Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prevenient Grace taught by John Calvin?

In terms of Total Depravity, the Calvinist says that the solution to man’s depraved nature is divine intervention. Arminians couldn’t agree more! It’s how God intervenes, that separates Calvinists from Arminians. Does God’s intervention include full blown regeneration, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Or, does God reserve full blown regeneration for the believer in Christ? Based upon Eph. 1:13, I contend for the latter, but I don’t doubt that a Calvinist can provide their own slant on that verse, as even Calvin himself had, by imagining a two-fold application of the Holy Spirit. So if God does not intervene with full blown regeneration, how else could He possibly bring the unregenerate, dead rebel sinner to a place where they are able to receive His free gift of grace? How, exactly, does Prevenient Grace work? I like how Paul described it at Acts 26:14. Now, before Calvinists say that it is 100%, absolutely impossible for God to be able to bring an unregenerate, dead rebel sinner to a point where they can receive His free gift of grace, they ought to consider something that John Calvin suggested. Calvin postulated how some people can live a life of thinking that they are one of the exclusive, Calvinistically elect, when yet they would later go on to fall away from the faith, and prove that they were not one of the Calvinistically elect after all. Here is what Calvin reasons:

John Calvin explains: “Let no one think that those [who] fall away...were of the predestined, called according to the purpose and truly sons of the promise. For those who appear to live piously may be called sons of God; but since they will eventually live impiously and die in that impiety, God does call them sons in His foreknowledge. There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or temporal grace, are called so by us, but are not so to God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.66, emphasis mine)

What kind of grace was that again? That arrogated grace sounds like a non-regenerative, Prevenient Grace? No?

Calvin adds: “Yet sometimes he also causes those whom he illumines only for a time to partake of it; then he justly forsakes them on account of their ungratefulness and strikes them with even greater blindness.” (Institutes of Christian Religion, 3.24.8, emphasis mine)

“Illumes only for a time.” What kind of arrogated illumination is that? That sounds a lot like Prevenient Grace. Surely it’s not regeneration, since regeneration and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is apparently reserved only for the Calvinistically elect. So is John Calvin showing that an unregenerate, dead rebel sinner can be illumed with an arrogated grace which allows him, for a time, to overcome Total Depravity? So even though they suffer from Total Depravity, by God’s power, and without full blown regeneration, God has the power to breach their Total Depravity, and bring them to a place of illumination.

So what if God should “illume” someone with such an “arrogated grace” so that a person could be brought to the point where they are able to receive Christ’s free gift of grace, and thus as a converted believer, receive the regeneration and indwelling that is alone reserved in Christ, as Arminianism proposes? Ultimately, it seems like John Calvin has opened up a logical door to Arminian, Prevenient Grace. No? To me, it looks that John Calvin has proposed a way in which God could breach an unregenerate, dead rebel sinner's Total Depravity, through an arrogated illumination.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

James White debates Catholic, Robert Sungenis

In the youtube clip, Calvinist James White is debating with Catholic theologian, Robert Sungenis. Obviously there are things upon which we all agree, such as the Deity of Christ and the bodily resurrection, and we wouldn’t want to toss those theologies out, simply because they are held by Catholics as well. So we wouldn’t want to throw out the doctrine of an Unlimited Atonement, simply because it is also held by Catholics. What perplexes me is the fact that James White cites Revelation 5:9 in defense of his logic, which doesn’t seem to add up. Revelation 5:9 states: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’” I suppose that a Calvinist would infer that the “men” purchased are the elect men, and the elect men are drawn from the base pool of the whole world, that is, people from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” It would seem that this is simply a euphemism for the whole world. Certainly the Calvinists do believe that the Calvinistically elect are indeed drawn from the base pool of the whole world. Well, at 1st John 2:1-2, it is precisely this world that has a propitiation. By James White’s reasoning, though, this would necessarily entail Universalism, because everyone who HAS a propitiation, must therefore BE propitiated. However, this is a forced conclusion, because if you consider the analogy of Numbers 21:6-9, should we infer that every snake victim was necessarily propitiated, simply by virtue of having the propitiation of the serpent on the standard? Of course, that is verifiably false, since God stated that the only ones who receive the benefits of the propitiation, are those who actually look upon the standard. Similarly, then, everyone in the world, that is, people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, HAVE a propitiation, but are not necessarily propitiated unless or until they actually look upon Christ in faith, and only then receive the benefits of the propitiation, which includes eternal life. This is fairly straight-forward, and it shows that both Revelation 5:9 and 1st John 2:1-2 are in agreement that the base pool of the whole world is what is in focus.