conclusion: "This is not the God of love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, and righteousness revealed in the pages of Scripture. According to Calvinism, God is capricious and unpredictable. The true God of love has revealed His nature as merciful, loving, forgiving, patient,compassionate, dependable, and just to all."

I see no conflict between what the Bible has stated concerning man’s sinful disposition, being unwilling and unable to come to Him (Rom. 3:11; 8:7-8), and that of God being loving, passionate, rich in mercy to His creation. In His letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells them that God predestined them before the foundation of the world, in love, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:4-6). So evidently God thinks that His free election and predestination of some sinful and rebellious humans, who were created in His image, IS praiseworthy and glorious!

And so just how did God choose to elect and save the weak and shameful and those that are not, to shame the wise and strong and those that “are” (1 Cor. 1:27-28)? Verse 6 tells us that He “freely bestowed on the beloved” this amazing grace of salvation, with no respect to persons. In His letter to Titus, the apostle tells us that we have been saved “not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

To call God “capricious and unpredictable” (p. 6) for choosing not to elect some to salvation, is to blaspheme His attributes of love and grace, which he does freely bestow on the beloved. The Arminian explanation assumes that God owes man something. He doesn’t owe sinful, rebellious, unregenerate man anything except justice, and that puts us ALL in hell eternally. If anything, the doctrines of Grace can better explain all scriptures and most certainly highlights and exalts Yahweh’s amazing grace, that He would choose some of us sinful, rebellious humans, to save us for Himself.

That's what I call Grace!

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