Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Calvinism the gospel?

Sometimes, just out of almost nowhere, I come accross real nuggets of truth, or in this case, simple brilliance.

Calvinism the gospel?

"An honest Calvinist will answer NO! Those who hem and haw, who squirm, realizing the horror of their doctrine, tend to never give a straight answer. Do Arminians preach a false gospel, false as in Paul's declaration of "another gospel?" If so then, be clear."

An answer!

A. Personally, I find an atonement that secures salvation for none and is powerless in and of itself to save the horrible doctrine.

B. Paul's declaration of "another gospel" is quite clear. He's not addressing synergism broadly as much as a denial of Sola Fide and a specific type of synergism.

C. Apropos B, your objection is invalid on exegetical grounds. You're trying to conflate exegetical usage of "gospel" with dogmatic usage and then chastise Calvinists for failing to measure up...but Calvinists are appealing to dogmatic, not exegetical usage when they say "Calvinism is the gospel." Ergo, you've made a category error in your argument as well.

D. Calvinism is the gospel by way of dogmatic usage, in that, as a comprehenisve, systematic soteriology it identifies the source of salvation, the condition of men, the nature of the atonement, the necessity of grace, and the assurance of salvation for all who will believe far more accurately than Arminianism. This is what Spurgeon meant. It is also a worldiview that shapes much of the way we view the world.

E. Arminianism is a mixture of truth and error as a system and a worldview. How can anybody look at historical theology and not see this? Arminianism is inherently Unitarian at a functional level. It puts, in its more Pelagian forms (like the easy believism of Dave Hunt)m both election and regeneration outside a chain effected by grace; only the cross is in view. Ergo, this is functional Unitarianism. In classic Arminianism, the kind with a real doctrine of prevenient grace (in the former this is explicitly equated with common grace, cf. Elmer Towns), a person is enabled to believe from a state of equipoise effected by grace, so, while regeneration is outside the chain of grace directly, indirectly it resides inside of it, because faith would not result in it apart from this grace. The Father, however, because He bases election on foreseen faith, is still outside the chain of grace. Ergo, this is "Bi-Nitarian." It's not without reason that Arminianism has historically flirted with Socinianism as a result of this. Let's not forget the General Baptists and early Arminians in general turned to Socinianism relatively quickly, and it was only via the New Connection that they survived among Baptists. The crossroads of theological liberalism also tends to lie near or in Arminianism. Moreover, Arminianism tends toward neo-sacramentalism in Baptist churches where it takes hold, contrary to our eccelsiology. We do not affirm baptismal regeneration, yet so much emphasis is put on aisle walking and hand raising and sacramental prayers (decisional regeneration) that we end up creating neo-Campbellite sacraments of our own when we do this.

F. Apropos E, not all Arminians are of a stripe.

G. If you define "gospel" in exegetical terms, both Arminianism and Calvinism affirm the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the necessity of Sola Fide and personal conversion.

H. Apropos G, when "gospel" is defined in this manner, closer to exegetical usage, the essential issue addressed by the Gospel is that man is a sinner, under the condemnation of God. The Gospel never calls upon the unregenerate to believe that they are unable to believe. Rather, it calls upon us to recognize our guilt before God, and to see Christ's sacrificial death as the sole remedy for our guilt and condemnation.

The Gospel message is about guilt, condemnation and forgiveness. It is not about "Who chose whom?", or "Where does faith come from?" Gospel-faith is trust in the person of Christ, having the confidence that He, by means of His Substitutionary death, has borne our sin and is fully able to forgive everyone who calls upon Him for salvation. Gospel-faith recognizes that Christ saves only those who trust in Him.

-It does not necessarily recognize the truth that this trust is God-given.
-One need not know or believe that God is the one behind your repentance and faith to experience repentance and faith.
-One need not understand the nature of justification before he experiences it.
-One need not believe in eternal security in order to be eternally secure;
-one need not believe it is impossible to fall away and fail to persevere in the faith in order not to fall away and persevere in the faith. Ergo, in this sense, both Calvinism and Arminianism can be said to encapsulate the gospel.

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