Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eternal Security and Its Implications For A Theology of History, Pt. XIV-C: The Evidence-of-Genuineness Proposal as The Gift of Genuineness

The last post tackled the idea of Molinism as infralapsarian Calvinism. While Molinism attempts to distinguish itself from Calvinism, it seems to be the same as Calvinism: both Molinism and Calvinism posit unconditional election and eternal security (Molinism posits an “ultimately irresistible” grace in its “overcoming grace” model).
In this post, section C of Part XIV in the Eternal Security series, I intend to discuss the evidence-of-genuineness proposal in great detail. I will maintain two things in this post: 1) that the evidence-of-genuineness proposal really amounts to “the gift of genuineness”; and 2) I will show that the evidence-of-genuineness proposal is itself disingenuous...since even the person that displays supposed evidence of genuineness could be disingenuous themselves. There simply is no way to look at a person’s life, see good things, and presume that the individual is godly. While man can only look on the outward appearance, God sees the heart for what it is (1 Samuel 16:7).
Molinism posits that believers are unconditionally elected by God--- that is, that God chooses at random whomever He desires to be saved. They are saved without regard to faith...but they are saved because of a divine decree made all the way back in eternity. However, as I have stated here numerous times before, Scripture doesn’t mention the word “decree” once...the text only mentions “faith” (Heb. 11:6).
While Molinists do argue against Calvinism (in that they believe faith comes before salvation), arguing faith before salvation does not fit with their notion of unconditional election (that they are chosen without regard to faith). As Arminius himself states:
“If any one says, ‘God wills first absolutely to save some particular person; and, since he wills that, he also wills to bestow faith on him---because without faith it is not possible for him to be saved’; I tell him, that HE LAYS DOWN CONTRADICTORY PROPOSITIONS---that ‘God wills absolutely to save some one WITHOUT REGARD TO FAITH’; ---and yet that, ‘according to the will of God, HE CANNOT BE SAVED WITHOUT FAITH.’ Through the will of God it has been revealed to us, ‘Without faith it is impossible for any man to please God,’ or to be saved: there is therefore in God no other will, by which he wills any one to be absolutely saved WITHOUT CONSIDERATION OF FAITH. FOR CONTRADICTORY WILLS CANNOT BE ATTRIBUTED TO GOD” (James Arminius, Works I:749-750).
Arminius hits at something in the biblical text: if “it is impossible” to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6), then how can God choose a person to be saved “without faith”? In a recent post, I disagreed with Steven Roy’s argument regarding election. In his book, “How Much Does God Foreknow?”, Roy argues that people are not chosen “by undetermined faith,” but rather, “by God’s good pleasure.” The problem is, one cannot please God without faith. If Hebrews 11:6 means anything, it means that God’s good pleasure CANNOT (and will not) be divorced from faith.
But, in the Molinist system, God elects without regard to faith, then supplies faith (which I’ve already argued is a contradiction)...but can true believers fall away? According to Ken Keathley, the answer is negative:
“The Evidence-of-Genuineness proponents base their doctrine of perseverance on God’s promises in Scripture that He will complete His work of salvation in the individual believer...a Christian may fall totally, BUT HIS FALL WILL NOT BE FINAL. THE TRUE BELIEVER WILL PERSEVERE” (Ken Keathley, “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach.” Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2010, page 177).
So God unconditionally elects, gives faith, and then eternally secures the elect (their sin is a condition which does not count against them in the end; they are unconditionally saved). So, what about the believer who falls away?
“The warning passages...are not directed toward believers but are intended for false disciples, who for one reason or another are masquerading as real Christians” (“Salvation and Sovereignty,” page 178).
But how can this be? If God preserves His own certain ones that He chose for salvation, then why does the person fall away? The answer is simple: God did not choose that person! In the end, then, how could that non-elect person’s faith secured him with Christ? If God chooses without regard to any conditions in the person, then having a genuine heart does not affect election either way. I’ll set up a syllogism:
1) Genuineness is a human heart condition.
2) God saves “un” conditionally---that is, without regard to human condition.
3) If genuineness is a human condition, and God saves without regard to conditions, then God saves without regard to genuineness.
So again, I ask: “What role does the evidence-of-genuiness proposal play in this system?” To claim that genuineness is a test of truth is like saying that, if the person did things that seemed genuine, then that person would be elect (as if the person could control whether or not he or she was elected for salvation).
What do I think the evidence-of-genuineness proposal is all about? I don’t think the genuineness test is an issue of evidence so much as it is an issue of gift: that is, I think genuineness, like faith and unconditional election, are gifts in this system, given without regard to the persons themselves. Ken Keathley writes about the evidence of genuineness:
“...the advocates of the Evidence-of-Genuineness position contend that the fruits of salvation will NECESSARILY and eventually manifest themselves in the life of a believer” (“Salvation and Sovereignty,” page 177).
Why will the fruits “necessarily” arrive in the believer’s life? Because they have been unconditionally elected by God. Those whom God has unconditionally elected will “necessarily persevere” unto the end.
The “evidence” of genuineness is really more of a “gift” than it is evidence. The word “evidence” however, is used here in the same way that it is used with regards to the “unconditionally” elect who the “unconditionally elect,” faith is the gift (evidence) of their election...and genuineness is the gift (evidence) of their faith. Once it becomes clear that rhetoric is being employed to soften the blow of Calvinism, we find that, although the emperor says he has clothes, in reality, he has none...the deception of words does not eliminate the reality of nakedness.
I’ll subject the Evidence-of-Genuineness Proposal to more evaluation in my next post. Stay tuned...

No comments: