Nature of God

Providence

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Harvey

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« on: May 20, 2007, 09:13:21 am »
To be honest, I wasn't sure to address this issue under Providence (e.g., predestination) or the "Problem of Evil" or the "Moral Argument." Coming from an Arminianist and Wesylian background I find the Calvinist view of God to make the problem of evil irreconcilable with a good God, or a God that establishes moral truths. On the other hand, I do not so much want to discuss the philosophical problems with Calvinist predestination, I'm more interested in its scriptural basis--almost completely construed from what I think is a terrible misinterpretatio of Romans 9. Let me quote the Calvinist theologian John Piper:

We concluded in Chapter Three that in Rom. 9:6-13 Paul teaches that God predestines individuals to their respective eternal destinies. The unconditionality of this election is judged by Paul's opponent to be unrighteous because when a righteous God makes his choices he must take into account the things that distinguish one person from another. As we have just seen, Paul does not share the opponent's narrow view of God's righteousness.(John Piper, "The Justification of God," 1993, p. 96)


So, here we find a nice summary of what a Calvinist believes: God predestines people to hell, and that since most people who have ever lived are non-Christian, we have a whole populace within Christianity that believe that most people go to hell, and there's nothing odd or strange about this. Can this be one main reason why there are so many people who despise Christianity and leave the religion to attack it? I think so.

But, I'm not sure that such an argument will have any effect on most Calvinists. One of my friends became a Calvinist, and they think God can do whatever He wants, and therefore they aren't a bit phased by a philosophical argument. Perhaps though, the scriptural argument is better to discuss since Calvinists feel justified solely on their interpretation (usually of just Romans, and often of just Romans 9, and specifically Rom 9:6-13.).

So, to start off, I have one question. In Romans 2:6-8, 14-16 it says the following:

6God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger... (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.[/qoute]

Now, here's my question. If Paul in Romans 2 is saying that God will judge those Gentiles who live according to the law even without the law, and this is their defense in the day of judgment, then why in the world would a few chapters later would Paul suggest that God will turn a blind eye to their "persistence in doing good" when in fact God is just storing them up for destruction?

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Harvey

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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2007, 09:15:28 am »

Is it possible to be put an "edit post" capability to this website?


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Roger Marshall

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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2007, 01:32:08 pm »
A very good question, and one that must inevitably come up in any serious Christian forum. There is so much about reformed theology that I admire and have been nourished by, but the doctrine of unconditional election is one that I just cannot, however much reformed theology I read on the subject, take on board. The idea that God could apply the "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated" principle to every human being before their birth, the idea that Christ did not die for ALL the ungodly, does not square with the God of love who revealed Himeslf in Jesus. The idea that most of the human race is iremediably condemned to hell, that they are born with the dice already cast against them, is not worthy of the God who "does not desire (as we are told) the death of the wicked". The fact is that the Bible takes human choices very seriously. In fact that is one of the underlying themes from beginning to end. Therefore there can be no Biblical basis for a soteriological paradigm within which human choice actually means nothing.



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Will

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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2007, 11:18:48 am »

Now, here's my question. If Paul in Romans 2 is saying that God will judge those Gentiles who live according to the law even without the law, and this is their defense in the day of judgment, then why in the world would a few chapters later would Paul suggest that God will turn a blind eye to their "persistence in doing good" when in fact God is just storing them up for destruction?



Could you rephrase this question?  I'm not following what your concluding or suggesting.  

Where does Paul say God "turns a blind eye" to those who "persevere in doing good?""

"...glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (v.10)."
Will

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Will

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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2007, 11:28:27 am »
So, here we find a nice summary of what a Calvinist believes: God predestines people to hell,



Piper definitely believes in double predestination, but the nature of those acts are not necessarily the same (as you suggest).  Predestination to hell is more of a passive act, i.e., not saving them.  Whereas, all men being dead equally in sin, requires more of a proactive approach to destining them to heaven, changing them from their deadness to life.  Thus, the problem is not God's acts in reprobation or predestination that poses the problem, but the untenable claim, prior, that man is not worthy of death and separation from God due to sin.  If man is truly worthy of it, then there is no philosophical argument that could be posed to claim injustice to God.  What usually happens from the non-reformed camp is that they admit, oh yes were worthy of death, but the claim is only made under the certain context that we have a sure way not to suffer that consequence and redeem ourselves through faith.      

 
and that since most people who have ever lived are non-Christian, we have a whole populace within Christianity that believe that most people go to hell,


At least in traditional evangelicism, this is true regardless of your view of predestination.  And thus, if this concept poses a problem for God in the realm of the POE, then it is equally a problem for the non-reformed, unless you become an open theist.  

Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2007, 06:55:23 am »
Will wrote: Where does Paul say God "turns a blind eye" to those who "persevere in doing good?"


To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (Rom. 2:7-15)


Paul seems to be saying that those who act for themselves disregarding the law, will be judged harshly. Doing good, however, brings its own rewards by following the law. Those who obey the law will be declared righteous. Even Gentiles, who don't have the law but live with the law in their hearts, these consciences will defend them in this judgment. If Piper is right in that God has reserved them for damnation, then how could these righteous Gentiles (as Jews even call them today) be defended by their conscience? All who have never heard Jesus and believed are reserved for damnation.

We also see in Acts 17:29-30 (Paul is speaking):

"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.


According to Calvinists, God doesn't ignore the past times. They should have known to believe in Jesus and repented in what they never heard, because it's too late and now they should really suffer in hell forever and ever. Too bad, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I'm not sure if this was actually said, but John Wesley is rumored to have said to Calvinism, "Your God is my Devil." I wonder how many would not agree.

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Harvey

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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2007, 09:53:00 am »
Will,

I realized that I did not correctly answer your question. I misread it thinking that you were questioning that God turns a blind eye to those who seek good by the way they live their lives. Reading it again I see that you are questioning that God will indeed turn a blind eye to righteous living.

However, this is the basis of Calvinist theology on predestination, as I understand it. Esau's rejection by God represent the plight of all those who are not called by God to be part of the elect, and therefore their efforts to live a good life are not good enough to warrant an out of jail card from hell. All have sinned and the wages of sin is death. If unpaid by accepting Christ's sacrifice, then those folks go to hell. This includes not just adults, but also children and babies born to those who are part of the unsaved (i.e., 99%+ of humanity that has ever lived). Here's some quotes from Jonathan Edwards who I think many Calvinists believe spoke accurately:

Hence no mercy in Hell... Though their pain is extreme... God don’t pity ’em. Though their wishes for deliverance are great... though their cries are loud... though long continued... though it be exceeding intolerable.  By being longer in Hell, they have not become any more fit for any other state... don’t make ’em better... although indeed their judgments are convinced, yet their hearts are the same. No change in their dispositions. There are no conversions in Hell. he wrath makes a great change indeed; but no saving change. The wicked in Noah’s days were most of them very wicked on earth, yet, in some respects, they become worse when they went to Hell. Not fit for Heaven. Not fit to come and live in this world. Fit for no other place. hat is the place provided and fitted for such...

May be of warning: Let sinners in these days take warning. Those that now live in unbelief and impenitence are in danger of the same...

Not only have many generations gradually come upon the stage and have died; but many great and populous nations have come into being, and have flourished, and made a great figure in the world for many ages, and then by degrees have dwindled and wasted, swallowed up by other nations and come to nothing, and nothing of them now know but by history. And some of them very ancient and powerful, so that even the very history of them is almost come to nothing and vanished; and all since they have been suffering the flames of Hell, without any cessation or rest...

How we may suppose the things which they remember of their past lives now affects them... their worldly enjoyments... the length of the time of their past ease and pleasures... they lived long lives... their past opportunities... their long warnings... the preaching they had... their folly and stupidity... obstinacy...  (Jonathan Edwards, Wicked Men of the Past are Still in Hell. June, 1749)[/quote]

God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant. So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction. So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God. The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that take of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up...

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell...

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder
    if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!  (Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741)


It's no wonder why John Wesley was walking around thinking these people believe that their God was Satan.

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Will

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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2007, 10:58:27 am »

I misread it thinking that you were questioning that God turns a blind eye to those who seek good by the way they live their lives. Reading it again I see that you are questioning that God will indeed turn a blind eye to righteous living.

However, this is the basis of Calvinist theology on predestination, as I understand it. Esau's rejection by God represent the plight of all those who are not called by God to be part of the elect, and therefore their efforts to live a good life are not good enough to warrant an out of jail card from hell.



I think this summary ignores a huge hurdle to jump.  You are assuming, or suggesting, that those whom are non-elect are damned to hell regardless of their desire to do "good" or "seek" God.  This is highly umbilical...as the natural man thinks the things of the Spirit are "foolishness" (2 Cor. 2:14).  Or, as Jesus said (paraphrase) "you will not come to the light because you love the darkness."  Namely, those who are non-elect are not those pounding down the doors of God's kingdom trying to get in, only to be turned away by God's decree of election.  This is not to confuse the pseudo element of "seeking God" or religious hypocrisy, which in a flawed way the Jews did.  

Your statement: "therefore their efforts to live a good life are not good enough to warrant an out of jail card from hell," is descriptive, at times, of the logical conclusion of Arminian theology...i.e. salvation by works through grace, rather than salvation by grace alone.

Further, as you move into Rom 3. you have Paul quoting the Psalms when describing our depraved state...

None are righteous,

None do good,

None seek for God.

The Calvinist would contend that that is the natural state of all man apart from the special saving grace of God, thus, those who "persist" in doing good (who are also said to receive eternal life (Rom 2:10) are those that have been saved by God.  

I'm honestly trying to understand your point, but I just don't see how Rom. 2 hinders the Calvinistic understanding of salvation.  It appears that you have a misunderstanding of Calvinism which teaches that election and man's will do not reflect each other.  Meaning, those who are non-elect will have a will that hates or thinks the concept of God or the cross is foolishness, while those elected, through the regeneration of the Spirit, will receive a new heart that loves God (Ezk. 36:26-27, Heb. 8; Heb. 10).    

My understanding, generally, of Rom. 2 entails.

1.  Paul is making the argument that possessing the actual Mosaic Law does not grant eternal life...
2.  For, it is the doers of the Law that will be justified...
3.  Even the Gentiles, who do not have the Law, have a "law" written on their hearts (their conscience) which either condemns or commends their actions.
4.  Yet, these Gentiles, who do not have the Law, but the law, will be judged not necessarily by the Law but by the law which is in their hearts.
5.  Overall, both Jews and Greeks are equally condemned whether they posses the Law of Moses or not (3:9), for it is the doers of the Law that will be justified (2:13).
6. Climaxed upon this, is the fact that being privileged by God is not limited to being a Jew (those of the circumcision of flesh) but being the circumcised of heart by God (v.29), which can be true of either Gentile or Jew.  

7.  Conclusion...ultimate salvation rests on whether one is a true Jew or not, yet the determination of being a "true Jew" rests on God's regenerating work on the heart (2:29), not man's keeping of the law of circumcision.

Moving on...

Paul concludes that both Jew and Greek are all under sin (3:9)

There is none that does good, righteousness, or seeks for God etc... (3:10-18)

Now, based on man's sinful depravity, Paul concludes (in seeming paradox with 2:13) that no flesh will be justified by the works of the Law (because all have sinned and are unrighteous) (3:20).

Thus, the dilemma is this, it is the doer of the law who will be justified before God, yet all have sinned and cannot keep the law...thus...none could be justified.

Yet

"even the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all those who believe..."

We are justified, not by our keeping the Law, but through the faith of Christ and perfect obedience (c.f. Rom. 5:19), and being joined to Him through God's grace.  (I am taking the subjective genitive for "faith of or in Christ," which a large number of Greek scholars are showing as most valid (Piper doesn't take that view though)).  

This just doesn't seem to warrant the concept that there will be those "worthy of heaven" whom God rejects based on election.







Will

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Will

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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2007, 11:06:11 am »

This includes not just adults, but also children and babies born to those who are part of the unsaved (i.e., 99%+ of humanity that has ever lived).



The Calvinist contends that there is no natural merit or innocence of any man born in sin after the fall (as clearly stated in Rom. 5:12-14).  This being the case, one cannot conclude that a man is saved by necessity based on birth place or condition.  Yet, to conclude that children and babies born to "unsaved" have no chance of going to heaven is unfounded.  The Calvinist cannot say that a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God.  What the Calvinist is saying...is that none are innocent and that if any are or is to be saved, it must be by the grace and work of God.  If all babies who die in infancy go to heaven, then all babies who die in infancy are recipients of saving grace, not beings who are "innocent" based on age.
Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2007, 12:03:24 pm »

Thanks for responding. Okay, I see that your view of Romans 2 is similar to my friend that said that Romans 2 is referring to Christian Gentiles, not the general populace of Gentiles who seek morality. I have to approach this economically, since the problem with scriptural discussions especially is they quickly blossom into a so many diverse issues that it is not possible to find a point by which we can agree upon. So, I think this particular issue of whom Paul means by "Gentiles" in Romans is an important issue. Would you agree that if Paul were talking about moral Gentiles, and not necessarily Christians that this would wreck havoc onto the Calvinist's limited atonement doctrine?


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Will

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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2007, 03:03:27 pm »


Would you agree that if Paul were talking about moral Gentiles, and not necessarily Christians that this would wreck havoc onto the Calvinist's limited atonement doctrine?


Limited atonement?  I assume your just throwing substitutionary atonement into the mix with "unconditional election," even though you understand the distinction?

Its hard to answer this question because I don't see the connection.  For the sake of argument, if Paul is talking about non-Christian moral Gentiles, I don't see why this has any bearing on the doctrines of Grace.  You would have to come to the conclusion that Paul is teaching, exclusively, salvation by morality.  This, of course, would not just be against Calvinism, but all forms of evangelical protestantism.    

Anyways, I don't believe Paul believes in such a thing as a "moral Gentile," or a "moral" natural man, apart from being a Christian Gentile.  Granted, there may be such a thing as, for lack of a better term, human morality or a common goodness of man.  Such as, not killing everyone you see, but having a general respect for life.  Obviously one can have that kind of "goodness" and not be a Christian.  But, in the context of salvation, that is "dirty rags."  

So all in all, I don't think it would bring trouble to Calvinism's view...but trouble to all evangelical views of salvation by grace.  Not because Paul is talking about Gentile believers or non-believers, but because I don't think Paul is talking about gaining salvation through behavior, but is rather proving you can't; and he then gives the answer to the dilemma by gaining justification via the redeemer (3:24-27).  

Will

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Roger Marshall

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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2007, 03:50:40 pm »
I think it's relevant to bring Cornelius into the discussion at this point. In relation to him we read in Acta 10: "In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him". Not that Cornelius' good deeds saved him, but they did incline God's heart towards him, with the result that the gospel of God's unmerited grace was brought to his attention. But Cornelius was not just an example of a good pagan of course. He had become a Jew, and worshipped the one true God. But even before he became a Jew, it is clear that he was "seeking God", and in his own way he reverenced the One True God, who led him first to Judaism and then to faith in Jesus. There may not be many, but I am sure that there have always been, in every civilisation, those who, in their heart of hearts, genuinely seek God. How is God going to deal with those people in judgement? Well that is only for God to decide of course, but I somehow feel that they will be judged on the basis of how they would have responded to the gospel if only they had known. I love CS Lewis's "The Last Battle". The animals and all the creatures in Narnia and beyond approach Aslan, some with their heads hung in shame and others defiant. Many of the former didn't know Him, but He knew them. He accepted them because He saw deep into their hearts and knew that they would have followed and loved him if only they had known about him. I know this take on it is seen as heresy by many, be they Calvinist or Armenian, but there is something deeply redolent of grace in that picture.

It will be objected that Cornelius did actually hear and respond to the gospel. He was not accepted by God on the basis of his goodness. I am not claiming any merit on his part. But I'm not sure that he doesn't somehow represent those who die before they actually get the gospel preached to them.

I would like to hear Dr Craig's take on this one


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Harvey

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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2007, 04:04:19 pm »
Will wrote: Limited atonement?  I assume your just throwing substitutionary atonement into the mix with "unconditional election," even though you understand the distinction?


Abbreviations:

Limited atonement (LA)
Universal atonement (UA)
Unconditional election (UE)
Conditional election (CE)

The reason I mention limited atonement (LA) versus unconditional election (UE) is because UE as I understand it technically doesn't spell doom for the non-elect unless LA is applied. If universal atonement (UA) were applied to UE, then we'd have a situation where a Calvinist has a valid reason for not saying that "a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God," right? In other words, if UE were valid and UA also valid, then God could atone for the sins of infants who died outside of the faith by graciously applying UA. This is still an example of UE remaining since the infants do not conditionally accept to be among the final elect. Yet, it is a rejection of LA since atonement is applied on a universal scale beyond the original elect (i.e., since God instead provides universal atonement for the baby category).

Thus, I suggest the following matrix:

UE/LA: traditional Calvinist (John Calvin)
UE/UA: traditional Amyraldism (Moses Amyraut)
CE/UA: traditional Arminist (Jacobus Arminius)
CE/LA: Arminist--middle knowledge (William Lane Craig)

If Romans 2 refers to moral Gentiles as participating in universal atonement, then only Amyraldism or traditional Arminist views would be correct. This excludes traditional Calvinism.

Will wrote: Its hard to answer this question because I don't see the connection.  For the sake of argument, if Paul is talking about non-Christian moral Gentiles, I don't see why this has any bearing on the doctrines of Grace.  You would have to come to the conclusion that Paul is teaching, exclusively, salvation by morality.  This, of course, would not just be against Calvinism, but all forms of evangelical protestantism.


Not necessarily. You already alloted the possibility for grace for the non-elect by referring to babies. Their election (assuming they are atoned and saved in the next life) is unconditional since they have not conditional elected to be saved. However, their atonement is universal since God has not restricted their category (i.e., the category of being a baby). If God saves moral Gentiles, then it is under the same offer of universal atonement to the unconditional elect.

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Will

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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2007, 09:35:36 am »



Abbreviations:

Limited atonement (LA)
Universal atonement (UA)
Unconditional election (UE)
Conditional election (CE)

The reason I mention limited atonement (LA) versus unconditional election (UE) is because UE as I understand it technically doesn't spell doom for the non-elect unless LA is applied.


I think one more important distinction needs to be made and I am not exactly clear as to how you view it.  When you mention the UA view I assume you are referring to the traditional hypothetical/potential atonement as opposed to universalism (all will be saved by the atonement)?

For your quote above to be true, you have to establish some huge holes in this argument.  What your suggesting is that a non-elect person could be saved if UA were true vs. LA.  Now, of course, if that were true UA would be universalism and not the Arminian view of hypothetical atonement (where as Christ's atonement may or may not be effective in a person's life, as it depends on whether they apply it to themselves through faith).  I am not sure if this is your view, but I have sensed a hint of universalism in some of your comments thus far (this being the greatest), which changes a lot of things in the manner of dealing with this topic.

If universal atonement (UA) were applied to UE, then we'd have a situation where a Calvinist has a valid reason for not saying that "a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God," right?


No, not necessarily.  One would have to first determine, which is impossible, that God didn't ordain that all these infants/mentally handicapped would have been given to the Son by the Father to redeem via the atonement.  IOW, LA could still hold true because one doesn't have to hold that LA necessarily means Christ didn't die for all infants -- if He did, then they are part of the group given to the Son by the Father whom Christ died to redeem.  

In other words, if UE were valid and UA also valid, then God could atone for the sins of infants who died outside of the faith by graciously applying UA.


Again, this has universalism written all over it, which changes everything I have assumed prior about your view.  


If Romans 2 refers to moral Gentiles as participating in universal atonement, then only Amyraldism or traditional Arminist views would be correct. This excludes traditional Calvinism.


I haven't seen that established at all via Romans 2?  



Not necessarily. You already alloted the possibility for grace for the non-elect by referring to babies.


Actually I didn't, what I said was...

1.  If all babies go to heaven (for the sake of argument)
2.  Then  all babies who die in infancy are elect.  

If saving grace can be given to the non-elect, the concept of election means nothing.  Election is the choice of persons to receive grace; which coincides with predestination speaking more directly to what they are determined to receive, namely, eternal life/glorification.  

If God saves moral Gentiles, then it is under the same offer of universal atonement to the unconditional elect.



Frst, going back to some basics, I don't see that Paul believes in a natural/non-regenerate man as "moral" in the salvific sense (just in the sense of exemplifying attributes of common grace such as a conscience).

Where does it say God saves non-believers who are moral (which is a paradox).  Going back to Romans 2, I don't think it matters whether they are understood as believers or unbelievers (for what were talking about), because I believe the entire argument of Paul climaxes that Gentiles who have the natural law of conscience vs. Jews who have the special Law of Moses are both equally condemned because both show that we are violators of those laws respectively.  And thus, if Jew = saved, then a Jew is one who has been circumcised in the heart (2:29) (whether Jew or Gentile by race), and that speaks directly to regeneration and the reception of elective grace (thus the concept of salvation for non-regenerate doesn't seem valid).  The theme of Romans 2-3 is that of judgment and declaration that none are "good/moral" enough to be saved, thus, as I pointed to earlier, we have the need of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ (3:26-27).          


Will

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Will

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2007, 10:06:55 am »
But Cornelius was not just an example of a good pagan of course. He had become a Jew, and worshiped the one true God. But even before he became a Jew, it is clear that he was "seeking God", and in his own way he reverenced the One True God, who led him first to Judaism and then to faith in Jesus.


Granting:

1. Cornelius genuinely sought God,
2. worshiped God,
3. came to faith in Christ.  

The relevant question, in my opinion, is not whether those things are true but if they are true why did Cornelius do them?  Does the desire to seek God, worship God, and believe in Christ come from the natural heart? (c.f. Rom 3:10-18; Rom 8:6-7; 2 Cor. 2:14)


There may not be many, but I am sure that there have always been, in every civilization, those who, in their heart of hearts, genuinely seek God.


In my opinion, this must be reconciled with: "There is none who seeks for God" (Rom. 3:11).


He accepted them because He saw deep into their hearts and knew that they would have followed and loved him if only they had known about him.


I understand your sentiment, but applying it to the Christological atonement, I think there are problems.  Man's salvation is based on the "goodness" of his heart?  Further, assuming that, God is unable to bring a potential receipient of salvation to a circumstance of hearing the gospel, if that is all it would take for them to love God?  
Will