Much of Church History at Odds with Calvinism (Part 2)

Be sure to check out this article at SEA on the comparative lack of historical precedent in Calvinism as well as some insightful discussion on the origins of Calvinistic determinism:

Church History and Calvinism

Are Arminians Semi-Pelagian?

Given the fact that a certain Calvinist has recently asserted as much and refused to receive correction on the matter, I thought it would be helpful to direct anyone interested to the following excellent article on the subject at SEA:

Are Arminians Semi-Pelagian?

We can also add the following quote by Calvinists Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams:

Does the antipathy between Calvinism and Arminianism suggest that Pelagius, the arch-opposite of Augustine, is the proper ancestor of Arminianism?  Calvinists have often sought to paint Arminianism in Pelagian colors.  Associating your opponent with a position that the historic faith has repeatedly judged heretical can only help one’s cause.  However, the allegation that Arminianism is Pelagian is unfortunate and indeed unwarranted.  From Jacob Arminius and the ‘Remonstrance Articles’ on, the Arminian tradition has affirmed the corruption of the will by sin and the necessity of grace for redemption.  Arminianism is not Pelagianism….The Semi-Pelagians thought of salvation as beginning with human beings.  We must first seek God; and his grace is a response to that seeking.  The Arminians of the seventeenth century, however, held that the human will has been so corrupted by sin that a person cannot seek God without the enablement of grace.  They therefore affirmed the necessity and priority of grace in redemption.  Grace must go before a person’s response to the gospel.  This suggests that Arminianism is closer to Semi-Augustinianism than it is to Semi-Pelagianism or Pelagianism. (Why I Am Not An Arminian, pg. 39)

At least there are some scholarly Calvinists out there who are more interested in accuracy than smear tactics.

Much of Christian History at Odds With Calvinism

Great article at SEA documenting this:

Prereformation Church History & The Calvinist/Arminian Debate

Of course, the earliest Christian writers prior to Augustine (the ante-Nicene fathers) rejected all of the basic features of what is now known as Calvinism (e.g. exhaustive determinism, inevitable perseverance, limited atonement, unconditional election and predestination, etc.), while affirming the central features of what would later come to be known as Arminianism (e.g. libertarian free will, resistible grace, conditional election, the possibility and reality of true believers abandoning the faith, unlimited atonement, etc.).

Can A Regenerate Christian Be Totally Depraved?

In an earlier post I wrote concerning John Calvin’s character with regards to his dealings with Servetus, a Calvinist commenter admitted that what Calvin did was wrong and said it wasn’t a problem since Calvinists would just chalk it up to his total depravity.  I then asked him if he was affirming that Calvin was both regenerate and totally depraved at the same time.  He responded that this was indeed what he was suggesting.  I mentioned that I understood the idea that we still have a sinful nature that must be overcome by yielding to the Spirit, but to say that one can be totally depraved and regenerate at the same time seems very problematic, especially considering the way that Calvinists explain total depravity as a state of being like a lifeless corpse, unable to respond to God.  We didn’t pursue the issue any further, but I wanted to bring it up again and get some opinions.

Do you think that many Calvinists would put the matter as that commenter did, that Calvin was totally depraved while also being regenerate?  I can’t imagine that many Calvinist would agree, but maybe I am wrong.  If it is the case that Calvinists believe that one can be dead in sin while regenerate, then how would they address the apparent problems such a position would seem to imply?  For example: How can one be dead in sin and dead to sin at the same time?  How can one be dead in sin and enjoy the life of Christ at the same time.  How can we call a believer who is being sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit “totally depraved” in the Calvinist sense?

Does the Gospel According to Calvinism Offer Salvation to Anyone At All?

Dr. Picirilli thinks not.  After making the point that Calvinists believe that those reprobates who hear the gospel cannot truly respond to the offer of salvation, he further observes that,

Furthermore, in the Calvinistic system, the gospel is not really offering salvation to any, since neither the elect nor the non-elect can accept the offer or meet its conditions.  In fact, the “conditions” are not really conditions in the Calvinist system.  They are part of the “package” of salvation benefits given to the elect by virtue of the death of Christ for them.

Without realizing it, the Calvinist is finally saying that repentance and faith (as the gift of God in the salvation “package”) are being offered to all who will repent and believe, when in fact none can do so.  This reduces to pure tautology and is no offer at all. (Grace, Faith, Free Will, pp. 117, 118, emphasis his)

What do you think?  Is this a valid point?  If faith and repentance are not conditions met for the receiving of salvation, but rather issue irresistibly from a primary aspect of salvation (regeneration), then it would seem to follow that the gospel offer of salvation is not a genuine offer for anyone.  Does that make sense?  Picirilli continues,

If not all who hear can respond to the gospel, as the Calvinist insists, then only those given repentance and faith can do so.  In consequence, no person who hears the gospel can do so with any confidence that he can respond.  Conversely, all who hear and are not given the gift may conclude that the offer is not intended for them and therefore not rejected by them.  What a person cannot receive, he cannot really reject.  Nor can he be rightly blamed for rejection (although he might well be blamed for being in the condition that brought on his inability). (ibid. 118 emphasis his)

Magic Hand-waving in the Calvinist Cause (Comments)

“Arminian” has responded at SEA (Magic Hand-waving in the Calvinist Cause) to James Anderson’s second rebuttal (The Arminian Cause).  Since SEA does not allow comments, this thread will serve as a place where comments and interactions can take place.