Archive for ‘Arminianism’

April 2nd, 2013

Q&A 17: How Does God Know These Things With Certainty?

by Max Andrews

Question:

Hi Max,
Great site & I appreciate your comprehensive answers. Here’s a question that I’ve never been able to get a good answer for: If God doesn’t force us to do things, and we have free will, how did he know for sure that everything would play out exactly as it did when Jesus came to Earth? Say they made the choice not to put him on the cross, what if Peter went out of his way to make sure he didn’t deny him 3X, etc. Could you shed some light on this topic?
Thanks,
Brandan

Answer:

Surely, the biblical witness is that God sovereignly controls everything in creation, but it does not mean He causes all things.  God knows what will happen because He makes it happen. God’s knowledge is wholly intuitive and relies on no existent entity and is completely compatible with divine aseity.  According to Luis de Molina,

April 15th, 2011

The Pelagian Equivocation

by Max Andrews

Pelagianism argues that man is naturally able to obey God.  Semi-Pelagianism argues that though man cannot be saved apart from grace he is naturally able to turn to God.  It’s quite frustrating when Arminianism and Molinism are equated with Pelagianism.  It seems as though those who make these arguments fall short of fully knowing the two positions and play the P-card as a the trump card.  To briefly state the differences, Pelagianism isn’t even close to Arminianism and Molinism and if you play that card you need to stop before your get to the bulb of the TULIP or ROSES and go back to the soil and seed.  Semi-Pelagianism can’t be dismissed off the bat like that though.  The difference is that prevenient grace is what enables the will to turn to God as a catalyst.  If semi-Pelagianism is true, theoretically, I could be wanting salvation from God and he not give it to me.  If Pelagianism is true I can will myself to God and salvation.  For the Arminian and Molinist, neither of these are true; rather, the sinner rejects God and salvation prior to being overcome by God’s ever-present prevenient grace catalyzing the will and God saving.

The teaching of Scripture seems to assert that post-Genesis 3 humans possess libertarian free will, including freedom to choose between opposites on matters pertaining to salvation or any other spiritual good.  This immediately raises questions surrounding the concept of original sin.  Augustine first used the expression “original sin” in the wake of the Pelagian controversy.[1]  Upon arriving at Rome in A.D. 400, the British monk Pelagius was horrified to see the open immorality prevalent among so-called Christians.[2]  This was the direct result of Theodosius I nineteen years earlier (A.D. 381) declaring Christianity to be the state religion so decreeing that anyone living within its borders to be Christian. This was a transformation of Christianity from a voluntary religion (one that people freely choose to join) to a natural religion (one into which people are born) spawned immense immorality in many people who bore the name of Christ without ever having personally committed their lives to Jesus.[3]  Pelagius exhorted the Romans to live worthy of their Christian calling with an argument logically summarized in two steps:

1.  Humans possess libertarian free will.

2.  Humans should use their libertarian freedom to be good enough people to earn their own salvation.[4]

Unfortunately, as so often happens in the history of thought, one extreme position meets the response of an equally extreme opposing position, thus swinging the ideological pendulum from one side to the other.  Very rarely is prudence taken in shifting the pendulum back to the center, where the truth is most likely to be found.[5]  Augustine affirmed that both Adam and Eve were created with libertarian free will pre-Genesis 3 whereby one could freely respond to the grace of God.[6]  However, in response to Pelagius, Augustine was not content merely to reject Pelagius’ conclusion but insisted on preventing the argument from getting off the ground.  Denying both Pelagian premises, therefore, Augustine asserted that post-Genesis humans lacked libertarian free will and so could not use this ability to earn salvation.[7]  Augustine proposed an innovative interpretation of Genesis 3, henceforth styled “the Fall,” according to which Adam and Eve, in the supreme act of self-violation, paradoxically committed “spiritual suicide” by freely employing their mental faculty whereby they could freely respond to God to destroy that very faculty.[8]

If grammatico-historical exegesis is performed upon each of the pertinent Scriptural passages rather than theological eisogesis, it quickly becomes apparent that post-Genesis 3 unregenerate humans in fact possess the freedom to choose between opposites including response to grace, which is precisely what the late-Augustinian doctrine of original sin denies.[9]  As for Genesis 3, nothing in the text even remotely suggests that humans surrendered the libertarian freedom with which they were created.

When Paul asserts that unregenerate humanity is spiritually dead or dead “in transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2.1), he means that their spirits are alienated from Divine Spirit and thereby relegated to lives of pointlessness; this is why Paul interchanges phrases connoting spiritual death with such descriptive phrases as “separate from Christ,” “without hope and without God in the world” (2.12), “living in the futility of their thinking” (3.17), and “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God” (3.18).[10]  Granting in grammatico-historical fashion of the sense of literary context as well as the normal connotations of and relationships between terms, it follows that any text where God offers people a choice requires that people have the mental faculty necessary for making that choice.[11]  Denying this inference not only makes the text meaningless, but it carries the deleterious theological consequences of either invalidating God’s omniscience (for wrongly thinking people could make the impossible choice) or God’s veracity (for intentionally deceiving people into thinking they could make a choice which He knew they lacked the ability to make and for inspiring a Scripture which foisted the ruse upon its readers).[12]


            [1] Augustine, De Gratia Christi, et de Peccato Originali, contra Pelagium, First Series, ed. Philip Schaff. (Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1887; rep. ed., Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson, 1994), 2.1-5.

            [2] Pelagius, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, trans. Theodore de Bruyn (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1995), 107.

            [3] Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, 3rd rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1996), 120-121.

            [4] Pelagius, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 108-112.  It should be noted that the second premise is entirely unbiblical. Anselm in his Cur Deus Homo, 1.20-23, 2.6, decisively overturned this inference.  Accordingly, it is beyond the power of any person to make compensation for his or her sin by right employment of libertarian freedom.

            [5] Kirk R. MacGregor, A Molinist-Anabaptist Systematic Theology, (Lanham, MD:  University Press of America, 2007), 22.

            [6] Augustine, De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, 2.

            [7] Augustine, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, 29-30.

            [8] Augustine, De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, 5-16.

            [9] MacGregor, A Molinist-Anabaptist Systematic Theology, 24.  For further exegetical and grammatical relationships see William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, (Dallas, TX:  Word, 1993), 155-214.

            [10] Ibid., 25-26.

            [11] Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, 4.37.2-3, averred in the face of Gnostic determinism that the prophetic rebukes for spiritual evil and exhortation of spiritual good presupposed human ability to obey, as did the religious teachings of Jesus.  Hence both Old and New Testaments substantiated the self-determination of humanity.   By libertarian freedom I mean that our freedom is a derived freedom, humans are not completely independent or completely autonomous.  In Molinism, unlike Calvinism, God is completely sovereign over the eternal destinies of a world of libertarian free creatures who have, in Augustinian terminology, “free choice” and not merely “free will.”  MacGregor explains that for Augustine, “free choice” (i.e. libertarian free will) entailed the freedom to choose between opposites in both the physical and spiritual realms.  Thus fallen humanity, by virtue of the imago Dei, can freely choose whether or not to respond to God’s prevenient grace.  By contrast, Augustine defined “free will” (i.e. compatibilist free will) as the ability to choose without any external constraint between the options compatible with one’s nature.  On this view, unregenerate humans, due to original sin, lack the ability to choose between spiritual good and evil.  Just as a bad tree can bear bad fruit or no fruit at all, unregenerate humanity can either perform spiritual wickedness by actively rebelling against God or do nothing spiritual at all by displaying passivity toward God.  See Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins and Baptism, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, ed. Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1887; rep. ed., Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson, 1994), 5:57-59, 74-76.  MacGregor, A Molinist-Anabaptist Systematic Theology, 84-85. The Scriptures breathe libertarian human freedom, even if the Bible makes no explicit mention of it. Take, for example, 1 Cor. 10.13, which promises that God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” It follows that any Christian who does not in some circumstance endure but succumbs to temptation had it within his power to take the way of escape instead, i.e., he had the liberty of opposites in those circumstances. Again, we can at least agree that if the Scriptures do presuppose or affirm libertarian freedom, then there is no basis for denying that sentences like 1 Cor. 2.8 are true counterfactuals of freedom. William Lane Craig, “Ducking Friendly Fire: Davison on the Grounding Objection.” Philosophia Christi 8 (2006): 166.

            [12] MacGregor, A Molinist-Anabaptist Systematic Theology, 26.

April 14th, 2011

Good God: Calvinists Got It Wrong

by Max Andrews

In the chapter titled “A Reformed Tradition Not Quite Right” Baggett and Walls contend that the fundamental divide between Calvinism and [say] Arminianism is how God’s love and goodness are understood.  This section is a [ironically] five-point objection to Calvinistic compatibilism.   Before the authors make their case they assemble a philosophical justification for their method.  Their epistemic framework gives a strong platform for the acceptance of a priori natural revelation going into the biblical hermeneutic.  Without further ado they present their case against compatibilism (I once heard Dr. Baggett say that it’s not adieu*, as it was once corrected in the drafts by the editors [*Okay, it wasn’t for this work, but it was funny when he said it.  Thank you Dr. Baggett for correcting me!).

  1. Obligation Objection:  Simply put, ought implies can and moral duties make no sense in compatibilism.  1 Cor. 10.13 is cited as an example for libertarian freedom (God gives a way out of sin, yet we still sin).  Prevenient grace seems to be a legitimate postulation, that is, the grace that precedes salvation that enables one to repent and turn from sin. Their example:  P is “we ought to avoid all sin,” and Q is “we can avoid all sin” (ought implies can).  However, it seems that some theologies (mainly Reformed), after the fall, P is true and Q is false (counterexample?).  How about:  P1, For any x, if x is a sin, then we ought to avoid doing x; Q1 For any x, if x is a sin, then we can avoid x.  Here Baggett and Walls show the Calvinist’s fallacy of equivocation.  Clearly, P1 and Q2 are true but to understand where P is true and Q is false one would need to equivocate “all” for P as “for each individual sin x, taken on its own” and for Q “for the sum total of all sins added together.”  An argument on equivocation seems to break at the seams.  Thus, the principle of ought implies can perseveres and libertarian freedom is true.
  2. Culpability Objection:  “If the unregenerate aren’t able to avoid all sin, have we found a counter example to ‘ought implies can?’  For what would seem to suggest that they don’t have enough grace to avoid sin for which they’re culpable.”  Compatibilism entails that we cannot do otherwise (where some secular philosophers say we should abandon the category of retribution). When asked, “Could the person have done otherwise?”, the reply would be “Yes, if he had willed to do otherwise (but, he could not have willed otherwise).  Sure, let’s let the naturalist play out retribution, but the Calvinist cannot do so since it’s a pertinent part of their theology.  They believe sinners are to be held accountable for this life and that some may be “consigned to eternal perdition for lives they could not have possibly lived any differently.”
  3. Bad God Objection:  If compatibilism is true, then God could have saved everyone without violating free will.  Some are not saved and are sentenced to eternal perdition, so what’s the deal?  If compatibilism is true, why did God not elect all to salvation rather than sentence some to hell?  Assuming salvation is a greater good than damnation, something has gone wrong.  “If this is true, there is no intelligible sense in which God loves those who are lost, nor is there any recognizable sense in which he is good to them.”
  4. Love Objection:  By the intrinsic nature of love relationships, love must flow in both directions.  If God’s grace is irresistible then it necessarily follows that fellowship with God culminates (as the authors put it, a “divine love potion”).  However,  this creates an eternal infatuation in the beloved, but not genuine love; it seems love requires a more substantial element of volition.
  5. Virtue Objection:   The Calvinists emphasize that “morally responsible actions must reflect one’s character or they aren’t culpable reflections of who one is.” However, It seems to be the case that culpable moral development in virtue ethics starts with thoughts, leads to actions, and then follows with a descriptive character.  It seems Calvinists have it backwards.  According to Calvinists, our actions are “determined by an already existing character with which we are unavoidably saddled.”
This post isn’t an exhaustive representation; rather, it’s a mere summation of the material.  The main point was to demonstrate that the Calvinistic concept of God and morality run afoul in theory ethics.  To follow up more see the chapter “A Reformed Tradition Not Quite Right” in Good God:  Theistic Foundations of Morality.
April 14th, 2011

Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality

by Max Andrews

Michelangelo's Abraham Sacrificing Isaac

I’ve begun to read through David Baggett and Jerry Wall’s new book Good God:  The Theistic Foundations of Morality and I’m convinced that this will be a prominent resource for future works on basing morality in theism.  I’ll be going through and making a few posts here and there on certain aspects of the book.  It not only goes up against competing atheistic alternatives but it also takes Calvinism to task.  Baggett and Walls are ardent Arminians and their method of theological inquiry and their arguments can’t be ignored nor can they be easily dismissed by the Calvinist.  I wrote a paper concerning the arbitrariness horn of the Euthyphro dilemma (an appendix to the book) and now I’m going back through as much as I can.  Hopefully I’ll be able to provide some review and insight for those who don’t have the book (and incentive to add it to your library!).

March 28th, 2011

The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement

by Max Andrews

Motivated by a Bible study discussion last night, I decided to give an outline of the singular redemption view of the atonement.  This view (unlimited) was the view that was advocated by John Calvin.  This outline is certainly not meant to be exhaustive.  To list a few proponents of singular redemption:

  • John Calvin
  • Moise Amyraut (Calvinist, developed Amyrauldianism)
  • Richard Baxter (Calvinist)
  • Bruce Ware (Calvinist)
  • Millard Erickson (Calvinist)
  • Kenneth Keathley (Molinist)
  • Timothy George (Molinist)
  • Robert Picirilli (Arminian)
  • Matthew Pinson (Arminian)

A brief distinction in common views:

  • Universal Atonement:  Christ died for all and the atonement is applied to all (universal salvation).
  • General Atonement:  Christ obtained salvation for all but secured it for none.  It holds to a government view of the atonement.  Christ did not die for your sins he died for you.  It’s a general amnesty.  The penalty for sin is eternal perdition and no one could do that.  Christ suffered for everyone so the Father could forgive those who repent.  (Notice the problem with the government view of atonement 1 Cor. 15.3, Gal 3.13, 1 Jn. 2.2–it was a penal substitionary atonement).
  • Limited Atonement:  Christ secured salvation for the elect and only the elect.  Christ died for the particular person and because some die without Christ, Christ did not die for that person. (Substitionary)
  • Singular Redemption/Unlimited Atonement:  Christ provides salvation for all but the benefits of salvation are secured for those who believe. (Substitionary)

Common verses supporting universal/general atonement (corporately):

  • Jn. 1.29
  • Jn. 3.16-17
  • Jn. 4.42
  • 2 Cor. 4.14-15
  • 2 Cor. 5.19
  • 1 Tim. 4.10
  • Heb. 2.9
  • 2 Pt 2.1
  • 1 Jn. 2.2
  • 1 Jn. 4.14

Whoever:

  • Acts 2.21
  • Rom. 10.13
  • Rev. 22.17

Common verses supporting particular atonement:

  • Mt. 1.21
  • Jn. 10.3-4, 14-16, 25-27
  • Rom 5.8
  • Rom. 8.32-35
  • Eph. 5.25

Singular redemption presumes that God wills for every individual to be saved.  Antecedently, God wills all to be saved; consequently, because of the individual’s sin and rejection of the Gospel, God wills for that person to be damned.  There is a temporal distinction in when the elect becomes elect, an elect person temporally prior to their conversion is just as lost as an unelect person.  God does incorporate contingency in his sovereign plan (i.e. Ez. 3.17-18).  There is also a distinction between the extent of the atonement and the intent of the atonement.  The death of Christ is the basis for the salvation of all men, but Scripture does not call upon men to believe in a salvation they already have.  The gospel does not inform the elect that they are saved, it exhorts all to repent and believe so that they will be saved.

What does many and world refer to in these passages?

  • Calvin advocated that these may not be limited to the elect only, rather the whole human race.  He contrasts many to one.
  • World does not mean “the world of the elect.”  Calvin argued this point as well (arguing from Jn. 3.16).  He believed man is doubly-guilty for rejecting Christ.  Unbelievers who turn away from him and who deprive themselves of him by their malice are doubly culpable.

What about equating Christ’s intercession as Hight Priest and the atonement? (argument for LA)

  • The Bible does not equate the two in extent.
  • Intercession relates to the believers only after they exercise faith
  • Intercession illustrates that blessings of the atonement are experienced only by those who place their trust in God.

Does non-limited atonement lead to universalism?

  • No, but the objection works only if the biblical necessity of faith is ignored.
  • Faith is conditional for salvation.

Double-Jeopardy:  If Christ died for some who die lost, then their sins are paid for twice!

  • This assumes what it wishes to prove –that the death of Christ actually secures salvation for the elect and applies the benefits prior to the exercise of faith.
  • Until faith is exercised, an elect persons is just as lost as the non-elect.

Limited atonement is logically inconsistent with a well-meant offer of the gospel.

  • If an unelect is presented with the gospel, it really wasn’t meant for that person.
  • The claim, “God loves all of you and died for all of you” is a lie (David Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel, 88 [a Calvinist himself]).
  • Does God love the world?  Would we attempt to restrict any other perfections of God to the elect only?

Limited atonement teaches that the non-elect are condemned for rejecting Christ when in fact he did not die for them.

  • Man cannot reject what doesn’t exist.
  • This falls in line with Calvin’s double-guilt argument from Jn. 3.16.

Again, this isn’t exhaustive and there may certainly be objections [and rebuttals] but this is a brief outline.  For more check out Ken Keathley’s book Salvation and Sovereignty (the source for this information).

February 22nd, 2011

Top Ten Most Viewed Blog Posts

by Max Andrews

Below are my top ten blog posts of all time with their respective number of views (as of 22 February 2011).  If you’ve missed any of the posts please read!

  1. Thanks to William Lane Craig & Reasonable Faith — 407
  2. Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell — 132
  3. The Incoherence of Theistic Determinism – Moral Responsibility – 106
  4. Why I’m Not a Calvinist — 105
  5. God’s Design of Death — 103
  6. Romance and Philosophy — 88
  7. Proving a Universal Negative — 86
  8. Why I’m Not an Arminian — 63
  9. Amongst Creationists — 57
  10. Where is That in Scripture? – 56

I’ve noticed my science blog posts trail in the low 50′s, perhaps I’ll need to fine-tune my posts to the readers’ demands.  Thanks for following and I hope you’ll stick around for more!

December 30th, 2010

Determinism vs. Fatalism

by Max Andrews

It’s easy to confuse these two concepts so I wanted to give a brief differentiation.  I’ve noticed the confusion on the blog here, and I’ve had two students attempt to construct an argument for determinism when they were actually arguing for fatalism.  Determinism entails that an event is necessarily constrained to actualization by causal relations.  Fatalism entails that an event is necessarily constrained to actualization, but it is not by causal relations.  This becomes an issue with simple foreknowledge (i.e. If God foreknows any state of affairs then those state of affairs happen necessarily.  So, if God foreknows I will be sitting down at t1 do I have the freedom to stand up at t1?).

Determinism (let S be a state of affairs)

S1 → S2 → S3 → S4

Let this represent a causal relationship between each state of affairs.  So if I were to ask the question, “If God foreknows that I will be sitting down at S4 do I have the freedom to stand up at S4?”  The answer is no.  I don’t have the freedom to stand up because in each I was determined to sit down by the prior causes and God foreknows what will happen because the causes logically precede God’s foreknowledge (in the case of natural knowledge) or are concurrent within God’s foreknowledge (though this would deny all possible worlds except for one, the actual world).

Fatalism

S1ʹ → S2ʹ → S3ʹ → S4ʹ

In the above states of affairs, there doesn’t need to be any direct causal relationship (so let’s use prime to differentiate).  Now let’s ask the above question concerning God’s foreknowledge and the necessary actualization of any state of affairs.

God foreknows S4ʹ will happen:  Because S4ʹ will happen (by virtue of God knowing that it will happen), S1ʹ → S2ʹ → S3ʹ must necessarily happen to bring about S4ʹ.  Remember, any prior states of affairs happen necessarily as well by virtue of God’s simple foreknowledge.  This is different from determinism because the states of affairs are not [necessarily] causally determined or related to each other.

Determinism and fatalism both have their problems.  I find determinism to be problematic because of the problem of evil and human freedom.  Fatalism confuses the logical moments of God’s knowledge.  So the question I’ve been asking is simply just a bad question.  I’m taking God’s free knowledge and putting that logically prior to God’s natural knowledge or middle knowledge (depending on what I’m objecting to).  So if I’m going to ask if I can (natural knowledge) do anything other than what God foreknows (free knowledge), then I’m making the third moment precede the first moment.  It’s simply incoherent and inconsistent.

December 29th, 2010

Overpower – Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?

by Max Andrews

This is in response to Rick’s comment regarding middle knowledge.  I’ll quote the section of his comment below for context and I’ll give a brief summation of the issue here.  The question is whether everything that happens in the actual world is ultimately determined by God and if so, is God thus responsible for everything including [Rick's examples of] reprobation, evil, making libertarian freedom illusory, etc.

This question is incredibly vague and it depends on how one defines responsibility in the question.  I’ll just get to the real question like Rick gave, is God ultimately responsible for evil knowing what will happen?  No.  In Rick’s question he excludes the use of middle knowledge in God’s knowledge. It wouldn’t be determinism either, it would be fatalism.  The difference between fatalism and determinism is that fatalism suggests that events happen necessarily but are not causally bound whereas determinism is causally restricted.  The events in this world happen logically prior to God’s creative decree.  So, what will happen since God’s decision to create has already been factored into every state of affairs based on human free decisions for how they would respond to the circumstances they find themselves in.

God’s responsibility for creation is a governing responsibility.  Consider creation as an open system within a closed system.  God could have created a world in which everyone never sinned, but that world may not have been feasible.  God is responsible in causal sustaining sense as well, but that’s different from an actualizing sense.  God weakly and strongly actualizes every state of affairs.  As Plantinga defines the terms:  God weakly actualizes S iff there is an S* such that God strongly actualizes [direct causation] S* and S* → S, where → is “counterfactual implication” (Let S be a state of affairs).

So am I free to break the predicted pattern?  Well, the future is going to happen necessarily, but only because it will be a result of what we would do.  Remember, God’s foreknowledge is a reflection of what we would do.  In order to have an answer to that question, it depends on what I would do in whatever circumstance, that free choice will determine what will happen.  In the words of William Lane Craig, “If God simply foreknows that man will sin, then it’s too late, so to speak, to do anything about it, since it’s logically impossible to change the future.”  That’s why simple foreknowledge and Arminianism fails in my opinion.  For further elaboration see why I’m not an Arminian.  So is God responsible for everything in creation? Yes, but that does not include God determining everything in creation.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will…then we may take it it is worth paying.” (Mere Christianity)

Question reference:

Calvinism—Arminians object that, if God determines everything, He is to blame for everything; we don’t really have a choice in what we do, and thus we aren’t responsible ultimately for our actions. Molinists want to protect our (libertarian) freedom. But since God is the one who chose the possible world He wanted, and there is some way He could know that libertarianly free people will choose one thing over another, then He is ultimately responsible for all that happens after all. He could have chosen a possible world where Bill Smith would accept Christ rather than reject Him.Molinism seems to entail determinism after all. If God knows for certain (without possibility of being proved wrong) that I will act in certain ways given certain circumstances, a particular history, certain background beliefs, etc., then that implies that in that situation I can only act in one way, the way God foresaw. I am not truly free to break from the predicted pattern. If God can somehow know the future without in some way determining it, then I don’t see what Molinism gives that Arminianism doesn’t.

December 24th, 2010

A Molinist’s Soteriology

by Max Andrews

I wanted to give a brief outline of my position concerning soteriology.  You’ll be able to find a lot of this in Ken Keathley’s Salvation and Sovereignty with much greater detail.  Just like the Calvinist has his TULIP so does the Molinist have his ROSES. (My views aren’t necessarily the same as Keathley’s so please don’t equate).

RADICAL DEPRAVITY

  • Our depravity has effected us in every aspect of who we are.  Consider a glass of water and a drop of ink.  If you drop the ink into the glass the ink will spread throughout the glass in its totality but the water is still water, it did not turn into ink.  Man has not relinquished his cognitive ability to choose.  (For more see pages 4-8).

OVERCOMING GRACE

  • The keystone for this doctrine is that God is the sole author and worker of salvation and damnation is only because of the sinner’s free rejection of God.  In this model, the only act the sinner can do is resist God due to his depraved nature.  God overcomes the sinner’s rebellion and the moment the sinner refrains from resisting the draw of the Spirit is the moment of regeneration.  There is no cooperative effort or work the sinner does.  The Holy Spirit brings the spiritually dead man to salvation not by anything the man did, but only by God’s grace that overcame the resistance while still rendering damnation solely because of man’s free rebellion and sin.  This model is monergistic while still affirming soft libertarianism.

SOVEREIGN ELECTION

  • God elects all individuals who would freely cease to resist his saving grace.  God will so arrange the world, via strong and weak actualizations, to bring about a person’s experiences and circumstances in which they would freely refrain from rejecting him.  God is both sovereign in actualizing salvation and permissive in allowing the reprobates to go their own way.

ETERNAL LIFE

  • It’s possible to lose your salvation but you won’t.  There is a possible world in which the elect individual freely ceases to persevere in the faith and apostatizes.  God’s elect freely persevere by his preserving grace.  His grace enables us to persevere.  It is infeasible that the elect apostatize given Scriptural warnings and God’s preserving grace.

SINGULAR REDEMPTION

  • This holds to a penal substitutionary view of the atonement.  Salvation is provided for all but only efficacious for those who believe.  This is in contrast to limited atonement where salvation is only provided for an efficacious to the elect.  This isn’t general atonement either where salvation is provided for all but secured for none.  Atonement is provided for the non-elect, but because of their unbelief the atonement serves as condemnation and testifies against them.

Again, please don’t generalize my position with every other Molinist either.  So much more can be added to each point, so I recommend Keathley’s book for more details.

December 19th, 2010

Why I’m Not an Arminian

by Max Andrews

Arminianism is an attractive school of thought.  I find the tenets of Arminianism not to be as repulsive as many Calvinist attempt to make them out to be.  I agree with the Calvinist on many things; the converse is also true.  Likewise, I agree with the Arminian on many things, yet I disagree with them on a few as well.

My objection with Arminianism is that it does not account for a robust understanding of sovereignty.[1] If God has merely two logical moments of knowledge (natural and free) then logically prior to God’s decree of creation he did not know what the world would be like.  He could know all possible worlds prior to the decree but he would not know the actual world until logically-post his creative decree (via simple foreknowledge).  William Lane Craig comments:

On such a view [no middle knowledge] of God [he has], logically prior to the divine decree, only natural knowledge of all possible scenarios but no knowledge of what would happen under any circumstances.  Thus, logically posterior to the divine decree, God must consider himself extraordinarily lucky to find that this world happened to exist.  “What a break!” we can imagine God’s saying to himself, “Herod and Pilate and all those people each reacted just perfectly!”  Actually, the situation is much worse than that, for God had no idea whether Herod or Pilate or the Israelite nation or the Roman Empire would even exist posterior to the divine decree.  Indeed, God must be astonished to find himself existing in a world, out of all the possible worlds he could have created, in which mankind falls into sin and God himself enters human history as a substitionary sacrificial offering! [Anthropomorphically speaking] [2]

The Calvinist recognizes the problem as well—his solution, though, is to implement determinism.  However, the events in history are not by mere happenstance (Is. 46.9-10; Eph. 1.10; 3.9, 11; 2 Tim. 1.9-10).  Yes, God will be interacting by means of providing grace and revelation to control his creation, but I don’t find this to be as robust of an understanding of sovereignty as the Molinist’s understanding.  Determinism doesn’t work for theological and philosophical reasons I’ve previously discussed.  If God does have exhaustive knowledge, including a second [of three] moment, middle knowledge, then God knows all possible and feasible worlds (and the actual world).[3]


[1] I know Arminius attempts to use middle knowledge but it’s not the same understanding that Molina implements.  Unfortunately, I don’t have my library with me at the time to elaborate and cite the issue.

[2] William Lane Craig, What Does God Know?  Reconciling Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom (Norcross, GA:  RZIM, 2002), 50.

[3] I want to note that simple foreknowledge lies within the third moment of God’s knowledge, not his middle knowledge.