BEN: It seems reasonably clear that Arminius took the Calvinistic view that regeneration precedes conversion. I suppose it depends on what one means by regeneration— the ability to repent? In any case, various later Arminians associated regeneration with the new birth or conversion, perhaps as a part of conversion itself. What is your view of what a proper Arminian theology should say on this subject? ROGER: I have posited a “partial regeneration” in the reception of prevenient grace. But full… Read more

BEN: Jonathan Edwards in his Freedom of the Will argues that there is no compulsion or coercion involved, only predetermination when it comes to human choosing. People choose according to their desires and will and they do not feel compulsed or coerced, even though they could not have done otherwise. So the issue is not coercion but predetermination in his discussion of the matter. He objects to Luther’s treatise on the Bondage of the Will for a variety of reasons,… Read more

BEN: I was reflecting on what you say on pp. 155-56 about ‘simul justus et peccator’ and it occurred to me what a difference there is between Luther and Wesley on this matter. Luther, famously believed that the Christian continued to be in bondage to sin even after conversion, and made it part of the weakly confession. Wesley absolutely rejected this and for good reasons. His message was ‘while sin remains it no longer reigns’ in the life of the… Read more

BEN: On p. 123 you say that sin does not thwart the will of God. I think this is a mistake. Surely any time evil or sin happens it goes against the will of God of a good God. I tend to find the phrase ‘permissive will’ something of an oxymoron—willing something is not merely allowing something it seems to me. If you will it, you want it to happen, even if reluctantly. In particular, if God really desires that… Read more

BEN: How would you distinguish the Calvinist notion of God’s providence from the Arminian one? It is interesting to me that if one reads Wesley’s Journal, one finds the phrase ‘a singular providence of God’ cropping up again and again in regard to both incidental things and significant things. So for instance Wesley sees the crowd pressing together in Wednesbury so that the rotten eggs in the pockets of some scoundrels are crushed by the crowd as a sign of… Read more

BEN: The issue of how to interpret the phrase ‘only begotten of the Father’ has bedeviled Christological debates forever it seems. Is this Scriptural notion the basis of Arminius and various his successors arguing that the Son is fully God, but he has his divine essence from God the Father who is the only one who can rightly be called autotheos, since he is the font of all deity for both the Son and the Spirit? What do you make… Read more

The final episode of the first season of A.D. (which has been renewed for a second season), brings us to the climax of the story about the statue of Caligula and the attempt to install it in the Temple. Of course in reality it never got anywhere near the Temple, but it makes for good drama. The truth is it only got to Syria, and the governor, Petronius delayed shipping it to Judaea for a year, fearing it would prompt… Read more

BEN: On p. 89 you talk about the idea of nominalistic voluntarism, which is to say the idea that God is free to do anything he chooses to do, without being constrained or limited by the divine character. This idea is denied by Arminius, but seems to be affirmed by various Calvinists, especially those who see God’s will as his primary attribute, and even his knowledge is based entirely on what he had already preordained. What are the problems with… Read more

BEN: I take it as given that you have established both that there are some strong incompatibilities between Calvinism and Arminianism, but at the same time there are some strong agreements between the two theological systems. Is there a value in emphasizing the latter instead of the former, and if so why? Why as well do you think so many Baptists are illogical when they say things like ‘I’m a two (or even one) point Calvinist— I believe in once… Read more

Those folks at Pixar deserve a raise. They’ve consistently made the best animated films from Finding Nemo to Up (and beyond) in the last twenty years. And ‘Inside Out’ is just as impressively creative and humorous. I haven’t laughed this much at a movie in a while. As you will see from the clip above, the focus of the film is on emotions, and in particular certain emotions— joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and yes anger. Notice what’s missing— where oh… Read more

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