Saturday, March 13, 2010

Formal Calvinism vs. Arminianism Debate, Cross-ex part 1 of 5

This is the first "formal" debate in which I've participated (with rules and such). For readers who are on facebook, they may find both sides of the debate here. If others are interested, they may email me for a word document. The format, set by my opponent, will be as follows:
"Opening Statement period (~1,000 words each)
First Rebuttal period (really depends on the opening statement, and you can provide as much rebuttal as possible)
Second Rebuttal period (really depends on the first rebuttal statements, and you can provide as much rebuttal as possible)

Cross Examination - each side asks 10 questions (there is no limit to the response word count)

Closing Statement period (~2,000 maximum, otherwise below that number is fine)"


Question 1 (me): I am sure that you are not unaware that God has killed wicked men (e.g. the Flood). God has also revealed that He does as He pleases. If, then, God desires to save all men without exception – which would by definition include those who died in the Flood – how can you reconcile such with the fact God acts in such a way that His desire to save wicked men cannot possibly be fulfilled, viz. by killing and (thus) eternally condemning them? More precisely, why doesn’t God instead prevent the death of the wicked until they repent?

(Word count: 100)

Answer 1 (Arminian): First let me begin by quoting Edmund Spencer, “There is a principle, which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is condemnation before investigation.”

This is to say that you, me and the reader needs to set aside our presuppositions (even after reading through this entire rebuttal or other context’s) – to prove what is acceptable in discerning your question(s) and mine, alone and [then] combining the overall picture (which is my fair answers in proportion with yours) in this entire thread. If such were the case, the world would be a better place.

To summarise as best as possible, Genesis 6 is literally about Satan’s fallen angels marrying human women for the purpose of trying to corrupt the Seed of the woman in order to thwart the first messianic prophecy of Genesis 3:15. These particular angels are now permanently confined in Tartarus, as seen in 2 Peter 2:4-5 and Jude 1:6-7.

2 Peter 2:5 reveals the timing of the bên ha'ĕlôhı̂ym (Son(s) of God, or Lucifer and his Angels) confinement, which was in conjunction with the Flood. This agrees well with the events of Genesis 6:1–4, which are events that are also connected with the Flood. The purpose of the Flood was to destroy this product of fallen angels and human women! That was it!

By comparing the 2 Peter passage with the Genesis passage, there is good evidence to show that Genesis is not speaking about Sethites intermarrying with Cainites (as many great commentaries assert however), but fallen angels intermarrying with human women. It is from the events of Genesis 6:1–4 that the source of Greek and Roman mythologies was derived. These mythologies record how gods from Mount Olympus intermarried with human beings on earth and produced children who had super-human characteristics, and were greater than men but less than gods. Thus, the Book of Genesis (and in texts like the Apocrypha, Book of Enoch – which Jude interestingly relates to) details the true history of what happened, while Greek and Roman mythologies give the corrupted account. In Greek and Roman mythologies, the human perspective is given, and what happened is elevated to something special and glorified; but God called it sin.

When we look at Genesis 6:3, the result of this intermarriage was the judgment of God! The Holy Spirit would not continue to strive with this kind of evil forever, and God decreed the destruction of ([biologically / spiritually] corrupted via hybridisation) humanity to be fulfilled one hundred and twenty years later. The means of the destruction would be the Flood. The purpose of the Flood was to destroy the product of the union of angels and women, as briefly stated above. There will be likewise an even bigger ‘destruction’ during the Day of the Lord – and this is where the entire Heavens with the Earth will be “reformatted” as it were, towards pure righteousness. 2 Peter 3:12-13

Why do you think Yahweh cries out to [all], to turn from his way and live in Christ’s atonement, instead of perishing? Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9

That is why we rest in Noah (I elaborate more on why this is ultimately so in my second rebuttal) – because God kept his promise of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15 to both Adam and Eve, and nôach in Hebrew means, “Comfort and Rest”. This does not mean Christ had to ultimately die for all without distinction. Christ died for all without exception (those in Abraham’s bosom as well, 1 Peter 3:19), but as you ask about those whom perished in the flood – I will have to digress on a note that they were corrupted Nephilim humans whom, “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” – Genesis 6:5, Jubilees 4:15; 5:1-13; 7:20-39; 1 Enoch 9-10

Words: 645 (including quotes)

Question 2 (me): I am still a little confused as to whether your thoughts are merely tending toward agreement with or if you actually do believe that “a believer cannot and will not forfeit salvation.” Either way, you said in your opening post that TULIP is “completely unbiblical.” I would ask that you please state if and how you would reconcile these seemingly contradictory statements, explain precisely how firmly you believe that believers will certainly persevere, and how your perception of man’s free will can be compatible with a doctrine which states man is not free to fall away.

(Word count: 100)

Answer 2 (Arminian): My statement of TULIP being “completely unbiblical”, holds true in my opinion and as far as what I have written in this debate should point to this. However, my understanding of Eternal Security after this debate has become much more clarified than ever before, even though I did experience temporal speed bumps when discerning more deeply into the Calvinist’s understanding of ‘Perseverance of the Saints’.

So for you to declare that I seem to be confused on the issue of Eternal Security (and you would like me to show you that, “man’s free will can be compatible with a doctrine which states man is not free to fall away.”); at first I actually was, because the P of TULIP did seem reasonable when I researched more of MacArthur’s (and other Calvinist) theology, but I was not [just] in agreement with MacArthur – but also with James Arminius and many other Arminian theology that seem to portray the opposite, which is conditional perseverance in the faith (because the autonomy of man plays a role here), and that the Christian individual [can] theoretically turn away and be a reprobate. It has happened in history, there have been cases where advocate Christians have lost their faith and have become a harsh puerile spokesperson for the atheist community.

Basically, I have always viewed a more modified Arminianistic (Lutheran / Messianic) understanding of Eternal Security. This is also one of the reasons in why I am both a Lutheran-Arminian, than just a plain Arminian. You can see why I disagree (at least, particularly on this issue) with the [strict] Arminianist in the conclusion of my second rebuttal.

1. Problems with the Calvinists throughput of Perseverance of the Saints

- Calvinists question the eternal security of the believer by imposing the requirement for a successful follow-through. One cannot really be sure that he is elect, that Christ really died for him, that his faith is real, that God loves him, or that he will ultimately go to heaven.

- Calvinists question the eternal security of the believer by imposing a dependence on internal evidences. If we were to restrict our thoughts to the validity of God’s promises and His faithfulness, assurance may be the expected result, but the inclusion of “internal evidences” would seem to weaken, rather than strengthen, one’s assurance. Isn’t God’s promise enough? It is true that the Spirit of God witnesses that believers are children of God in His Word, Galatians 4:6; Romans 5:5; 8:15–16. But it is also true that believers still sin. And because sin certainly disrupts the subjective “internal evidences of those graces”, it follows that with such disruption there must necessarily be a diminished degree of assurance. If one is “relatively sure” that he has eternal life, does he have assurance at all? This should philosophically result in a “hope so” kind of faith – and this might ultimately have no reverent regard that Christ payed sin in full, τετελεσται.

2. Problems with the Arminianist throughput of Perseverance of the Saints

- The [strict] Arminian view fails to understand the concept of eternal life and the irrevocable nature of God’s bounteous promises.

In light of clear biblical passages (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:39–40; 10:27–28; 17:12; Romans 8:16, 29–30, 37–39; 11:29; Ephesians 1:13–14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:13; 4:18; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 5:13; Jude 24–25), it would seem that there is abundantly sufficient and convincing evidence that eternal life is the possession of every believer in Christ. Arminians consider these verses in their theological system, but essentially misunderstand them believing that salvation is offered conditionally, as being “conditioned upon the believer continuing in faith” - Geisler, Chosen But Free, 125.

So to conclude with my purported (based primarily on many of Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum’s exegesis that I have collected) biblical understanding of Eternal Security; contrast the following points here in relation to how I have the autonomous thoughts (in my second rebuttal) on becoming a Luciferianistic Monk, but ultimately I will never become one – because I [know] the consequences.

The Evidence for Eternal Security: Romans 4:21
(21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

- The Sovereign Purpose of God: Romans 8:28-30 spells out one of these sovereign purposes of God, when Paul said those who have been justified will be glorified. He does not say only some who have truly been saved are going to persevere to the end and then make it; he does not say that only some who are justified will eventually be glorified. What is stated is that those who have been justified are also guaranteed to be glorified by God the Father.

- The Father’s Power to Keep: John 10:25–29 points out that God will give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.

- God’s Infinite Love: Romans 5:7–10 states that, if God sent His Son to die for us when we were His enemies, He would certainly keep us now that we are His friends. The love of God was proved by the sending of His Son to die for our sins while we were His enemies. If God was willing to provide salvation when we were His enemies, the love of God will make sure that He is going to keep us now that we are His friends.

- The Promise of God: John 3:16 states that the believer will not perish. If a believer could lose his salvation and end up in Hell, then obviously a believer can perish. But according to this passage, once a person has accepted Yeshua as his Saviour, as his Messiah, he simply will not perish.

Eternal security means that once a person has undergone the real experience of salvation, has undergone a true regenerated experience, that person cannot lose his salvation, either by committing a specific sin, or by ceasing to believe. That which keeps the believer safe and secure is the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of God on his behalf, not his own works. That is the basic meaning of eternal security, after the sinner hears the Gospel, has faith and repents.

When Jesus died for the sins of the world, He died for [all] of the sins of the world. The very fact that the work of Jesus was finished, the fact that He does not need to come and die again, shows that those who have received the benefits of His work cannot lose it. Those who have received salvation cannot, therefore, lose it, because it would require the Messiah to do His work all over again, Hebrews 10:12–18.

Words: 1,112 (I needed to clarify my answer, apologies for doubling the word count).

Question 1 (Arminian): I am sure that both you and me would agree with the fact that God foreknows [all] events since Genesis 1:1; for the sake of argument. If this is the case (in proportion with the Calvinist’s understanding of the doctrine of predestination), does God know events that will [not] happen? To make the question clearer, the fact that God foreknows an event doesn’t require that it should come to pass; therefore, is there no cause [and] effect relationship between foreknowledge and predestination? I am asking this in contextual proportions with 1 Samuel 23:1-14 as an example.

Words: 96

Answer 1 (me): Implicit to Robert’s question is the idea that “foreknowledge” has a single meaning. Because it seems that what is meant is “God knows beforehand what will occur,” I will, for now, step over the proverbial minefield concerning whether or not this is the exclusive definition of Scriptural “foreknowledge” and answer the question on its own terms. The question Robert seems to want to ask, given the citation of 1 Samuel 23:1-14 (especially verses 11-14), is whether or not God knows counter-factual conditionals and, if so, what implications this has with regards to possible worlds and, more particularly, this actual world.

In reply, I believe that God indeed knows counter-factual conditionals. God knows from eternity what would occur in any possible world. Knowing counterfactual conditionals is analogous to knowing that changing a variable in a given equation would yield a different answer than the given equation (which presupposes, of course, that one knows the answers). Two biblical examples:

Matthew 11:21 “If the miracles that were performed in [Korazin] had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago…”
1 Samual 23:11-14 (paraphrased): If David had stayed in Keilah, the citizens of Keilah would have surrendered David to Saul.

These explicit examples are not the only reason we can justify that God knows counter-factual conditionals. This conclusion also follows from a biblical understanding of God’s sovereignty. As I have stated explicitly and implicitly throughout this debate, God’s eternal knowledge is predicated on the fact He has unconditionally determined all things from eternity. That God knows counter-factual conditionals is unsurprising, then, for such suggests God knows what would have occurred had He decreed that events should unfold in a manner different than He actually decreed. However impossible it may be for Robert or anyone else who believes man possess free will to account for God’s eternal knowledge – including counter-factual conditionals – the consistent Calvinist’s perspective of God’s sovereign determination suffices as an explanation of how and why God is eternally omniscient.

With the space remaining, I will take this opportunity to endeavor to make clear to Robert that He should not conflate the Scriptural meaning of “foreknowledge” as exclusively synonymous with his colloquial understanding. The semantic domain of “foreknowledge” and “foreknow” in Greek (“prognosis”and [pro]ginosko”) does not only contain the concept of “know[ledge] beforehand.” Examples of the full range of the noun and verb expressions are found in the following passages: “choice” (Amos 3:2), “determinate purpose” (Acts 2:23, 1 Peter 1:2; cf. Granville Sharp Rule), “know intimately” (Romans 8:29, 11:2), “foreordained” (1 Peter 1:20), &c. Of course, some of these concepts can imply some of the other concepts.

The important points summarized, then, are that:

- “knowledge beforehand” is not the only concept in the semantic domain of “foreknowledge” and “foreknow.”
- contexts determine which concept is implied.
- “proginosko” and “prognosis” are never used as referents of God’s knowledge of counter-factual conditionals.
- God’s knowledge is not predicated on created things like man’s will.

(Word count: 499)

Question 2 (Arminian): Concerning Limited Atonement, in your second rebuttal you declare, “Christ didn’t die for particular persons? That is certainly not the message in Romans 8:32, Matthew 1:21, and Galatians 2:20”. Does this mean that Christ did [not] sacrifice himself for Anton LaVey, Hitler, et al., and atone for their sins; for if Anton LaVey happened to have accepted the Gospel – he would be saved? Can you please refute to me the obvious similarities that the Calvinist Yahweh has in conjunction with Islam’s Allah – because both deities therefore are a respecter of persons in this area? Whatever happened to Mark 16:15; John 3:16, 18, 36; 10:9; Galatians 3:28? Does it not seem completely [unjust] for God to send some men to hell because no provision was made for their salvation?

Answer 2 (me): Robert’s second question begs many questions, misrepresents my position many times, and contains many irrelevancies. Examples:

1. Every passage Robert cites is irrelevant to Calvinism:

- That God saves all who call does not mean all can call or that God hasn’t determined who will call. Hence, Robert’s references to John 3 are irrelevant.
- Mark 16:15 is irrelevant because Calvinists don’t oppose evangelizing to all men without exception; after all, Calvinists don’t know the identity of the elect.
- Galatians 3:28 is irrelevant because such a passage only implies God saves all men without distinction, and I affirmed this even before Robert. That God intends to save individuals regardless of tribe, tongue, nation, and people (cf. Revelation 5:9) does not imply He intends to save all men within every tribe et. al. This is (or should be) rather obvious.

2. What Robert thinks seems unjust is irrelevant. One’s justification of what is just should be grounded in Scripture, not intuition. Let Robert evaluate whether my beliefs are Scriptural, then, instead of asking questions which appeal to emotions, a fallacy against which I forewarned.

3. I have answered in my second rebuttal how my conception of God does not imply He is a respecter of persons:

“…the fact that Calvinists believe election is unconditional automatically refutes the idea these passages imply that the unconditional election makes God a respecter of persons...”

Furthermore, I already examined each passage Robert originally cited to support his charge, and they were all shown to mean God is not a respecter of persons insofar as He judges without corrupt bias. Calvinists don’t believe God judges with corrupt bias, so I don’t know why Robert is repeating refuted arguments.

Also, in what sense the god of Islam and the true God seem similar is irrelevant, because they are not identical. Muslims would say God is omnipotent, as would Robert. Does this somehow imply that Robert believes the god of Islam? No. So even if the charge that “I must logically believe God is a respecter of persons” were true, why should I deny this alleged similarity?

5. I believe Christ made a provision of salvation for all men without exception. Robert should reread my opening statement. The difference between our perspectives is that I believe God intended to save the elect alone and will give all things to those for whom Christ died, and Robert thinks Christ came to make all men without exception merely savable.

The only legitimate question Robert asks is his first, and in response to it I reply:

As I can only know that one is elect if he is a believer, as I cannot anticipate if an unbeliever will come to believe, and as I don’t know whether LaVey or Hitler ever believed, I cannot justifiably say Christ did or didn’t die for them. I have already justified, however, that “if they were reprobates, Christ did not die for them.” A brief summary: if Christ died for reprobates, then reprobates would be given all things (Romans 8:32). However, we know reprobates are not given all things, for if they were, they could not remain unbelievers. As I wrote earlier: “Would [all things] not include gracing us with a sufficient desire to believe according to which we actually would believe?” As reprobates are not given such a desire, they cannot be said to have been given all things. As they have not been given all things, Christ cannot have died for them. Romans 8:32 is incompatible with the view that Christ died for (viz. intended to save) reprobates.

(Word count: 600)

1 comment:

Sidharth said...

Is it possible for me to have a talk with you on a personal level about this than over comments?

I believe both Predestination and Free-will are inclusive. I see you're very thorough with this topic. I would like to ask you some questions on both views in an unbiased approach.

Let me's my mail sidharth(at)