Monday, January 24, 2011

"Only God Converts the Arminians?" What does that mean?

When the theology of Calvinism is applied to life some interesting fruit begins to develop. Here is an example captured in a comment from an online blog post which was written by a Calvinist suggesting a good Calvinistic book:
“How about Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. I give out copies to interested Arminian friends. Only God converts them, as we know; but this book sure shuts ‘em up.”
What is meant by, “God converts them?”
  1. Does this mean that God first converts Arminians to Calvinism and then they are saved? Does this mean you can not be saved until you are a Calvinist? 
  2. Does this mean that part of God’s sovereign, predestined call is to unconditionally bring some Christians to a fuller knowledge of his plan known as Calvinism? 
    • So, does that mean that when God calls his elect he is calling them to both salvation and to an understanding of Calvinism? 
    • Or, does that mean that some of the elect are only called to salvation, but are left to a lesser understanding called Arminianism. 
    • Likewise, some of the elect are called to both salvation and a greater understanding of this salvation. If this is the case then we can see the root of Gnosticism beginning to produce its concept of greater levels of knowledge. 
  3. Either way, it is interesting to see that in this single example of the Calvinistic view everything I believe and understand comes from God’s will in my life. This means then that the reason I am still not a Calvinist is because God has not yet revealed it to me. So, why do the Calvinist blame me for my ignorance. A paraphrase out of Romans 9 might sound like this:
“Then why do Calvinist still blame me? For who resists God’s will?”
This means that even though, in an attempt to persuade myself, I read Calvinistic books and listen to hours of Reformed preaching on my ipod, I will always think Calvinism is a stupid, illogical theology until God calls me to Calvinism? Then, why blame me? What else can I do?

What does the Calvinist say to me now?   
“Who are you, O man, to talk back to  God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me an Arminian?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some Calvinist and some Arminians?"
Where does Calvinism begin and end? What is the limit to predestination? Does predestination cause my doctrinal convictions? Does predestination cause me to be a Republican or a Democrat? The comment by this Calvinistic blogger seems to be on a slippery slope that nullifies all human responsibility or ability to discern truth. Yes, even trying to discern truth is futile. Now, I realize that is not how Calvin describes predestination. I have read RC Sproul and others as they argue intelligently against this point, but none the less, you can see the slippery slope dragging Calvinism past the issue of salvation and into the realm of accepting or rejecting doctrinal concepts. Maybe Calvin and RC understand the limits of predestination (or, do they?), but their converts are running this Calvinistic theology right off the tracks of logic (which is in itself an oxymoron.)

(These are rhetorical questions I am thinking about. No comments yet, please. I am still studying. I just ordered "Still Sovereign" by Schreiner and Ware, "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God" by Packer, and "Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility" by Carson to add to the following books I am already reading and researching:

                                                            1.      Augustin, The City of God, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, edited by Philip Schaff, Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                            2.      Augustin, Anti-Pelagian Works, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, edited by Philip Schaff, Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                            3.      Augustin, Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, edited by Philip Schaff, Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                            4.      R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God, TyndaleHouse Publishers. Wheaton, Illinois, 1986.
                                                            5.      Olson, Gordon C., Getting the Gospel Right, Global Gospel Ministries, Inc. Cedar Knolls, NJ, 2005 (1981)
                                                            6.      Geisler, Norman, Chosen but Free, Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN, 2001 (1999)
                                                            7.      McKim, Donald K., editor, Calvin’s Institutes: Abridged Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2001
                                                            8.      Calvin, John (1509-1564), Institutes of the Christian Religion, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2009
                                                            9.      Geisler, Norman, Systematic Theology: Sin, Salvation, vol. 3, Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN, 2004
                                                        10.      Phillips, Richard D., What Are Election and Predestination?, P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2006
                                                        11.      Shank, Robert, Elect in the Son, Bethany House, Bloomington, MN, 1989 (1970)
                                                        12.      Olson, Roger E., Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, Illinois, 2006
                                                        13.      Allen, David L., and Lemke, Steve W., Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 1010.
                                                        14.      Ellis, Mark A., The Arminian Confession of 1621, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2005
                                                        15.      Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Coompany, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1932.
                                                        16.      Ryken, Philip Graham, What is a True Calvinist?, P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2003.
                                                        17.      Vance, Laurence M., The Other Side of Calvinism, Vance Publications, Pensacola, FL, 1999 (1991)
                                                        18.      Spencer, Duane Edward, TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2009 (1979)
                                                        19.      Palmer, Edwin H., The Five Points of Calvinism, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2010 (1972)
                                                        20.      Berkoouwer, G. C., Divine Election, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1960.
                                                        21.      Robinson, James M., General Editor, The Nag Hammadi Library in English, E.J. Brill, New York, NY, 1996.
                                                        22.      Bercot, David W. Editor, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, Hendrickson Publishers, 1998
                                                        23.      Origen, Epistle To Gregory, Anti- Fathers, Vol. 9, edited by Menzies, Allan, D.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                        24.      Origen, Gospel of John, Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9, edited by Menzies, Allan, D.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                        25.      Origen, De Principiis, Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, edited by Roberts, Alexander, D.D., and Donaldson, James, LL.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                        26.      Origen, Origen Against Celsus, Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, edited by Roberts, Alexander, D.D., and Donaldson, James, LL.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887
                                                        27.      Rogers, Cleon L., Jr. and Rogers, Cleon L. III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998
                                                        28.      Walsh, Michael, Dictionary of Christian Biography, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2001.
                                                        29.      Calvin, John, Calvin’s Calvinism, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1956 (Geneva 1552).
                                                        30.      Brown, Harold O. J., Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA., 1998 (1984).
                                                        31.      Kellly, J.N.D., Early Christian Doctrines, Prince Press, Peabody, MA, 2003 (1960)
                                                        32.      Bettenson, Henry, Editor, Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, NY, NY, 1967.
                                                        33.      Calvin, John, Tracts and Letters, The Banner of Truth Trust, vol. 1-7, Carlisle, PA, 2009.
                                                        34.      Hunt, Dave, What Love is This?, The Berean Call, Bend, OR, 2006.
                                                        35.      Dongell, Joseph R. and Walls, Jerry L., Why I am Not a Calvinist, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2004.
                                                        36.      McNeill, John T., The History and Character of Calvinism, Oxford University Press, NY, NY, 1954.
                                                        37.      Luther, Martin, The Bondage of the Will, Watchmaker Publishing, LaVergne, TN, 2010 (1525)
                                                        38.      Hunt, Dave and White, James, Debating Calvinism, Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs, CO, 2004.
                                                        39.      Lewis, C.S., The Problem of Pain, Holman Reference, Nashville, TN, 1999.
                                                        40.      Brown, Craig R., The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism, Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, FL, 2007. 

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