Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my four cats Hobo, Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

An Arminian Dilemma

Paul asks in Corinthians "But you know who made you to differ..." He implies that we know that it was God who made those who are saved to differ from the unsaved around us. But this creates a dilemma for the Arminian who agree with the Calvinists that man is totally depraved. But the Arminians teach that God gives every human being in the world a measure of "prevenient grace", that is the grace that preceeds the other works of God. Now this prevenient grace moves all humans to a neutral position so that their salvation depends on whether or not the person will cooperate with the grace God has given him or her.

Then they teach that Christ's atonment was for every human being in the same way. So there is this ... if every person is given a measure of prevenient grace and if Christ dies for every person in exactly the same way, then who really makes one man to differ from another? God has done his part. The deciding factor lies in man, not God. This is called synergism in salvation. God and man works together in bringing man to salvation.

For folks who say they hold to salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, this poses a dilemma.

2 Comments:

Blogger William Birch said...

You do realize, don't you, that you have abused this text sorely?

First, this particular text has nothing to do with salvation proper. If this is what passes for Calvinist exegesis, then I look forward to quick end to the current Calvinist resurgence.

Second, the verse is better rendered, "For who regards you as superior?" (NASB) It has nothing to do with God making anyone different via salvation, as you insist on the interpretation. The context, if that matters to you, surrounds the notion of their receiving blessings in Christ as His servants (cf. 4:1, 2, 6, 7, 8).

Third, not all Arminians teach that "God gives every human being in the world a measure of 'prevenient grace.'" Arminius and the Remonstrants certainly didn't (link), though Wesleyans did and still do. There is a difference between the two systems (link).

Fourth, that Christ's atonement had the potential to cover all human beings cannot be denied, as far as potentiality is concerned. We know that only believers will receive salvific blessings of His atonement. God saves and justifies the one who believes (cf. Rom. 4:5, 16; 5:1; 1 Cor. 1:21; Heb. 7:25), belief in Christ being the condition.

Granting God's exhaustive knowledge of all events and persons in history from eternity past, one cannot properly suggest that Arminians hold that Christ's atonement does not actually save anyone. It's ludicrous and embarrassing for those who make that charge, since at least in Arminian theology, God has "foreknowledge" of who would believe (for those who hold that view), and those future believers are the ones for whom Christ's atonement covers.

But to answer "who makes one to differ from another?" in your second paragraph is not a biblical question, since you began with a wrong or inaccurate interpretation.

The "deciding factor" to save still belongs to God, for He is willing to save the one who will believe. This is simply Scripture 101. Hence there is no real dilemma for folks who say they hold to salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is a dilemma which you have imagined, but erroneously so.

God bless.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

It was precisely this argument that convinced me of the truth of Calvinism.

8:13 AM  

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