Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"On Predestination"

I promised to start going through the works of Arminius; so I shall start here with his “On Predestination.”

Arminius’s words on predestination come after he shares the ideas of supralapsarians (Calvinists who argue that God is the author of sin and evil):
The opinion of those who take the highest ground on this point, as it is generally contained in their writings, is to this effect:

"(1). God by an eternal and immutable decree has predestinated, from among men, (whom he did not consider as being then created, much less as being fallen,) certain individuals to everlasting life, and others to eternal destruction, without any regard whatever to righteousness or sin, to obedience or disobedience, but purely of his own good pleasure, to demonstrate the glory of his justice and mercy; or, (as others assert,) to demonstrate his saving grace, wisdom and free uncontrollable power."

Arminius here quotes the words of supralapsarians. Notice that God chose a select few “without any regard whatever to righteousness, or sin, to obedience or disobedience, but purely of his own good pleasure, to demonstrate the glory of his justice and mercy…” Calvinists affirm this same thing currently—that, regardless of the person’s own decision or feelings about God, God chooses them to be saved. But here’s the problem: The problem is that ALL THE WORLD was in sin, not just a few. To affirm that Christ selects ONLY A FEW, a person has to also affirm that Christ died for ONLY A FEW—and this contradicts Romans 3:

“But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets—that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, TO ALL WHO BELIEVE, since there is NO DISTINCTION. For ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom. 3:21-25, HCSB).

Notice that Paul writes, “For all have sinned.” Everyone is guilty under the law—whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, etc. All, by virtue of being human, stand together as guilty. However, in Romans 3:24, who is the “they” Paul refers to as being justified? “All,” the subject of verse 23. So everyone has an opportunity to be justified by Christ’s work on the cross.

But who will be justified? Will everyone? NO—“He would…declare righteous THE ONE WHO HAS FAITH IN JESUS” (3:26, HCSB).Only those who profess faith in Him will be justified. All have equal access, but only those who accept will receive Christ’s justification and have His righteousness imparted to them.

This goes against the Calvinist’s belief that only a few can receive the gift of salvation.
Let’s look at another passage, Romans 5:

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because ALL SINNED…death reigned from Adam to Moses, EVEN OVER THOSE WHO DID NOT SIN IN THE LIKENESS OF ADAM’S TRANSGRESSION” (Rom. 5:12, 14, HCSB).

The text tells us that “death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Adam was the representative, the head of the entire race—and when he sinned, we all sinned by virtue of our PHYSICAL UNION with him. Sin was not selective—it came upon ALL. In addition, notice how UNSELECTIVE it was: it came “even over those who did not sin in the LIKENESS of Adam’s transgression.” Even those who didn’t commit the same sin that Adam did received the penalty for sin, which is death. Death spread to all—it was NON-DISCRIMINATORY! And, since death was God’s judgment, God’s judgment was NON-DISCRIMINATORY!

But to stop here is to overlook a key portion of Romans 5. Reading the next sentence, we find these words:

“He[Adam] is a PROTOTYPE of the Coming One” (Rom. 5:14b).

The word here for “prototype” is the Greek word “tupos,” meaning “type” or “example.” Who is “the Coming One”? Christ. So, when Paul writes here that Adam is the first example of the Coming One (being Christ), Paul is saying that Adam and Christ stand in close relation to each other. Paul gives us the answer to this close relation between Adam and Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:

45Thus it is written,(BB) "The first man Adam became a living being";[e](BC) the last Adam became a(BD) life-giving spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45, ESV)

So if Adam is the first type of the One to come, then the Coming One is the second type—in other words, Christ, the Coming One, is the SECOND ADAM. And if the first Adam sinned and the penalty spread to all, as Romans 5 tells us, then surely, Christ’s coming, as well as our SPIRITUAL UNION with Him (through faith), would bring salvation to ALL. But this covering of salvation is only distributed to us when we believe.

Look back to Romans 5:

“Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will THOSE WHO RECEIVE the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17, HCSB).

Those who will “reign in life” are “Those who receive” God’s grace and righteousness through Christ. The Greek word for “receive” is “lambano,” which also means “to take.” When someone “takes” something, they pick it up, they grab it with their hands. It is not handed TO them—they get it themselves. The word for “receive” here is an active verb, which means that the subject (being humans)are the ones doing the action. The grace of God and His righteousness are available, but we have to accept it—God is not going to force it on us.

In verse 18, Paul sets the reader up with a parallel situation. Let’s look at it so we don’t miss Paul’s exclamation point on this passage:

“So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for EVERYONE, so also
through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for EVERYONE.”

As I said earlier, death spread to everyone THROUGH ADAM—for Adam was the representative of the human race. Christ, being the second Adam, was the second representative, appointed as such to UNDO the transgression of Adam.

But let’s notice something here—the effects of sin and the effects of salvation. Sin spread to everyone—it was non-discriminatory, not making a difference between one person and another. But in order for Paul’s parallelism to make sense here, the other side has to balance in the same way that the first did. If Adam’s transgression made everyone guilty of sin, then Christ’s work on the cross gives EVERYONE equal access to salvation through faith in Christ. The Calvinist, however, as Arminius stated above in his “On Predestination,” wants to make everyone believe that this isn’t so. But how does the Calvinist’s rendering of Romans 5:18 look?

Death spread to ALL through Adam
Salvation is extended to SOME through Christ

How logical is this? How can Christ be representative of the new humanity, the “new creation,” if He only grants this newness for SOME of His creation and not all? To do so, Christ would be reconciling only SOME THINGS to Himself and not all (Colossians 1:19-20).

As Romans 3 and 5 have shown us, God did not select a few individuals from humanity to save. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world—“not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet.3:9, ESV).

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