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Tag: Apologetics

Is Arminianism Heretical? (An analysis and guest post from James Quiggle)

Is Arminianism Heretical? (An analysis and guest post from James Quiggle)

Many Calvinsts are quick to damn those who hold to Arminianism as heretics, but are they really? In this fascinating essay, Visiting Professor James Quiggle, a frequent and beloved guest, here, endevors to answer this question with technical precision and Christian charity.

Is Arminianism Heretical?

I understand Calvinism and Arminian soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). I am qualified to render an opinion on Arminianism as to heretical or not. If the details of theology are not your thing, keep reading anyway. We also need to look at some history.

Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609) developed his soteriological views in opposition to the supralapsarianism order of God’s decrees (respecting salvation) which were developed by John Calvin (1509–1564) and others, of what today is known as high Calvinism.

In the supralapsarian order of God’s decrees (respecting salvation) an election to both salvation and to reprobation is the first decree. The supra- order is: decree to elect to salvation and reprobation (damnation); decree to create; decree to permit the fall; decree to send Christ to redeem those elected to salvation; decree to send the Holy Spirit to effect salvation.

Here is the significance: in the supralapsarian order no human being was seen by God as a sinner when God elected some to be saved and some to be damned. The supralapsarian order is based solely on God’s sovereignty, at a time in the order of God’s decrees when no human being was seen by God as a sinner. The Arminian view of soteriology was developed to oppose the supralapsarian view that non-sinners were elected to reprobation (eternal damnation).

The “Five points of Arminianism” were developed a few years after Arminius’ death by his followers, as a means to systematically express their disagreement with the, at that time, prevailing supralapsarian view. The Synod of Dort and its Canons (doctrines) were a direct response to the Arminian five points. Is it important? The Synod thought so, they took seven months (Nov 1618 – May 1619), and 154 open-to-the-public sessions (and many side conferences), to discuss the issues.

The “Five Points of Calvinism” were developed *after* the Synod, based on their Canons. The ideas were in the Canons, but not stated in five points. Those five points *do not* express supralapsarianism, but express an order of God’s decrees that came to be known as infralapsarianism. (Both the Arminian five points and the Canons of the Synod of Dort are available online.) (BTW, the earliest known, documented use of the acronym TULIP was 1905.)

The word “lapsarian” means “after the lapse.” The “lapse” is the fall of humankind into sin. The word “supra” means “above, before.” “Supralapsarian” means “before the lapse, i.e., God elected some to salvation and others to damnation before the fall into sin. The word “infra” means “below, after.” Infralapsarian means “after the lapse,” i.e., God elected some to salvation after the fall into sin. There is no election to reprobation in infralapsarianism.

The infralapsarian order of God’s decrees is this: decree to create; decree to permit the fall; decree to elect some to salvation (no election to reprobation); decree to provide a redeemer for the elect; decree to send the Holy Spirit to effect salvation.

There is third order in Calvinistic soteriology, the sublapsarian order: decree to create; decree to permit the fall; decree to provide a redeemer; decree to elect some to salvation; decree to send the Holy Spirit to effect salvation.

Supra- sees no person as a sinner when God decreed his election. The significance of infra- and sub- is God saw all persons as sinners before he elected some to salvation, and left others are they were, as non-elect sinners. The difference between infra- and sub-, is when God decreed to provide a redeemer in relation to the decree of election. In infra- the redeemer is provided after election. In sub- the redeemer is provided before election.

Many Calvinists’ opposed the supra- election to reprobation, is why the infra- and sublapsarian views were developed. Is the difference between sub- and infra- important? Yes, in infra- the benefits of Christ’s propitiation of God for sin are directed only toward the elect. In sub- the benefits extend to all humankind: mercy and common grace to all human beings; salvation to the elect. As the Synod of Dort stated: Christ’s propitiation was sufficient for all, efficient to salvation for the elect.

Calvinistic ”Unconditional Election” is sometimes described as “God elected on the basis of his free grace.” No, “free grace,” aka, sovereign grace, is the consequence of election, not the basis of election. Here is genuinely biblical Unconditional Election: God chose some to salvation for no reason explained in the Scripture—we don’t know why.

The unconditional election of some to salvation but not others was not based on any merit or lack of merit in the person, thus not based on foresight of who would or who would not believe. God chose for reasons known only to God that suited his purpose in creating. The choice was neither arbitrary nor unjust: God viewed all persons as sinners before electing some to salvation, choosing to leave others as they were. Election does not prejudice God against the non-elect; they could be saved if they would come to God with faith in God and his testimony as to the way of salvation. They are not saved because they desire their sin more than a relationship with God.

The Arminian “Conditional Election” was not specifically written to oppose sovereign grace, but to oppose the supralapsarian election to reprobation. The Arminian view of election is known as “foresight election”: God foreknew who would believe and then elected those people to salvation. The Arminianism “Conditional Election,” naturally opposes supralapsarian election to salvation and election to reprobation. But Arminian “Conditional Election” also opposes the infralapsarian, sublapsarian, and biblical views of unconditional election.

Arminian soteriology does believe salvation is by God’s grace, but they differ from Calvinism in how that grace is applied. In Calvinistic salvation God’s prevenient grace (Ephesians 2:8) is applied to specific individuals whom God elected to receive that grace. That prevenient grace is efficacious to save: every sinner receiving God’s efficacious grace will infallibly believe.

In Arminian salvation, God’s prevenient grace (Ephesians 2:8) is applied indiscriminately to everyone. That prevenient grace makes it possible for anyone to choose to believe. In Calvinistic soteriology, prevenient grace is necessary because sin makes the sinner unable to believe to salvation. In Arminian soteriology, prevenient grace makes salvation possible for all, sin does not make the sinner unable to believe, so anyone can believe, or not believe, as he or she chooses.

With that historical and theological background, I can now accurately state the thing in common between any system of Calvinistic soteriology (supra-, infra-, sub-) and Arminian soteriology. In both Calvinism and Arminian views of salvation, Christ propitiated God for sin, God elected, and God must give prevenient grace (Ephesians 2:8) for a sinner to be saved. Thus both soteriologies agree sinners are able to be saved. But both differ significantly in the details of how a person is saved.

If, **which it is not**, the differences between Calvinism and Arminian soteriology were the only defining quality between heretical and not heretical, then the Arminian soteriology is not the biblical soteriology. But, and this is important, neither is the high Calvinism supralapsarianism. Both are wrong for different reasons. In Calvinistic supralapsarianism God is a monster who arbitrarily elects to damnation people who have not sinned. In Arminian soteriology God is not the sovereign God who initiates salvation but the helpless God who responds to the choices of his creature.

What is biblical soteriology?

Unsaved sinners have Total Inability to initiate their salvation, because the sin attribute dominates every aspect of human nature;

God, for reasons not stated in the Scripture, chose to give some sinners his gift of Prevenient Grace, Ephesians 2:8, thereby effecting the means to their salvation; there is no corresponding election to reprobation;

God’s gift of prevenient grace is Efficacious Grace: it infallibly accomplishes the end for which it was given, which is the salvation of the chosen sinner;

Christ’s all-sufficient Propitiation of God (aka: atonement) for all human sin has benefits to all humankind (mercy, common grace), but is efficient to salvation only toward those whom God chose to receive its merit by his Efficacious Grace, through the person’s faith in God and God’s testimony; this is known as Limited Redemption;

All those whom God has saved will Persevere in the faith by faith to the end of life and beyond, because each is and will be endlessly maintained by the merit of Christ’s propitiation through God’s Efficacious Grace.

Or: Free Will Dominated by Sin; Christ’s All-sufficient Propitiation; Limited Redemption by Election; Enlivened by Efficacious Grace; Faith that Receives Salvation; Perseverance in the Faith by the Faith to the End.

Is the Arminian view of salvation heretical? No, but just barely. Arminian soteriology teaches God elected some to salvation, that salvation occurs because Christ propitiated God for sin, and God gives prevenient grace to salvation. The Scripture opposes other aspects of Arminian soteriology. But any soteriology that teaches salvation of the sinner through the forgiveness of sins based on the propitiation of Christ, which Arminianism does, cannot be judged wholly heretical.

Tony Evans Study Bible Review

Tony Evans Study Bible Review

Photos

 

 

I spent a little more time than usual before writing this review because I am not altogether familiar with Dr. Tony Evans.(Holman Bibles provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one.) The material has proved to be more helpful than anticipated. So let’s dive right in.

 

Translation Choice

Holman Bible Publishers holds the copyright on Christian Standard Bible so it is natural that the Tony Evans Study Bible would be offered in the CSB. As a translation, it is mediating (middle of the road) between strictly literal and thought for thought. The best way I could describe it would be to say that if you made a hybrid out of the New Living Translation and the New American Standard Bible, you would get the Christian Standard Bible.

It is approximately an 8th grade reading level for the Bible text. The CSB was translated with an emphasis on readability and it does accomplish that goal nicely. When it comes to use, I primarily use it for comparative purposes and the excellent footnotes. The translation is a very good edition and most worthy of being used for teaching.

 

Cover and Binding

There are several cover options available; I was send the brown and black portfolio design in leather touch. Like Crossway, Holman makes absolutely incredible imitation leathers. I have had a couple people handle it and tell me that they thought it was, indeed, the genuine article. I would say that it would easily last 20 years or more with proper care. For an every-day carry Bible, this or hardcover is preferred as it will hold up to the rigors of daily life very well and you won’t be afraid to beat it up.

Like most Holman Bibles, the Tony Evans Study Bible has a sewn binding. This is a more utilitarian feature to comment on but a very important one. It is the sewn binding that allows a Bible to stand the test of time. It also allows the Bible to lay flat on your pulpit or desk with relative ease.

 

Font, Paper, Layout

The only complaint that I have about this Bible is the font size. I am fairly nearsighted and Holman has a tendency to use a smallish font in its Bibles. The font, here, is supposed to be a 9-point but it certainly feels more like an 8 for the Bible text. I can read it if I take my glasses off but I would much prefer a true 10-point font.

The paper is nicely opaque. It has a parchment look to it. I love the way it feels, kind of like an older book even though it is quite new. I am not sure which tool to recommend for writing, probably a ball-point pen though. It is generally a safe bet when marking in your Bible.

For text layout, the Scripture is in a double column paragraph format. The notes are laid out in three columns. If I had a gripe it would be the choice of a paragraph format for the text. I find verse by verse to be much easier to read.

Helps

Here is a listing of the helps. Following that will be a few examples of how I use them

  • Study notes crafted from Tony Evans sermons and writings
  • 40 inspirational articles
  • 50 “Lessons on Kingdom Living”
  • Plethora of “Questions & Answers”
  • Numerous “Hope Words”
  • Over 150 videos of sermons linked with QR Codes
  • Devotionals, and teaching from Dr. Evans, page-edge cross-reference system
  • Special back matter section with key definitions
  • Theological and doctrinal charts, and other study helps
  • Concordance
  • Bible reading plan

 

Here are some ways I use the Tony Evans Study Bible

  1. A Guide for Discipleship Class: Taking one section per week, the Overview of Theology offers an 8-week discipleship class. I am actively teaching a group discipleship class on Wednesday nights and as soon as I saw this section, I began to add quotes into the lessons that were prepared.

 

  1. An Apologetic Aid: The section on Bibliology is expanded into a second article. I have been using this as a tool in one on one discipleship to help provide a solid foundation on our understanding of the Bible and how to defend that belief.

 

  1. An Inspirational Resource: There is a section called Hope words. These are inspirational quotes, just a couple sentences, designed to encourage you in your walk with Christ. I have been sharing these in the office at my secular job (I’m bi-vocational) and my colleagues tell me that they have been most helpful.

 

  1. A Discussion Guide: The Q&A is an excellent tool to facilitate discussion in small groups. The answers provided by Dr. Evans are able to stand by themselves but the questions also lend themselves to discussion. They provided opportunities to peek into the heart of the pastor, or members of the group.

 

 

 

 

Overall Impression

As I said in the beginning, the Tony Evans Study Bible’s material is surprisingly helpful. I could easily see it as an ideal choice for a 1st time Bible student. In point of fact, I would say that it should be one of your first two choices for a new disciple, the other being the Swindoll Study Bible.

 

There’s a Wolf in the House: Signs of Apostasy

There’s a Wolf in the House: Signs of Apostasy

Actually, there are many wolves in the house, alleged teachers who intentionally teach heresy which attempts to rob Christ of the glory due Him.

Matthew 10:16
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves…

As we explore the truth of Scripture, it is important to recognize the marks of an apostate, a person who at one time knew and maybe even taught the truths of the Bible but walked away. Jude, the Lord’s youngest human brother, points out several signs of an apostate. (This is not a total exposition of the entire book but covers the essentials)

Jude
1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

1 Ungodly (v. 4)
When the New Testament writers say that a person is ungodly, it does not simply mean that the person does not know God, it also means that the do not have character that is consistent with the revealed Person and Nature of God.

2 Morally perverted (v. 4)
In the NIV, promiscuity is translated as license to commit immorality. Among other things these apostates teach that there is no need to struggle to overcome sin. The Greek word rendered as contend, or contend earnestly (NKV, NASB) is agonizomai from which we derive the word agonize. Because our sinful nature will not easily be transformed into Christlikeness, it can seem agonizing, at times to give up that sin in order to be more like Christ.

Many, many apostates teach instead that God will give you all the things you want: health, wealth, posessions, influence, etc and all you have to do is “sow the best offering that you can” without any call to true repentence or humility. These ignore the command of Jesus to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). One of these so called teachers has even gone so far as to say that anyone who tells you to deny yourself is a messenger of Satan.

In truth, you do not even have to teach grace as license to sin however you please to turn grace into license, all you have to do is refuse to teach the truth of God’s grace, that it saves you from sin and its power not simply that it saves you from hell. And just in case you were going to object and say that such things are not perverted, the definition of perverse is something that is contrary to the generally accepted standard or practice. Since the Bible is our standard, anything contradicting the Bible or anything taught in the pulpit that does not match Scripture is, by definition, perverted.

 

3 Deny Christ (v. 4)
Ultimately, this leads to a denial of Christ; the Jesus taught and embraced by the apostates simply is not the Jesus of the Bible.

5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

4 Defile the flesh (v.7& 8)
As we are seeing today, apostates defile the flesh in ungodly and

unbiblical ways. Some of my evangelical brethren will immediately point to homosexuality but what about other sins: drunkenness, gluttony (I think I have only heard one sermon on gluttony in 25 years), fornication, domestic violence (yes the Bible actually addresses this topic which I have never in my life heard addressed in the pulpit).

Defiling the flesh refers primarily to sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18) which is a sin against one’s own body. Remember that Jude’s oldest half-brother, the Lord Jesus Himself, even went so far as to equate contemplating the sin with the actual sin itself (Matthew 5:27-28). When is the last time you heard a sermon about sexual lust (lust of the flesh), greed (lust of the eyes), or counteracting the boastful pride of life by being poor in spirit.

5 Rebellious (v. 8)
By not teaching what the Bible actually says, these apostates live in and encourage rebellion in others. A pastor once told me that 1% out of submission is equal to being 100% in rebellion against God. To deny a doctrine, the reality of hell for example (Rob Bell) and to teach that denial to others is absolute rebellion against God. To refuse to yield to the Authority of Scripture is to refuse to yield to the Author. They go hand in hand; authority entails submission .

6 Revile holy angels (v. 8)
This is a mark against many Pentecostals if I ever saw one. Growing up Pentecostal, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen pastors “bind” satan or command him to do this or that; both of which are patently absurd. If Michael, the highest angel (archangel means chief angel) dares not speak against the devil, what in the world possesses a “Christian” to do so?

7 Ignorant (v. 8)
The behavior we have discussed so far demonstrates and

absolute willful ignorance of both the Things of God and His Person. To know Him as He is is to submit to Him.

8 Having vain ideas (vs. 8-10)
Continuing with the idea of ignorance, apostates have vain/foolish ideas. Word of Faith teachers, for example, tell you that you can name and claim your promise from Scripture and activate a response from God based on your faith. This is hubris and is no different than the idea of “binding satan.” I have heard them justify this nonsense by saying all the promises of God are yea and amen. That is only half the truth and is therefore not the truth. All of God’s promises are yea and amen but only in so far as to the person(s) they apply to. I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you is a very true promise but it only applies to the Nation of Israel for that is whom God made the promise to.

It is utter vanity and foolishness to presume anything upon Him Who sits upon the Throne

9 Self-destruction (v. 10)
What is the natural end result of apostasy? Self-destruction. God does not have to directly do anything to these, all He has to do is say to them, “thy will be done” and step aside. How many ministries have been damaged and even destroyed by ministers who thought they could get away with this or that? I would list names but that is impractical.

I can say from personal experience, getting your own way can be deadly, to your soul as well as your body. After all there is a way which seemeth right unto a man and the end thereof is destruction. (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for

reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

1 Grumblers (v. 16)
2 Fault finders (v. 16)
3 Self seeking (v. 16)
4 Arrogant speakers (v. 16)

5 Flatterers (v. 16)
I will deal with all of these together: they are person centric and

reflect the oldest sin in the book, pride. Pride is that sin which caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven and it will do you the same favor. Pride looks at another, finds his/her deficiency and then exalts self because you don’t have that particular deficiency. It causes one to puff up and think of oneself more than he/she really is. Pride, the oldest known sin, is the truest and surest mark of the apostate. No matter what other signs you see, the Christian that demonstrates pride is on treacherous ground and in real danger of going where one does not want to be, apostasy.

17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

5 Mockers (v. 18)
2 Peter 3:4, They will say where is the promise of His coming. I would add to that, they will say things like no serious Christian believes in Hell or, no loving, tolerant Christian rejects gays, or they will dismiss the creation account as a myth/a metaphor. Mark it out, every single apostate has some passage or doctrine that he does not like and by dismissing it, they make a mockery of God…for now.

19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

6 Cause division (v. 19) 7 Worldly minded, 8 Without the Spirit(v. 19)

 

Apostates cause division in the church because they are worldly minded and they are worldly minded because they do not have the Holy Spirit and they do not have the Holy Spirit because they are worldly minded.

It’s a vicious cycle once you walk away from the truth of Scripture and only the Holy Spirit can bring you back.

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Beloved, these are wicked days in which we live. (I personally believe the End of Days is nearer now than ever before.) We, therefore, must guard our hearts and ground ourselves on the sure word of Scripture so that we may stand our ground. The old

hymn says it best:

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the Throne

May mercy, grace, and peace be multiplied unto you. Amen.