There will be many posts in the future exposing the eisegesis of Arminian theology on this blog. What is inspiring this one is specific comments made at a church-wide Systematic Theology study. During the discussion of God’s providence, a brief discussion of Calvinism and Arminianism came up. More specifically, the idea of “free-will” came up. I didn’t say much as there was a leader who had a presentation to get through, and my questioning of the masses would have inevitably caused a train wreck of conversations which would have never allowed for the presentation to reach its conclusion.
It amazes me how much the Christian church is beginning to favor philosophical hypotheticals and thoughts over Biblical exegesis. Typically during in-house debates with fellow Christian brothers I don’t allow it to be philosophical in nature but exegetical. Let’s not base theology over what makes sense but what the Scripture has revealed. However, since I was compelled to bite my tongue and sit through the philosophy, I would like to address the bad Arminian philosophy.
The leader did do a good job at trying to remain fair to both sides. At one point when he was trying to demonstrate that both positions have their difficulties, the struggle he attributed to the Reformed side is the “difficulty in making prayers effectual”. He explained that if everything has been ordained then our prayers can’t do anything, but the Scriptures teach they do do something. Allow me to give a positive response and a negative response to this claim. A positive response is to fill in what’s been left out. What was left out in that characterization is that God ordains the means as well as the ends. If God ordained that my prayer would bring about the end which He ordained, then my prayer was effectual without surrendering God’s decree. The negative response is that this “problem” is actually a problem for the opposing side. The opposing side believes God is trying equally hard to save everyone and that God cannot or does not interfere with someone’s will. Thus, while the Arminian can account for effectual prayers in regards to nature and circumstance, they cannot account for prayers about individuals. And a majority of our prayers are about individuals, specifically for their salvation. But if God can’t mess with someone’s will, why would you pray to God for someone’s salvation? What exactly can God do about it? We can’t even ask Him to put them in circumstances that might entice them more because if God is already trying to save them then they would already be in their optimal enticing arena. Any prayer you have about another human being makes no sense in a non-reformed theology. That prayer cannot be effectual. Thus, it is not my position that struggles with prayer, but the Arminian.
After the introductions were made the question was asked whether God decrees all things. I obviously responded with a bold and Biblical YES. However, most seemed to deny this Biblical doctrine. One objection was even raised that sounded something like this, “If God ordained when I woke up, when I brushed my teeth, when I got out of bed, when I stepped on that bug, then where do we draw the line?” Then there was an audible groan of agreement and wonder from the class. I couldn’t help but think, where did line drawing enter the conversation? Why is it that we all natural just assume a line needs to be drawn? I reject the line. I have no problem, Biblically, believing God ordained my teeth brushing and bug-stomping. Where did this line come from?
As expected, when the Arminians tried to deal with the sovereignty of God the “free-will” argument presented itself as it always does. The classic go-to argument that God allowing man to have free will is an act of sovereign choice so giving man free will doesn’t limit God’s sovereignty.
There are many problems this. The first problem is that it absolutely does.
The second problem is that this implies that God could have not given man free will. However, Arminians don’t believe this. God did not choose to give man free will, God had to. Arminians constantly bring up this false idea that unless there is free will, love can’t exist. There response to the problem of evil is that it would be worse for God to overcome a mans free-will then to stop the evil. Therefore, they are trying to play on a side of the fence they don’t belong to. Arminians cannot claim that God chose to give man a free-will because they believe He was obligated too.
While trying to conclude, it was mentioned that God sees what would happen given their free-will and allows it to happen for a purpose. This is a scary belief. Why are we so comfortable turning God into a glorified fortune teller?
This idea of foreknowledge actually philosophically limit’s God’s knowledge of future events. If predestination is God looking down the corridors of time and electing who would believe, why didn’t God see His election of them already? When God acted to elect them, did that change the course of the future He looked in to? If not, then what exactly was the purpose of electing future believers if not electing them didn’t have any effect? The philosophical problems are glaring. God looked into the future and saw un-elect believers then He elected them based on that. But, how when He looked into the future where they un-elect if He elected them prior to the event He looked to in time? It limits God’s foreknowledge to a non-exhaustive knowledge of future events.
In conclusion, almost all of the objections the Arminians had are almost all objections their side struggles from equally.
For example, they have such an issue with believing that, if someone is elect, then they are “doomed from the womb” with no hope. The problem is all unbelievers are doomed from the womb as long as you believe God has knowledge of future events. If God knew Person X was NEVER going to believe, why would God create him? And when God did create him did he ever have a chance of repenting? No.
Even the Arminian is FORCED to admit that those in hell never had a shot on earth of believing and that God directly caused that by creating them when He could not have.
These are just very very brief comments on philosophical attitudes toward the reformed understanding of God’s sovereignty. All future blogs will focus on the text of Scripture itself.