Friday, May 16, 2003

Edifier du Jour-1 Timothy 2:3-6(NASB)
3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
We're back for another round of the Calvinist-Arminian 12-round death-cage match. David Heddle, the Blogosphere's preeminent Calvinist, reiterated his case last week, essentially saying "What part of Romans 9 don't you get?" That post got Jeffery Collins thinking-
[S]uppose David is 100% correct about predestination? So what? To put it another way, what are the ramifications of the doctrine itself? What are the ramifications of accepting or rejecting the doctrine? In the long run, does it really matter?
I decided to try and see what Biblical case can be made for an Arminian standpoint; our personal theology collection came up short of citing verses, but found this lecture set from a Free Will Baptist theologian. The passage for today was cited in the second lecture on the extent of the atonement; a Baptist is usually good at quoting scripture. This verse is very problematic for this Calvinist-leaning fellow. If God desires to see everyone be saved, why doesn't He get off His kiester and do so? If he did, we'd be working with a universalist theology, which would seriously contradict other parts of the scripture that talk about heaven and hell. Thus, we have a God who wants everyone saved, but will choose not to go to the mat to do so. The idea that crossed my mind this morning moves towards the question of Irresistible Grace. "How cute is she?" The Arminians think that God's grace is resistible. I am going to offer up a work-in-progress alternative that might allow me to mugwump on this one. Might there be a general flow of grace that draws us to God, but only some people are un-evil enough to be drawn along by this spiritual tide? This would assume that are depravity isn't perfectly total; I've got the Calvinist chorus from Linda Ronstadt in my mind-"You're no good! You're no good! You're no good! Baby, you're no good!" Meanwhile the Arminian chorus from West Side Story tries to counter "There is good, there is good, there is untapped good! Like inside, the worst of us is good!" You could make a case that everyone has a conscience, some better developed than others, that the Holy Spirit interacts with. Are we so corrupt that we can't respond to God with a nudge from our conscience interacting with the Holy Spirit? Or does God have to drag us kicking and screaming to His side? Depending on how strong the spiritual tide is, someone with a better-developed conscience might be brought along. However, not everyone responds to that offer; they're too stuck in the sandbars of sin to have this prototype general grace bring them to the Father. If God wants those people, He'll have to bring out the heavy artillery. God is free to grant particular grace, as Jesus did we He hit Paul up-side the head with a 2-by-4 on the road to Damascus or with Thomas when Jesus made a special point to let him see the wounds from the cross. Such a combination of general and particular grace could allow for free will to operate in the spiritual realm, while allowing God to grab someone He particularly wants by His side. Let the theological food fight discussion begin-I'll be adding to the discussion on the implications of Calvinism later.

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