Saturday, July 3, 2010

Classical Arminianism and Molinism: A Comparison and Contrast of Two "Mediate" Theologies, Pt. II

In my last post, I lined up Classical Arminianism and Molinism to show that both believe in Radical Depravity (R) as well as “Sovereign Election” (S). Here is what Classical Arminian (or Reformed Arminian) Robert E. Picirilli has to say:

“Election is conditional. This is the Arminian’s main point of departure from Calvinism, understanding the Bible to teach that SPECIFIC PERSONS ARE ELECTED OR REPROBATED...AS BELIEVERS OR UNBELIEVERS...consequently FAITH IS THE ‘CONDITION’ FOR ELECTION. For Arminius, if salvation is by faith, then election is by faith. If salvation is conditional, election is...True, we are ‘chosen in Him’ (Eph. 1:4), but surely HE PLACES US IN HIM, and THAT UNION OR IDENTIFICATION is part of the work of salvation wrought by Him” (Robert E. Picirilli, “Grace, Faith, Free Will(Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism).” Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2002, page 53).

As can be seen, Reformed Arminians (Classical Arminians) hold to a robust view of election, as robust as any Molinist. Ken Keathley stated this morning that “one by faith becomes united to Christ, who is the elect one.” This is exactly what Picirilli and other Classical Arminians believe. In addition, CA (Class. Arminians) do not believe that God’s decrees are conditional, but eternal:

“If salvation is conditional, election is...this is not to say that God’s decrees are conditionally made...God’s eternal decisions are made WITHOUT ANY CONDITIONS IMPOSED ON HIM. HE HAS UNCONDITIONALLY DECREED A CONDITIONAL ELECTION, ELECTING PEOPLE AS BELIEVERS” (Picirilli, “Grace, Faith, Free Will,” page 53).

As can be seen, God was not “forced” to elect based on faith, but He did it because it seemed good to Him (“according to the good pleasure of His will,” Eph. 1:5). God “unconditionally elects” (He makes the decrees of His own volition), but He elects individuals “conditionally” (individuals must believe to be part of the elect). Election is “unconditional” for God, but “conditional” for believers.
And this goes right into the next point of similarity between Classical Arminianism and Molinism: that is, “Singular Redemption.” Ken Keathley notes:

“The SINGULAR REDEMPTION VIEW, held by moderate Calvinists and REFORMED ARMINIANS, agrees with the limited view that Christ paid a propitiatory atonement but argues that this payment was made for all humanity. This view holds that the atonement was unlimited and universal. Christ provided salvation for all, but the benefits of the atonement are applied only to those who believe” (Ken Keathley, “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach.” Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2010, page 196).

Classical Arminian Robert E. Picirilli notes:

“Universal atonement is implied in Scriptural references to the perishing of some for whom Christ died. If redemption was provided for some non-elect in the atonement, then there is no reason to limit it at all” (Picirilli, “Grace, Faith, Free Will,” page 113).

He references verses such as 1 Corinthians 8:11, Romans 14:15, and 2 Peter 2:1 to confirm his point (113).

Molinism itself holds to the singular redemption view:

“By contrast, the singular redemption position is able to affirm that the Bible speaks of the atonement in both universal and limited ways. The atonement is sufficient for all, but efficient only for those who believe. Many Calvinists hold that this position is more consistent with Calvin himself” (Ken Keathley, “Salvation and Sovereignty,” page 209).

As I’ve shown in this post, Classical Arminianism and Molinism both hold to sovereign election and singular redemption (the two “S”s of the Molinist acronym “ROSES”), not to mention the “R” of “ROSES” for “Radical Depravity.”
This leaves two letters, the “O” (Overcoming Grace) and the “E” (Eternal Life) to be discussed. I guess it’s pretty obvious to you, the reader, that these two points of “ROSES” are the points of contention between the Classical Arminian and Molinist camps. Just how do these two theologies differ on the issues of grace and perseverance? I will reveal that in my next post.

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