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Calvinists: tell me more about Calvinist theology

Discussion in 'Non-denominational' started by Susan, Aug 16, 2002.

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  1. Susan

    Susan 退屈させた1 つ (bored one)

    I would like to know more on this subject.

    As a practicing Arminian of the Independent Baptist tradition, I have tried to escape such things as predestination, election, and the rest, ascribing them to people like Harold Camping (who tells people to depart from their churches) and a man on a e-mail religious roundtable in which I participated (who once stated that we should not witness to everyone but only to the Elect) or a woman on a Calvinist MB who stated that she considered the words "God loves you" in a song to be tantamount to blasphemy because "anyone could hear that song, not just the Elect."

    However as I read the New Testament I keep coming back to these doctrines. . .

    I just don't know anything anymore. Maybe you could call me an Arminian with strong Calvinist leanings.
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. filosofer

    filosofer Senior Veteran


    Here is my response to these issues, because I don't think the Biblical view supports either Calvinism nor Arminianism.

    Calvinism and Arminianism are not Biblical terms, but they have been used historically as short-hand terms to identify theological positions. Likewise in past centuries the terms Augustinianism, Nestorianism, etc. have identified positions within debates about what the Bible teaches.

    Often the issue dealing with Calvinism and Arminianism has been raised regarding predestination. Actually this issue focuses the attention on the crucial problems for both. Let's put the issue into a question form: “Why are some saved and others not?” Most often the answers have been limited in the discussion to Calvinism or Arminianism - either you have to choose Calvin's view or Arminius' view. But there is a third option.

    1. Calvinists answer this question by saying that God chooses some to go to heaven and some to go to hell (thus, double predestination). The extreme of this position claims that Jesus did not die for those who go to hell, only for those who go to heaven (limited atonement). This latter statement contradicts passages such as 1 John 2:2 "And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." Calvinists desire to maintain the absolute certainty of salvation, and therefore posit everything to God. This seems God-honoring. However, a close look at Scripture reveals the fallacy of this position - namely, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 "God desires all people to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved." Calvin's solution to this text was to alter the translation to be : "God desires all 'kinds of' people ..." The tragedy of Calvinism is that the person "never knows for certain whether he/she is saved." Thus, the Calvinist receives assurance of salvation from doing good works, "which proves that I must be one of God’s chosen ones." But the person can never be sure of that, especially if the atonement is limited to only those who are being saved.

    2. Arminianism would answer the question by saying that the person chooses heaven or the person chooses hell. This sounds logical. We choose our meals, we choose our vehicles, we choose our clothes, etc. So we must be able to choose our salvation. The problem for the Arminians is that it denies original sin and the bondage of the person (before conversation) to sin. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1, "we are dead in our trespasses and sins...." If someone is dead, that person can do nothing, not even "choose." Paul adds in 2:4-5 "But God made us alive..." According to Arminianism, the certainty of salvation rests upon the person - thus, "altar calls" are frequent to "make sure you’re in the faith."

    3. The Biblical response often seems less than satisfying. The key is to realize that there are, in reality, two questions, and therefore two answers. The first question is: How is someone saved? The response is that God is the sufficient and only cause for salvation. Thus, if someone is in heaven, it is because of God’s work (Ephesians 2:4-5; 2:8-9; etc.). The second question is: How does someone end up in hell? The Biblical answer is that the person continues in sin (John 3:18, "judged/condemned already") and is therefore responsible for being in hell.

    Thus, Biblically predestination is one sided; God's effective work to bring someone to heaven (Ephesians 2:4-5, etc.). The key is to realize that predestination is a doctrine of comfort, because the focus is on God's saving work, which does not change. Everything God intends for our salvation is tied to Christ's work on the cross. Nothing we do, say, or think can ever change that. Election/predestination, then, is always Biblicaly tied to the phrase "in Christ" (see Ephesians 1:3-14 for example). That gives confidence because the certainty is based on God's promise, not on my behavior nor the strength of my faith nor of my decision.
  3. Susan

    Susan 退屈させた1 つ (bored one)

    Thank you :)
  4. Susan

    Susan 退屈させた1 つ (bored one)

    There has to be someone else out there. BTW I will say "thank you" to all who respond here.
    This does NOT mean that I have immediately and completely accepted their system (yet), it is simply out of politeness and deference. :)
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Junior Member

    Hi Susan.

    I'm kind of in the same situation. I'm not an Arminian or a Calvinist... I just don't know yet. I believe I'll become a Calvinist one day though. From what I've seen until now, the Doctrines of Grace seem to be more biblical than the Arminian point of view.

    The reason I'm not a Calvinist yet is that I haven't read the Bible enough and prayed about this to be able to make a good decision. Hm, also, some Calvinists kinda turn me off... not to offend, but I dislike the fact that many of them: are cessationists(in spite of all the accounts we have of miracles and the gifts being in use today and in church history), or just seem to be too theological, but not that much practical in their christianity. And some of them just criticise other christians and other theologies way too much. They have a very negative view of today's christianity.(not that I don't... but perhaps not that much... well, maybe that much. But still... )
  6. Job_38

    Job_38 <font size="1"> In perfect orbit they have circled

    The Bible does support Calvinism.


    Audio messages and text.

    In calvinism, sharing the gospel is no less important. Because we do not know who God predestined. So we are now minimized and God is greatened.
  7. sola fide

    sola fide neo-Puritan

    I'm a calvinist so I thought I would chime in here for a second. First off, the statement was made that calvinists rely on good works to assure themselves of their salvation....I've never heard that one before. Of any position, the calvinist one is the farthest from being works based. I assume you were probably referring to the passing of making your calling and election sure...but there are other ways than works to know that you are saved. I believe their are obvious fruits to regeneration...the most obvious would be desire for the things of God.
    Now onto Susan's question. You really can't be a calminian, if that's what your looking towards. I used to be an arminian...but I now have trouble thinking that salvation is of man's choice and not God's. You might not be an extreme arminian...but the extreme one's think that God has to ask our permission before He can do anything in or for our life. This is totally contrary to Scripture.
    You're right, predestination and election are completely explicit in Scripture, and to deny them is to deny most of the Bible. I don't think there's anything wrong with being an arminian. It has nothing to do with being orthodox. As long as you affirm the trinity, deity of Christ, etc...it's a secondary matter.
    But you do need to ask yourself the question "who is responsible for my salvation"? Is it my decision to except God's invitation, or is it God's decision to adopt me into His family?
    Limited atonement is the most contraversial concept of calvinism. But really it's not that hard a doctrine to swallow. Yes Jesus did die for the whole world, His death is sufficient for all.
    But here's the problem with arminian theology about atonement. If you say that Jesus died for everyone, EVERYONE...yet there is no doubt that there will be people in hell, doesn't that make Jesus' death a failure since some He died for are not where He desired them to be? I think that would make HIm a failure. But since I believe that Jesus only died for His bride, I know that His death was the perfect sacrifice. It was sufficient for all but efficient for some.
    I've gone a little long so I'll shut up, but if you have any questions please ask. God bless.

    Soli Deo gloria!
  8. Reformationist

    Reformationist Non nobis domine sed tuo nomine da gloriam

    United States
    Hello Susan!&nbsp; Let me state, as did filosofer that Calvinism and Arminianism are not terms found in the Bible.&nbsp; Contrary to his position, however, the Bible most certainly does support the views espoused by John Calvin.

    The main precepts of Calvinism are often identified by the acronym T.U.L.I.P.

    I won't go into detail about the individul explanations but if you look at the following threads started by Blackhawk you can get the gist of it:

    T - Total Depravity

    U - Unconditional Election

    L - Limited Atonement

    I - Irresistable Grace

    P - Peseverance of the Saints

    Basically, the emphasis of the doctrines espoused by John Calvin, and many others, is that God is sovereign and effectual in all things.&nbsp; If you put forth that man can "hold off" or "thwart" the Will of God then He is no longer really God.&nbsp; The Scriptures readily attest to God's omnipotence and omniscience and, as such, God has purposed the salvation of those He is pleased to bring to a knowledge of Himself.&nbsp; Man is dead in his trespasses and unable, and unwilling, to be rescued from the quagmire of filth he so vehemently clings to, that of death in the flesh.&nbsp; God, without the cooperation, or permission, of His creation quickens the spirit of those He has predestined for salvation.&nbsp; They are regenerated from death to life and reconciled, through Christ's death, to the Father.&nbsp; Their salvation is held for them in Heaven and is an incorruptible seed that shall not fade.&nbsp; The Holy Spirit performs God's perfect work of sanctification by carrying our God's promise that we be made complete and perfect, lacking nothing:

    James 1:2-4
    My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,<SUP> </SUP>knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.<SUP>&nbsp; </SUP>But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

    As much of the hang up about Calvinism seems to spawn from a misunderstanding of the scope of Jesus' perfect work, i.e. limited atonement, let me clarify that it is not the Calvinist teaching that limits the power of God.&nbsp; On the contrary, it is the Arminianist teaching that God must have the permission of His own creation before enacting His Will.&nbsp; To say that it is God's desire that all men be saved, yet some aren't, is saying outright that God could not accomplish that which He sets out to do.

    Susan, my intent in replying was only to&nbsp;enlighten you to the glorious truth of Scripture.&nbsp; I must, however, try and clear up an important point of contention for many on this board.&nbsp; I often hear things like, "Calvin altered this" or "Luther rewrote this, or included this word."&nbsp; The issue comes about due to incorrect interpretation that has become mainstream Christian theology.&nbsp; Therefore, the masses grow up learning a falsehood.&nbsp; I have no doubt God will work this to the good of His body but I would like to point one thing out.&nbsp; The word "all" in the Bible is used in two ways, all without distinction and all without exception.

    For example, look at the following:

    Mark 1:5
    Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

    Does this mean that every man, woman and child from "all the land of Judea and they of Jerusalem" was baptized of John in Jordon?&nbsp; Surely not.&nbsp; Luke 7:30 distinctly says, "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."&nbsp; Then what does "all baptized of him" mean?&nbsp; It means all without distinction, not all without exception.&nbsp; The same explanation applies to Luke 3:21:

    Luke 3:21
    When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.

    Again in John 8:2:

    Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

    Are we to understand this expression absolutely or relatively?&nbsp; Does "all the people" mean all without exception, or all without distinction, that is, all classes and conditions of people?&nbsp; Obviously the latter; for the Temple was not able to accommodate everybody that was in Jerusalem at this time.

    Susan, there is so much more that testifies to these facts that I would be happy to explain to you.&nbsp; I strongly suggest you check out a book called "The Sovereignty of God" by A.W. Pink.&nbsp; It costs about 5 dollars and it's one of the best 5 dollars I've ever spent.&nbsp; I have never seen a better dissertation on this inescapable truth.

    God bless.
  9. Susan

    Susan 退屈させた1 つ (bored one)

    Thank you, everyone :)
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