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Question:
What about predestion, election, Calvinism, Arminianism… things like that? Its seems that everyone insists you be on one side or the other? Is that necessary? Can we really have a dogmatic position on these issues?

Answer:

Well there are alot of mysterious, but plain teachings in Scripture that are irreconcilable. God reveals some things to us from HIS viewpoint, then tells us how it works from OUR viewpoint.

We get in trouble when we INSIST (then bind others) on understanding and “systematizing” the mysteries of God (ie, Calvinism, Arminianism, the mysteries of salvation, sovereignty and election). We insist on seeing things from God’s perspective rather than being content with what God has revealed from OUR perspective (ie, salvation – we see the “steps” of salvation but can’t begin to see the mystery of the supernatural occurrence)

For example, these things are plainly taught in Scripture, but cannot be logically deduced or quantified (and yet men insist on doing it):

  • Is God utterly sovereign? yes.
  • Does man have personal will and choice? yes.
  • Has God ordained from eternity past all things about our existence? yes (Ephesians 1:4-6)
  • Do men still have free will and choice to “change” our existence? yes, it is a plain Scriptural assumption based on how Scripture talks to us about life and it is the common experience of every human that has ever lived (name one person who ever thought they had no free will choice in any thing until someone plants that thought in their mind)
  • Did God choose in eternity past who would be saved? yes (Rom. 8:2930;Eph. 1:912;Ephesians 1:4-6)
  • Did Jesus die for ALL mankind, and every person has a choice? yes (John 4:13 ;John 6: 54 ;John 11: 26; John 12: 46; Acts 2: 21 ;Rom 10: 13 ; I John 5:1 ;Col 1: 27)
  • Did God ordain our personal salvation and cause it all to happen without fail? yes (Rom 8.30; John 6.37)
  • Do we still have a personal choice to accept or reject Christ? yes
  • Did God choose who would be saved and NONE will be lost? yes (John 18.9; John 6.37)
  • Can ANY man reject Christ and the Gospel? yes, that is our obvious and universal human experience
  • Is man capable of any righteous act that leads to salvation (including baptism, repentance, etc.) before regeneration (Titus 3.5)? no (Romans 6)
  • Does man have to hear, respond and obey the Gospel in order to be saved, all acts of his own choice? yes
  • Did God determine and predestine every person who would be saved and make is a secured fact? yes (Ephesians 1:4-6; John 18.9; 2Cor 1.22;Eph 4.30)
  • Does man still have a free will choice to reject Christ and will every man who rejects Christ be lost? yes
  • Was Christ’s blood shed only for individuals who would eventually be saved? in a real sense, yes (John 6.44; Luke 22.20; and if Christ paid for all sins, wouldn’t all people then be justified in God’s sight?)
  • Was Christ’s blood shed for the entire world? yes (John 4:13 ;John 6: 54 ;John 11: 26; John 12: 46; Acts 2: 21 ;Rom 10: 13 ; I John 5:1 ;Col 1: 27 )

It is not “unGod-like” to have mysteries or unreconcilable issues in Scripture. Who can logic deduce and understand the Trinity? Jesus’ duality (man/God)? The supernatural regeneration of the heart? Eternity?

Generally, Calvinists insist that if election, predestination and sovereignty is true (as they define it), then choice, free will and universal atonement can NOT be true (according to logic).

Arminians (which includes traditional Church of Christ, many types of Baptists and several other denominations) believe that if men have free choice then other things CAN NOT be true logically (these are just a few):

  • men cannot be eternally secure because they can choose to give up their salvation willingly;
  • that there is no “eternity past election”;
  • that limited atonement and election (as defined by Calvinists) can NOT be true.

Each group attempts to LOGICALLY RECONCILE the mysteries of God. There are truths, plain Biblical truths in both positions. But our human minds INSIST that we come to a full, logical, conclusive system of belief… then bind it on others!

After deeply struggling with these issues, I have come to this position:

TEACH WHAT THE BIBLE PLAINLY TEACHES, AND KEEP PERSONAL “CONCLUSIONS” IN THE REALMS OF JUST THAT: CONCLUSIONS

Teach only what the Bible teaches, unapologetically, even IF others try to FORCE you into a corner and try to force you to take a “position”.

“The Bible says”
“The Bible says”
“The Bible says”
“The Bible says”
“The Bible says”
“The Bible says”

That is the proper response (not “I think, I think, I think”). I have learned, and chosen purposely to NOT feel like I have to answer every person’s demand that I reconcile these seemingly contradictory Biblical Truths.

These mysteries, these “illogical” realties – only add to the Majesty of God. Each view has points that are logical and understandable….

BUT>>>>>>>

each side has incorrectly decided that “since our points are true, the other side cannot be true”.

That’s where we go wrong. By the way, both sides have some things RIGHT and WRONG. They are right when they stick to the Bible… they are WRONG where they elevate their CONCLUSIONS to the value of plain Scripture.

Where a church, group, systematic theology, denomination, belief or individual overlaps PLAIN Scripture, then to that degree they are sound and can be dogmatic about those things. All of the different Christian groups have some of the Biblical Truth, but the amount that overlaps clear Scripture varies greatly. The idea is to move your doctrine completely inside the plain Scripture as much as possible.

The CONCLUSIONS drawn by various groups and systems, should be presented as CONCLUSIONS, not doctrine… especially not salvific doctrine.

This is a VERY broad and deep controversy. My Bible references are no doubt incomplete, but hopefully useful. This Q&A format does not allow for a full study of the entire Calvinist/Arminian. BR

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