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Monday, August 15, 2011

"Are We Really Thinking It Through?" (Part 1)

If you’ve been surfing the net for Christian articles lately you’ll see that the Calvinist/Arminian debate has flared up again. I also recently read a post from a friend where he didn’t understand why all this “fuss” has to be made about predestination or Grace, etc., etc. “What difference does it make” is what he ended up saying, let’s just concentrate on the Gospel & sharing Jesus! Now while I wholeheartedly agree with that latter statement, I wanted to take this opportunity to state exactly why it is important to clarify our understanding here based on this most important fact: For within this argument lies our view of who God is at the core! And that understanding/view will then dictate how we live that out! However, I think really what this person had a problem with was not so much the subject, but rather HOW we talk, or in this case do NOT talk civilly about it. In fact, I share his dislike for the serious lack of civilized dialogue between us in discussing such important Theological views which as I already stated, carry a lot of important repercussions which is exactly why we cannot & should not dismiss them.


On the bright side, there has been good dialogue coming out as well. Recently John Piper, a man who has fathered such radical articles as “why Calvinists should not date Arminians” and who last year preached a sermon entitled “Why Jesus doesn’t love everyone the same” (if you understand his neo-Calvinistic view, you’ll understand that sermon regardless of whether you agree) sat down with Rick Warren, the object along with John MacArthur of many of his attacks. And I must confess I was surprised to see him “morph” into this likeable guy who was very respectful of Warren’s Theology. Likewise Rick has been gracious all along to those who have opposed him & he was the same here in this interview. If you have not seen it, you can find a portion of it on utube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYYyG_X8-ek


Now I use the heading “are we thinking it through?”. And the reason I did is because one of the questions we must always ask ourselves in regards to what we believe is: “what are the ramifications of what I believe & how will that apply?”

For instance, when you agree with a statement like the Westminster’s Confession of 1646 in Chapter 3 “Of God’s Decree’s” and articles 5-7 as follows:

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praised of His glorious justice.

The ramifications of those statements are as follows I believe:
1) That at some point in the beginning of things, God said yes to me, no to someone else, yes to another, no to someone else, etc. etc. (you get the picture) This means that God left most of humanity out of His salvation plan! And He did so with full purpose to do such! Think that through friends! And the above statements also say He did so “for His own Glory!”
I recently had a student I am close to tell me he “cringed” when we heard this statement come out of a Pastor’s mouth:
“God would sacrifice all of humanity for the sake of His glory” Needless to say Scriptures such as, but by no means limited to: John 3:16-17, 2 Tim. 2:4 & Rom. 5:5 make it crystal clear that God never had any intention of sending people to eternal damnation according to HIS will! In fact in Matt. 25:41 which is the time of the separation of the righteous & unrighteous. Now when the unrighteous are turned over to destruction, Jesus says to them this:
'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
Friends, notice for whom the eternal fire was prepared…….not mankind, but rather satan & his cohorts! And why? Is it not because God never intended from day ONE that “any should perish?” So as you can see, we have a real dilemma here….. Did God intend to leave humans out of His plan or didn’t He? And if He did & you believe that, how would it effect your view of God? And would it not effect that view mightily?
Now I can hear the yells of those who believe the above statements & they would say I am jumping to what they have coined “double predestination”. In other words, because it would be difficult to say the least to believe that God did leave people out for His glory, they will say that He just “passed over” them, in other words God did not pass them by with purpose or malice, but just as part of His overall plan, so they will argue that point about God leaving people out, but from a logical & practical standpoint, you simply cannot have it both ways! To say out of one side of your face that God only picked an “elect” & then out of the other side say He didn’t leave people out is frankly “double speak” in my humble opinion. I Coached softball for many years & had many people who wanted to play, but I couldn’t accommodate them all, so the hard truth is that I had to “cut” players or just didn’t pick them with full purpose, the purpose of building a better team in this case. There is no other way for me to be honest about that! So what I am saying here is you can’t have one, without the other, cut & dry. If God didn’t elect everyone & only some, then He left out others……….

So this leads me to my next point which is “Election vs. Foreknowledge”. This is what I will discuss in my next post. Arminians believe strongly in the foreknowledge of God, that God knew all things as the Scripture tells us “from the foundations of the World” I submit that when you grasp a hold of understanding God’s intervention from the standpoint of foreknowledge, then things makes much more Biblical sense.
You get a steady & balanced view that God, from the beginning has been trying to reconcile Man & not cast him off! That God intervenes on our behalf for our betterment & not for our damnation. Foreknowledge is the key….at least for this person it is.

Until Next Time,
Al