Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Poll

For the last couple weeks, I've had a poll up about salvation and what it is conditioned upon. I wanted to do this because so often when I am discussing with fellow believers the subject of Reformed soteriology, the conversation will most often come down to how you would vote on this poll.

The question posed was this: What is salvation conditioned upon?

The possible "answers" were these:

  • Salvation is conditioned upon man's free will
  • Salvation is conditioned upon God's electing grace
  • Salvation is conditioned upon some other factor

The poll results are as follows (out of 96 votes total):

  • man's free will: 20 votes (21%)
  • God's electing grace: 55 votes (57%)
  • some other factor: 21 votes (22%)

Daniel wrote,

Good Arminians should vote with the second option. Both sides agree that God
decides or elects who is saved. The disagreement is whether this election is
unconditional or conditional. You really should reword it.

Thanks for bringing up a good subject, Daniel. My response to your first point, that "Both sides agree that God decides or elects who is saved," would be, I have yet to meet an arminian who would say that it is God who ultimately decides who will be a recipient of His grace. Will I ever meet an arminian who does?

Is election conditional?

Hmmm...I'm sure no one will want to address this comment...

16 comments:

chris said...

Daniel's right, and it's unconditional. "So that God's purpose in election would stand..."

Also, the mean of "according to the foreknowledge [prognisko] ..."

Antonio said...

I am not Arminian nor Reformed, but the Arminian DOES believe that God ultimately decides who will be a recipient of His grace (as I do as well). Well how?

God has ultimately and sovereignly decided that those who believe in Jesus Christ, His Son, will be the recipients of His grace.

Your poll was flawed. I answered the last one.

You see, salvation was conditioned on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Your poll should've asked:

How is salvation appropriated:

1) God imposing it upon the elect by sovereign regeneration and effectual calling
2) God, in His sovereignty and counsel of His will, decided to dispense saving grace to those who believe in His Son for eternal life
3)By committing oneself to Jesus in faithful obedience.

In the case of Reformed theology, it would be a 1 & 3 draw.

In the case of the Bible, it would be 2.

Antonio
Free Grace Theology Blog

Rufus the Great said...

Ooooooohh. Elections. Lithuanians aren't allowed to vote. Is it fun?

Jason said...

Is election conditional?

Yes it is…..conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ only. Humanity is helpless to save themselves. If there is anything we can do to save ourselves that becomes anthropocentric theology, where humanity reaches up to God, rather than God reaching down to man. Soren Kierkegaard described this as the “sickness unto death.” This sickness ran to the core of one’s being, for it was the sickness of the soul. The only one who could address this sickness was Jesus Christ for Soren Kierkegaard. With this sickness, the only remedy is unconditional grace, given by God.

Humanity stands before God and is worthy of nothing more than a divine NO! No to humanity being worthy of grace. No to humanity being able to do anything themselves. Yet, it is through the work of Jesus Christ that God says YES to humanity. Karl Barth said “He declares that we, His enemies, are His beloved Children.” The doctrine of creation ex nihilo includes righteousness. It was out of nothing and because of nothing that God brought His righteousness to us. This is most fully disclosed in the unconditional grace, manifested in God reaching down to humanity and offering the only remedy to this sickness—unconditional grace.

How can grace me conditional? Saying grace is conditional on us asserts that we do something to ear it. This seems only a few steps from Pelagius the heretic’s doctrine of the “ability not to sin.” Augustine responded to this by speaking of humanity being forever biased towards sinning. Whenever a choice of action presented itself, humanity would be biased towards committing the sinful one because the human nature can only be described as sinful. Augustine’s doctrine of justification can be outlined as follows.

1. The election of man is to be understood as an unconditional eternal decree made by God alone.
2. God’s grace and man’s response of faith is understood as a gift of God. That is both the gift of grace and the response of faith both come from God as an unconditional gift.
3. While teaching that man’s free will is capable of doing many things, it is compromised by sin, and therefore cannot lead to justification, except by humanity being liberated by God’s gift of unconditional grace.

Jason said...

Well Antonio, I know plenty of Evangelicals who believe God has no choice at all in who recieves his grace. Some have even gone as far to say god does not know who exactly will recieve it.

ajlin said...

Sister Julianne,
Are you going to delete Antonio's comment, or respond to it, or force *someone else* to respond to the comment, (or will you let Antonio leave his anti-Lordship Salvation promotion on your blog unchallenged)?

SDG

Ron said...

Julianne,

I did not vote, but since you have allowed this commentary, I would like to contribute to the discussion. I did not vote for any because I am not at all sure that salvation is conditional. It exists for all who are willing to receive it. Man's acceptance of it is conditional upon belief, but it exists for all.

After reading some of the discussion, my next question would be: How would you explain the statement that it is God's will that every man be saved, in light of some of the election discussion I have been reading?

Julianne said...

Andrew, would you happen to be that "someone else?" ;)

I plan to respond in a matter of days. We'll see...

However, this comment box is "open" for comments...

Julianne said...

Antonio,

There are many things which could be addressed, but for this moment, I just want to say that you're just not getting it.

The question is: How do those who believe in the Son for eternal life actually believe??? Is it someing found inside themselves? Is it an "extra dose" of the Holy Spirit? Is it a better intellect? A wiser mind? What???

This idea, that it is based upon who believes and that their belief is indepentent of God's election, only leaves room for boasting. It was something deep inside of a person which gave him "belief."

How about this: our belief is a GIFT, given to us by God. Regeneration precedes faith! God gives this gift to those whom He has elected. If you are given the gift of belief, you BELIEVE! You can't NOT believe, because you are given the gift of believing.

That's all I wanted to say for now. Maybe someone else wants to comment?

Daniel said...

"How do those who believe in the Son for eternal life actually believe?"

An excellent question. The Calvinist must have to give the "extra dose" answer.

I have several very intelligent unbelieving friends so I know that is not the correct answer. If intelligence is all that is needed, then heaven would be filled with only smart people (then I probably wouldn't get in).

Boasting takes place because someone has a good reason for boasting. As you know, I'm a "Arminian." However, I don't think that I have anything to brag about when it comes to salvation. I didn't do anything to bring Jesus here to earth; that was God's free decision. I didn't decide that Jesus should die on the cross; that again was Jesus' decision.

I didn't decide to give salvation to those who trusted in Christ; that also was God's decision. The privilege of knowing God is truly a gift that I have been given freely. I didn't merit it or earn it so I have nothing to brag about when it comes to salvation.

Now back to your question. The Bible teaches that we all have been created in the image of God. This is very significant. This means that in a very important way, humans are like God. I believe that part of "being in God's image" is the cognitive facility that make choices and is responsible for our decisions. Even this ability is to choose is God-given. So I can't even take credit for that.

I know that you will disagree and that I'm not going to change your mind, but I'm giving this answer so that you know that even Arminians don't take credit for their salvation. Straw men burn far too easily.

Daniel Mann said...

Ya!~ Amen sister!!! Can't improve upon that! God alone gets all the glory and our boasting; due to His wonderful name.

I usally find it hard to write short comments. For it takes few words to create error and many words to correct it.

Ajlin: Antonio's false views have been refuted here many times. He seems to not want to engage upon what Calvininst's actualy believe, thus he builds straw-men. And lists many verses without engaging in a sound hermeneutical, exegetical,observation of the text. Thus like his counterparts, he seems to imitate their own un-teachable demise, while ignoring what has been carefully been address a myriad of times, through the corridor of Church history to our current modern times.

ajlin said...

Daniel (not Mann):

You said,
"The Bible teaches that we all have been created in the image of God. This is very significant. This means that in a very important way, humans are like God. I believe that part of "being in God's image" is the cognitive facility that make choices and is responsible for our decisions. Even this ability is to choose is God-given. So I can't even take credit for that."

Any "Calvinist" [I'll use the term here since you referred to yourself as an "Arminian"] could agree with this statement. We agree that people possess "the cognitive facility [to] make choices" and that we are all "responsible"- or accountable- for our decisions.
->But the question in dispute is what, on the final analysis, determines whether an individual accepts or rejects the Gospel. In the "Arminian" view, God desires to save every individual who has ever lived, and it is up to each particular person whether they will choose, by their own 'free-will' to receive His salvation. Salvation in this system is ultimately dependent upon the choice of Man.
->In the "Calvinist" view, every individual is in bondage to sin with hearts that are irresistably bent toward evil. Though individuals possess "the cognitive facility [to] make choices", natural Man's cognition of God and of himself has been so distorted by sin that he constantly makes choices to exalt himself and disregard God's holiness. This applies to each and every person who has not come to faith in Christ. For our condemnation is that the Light has come into the world, but we have loved darkness rather than the Light. And the love for darkness- or sin- can only be overcome by God changing the heart of a particular sinner so that they come to love the Light- that is, the Lord Jesus Christ- and turn their back on their former sinful lifestyle. Salvation in this system is ultimately dependent upon the choice of God.
->Returning to your statement about "the image of God": While it is true that "we all have been created in the image of God" we must also recognize that this "image of God" in Man has become fatally corrupted by sin. If we do not understand this fact, our theology will become Man-centered, and thus idolatrous, rather than God-centered.
->As Martin Luther explained:

"Theology typically works this way... It goes inside people and tries to find some power in them that is an "image of God" or "vestige of the Trinity" that is something not overthrown by sin- something that we just couldn't possibly doubt- and then it builds its system of thought by adding God's "revelation" from Scripture to complete what it found. Theologians have joined philosophers in identifying the one thing inside people as "free will." But for Luther this was not just a bad place to begin thinking; it was the source of every single sin, the fashioner of every single sinner, and the direct opponent of God. He called it "enthusiasm," God within-ism, which refuses to start with the word from a preacher sent by God and so cooks up some peculiar form of religion of the self. Adam and Eve did it, and so it is the original sin. It is also the sin that is repeated in ever evolving mutations of the same problem. It is theology curved in upon itself that only succeeds in declaring to the world what one find's while gazing at one's own navel. [from Steve Paulson, Luther for Armchair Theologians, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004. 14.]"

To the glory of god alone-

Daniel said...

Ajlin,

You write, "Salvation in this system [Arminianism] is ultimately dependent upon the choice of Man."

This is clearly not the case. If I was to choose God, and yet He did not choose to save me, I would not be saved. Thus, salvation is ultimately dependent upon God's choice. His choices and His decisions to provide salvation are what counts in the long run.

It's important to remember that the fall did not completely destroy the image of God in man. Gen. 1 initially mentions that we were created in the image of God. Notice that Gen. 5:1 and Gen. 9:6 declare that man is still in the image of God.

This means that man is extremely valuable because God, the most valuable being in existence, placed His image within man.

Yes, man is in bondage to sin (Jacob Arminius was at least a 1-point Calvinist)and is in need of pre-regenerating grace in order to trust freely in the Son, but the Bible makes it very clear that God's grace can be resisted.

I know that is a point of contention, but there are many clear examples in Scripture of folks resisting God's grace.

Finally, I'm tired of the "man-centered" theology bit. This is nothing but an "ad hom" attack. I completely agree that God deserves all glory and honor and that our theology should be centered on God. Amen. To God be the glory.

Antonio said...

Daniel Mann writes:
----------
Antonio's false views have been refuted here many times. He seems to not want to engage upon what Calvininst's actualy believe, thus he builds straw-men. And lists many verses without engaging in a sound hermeneutical, exegetical,observation of the text. Thus like his counterparts, he seems to imitate their own un-teachable demise, while ignoring what has been carefully been address a myriad of times, through the corridor of Church history to our current modern times.
----------
This is tripe. When it comes to discussing the text of the Bible, i do not shy away from it.

There are plenty of discussions over at my blog, Daniel. Why don't you come get involved in the fray? And then we will see who engages the scriptures in "sound hermeneutical, exegetical,observation of the text"

Refuted here many times before?

Why don't you link to these refutations? And we shall see your critical analysis that came up with such an absurd assertion.

Antonio

Antonio said...

Julianne,

you write:
----------
The question is: How do those who believe in the Son for eternal life actually believe??? Is it someing found inside themselves? Is it an "extra dose" of the Holy Spirit? Is it a better intellect? A wiser mind? What???
----------

First this wasn't the question you posed in your poll.

My answer to your question HERE is that one believes through the persuading testimony of the Word of God, and the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit unto one who is open and seeking the truth.

Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).
The Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8).
Jesus draws (John 12:32).
And men like Cornelius and the Bereans who are open and seeking respond by faith (Acts 17:10-12)

Antonio

Puritan Belief said...

Yes I have met a few arminians who would actually say "it is God who ultimately decides who will be a recipient of His grace."

Thoughtful Arminians usually like the crystal ball theory where the lord looks ahead and sees what you are going to do in the future (foreknowledge) so therefore before the foundation of the earth he chooses you ultimately to be saved.

The good old theory that God is outside of time stuff. In my experience it is the arminiest pastors who actually seek the Lord on the big calvanistic verses rather then shelf them that come to this conclusion.

It is misguided though but at least they give it a shot rather then kick you out of the church for opening your bible.

I have a friend who went round Brisbane (Australia) to all the big churches and because he was "respected" among the churches he invited each pastor for lunch and lovingly told them about calvanism and that what they are preaching is wrong.

Many said "Look, I see what you are saying is true but I just can't change after all these years... and so they continued in their arminism teaching"

I enjoy your blog style by the way.