Needed: a summit of evangelical Calvinists and (Real) Arminians

Obviously this debate between Calvinists and Arminians is never going to be resolved until heaven.  But SOME evangelical Calvinists and SOME evangelical Arminians regard the others as true evangelicals or at least true Christians (brothers and sisters in Christ).

The problem is that especially Calvinists tend to misrepresent Arminian theology.  Too often they use language that is so misleading one has to wonder how they can think what they are doing has any integrity at all.  I admit that some Arminians do the same.

IF we think of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and IF we think our churches should cooperate in some endeavors (as opposed to simply rejecting each other as non-Christians), then we need to get together in the real world (not just the blogosphere world) and talk things over.

I will tell you that I have talked about these matters face-to-face with many Calvinists and it dismays me to hear them turn around and go on misrepresenting Arminianism to their audiences.

Here’s how that usually happens.  They attribute to Arminianism (which is the same as attributing to Arminians) beliefs Arminians reject.  Then, when challenged, they always say something to the effect that “Well, that’s what you should believe given what else you believe.”  In other words, they take what they think is a “good and necessary consequence” an Arminian belief (such as universal atonement) and directly attribute that to Arminians as if that is what they believe.

The equivalent behavior on the part of Arminians (and other non-Calvinists) would be to say publicly “Calvinism holds that God is the author of sin and evil.”  In fact, almost no evangelical Calvinist says that.  (Jonathan Edwards did say it but with so many qualifications that I wouldn’t even attribute it to him without stating his qualifications.)  So, I never say that or anything like that.  When I say “Calvinism makes it difficult to tell the difference between God and the devil” I AM NOT saying Calvinists believe there is no difference between God and the devil (or even very little difference).  No one hearing or reading me could think that is what I’m saying.  Everyone knows Calvinists do not believe that and nothing in my words indicates that they do.  I am clearly saying that FOR ME Calvinism makes it difficult to tell the difference. 

I have no problem whatever with Calvinists saying something like “Arminianism makes it difficult to see how salvation is all of grace.”  Fine.  I understand that as a statement coming from a Calvinist’s perspective; it is not a statement about what Arminians believe.   I will argue that the person saying that is wrong, but I won’t claim it is dishonest or even misleading.

People sometimes ask me if I am personally offended by Calvinists or if I think they are so wrong as to be defectively Christian.  My answer is always–No.  I am only offended by them and made to wonder about the integrity and reality of their Christian faith when they continue to misrepresent Arminianism (or other belief systems) to their audiences after they have been corrected.

I had the publisher send copies of Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities to several leading Calvinists who I have heard since then continue to misrepresent Arminianism.  Some people the publisher sent it to gratis refused to read it.  One leading Calvinist asked me for a copy.  (The one the publisher sent somehow didn’t make it’s way past his front office to him personally.)  So I sent it to him.  I never heard back from him even though I specifically asked him to read it and respond.

Another unfortunate experience I frequently have is Calvinists pestering me with questions I have answered (obviously not to their satisfaction) but refusing to answer my questions.

I have asked here and elsewhere and many times in many places how Calvinists account for the goodness of God (as anything meaningful to us because somehow analogous to the very best of love as that is revealed to us in Jesus Christ and in Scripture) in light of their belief that God could easily save all people (because salvation is irresistible) but does not–thus consciously and willfully damning many people to eternal torment in hell.  The answers I get to that question don’t answer the question at all.  The most common one is: Everyone deserves hell; God doesn’t owe salvation to anyone.  That doesn’t answer my question. 

I want to say to my Calvinist interlocutors: You answer MY questions and then maybe I’ll answer yours.  But I have answered yours before.  I have said, for example, that I don’t think one can prove either Calvinism or Arminianism by citing proof texts.  Scripture seems to be genuinely ambiguous about some of these issues.  But that doesn’t make things equal because, as I see it, IF Calvinism is true then God is a monster.  Answer that, please.  None have ever seriously attempted to answer it; they have simply rejected the question.

This is likely to go on and on until and unless well-intentioned people of integrity on both sides who care about honesty and fairness sit down in the same room and talk face-to-face about these things. 

What I want, and will not settle for less, is for Calvinists to describe Arminianism fairly–as Arminians describe it.  (How?  I’ve answered that in Arminian Theology!)  Only THEN go on to disagree–as strongly as desired.  I reserve the right to disagree with them strongly.  I don’t expect anything different from them.  What I DO expect (but rarely find) is fairness.

When I spoke to a large group of student leaders of a chapter of the Reformed University Fellowship they told me afterwards that they had never heard Arminianism so described.  They were shocked and surprised at what I said it is.  Their leaders had not told them the truth.  I know that to be the case because their leader spoke to my class and said “Arminianism is just Pelagianism.”  I challenged him and asked him to let me speak to his RUF group and he did.  (I’m not sure how much choice he had as I was on the university’s committee for religious groups on campus! I don’t know if he knew that or not, but he knew I was influential.  Others I’ve asked to let me speak to their Calvinist groups have generally refused.)

I call on all evangelical Calvinists who care about fairness and honesty to meet with me and other evangelical Arminians to work together toward a moritorium on unfair attacks on each other.

  • (a different) Robert

    Getting back to my comment (on another post) about the Calvinist vs. Arminian “worldview,” I find that there is a tremendous amount of tension, if not contradiction between two of your statements.

    (1) IF Calvinism is true then God is a monster.
    (2) People sometimes ask me if I am personally offended by Calvinists or if I think they are so wrong as to be defectively Christian. My answer is always–No.

    How can a version of Christianity that implies a monstrous God *not* be defective?

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      I didn’t say Calvinism isn’t defective! Of course it is. But I don’t call Calvinists “defectively Christian.” Calvinists typically say that Arminians are Christians “just barely” (Sproul) due to a “felicitous onconsistency.” I wouldn’t say Calvinists are “just barely” Christian, but I do say Calvinism is so defective that one can only be fully Christian by holding it inconsistently–which most Calvinists do.

      • (a different) Robert

        I agree. Calvinists are not necessarily defectively Christian, but Calvinism is defectively Christian, which strongly implies that Calvinists might be more effectively Christian if their lives were impelled by a more accurate (not perfectly accurate, but more accurate) vision of God, his nature, and his manner of relating to creation. I am all for irenicism and charity, but it’s also important to speak truth and challenge those who are, in my opinion, painting a dark and deeply flawed portrait of God. I appreciate the way you are doing this. Arminians and Calvinists do worship the same God, but our images of him are radically different.

  • Michael

    AMEN!

  • Jeff

    Roger, I agree that each side should try as best they can to fairly represent the other. I like to listen to all sides of an issue (not talking about just this one) and this is not something specific to the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. It is the rare exception that I find someone who talks truthfully about the other side. Having said that I don’t think you started this discussion off on the right foot. One of your first statements is “The problem is that especially Calvinists tend to misrepresent Arminian theology.” From your perspective I am sure that is true but not if you are looking at it from the perspective of a Calvinist. There is more than enough guilt on both sides. I have never yet seen a good discussion come out of “I am not perfect but it is mostly your fault”. (If you are unsure try it with your wife next time you have a disagreement and see how far it gets you)
    Another thing – when you used statements like “Arminianism makes it difficult to see how salvation is all of grace.” I don’t think most Arminians would read that from a Calvinist and say that he is just giving his opinion. It is stated as fact and I think most people would read it that way. Wouldn’t it be better to say something like “As I understand Arminianism (and I say this as a Calvinist so I may not have it quite right) the natural consequence of this view is …” When I read this I see humility and it also makes me want to ask more questions and keep learning. When stated as fact I tend to accept that this is the way it is and stop learning.
    Finally I would say that there are questions on both sides of this debate to which there are no good answers (at least from the other perspective). I often read your blog and think that I don’t have a good answer to you questions but I often find your answers to the tough questions of Arminianism lacking also. If the answer was so clear we would not be having a debate about it.
    I would love to see some real discussions about this (and other issues) but I doubt it happens. For it to happen there must be real humility and the willingness of both sides to want the truth even if it means changing sides or giving in on issues or admitting that my brilliant illustration isn’t quite as good as I think. Unfortunately the ones who are knowledgeable enough to truly argue the finer points of their side are so locked into their position that I don’t know that it is really possible for them to come from that attitude. They have so much invested that they come from a perspective of defending a position rather than wanting to listen to the other side and learn. Jeff

  • Ben

    Thanks for being diligent towards peace and unity amongst believers; and for defending the Arminian against 2nd class citizenship in the body of Christ.

    We all need to be reminded that God’s greatest call is to love out of a pure heart

  • Ivan

    Dr.Roger,

    Here in Brazil we do not have many problems such.
    One good thing that happened here between “Calvinists” and “Arminians” was union.
    This
    rapprochement between “Arminian” and “Calvinists”
    grew
    more so when appeared in Brazil a few years
    ago the “open theism” or “Relational Theology.” In
    Brazil , the ideas of open theism have been assimilated
    and
    spread by some evangelical leaders, sometimes
    openly and explicitly. Because of this, Calvinists
    and Arminians rallied to refute the “Relational Theology. “I think it was the first time it this happened
    in Christian history -”Arminians and Calvinists” united against Relational Theology. Here in Brazil, Arminians and Calvinists began
    the writing articles and books, and translating books from North America on the subject
    and the promote symposia
    in churches in and Seminars to combat the
    ideas of “open theism” or “Relational Theology”.
    However, even then, there were also
    our theological differences, of course.

    Hugs,

  • http://evangelicalcalvinist.com Bobby Grow

    I’m sorry, Roger, your usage of evangelical Calvinist caught my eye for a moment; after reading your post I now realize you weren’t referring to us ;-) .

  • James Petticrew

    Roger I hope what you propose can happen and that Calvinists and Arminians can disagree without intentionally misrepresenting the other.
    Sadly I do wonder given my personal experience as to whether that can happen. There does seem to be something deeply rooted in a large section of Reformed theology that believes that the 5 points of Calvinism are part of divine revelation not a tentative human understanding of it they see Arminianism as an affront to that revelation. That Arminianism undermines what they see to be the Doctrine of Grace is one of their key beliefs and I think sadly many Calvinists I have met would be unwilling to let go of that apologetic because to do so would in their eyes give the Arminian position some sort of legitimacy that they find threatening.

    Maybe this goes all the way back to original Reformed reaction to the Remonstrants?

  • Jeff Martin

    Dr. Olson,

    Have you read Dr. Trueman’s book review? I actually recommended this book to his colleague Dr. Tipton, when he asked me if I knew of any contemporary scholarly Arminian work. I had to wait a few years to give him a good answer, but thankfully your work came along. I have pasted a copy of the review link. I would love to hear your response to the review.

    http://www.wts.edu/resources/westminsterspeaks/2008/04/04/Review_of_Roger_Olsens_Arminian_Theology_Myths_and_Realities.html

  • Chad Gibbons

    I’d be happy to join this summit, Roger. Let me know when you get it going and I’ll be there.

  • (a different) Robert

    The irony in all of this is that the doctrine of double predestination is arguably a minority view throughout church tradition. Thus, the notion that the Augustinian-Calvinist view is fundamental to authentic Christianity carries with it the implication that the vast majority of Christians and Christian theologians throughout history have not been authentically Christian. There is no reason in principle why this couldn’t be true, but it does make me go ‘hmm?’

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      Good point. I have tried to find something like TULIP (especially the U, the L and the I) in the Greek fathers of the church with no success. Yes, some of them have strong beliefs about God’s sovereignty over individuals’ lives. They attribute martyrdom, for example, to God’s meticulous providence–over individuals and their destinies here on earth. But I have so far not found one single example of an early church fathers before Augustine teaching anything like unconditional election to salvation (as opposed to election to service), irresistible grace or limited atonement. In fact, with regard to limited atonement, I can’t find anyone in church history teaching that before Beza, Calvin’s successor in Geneva. Yes, there is debate about whether Calvin believed in it, but I consider that settled by the works I have mentioned here before. Perhaps the medieval monk Gottschalk believed in the U, the L and the I, but I’m not sure about the L. Perhaps someone can enlighten me about that. He was put in prison for his monergistic views which violated the church–something I deplore, of course, but it shows that even Augustine’s teachings about predestination were not fully accepted by his won church–especially insofar as they implied that God predestines some to damnation.

  • http://www.eyesopenwide.net Wes

    “The problem is that especially Calvinists tend to misrepresent Arminian theology. Too often they use language that is so misleading one has to wonder how they can think what they are doing has any integrity at all. I admit that some Arminians do the same.”

    Dr. Olson, with respect, your call sounds a lot like calls for “civility” from the left wing in today’s political environment. It’s never constructive for either side to “especially” vilify the other side – when both can clearly cite examples of the same bad behavior. Let’s all refrain from misrepresentations – Arminians and Calvinists – and just make our respective cases from Scripture, and let the Holy Spirit confirm Truth in the minds of believers.

    While my experience is certainly not a statistically-relevant sampling of the Evangelical population, I’ve certainly experienced more than enough Arminian misrepresentations of Reformed theology to merit some concern. While your post acknowledges that fact as well, you seem to want to get the dig in on Calvinists… which I would submit is counter-productive to your stated purpose.

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      You might be right, but I’d like to know which educated Arminians you’re talking about. When and where, in print, has a seminary-trained Arminian misrepresented Calvinism. My complaint is about Calvinists who know better or should know better because they are educated in these matters and yet publicly misrepresent Arminianism. I know there are many untutored Calvinists and Arminians (if they really are Arminians!) who simply don’t know any better. But I hold seminary-trained people, especially theologians, to a higher standard. They are the ones I’m talking about. Please give me a couple examples of such Arminians who publicly misrepresent Calvinism.

  • http://baptismandthebigpicture.blogspot.com/ Matt Viney

    Mr Olson.

    You mentioned that you don’t get straight answers to the questions you have for Calvinists. I was wondering, do you have a list of questions that you put to Calvinists? I am a Calvinist and would very much like to know what kinds of questions you’re talking about.
    I’m asking because I’m curious, not suggesting I’ll have good answers for them. ;-)

    In Him,
    Matt Viney

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      Yes, I have asked here and many times before (in various settings where Calvinists were present) how God can be considered “good” and “loving” in any way meaningful way analogous to what we know those words to mean based on God’s own revelation of what they mean in Jesus Christ and the New Testament. And I have asked them to give me examples of actions people take analogous to actions they believe God takes in relation to the reprobate in which the people could reasonably be considered “good” or “loving.”

      • http://baptismandthebigpicture.blogspot.com/ Matt Viney

        thank you.

  • Paul

    Roger Olson said,

    “I want to say to my Calvinist interlocutors: You answer MY questions and then maybe I’ll answer yours. But I have answered yours before.”

    Ask and you shall receive:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/01/arminian-theology-myths-and-realities.html

    And, please tell me this will be like Obama’s beer summit. I’ll take a Sierra Nevada pale ale. If they’re out, get me a Moylan’s Kiltlifter. Thanks!

  • http://www.solobizcoach.com Fred Leo

    I would also like to see this same standard used by Catholics and Protestants when debating each other.

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      So would I.

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  • James Petticrew

    I think the other point is that Reformed writers need to be held to account on misrepresenting Arminianism because they dominate the publishing industry and so have a disproportionate influence on popular Christian thinking. Reformed writers get the chance to form Christian opinion on evangelical orthodoxy in a way Arminian writers don’t. Dr Olson has already written about the near impossibility of getting anything positive about Armininus published in Christianity Today.

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      The other day I was in a LifeWay Christian bookstore perusing the little section labeled “Theology.” The vast majority of the books there were by Reformed authors and publishers (e.g., Crossway). Fortunately, my Arminian Theology was also there–one copy.

  • icthusiast

    I have come to this blog only recently and found this post because of Roger’s most recent comment.

    As I read the original post I couldn’t help but think of Arminius’ Rectoral Oration (8 February 1606), On Reconciling Religious Dissensions among Christians”. Arminius called for a national synod that would, in a spirit of unity, examine the views of various parties and test each aganist scripture. He appealed for a process which would include identifying peripheral matters, on which the scriptures do not speak unequivocally, and over which there might be a degree of toleration.

    In the end, what he got (not he, of course, but his followers) was the Synod of Dort, at which the Remonstrants were effectively cited as heretics to be tried rather than as fellow seekers after Biblical truth. It seems to me the spirit of Dort is alive and well in this day and age.

    Arminius’ call for a summit of equals went largely unanswered. Unfortunately, I suspect Roger’s will too.

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  • Matt

    Whose standard are you judging God by? Your own human, fallen standard? Do you judge God by what you think is “good” and “loving?” Do you judge God by your standard of what you think He should do? Or do you know God by what He says about Himself in the Bible? God wiped out Annanias and Sapphira right smack dab in the middle of the New Testament. Is this the same God of love you describe?

    God is not just love – He is also just – He is also jealous – He is also sovereign. God has many attributes besides love and mercy. God is under NO obligation to you or to anyone.

    QUESTION: If God knows who is going to heaven and who is going to hell – and He wants everyone to be saved – why does He allow people that He already KNOWS are going to hell to be born? No Arminian has ever answered that without denying God’s omniscience.

    The Calvinist would answer along with Paul: “For this very purpose God has raised people up, that He might show His power in them, and that His name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” AND “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–”

    In other words: God gives many people grace and mercy, and He exercises justice by letting the rest get what they choose by their own fallen (you would say free) will. He is glorified by His mercy and He is glorified by His power.

    The Bible says that God is going to choose, redeem, sanctify and glorify so many people that it is going to be a multitude so great that it cannot be numbered. That is merciful. To call the God of the Bible a “monster” is blasphemous. Your God is too small. You have made yourself too big.

    I love the exchange between Job and God when Job was ready to question God:

    GOD: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?”

    and later…

    GOD: Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

    JOB: Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

    …I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

    from a thirty-year Arminian turned believer in the absolute sovereignty of God

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      I didn’t call God a monster. I said that IF I believed what Calvinists believe I would have to think of God as a monster. And now you are violating my rules for this blog by engaging in uncivil discourse. In the future I won’t post your comments here unless you calm down and engage in constructive dialogue rather than personal attacks (e.g., “blasphemy”). Here you are in my house. If you think I’m a blasphemer, then you can stay away. Finally, in response to your opening comments, surely God’s love is not so different from that revealed to us in Jesus Christ that it is incomprehensible given that revelation. Neither I nor any Arminian bases our understanding of God on reason or experience. It based on Jesus Christ–the full revelation of God’s character. And you should not pit God’s love against his justice and vice versa. The Bible nowhere says God “is” justice. It does say God “is” love. Surely that tells us that God’s justice is an expression of his love.

    • Jay

      Some comments on Dr Olson’s belief. God does not know who will repent and believe and then creates them. He seems to be saying after God creates a man,He sees a tape of his future,but has no part in writing or producing that tape. So where does that tape come from? Would DR. Olson be unhappy if God Unconditionally elected everyone and caused all men to believe and go to heaven. Would he be demanding Free Will to be in charge? And if Calvinism is true and Dr. Olson meets the monster,will He call Him that to His face? Will He demand to go to hell to join the unfortunate victims of the Monster? Would He organize an rebellion in Heaven to have the Monster replaced? Would be interesting to know.

      • rogereolson

        I don’t stay awake nights worrying about that. The God I know is the God of Jesus who I know as all loving, compassionate and genuinely grieved by rejection (something not even possible had he planned and rendered certain their rejection of him). You totally misunderstand my view of God’s foreknowledge. I don’t know where you even got that.

  • Matt

    Mr. Olson, I was very calm when I wrote what I wrote. I was not personally attacking you but IF God is sovereign as Calvinists claim, then to call that God a monster would certainly not be wise.

    In any case, if you were offended, I apologize. I have now read your blog rules. I will try to make sure that any comments I post are made to be grammatically civil in tone.

    As for myself, I used to defend Arminianism to the death. The Scriptures changed me. God changed me. I know that He did it, not me. I don’t deserve it. I don’t judge His purpose in whom He saves by my standards but I understand that whatever He does is not first for humanity but first for His glory and the glory of His Son. We are a small part of the picture, but not the picture itself.

    My question for Arminians still stands: If God is all-knowing and “foreknows” who will choose hell and who will choose heaven, AND he wants everyone to be saved – why does He create people that He already KNOWS are going to hell? That doesn’t seem to be the all-loving God that Arminians claim the Bible speaks about.

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      Apology accepted. The “IF” in your second sentence is a huge one. It has never entered my mind that God is a monster because it has never entered my mind that God is sovereign as Calvinism claims. I’m not worried because IF God is sovereign as Calvinism claims, then my “blasphemy” would be foreordained and rendered certain by God for his glory. Right? So, if I end up in hell for it I can at least take comfort in the fact that I’m there for the greater glory of God. Right?

      I wonder if you ever were really an Arminian in the classical, historical sense. Perhaps so. But you obviously didn’t defend it to the death. You’re still alive. Thank God for that.

      You realize, of course, that your question to Arminians is not new. We’ve heard it many times before. And I’ve answered it here. God does not first know who will repent and believe and then create them; God knows who will repent and believe because they will repent and believe. His knowledge is not determinative; in this particular case it is determined by what people will do.

  • Matt

    Well, I didn’t defend it to the death in the literal sense :)

    In response, conversely, God must know who will not repent and believe….and either create or allow them to be created despite knowing their destiny. If you’re saying that God doesn’t know before He creates them then He is not omniscient. That’s leaves the door open for open theism. Of course the error of open theism exists partly because of this dilemna.

    That’s in contrast with many passages in the Biblethat say our salvation was predetermined, such as in Revelation which says that our names are written in the Book of Life from before the foundation of the world.

    Foreknowledge is determinative. The golden chain of redemption “foreknew” is often changed to mean “foresaw.” But if you continue to Romans 9, Paul gives an excellent example of foreknowledge in God’s choosing of Jacob so his sovereign purpose of election would continue.

    In Romans 8:29 “THOSE whom He foreknew” must be translated as God knowing the people, not foreseeing their actions. He foreknew you and me, not that we would choose Him.

    Compare 1 Peter 1: 1-2 – “To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the FOREKNOWLEDGE of God the Father…”

    with 1 Peter 1:20 – “He (Christ) was FOREKNOWN before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you”

    If foreknown means “foresaw,” then 1:20 would be translated that God foresaw that Jesus was going to die and thus made Him the Savior. Of course, that’s preposterous.

    Also compare Acts 2:23 – “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and FOREKNOWLEDGE of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

    with Acts 4:27-28 – “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    In these passages, which say essentially the same thing – foreknowledge is defined as as God’s “definite plan” and whatever His hand had “predestined” (like in Romans 8:29) to take place. God predetermined Christ’s death and caused it to happen. Foreknowledge in all these cases is determinative.

    Again, I apologize if you were offended my initial post. Thanks for listening.

    • http://RogerEOlson.com Roger

      Briefly…how do you deal with passages about God blotting people out of that Book of Life?

  • Jeff Martin

    Matt,

    I can only think you are limited in your definition of foreknowledge.

    proginwskw (verb) – means: to already know (Acts 26:5, 2 Peter 3:17), or to know in advance (see Josephus Antiquities 2:86), to judge beforehand

    prognwsis (noun) – a prognosis, or prior knowledge (Judith 11:19 – it was told to me to give me foreknowledge), prescience (Antiquities of the Jews 15:373 – Now there was one of these Essenes…who had this testimony… but had the foreknowledge of future events given him by God also. This man once saw Herod when he was a child, and going to school, and greeted him as king of the Jews)

    I think most significantly, which no one I have read has ever talked about, the verb is used in Demosthenes – Against Aphobus 29.58 as “making a previous judgement/decision”. And this makes sense in many of the controversial passages (i.e. Acts 2:23 – this man, handed over to you, according to the God’s set plan and prior decision, I Peter 1:2 – who have been chosen according to the prior decision of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit) But also it is not just prior knowledge, but prior perception, deliberation as Liddell Scott says, that is another definition in view, so in Romans 8:29 – For those on whom He made prior deliberation, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.

    Of course whether it is corporate or individual it matters not, because the point is to show that Christians are in the church because of the initiative of God who called them (Jobes 1 Peter1:2). How this actually happens is not answered in these passages. Of course we can gather from elsewhere that it is “faith in Christ”, not “faith” that saves us.

  • http://www.johnmarkhicks.wordpress.com John Mark Hicks

    I fully agree with you. The anger and intensity of the debate is astounding, and I would hope that people who believe in the grace of Jesus could sit a table together to discuss their differences with mutual generoisty and gentleness.

  • Sean

    Why is it that when discussing this, Calvinists feel so free to claim ‘who art thou that repliest against God?’ I’m NOT replying against God… I’m replying against YOUR inaccurate portrayal of Him!

    As for the discussion suggested, I am all for it. The opening passage that should be read to humble us all should be ‘O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!’


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