An Arminian Response to C. Michael Patton’s “The Irrationality of Calvinism” Part 4: Returning the Favor (Reversing the Argument)

Part 4: Returning the Favor (Reversing the Argument)

Patton: To the Calvinists, man is fully responsible for his choice, yet God’s election is unconditional. This creates a problem. It creates great tension.

I agree that this creates a problem, but it is a Calvinist problem based on the Calvinist interpretation.  It is not an Arminian problem, so the Arminian does not need to solve the problem by altering or fixing anything.  It simply does not exist in Arminianism since the Arminian interpretation does not create such “problems.”

Patton: For the Calvinist, this tension cannot be solved and should not be solved. So how does the Calvinist live with this? How does the Calvinist answer the Why? question?—Why does God choose some and not others? Why does he still find fault?—What is the Calvinist answer to the How? question?—How can there be true freedom when God is the one sovereignly in charge of election?—We have no answer.

So Mr. Patton admits that his Calvinist interpretations create problems for which there are no answers.  That’s fine.  If he wants to embrace and “live with” the unanswerable problems that his theology creates, more power to him.  I don’t have a problem with that, though I would prefer that such “problems” would prompt him to carefully and cautiously re-evaluate whether or not his interpretation might be in error.  However, it is wrong for Mr. Patton to try to make himself feel better about his theological and interpretative problems by making the argument that Arminians do not have these problems because they improperly try to make things “fit” and try to answer questions that should not be answered or cannot be answered.  Again, Arminians do not have the same problems as Calvinists, simply because Arminians do not interpret the Bible as Calvinists do.  Arminians like me would appreciate it if Calvinists like Mr. Patton would leave us out of their problems.

Patton: We get off of our stool and punt to apophatic theology. The tension is left in tact since. We place our hand over our mouth here and say, “Though we have no answers to why God did not choose people he truly loves, we will trust him without judgement.” We will neither redefine divine election or human freedom to make it fit a more rational or logical system.

And here we go again with the blatant question begging and false assumptions concerning how and why Arminians do not have the same “problems” that C. Michael Patton has, along with seeming back slapping concerning how theologically brave he is to put his hand over his mouth in the face of such “problems” and “tensions.” [5]

Patton: While there is nothing wrong with using one’s reason to understand truth, there are problems when reason takes priority over revelation.

Indeed.  Does Patton ever do this?  Well, let’s play his game.  I will just make a few counter assertions and see if that helps clear things up.  You see, the reason why Calvinists hold to limited atonement is because they cannot reconcile unconditional election and penal satisfaction with unlimited atonement. [6]  Rather than just admit that the Bible teaches both and live with the “tension”, they try to make atonement “fit” their system, and redefine the scope of atonement by limiting it to the elect alone, despite the many clear Biblical declarations concerning the universal scope of the atonement.

Likewise, the reason why Calvinists reject the idea that true believers can abandon the faith to their own destruction is because this creates “tension” with their doctrines of unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace.  Rather than just embracing the “tension”, Calvinists try to make things “fit” by rejecting and “redefining” the Biblical teaching that true believers can abandon the faith and forfeit salvation.

Furthermore, Calvinists reject conditional election because they cannot reconcile how election can be conditional and not be meritorious.  Rather than just living with the “tension”, Calvinists “redefine” election and make it unconditional in order to make it “fit” and to make their theology more “consistent.”  This is the same point I made to Patton long ago in the second part of my comment (quoted above) on his previous post, “Why Calvinism is the Least Rational Option” :

Let’s take another angle. You say the Bible teaches unconditional election (and you appeal to certain Scriptures) and I say the Bible teaches conditional election (and I appeal to certain Scriptures- and surprisingly some of the same Scriptures you think teach the opposite). Now, can’t I just as easily say that you reject conditional election due to the tension it creates for your view and your unwillingness to embrace those tensions? Maybe you reject conditional election because it creates too much tension for the Calvinist. (link)

Oh, and let’s not forget that the Bible (supposedly) teaches both God’s exhaustive sovereign control over all things, including our wills, and that we have freedom of will in the true (libertarian) sense.  But rather than embrace the “tension”, most Calvinists “redefine” freedom from the true sense of freedom to a “freedom” that leaves no real control of the will to the person at all.  This “solution” to the “tension” is called compatibilism.  Does compatibilism with regards to freedom and determinism leave the “tension” in tact, or does it eliminate it?  It clearly eliminates the tension by redefining freedom to mean the “freedom” to do as one must.  It becomes the “freedom” to choose what we have no choice but to choose.  They haven’t embraced the tension, but rather whittled away at the square peg of freedom until it is “compatible” with the round hole of determinism.  So in the end, their redefinition of “free will” to conform to determinism only succeeds in making determinism “compatible” with determinism and jettisons real (libertarian) freedom in the will for the sake of relieving unpleasant “tensions.” [7]

It is strange that much of the thrust of Mr. Patton’s post has to do with how Calvinists simply embrace this tension between determinism and free will with hands over their mouths, and yet Mr. Patton holds to compatibilism which plainly “redefines” freedom so that it is no longer freedom in any real sense at all, all for the sake of relieving the “tension.”

Patton: If the Bible teaches both human freedom and sovereign election, we leave the two in tact.

Not really, you “redefine” human freedom to make it “fit” with your view of “sovereign election” and “exhaustive determinism.”

Patton: If the Bible teaches that God loves everyone more than we can imagine and that God desires all to be saved yet he does not elect some, we trust God’s word and live with unanswered questions.

Not really.  Instead, you “redefine” what it means for God to “love everyone more than we can imagine” and how it is that God “desires all to be saved” in order to avoid “tension” and make such plain Biblical concepts and declarations “fit” with your doctrines of reprobation, irresistible grace, and limited atonement.  And again, it needs to be pointed out that all of what Mr. Patton says here hinges on “if the Bible teaches” such things as unconditional election.  Arminians contend that the Bible does not teach such things.  They simply do not see unconditional election anywhere in the Bible.  So again, Arminians have no need to “live with unanswered questions” that their reading of Scripture does not produce in the first place.  For us, unconditional election is a fiction, and there is certainly no need to reconcile fictions with Biblical truth (like the truth of an unlimited provision of atonement reflecting God’s love for all in His desire for all to be saved).

Go to Part 5

Go to Part 1

Go to Part 2

Go to Part 3

___________________________________________________________________________

[5] However, there are moderate 4 point Calvinists who, unlike Mr. Patton, seem to have the guts and fortitude to live with the “tension” in affirming unconditional election, penal satisfaction and unlimited atonement.  Why do they do this?  Because they find unlimited atonement to be so clearly taught in Scripture that it would be exegetically dishonest to deny it.  For examples of some of these more noble and brave-hearted Calvinists, see here  and here.   It would seem that if Mr. Patton truly finds tensions to be so desirable as likely markers for Biblical truth, he should become a 4 point Calvinist.

[6] This seems to primarily be an allusion to Job’s response to God in Job 42:1-6.  But Mr. Patton’s allusion to Job is strange, since Job did not shut his mouth in the face of blatant contradictions.  Rather, Job shut his mouth in the face of numerous divinely relayed examples of things that are beyond his comprehension or power to control (like creation, the mysterious nature of the creatures that God created, God’s control over the elements, and many other such things, Job 38-41).  These are legitimate mysteries and not contradictions.  Even the main “mystery” in Job concerning why Job is suffering is actually plainly revealed in the first few chapters, and that mystery has nothing to do with any sort of contradictions or mutually exclusive concepts.  Again, the tactic seems to be using examples of real Biblical mystery to legitimize Mr. Patton’s Calvinist “problems.” But what Mr. Patton needs to do is demonstrate that his Calvinist “tensions” and “problems” can rightly be called Biblical mysteries, rather than unacceptable contradictions that reveal error rather than Biblical truth (or mystery).  Unfortunately, this task is never taken up by Mr. Patton.

[7] Compatibilism fails to account for real freedom as described in Scripture, or account for accountability as described in Scripture.  For more on this, see The Reality of Choice and the Testimony of Scripture.  See here  for more.  But Calvinist compatibilism does more than to just claim that two mutually exclusive ideas are actually compatible.  It actually works to make them logically compatible (and in the process eliminate the supposedly desirable mystery and tension of the whole thing).

An example of mutually exclusive concepts would be a bachelor and a married person.  You simply cannot reconcile these two concepts.  They are not compatible.  One cannot rightly be a bachelor and married at the same time.  But if you can cleverly redefine “bachelor” to mean  “a married person”, then Viola! “married” and “bachelor” are now compatible!

But if one doesn’t like the compatibilist “solution”, one can just say it is an “apparent” and not “real” contradiction, with no “apparent” burden assumed or required to actually demonstrate how this is the case.  When it comes to Calvinism, bare assertion regarding such sensitive and difficult issues will just have to suffice.  After all, since Calvinism is so obviously true, it simply can’t be a “real” contradiction, no matter how real it seems.  And if you find that unacceptable, then perhaps you just don’t have the fortitude to deal with the hard truths of the Bible.  You probably just aren’t willing to do the right and noble thing and “put your hand over your mouth” in the face of such profound “mysteries.”  You probably just don’t have enough room for “tension” in your hyper-rational theology.  For this reason, Calvinism becomes essentially impossible to falsify on logical grounds.  How nice for Calvinism.

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24 Responses

  1. As well crafted as are the other posts in response to Patton, this one demolishes his arguments, presents quite the “tu quoque” for Calvinists, and exposes Calvinistic theology as much, much less holding to tension and more trying to resolve seemingly unanswerable questions — questions created explicitly and inevitably by Calvinism itself. Well done, friend!

  2. Reblogged this on Arminian Today and commented:
    Part 4 in an Arminian response to C. Michael Patton’s article on Arminianism and Calvinism.

  3. Thanks Billy.

  4. Thanks for the reblog, Roy.

  5. Wow, great work on presenting the problems with Calvinism. A much needed corrective.

  6. I would like to remind everyone of something you said in part 2 or this series which was,

    @However, it is true that the Calvinist view of predestination can lead back to such a view of sovereignty, but it does not demand it. Unconditional election and predestination can just as easily fit within a system that does not hold that God exhaustively determines all things.

    With this being the case, then there are Calvinist (and others including myself who may not claim to be Calvinist), that can hold to the Calvinist view of predestination, and not hold to exhaustive determination. Therefore we do not create the same tensions as Patton, and do not see it a virtue to hold to such tensions.

    My point here is the same point I made in part 1 of the series which was,

    just because you have pointed out a fallacy on the part of a Calvinist, and I have pointed out the same fallacy on the part of an Arminian, does not mean either of us has established the truth in this matter. All we have done is to point out fallacies on both sides from certain individuals.

    My question then is. Could it be that you are not really refuting true Calvinism here, but rather a misrepresentation of true Calvinism?

    I am starting to question this myself. In other words, is what I am hearing from some, so called Calvinist, and here on this site, true Calvinism? As I have said in the past, the reason I do not claim to be Calvinist, is because of the inconsistencies I see, in so many Calvinist. However, there is one Calvinist that I find myself in agreement with, far more than not. In fact, I can only recall having one disagreement thus far. Therefore, if what he is expounding is true Calvinism, then I may be a Calvinist after all..

  7. Historic, fundamental Calvinism holds to exhaustive divine determinism. Calvin taught it. Beza taught it. The Cannons of Dort and the Westminster Confessions taught it as well ( to name just a few major Calvinist sources).

    If someone rejects exhaustive divine determinism, they could still call themselves a Calvinist, I suppose, but that would not really be proper since determinism is such a major and fundamental feature of historic Calvinism, going all the way back to Calvin.

    The point of the comment you quote of me was not to suggest that many Calvinists deny exhaustive determinism. It only addressed the fact that logically, one could hold to unconditional election and not be a determinist. Unconditional election does not logically demand determinism, but determinism is indeed a major feature of what is called Calvinism.

    So no, I am not misrepresenting Calvinism.

    Who is this Calvinist you find yourself in agreement with more times than not?

    just because you have pointed out a fallacy on the part of a Calvinist, and I have pointed out the same fallacy on the part of an Arminian, does not mean either of us has established the truth in this matter. All we have done is to point out fallacies on both sides from certain individuals.

    I already addressed this.

  8. Steve,

    Thanks for stopping by. It is always good to hear from you. Seeing you comment here reminded me that I need to get up to date with The Arminian Magazine. Hopefully, it is still going strong.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  9. So Calvinist freedom is like the kind of freedom Henry Ford gave to the buyers of his Model T – “You can have any colour you want as long as it’s black”

  10. alaskazimm,

    That is a great quote from Ford. It demonstrates that without legitimate options, one does not really have freedom to choose in that instance.

    Compatibilist Calvinists locate freedom in our freedom to do what we “want” or “desire.” That sounds pretty good until we realize that our wants and desires are decreed and determined by God. God is the one who determines which desire or motive will carry the most weight and cause our “choice” (if you can even call it a “choice”, since there is really no other option or course of action available but the decreed/divinely predetermined one). So they say we are free if we are not forced against our will to do something. In compatibilism we may not be forced against our will to do something, but God ultimately controls our wills. So it is hard to see how they can actually claim that we have free will. That is simply not accurate. Our wills are not free at all. They are moved about by desires and motives that we likewise have no control over in determining which motive or desire will cause our actions.

    It would be like saying if you put a gun to someone’s head and “force them” to do something, that person would not be free, but if you were to use some sort of mind control device to get them to do the same thing “willingly”, then that would be a truly free act. But we don’t really believe that, at least not in the way we live our lives.

    For example, If someone gave a girl a drug that destroyed her inhibitions so that she would “willingly” sleep with him (when she never would have otherwise), we would not see that as a free act on the part of the girl, even though she did it “willingly”, since she was not ultimately in control of her will. Likewise, we would hold the one who gave her the drug accountable of a crime. We would not hold the girl accountable for her act, as she had no control over her will due to the controlling influence of the drug. But this is exactly how compatibilists describe freedom and accountability.

    The compatibilist accounting of freedom breaks down on so many levels, it is a wonder to me that so many seem satisfied with it in explaining “freedom” and accountability in a deterministic framework. All it does is redefine freedom in a deterministic sense (which is the opposite of freedom). That is why I say that it does not show that freedom is compatible with determinism. Rather, it only shows that determinism is compatible with determinism. What an amazing discovery!

    God Bless,
    Ben

  11. Jack said,
    “My question then is. Could it be that you are not really refuting true Calvinism here, but rather a misrepresentation of true Calvinism?”

    It seems that he’s done both, for Patton’s arguments seem a little off at times as well as there being problems with compatibilism.

    And you said, “is what I am hearing from some, so called Calvinist, and here on this site, true Calvinism?”

    That’s a good question to ask I think. It’s the same question i asked when i read about Arminianism from Calvinists. In my case the answer was “no.” Arminianism had been grossly misrepresented to me by teachers and books I own. I take what I read here and compare it to Calvinist sources to see if that’s what they claim. The problem is not so much (I think) in what they claim, but that their logic, interpretations and conclusions are invalid. To be fair, they say the same about Arminian logic and conclusions, but I am now disagreeing with their logic there as well.

    The Calvinists I am friends with want to believe sovereignty and freedom because the Bible teaches both. But problems occur when we interpret Scriptures wrongly. So we (of Calvinist disposition) don’t claim we believe God caused sin or that he’s the first cause of men going to hell, and we “fix” it by saying in the Westminster confession that sin is due to secondary causes and that God is not the Author of sin.

    My question is, how can you get off the hook so easily by using the secondary causes argument? I mean that’s like playing tag with your friends and just as you’re about to get tagged you touch a tree and yell, “I’m on home base!” I never read anything in the Bible about secondary causes or that God loves the people He sends to hell (and yet he is sad about it–which Wayne Grudem teaches). How can God be sovereign and yet give up His sovereignty? How can God give unbelievers true freedom when they have no ability to utilize their choice because he never elected them to salvation and therefore doesn’t regenerate them? The whole system seems contrived as I look at it now.

    Gene

  12. Gene,

    Thanks for the comments. I agree that there may be some Calvinist who misunderstand, misinterpret, and or misrepresent the Arminian position. I hate to say it but at times, it seems as though it may be intentional. Hopefully I am wrong here, and it is just a matter of misunderstanding each other, although, this is hard to believe at times. Also, as I have said here before, there are inconsistencies on the part of some Calvinists that are easy to spot, and Ben does a good job in pointing some of these out. Having said this, let us not suppose there are not Arminians who may misunderstand, misinterpret, and or misrepresent, the Calvinist position. Let us also not suppose there may be Arminians who use deceit (whether intentional or not) in representing their own position. Allow me to give an example.

    I read a wide variety of Calvinist and Arminians. Just the other day while on another Arminian blog site, I read a particular blog. After reading I left a comment in which I said,

    “If what you have said here is true, then God is powerless in determining who or if any at all would be saved.” I went on to ponder if “God may have had His fingers crossed?”

    The response I received in return was simply this, “God determines who is saved. Those who believe.”

    Before I give you my return response, I want you to focus on two words here, the word DETERMINES and the word WHO. Also, I hope you can see (whether intentional or not) where this statement, can be, and is deceitful. My response was,

    “Don’t you think, that what you have said here is deceitful. According to this article above, God does not determine WHO will be saved, rather He only has determined that believers will be saved. He does not determine WHO these believers will be. Therefore, saying that God determines WHO will be saved is not true in the least.”

    “Let’s just cut to the chase here. would it be correct to say that,”

    “God has determined (past tense) that only believers will be saved. He does not in any way determine WHO these believers will be? Therefore saying God determines WHO will be saved is being a little less than honest, don’t you think?”

    I have not received a return response as of yet. Now, there is no Arminian who would say, God determines who will believe. If they were to say this, the Arminian position would be no different than the Calvinist. However for some reason they now want to be able to say, God determines those who are saved. Now Gene, I want you to compare the conversation I had with an Arminian on a completely different site with the conversation I had with Ben here on this site recently, they are eerily similar. Ben’s comments will be noted by the symbol @ mine are left alone.

    @ Either way election is determined by God

    So then, God has determined there will be an elect people?

    @God is the one who decides who will be His people.

    I get a little confused here, because the WHO cannot mean, WHO like individuals. Therefore I can only assume it is the WHO like, what kind or type of people. From here I would assume it is the kind or type of people WHO have faith? If I am correct here then, God has determined to elect a certain kind or type of people, the type or kind WHO have faith?

    @God is the one who decides what the bases of election will be.

    This seems to be what I have just described above.

    @We determine if we will adhere to God’s requirements for being His people, but that is much different than saying that we determine election.

    I’m just wondering if it would be okay here to change the wording to,
    We determine if we are elected?

    Gene, I think it would be good for you to go back and read the entirety of the conversation, between Ben and myself in part 2 of this series here on Patton. At any rate these two different conversations I have had, with two different Arminians are very similar. Also notice how they both use the words WHO and DETERMINE. Ben replaces the word determine with the word decide a couple of times, however the meaning is the same.

    Now I guarantee you, Ben will never say, God DETERMINES WHO will believe. But for some reason he wants to be able to say,

    @God is the one who decides who will be His people.

    This is confusing at best, deceitful at worst. In Arminianism God decides that only believers will be His people, He does not in any way decide WHO these people will be. Therefore saying that God is the one who decides WHO will be His people, is not true. This seems to be a ploy in Arminianism at this time. I’m beginning to believe it has to do with why the cooperate view creeping into Arminianism, which Ben himself has said is not the Classical Arminian view. They seem to think this view will allow them to say God determines who is saved, but it does not. What I cannot understand, is why they now want to give God the credit for determining WHO will be His people.

  13. Jack,

    I will review the discussion in part 2. Due to the limitations of language this stuff gets confusing and frustrating. Add to that trying to make logical sense of all the arguments, and I sometimes want to give up trying to figure it out. Then I look at my little boy and realize that I have to teach him faithfully and do my best to lead him to Christ. I’m trying to figure all this out in the midst of a busy life which pulls me in every direction, and I wonder how much Calvinism or Arminianism really matters when the rubber meets the road? We as Christians are still commanded the same things: go and make disciples, teach them to obey, love God, love one another, abide and grow in Christ…oh yeah, and hold to sound doctrine. Crud, I guess it does matter!

  14. Jack,

    I reread that thread and I see what you mean but I have to disagree with you when you say that what Ben said sounds like what the other Arminian said. I understand what Ben means when he says “God is the one who decides who will be His people.” He is saying, as he explained a few different ways, that God elects a group (believers and not unbelievers) and not individuals (which is what Calvinists tend to believe).

    In a way I think confusion can arise out of the usage of the term “elect” and our common understanding of it, meaning “to pick or to choose.” Ben explained what he believed and what Calvinists assert, and I think he was concise. God elects a people (just like he chose Israel), and those who remain faithful to the covenant of faith are the elect. In that sense, God decides “who will be his people”–a people of faith or a group of faithful people who remain in a loving relationship with their God. I think Ben is saying that God picks the group (believers) rather than the individual (believer).

    What Patton seemed to say (without my looking back there) was that Arminians say God sees which individuals will believe and then “elects” them to be saved. Therefore, if that is what Patton means, he has misrepresented the Arminianism held to on this blog. I find it helpful to remember that there seem to be a variety of different opinions within Calvinism and Arminianism.

    Patton echoes what Adrian Rogers once preached in a sermon on Romans 8:28-29, and I couldn’t see that passage being about God choosing those who would choose Him, so I dismissed Arminianism as a whole. This blog has opened my eyes to see a different perspective which I can agree with so far.

  15. Jack,

    You wrote,

    Now I guarantee you, Ben will never say, God DETERMINES WHO will believe. But for some reason he wants to be able to say,

    @God is the one who decides who will be His people.

    This is confusing at best, deceitful at worst. In Arminianism God decides that only believers will be His people, He does not in any way decide WHO these people will be. Therefore saying that God is the one who decides WHO will be His people, is not true. This seems to be a ploy in Arminianism at this time. I’m beginning to believe it has to do with why the cooperate view creeping into Arminianism, which Ben himself has said is not the Classical Arminian view. They seem to think this view will allow them to say God determines who is saved, but it does not. What I cannot understand, is why they now want to give God the credit for determining WHO will be His people.

    I am sorry you are struggling so much with this. In the OT God determined that the descendants of Jacob would be His people. They were chosen “in Jacob/Israel.” But aliens could also come to be among the elect (God’s people) by becoming Israelites. God didn’t determine for them to become Israelites, but in becoming Israelites, they became God’s people. That doesn’t change the fact that God determined who His covenant people were (Israelites).

    They were not elect prior to becoming an Israelite; but after becoming an Israelite, they became one of God’s chosen people, the elect. Likewise, those who did not remain faithful to the covenant could be cut off from God’s people. Such people went from having the status of one of God’s people/one of the elect, to not being one of God’s people/one of the elect. God’s people are only and always those who are in right covenant relationship with Him. In the NT one comes to be in right covenant relationship with God through Christ, His chosen (elect) covenant Head. When someone comes to be in Christ by faith, that person becomes one of God’s people. That person becomes “elect” in Christ (Eph. 1:4).

    Romans 11:16-24 illustrates this principle very nicely. The ancient olive tree is God’s covenant people. Individuals are grafted in to that people by faith, or cut off from that people through unbelief.

    So there are two truths rather plainly illustrated here. The first is that God determines who will partake in His covenant (believers). Therefore, God determines who His people will be (believers). God also determines the condition for being in His covenant and for being His people (faith). God determines who His covenant Head will be (Abraham/Isaac/Jacob [Israel], and ultimately Christ- the true promised “Seed”). We determine none of this. All of that is up to God alone. That is a lot of determining.

    But the second truth is that “we” decide if we will partake in God’s covenant through faith in Christ (covenants were never one sided). If we trust in Christ, God has determined that we will belong to Him and He will save us. If we reject Christ, God has determined to reject us and leave us in condemnation for as long as we remain in unbelief. So yeah, God determines who will be saved (all who will trust in Christ) and who will not (all those who remain in unbelief). Do we determine anything? Yes. We determine if we will believe as God enables us and therefore be joined (by the Holy Spirit) to God’s covenant people. This is exactly what I wrote long ago in a post I directed you to:

    If faith were monergistic then it would not be the person believing, but God believing for the person. Faith is the genuine human response to God’s call, and the means by which we access His saving grace (Rom. 5:1, 2). It is still God’s grace that saves, but that grace must be received by faith, and the nature of faith is such that it can never be properly called a “work”.

    Does this mean that man is the determiner of salvation and not God? Absolutely not. God has determined that those who believe in His Son shall be saved, and that determination is absolute and unchangeable (Jn. 3:16-18, 36). We simply determine whether or not we will meet the God ordained condition of faith.

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/25/is-arminian-theology-synergistic/

    The way you put things, it is as if you think I deny what I clearly affirmed in that last sentence (and in many other places). I don’t. I never have. Nor has any Arminian. But the context is very important.

    The problem is that you want to focus on the last part (our believing) and forget or dismiss the rest as basically irrelevant. That is not Biblical and that is not accurate. I could just as easily say that you are being confusing or “at worst” deceptive, in the way that you are always trying to frame things as if it is all of us, and none of God; or that God’s part isn’t really that important. What? So we can save ourselves apart from Christ’s atonement, apart from God’s mercy in receiving us by faith, apart from God’s sovereign decision to graciously save those who trust in His Son, apart from God’s determination of how we become His people, apart from God’s sovereign choice of how we come to be in right relationship with God through Christ? Is that what you believe? Is that what you believe that I believe? I should think not. So maybe it is time that you stop trying to spin what Arminians believe in such a lopsided and inaccurate manner.

    Like Patton, you leave too much out, and that simply isn’t right. But you have been told all of this before (many times).

    Is faith a determining factor in our being saved? Indeed it is. Again, no Arminian would deny it. Why should we, since the Bible everywhere declares it. But it is not the determining factor. Apart from God, faith would be entirely meaningless and useless. The only reason faith means anything is because God determined that it would (Roman 4-5, etc.). It’s too bad you are so eager to dismiss that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  16. Well as usual you have said so much here I want to respond to, however, I simply will not be able to do it here in one sitting, I simply do not have that kind of time. I see especially one thing here, I can;t wait to get to, but again because of time, and the length of what I will have to say I cannot do it at this time.Therefore allow me to attempt to tackle what I can with the little time I have now. You say,

    @God determines who will partake in His covenant (believers). Therefore, God determines who His people will be (believers).

    This is the type of language I am now seeing frequently with a number of Arminians. This is what causes me to believe it is intentional, especially since I have come to realize how careful you yourself are with your wording. In fact, if you will recall I actually said at one point that you are very clever with your wording, and it seems as though you attempt to conceal and or hide certain things in the way you word things at times. This is another example I believe. It seems strange that you and many other Arminians are using this same type of language. You say, God determines WHO will partake in His covenant, then you have the word believers in parenthesis as if an after thought, when the fact is you do not believe in the least, that God determines WHO will partake in His covenant. In reality you believe God has simply determined, (past tense) that only believers will partake in His covenant, and He does not in the least determine WHO these believers will be. My question then is, why do you insert the word WHO, when in fact you do not believe God determines WHO, and why not insert the word believers in the sentence where it should be instead of at the end in parenthesis as if an after thought? In this way it would be clear what you believe. Another point is the fact that you do not even believe God determines, rather what you believe is that God has determined (past tense). In this way the above sentence could read,

    God has determined only believers will partake in His covenant. This is in reality what you believe, and if you would word it in this way there would be no confusion, and there also would be no need for the second sentence.,

  17. This is what causes me to believe it is intentional, especially since I have come to realize how careful you yourself are with your wording. In fact, if you will recall I actually said at one point that you are very clever with your wording, and it seems as though you attempt to conceal and or hide certain things in the way you word things at times.

    That was inaccurate and wrong the first time you accused me of that, and it is inaccurate and wrong now. I am careful with my wording because language needs to be precise to effectively communicate ideas and concepts correctly, especially when dealing with theological or interpretive disagreements. Now, it might be that what I think is being rather clearly communicated does not seem clear to you. I don’t know what to do about that. I have explained these things to you so many times and in so many ways. Yet, you seem to still misunderstand and, quite frankly, ignore most of what I say. This is not something new, but has been a pattern with you since you started posting here.

    It saddens me that you so quickly jump to the conclusion that I am trying to be purposely deceptive. That is not the case, and I don’t see why you would think that. Why not give the person you are conversing with the benefit of the doubt, especially since that person is a believer? Maybe you are just struggling to understand what I am saying, even if I am saying it in a way that other’s might clearly understand. Why not at least assume that is the case, rather than assuming I am being intentionally deceptive?

    This is another example I believe. It seems strange that you and many other Arminians are using this same type of language.

    Why on earth should that be strange? If we are communicating the same things, then why wouldn’t we communicate it in similar ways?

    You say, God determines WHO will partake in His covenant, then you have the word believers in parenthesis as if an after thought, when the fact is you do not believe in the least, that God determines WHO will partake in His covenant.

    Of course I do. That is a very basic way to express things. God determines that all who trust in Christ (i.e. believers) will partake in His covenant. “Believers” is not an after thought, but a clarification (a very important one), since I don’t want you to misunderstand. Believers are people. They are individuals. So what is wrong with referring to people and individuals as “who”? Again, that seems pretty basic to me, and not that hard to understand. It’s like you are always looking for something sinister in how I am communicating with you. I really don’t understand that.

    In reality you believe God has simply determined, (past tense) that only believers will partake in His covenant, and He does not in the least determine WHO these believers will be.

    Yes! That is correct. And that is exactly what I said. I just didn’t word it exactly as you have here. Do I need to word things exactly as you would for you to be able to understand? I would be happy to do that, but I don’t know exactly how you need things worded so that you will understand what I am saying.

    My question then is, why do you insert the word WHO, when in fact you do not believe God determines WHO, and why not insert the word believers in the sentence where it should be instead of at the end in parenthesis as if an after thought?

    See above. “Believers” describes “who” God determines to partake in his covenant. Again, I am sorry you are having such a hard time understanding, but nothing I have said has been inaccurate or deceptive, or “clever”, or whatever.

    Ex. “Did you determine who will be coming to your party?”

    “Yes, I have determined that my friends will come to my party and partake of all of the blessings of that party.”

    See, not so complicated. Nothing deceptive or improper about that at all. Only the friends will partake of the party. Who? The friends. Who? The friends. Who? The friends. That describes who will come. That in no way needs to imply that the one who throws the party needs to decide who will accept the invitation and who will not. If he did, that would be determining who would be at his party in a different way, but that does not change the fact that it is still entirely accurate to say “Yes, I have determined that my friends will come to my party and partake of all of the blessings of that party” even if that does not include actually determining who will accept the invitation and who will not. Again, there is nothing at all inaccurate or deceptive in that. (see Matthew 22:1-14 for a similar Biblical example)

    And again, “believers” in parentheses was not an “afterthought” but a clarification, since you were seeming to have difficulty understanding what was being said. I was worried that if I left it out, you might get the wrong idea. But I now see that no matter what I do, you still seem to get the wrong idea. Sorry, I don’t know what else to do about that.

    In this way it would be clear what you believe.

    I honestly thought it was pretty clear.

    In this way the above sentence could read,

    God has determined only believers will partake in His covenant. This is in reality what you believe, and if you would word it in this way there would be no confusion, and there also would be no need for the second sentence.

    I don’t see what major significance you are attaching to the tense. It means the same thing regardless of tense. I actually used the past tense in the post I referred you to long ago when you expressed confusion about my view. I quoted it right here in the comment you are responding to. Here it is again:

    If faith were monergistic then it would not be the person believing, but God believing for the person. Faith is the genuine human response to God’s call, and the means by which we access His saving grace (Rom. 5:1, 2). It is still God’s grace that saves, but that grace must be received by faith, and the nature of faith is such that it can never be properly called a “work”.

    Does this mean that man is the determiner of salvation and not God? Absolutely not. God has determined that those who believe in His Son shall be saved, and that determination is absolute and unchangeable (Jn. 3:16-18, 36). We simply determine whether or not we will meet the God ordained condition of faith.

    See that? Do you still think I was being purposely deceptive? If you had read that post way back when I referred you to it, that might have relieved a lot of confusion for you, and might have saved you from having to assume and seemingly assign sinister motives to me in how I communicate. And if you had read it in the comments you are now responding to, I don’t see how you can say what you just said here. It makes me think you don’t read things carefully or thoroughly, and perhaps that is why you are having such trouble understanding.

    I see especially one thing here, I can;t wait to get to, but again because of time, and the length of what I will have to say I cannot do it at this time.

    I look forward to it, when you get the time.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  18. Well as usual you have said so much…

    The reason I say “so much” is because I try to actually respond to all that you say (rather than ignoring much of it), and I am trying very hard to be very clear and to make it as easy as possible to understand by explaining it in numerous ways, even using many Biblical examples. Yet, I get accused of trying to be deceptive. It seems I can’t win.

  19. First, let me apologize. I can see how you could take my comments as not giving you the benefit of the doubt. This was not my intention. However this could be just a difference in the way we communicate. Let me give an example, I said,

    This is what causes me to believe it is intentional,

    I can see now, how this could be taken as not giving the benefit of the doubt, and I should have used the word suspect instead of believe. However, if I truly believed it was intentional, with no doubt in my mind. I would have worded it, this is why I believe it is intentional. Also if you will notice in the very next sentence I say,

    and it seems as though you attempt to conceal and or hide certain things

    I used the word seems here which is intended to give the benefit of doubt. At any rate I truly apologize, and take full responsibility for my error in the wording. You say,

    Why not give the person you are conversing with the benefit of the doubt, especially since that person is a believer?

    This was my intention, even though I failed to do so. I want to be clear here in saying, I consider you more than a believer, I consider you a brother in Christ, even though we may have differences.

    Now let me attempt to respond to some of the other things you have said here. You say,

    And again, “believers” in parentheses was not an “afterthought” but a clarification, since you were seeming to have difficulty understanding what was being said. I was worried that if I left it out, you might get the wrong idea.

    You say here, that you included the word believers for my benefit, because if you left it out I might get the wrong idea. This seems to tell me that if I had not been pushing the issue, and you were in casual conversation with someone else, this word, may not be included. The fact is you have said similar things without inserting this qualifying word. Example,

    .God is the one who decides who will be His people.

    Let me explain why I believe this is so important. Lets say I am a fairly new believer, and I come to you and say. Ben, does God determine who will be saved? If you were to answer this question in the way you seem to think you can, without qualifying it, in other words, if you were to simply answer. Yes God determines those who are saved. I would come away from this believing Calvinism was true, and you are more than likely a Calvinist yourself. Now if I were to change this question as a new believer to. Does God determine who will believe? You would have to answer in the negative. Therefore, if God does not determine who will believe, then He does not determine who will be saved. Furthermore, if God does not determine who will believe, then He does not determine who will be elect. Now I understand by now, you are speaking of the corporate aspect of election, (which is another subject I’d love to discuss) however you know that most people who ask this question would not be thinking in those terms. More than likely they are thinking in terms of the individual, including themselves. But even in the corporate view, God does not determine who is in and who is out. Lets take your example of the party.

    My wife will have these lady parties at our house, like a jewelry party. She will invite as many ladies as possible in hopes of having a good turn out. I have ask her before. Who all is coming to the party? She has answered, I can’t tell you who will come, I can only tell you who all I have invited. Therefore she cannot determine who will be at the party. The only way she could determine who would be there is to somehow force them to attend. As far as your reference to Matt. 22, all I can say, is it seems to be making my point. The king did not determine who would come,, he only determined who was invited.

    Well this is all I have time for right now. You say,

    The reason I say “so much” is because I try to actually respond to all that you say (rather than ignoring much of it),

    I am not ignoring anything, I just don’t seem to have the same kind of time you have. I work a job of more than 40 hours a week. But it is also the fact that you are far better at this than I am.

    .
    ,

  20. Let me explain why I believe this is so important. Lets say I am a fairly new believer, and I come to you and say. Ben, does God determine who will be saved? If you were to answer this question in the way you seem to think you can, without qualifying it, in other words, if you were to simply answer. Yes God determines those who are saved. I would come away from this believing Calvinism was true, and you are more than likely a Calvinist yourself.

    But you are not a new believer and we have had this discussion many times before in many different ways. So I don’t see how your example is relevant. If it was a new believer I would explain it very carefully, just as I have with you many, many times. That is why I don’t really understand all of this. It is like you are trying to get me to admit something that I never denied and always proclaimed. It is really bizarre.

    But the nature of this ongoing discussion has somehow morphed. The reason we began to have this discussion in various places and in various ways is because you have often framed the issue as: if we have anything to do with our faith, then salvation “depends” on us or is “all” of us, or the like, making us a self-savior, or whatever. Now if you said that to a new believer, it would be misleading, just as you think my language has been. So I have worked hard to explain to you why that is not an accurate way to express salvation or the Arminian view of salvation. It leaves way too much out. It would never be Biblically accurate to say such things. I have explained this over and over to you. Yet, now you seem to be bothered that I have left things out or that I am some how trying to “hide” things (though you have said “seems”). Yet, I have always said just what I am saying here, so it is really baffling to me, especially since it seems to me that you have been the one eager to leave (very important) things out, things that would make it impossible for you to rightly claim that in Arminianism we are self-saviors, or are saved by works, or that salvation “ultimately depends” on us. But you still have claimed such things.

    Now if I were to change this question as a new believer to. Does God determine who will believe? You would have to answer in the negative.

    Yes. That is how I would always answer it, and that is how I have always answered it. That is why I am an Arminian and not a Calvinist.

    Therefore, if God does not determine who will believe, then He does not determine who will be saved.

    That is correct in one sense, but not correct in another sense. God does determine that all who believe will be saved (Rom. 10:8-13). If not for that determination, not even believers could be saved. But all believers will be saved, because God has promised that all believers will be saved, and be His chosen people. That is not up to us. It is up to God.

    Furthermore, if God does not determine who will believe, then He does not determine who will be elect.

    In one sense that is accurate, but in another sense it is not. See above.

    Now I understand by now, you are speaking of the corporate aspect of election, (which is another subject I’d love to discuss) however you know that most people who ask this question would not be thinking in those terms.

    But all of this applies just as well in a more traditional Arminian view. In both views, God alone determines that believers will be saved. In both views, believers are saved through union with Christ. In both views, only believers are God’s elect. In both views we become elect through faith.

    More than likely they are thinking in terms of the individual, including themselves.

    Well, the corporate view in no way discounts the individual. The individual is elect based on his or her identification with Christ and His people (the body of Christ, those in union with Him). The corporate view has a strong view of the individual, it only says that the corporate group is primarily in view (whenever the Bible speaks of election unto salvation) and the individual is in view secondarily as he or she relates to the group. Did you read any of those resources I directed you to on corporate election? You can find quite a bit of good information in the “Corporate Election Quotes” post I did just a little while ago. I also gave you several very scholarly articles to check out. Unfortunately, they may not be available right now due to the SEA site being temporarily down.

    But even in the corporate view, God does not determine who is in and who is out. Lets take your example of the party.

    Well that is true in one sense, and not in another. God does determine who is in and who is out. Believers are in and unbelievers are out. But, he does not determine who will believe and who will not. Again, I never claimed that. That is why Arminians hold to “conditional election/salvation” rather than “unconditional election/salvation”.

    My wife will have these lady parties at our house, like a jewelry party. She will invite as many ladies as possible in hopes of having a good turn out. I have ask her before. Who all is coming to the party? She has answered, I can’t tell you who will come, I can only tell you who all I have invited. Therefore she cannot determine who will be at the party. The only way she could determine who would be there is to somehow force them to attend. As far as your reference to Matt. 22, all I can say, is it seems to be making my point. The king did not determine who would come,, he only determined who was invited.

    Well, the parable is about God. God is the king in this parable and it has reference to salvation (being at the wedding feast of the Lamb). So whatever point it makes, it is a Biblical point. But God does more than just determine who will be invited. He determines that those who accept that invitation will partake of the feast. In other words, God has determined that believers (those who respond to the invitation) will partake of His feast, and unbelievers (those who refuse the invitation) will not partake of the feast. Any idea of God determining who will accept the invitation is entirely foreign to the text, and yet Jesus ends the passage by saying “many are called, yet few are chosen.” So this text conforms perfectly with Arminianism, while it creates problems for Calvinism.

    Likewise, I pointed you to Rom. 11 and gave you OT examples of election to further illustrate how this works.

    I am not ignoring anything, I just don’t seem to have the same kind of time you have. I work a job of more than 40 hours a week. But it is also the fact that you are far better at this than I am.

    I don’t have much time either. Until just recently, I did not even have the internet at home. But now I do have a little more time. The main point about you ignoring things is that you ignore things that answer your questions or concisely address your arguments as if they were never even said. It is like asking a question and getting an answer, and then later asking the same question as if the answer wasn’t already given (even if you disagree with the answer). That is what I mean. I don’t mean that you need to respond to every word I type.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  21. @But you are not a new believer and we have had this discussion many times before in many different ways. So I don’t see how your example is relevant.

    I was only using the analogy of a new believer to demonstrate how confusing your statement could be, but this statement, (God determines those who are saved) coming from an Arminian, is not only confusing, it is simply not a true statement, because this is not what Arminians believe. An Arminian can never make this statement, even if you attempt to qualify it at the end by saying. “those who believe.” Let’s return to your party analogy.

    If you were to say to me, I have determined who will be at my party, and then go on to say, that it will only be friends. I would more than likely not even pay attention to the fact that this is in reality not a true statement, I would not even think twice about what you have said. However, in reality you have not determined WHO will be there, in fact you have not determined if any one will be there at all. You have only determined two things as far as I can see, 1) only friends will be invited, 2) you have determined who will not be invited. Again, in this situation I would not think twice about what you have said, because the stakes are not very high at all. But we are not talking here about a temporal party, rather we are talking about eternal salvation, so the stakes are much higher. A Calvinist can say, “God determines those who are saved,” and this is what the debate has been raging over for hundreds of years now, because Arminians have said, that this is not true, God does not determine, those who are saved. Therefore an Arminian can never make this statement even if you attempt to qualify it at the end by saying “those who believe.” The first part of this statement, (“God determines those who are saved”) would be an untrue statement on the part of an Arminian, making the second part, (“those who believe”) nonsense. If you want to be completely accurate as an Arminian you could say, “God has determined to save, those who believe.” If God does not determine those who believe, then He does not determine those that are saved. Please explain why, you, and other Arminians, would even want to make such a statement? I think I know the answer, but it is only an assumption. At any rate let’s move on to the next paragraph. You say,

    @The reason we began to have this discussion in various places and in various ways is because you have often framed the issue as: if we have anything to do with our faith, then salvation “depends” on us or is “all” of us, or the like, making us a self-savior, or whatever.

    This is where I believe you are being extremely careful with your wording, and I can’t help but think it is intentional, in order to hide something, or to confuse the issue. Let’s look closer.

    You say I have framed the issue, “as if we have anything to do with our faith.”………. Let’s stop right here for a moment. You as an Arminian believe that faith, is our part, in other words faith is simply believing and trusting, and this is something we do. Therefore I would be correct thus far, we do have something to do with our faith according to Arminianism. You then go on to say, this causes me to assume, that salvation depends on us. Now, this is not what I am saying at all, and I believe you know this. In other words I believe you know this is not at all what I am saying, and you have worded it in such a way as to confuse the issue. If someone is not paying close attention to your wording, they could wrongfully believe that what you have said is correct. I understand, that Arminians can say, we have something to do with our faith, but this does not mean we have anything to do with salvation. We have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation, rather salvation is of God and God alone, and I understand how you and I can agree on this. However let’s change the wording just a bit to see then, if we can agree. Let’s look at the sentence again.

    @if we have anything to do with our faith, then salvation “depends” on us

    Notice here, how you have used the word OUR in the first part of the sentence in front of the word faith. However you do not use this word in the second part of the sentence. Let us now then, insert this word in the second half, and see if this may be the way in which I have framed the issue. Let us also see, how much this will change the meaning, and let us see as well if we can still agree. The sentence would then read,

    if we have anything to do with our faith, then our salvation “depends” on us.

    Well now!!!! This changes things, doesn’t it? I am using the word, OUR in the second half of the sentence, in the same way you have used it in the first part. Let me be clear on what I mean here, so there is no confusion. I mean OUR, like OUR own personal, individual, salvation. As I said this changes things completely. So then, the question to you is. If we have anything to do with OUR own personal, individual, faith, does this therefore mean that OUR own personal, individual salvation depends on us? Well in fact it certainly does. This means that OUR own individual, personal, salvation, depends completely on us, or as our Arminian brother Roger Olson puts it, “it is ultimately up to us.”

    I find it extremely hard to believe, that you did not understand all of this, and it is also difficult to imagine that the word OUR was not left out on purpose, in order to confuse the issue. It is also hard to believe that you did not understand the way in which I was framing the issue. It just seems all to convenient, especially for someone so careful otherwise.

  22. I find it extremely hard to believe, that you did not understand all of this, and it is also difficult to imagine that the word OUR was not left out on purpose, in order to confuse the issue. It is also hard to believe that you did not understand the way in which I was framing the issue. It just seems all to convenient, especially for someone so careful otherwise.

    Jack,

    For some reason you continue to question my integrity and my motives. I really don’t understand that. I am sorry, but since you can’t seem to stop doing this, your posts will no longer be tolerated here. I think I have been more than patient with you up to this point. I will respond to this last one when I get the time, but you are no longer welcome to comment at my blog. I trust you will honor my request and not try to leave further comments. It is too bad it has come to this. I truly hope that you will continue to seek God’s truth and allow the Scriptures alone to be your guide.

  23. I was only using the analogy of a new believer to demonstrate how confusing your statement could be

    But I was making the statement to you (someone I have taken great pains to explain this to), and with all of the qualifications (or clarifications) that seem to have annoyed you for some reason. So again, your point isn’t really relevant, as I pointed out.

    but this statement, (God determines those who are saved) coming from an Arminian, is not only confusing, it is simply not a true statement,

    How can you say that? Of course it is true. It depends in what sense you mean it. I explained exactly how it is a true statement in my response to you. This is why I mentioned that you do not seem to bother to read what I write or entirely disregard what I write in your responses as if nothing was said at all. Maybe you need to read my response again.

    because this is not what Arminians believe. An Arminian can never make this statement, even if you attempt to qualify it at the end by saying. “those who believe.”

    But that doesn’t make sense. The “qualification” as you call it, is what makes it true. I was very clear that the statement was true in one sense, and not in another, depending on what you are getting at. So you are wrong to say that I can’t make this statement or that an Arminian can’t make it. They can indeed, and it is entirely true. I explained this very clearly when I wrote:

    “That is correct in one sense, but not correct in another sense. God does determine that all who believe will be saved (Rom. 10:8-13). If not for that determination, not even believers could be saved. But all believers will be saved, because God has promised that all believers will be saved, and be His chosen people. That is not up to us. It is up to God…Well that is true in one sense, and not in another. God does determine who is in and who is out. Believers are in and unbelievers are out. But, he does not determine who will believe and who will not. Again, I never claimed that. That is why Arminians hold to “conditional election/salvation” rather than “unconditional election/salvation”.”

    Let’s return to your party analogy.

    If you were to say to me, I have determined who will be at my party, and then go on to say, that it will only be friends. I would more than likely not even pay attention to the fact that this is in reality not a true statement, I would not even think twice about what you have said.

    But it is entirely true, and you cannot demonstrate how it is false. All you can do is assert it. As I explained very clearly, it is true in one sense (and I described that sense) and it is not true in another sense (and I described that sense). But you ignore all of that for some reason.

    However, in reality you have not determined WHO will be there, in fact you have not determined if any one will be there at all. You have only determined two things as far as I can see, 1) only friends will be invited, 2) you have determined who will not be invited. Again, in this situation I would not think twice about what you have said, because the stakes are not very high at all. But we are not talking here about a temporal party, rather we are talking about eternal salvation, so the stakes are much higher. A Calvinist can say, “God determines those who are saved,” and this is what the debate has been raging over for hundreds of years now, because Arminians have said, that this is not true, God does not determine, those who are saved.

    Well, that is true in one sense and not in another (as I clearly explained). Why are you having such a hard time with that? And you ignored the very relevant Scripture I pointed you to about the wedding feast. That’s too bad.

    Therefore an Arminian can never make this statement even if you attempt to qualify it at the end by saying “those who believe.”

    Of course an Arminian can say that because it is entirely true that God has determined that only believers will be saved. But you just want to focus on one aspect and ignore the rest as if none of it matters. But it matters a great deal, and that is the point.

    The first part of this statement, (“God determines those who are saved”) would be an untrue statement on the part of an Arminian, making the second part, (“those who believe”) nonsense.

    Not at all. It is entirely true (as has been explained), just not in the sense that you personally want to focus on. But that is not the whole story. I am sorry of it bothers you that I want to focus on all of it, instead of just the parts that you find rhetorically effective for your particular theological view of things.

    If you want to be completely accurate as an Arminian you could say, “God has determined to save, those who believe.”

    That is the same thing I have been saying.

    If God does not determine those who believe, then He does not determine those that are saved.

    But you just admitted that it is accurate to say that God determines to save, those who believe. So does He determine that or not? I think you are just confusing yourself somehow.

    Please explain why, you, and other Arminians, would even want to make such a statement?

    Because it is accurate; because it places the emphasis in salvation with God, as it should; because it prevents Calvinists from telling part of the story as if it is the whole story and thereby distorting and misrepresenting the truth.

    I think I know the answer, but it is only an assumption.

    But you have strongly asserted your assumptions. You think that I am dishonest and trying to purposely deceive. Why not just be honest about it yourself?

    At any rate let’s move on to the next paragraph. You say,

    @The reason we began to have this discussion in various places and in various ways is because you have often framed the issue as: if we have anything to do with our faith, then salvation “depends” on us or is “all” of us, or the like, making us a self-savior, or whatever.

    This is where I believe you are being extremely careful with your wording, and I can’t help but think it is intentional, in order to hide something, or to confuse the issue. Let’s look closer.

    Well, you are wrong. I am just stating things plainly. In case you need a reminder, you can read through some of our previous discussions again (though there are many others that I could refer to as well),

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/does-jesus-teach-unconditional-eternal-security-in-john-1027-29/#comment-7506

    You say I have framed the issue, “as if we have anything to do with our faith.”………. Let’s stop right here for a moment. You as an Arminian believe that faith, is our part, in other words faith is simply believing and trusting, and this is something we do.

    Yes, I believe that as an Arminian, but mainly because that is what the Bible everywhere declares (without all of the philosophical nonsense Calvinists read into what the Bible says on the subject).

    Therefore I would be correct thus far, we do have something to do with our faith according to Arminianism.

    Absolutely. I never denied it. See the link of our prior conversation above.

    You then go on to say, this causes me to assume, that salvation depends on us.

    I didn’t say it “causes [you] to assume” anything. I only repeated what you have claimed, and you have claimed much more than what you just said here, as I wrote:

    “The reason we began to have this discussion in various places and in various ways is because you have often framed the issue as: if we have anything to do with our faith, then salvation “depends” on us or is “all” of us, or the like, making us a self-savior, or whatever.”

    Now, this is not what I am saying at all, and I believe you know this.

    Really? I only know what you have said (and you say it again below).

    In other words I believe you know this is not at all what I am saying, and you have worded it in such a way as to confuse the issue.

    Interesting. I assume you can see how I could easily come to the same conclusion about the way you have stated things. Again, I refer you to the previous conversation linked to above.

    If someone is not paying close attention to your wording, they could wrongfully believe that what you have said is correct. I understand, that Arminians can say, we have something to do with our faith, but this does not mean we have anything to do with salvation. We have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation, rather salvation is of God and God alone, and I understand how you and I can agree on this.

    I am glad you agree, but this would seem to be the first time you have agreed. Maybe I have not been so awkward and confusing in explaining things after all

    However let’s change the wording just a bit to see then, if we can agree. Let’s look at the sentence again.

    @if we have anything to do with our faith, then salvation “depends” on us

    Notice here, how you have used the word OUR in the first part of the sentence in front of the word faith. However you do not use this word in the second part of the sentence. Let us now then, insert this word in the second half, and see if this may be the way in which I have framed the issue. Let us also see, how much this will change the meaning, and let us see as well if we can still agree. The sentence would then read,

    if we have anything to do with our faith, then our salvation “depends” on us.

    That is true in one sense, but not in another (more on that below). But that has been explained already. However, salvation is all of God, as you explained just above (in agreeing with me). Remember, you wrote,

    “I understand, that Arminians can say, we have something to do with our faith, but this does not mean we have anything to do with salvation. We have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation, rather salvation is of God and God alone, and I understand how you and I can agree on this.”

    Well, if you can agree with me on this, then how can you possibly say that we believe that salvation “ultimately depends on us”??? That doesn’t make sense. You cannot say that salvation is “of God and God alone” and “we have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation” and yet say that salvation “ultimately depends on us”, at least not without a tremendous amount of important qualifiers. But you seem to have a problem with qualifiers. So it would seem that you are just being contradictory here.

    Well now!!!! This changes things, doesn’t it? I am using the word, OUR in the second half of the sentence, in the same way you have used it in the first part. Let me be clear on what I mean here, so there is no confusion.

    Sounds good.

    I mean OUR, like OUR own personal, individual, salvation. As I said this changes things completely.

    Not really. It is still God that saves us as individuals in a “personal” way. So what has changed really?

    So then, the question to you is. If we have anything to do with OUR own personal, individual, faith, does this therefore mean that OUR own personal, individual salvation depends on us?

    In one sense, yes. But that is not the whole story. The most important parts are left out. Our “decision” is what depends on us, but our salvation depends on God. That is what the decision is about. It is a decision to depend on God to save us. Adding or removing “our” doesn’t really change that. The problem is that you conflate the decision with salvation itself, and that is inaccurate (as has been explained many times)

    Well in fact it certainly does. This means that OUR own individual, personal, salvation, depends completely on us, or as our Arminian brother Roger Olson puts it, “it is ultimately up to us.”

    No it doesn’t, unless one forgets all that has been explained to you. Our own personal salvation depends on God who saves us (just as you said we agree upon above), but it is up to us to believe, so there is a weak sense in which we save ourselves, but not ultimately. That discounts God’s role, and His role is the role of the One who actually does the saving. That is obviously the most important role with regards to salvation. Again, this has been explained many, many, many times to you.

    Let’s consider some Scriptures to help make illustrate the point,

    Acts 2:37-40,

    Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
    And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (ESV, bold emphasis mine)

    Acts 16:27-31,

    When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and
    When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (ESV, bold emphasis mine)

    Again, it is true in a sense that we save ourselves, but our saving ourselves is ultimately dependent on God saving us. So it is simply not accurate to say that we “ultimately” save ourselves. The Bible makes it clear that we have a part in saving ourselves, but that part is only in relying on God’s salvation.

    Therefore, it is simply wrong to frame things as you do. You leave too much out, as has been explained many times. Arminians could only possibly say that we “save ourselves” in the same sense that the Bible does (as the passages above illustrate). But even our faith is enabled by God (we cannot believe otherwise), and our faith is ultimately meaningless unless God gives it meaning (the God ordained condition for receiving salvation). Likewise, our faith is meaningless if not for the object of faith, which is Christ. If not for Him and His atonement, no amount of faith or anything else could help us. So again, salvation is plainly ultimately dependent on God, while it is “up to us” whether or not we will receive God’s salvation through faith (as the above Scriptures plainly show).

    So the only proper sense that we can say that we “save ourselves” is that we receive God’s salvation by faith. But it is still God’s salvation, a salvation that He alone authors, provides and makes possible. And in the end, He is the one who saves us (as you seem to plainly agree with), as we cannot save ourselves (in the truest sense). All we can do is trust in Him to save us. That is why faith (trust) is the perfect condition for receiving salvation (since its entire focus is on someone else- Christ, the Savior) and since it is how we admit that we are powerless to save ourselves (in the truest sense). That is what faith is all about. It receives a free, unearned and undeserved gift from God’s hand; a gift we cannot create or give ourselves (and so can take no rightful credit for). All we can do is receive it through trust in the Giver. That is why faith excludes boasting (Rom. 4), and that is why God is pleased with faith.

    So it should be plain to you why I think you are wrong to say that “our salvation depends on us,” as if this succinctly represents the Arminian position. It doesn’t. Our faith decision depends on us (as God enables it), but that decision itself is an admission of dependence on God for salvation. I told you that I was OK with Olson saying that salvation was “ultimately up to us”, but only given the context he was saying it in (and it is that context that I have been explaining to you). The problem is that you leave the context out, and change what is “up to us” (our decision) into salvation “depending on us”, which is not the case. And even given that context, while I agree with the Bible that there is a sense in which we “save ourselves”, that sense is not “ultimate” in salvation. Rather, it is plainly subordinate to the One who actually does the saving, even if it is us who freely trust in Him to save us. Or as you nicely put it above:

    “I understand, that Arminians can say, we have something to do with our faith, but this does not mean we have anything to do with salvation. We have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation, rather salvation is of God and God alone, and I understand how you and I can agree on this.”

    Now, personally, I would never put it as Olson did. I don’t think that was the best way to say things (since it obviously created so much confusion in you). But I can tolerate it only because of the context in which it was said, since he explained and qualified what he meant. I explained this to you before (in the comment thread linked to above). I was very careful to explain to you the only possible “sense” in which I could accept his statement, which I believe is the sense in which he meant it ( in fact, in a private email, he made it clear that it was indeed the sense in which he meant it). Here is exactly what I said to you about Olson’s comment,

    I don’t really have a problem with what Olson says here, so long as it is taken in context and it is understood that prevenient grace is what makes faith possible. He is basically saying that if God doesn’t choose us unconditionally and cause us to have faith as a result, then we choose freely as God enables us. It is not really an issue of: does God save or do we save? God is the only one who can save us. It is a matter of receiving God’s salvation. Does God call on us to receive Him and then enable us to do so, while still allowing for us to reject Him, or does God unconditionally decide who will receive His salvation and then cause them to receive it irresistibly? So while we are utterly dependent on God to save us, it is up to us to depend on God (through faith) or not. That is in contrast to the view that says that God determines who will be saved unconditionally and “passes over” the rest, leaving them in damnation. So the decision is ultimately up to us in the sense that God leaves that decision to us, but that is not the same as saying that salvation or salvation security is ultimately up to us, as I explained it above. Hope that helps. Here are a few short posts I wrote a long time ago (my first two posts, I believe) that might help you see things more clearly,

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/25/is-arminian-theology-synergistic/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/the-nature-of-saving-faith/

    And here is one a little more recent that might be helpful as well,

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/some-basic-thoughts-on-decisional-regeneration-from-an-arminian-perspective/

    God Bless,

    Ben

    I emphasized important portions above to show you why I simply cannot understand how you can possibly say that I am trying to be deceptive or confusing given how clear I was in describing things to you before. Just as I have been saying, I have explained this to you many times, and this is just one of many examples. All of those things you say I am hiding were plainly explained here and not hidden in the least. But, as I have mentioned, you just ignore what I write, and continue on as if nothing was said, even making wild accusations that I am trying to cleverly hide things when everything has been openly proclaimed from the very beginning. So there is simply nothing more for us to discuss. It has been discussed. It has been explained. You can accept it or not, but all it has gotten us is more confusion for you (somehow) and unnecessary repeated and inaccurate accusations about my integrity and motives. Surely, you understand why I have had enough of that and why I will no longer be entertaining your questions, comments, and accusations on this blog.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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