Sola Scriptura=Unconditional Election?

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PipeAndPint
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Post by PipeAndPint » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:33 am

gospeldj wrote:Thanks for the link, I'll take a look.

Please correct me if I'm in error, but is not one of the basic tenets of Calvinism election? And would that not run directly counter to the belief that "any and all" can accept the offer of salvation?

BTW, I also believe in eternal security, which I understand is also a tenet of Calvinism. So I guess I could be a Calvi-minian :lol: .

PnP, in our discussions at church, the term "hyper-Calvinism" has come up. Are you familiar with that term?

Thanks again...
Mike
Calvinism does teach election. Yet this does not contradict John 3:16, which says "whoever believes in him..." Calvinism absolutely, 100% affirms that IF a person trusts Christ alone, they will be saved. However, we also recognize that Scripture teaches that faith can only come with a new heart, and that God only gives this new heart of faith to some - "the elect". We preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all men as true; all who come will be saved. And yet we realize that only those whom God calls will come. I think the Chantry article touches on this in more detail.

I tried being a Calminian some years ago, mainly just because I wanted a reason to leave the Presbyterian Church. However, I learned through pondering & study that the position simply doesn't work - either logically or according to Scripture.

I have only a passing familiarity with the term "hyper-Calvinism" - enough to know that it means different things to different people. Some folks call you hyper-Calvinist merely for baptizing your kids. Others take it to refer to those who claim Calvinism means we shouldn't pray or evangelize the lost. So I'm not sure what it means in your church's circumstances. I'd only beg that you not let the caricatures and false Calvinists colour your opinion. Not all Calvinists baptize babies, and no true Calvinist ceases to pray or preach the Gospel.

Maybe John-Boy should split this off, so that we don't continue to divert colton's thread..
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Post by gospeldj » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:52 am

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, PnP.

I just printed the Chantry article...I'll read it tonight.

Mike
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Post by LieutenantGibGib » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:36 am

PipeAndPint wrote:
LieutenantGibGib wrote:You know, I still think it's possible to believe in sola Scriptura and Total Depravity, but not hold to Unconditional Election. I think we can do this by questioning precisely how the Holy Ghost operates on mankind.

Rather than acting in a way that brings the predetermined elect to a knowledge of salvation, God instead provides all men with the ability to believe. We have no strength or will of our own to choose what is good (Total Depravity), but God's grace operates in a way which gives us all the chance to believe - the potential to see. Some accept, and some reject. Essentially this flies in the face of the Calvinist doctrine of Irrisistible Grace.

That works, doesn't it?
If I'm understanding you correctly, the view you are espousing is known as "prevenient grace". It is especially appreciated in Methodist circles. There is a good article on this doctrine at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevenient_grace
Yes. I'm sure I mentioned this earlier in the thread but I don't think anyone noticed.

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Post by LieutenantGibGib » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:56 am

colton wrote: Lieutenant, SinisterHand, and GospelDJ,

To my ear, this:
LieutenantGibGib wrote:We have no strength or will of our own to choose what is good (Total Depravity)...
directly contradicts this:
LieutenantGibGib wrote:...God's grace [...] gives us all the chance to believe...
because the model still has us choosing right after we decided we don't have the ability to choose.

Now, if you take out the total depravity part and say that man is base and unholy, but still may choose because of God's grace, then it works because God gave us the ability to choose. Our free will comes from him, so it doesn't take some New-Covenant act of grace to impart that faculty. That grace of free will was extended at creation. But that's not Calvinism, and I can't see anyway for sola Scriptura to fit into that line of thought because it holds that man still has enough of his original nature left to choose good.

You're point makes perfect sense on its own ground, but I don't think it's the ground of total depravity and sola Scriptura. I'm pretty sure PnP is right that you're referring to prevenient grace, which cannot be rooted in total depravity because it asserts that man may still choose good by use of his God-given faculties, which amounts to saying man can choose because God made him free, just like man can run because God gave him legs.
Actually I don't think this is accurate. The point is, man is totally incapable of choosing good by his own faculties, hence Total Depravity. If God left us to our own devices we would all end up in Hell because we cannot naturally choose Him. Our 'free will' and capacity to choose good died at the Fall. It is only by God extending further grace that men are restored to a point where they are able to accept Christ. Once again, there is no natural human capability to accept God. Prevenient grace does affirm the total depravity of man.

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Post by colton » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:19 pm

LieutenantGibGib wrote:The point is, man is totally incapable of choosing good by his own faculties, hence Total Depravity. If God left us to our own devices we would all end up in Hell because we cannot naturally choose Him. Our 'free will' and capacity to choose good died at the Fall. It is only by God extending further grace that men are restored to a point where they are able to accept Christ. Once again, there is no natural human capability to accept God. Prevenient grace does affirm the total depravity of man.
So you're saying that Jesus' death restored our ability to choose, but not all use the renewed ability to respond? If so, what is the scriptural/logical basis for such belief? If not, what's the difference between saying God graciously restored our ability to choose (at some unknown point?) and saying God graciously preserved our ability to choose through the fall?

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Post by SonicBrewmeister » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:41 pm

colton wrote:
SonicBrewmeister wrote:If such is true, then election isn't technically predetermined, it's determined in the present of each moment for every respective person.
At the risk of hijacking the thread, I'm going to ask you to expand on this because I'm not totally sure where you're headed.
I'm not sure where I'm headed, either. I was thinking out loud. :D

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Post by colton » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:50 pm

SonicBrewmeister wrote:
colton wrote:
SonicBrewmeister wrote:If such is true, then election isn't technically predetermined, it's determined in the present of each moment for every respective person.
At the risk of hijacking the thread, I'm going to ask you to expand on this because I'm not totally sure where you're headed.
I'm not sure where I'm headed, either. I was thinking out loud. :D
Right on. If your thought does run its course however, let us know. I'm always interested in the relationship of time and religious matters, mostly as a thought hobby (yes, I'm a nerd, but it appears you are too).

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Post by SonicBrewmeister » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:34 pm

colton wrote:
SonicBrewmeister wrote:
colton wrote:
SonicBrewmeister wrote:If such is true, then election isn't technically predetermined, it's determined in the present of each moment for every respective person.
At the risk of hijacking the thread, I'm going to ask you to expand on this because I'm not totally sure where you're headed.
I'm not sure where I'm headed, either. I was thinking out loud. :D
Right on. If your thought does run its course however, let us know. I'm always interested in the relationship of time and religious matters, mostly as a thought hobby (yes, I'm a nerd, but it appears you are too).
Oh, I most certainly am. I just have trouble fully articulating what my point is and what I'm getting at most of the time.

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Post by PipeAndPint » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:17 am

SonicBrewmeister wrote:If such is true, then election isn't technically predetermined, it's determined in the present of each moment for every respective person.
I've heard much about this view round these parts, and it came up again last week in the material for our Junior/Senior High Sunday School class (we're going through The Screwtape Letters). Whether he was the first to postulate it or not, C.S. Lewis has certainly been the propagator of this idea in the modern century. More's the pity.

Here's why I say that: the view doesn't actually resolve the problem. This "solution" proposes to resolve the question of when predestination happens. But that's not really the question, is it? The question is really this: on whose will is God's predestination ultimately based? Who is ultimately sovereign over every detail of history, space & time?

If you are a Calvinist, your answer is 'God'. If you are an Arminian or Pelagian or somewhere in between, you answer is 'Man'. Regardless of when you want to say God's decrees occur in time - even if you place them at the exact point of human decision-making - you still have to answer this question. And therein lies all the difference.
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Post by LieutenantGibGib » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:30 am

colton wrote:
LieutenantGibGib wrote:The point is, man is totally incapable of choosing good by his own faculties, hence Total Depravity. If God left us to our own devices we would all end up in Hell because we cannot naturally choose Him. Our 'free will' and capacity to choose good died at the Fall. It is only by God extending further grace that men are restored to a point where they are able to accept Christ. Once again, there is no natural human capability to accept God. Prevenient grace does affirm the total depravity of man.
So you're saying that Jesus' death restored our ability to choose, but not all use the renewed ability to respond? If so, what is the scriptural/logical basis for such belief? If not, what's the difference between saying God graciously restored our ability to choose (at some unknown point?) and saying God graciously preserved our ability to choose through the fall?
The difference is that the former affirms Total Depravity. The crucial part is that man has no capability of himself - all credit goes to God's grace. To talk of man being able to choose that which is holy apart from God's grace has traditionally been seen as heresy.

Here is a website that I found on google:

http://www.eternalsecurity.us/prevenient_grace.htm

Logically speaking I would suggest the following:

God wills that none should perish and that all are saved
All are not saved
Clearly, God's will is resistable

Some men do come to a saving knowledge of Christ, yet man is totally depraved and cannot choose good of his own faculties (see PipeAndPint's thread)
Therefore, God's grace alone is responsible for men's salvation.

So, given that God wills salvation for all men, yet all are not saved, and that man cannot choose God apart from God's grace, prevenient grace is the only idea that makes sense.

If anyone else thinks they can present this is a more coherent format then feel free.

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Post by Dug » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:10 am

This thread is kind of re-merging w/ the total depravity one, so I'm not sure where to post this. We've been round such circuits several times before. If anyone is interested in prior musings, here's one of mine: http://www.christianpipesmokers.net/mod ... c&start=24

That mystery (the relationship between God's sovereignty and human freedom) remains at the heart of Catholic teaching on human freedom, justification, and Original Sin, which is neither Calvinist nor Arminian (I presume the same is true for our Orthodox brothers and some Anglicans, though I'll let those folks construe their own traditions).

The Catholic Church does reject the concept of Total Depravity if it means that original sin has entirely destroyed or extinguished the freedom of the human will. However, Catholics do believe that "Man's freedom is limited and fallible.... By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin" and that "without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight." (CCC 1739, 1993)

I mention this not to open up a new discussion tangent, but just to help ensure that this explication of Calvinist and Methodist doctrine is not framed by implied contrast to unintended caricatures of Catholic teaching (which had popped up a bit before).

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Post by Del » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:19 am

PipeAndPint wrote:The question is really this: on whose will is God's predestination ultimately based? Who is ultimately sovereign over every detail of history, space & time?

If you are a Calvinist, your answer is 'God'. If you are an Arminian or Pelagian or somewhere in between, you answer is 'Man'. Regardless of when you want to say God's decrees occur in time - even if you place them at the exact point of human decision-making - you still have to answer this question. And therein lies all the difference.
Pelagius would say "Man."

The Arminian (from what I understand) and the Catholic would say "Both God and Man."

We note that the Bible frequently asks us to do our part. "Strive for that holiness, without which no one will see God." (Heb 12:14)
It is our pleasure as Christians to seek that grace, pray for that grace, work for that grace, and guard that grace.

Christ Himself told us that many faith-filled people who cry out "Lord! Lord!" will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.

We admit that all grace comes from God, and there is nothing we can do to compel God to share it. But God wills to share His saving grace... and in His divine wisdom, it pleases Him that we should do our part to participate in His grace.

I wish I could understand why Calvin failed to see this.
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Post by colton » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:36 am

Lieutenant,

Thanks for the link; the essay was very helpful (though I confess I only had time to skim it). I think I've got my head wrapped around prevenient grace. I'm still curious whether that doctrine holds that the new grace of will was extended as a result of Christ's death. It doesn't really matter I guess, but do you know?
________________________________________________________________________

In the interest of staying on track, let's regroup. He's what I've learned so far:

1) For Calvinists, total depravity +sola Scriptura= unconditional election.
2) For some of the CoE and all the Methodists, total depravity +sola Scriptura= prevenient grace.

Are there any other answers to the Protestant formula total depravity +sola Scriptura= X?

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Post by Dug » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:15 am

colton wrote:In the interest of staying on track, let's regroup. He's what I've learned so far:

1) For Calvinists, total depravity +sola Scriptura= unconditional election.
2) For some of the CoE and all the Methodists, total depravity +sola Scriptura= prevenient grace.

Are there any other answers to the Protestant formula total depravity +sola Scriptura= X?
I don't see why sola scriptura is necessary to either of those algorithms (i.e., unconditional election and prevenient grace are their respective attempts to explain the soteriological effect of their understanding of our fallen-ness, irrespective of their doctrinal epistemology).

I thought you were asking whether sola scriptura standing alone (i.e., sola sola scriptura:)) necessarily implies unconditional election.

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Post by PipeAndPint » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:06 pm

Del wrote:Christ Himself told us that many faith-filled people who cry out "Lord! Lord!" will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus said that people with saving faith would not enter the kingdom of heaven? Or did he just say that some who said, "Lord, lord" would not enter? There is a difference.
Del wrote:We admit that all grace comes from God, and there is nothing we can do to compel God to share it. But God wills to share His saving grace... and in His divine wisdom, it pleases Him that we should do our part to participate in His grace.

I wish I could understand why Calvin failed to see this.
It was because he understood that total depravity meant that if ANY part of our salvation depended upon us "do[ing] our part", then that part would contain sin - and we would not be saved.
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Post by Del » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:18 pm

PipeAndPint wrote:
Del wrote:Christ Himself told us that many faith-filled people who cry out "Lord! Lord!" will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus said that people with saving faith would not enter the kingdom of heaven? Or did he just say that some who said, "Lord, lord" would not enter? There is a difference.
I believe Calvin invented the idea of "saving faith." Jesus just talked about "faith" and "no faith."

It is my own biblical understanding that it takes faith to recognize Jesus as Lord.

We can wonder why their faith was not enough. In the verses following the "Lord! Lord!" section, Jesus says that they failed to love their neighbors adequately. They didn't do the good works [of feeding the hungry, etc.].
PipeAndPint wrote:
Del wrote:We admit that all grace comes from God, and there is nothing we can do to compel God to share it. But God wills to share His saving grace... and in His divine wisdom, it pleases Him that we should do our part to participate in His grace.

I wish I could understand why Calvin failed to see this.
It was because he understood that total depravity meant that if ANY part of our salvation depended upon us "do[ing] our part", then that part would contain sin - and we would not be saved.
That is insanely reasonable. thanks.
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Post by wosbald » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:28 pm

+JMJ+
Dug wrote:I don't see why sola scriptura is necessary to either of those algorithms
Correct. It is not necessary. UE is an inevitable outcome of TD.

One could theoretically (and heretically in Catholic theology) have the formula: Total Depravity + Magesterium = Unconditional Election. In such a view, one could only accept the truth of the Church's authority though UE.

Calvin's use of TD was to render impotent any logical criticism of Sola. His theology thus renders Christianity into a form of gnosticism.
Last edited by wosbald on Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.




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Post by colton » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm

Dug wrote:I don't see why sola scriptura is necessary to either of those algorithms (i.e., unconditional election and prevenient grace are their respective attempts to explain the soteriological effect of their understanding of our fallen-ness, irrespective of their doctrinal epistemology).

I thought you were asking whether sola scriptura standing alone (i.e., sola sola scriptura:)) necessarily implies unconditional election.
Well, that was my original question, but PnP pointed out early on that sola follows total depravity and the two can't really be seperated, so I lumped them together. If there is a theology in which sola stands alone, I'd like to hear about that too; I just took PnP's clarification to mean that such a doctrine doesn't exist. Perhaps I should have rephrased my questions as, "Does sola Scriptura, being a consequent of total depravity, necessarily imply unconditional election." Also, total depravity +sola Scriptura= X was an inaccurate way of putting the logic. Total depravity =sola Scriptura= X would have been better.

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Post by Dug » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:35 pm

Colton wrote:Total depravity =sola Scriptura= X would have been better.
I don't have a dog in this fight and this is an ancillary discussion (which I'm not intending to instigate), but don't see that sola scriptura follows inexorably from Total Depravity at all.

The Holy Scriptures didn't float down on a cloud, but were the product of the Holy Spirit working through human agency, both in their writing and in their definitive recognition as canonical. (Although not all of us may think of it in those terms, all Christians who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture subscribe to a doctrine of infallibility. Protestants believe that the human authors of the God-breathed Scriptures were preserved from error by the Holy Spirit in their writing of those particular books. The Catholic doctrine is different in degree, not in kind.)

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Post by colton » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:22 pm

Dug wrote:
Colton wrote:Total depravity =sola Scriptura= X would have been better.
I don't have a dog in this fight and this is an ancillary discussion (which I'm not intending to instigate), but don't see that sola scriptura follows inexorably from Total Depravity at all.
It'd be better if someone who believes this would explain it because I think your point is important. Explaining things I don't believe is good mental exercise, but my head hurts from it, so I'm just sure I won't do their view justice. :egor:

This thread has opened a much bigger can of worms that I though it would. I just wanted to find out the different ways that Protestants put the sola puzzle together because the Calvinists seemed to have it it on lock, but I guess I was a bit (or a lot :) ) naïve to think that would be simple.

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