Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old School Arminianism II (with thoughts from Calvin)

This is the second part of the five-part series I am doing on the Remonstrants of 1610. If you have not read the first post in this series, it would be quite beneficial for you to do so. Once again, I would like to invite discussion, but stress that prideful contention is not acceptable.

Article II

That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16: "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"; and in the First Epistle of John 2:2: "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only. but also for the sins of the whole world." 

If there is one article of the five that I agree with the most, this would be the one. I believe that what is stated here is important for solid biblical and philosophical teaching on both the Calvinist and Arminian views of salvation. To believe that the gift is offered to all but only received by some is absolutely true. God is love and His love extends to everyone who was created in His image. The Article quoted above lists a key passage in 1 John. God's love poured out on the Cross did not only extend to the elect, but the sacrifice was for the whole world

Now what an extreme Calvinist will do is claim that "world" in this verse does not mean world. He would look on these words of the Lord and say that God was saying that Jesus did not only die for the recipients of John's letter, but He also died for the other elect scattered abroad. They do the same thing with John 3:16. Is this really what is communicated here? 

There are two main Greek words used for "world" in the New Testament. The words are kosmos and oikoumene. Kosmos is used 186 times in the NT, 102 of which by John-- one of these times being 1 John 2:2. Oikoumene is only used 15 times. Kosmos is a very broad term, encompassing the universe. In Mounce's Expository Dictionary it states, 

"In the NT, kosmos always means 'the world' except in 1 Peter 3:3...At times kosmos indicates the created universe (Acts 17:24), yet at other times, the sphere of human life and humanity itself (Matthew 4:8, John 3:19). In John and Paul especially, the latter meaning of kosmos is predominant."

So the range of kosmos goes from everything in the universe to human life on earth. It is never widdled down to meaning a select few of the human race. If that was the idea that needed to be expressed, it is likely that John would have used oikoumene as Luke did in Luke 2:1. 

No matter how hard some extreme Calvinists may try to twist some passages of Scripture to fit their interpretation, the fact is clear-- God is all-loving. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins...We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:-10, 19

No one would deny the teaching of this passage. We were once enemies of God but because of His love for us, He has enabled us to be reconciled to Him through His Son. Jesus paid it all in His dying for our salvation, the only factor that keeps us from enjoying this reconciliation is faith-- our receiving of the free gift. This second Article articulates it perfectly, "no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer." You must believe in order to receive.  

Since we are going back in time to look at the root of this theology, it is appropriate to see what John Calvin says about these things as well:

"Mark 14.24. 'This is My blood.' I have already warned, when the blood is said to be poured out (as in Matthew) for the remission of sins, how in these words we are directed to the sacrifice of Christ's death, and to neglect this thought makes any due celebration of the Supper impossible. In no other way can faithful souls be satisfied, if they cannot believe that God is pleased in their regard. The word many does not mean a part of the world only, but the whole human race: he contrasts many with one, as if to say that he would not be the Redeemer of one man, but would meet death to deliver many of their cursed guilt. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world." (Eternal Predestination of God, IX.5)

"It is no small matter to have the souls perish who were bought by the blood of Christ." (The Mystery of Godliness, 83).

"...no one is excluded from this salvation who proves to be attentive and obedient to the Gospel of Christ." (Comments on Hebrews 5:9)

These statements are revealing of Calvinism's roots. What has evolved in the Calvinism camp is a doctrine that is much more harsh and inconsistent than the original thoughts of Calvin. In fact, judging by extreme Calvinism's uprising in the theological realm today, it may even be accurate to state that John Calvin wasn't even a Calvinist! But we shouldn't argue over something so feeble.

As I said, I feel so strongly about this point in particular that this might be the one Article I agree with the most. I will not stand up for a doctrine that does not allow all to be redeemed. Jesus Christ has made it possible for every human being to become a child of the Most High God. His blood was poured out as a sacrifice-- once for all-- that we may be saved from the wrath of God and enjoy a joyful life walking daily with the Lord Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. 12 wpm is spending the time to post from his phone. I find this article from their confession the most difficult to grasp. While I will acknowledge that some verses are hard to harmonize with limited atonement, many of the so called "universal in scope" passages are used by arminians out of context. 2 Peter 3:9 is clearly directed to the beloved, and not the whole entire world.1 Timothy 2:6 is most likely referring to types of people, as in the full scope of vocational types of human beings as referred to in 2:1-2.

    Regardless, the most important aspect of the atonement was it's accomplishment. I guess I would fall into the camp of "extreme calvinist". We both would probably agree that Christ did accomplish redemption on the cross, but what does that mean?. To be elected IN the son, is to be elected into the condemnation on the cross in him, and to be raised from the dead in him. We can say with confidence that we have been crucified with Christ, Rom 6:1-11 Gal 2:20, and redeemed and justified by his actual blood, Rom 5 9-10.
    You might say, well how can those things be accomplished facts if we aren't actually redeemed and justified until faith? The simple answer is we are not experientially IN the risen Christ, while we are dead living IN the old man. We are born naturally in Adam, condemned in a natural sinful flesh outside of the risen Christ. Our new man which was created IN him 2000 years ago, Eph 1, which is redeemed, sanctified, glorifed, and given the status as son with inheritance has not yet entered into a vessel, which has nothing but wrath prepared for it. And that wrath was the predestined cross in Christ. I find it impossible to separate the cross and resurrection in the son, by the sin of unbelief.