Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Blast From The Past

I just recently found this comment which was posted to this blog way back in October. For whatever reason, I didn't get the usual email notification for newly posted comments which is why I'm just now responding.

Bryan Brammer said:

I must say that for this debate on Calvinism it is oging to be interesting. If James White is representing the Calvinistic side of things, then you are in trouble.

What Bryan is referring to here is the now defunct planned debate between James White and Tom Ascol versus Ergun and Emir Caner. Apparantly, Bryan thinks that James White would have been unable to provide an adequate case for Calvinism. Speaking for myself however, I firmly believe that James would have wiped the floor with both Caner brothers with or without Tom Ascol's help. I also believe that the Caners themselves believed the same thing which is why they made it so difficult to set up the debate to begin with and is also the reason why the Caners (along with their moderator) torpedoed the debate in the end.

I have read his books and the reasoning and Biblical application is so false I wonder what Bible he is reading.

Of course, Bryan doesn't provide us with James' supposed false reasoning and application so there is no reason to accept his pronouncements on James White's work.

Second, It is unfair to mention that just because someone is not a Calvinist does not automatically make him an Arminian. Take about jumping the gun.

But I did not state, nor is it my opinion that all non-Calvinists are Arminians. However, Jerry Falwell's soteriology was more in line with Arminianism than anything else thus, Falwell can be referred to as an Arminian in light of soteriological considerations. Also, consider the words of Arminian scholar Jack Cottrell:

Arminianism as such, in its broadest sense, is simply non-Augustinianism or non-Calvinism. It has many variations, "from the evangelical views of Arminius himself to left-wing liberalism." What holds them all together is the rejection of the Augustinian concept of true total depravity (bondage of the will), and a belief in significant free will, at least in relation to the ability to accept or reject the gospel offer of salvation. Perspectives On Election Five Views, pg. 70

So much for the charge that I was being unfair to Falwell.

The entire theme of the Bible is Christ's redemptive work for mankind not particular individuals. Take that context and apply the verses.

What Bryan is basically saying here is that I should adopt the Arminian presupposition of general atonement and undiscriminate love and interpret the text of scripture thru that grid. But why should I (or anyone for that matter) do any such thing? To adopt someone else's presuppositions is to abandon your own. Is Bryan himself willing to do this? Is he for instance willing to presuppose God's limited but actual atonement and discriminating love for mankind and thereby interpret holy writ accordingly? If not, why not?

If a calvinist were to live consistenly with his philosophy then there would be no need for witnessing. (since we can niether add or take away from God those he has taken by our works)

But a Calvinist does in fact live consistently with his doctrines whenever he witnesses to the lost seeing as how God has ordained the ends along with the means to those ends. In other words, evangelism is God's ordained means by which He brings His people unto Himself. Bryan's statement about consistency is based either on a misunderstanding of the Reformed view or an intentional misrepresentation.

How can those that believe in this system of thought (which is unbibilical) ever be assured of their own salvation. You may have security but no assurrance for you will not know if you are truly elect until you are judged at the end of your life.

Given libertarian free-will, how can Bryan ever have assurance of his salvation? If libertarianism is true, then Bryan can choose at anytime before his death to reject Christ and be lost forever no matter how strong his inclination to saving faith is. Indeed, how can anyone ever have assurance when they could just wake up one day and decide that they want nothing else to do with Christ?

What a futile system to put your faith in. All Calvinists (as well as srtong Arminians) need to get off their intellectual soap boxes and see the hurting needs of the people. Love the sinner as Christ did, not the mind.

I know of no Calvinist who professes love for the mind. Rather, we profess our love for truth. And it is this love for truth that we thereby show our love to the sinner. The system that has no love for truth is the system that has no love for the sinner.


Anonymous said...

Justin says...

Good response. It was well-balanced, kind-hearted, and biblically-sound. Nothing less than I would have expected.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Thank you Justin. Btw, I saw your post on your blog. I hope that God grants you the strength to resist whatever temptation you are now facing.

Anonymous said...

Justin says...

Thanks, Matt. Indeed, "Lord, grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt"--St. Augustine.

kangeroodort said...

Matt said,

"Given libertarian free-will, how can Bryan ever have assurance of his salvation? If libertarianism is true, then Bryan can choose at anytime before his death to reject Christ and be lost forever no matter how strong his inclination to saving faith is. Indeed, how can anyone ever have assurance when they could just wake up one day and decide that they want nothing else to do with Christ?"

This is an interesting point. The problem is that the Calvinistic paradigm has the same difficulty. While the Arminian can be sure that they are presently saved, because they are presently trusting in and relying upon Christ, the Calvinist can have no such assurance. The Calvinist cannot be sure that they are one of the elect. They may at some point fall away, and by their estimation, only prove that they were never "really" saved to begin with. While John Calvin was honest enough to recognize this problem, his theological heirs tend to gloss it over. Calvin proposed the concept of evanescent grace to solve the problem of those who fall away after a convincing testimony. He called it an "inferior work of the Spirit" in which God essentially deceives the reprobate into believing he is saved. The problem then becomes how one can know for sure if they are truly saved, or only think they are saved. Calvin tried to solve the problem by saying that the elect had a deeper and more meaningful faith, but of course such a solution will not do. How does one know that their faith is deeper and more meaningful than the fooled reprobate? The westminster confession states that the elect can fall into grevious sins, and possibly for long periods of time. What assurance is there for the elect during this time? How can they be sure that they are not reprobate? When doubts ravage their mind, how can they be sure that it is not evidence that God does not really savingly love them?

So what about the Arminian? We maintain that we can only have assurance that we are presently trusting in Christ, and are therefore saved. Our final salvation will only result as we continue to trust in Christ,

"He who endures to the end will be saved"

The Calvinist understands this differently. They say that Matt. 10:22 is not "presriptive", but "postscriptive". In other words, it should be understood as "He who is truly saved will [of necessity] endure to the end." So the only way that a Calvinist can have assurance that they are truly saved is to endure to the end. Not much different from the Arminian position now is it? There is one difference. The Arminian can trust that God loves them and is on their side during times of doubt and struggle, as they are convinced that Scripture teaches that God desires all to be saved. The Calvinist has no such comfort. Their doubts may be evidence that God does not really love them, and that their conversion experience was spurious.