Monday, August 4, 2008

SEA: Society of Evangelical Arminians

I would like to bring your attention to the recently formed organization called, "The Society of Evangelical Arminians," which now has a website that was designed, in part, to provide resources for comparing and contrasting Calvinist and Arminian theology and to provide a forum where Arminans could gather to discuss theology. Essentially, it's a central hub for Arminians. Soon, it will feature a section with a verse-by-verse commentary on verses relating to Calvinism and Arminianism, much like the format of my own website, except that SEA will provide reviews from many more commentators. However, my favorite aspect of SEA is the google group, where dozens of Arminian members exchange emails daily on topics pertaining to Calvinism and Arminianism. If you are an Arminian, I certainly recommend it. Here is the contact page in order to become a member:

What about Calvinists? They are Christians too, and the purpose of SEA is not to make our Calvinist Christian brothers seem like outcasts or second rate Christians. This is why many of the articles posted by SEA have links to the original Blog post, where follow-up discussion and fellowship is available. Here is an example of just such a Blog by contributor, Keith Schooley:

Simply scroll down to the last sentence, and follow the link to the discussion.


Gary said...

Some estimates are that over 50% of evangelical teenagers repeat their born again experience due to a lack of assurance of salvation. Do we see that kind of insecurity regarding salvation anywhere in the New Testament? Doesn't that high a level of insecurity regarding Christ's FREE gift of salvation indicate a problem with Arminian evangelical theology?

Could this be the reason why your Arminian evangelical young people are stampeding to Calvinism?

Read more:

Richard Coords said...

Hello Gary,

Calvinism provides less assurance than Arminianism. In Calvinism, people are left to trust in an unknowable Election, that's not even correct, and which actually usurps Christ's Election. In Arminianism, people simply trust in the promise of God to save whoever believes in His Son. There is no "guessing" about WHO Jesus might have died for; Jesus died for all, and that means you, me and everyone else. So there is no guessing. But with Calvinism, there is *only* guessing, especially evident by the Calvinist doctrine of Evanescent Grace. You see, Calvinists have to explain *how* those with Total Depravity are able to become Christians, even Calvinists, and then later fall away. How did they initially overcome such Depravity? Calvinists do have an answer, but it's not a good one. Calvinists say that the way that those of Luke 8 are able to initially "believe for a while" in having initially received the Word "with joy," is because God gave this special class of the damned (i.e. non-elect) a unique grace, which illumed them for a while, and then God "justly forsakes them," as per John Calvin. In fact, Calvinist Charles Spurgeon, noted that his own congregation was plagued with fears of doubts over their own (ficticious) election, and Spurgeon encouraged them not even to think about Calvinist Election, but only to think about Jesus (just like the Arminians. So this shows that there is never any practical application for Calvinism. It's both useless, and false, and theologically bankrupt, because it otherwise usurp's Christ's own Election, as THE elect one. We are only elect on account of being "in" the elect one, Christ. We are elect because we are piggybacking off of his election, as the body and bride of Christ. We're nothing without Jesus, but Calvinism purports that people are eternally plugged in with God the Father through secret election, based upon a secret purpose.

At any rate, here is the article on Evanescent Grace:

Gary said...

I would recommend that instead of relying on OUR decision to believe or in OUR belief/feelings that we are of the Elect, we follow Christ's plan of salvation:

"Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins."

Baptism is GOD'S act of salvation and it is OUR visible proof of his act to forgive our sins and save us. Praying the Sinner's Prayer, Making a Decision For Christ, and Accepting Jesus into your Heart are nowhere to be found in the Bible.

"Baptism now saves you" most certainly is!

Richard Coords said...

Hello Gary,

(1) Your advice on looking to baptism for assurance did not seem to help Spurgeon's congregation (quoted above), who were undoubtedly baptized. In fact, Spurgeon's advise was to put Calvinism out of mind, and just focus on Jesus. Spurgeon states: “Let your hope rest on the cross of Christ. Think not on election but on Christ Jesus. Rest on Jesus—Jesus first, midst, and without end.” (Election)

(2) No one is relying in our decision to believe. No one is putting faith in faith.

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “Technically, it’s impossible to have faith in faith or free will. One could have faith in oneself, which would be self-confidence and not faith. Faith is an intransitive verb. It has no meaning in itself, but its meaning is found in an outside object from the one with faith. One cannot just have faith. One must have faith in something. Free will is merely what moves faith to an object. Without this freedom of movement, one would be brain dead and couldn’t even form a thought. These are not magical terms. Faith is not a magical ability that is ‘given’ to some that God chooses. You can have faith in any number of objects for any number of reasons. When someone has faith in Christ, Christ is the object of their faith, not themselves. Faith is literally the SUBMISSION of the will to the power of the object of their faith. Faith is not the assertion of one’s will over the object of their faith - that is impossible. Faith takes the subject with faith, through itself, and deposits the subject INTO the object of faith. It cannot be a work. It cannot earn merit. It places the essence of the subject, into the object. That’s how it works. All of this talk about false faith, or works faith, or free will controlling salvation, etc, is a red herring of the enemy to distract everyone it can from the object of salvation, which is Christ. There is no such thing as false faith. The Bible never talks about it, never warns people against it, and never discourages anyone from such a thing. Faith in election, for instance, is not a false faith, but faith in a false salvation. Instead, faith in Christ ALWAYS results in salvation, because that is the word of God, and He is faithful to His word and His promises. The entire issue of false faith, or free will faith, is a red herring lie, which detracts from faith in Christ. Free will faith basically just means you have a brain. What the Calvinist accuses of, is that the Arminian thinks that free will causes God to give salvation. This is errant and insulting to God. The fact is this: God has already completed all the work of salvation. It began in the council of triune Elohim God, in the womb of His mind, in the conception of creation. It was determined before, in front of, over and under, and in preeminence to the foundation, the knitting together, of the world. It was prophesied in Genesis, immediately after the first transgression. It was implemented throughout the genealogies, foreshadowed in the sacrifices, the Tabernacle, the feasts, the nation of Israel, through the prophets and the Scriptures, and in the fullness of time, the Son of the Godhead who was elected to be the Redeemer and the Christ, was born a man, was obedient to His predestination of death on the cross, and was risen from the dead in victory over death and sin, and crushed the head of Satan. Christ proclaimed, ‘It is finished’, and the work of atonement was complete. This was the work of God, and it was completed. He has ALREADY COMPLETED SALVATION. Free will has nothing to do with this work of God. Free will is having a thinking-mind that can use its will to move the belief, the assignment of truth, to the work of Christ to save. Free will isn’t apart from God’s grace. Nothing is apart from God’s grace. The very design of the mind and free will of man was FOR THE PURPOSE of relationship with God in a genuine sense.” (SEA)

Richard Coords said...

Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, recalls: “I frequently meet with poor souls, who are fretting and worrying themselves about this thought—‘How, if I should not be elect!’ ‘Oh, sir,’ they say, ‘I know I put my trust in Jesus; I know I believe in his name and trust in his blood; but how if I should not be elect?’ Poor dear creature! you do not know much about the gospel, or you would never talk so, for he that believes is elect. Those who are elect, are elect unto sanctification and unto faith; and if you have faith you are one of God’s elect; you may know it and ought to know it, for it is an absolute certainty. If you, as a sinner, look to Jesus Christ this morning, and say—‘Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling,’ you are elect. I am not afraid of election frightening poor saints or sinners.” (Election, emphasis mine)

Here you have people who claim to trust in Jesus, but yet do not know whether they are saved, because they might not be “elect.” Spurgeon’s answer: “Have faith you are one of God’s elect.” Calvinists will rage that this is a mischaracterization of the faith of Calvinists, but guess what? This is documented history. Calvinists were, in fact, trusting in a process, moreso than a person. This is something unique to Calvinists. Arminians have no such such fear of an eternal draft. Arminians can simply trust in Christ.

Gary said...

When was the last time you heard an Arminian preach on I Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, or Mark 16:16.

Isn't that really, really odd? I grew up the son of an Arminian Baptist pastor and I NEVER knew that those passages existed.

Baptism is GOD'S act of saving sinners.

Gary said...

Just in case I wasn't clear in my first comment, I am an orthodox Lutheran. I am not a Calvinist.

Richard Coords said...

Lutherans generally affirm Unconditional Election (which I think disrespects Christ) and Determinism (which I think is Gnostic in origin), but rejects Limited Atonement (which is where I agree with Lutherans). But I don't think Paul would honor Christians denoting themselves as "Reformed" or "Orthodox," as this elevates man.

I commented on Acts 2:38 here:

Gary said...

Arminians and Lutherans believe that God does NOT predestinate anyone to hell. Man sends himself to hell by rejecting God's free gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ. Calvinists believe that God predestined the Elect to heaven and the Damned to Hell. Lutherans join Arminians in denouncing this horrific teaching.

We Lutherans also agree with Arminians that Christ died for ALL. Salvation is available to ALL, not just the Elect.

However, Lutherans agree with Calvinists that God makes the decision for salvation, not the sinner. The Arminian teaching that man can make a free will decision to choose righteousness, that a sinner can choose God, is a blatant violation of Scripture, as stated in Romans 3 and the second chapters of both Ephesians and Colossians.

"What??" you say. "Lutherans believe that God chooses who will be saved...but God does NOT choose who will go to hell! That makes no sense! You Lutherans are nuts!"

No, we Lutherans just accept the Word of God as God said it. We don't try to force God to conform with human reason, logic, and common sense, as do the Reformed and the Baptists.

Gary said...

Baptists vote to keep the Sinner's Prayer...again

Preuters News Agency

Meeting today in London, a convention of the world's Baptists narrowly endorsed the continued use of the Sinner's Prayer as the hallmark act of Christian conversion. Here is the final draft of the convention's statement on this issue:

"Baptists today again affirm the Sinner's Prayer as the act by which a sinner is justified before God. To be clear, it is not the recitation of the prayer itself that saves, nor is it necessary to endorse a set order of the words to be prayed, nor must the prayer be verbalized to others. What is necessary for salvation is this: A genuine, heartfelt prayer that 1.) acknowledges one's sinfulness and hopeless state of perdition before God 2.) cries out to God with true repentance of one's sins 3.) petitions God for his free gift of salvation 4.) asks Christ to indwell his heart/soul 5.) commits to abandoning his prior sinful lifestyle and promises to follow Christ and his righteousness."

Controversy over this statement simmered for the entire three days of the convention. A group of younger Baptists from the developing world pushed for the removal of the Sinner's Prayer from the Baptist Statement of Faith, declaring that it was unscriptural and lacked any evidence of use in the Early Church. These young people read statements from the Early Church Fathers from the convention podium, noting that requiring a prayer (spoken or thought) for salvation was unheard of in the Early Church. This assertion created quite a stir as many of the older convention attendees were not accustomed to hearing appeals to the "catholic" Church Fathers as a source of authority for Baptist doctrine.

The younger group put forward a new, brash, proposal as the new official Baptist Act of Christian Conversion:

"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins."

This proposal prompted outrage from the majority of convention attendees. One prominent Baptist pastor from the United States summed up the majority's sentiments by this statement:

"Too Lutheran."

Richard Coords said...

I agree with the sinner's prayer, as per Romans 10:9-10 and Eph 1:13. I also think that Lutherans walk into a trap by admitting to cognitive dissonance regarding single predestination, because now they cannot refuse anyone else from claiming the same inscrutable mystery. For all of your challenges, I can now do like you and say, "Oh wow, it's just a big mystery. I know I'm right and I don't have to make sense of it." That's what cognitive dissonance and Special Pleading achieves, which is basically just a tacit claim to infallibility. You can use whatever Scripture you wish for your defense, and deny anything else as just a weird mystery. You're free to your mysteries.

Gary said...

No. That is where you are wrong, my brother.

Lutherans can point to their doctrines in the Early Church, the illogical and the logical. Baptists and evangelicals cannot. Your beliefs are an invention western Europeans, interpreting a first century, Middle Eastern text, with their sixteenth Enlightenment world view.

Gary said...

How many times are these Baptist/evangelical expressions mentioned in the Bible?

Ask Jesus into your heart: 0
Make a decision for Christ: 0
Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior: 0
Age of Accountability: 0
Pray the Sinner's Prayer: 0

Baptism is our act of obedience: 0
Baptism is our act of public profession of faith: 0
Baptism is our act of joining the local church: 0

God's Expressions on these Doctrines:

He that believes and is baptized will be saved.
Baptism now saves you.
He saved us by the washing of regeneration.
Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.
All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death.

Where in the world did Baptists and evangelicals get their non-biblical expressions regarding the means by which God saves sinners?

Richard Coords said...

So you are going to shield yourself under the umbrella of mystery, but then demand that I logically prove my case. That's hypocrisy.

Richard Coords said...

This discussion is closed.