Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What makes a Calvinist, a "Calvinist"?

I've seen Calvinists anathematize each other. I've seen Calvinists call other Calvinists "wicked," simply because the other Calvinist rejected that Calvinism is "the Gospel." Often, I've witnessed the 4-Point Calvinist being looked down upon as the retarded step-child of Reformed Theology...and then here I come along, suggesting that there is not a dime's worth of difference between a 4 and a 5-Point Calvinist. In fact, I've argued that John Calvin himself could rightly be classified as a 4-Pointer, though in the Hard-Deterministic, Supralapsarian mode, which I would consider the most extreme mode.

So what makes a Calvinist, a Calvinist? Or, you may ask, what makes a person "truly Reformed"? On this very Blog, a Calvinist insisted that John MacArthur was not truly Reformed.

I'd like to cite Laurence Vance on how he unites all Calvinists under one banner: The doctrine of Unconditional Election. Calvinists can disagree over many of the finer points of Reformed Theology, but any Calvinist who rejects Unconditional Election, is simply not a Calvinist at all, and thus cannot rightly ride under the banner of a "moderate Calvinist." I would like to quote Vance, and then offer my thoughts:

Laurence Vance: “All Calvinists, whether they be Presbyterian or Reformed, Primitive Baptist or Sovereign Grace Baptist; all Calvinists, whether they be premillennial or amillennial, dispensational or covenant theologist; all Calvinists, whether they go by that name or not; all Calvinists have one thing in common: God, by a sovereign, eternal decree, has determined before the foundation of the world who shall be saved and who shall be lost. To obscure the real issue, a vocabulary has been invented to confuse and confound the Christian. The arguments about supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism, total depravity and total inability, reprobation and preterition, synergism and monergism, free will and free agency, common grace and special grace, general calling and effectual calling, perseverance and preservation, and the sovereignty of God are all immaterial. The stumbling block for the Calvinists is the simplicity of salvation, so upon rejecting this, a system has to be construed whereby salvation is made a mysterious, arcane, incomprehensible, decree of God. Thus, the basic error of Calvinism is confounding election and predestination with salvation, which they never are in the Bible, but only in the philosophical speculations and theological implications of Calvinism: the other side of Calvinism.” (The Other Side of Calvinism, p.35, emphasis mine)

What makes a Calvinist, a Calvinist? Belief in the doctrine of Unconditional Election.

In simple terms, it's the belief that God has an eternal flock of sheep, that is, "the eternal flock of the Father," whom He alone truly loves, and has eternally "purposed to glorify," as one Calvinist explains: “Do Calvinists secretly believe that God chose them for some reason other than their need for salvation? Would I, as a Christian, believe that God chose me for some other reason than my need for salvation? Yes, I do. God chose me for His glory, for His pleasure, for His purposes. Sure I had a need for salvation. But that is not why He saved me primarily ... in the Bible, God does not say He chose us because of our desperate need. He chose us before our need ever arose.”

In technical terms, whereas the New Testament speaks of us being "in Christ," for Calvinism, the elect must eternally reside "in the Father," which is a point that I stress again and again, in order to have a proper understanding of Calvinistic Election.

Here are my thoughts on Election, as I constrast Arminian Election with Calvinistic Election:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/ArminianElection.html

42 comments:

Rhuiden said...

Richard,

I my studies I have come to the conclusion that what makes someone a Calvinist is their elevation of God's sovereignty to be His primary attribute. An Ariminian elevates God's love be His primary attribute.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Richard Coords said...

Hello Rhuiden,

I'll be able to comment further when I get home tonight. Thanks for the contrast. However, I would say that the Universalist elevates God's love as the highest attribute. In terms of Arminians, I would instead argue that Arminians elevate God's
character as His highest attribute, and Arminians contend that Calvinism, if true, would damage God's character and psyche. In other words, Arminians contend that if God "decreed whatsoever comes to pass" (something not necessarily shared by all Calvinists, especially not the 4-Pointers), then all wickedness comes from the heart and mind of God, having been scripted by Him. I'll share more later tonight after my 12 hour shift (this is my 15th 12 hr shift in a row :)

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Calvinist (which is to say Biblical) site; please visit/comment.

TheAmericanView.com

JLof@aol.com

a helmet said...

Hi Richard,

very good article. You raise the question, "what is truly reformed? This is interesting, in the reformed view there is also the concept of true conversion vs. false conversion, true, saving faith vs. false head faith, true disciples and would-be disciples. The problem becomes apparent: Where do draw the line? And just like in works-based religions, a subjective line must be drawn in order to divide sheep and goats. You are right, the gospel is a stumbling block to Calvinism. And quite right, it is ultimately not Christ-centered. The focussing on the pre-eternal election decree draws the calvinistic spirit into the realm of mystery, obscuration and unknowability -- or you might as well say: spiritual darkness

a helmet said...

Hi rhuiden,


Calvinists must drive the cotter between God and man. Disunity between God and man is the system's chief premise.
You might check the (latest) article "Monergism, Synergism and the Temple of God" on my blog on the gospel of John.

Rhuiden said...

Helmet said: "You are right, the gospel is a stumbling block to Calvinism. And quite right, it is ultimately not Christ-centered. The focussing on the pre-eternal election decree draws the calvinistic spirit into the realm of mystery, obscuration and unknowability -- or you might as well say: spiritual darkness

The Gospel is in no way a stumbling block to Calvinists. You are calling Calvinists non-believers when you make such a comment. Do you really claim that Calvinists are not Christians? How is Calvinism not Christ-centered? What is more honoring to God...to say that He is in control of ALL things or that He is hoping His will can be accomplished? I would never be so arrogant as to say that Arminians are not Christians.

Please give some examples as to how Calvinism is not Christ-centered. Also give some examples as to how it leads to mystery and spiritual darkness.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Rhuiden said...

Helmet,

Just saw your second comment. You said "Calvinists must drive the cotter between God and man. Disunity between God and man is the system's chief premise."

Please provide some expanded explanation of these statements as well.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

a helmet said...

rhuiden,

Thank you for replying.

Please give some examples as to how Calvinism is not Christ-centered. Also give some examples as to how it leads to mystery and spiritual darkness.

Well, regarding Christ-centeredness, my best answer is currently the article mentioned already "On Monergism, Synergism and the Temple of God". Concerning God man asks the question "Where is He?" . Where does God live? Calvinism is quite comfortable with an unknowable God. That means they locate God in a mysterious realm. Yet according to the gospel, God lives in His temple. He can be found there. Such is Christ-centeredness. On the other hand, He is not to be found in mysteries. This leads directly to your second question, about spiritual darkness. I think the article "On John 6:35-46" on the same blog might be an example of what I mean here. No Calvinist has yet answered the question what the father's drawing (Jn. 6:44) or the content of the teaching (Jn. 6:45) that inevitably leads to conversion, actually is. If you do not know what these "access data" to heaven are, then you are in spiritual darkness. In fact, you do not know whether you have been drawn at all. Note, no knowledge = no sight = no light = darkness

Concerning your second comment, I direct you to the post on the temple as well.


And last but not least, I did not say Calvinists are not Christians!

But I testify that Calvinists do not know what they are talking about when they speak of concepts like "inward call", "preemptive regeneration" and "irrestistible drawing".

Greetings
Kehrhelm

Richard Coords said...

Rhuiden,

I don't think that Kehrhelm was suggesting that Calvinists were not Christians. Kehrhelm states: "...it [Calvinism] is ultimately not Christ-centered."

In other words, he is challenging whether Calvinism, as a theology, is truly Christocentric or not, which is something that I would like to pick up on.

For a moment, reconsider this statement from a Calvinist: “Do Calvinists secretly believe that God chose them for some reason other than their need for salvation? Would I, as a Christian, believe that God chose me for some other reason than my need for salvation? Yes, I do. God chose me for His glory, for His pleasure, for His purposes. Sure I had a need for salvation. But that is not why He saved me primarily ... in the Bible, God does not say He chose us because of our desperate need. He chose us before our need ever arose.”

Whether you realize it or not, the Calvinist is outlining the basis for his eternal standing with God, and I would ask whether it is truly Christocentric or not. I argue that it represents a significant demotion of Christ, with a corresponding elevation of man. Consider it: Calvinism teaches that certain people were eternally purposed for glory, in being selected to be eternally "given" to Christ. "Why?", asks the Arminian. "What would be the basis for such a standing with God?" We are only told that it is the sovereign prerogative of Almighty God.

Arminians are very troubled by this, because on the surface, it appears very non-Christocentric. In contrast, Arminians insist that our standing before God is rooted solely in our identification with the Messiah, Jesus. Our connection with Him, is the basis for why God looks upon us with favor. The Arminian argues that Calvinism must ultimately take the view that it is our secret standing with the Father, that is the reason for being given to the Son, so that we could have an identification with Christ. Do you see the problem? It's like a dog chasing its tail. This is why Arminians place such great significance in the exact wording of Ephesians 1:4, in terms that God chose us in Christ. He didn't just chose us. He chose us with an essential qualifier attached to it.

Our standing before God is derived from our identification with Christ, in Christ, apart from, we have zero standing before God, none, nada, zilch.

John 14:6 states: "...no one comes to the Father but by Me."

What this is saying to me, is that our standing before God is totally Christocentric. There is no secret path to the Father through special election.

a helmet said...

Hello Richard,

I think that too. Calvinism focusses on the election in eternity past, which is father-centered rather that Christ-centered because election was a decision of the father. Since "unconditional election" is the common minimum agreement among Calvinists, one can say it is election-centered. Their standing with God is based solely on that decree. So calvinistic salvation ultimately boils down to a "check-if-you-are-elect-ism". This is troubling one's mind with transcendent mysteries and drives the mind away from Christ.

And since election is a mystery through and through, Calvinism worships an unknowable, transcendent God.

Richard Coords said...

Kehrhelm,

Consider two additional quotes:

Calvinist, John MacArthur, states: “We are chosen unto salvation. We are chosen to belong to Him. When you look at your salvation, then thank God. Thank God! Because you are a Christian because He chose you. I don’t understand the mystery of that. That’s just what the word of God teaches. That is the most humbling doctrine in all of Scripture. I take no credit, not even credit for my faith. It all came from Him. He chose me. He selected people to be made holy in order to be with Him forever. Why he selected me, I will never know. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m worse than many. But He chose me.” (Understanding Election)

Calvinistic Election has left MacArthur with a type of Election that renders its basis in a mystery, whereas Arminians insist that the basis for Election is God's favor upon Christ, and to all who are "in the Beloved." (Eph 1:5-6)

John Calvin writes: “This way of speaking, however, may seem to be different from many passages of Scripture which attribute to Christ the first foundation of God’s love for us and show that outside Christ we are detested by God. But we ought to remember, as I have already said, that the Heavenly Father’s secret love which embraced us is the first love given to us.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, pp.76, emphasis mine)

This is precisely why I feel that Calvinistic Election is a demotion of Christ. Even Calvin recognized the incongruence between his theology and Scripture.

I'm off to work for another 12 hr shift. Have a blessed day,

Richard

a helmet said...

Calvinists are eager to proclaim "Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne" (C. Spurgeon)

Here is one of example out of thousands on the web, that repeat the same slogans over and over and over again:

http://allsufficientgrace.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/god-on-his-throne/

Calvninists never bother about what God actually revealed about His throne. Where it is located. For God's throne is not located in some transcendent, unknowable realm. No, it is located in His temple.
Do Calvinists understand where the temple of God is?

Rhuiden said...

Kehrhelm,

You said

Where does God live? Calvinism is quite comfortable with an unknowable God. That means they locate God in a mysterious realm. Yet according to the gospel, God lives in His temple. He can be found there.

I have never heard this criticism of Calvinism before. I don't see how you can say that Calvinists locate God in a mysterious realm. God resides in Heaven, all Calvinists I know would claim that. To what are you referring when you say God lives in His temple? Do you mean the hearts of believers?

Also, I must disagree strongly with your comment that Calvinism is "comfortable with and unknowable God". Calvinism seeks to let God's revelation to us (the Bible) by our sole guide in our quest to get to know Him better. All believers, regardless of their theology, should seek to let the Bible by our sole guide. As such, Calvinists are extremely Christ centered. It is nearly impossible to not be Christ centered if you follow the Bible. One of the things the drew me to the reformed faith was it's reliance on God's word.

You also said

If you do not know what these "access data" to heaven are, then you are in spiritual darkness. In fact, you do not know whether you have been drawn at all.

All Calvinists I know and have read know what the "access data" is that is required to enter Heaven. It is Faith. Ephesians 2:8 tells us "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God". Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Our faith is a gift from God. Hebrews 12:2 says "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith......". Romans 12:2 says "....each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."

Lastly, just to make sure that we are on the same page. Are you lumping together Calvinism with Hyper-Calvinism? Or are you referring to just one of the two? If so, which one?

Thanks to both you and Richard for the discussion. It is fun and interesting.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

a helmet said...

Tom,

To what are you referring when you say God lives in His temple? Do you mean the hearts of believers?

Yes, you might say that. The teaching of the new temple is an important New Testament motif. "The father in Me and I in the father". God is glorified in the son of man. That is Christ-centeredness. If one seperates God and man, one does damage to the gospel. God is manifested in the flesh.

All Calvinists I know and have read know what the "access data" is that is required to enter Heaven. It is Faith.

It is not quite that easy. There are 3 kinds of believers. 1) soon-to-fall-away-beleivers (rocky ground), 2) no-fruit-believers (thorny ground) and 3) genuine believers (good ground).

Calvinists agree that only type 3) is truly converted. How do you know wheter you are a true believer and not deluded into thinking you are? Are you finally doing self-introspection, looking into yourself in order to "detect the work of God in you"? (=works-righteousness). How do you know whether you are a true, genuine believer and not a no-fruit-believer who vainly and self-righteously regards himself as fruitful? So you see, the "teaching" and "learning" according to John 6:45 is not trivial. It is, according to Calvinism, the irresitible drawing mechanism , it is an irresitible action of God the father that is going on there. Not all believers are drawn. Not all believers are in fact, genuine believers. And here I testify again: Calvinists don't know whether they have ever been drawn at all! They don't know what "drawing" (John 6:44) actually is! They do not know how to identify the fruit that makes one a true disciple (Matthew 7:16)! At least I haven't met a Calvinist who is able to tell, whether the person sitting next to him in church is actually his brother in Christ! Think about that.


So it is not so easy to simply say: it is faith. There is "false faith" as well and Calvinists are totally self-righteous when it comes to distinguish sheep and goats. I have yet to see a Calvinist who is able to "know a tree by its fruit", who knows where to draw the line between "true, saving faith" and "head faith". You say faith is a gift of God. But is shallow, false head faith also a gift of God? Where is the difference?

Note the persons mentioned in Mat. 7:22-23. They were absolutely convinced that they were right!

I don't distinguish Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism here. But again, I testify that Calvinists don't know whether they have been "drawn" and "taught" according to John 6:44-45.

That's the real, compelling problem.

Greetings
Kehrhelm

Rhuiden said...

Robert,

You said

"Whether you realize it or not, the Calvinist is outlining the basis for his eternal standing with God, and I would ask whether it is truly Christocentric or not. I argue that it represents a significant demotion of Christ, with a corresponding elevation of man. Consider it: Calvinism teaches that certain people were eternally purposed for glory, in being selected to be eternally "given" to Christ. "Why?", asks the Arminian. "What would be the basis for such a standing with God?" We are only told that it is the sovereign prerogative of Almighty God."

There are only two possibilities for the "eternal standing" of every person who has ever lived or will ever live. Either we will spend eternity separated from God in Hell or we will spend eternity in Heaven as adopted children of God. Galatians 4:4-7 says "4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." Ephesians 1:5-7 says "In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved"

Calvinism DOES teach that some are eternally purposed for glory because this is what the Bible teaches. Why does God have to give us a reason for His choices? It is the Creator's right to define what purpose His creation was created for. This is taught directly in Romans 9:19-24. It says "19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"

You said

"Our standing before God is derived from our identification with Christ, in Christ, apart from, we have zero standing before God, none, nada, zilch."

Calvinists agree completely with this statement. The problem is that we must define how we get our identification in Christ. It is given to us by God. We cannot do anything on our own to get it. There is no "secret path" to being chosen. We are sinners separated from God in need of a Savior. If He chooses not to give us that identification in Christ (choose us before the foundation of the world) then we will justly be condemned to Hell.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Rhuiden said...

Kerhelm,

You said

"I think that too. Calvinism focusses on the election in eternity past, which is father-centered rather that Christ-centered because election was a decision of the father."

Why are you making a distinction between the Father and Son in this manner? Do you think that the Father made this decision independent of Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

One God in three persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all in agreement in the covenant of redemption.

Rhuiden said...

"Calvninists never bother about what God actually revealed about His throne. Where it is located. For God's throne is not located in some transcendent, unknowable realm. No, it is located in His temple.
Do Calvinists understand where the temple of God is?
"

Please share where you think the "temple of God" is located? You have mentioned this several times so I am curious as to where you think it is.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

a helmet said...

Hello Tom,

God's temple is in man. God is glorfied in man (John 17:22, 15:8 and others).

It is explained in "Synergism, Monergism and the Temple of God", the latest post there: http://meditationonthegospelofjohn.blogspot.com

Do you know what Jesus meant when He said "the father is in Me"?

Greetings
Kehrhelm K.

a helmet said...

Tom,

concerning election, father and son.

Okay, maybe one might better say Calvinism is election-centered. The religion boils down to a system one could call Check-if-you-are-saved-ism. You must convince yourself that you were elected.

And how do Calvinists do that? How do you know whether you are one of the elect? Obviously faith alone does not make it. According to Calvinism, one needs works or else there is no "genuine" faith to begin with. You end up with a system of works-righteousness. Salvation by works.

Or how do you know whether you are elect, if not by your works?

So father-centered might not be an appropriate term, but rather works-centered.

Calvinism = Check-if-you-are-saved-ism.

That's it. And if you are honest you will admit how true this is.

Rhuiden said...

Kerhelm,

You said

"It is not quite that easy. There are 3 kinds of believers. 1) soon-to-fall-away-beleivers (rocky ground), 2) no-fruit-believers (thorny ground) and 3) genuine believers (good ground).

Calvinists agree that only type 3) is truly converted. How do you know whether you are a true believer and not deluded into thinking you are?
"

The assurance for all believers is in what Christ has done. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us "12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." The Book of 1 John was written to believers for the purpose of giving them assurance of their salvation. In 1 John there are many "tests" which the believer can use to examine himself to see if he is truly saved. This self examination is commanded by Scripture but it does not result in a works based salvation.

You said

"They do not know how to identify the fruit that makes one a true disciple (Matthew 7:16)! At least I haven't met a Calvinist who is able to tell, whether the person sitting next to him in church is actually his brother in Christ! Think about that."

If this is true then it is a sad thing. (I am beginning to be concerned about the Calvinists you refer to...if they are truly believers they should be able to give you these answers.) The Bible answers this question for us as well. Galatians 5:19-23 directly answers this. It says "19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, [4] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

You also said

"I have yet to see a Calvinist who is able to "know a tree by its fruit", who knows where to draw the line between "true, saving faith" and "head faith". You say faith is a gift of God. But is shallow, false head faith also a gift of God? Where is the difference?"

Only God truly knows a persons heart. It is possible for a person to produce all the outward signs but still be unsaved. The fact that there may be some undetected "false faith" out there in no way negates the true faith given as a gift to true believers by God.

You also said

"And how do Calvinists do that? How do you know whether you are one of the elect? Obviously faith alone does not make it. According to Calvinism, one needs works or else there is no "genuine" faith to begin with. You end up with a system of works-righteousness. Salvation by works."

This is simply not true. I think you have been misinformed or misled on this point. Calvinism does NOT teach that you have to have works in order to have a "genuine" faith. The book of James addresses this. In Chapter 2 verses 14-16, it says "14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good [2] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."

True faith produces works. The good works are a result of the true faith. The works are not required for salvation since salvation takes place before the works begin. If Calvinism believed in a works based salvation, then would it not make sense that the person would have to do the works before they gained salvation...not after? Just a thought.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Pizza Man said...

Hi Richard, you quoted Vance who says God, by a sovereign, eternal decree, has determined before the foundation of the world who shall be saved and who shall be lost..

George Bryson says something similar, summarizing Calvinism as follows: You will be saved or damned for all eternity because you were saved or damned from all eternity.

I think these quotes both hit the nail on the head. Calvinism is not Christ centered. It is instead "decree centered".

Rhuiden said...

I think you guys are all missing a very important point. God ordains the ends all well as the means. God determines who will be among the Elect in eternity past - that is the "ends". He also determines the method in which they will become a member of the Elect - that is the "means". This method was the Covenant of Redemption in which Jesus becomes the way.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

chalee said...

tom-

all of this was explained to Kehrhelm in the comments to the aug 13 post, using many of the exact same verses - he has yet to explain how he understands gal5:16-25, romans 6 or the entire book of james. he seems committed to doctrines of cheap grace and easy-believism...he thinks "faith" is mere head knowledge that is completely disconnected to the way one lives.

just FYI.

Rhuiden said...

Chalee,

Thanks for the info.

I have noticed the Kehrhelm has chosen not to interact with any of the Scripture references I used to answer his questions.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Richard Coords said...

Kevin,

Interesting contrast: Christ centered vs. decree centered.

Richard Coords said...

Tom,

I need to recall this clip from your post:

***************

Richard Coords: "Our standing before God is derived from our identification with Christ, in Christ, apart from, we have zero standing before God, none, nada, zilch."

Tom: "Calvinists agree completely with this statement. The problem is that we must define how we get our identification in Christ. It is given to us by God...."

*************

Naturally, then, the Arminian asks: "What would be the basis for such a standing with God to be given thusly?"

Does it have to do with something based upon your identification with Christ, which you said that you absolutely agree with? No, but it has to do with your state of being eternally "in the Father," and that's troubling because it represents man's path to the Father where Christ is irrelevant, because Christ no longer becomes the source of our standing with God, but the result of our standing with God.

Rhuiden said...

Richard,

I must bring us back to my last post in which I mentioned the Covenant of Redemption. Election is Christ centered because of the agreement between the Father and the Son.

Also, you must understand, as I said before, that God ordains the ends as well as the means. If you continue to deny this fact then you will continue to have a skewed understanding of God's sovereignty in this matter.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Richard Coords said...

Tom,

You wrote: "Election is Christ centered because of the agreement between the Father and the Son."

Are you saying that Calvinistic Election is Christ-centered because God and Christ jointly chose us in Christ, as per Ephesians 1:4? How would that make any sense?

It sounds like Calvinistic Election can only become Christocentric if the Son assumes the role of the Father in choosing us in Christ.

In contrast, Arminian Election is Christocentric because Christ is the central reason for why God accepts anyone, period, as per John 14:6, and thus it is Christ's role as Mediator that can bring a person into the grace of God.

a helmet said...

chalee,

The grace is free but not cheap. An infinite price was paid for it.

I do not discard the scripture you require. Lets start with gal. 5:16-25


16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

I have not seen anyone who is immune against the desires of the flesh. Not even those who profess to "walk by the spirit". Many walk by the spirit, don't they? Yet no one overcomes the desires of the flesh. I do not know any christian who does not serve his flesh in some way. Even Paul admitted (Rom 7) that he serves his flesh and is a slave to it. Does he double-talk? I don't think so, but whoever tries to control his flesh is doomed to fail. Such is self-righteousness anyway.

17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

This is exactly what is explained in Rom 7. We live by the law of the spirit, that is, by faith. But we serve the law of sin because we are in the flesh. It is impossible to overcome the desires of the flesh while in the flesh.

18But if you are led by the Spirit,you are not under the Law.


Here we go! We are not under the law because we live by another law. The law of faith. Do not judge the fruit by the tree but the tree by the fruit!


19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,

20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,

21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


Well, I have news: Good news: For these reasons mentioned above, there is the grace of God! We receive grace, so that we may inherit the kingdom of God, even though we cannot help being slaves to the flesh! Such is the good news of God's grace!


22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


I agree. And how do we now know, reckognize these fruit? We must be able to know other people by their fruit. That was my point in the comment above. How do you know whether someone posseses the qualities mentioned above? For example, do Mormons possess them?
And didn't for example the Pharisees possess the qualities "self-control" and "faithfulness" ?
So how do we know a tree by its fruit?

Well, I know we've had this already... False religion cannot bear good fruit.
So what about Mat. 7:16 and the identification of fruit? That is the crucial point. And it is explained in "On the knowledge of good and evil VIII" (livingbyknowledge.blogspot.com)

24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.


Since we live by the spirit, we are encouraged to show this. Is there a difference between "live" and "walk" by the spirit? Well, normally living = walking but the apostle makes a distinction here.
Surely, we are to behave properly. Why, for our own sake? No, for the world's sake, so that the world may be convicted and / or come to faith as well. I thoroughly elaborated on this in "On Sanctification I-III" on my blog on the gospel of John.

So Paul makes a distinction between living by the spirit and walking by the spirit. Believers live by the spirit. Therefore they shall walk correspondingly.

But the question is open: How do you know someone by its fruit? Do all Christians behave properly? Are there non-christians who seem to have a lot of "good fruit"?

So what does this tell us?.....

(Response to other scripture references soon!)

Greetings
Kehrhelm

a helmet said...

Tom,

True faith produces works. The good works are a result of the true faith.

I've heard this many, many times. "Faith alone saves but saving faith is never alone."

But there is no scriptural basis for such a slogan. Rather righteousness produces holiness. And iniquity produces filthiness.
A good tree produces good fruit, a bad tree bad fruit.

Such is the biblical order.

Furthermore there is no such distinction between "true" faith and "head" faith! Where do you get this concept from? Certainly not from the scriptures.


The works are not required for salvation since salvation takes place before the works begin. If Calvinism believed in a works based salvation, then would it not make sense that the person would have to do the works before they gained salvation...not after? Just a thought.

Calvinism is a works-based system to the core. Simply put, there is no salvation apart from works.

It is like this:


salvation = justification + sanctification

justification => faith + sanctification

sanctification => works

Or: salvation => faith + works


If there are no works in a person's life then there is no salvation and the faith is said to be false. So you must do works, or else you are not saved. What is the difference between a "classical" works-based religion and Calvinism? Well the only difference is the "boasting issue". Mormons must work and (think they) can boast. Calvinists must work as well but simply cannot boast. They must interpret their works in a different way: as the works of God in them and through them. That's the only real difference. The exclusion of boasting.

So Calvinism teaches salvation by works but nevertheless without being able to boast!

Rhuiden said...

Kerhelm,

You said:

Calvinism is a works-based system to the core. Simply put, there is no salvation apart from works.

Statements like this make it very clear that you do not understand Calvinism at all. You keep going back to the same claims that I have refuted. I am sorry that I have been unable to open your eyes to the truth. I have enjoyed the opportunity to try.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Richard Coords said...

Tom,

I posted a comment on your explanation of "agreement," and I appreciate you offering your explanation, which is why I would like to take the next step of developing that dialogue further by making it the basis for the next Blog Post. In that next post, McGee will state why our standing with the Father is Christocentric, and doing so, from the perspective of Jesus as Mediator. (My thought is that the "agreement" answer just lacks traction, because it appears to be forcing the Son into the role & function of the Father in order to make Calvinistic Election, Christocentric.)

Rhuiden said...

Richard,

You said:

Are you saying that Calvinistic Election is Christ-centered because God and Christ jointly chose us in Christ, as per Ephesians 1:4? How would that make any sense?

First, let me be clear that I believe in the Trinity. One God in Three persons. With that basis, I also want to be clear that each of the persons have distinct roles, at least in our understanding.

The agreement between God and Christ is known as the Covenant of Redemption. It is defined this way: "The covenant of redemption is the eternal agreement within the Godhead in which the Father appointed the Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to redeem the elect from the guilt and power of sin. God appointed Christ to live a life of perfect obedience to the law and to die a penal, substitutionary, sacrificial death as the covenantal representative for all who trust in him. This definition came from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covenant_theology.

Election is Christ-centered due to the means in which it is accomplished. Also, our hope is only through Jesus and His obedience in going to the Cross.

I will be read your next post. Should be interesting.

Tom
www.sanctification.wordpress.com

Richard Coords said...

Hey Tom,

Thanks for the explanation, and I’d like to dissect one part of the quote for further examination:

…the Father appointed the Son Jesus Christ...to redeem the elect…

Question: How did they become the Father’s ‘elect’ in the first place, in order to be given to the Son?

In other words, what is the source of the Father’s grace upon them, resulting in the Father’s appointment of the Son to be their Redeemer?

Their election with the Father is Christocentric because...the Father gives them to His Son?

That answer doesn’t add up because it would be Christocentric only on the back-end. The Arminian wants to know how Calvinistic Election is Christocentric on the front-end.

chalee said...

helmet said: "Furthermore there is no such distinction between "true" faith and "head" faith! Where do you get this concept from? Certainly not from the scriptures."

this has been answered numerous times - james 2:19...Mark 3:11. the demons "believe" that Jesus is the Son of God, yet they don't have true faith.

"faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

helmet said: "But the question is open: How do you know someone by its fruit? Do all Christians behave properly? Are there non-christians who seem to have a lot of "good fruit"?"

the question is open to whom? to you? this has been answered. non-christians who deny Christ by definition do not have "good fruit" because they lack faith in the One True God - the bible is clear in this, yet you still seem confused.

helmet said: "Do not judge the fruit by the tree but the tree by the fruit!

For these reasons mentioned above, there is the grace of God! We receive grace, so that we may inherit the kingdom of God, even though we cannot help being slaves to the flesh! Such is the good news of God's grace!"

the grace of God is such that, although we continue to war with the flesh, we are no longer slaves to sin. any sort of "grace" which saves but is helpless to change us and conform us to the image of Christ is not a true biblical representation of grace. it is a human mockery of biblical grace.

the apostle paul did not tell the corinthian man who had his father's wife that he "could not help being a slave to the flesh" and not to worry because he had "grace." paul ordered that he be barred from the Lord's table by the church and treated as an unbeliever. he was not to be encouraged by the church that he was forgiven or loosed (matt18:18) from his sin by grace but that his sin was bound to him until such time as he repented.

your notion of cheap grace can't explain why paul would charge a local church to expel such a man, who had proclaimed that he believed in Jesus. (1cor5:11) this should be a clue to you that your theology is flawed.

a helmet said...

chalee,
non-christians who deny Christ by definition do not have "good fruit" because they lack faith in the One True God - the bible is clear in this, yet you still seem confused.

Everyone who denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is the son of God can be excluded. That is clear from scripture I agree. (Note however, that Mormons do not count among that group!)But....what does this have to do with Calvinism's unclarity concerning the knowledge of fruit? To put it a different way: How to distinguish the thorny ground from the good ground?

Fruit is self-evident
It doesn't need any further standard to be measured by.

It's like drinking water. You know by the taste whether it is sweet or salty. You do not need to see the source of the water, whether it comes from the ocean or from a river in order to know whether it is good (sweet) or bad (salty) to drink. Fruit is self-telling.

The bible is clear in this

According to Calvinsm it is not clear what fruit is! A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and vice versa. Can there be a joyful, self-controlled idol worshipper?

Kehrhelm

a helmet said...

the demons "believe" that Jesus is the Son of God, yet they don't have true faith.

The gospel is not addressed to demons, but to humans. That has nothing to do with true/untrue faith. The promise it not the demons'.


"faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."



So we can go to bury Sola Fide !?

You end up with the problem of every works-oriented religion. Where is the line between "enough action" and "missed the mark" ?

How do you know whether you are above the limit? Or slightly below?

Yes, Calvinism is radically works-based. One only needs to hear the sermons of Paul Washer.

Works, works, works.....!

a helmet said...

Concerning Romans 6

Romans 6 speaks of the christians having died to sin. Before conversion, they were dead in sin, now they are dead to sin.

Applying the physical death = spiritual death comparison, with Lazarus being the ever emphasized example of natural man being unble to come to faith, we must say that since Christians have died TO sin, they now cannot sin any more.

Since the dead in sin cannot do any good, so the one dead to sin, cannot do any bad.

But that is clearly not the message in Rom 6.

chalee said...

helmet said: "The gospel is not addressed to demons, but to humans. That has nothing to do with true/untrue faith. The promise it not the demons'."

this is a non sequitur and you have to know that.

james is addressed to us, not to demons. the Holy Spirit inspired james to teach us something, namely that if your belief is nothing more than head knowledge - like that of the demons, with no resultant repentance and obedience - then it will not save you.

helmet said: ""faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (james 2:17)

So we can go to bury Sola Fide !?"

scripture does teach sola fide, so james must be understood along with the doctrine of "faith alone", as reformed believers have done for half a millenium. luther had reservations about reconciling the book of james with sola fide also, but chose to bow his knee to the word of God. i commend his example to you.

helmet said: "Since the dead in sin cannot do any good, so the one dead to sin, cannot do any bad. But that is clearly not the message in Rom 6."

no calvinist was saying that was the message of rom6. who are you arguing with?

since calvinist doctrine (unlike say, some of the wesleyans and charismatics) teaches that while believers are no longer enslaved by sin, they do still sin and could never claim to be without sin (1 John 1:8), i'm not going to bother much with it. luther's first thesis still stands: "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said 'Repent!', willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance."

i notice you still have no answer at all for 1cor5. in spite of your reasoning, the apostle paul saw a man's "bad fruit" (i.e. he had his father's wife and was unrepentant) and in fact concluded he should be treated as a "bad tree" and expelled from the "forest" of professing believers, in spite of his former confession of Christ and baptism. this was partially "for the world's sake" as you have correctly said, but it also completely denies the offender any assurance of salvation by refusing fellowship and access to the Lord's table, despite his confessed "faith."

paul is encouraging the church to judge its members by their works in some sense (1cor5:11-12) at the same time as he taught them that salvation was by "faith alone." in this type of situation, if someone refused to repent of their sins (see also, matt18), they were to be considered an unbeliever, despite verbal confessions of Christ and baptism. you would do well to wrestle with that.

a helmet said...

chalee,
if your belief is nothing more than head knowledge - like that of the demons, with no resultant repentance and obedience - then it will not save you.

That is absolutely not the content of the text. The faith of demons there is merely monotheistic. They shudder! They have fear! Why? Fear is always due to a lack of knowledge. The faith rejected there is not "head faith" but quite the opposite, the kind of allahistic faith -- calvinistic faith, sadly, is similar. The demonic faith has no knowledge at all, therefore they tremble.
Allahists believe in the oneness of God and cannot stress this creed enough -- yet they are enslaved to an ever unknown master. The slave does not know what his master does -- he trembles!

Concerning works. Note, judgment is always by works. The OT references regarding this fact are overwhelming. Even Paul in Romans 2 clearly emphasizes judgment by works. And Rev. 20 says : "they were judged according to what is written in the books, by their works.

In fact judgment is by works alone. No one is asked before the judgment throne "What did you believe". Judgment is clearly by works and works alone.

The crucial issue is, how the judgment is done. What is going on at judgment and how is it explained.

John 3:19-21 is the key. Here is the explanation what the judgment is all about, how it is performed.

This is the judgment that the light came into the world and men loved darkness rather than light for their deeds were evil. Every one who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be reproved. But whoever does the truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be revealed that they are wrought in God".

So here is in which way judgment has to do with works. This must be understood.

"This is eternal life that they may know You , the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"

Eternal Life is the Knowledge of Truth!

Viva Sola Fide!

Kehrhelm

a helmet said...

chalee,

I wrote a comment on James 2:14-26 on the blog "Living by knowledge" in defense of Sola Fide.

billy in slo said...

Guys, you'all are too deep here. Take it from a simple man of simple faith. Christ died for me, but not only for me, he died for everyone ever, past present and future. These proud, arrogant young Calvinists have stolen my daughter from me. They do not show Christ in their lives only in their words, which are many (too many). The Calvinism that I have witnessed first hand most certainly is a cult, it is a lie perpetrated by the father of lies. How else could a Christian believe that God predestined his own creation, created in his image to spend eternity in hell for his good pleasure. It is just plain stupid.