Theology – Arminianism

Olsen on Contradictions in Immutability

From Roger Olsen’s Does God Change?:

What I “saw” early on in my theological training, however, was that those evangelical theologians who strongly touted God’s “immutability” were not very consistent about it. At least that’s what I thought I noticed in their writings. On the one hand, I was told, a good evangelical believes God is impervious to any change including having new experiences. On the other hand, I was told, it was the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, equal with the Father and Holy Spirit, who experienced the incarnation including hunger, thirst, temptation, sorrow, pain and even death. The explanation? That he experienced these things only “through the human nature he took on” through Mary.

Calvinist turns Arminian

Excerpted from a post entitled: Calvinist Pastor Turns from Calvinism to Arminianism after 20 Years as a Calvinist and Intensive Study:

The third thing that set me on the course to reject RT was the thing that had led me into it – Scripture itself. As a pastor I preached through books of the Bible verse by verse. Occasionally I would encounter a common Calvinistic proof text and realize that it did not necessarily say what I had thought it said. John 3 does not necessarily teach that regeneration precedes faith; John 10 does not necessarily teach that Jesus died only for the elect; Eph 1 does not necessarily teach that God ordained whatever happens; 1 Pet 1 does not necessarily teach that God elected individuals for salvation – unconditionally, effectually, exclusively. Once again, these discoveries did not shake my confidence in RT. There were too many passages that clearly taught it; I considered Romans 9 impregnable to Arminian assault. But I realized that the quantity of verses used to support my view did not matter if, upon closer scrutiny, they could not bear the weight that we Calvinists were putting on them on a case-by-case basis.

Calvinist Calls Out Arminianism’s Problem of Evil

From the Calvinist blog Triablogue:

iii) Take Arminians who affirm divine foreknowledge. How did the Arminian God not plan or will the foreseeable consequences of his own actions? If he knew in advance that by making the world, humans would fall into sin, how did he not will that outcome? Likewise, if he saw it coming, as a result of his creative fiat, how could that still be an unplanned consequence of his actions? Keep in mind, too, that according to Arminian concurrence, God enables the sinner to sin.

Arminian Claims Open Theism Add to Free Will

From Evangelical Arminians:

So what exactly are Open Theists adding to libertarian free will? Open Theists hold the idea that propositions about future free will acts, in an absolute sense, cannot be true. (I say in an absolute sense, because some Open Theists reinterpret statements about the future in a relative, probabilistic sense, meaning given current factors, Bob will choose chocolate is more likely than not, but not 100% certain). If the statement, “Bob will eat chocolate” is true, then Bob is not free with respect to eating chocolate. Propositions about events become true the moment the events happen and not before. Bob himself has the power to change the proposition “Bob chose chocolate” from possibly true to actually true. This is how Open Theists cash out the idea of Bob making statements true and this is the power that Open Theists add to definition of libertarian free will.

Calvinists on Arminians

Wesleyan Arminian rounds up some good quotes by Calvinists against Arminians. A few:

Charles Spurgeon: And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

John Piper: Here’s my rule of thumb: the more responsible a person is to shape the thoughts of others about God, the less Arminianism should be tolerated. Therefore church members should not be excommunicated for this view but elders and pastors and seminary and college teachers should be expected to hold the more fully biblical view of grace.

Reasons to Remain a Calvinist

User gmm4Jesus of www.christianforums.com lists 5 reasons to remain a Calvinist. Abbreviated:

1. If becoming an Arminian would really be a temptation to boast for you, then please remain a Calvinist.

2. If you think that God empowering people to accept or reject Jesus somehow makes Him weak, impotent, or powerless, then you really should continue in your Calvinism.

3. If you actually think that God cannot remain sovereign without dictating the minutia of every event that occurs, then by all means, remain a Calvinist.

4. If you actually believe that accepting a freely-given gift of salvation somehow would make you your own “co-savior,” then please don’t abandon your Calvinism.

5. If adopting an Arminian view of salvation would somehow make you really feel that salvation is “man-centered” rather than “God-centered,” then for God’s sake, hold on to your Calvinism.

HT: The Contemporary Calvinist

Rapien on Jonah

Arminian(?) Alvin Rapien of The Poor in Spirit writes of Jonah:

It is especially important to note that Jonah was a prophet, not a missionary, and Jonah’s message had no call to repentance, to destroy their idols, to stop their evil deeds, and there was no message of possible forgiveness.[6] Prophets in the Ancient Near East (ANE) were those who spoke with (usually) divine authority. They proclaimed messages about “particular political and social situations, a message that was not limited to issues of religious belief”.[7] Prophets were not limited to Israel. Assyria had their own history of prophets with “consistently positive [messages], affirming the king’s actions, decisions, and policies.”[8] However, Jonah’s message could be classified as an “unfavorable omen” – a threat of judgment to Nineveh from the God of Israel.

Reading the narrative, it would seem peculiar that the Ninevites reacted so quickly and genuinely to Jonah’s preaching. In 21st century America, whenever calls of judgment are being preached, the masses are quick to dismiss such a thing as religious fanaticism. Why did the Ninevites react the way they did to an Israelite prophet? It seems historically implausible from a few standpoints: The warlike nature of Assyrian society, the immediate response to a foreign god, and the coincidental “Israelite fashion” of fasting. However, there are a few possibilities, and they are not mutually exclusive.

First, the city of Nineveh and the Assyrian empire may have been in a vulnerable state, signified by their lack of war activities against Israel.[9] Second, Jonah’s omen may have coincided with unusual phenomenon within Nineveh, such as the strange signs from the entrails of the sacrificed animals, the flight pattern of birds, or any celestial signs. If Jonah’s message found some type of corroboration with Nineveh’s prophets, it would have immediately built credibility for Jonah’s message.[10] Third, Jonah as a “foreigner, would have served as evidence of the truth of his message, for why would someone have traveled all this distance unless impelled by deity?”[11] Since prophets were taken seriously in the ANE, a foreign prophet visiting from hundreds of miles away would have been a significant event. The polytheism in most ANE religions allowed for a belief in many gods that could take action, whether for or against an empire or kingdom. Therefore, Jonah’s declaration that the God of Israel is about to judge Nineveh is not an implausible statement in the theological atmosphere of the ANE. If one were to take a historical approach to the story of Jonah, then working through these issues is crucial. However, such an approach is not necessary, as I mentioned in my first post. We are focusing on the theological message of Jonah in its post-exilic form, not necessarily its historicity and plausibility.

For full post, click here.

Fischer on Calvinism and the Cross

Arminian Austin Fischer, author of Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed answers a few questions:

RNS: You are a former Calvinist, a vibrant movement in the American church. What drew you to the movement and what pushed you away from it?

AF: Like many young evangelicals, I grew up with thin, therapeutic faith. When convenient, I would make claims on my faith but never let my faith make claims on me. As my faith came of age, I realized it wanted more from me and I wanted more from it. Calvinism provided more, placing God at the center of my world, challenging me to take the Bible seriously, purging me of all sorts of petty selfishness and narcissism. Additionally, I loved how it had a place for everything: clean lines and painstakingly developed doctrines.

I began my journey out of Calvinism when I realized that if I were to be a consistent, honest Calvinist I would have to believe some terrible things about God. I realized I, personally, could not have Calvinism and a recognizably good God whose heart was fully revealed at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I could not have Calvinism and a God who would rather die than give humans what they deserve. For me, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was something too generous for Calvinism to make sense of.

For full post, click here.

Apologetics Thursday – Skelly on Revelation 6

By Christopher Fisher

Arminian Kerrigan Skelly states that he is not an Open Theist for a few Biblical reasons. He quotes Revelation 6:

Rev 6:9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
Rev 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Rev 6:11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Skelly then states his objection to Open Theism:

How can God know with certainty exactly how many are going to be killed or that any more at all will be killed when killing a Christian for being a Christian is a freewill decision… not only that but how does God know there will be any more martyrs at all period because for all He knows all people who have a chance at being a martyred could depart from the faith and choose not to be martyrs and deny Christ and there would be no more martyrs at all.

When Calvinists debate against Open Theists, they naturally assume that if Open Theists say God does not control everything then the Open Theist is claiming that God can do nothing. Likewise, Arminian Skelly assumes that if Open Theists claim God does not know the future then God cannot predict the actions of free will agents.

Because future human actions are largely predictable by almost anyone, Skelly’s claim is wildly unfounded. It does not take a rocket scientist to predict that if we drive to Walmart right now, the clerk will accept cash in exchange for any candy bar we pick out. Even very dull human beings can accurately predict unknown future behavior of other human beings. That someone does not even have to know the cashier personally to know this future freewill decision. If humans can this easily and accurately predict other human behavior, how much more-so can God with access to infinitely more resources?

The verse in question does not quite suggest what Skelly believes it suggests. It appears that in the scenario, God is waiting until a certain magnitude of Christians are killed. The scenario suggests that God is not waiting for Christian number 31,732 to die, but God is waiting for a certain rough tipping point to enhance the impending vengeance.

It is very important to note that no time-frames are given, only rough estimates. How long? A little while longer. If God had the future locked in His mind, God could have provided a more definite answer. But God does not talk like someone who has the future mapped out in minute detail in His mind. Instead God speaks as if He has plans and then works with human actions to accomplish His purpose. In other words, the entire story of the Bible from God’s cascading series of contingency plans with Pharaoh to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Apologetics Thursday – Skelly on 2 Thessalonians

By Christopher Fisher

Arminian Kerrigan Skelly states that he is not an Open Theist for a few Biblical reasons. He quotes 2 Thessalonians 2:

2Th 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2Th 2:2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
2Th 2:3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

Skelly then states his objection to Open Theism:

My question is this: How could God, possibly know, with certainty, that a falling away will ever come? Because falling away, according to the Open Theist perspective (of course, according to my perspective, as well) is a freewill choice of man. To fall away from the faith (or to apotheosize) is a freewill choice of man. And God couldn’t possibly know with certainty, unless of course, he was bringing it to past by his own power. But now, if we say that, we are back to Calvinism… If God does not know the future free will choices of man, for all God knows no one will ever fall away from the faith. This was written about 60AD, we are talking about almost 2000 years removed and that day has no come yet. God is saying with certainty something that will happen 2000 years into the future.

There are several problems with Skelly’s argumentation. The primary problem is that sin is easy to predict. If North Korea gains unfettered access to the internet, almost every computer will be filled with pornography. It happened after the fall of Saddam Hussein, after the fall of communism (while pornography was still in video cassette format), and it will happen in any society that gains unfettered internet access. A general falling away from truth is about the easiest thing to predict. It does not take God to make that prediction. In fact, countless times in history could have been used by God as that “falling away” and no one would have blinked twice. Predicting a common event (that anyone can predict) does not indicate precise foreknowledge.

The second problem is that we are now removed 2000 years from the prophecy. Either the prophecy has failed (God changed His mind, as He is allowed to do) or God has an infinite amount of time to fulfill this prophecy. Either case is not very conducive to Arminianism. The New Testament authors and readers were all well convinced the apocalypse would happen in their own lifetimes (Mat 4:17, Mat 10:7, Mar 1:15, Mat 24: 25-34, Mat 26: 63-64, Mat 10:23, Luk 21:22, Luk 21:28, Luk 21:31, 1 Pet 4:7, Heb 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20, Heb 9:26, Heb. 10:25, 1 Joh 2:18, Jas 4:13, Jas 5:8, 2Pe 3:11, Rev 3:11). The list goes on. Even in 1 Thessalonians, Paul is assuming a quick apocalypse. He informs the Thessalonians that their persecutors will receive harsh judgment (2Th 1:6-8) and he speaks as if they will still be alive during this event (2Th 1:11). He then explains, in the cited text, what they should be looking for (as opposed to their great-great-great-great-great-great + (65 more greats) grandchildren).This is just not the proof text that Skelly would have it be.

Alternatively, if God has an infinite amount of time to fulfill the prophecy then what does it matter if the event never comes to past? Arminians will forever claim that it is coming in the future, and then add whatever time between the prophecy and now as evidence God can see that far into the future. But if God has infinite time to fulfill the prophecy, couldn’t He just wait until the events line up in the fashion that He desires. As show before, everyone expected an imminent end. The facts better fit God waiting until the free choices of humans align with his plans rather than pre-knowing thousands of years of human history.

2 Thessalonians 2 fits the Open Theist model much better than any closed model. Either God changed His plans or God is waiting (longer than expected) to fulfill His plans.

Olson on Glory

Arminian Robert Olson writes of God’s Glory:

Second, INSOFAR as they (Edwards, Piper and their ilk) imply that POWER takes precedence over LOVE in God’s glory, I demur. God’s glory IS his love–first his innertrinitarian love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and second his love flowing out from the Trinity toward creatures. God is glorious BECAUSE he is perfectly loving as well as perfectly powerful. BUT, since love is his essence, he can restrict his power (but not his love).

My point is that, in my view, anyway, while Edwards and Piper are correct to emphasize God’s glory as the chief end, purpose, of everything, they are wrong to empty God’s glory of meaningful love and focus it on power. Power without love is not glorious.

For full post, click here.

Arminius was Persecuted like Open Theists

From the Facebook group Arminians and Open Theists in Open Dialogue:

One of the heroic aspects of the character of James Arminius was his courage to follow his studies where they led. So filled with integrity was he that when asked to support Beza’s view of predestination and after researching it to prepare to defend it, he realized it was error. So he had to adopt the oppositional view. That cost him his reputation and standing. And cost others their lives and their homeland. Yet, Arminius was proven correct.

If an Arminian organization kicks out members for simply exploring OVT, how are they not spitting on the grave of the noble Arminius? How are they not adopting the same attitude as the kangaroo court of Dordt?

One of the egregious aspects of the Calvinist groups is how they use their Confessions as litmus tests for fellowship.
Another is how the idolize Calvin and TULIP.
I don’t idolize Arminius or any tradition. I value them, I benefit from them, but they are not God, and not scripture. And since they are human constructs they are subject to human revision.

god is open

Arminian on God’s Emotion

From by Jared Moore in an article entitled Does God Change? Yes and No. A Response to Bruce Ware:

Furthermore, in order to possess genuine emotions, there must be a sense where God is with humanity within time and space. Thus, when God’s disposition towards His people changes from joy to anger, this change is due to a change in experiential knowledge. Otherwise, these emotions are nominal (in name only). If God is relationally mutable, there must be a sense where His experiential knowledge changes. This experiential knowledge does not change the Scriptural truth that God is all-knowing, it simply means that since God is with us in time, He knows in a way as He experiences time with us that He did not know before (Ware would argue). His joy, anger, etc. are real within time with us. I, however, cringe with the thought of saying, “God is not all-knowing in an experiential way.” I must concede, however, that God is really angry, joyful, etc. in Scripture. These are not mere anthropomorphisms; however, I cannot concede at this point that God’s emotions are contingent on His experiential knowledge at the moment of experience. I think there may be a better way to tie God’s real emotions to His ultimate knowledge without arguing that God must experience knowledge to possess real emotions. His emotions may be so “other” than us that the manifestation of His emotions is what we see in Scripture, instead of Him learning something in an experiential manner that He did not know in an experiential manner prior to experiencing this knowledge in time and space.

For full text, click here.

Closed View Tries to Explain God’s Repentance

From Another King James Believer:

The answer is given later in 1 Samuel 15. After God says in verse 11, “I repent that I have made Saul king,” Samuel says in verse 29, as if to clarify, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent” (KJV). The point of this verse seems to be that, even though there is a sense in which God does repent (verse 11), there is another sense in which he does not repent (verse 29). The difference would naturally be that God’s repentance happens in spite of perfect foreknowledge, while most human repentance happens because we lack foreknowledge. God’s way of “repenting” is unique to God: “God is not a man that he should repent” (the way a man repents in his ignorance of the future).

For context, click here.

Jim Shares His Testimony

On Facebook Group Open Theism, Moral Government Theology, Pentecostal, Jim gives us his testimony:

I pondered this debate for 15 years before I made up my mind, but I can tell you this, the day I decided my position, was the day I saw the negative affects that the Platonic and Hellenistic view of God had on theology.

Years ago, Harry Conn had been talking to some friends of mine and told them that the word grieved in Genesis 6 meant grief that was so strong that one could not catch there breath. I was so touched by this, I decided to go and study it. I went to a local Theological Seminary and began combing through the commentaries. After my 5th strait commentary that said this passage could not possibly mean what it say, because God does not have emotion, something clicked in my mind. These men were not studying scripture to allow it to shape there beliefs, they were approaching the scripture with their theological presuppositions and conforming it to what they “knew” to be true.

These men had a list of presuppositions that were so clearly fixed in their minds that blinded them to the true testimony of scripture, and these positions were all related. They were all philosophical in nature. They had a list of attributes that defined what must first be true about God for Him to be God, and they all emanated from a Platonic view of God.

It was at that point that I realized that I had a choice to make. I could continue to allow the majority of Christendom (the “orthodox”), shape what I believe, or I could prayerfully lay everything I believed at the feet of Jesus and begin studying God’s word again. This time, allowing His testimony of Himself to shape my belief. I do not claim to have everything right, but I know that when I face Him, I will do so having done my best to conform what I believe to His word, and not to have conformed His word to what I believe.

god is open open theism

Oord on God Permitting Evil

Excerpt from Oord, reviewing the book Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace:

Unfortunately, however, Arminius does not work out the implications of divine limitation in a way that allows him to solve the problem of evil. To absolve God, he tries to distinguish between God willing evil to occur and God merely permitting it. Arminius says he understands God’s providence as both willing and performing good acts, but God “freely permits actions that are evil.”

On this point, I’m with John Calvin who criticizes this so-called distinction between an omnipotent God permitting evil rather than willing it: “There can be no distinction between God’s will and God’s permission,” says Calvin “Why say ‘permission’ unless it is because God so wills?”

Distinguishing between God willing evil and God permitting it offers little consolation to victims of evil. When victims realize that God, as understood by Arminius, could have prevented their pain and suffering but voluntarily permitted it, they will likely find it difficult to retain trust in God’s love. After all, an omnipotent God who wills evil is only slightly more morally reprehensible than an omnipotent God who could unilaterally prevent evil but permits it nonetheless.

Arminius employs what I find to be an unsatisfactory greater goods theodicy, when he says, “God would never permit evil if he could not by his omnipotence produce good out of evil” (100). The implication here, of course, is that every rape, genocide, murder, etc. must have been permitted for some greater good. I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe this is true for every instance of evil.

For full text, click here.

Oord on God’s Culpability for Evil

From Thomas J Oord

Distinguishing between God willing evil and God permitting it offers little consolation to victims of evil. When victims realize that God, as understood by Arminius, could have prevented their pain and suffering but voluntarily permitted it, they will likely find it difficult to retain trust in God’s love. After all, an omnipotent God who wills evil is only slightly more morally reprehensible than an omnipotent God who could unilaterally prevent evil but permits it nonetheless.

Arminius employs what I find to be an unsatisfactory greater goods theodicy, when he says, “God would never permit evil if he could not by his omnipotence produce good out of evil” (100). The implication here, of course, is that every rape, genocide, murder, etc. must have been permitted for some greater good. I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe this is true for every instance of evil.

To read the full post, click here.