Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Calvinist? Arminian?

After my ruminations on the first paragraph of Ephesians 1, some might wonder why I said nothing about election. After perusing my list of favorite blogs, my friends and family might be wondering if I’m a Calvinist. So I thought I should state clearly where I stand on the election question:

I don’t care.
I’m not a Calvinist, nor am I an Arminian. I’m a non-participant in the debate. I’ve found neither side’s argument completely convincing thus far, and I have insufficient interest to continue searching at this time. That is for one reason:

It doesn’t matter.
Now, in the end, maybe the Calvinists are right, maybe the Arminians are right, and maybe there’s another position that’s closer to the truth. I doubt we’ll know this side of glory. The simple fact is, if there is Calvinist-style election, we don’t know who is elected. We were instructed to go make disciples; we go everywhere and tell everyone. Some will become disciples – however that happens, when it happens we are indebted entirely to God through Jesus Christ. But the how and why are beside the point.

I’m not trying to give theology a bad rap. I love theology, and I think everyone should know what they believe and why they believe it, but this particular debate generates lots of heat and no light and the answer should have no bearing on how we live our lives because:

The election question does not change the Great Commission or the Great Commandment.
I have enough trouble living those out. I’ll save this question for heaven.

More on Ephesians 1


Danny Wright said...

I think you're right on here, but I do have a question. You said that neither side has a completely convincing argument. I see lots of scripture that convinces me of election, and only one do I ever hear used against it, which is "God wishes that none should perish". Do you know of anymore?

ChrisB said...

A common misperception is that Arminians don't believe in election. The Calvinist/Arminian debate is on the nature of election (one might say sovereign vs foreknown), not its existence. Semi-pelagians are probably the ones best described as denying election.

The Arminian version ... I have trouble with God "electing" those He knows will choose Him. That doesn't sound very much like the God who raised up Pharoh so He could make an example of him.

The Calvinist version, though, tries to explain God pleading with people to repent, but not giving them the power to repent, in a fashion that takes the "two wills" almost to the point of two personalities.

And, of course, Calvinists do have trouble explaining "God wishes that none should perish" (which appears twice in the NT) and Christ dying "for the sins of the whole world" (1 John).

But again, I don't intend to put too much study into this issue -- I feel like there are more pressing issues to study and debate.

Danny Wright said...

Just wanted to pick your brain on the matter. Thanks for taking the time to answer, you pretty much spelled out the dilemmas for both sides.

Diane R said...

"I don't care" and "it doesn't matter?" LOL.....I think you and I are on the same wavelength...kind of. I have a feeling you do think it matters sometimes but perhaps we don't need to spend hours on this topic or tear our hair out over it.

The one area where it might matter is HOW we evangelize. If we beleive certain ones are preselected...er....I mean predestined, then we probably will relax, tell people about Christ and let the Holy Spiirt do the work. And I think that is the way it should be. The problem with believing people are not preselected is, when we evangelize, we may be tempted to "help" them make the decision. And I do see predestination in Romans 9 but I still have trouble with it.

ChrisB said...

Thanks for dropping by, Diane.

I have to admit that hyperbole is my native tongue. My point is that it's not something we should lose sleep (or friends) over.

Calvinists and Arminians both see "predestination" in Rom 9; it's the nature of election, not the fact of it, that is in dispute between those two camps.

As for evangelism, I think people who are properly biblically grounded will take the stance you mentioned. Those who start to twist arms have forgotten who's in charge.

Anonymous said...

whats up everyone

Just saying hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

Anonymous said...

really an eye opener for me.

- Robson

Anonymous said...

Wow, greet post !