Brad Titus has written a short rant against Calvinism on his blog where he identifies Calvinism as a heresy. While I find such a label to be strikingly odd coming from a Oneness Pentecostal it goes without saying that most Arminians would never say such a thing. Equally, I disagree with Calvinist who say Arminianism is a heresy. Once I was an Arminian and I observed the slippery slopes related to Calvinism. Now I am a Calvinist who sees the slippery slopes of Arminianism.
Neither Calvinist nor Arminians, in my opinion, answer some of the important questions about the foreknowledge of God and the salvation of humanity in such a way that it does not leave us asking, “But what about this passage of Scripture?” There are Calvinist who stutter trying to explain away several portions of the Book of Hebrews. There are Arminians who struggle making sense of several parts of Romans 9-11. That is why I think that someone who is dogmatically Calvinist, as well as someone who is dogmatically Arminian, is ignoring the obvious tension of the Scriptures.
What we have is conflicting data of which we are all trying to make sense. We both must address several problems found in Scripture. First, why did God create humans He knew would go to hell (or not be saved, depending on your view of eternal damnation)? Most Calvinist must answer why God predestined some for salvation while leaving others out. Everyone has to answer why God created such people in the first place, or allowed them to come into existence, knowing that they would reject Him.
Second, we read Acts 17.26 that God has determined the times and places of which certain people groups would be part. Why did God allow certain tribes of people to wander toward what is now North America knowing that the gospel would not reach them for a very long time? Could God have prevented such migration? If so, why did He, in essence, predestine generation after generation by determining that He would let them go so far away from Palestine that it would take a very, very long time for the gospel to reach them?
I think Calvinist and Arminians have many of the same problems and we answer most questions as a difference of degree rather than type. An Open Theist does not answer these questions like we do. A Universalist does not answer these questions like we do. One says God didn’t know what was going to happen and therefore is not responsible. The other says God will make sure that this whole thing is consummated by saving everything and everyone. Neither Calvinist nor Arminians tend to affirm such things.
So is Calvinism “heretical”? No more than Arminianism. We are both trying to answer tough questions while being (mostly) limited to biblical data which exist in tension with itself.
This is a great post… as someone who grew up in the Reformed tradition, I agree with you that these labels are just a way to make things easier, not to clear up everything and answer all the questions. The more I learn, the more I’m convinced that no one “view” has it all together. I came from a pretty Calvinistic background, but I’ve never heard anyone around me say that Arminians were heretics…
I don’t follow Armin, but here is my blog for today that will not be like Calvin. It will be the other side of what you are talking about.
Hell is for Children
God has predestines some men to be objects of His grace and others as objects of His wrath. This disturbs people both in the church and outside of the church. But who are we to tell God what He can and cannot do?
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–
Face it, there is nothing you can do if you are predestined to be the objects of God’s wrath. Nor is there anything that can be done if you are objects of His grace.
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
It doesn’t matter what objections people throw out about this reality, it is our reality. How dare you complain or talk back to God about His wisdom and His choices in this matter.
But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
If you are one of the ones not predestined to grace, I hate to break it to you, you are going to hell. Don’t sweat it though, nobody can resist His will.
One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?”
God has made His children in His likeness and He has predestined most of us, His children, for hell. Sorry, many called, few chosen! Can’t help it that you may not be predestined for His grace. See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya!
For those of you who are not predestined for grace, God has made a place for you to go. So be on your way. Now the rest of us can worship.
♫Jesus loves those predestined for grace this I know ♪ for the Bible tells me so. ♫ Don’t you just love singing songs interpreted by church doctrine?
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Not Him again. He never agrees with church doctrine! If I go with what He says then everybody gets mad at me for not following church doctrine, church fathers and church counsels.
Just when I agreed with church doctrine, I will go back out on a limb for what Christ says. Hell was not made for the creation made in His image. It wasn’t for His children but for the devil and his angles.
The very idea that God has predestined most of humanity for hell and only a few for His grace is not scriptural. If God predestined men to hell, he couldn’t have made hell for the devil and his angels. He would have had to make it for those He predestined to be objects of His wrath too. Which would be most of humanity.
Why does the church imply those who are objects of God’s wrath are those predestined by God for hell? Scripture doesn’t teach this. God has prepared destruction for those under his wrath. We are all under His wrath without repentance and the work of Christ in our lives. Destruction is prepared for all of us that were under His wrath, until we became Disciples of Christ. If destruction wasn’t prepared for us too, if we were predestined for grace only, then what were we saved from? How can we escape hell, if we were never endanger of hell, because God predestined us to grace. Scripture doesn’t say, “bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—predestined for destruction,” does it? No it doesn’t, but I am wrong for not believing it reads this way.
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction?
Why is it that Paul taught there are those whose destruction is prepared for them? He taught the wrath of God is coming to men who suppress the truth, even though God has revealed Himself to all men. God has made plain to every man through creation His invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature so that all men are without excuse. The destruction prepared for those who suppress the truth will surely come, but not because God predestined them to destruction, but because they are guilty all on their own.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Well what about Pharaoh, some would ask.
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
Pharaoh is no different than those who suppress the truth which is revealed to them by God through creation. Even in Paul’s doctrine Pharaoh is without excuse. So as Paul taught, all men who have rejected the truth of what God has revealed to them of His nature, are objects of His wrath, just as we were at one time objects of His wrath.
What is so hard to accept in Paul’s doctrine that everyman is without excuse who remains under God’s wrath? So now rejecting the truth, God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh will not relent after the first couple of plagues. But will endure until God’s power is displayed to the fullest extent of His will. Just as Paul taught God would give over men to a depraved mind (hardened heart) so he gave Pharaoh over to this depraved mind as well.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
Not because He was predestined to hell, but because he has destruction prepared for him though his own rejection of the truth. Pharaoh too is without excuse.
So is God unjust in hardening the heart of Pharaoh that was already guilty of exchanging the truth for a lie? No not at all.
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
Is Pharaoh the recipient of a predestination of destruction? Not at all. He is without excuse for it was his own foolish heart that he darkened by rejecting God.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Let us no longer believe that God has predestined any man to hell. He has predestined everyman to grace, but we are the fools who darken our own hearts, because we exchange the truth for a lie. Yes there is election and yes there is calling, for many are called but few are chosen. Those few who understand it is by grace and not works that God’s purpose in our election stands.
Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”
 Romans 9:22-23
 Romans 9:16
 Romans 9:20
 Romans 9:19
 Matthew 25:41
 Romans 9:22
 Romans 1:18-23
 Romans 9:17
 Romans 1:28
 Romans 9:14
 Romans 1:21
 Romans 9:11-12
In a separate note, as someone who has been on both sides of the fence. Have you considered that once we are saved we really are? And that a man can confess Christ as a believer and yet die in his sins? And this at the same time. This all hinges on whether we receive salvation at the altar or when Christ returns.
I have dedicated my blog to this if you are curious. On my tab “got salvation” I use a short conversation format showing scripture that teaches we have a hope of salvation.
But maybe not.
Whoa! You know this is too long of a comment to receive any sort of response. I am too ADHD to even begin.
Excellent, excellent, excellent! Indeed there is tension in the Scriputres and a tension such that now you know why (or perhaps might in a small way understand) why I tend to joke about being a calvinistic arminian! or my church history professor in seminary labled us in the AG as augustinian synergist! Great response!
Then go here.
Surly you can be a little more critical of what I wrote than too long for a comment.
I assume you liked my too long comment?
You made the comment that there is tension in scripture. Is it tension in scripture or tension in what man has done to it? Man has made a tension that is not found in scripture. If I am not too long, let me explain.
One group teaches once saved always saved. Another group teaches that a man can loose his salvation.
The first group recognizes correctly that when we are saved, we are forever in His hands. The second group recognizes correctly that a man needs to remain in Christ and endure to the end in his faith in obedience or he will have believed in vain and still go to hell.
So here is the conflict, here is the rub. How can both be true?
Now comes man into the scene and makes a tension that is not found in scripture. Both sides believe salvation at the altar. Both sides have a sinner’s prayer that can not be found in the New Testament gospel. Not one Epistle has a sinner’s prayer like we can find the Lord’s pray. So the misunderstanding is found in the timing of salvation.
We know Christ came the first time to redeem men from sin. So why does He come the second time? To bring men their salvation.
(Heb 9:28 KJV) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
It is unto salvation that we look for Him at His second coming. How does our theology differ with this verse of even this verse?
(1 Pet 1:9 KJV) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Our salvation is the end of our faith, not the beginning that we preach on both sides.
So if you understand salvation is the end of faith, whether we die in Christ or we receive it as the living when He comes, then the debate between Calvin and Armin on this topic is null and void. There is no more supposed tension in scripture on the topic of our salvation. Once we are saved (at His coming) we are saved. If we do not endure to the end (His coming) we have believed in vain.
What about those scriptures that say we are saved, you ask? Hint, the New Testament teaches the answer is found in our father Abraham.
Or I could tell you with the moderator’s permission.
You act as if none of your proof-texts have been read before. A long list of quotations with short comments loses my attention, just like it did in comment form.
Well, Brian, I get who that other post was for.
Was I too obvious?!
Yeah, I didn’t click through that other one. Real Clear now.
Ephesians 4:11-16 explains why we should not be following after the teachings of men like Augustine/Calvin/Beza or Arminius. No one has any business naming the teachings of a man after him. Even “if” what he teaches IS in fact true, Rather, one should say “Scripture teaches (such and such) and (so and so) happens to agree with it.”
Please tell me who “invented” the teaching that God’s sovereignty is challenged by the notion that man is not entirely a robot. What was God’s “perfect” will for Job? Was it for him to be attacked by Satan? Or was Satan’s attack on Job God’s “permissive” will, meaning God allowed it to occur because His perfect will was for Job to be seen as a righteous servant of God’s? NOTHING happens outside of the will of God (John 1:13 is an example), but at the same time, not everything is part of God’s perfect will either. Check out 1 Peter 2:6 and 1 Timothy 5:21 and explain to me why, if neither Jesus nor the angels needed “salvation”, both are regarded as “elect”. Then check out Isaiah 42:1 & 45:4, and explain why God regards Israel (not all of whom are “saved”) as His “elect”. Is it perhaps that the “doctrine of election” does not pertain to one being chosen for “salvation”, but rather to one being chosen for a “purpose”? The prominent Calvinist John MacArthur so eloquently defines “elect” as “to choose out for a purpose” … immediately before implicitly (and subtlely) switching the meaning in mid-stream to “being chosen for salvation”
I agree with you that nothing happens to us unless God Himself allows it. Hence He allows many atrocities to happen in life, not because He wants to see men suffer, rather He lets us impact each other as to inflict suffering on each other. Like wise in a fallen world we see nature or misfortune bring suffering. Honestly I am not sure at what point you are driving at. Maybe a more direct statement about what you disagree with will help me find clarity.
To speak plainly to you, I wish to state, I do not agree with Calvinism application of God’s sovereignty when it says some are destined to grace and others are destined to hell. Not because I am desirous to be anti-Calvinist and I like the abuse of those who would rather snicker and scorn me, rather because I see something else plainly taught in scripture.
(Heb 2:9 NIV) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
As you said,
Ephesians 4:11-16 explains why we should not be following after the teachings of men like Augustine/Calvin/Beza or Arminius. No one has any business naming the teachings of a man after him. Even “if” what he teaches IS in fact true, Rather, one should say “Scripture teaches and happens to agree with it.”
Now since scripture teaches that by God’s grace Christ tasted death for every man, why should I not say that scripture happens to not agree with Calvinism?
Since I am not sure what your point is, are you saying that Christ didn’t taste death for every man? What is your position?
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