Archive for ‘Calvinism’

May 18th, 2013

Help! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!

by Max Andrews

coverKudos to Brendan Burnett for sending these to me. These are real children’s books that are designed to teach the doctrines of grace.

Help! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!

Help, Mom! There are Arminians Under My Bed!

Come along on a journey with Mitchell, as he recalls his nightmare for his mother. Mitchell was in a land of darkness and gloom, when due to no cooperation of his own, a Knight in shining armor saved him and all the other captives He intended to save. “Help! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!” is a children’s allegory designed to teach your kids the Doctrines of Grace through the use of creative story-telling.

April 22nd, 2013

Q&A 19: Calvinism and Free Will

by Max Andrews

Question:

Hey! My name is Josh. I’m a young college student by day (and christian apologist by night, jokes). But in my personal life, apologetics is important to me.Aside from that, I have a question I think you could help me with. I’m a Calvinist (hold the tomatoes) because I think, Biblically, it’s the most accurate putting together of scriptural truth (basically the best systematic theology). My problem is this:
Total Inability and free will. How are we morally responsible if we cannot choose otherwise? And since no one seeks God (Romans) and no one can come to Christ unless the Father brings them (John 6), how is it that we can really talk about free will? How would this be the best possible world where most free creatures choose Christ, when they cannot choose Him unless He first removes their inability? It seems that it doesn’t matter what world God created becaue technically speaking, He could remove the inability from all people, resulting in everyone freely choosing Christ. I hope my questions make sense. I’m eager to hear your response.Keep up the good work. I love your website!God Bless :)

Answer:

Josh,

Thanks for your question. Since I’m not a Calvinist my answer will probably be a little different from what you were anticipating. First, I’ll respond to you question from within the Calvinist system (as best as I can). Then I’ll give you  my response and thoughts on the issue as a Molinist.

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,

June 13th, 2012

A Response to Alvin Plantinga’s “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology”

by Max Andrews

In this article Plantinga uses the Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck as an outline for the reformed objection to natural theology.  The first aspect of the objection is that arguments or proofs are not, in general, the source of the believer’s confidence in God.  Secondly, argument is not needed for rational justification; the believer is entirely within his epistemic right to believing that God has created the world, even if he has no argument at all for that conclusion.

There are three further points made.  We cannot come to knowledge of God on the basis of argument; the arguments of natural theology just don’t work.  Secondly, Scripture ‘proceeds from God as the starting point,’ and so should the believer.  Finally, Bavinck points out that belief in God relevantly resembles belief in the existence of the self and of the external world. Furthermore, the Christian ought not believe on the basis of argument; if he does, his faith is likely to be unstable and wavering.

To criticize someone as irrational is to criticize them for failing to fulfill duties and responsibilities, or for failing to conform to the relevant norms or standards ethically.  Plantinga rejects the doxastic system of internalism and foundationalism and advocates an externalist reliabilism.  The reformed objection to natural theology, or reformed epistemology, is primarily an objection to foundationalism.

June 8th, 2012

The Molinism Directory

by Max Andrews

I’ve decided to gather all my posts on Molinism in one post for easy reference.

  1. Ebook: An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and All that God Has Ordered
  2. Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
  3. A Review of Salvation and Sovereignty (Journal Publication)
  4. Review Essay: Four Views on Divine Providence
  5. Defining Omniscience
  6. Theological Elites and Their Dismissiveness of “Philosophy”
  7. Q&A 9: Layering Divine Middle Knowledge
  8. The Problem of Bad “Biblical” Rhetoric
  9. Why I’m Not an Arminian
  10. Why I’m Not a Calvinist
  11. The Incoherence of Theistic Determinism–Moral Responsibility
  12. Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
  13. The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
  14. Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
    read more »

May 2nd, 2012

Calvinists Got it Wrong

by Max Andrews

In the chapter titled “A Reformed Tradition Not Quite Right” in David Baggett and Jerry Walls’ book, Good God, they 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.)

October 1st, 2011

A Thank You Note to James White

by Max Andrews

 

aomin.org

James White is the director of Alpha and Omega ministries focused on apologetics.  I’ve learned a lot about my own theological position as well as others because of his ministry and service.  To be honest, I don’t agree with a few things he believes.  For instance, I’m a Molinist (he’s not the biggest fan), evidentialist, and an old-earth creationist.  Despite our disagreements he has my utmost respect and esteem.  He is passionate about God, the gospel, the Church, and the unsaved. I’m a faithful listener of his podcast, The Dividing Line, and there have been moments when I shake my head at some points he makes and there are other times when I’m cheering him on.

I respect White for his defense of the faith from cults, atheists, Islam, Roman Catholicism, unitarians, and others.  Where White earns my greatest respect is his integrity and honesty in scholarship and ministry.  You won’t find him quote mining or warping his citations.  He does the work, he does the research, and he presents it well.  Now, on another note, I’m a philosophy graduate student at Liberty University.  For those who are familiar with White you’ll know where I’m going with this.  White demanded accountability from Caner, the university, and the church for so many discrepancies [and contradictions] Caner asserted about himself.  All parties remained silent while all White did was demand honesty and integrity.  Thank you, Dr. White.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with White please check out his YouTube channel, his podcasts, and his website.  You don’t have to agree with him all the time but you will learn a lot.

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).