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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Calvin / Arminian Viewpoints (Part III)

Well, here we are at my 3rd discourse on this interesting, too say the least topic. As a refresher, below is what High Calvinism’s acronym “TULIP” stands for:

T……….the total depravity of Man

U……….unconditional election

L………..limited atonement

I…………irresistible grace

P………..perseverance of the saints


In this section, we’ll now take a close look at the “L & then I” in TULIP. Now for the record, thus far I have disagreed with the ‘U’ & this next point, Limited Atonement I have the hardest time with of all 5 points. So let’s define what the ‘L’ stands for in H.C. Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", the doctrine of limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus' substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. The doctrine is driven by the concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and the Calvinistic understanding of the nature of the atonement. Namely, Calvinists view the atonement as a penal substitution (that is, Jesus was punished in the place of sinners), and since, Calvinists argue, it would be unjust for God to pay the penalty for some people's sins and then still condemn them for those sins, all those whose sins were atoned for must necessarily be saved. Moreover, since in this scheme God knows precisely who the elect are and since only the elect will be saved, there is no requirement that Christ atone for sins in general, only for those of the elect. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power (in other words, God could have elected everyone and used it to atone for them all), but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all.

To go further on this matter, I’d like to quote Classic Calvinist Theologian Edwin Palmer who states the following: “The Bible teaches again & again that God does not love all people with the same love”. “The atonement of Christ is limited in it’s scope, that Christ intended to & actually did remove the guilt of the sins of a limited number of people – namely, those whom God has loved with a special love from eternity”. “Thus, the atonement of unlimited value is limited to certain people”.
- Palmer, Five Points Of Calvinism, pg. 27


Friends, if you did not find those statements, “music to your ears”, have no worry for you are far from alone! With this opportunity to contrast such a statement, I will now quote Nazarene (Arminian) Theologian Orton Wiley speaking for all Arminians he writes:

“The atonement is universal.” “This does not mean that all mankind will be unconditionally saved, but that the sacrificial offering of Christ so far satisfied the claims of the divine law as to make salvation a possibility for all”. “Redemption is therefore universal or general in the provisional sense, but special or conditional in its application to the individual”.

Orton Wiley, Christian Theology ( Kansas City, Mo. Beacon Hill, 1941)

Amen indeed! So Be it!

So the issue here is whether or not Jesus death applies for all, regardless of their standing with Christ. This passage of Scripture immediately comes to mind:

1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men-- the testimony given in its proper time”.
Friends, notice the use of the word “ALL” in this context. These 2 verses are telling us, especially v6 that Christ Jesus gave Himself at Calvary a ransom or a “payment” if you will for ALL of mankind, not a limited amount of mankind. What is does not say here is that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for “only a elect”, etc. but rather for us all.

In staying with this thought, another passage of Scripture is found in: Mark 10:45 which states: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
So notice here the word used is not all, but many. Now we have already talked about the “U” in Tulip & in doing so addressed predestination, but here we do indeed see God’s foreknowledge which is the term I like to use instead of predestination because of its inference. So in this passage here I would argue that because God knows all & is omniscient, He certainly knew that His Son, Jesus would die for all, but He also foreknew that not all would accept Him, thus this passage that tells us that although Jesus was given for us all, only “many” would accept Him! My point being that I do not believe this passage is saying Jesus death was on limited scope. To further bolster this Classic Arminian view, let’s look at a few more passages.

John 3:16, known to us believers as the “Golden Text” of the Bible.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". If Jesus death was somehow limited to certain people, we would need to remove the “whosoever” from this hollowed passage! Whosoever means just that friends, ANYONE!

Hebrews 9:14-15 “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15for this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”

In another passage we are told this: “many are called, but few are chosen”. Do you remember where I stated earlier that there are truly many areas where both viewpoints intersect? Well, we both believe that people are indeed called & that people are indeed chosen if you will, but what remains a very strong difference between these viewpoints is just exactly HOW that calling comes about & just exactly HOW people are called, but we all do certainly believe in such a calling of people, but WHO plays WHAT part is where we differ. In the discourse on "Prevenient Grace" a Classic Arminain viewpoint, you can go back & see where we differ from each other on WHO does WHAT, etc. Okay, this got a bit long so we’ll discuss the “I” in the next post.

Blessings & Stay Tuned,
Al

Women In Leadership Today

Friends,

Here’s another topic that your probably thinking I am crazy to take on! And the truth is, I can fully understand your reason for thinking that! This subject has literally caused a “firestorm” of controversy in the Body of Christ, in particular maybe over the last 20 years with the advent of many Women teachers who have become prominent in Christianity. There are MANY trains of thought on this subject ranging from the Fundamentalist viewpoint that women should not be in any form of leadership to many in the Pentecostal circles who have embraced women teachers & preachers, but what does Gods Word say in context?

First off, as a general observation & you are hearing from a very truthful man in this subject, I truly believe that women, for the most part have it all over us guys! What I mean is that they are certainly more “aware” of their surroundings then us, they are more “perceptive” & just have that “6th sense” about them. I have even gone as far as to say that women as a rule are smarter than us! Sorry guys, I know I just ticked off a few of you, but that is my observation! The picture in the Garden of Eden & the fall shows us further this great contrast between the 2.
Remember once they ate & God came looking for them what transpired? When God asked Adam, he did perform the 1st ever recorded case of P.T.B.! or pass the buck when he turned the situation around & said to God: “the women you gave me”, etc. thus effectively blaming God for his own sin. Certainly Adam could of obeyed God & told Eve that what she did was wrong. No where do I see that Eve had to push Adam. On the other hand God asked Eve what happened & she spoke plainly: “I was deceived”, hence, women generally also tell the truth, whereas men often fabricate things or lie. Why am I pointing this all out? Because I do not want any men out there to flatly dismiss women from any form of ministry! In Romans 16, we see that Phoebe was referred to as a “servant”. Now there has been much made over the Greek word used here because it is not the “normal” Greek word used for Deacon, but none the less, it is the same basic root word, (diakononso) so we have Scriptural precedent that women can indeed be Deacons. Now it was clear that back at that time, women were forbidden to preach, but rather here Phoebe must have been a strong mature believer & one who was hospitable & had much love for the “Saints” & even possibly opening her own home. Now clearly today, much, if not all of the controversy surrounds the Apostle Paul’s words found in: 1 Corth. 14:34 which states “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says” (NIV) And again in 1 Timothy 2:12 which states
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent". (NIV) I think you would agree that these are 2 strongest verses & are what are usually quoted in refuting Women in leadership, wouldn’t that be fair friends?

Now I’d like to share something from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. I have always used this as a good & solid reference & there are some very important points made here in regards to women in the Church then & now. This was a Jewish ordinance; women were not permitted to teach in the assemblies, or even to ask questions. The rabbins taught that "a woman should know nothing but the use of her distaff." Continuing, the A.C.C. goes on to say: This was their condition till the time of the Gospel, when, according to the prediction of Joel, the Spirit of God was to be poured out on the women as well as the men, that they might prophesy, i.e. teach. And that they did prophesy or teach is evident from what the apostle says, 1 Corth. 11:5, where he lays down rules to regulate this part of their conduct while ministering in the church. But does not what the apostle says here contradict that statement, and show that the words in chap. 11 should be understood in another sense? For, here it is expressly said that they should keep silence in the church; for it was not permitted to a woman to speak. Both places seem perfectly consistent. It is evident from the context that the apostle refers here to asking questions, and what we call dictating in the assemblies. It was permitted to any man to ask questions, to object, altercate, attempt to refute, &c., in the synagogue; but this liberty was not allowed to any woman. St. Paul confirms this in reference also to the Christian Church; he orders them to keep silence; and, if they wished to learn any thing, let them inquire of their husbands at home; because it was perfectly indecorous for women to be contending with men in public assemblies, on points of doctrine, cases of conscience, &c. But this by no means intimated that when a woman received any particular influence from God to enable her to teach, that she was not to obey that influence; on the contrary, she was to obey it, and the apostle lays down directions in chap. 11 for regulating her personal appearance when thus employed. All that the apostle opposes here is their questioning, finding fault, disputing, &c., in the Christian Church, as the Jewish men were permitted to do in their synagogues; together with the attempts to usurp any authority over the man, by setting up their judgment in opposition to them; for the apostle has in view, especially, acts of disobedience, arrogance, &c., of which no woman would be guilty who was under the influence of the Spirit of God.

I think that Paul’s words are very important & apply here as well found in Gal. 3:22-29 “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. 23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, MALE OR FEMALE, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise".

So in closing on this controversial subject, let me state that with the information above, I believe that God is indeed using Women in the Body of Christ today. Perhaps you know of such a women? I have had the pleasure of meeting many & I would found to be a liar if I was to state that I did not believe God was using them! Now I will also say this to “balance” what I have said here. While I do believe as the Scripture states that “God is the head of Christ, the Man the head of Women, etc. this does not mean Man is to “lord” over Women any more than the Apostle Peter’s charge of 1 Peter 5 states the same of Pastor’s “lording” over their flocks. But what is sad today is this & I believe it to be 100% true: Men in so many Churches have “vacated” their leadership role ordained by God! Just stop & think friends, how many times have you seen a women married to a “spiritually absent” Man & so she has now had to take on the role of spiritual head? I have often asked myself where would the Church as a whole be today without the women? So I for one thank the Lord for the women who have “stepped up” & now take part in their Churches & although it may not be the way God ordained it. (for the record if all was right & men were in their rightful place as a whole, I still do not think God intended women to sit still & be quiet! My God, for where would husbands be without the wisdom & insight of their wives as a whole?) So while in I may not be completely doctrinally comfortable with women Pastor’s I am open to just about every other office & opportunity they that may be given to serve!

Stay Tuned,
Al