Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arminian Perspectives

Interesting reference to my Nicole articles at Arminian Perspectives. I appreciate the link, and while I would take issue with Ben's argumentation and view of scripture, he appears to be a thoughtful person.

So why would I point out a link from an Arminian? (Gasp!) Well ... I appreciate the link and it's good to reciprocate. But it also points out a problem with making bad arguments: a bad argument gives comfort to the other side. If we must support our theology with outrageous assertions (e.g., "Calvin clearly taught limited atonement") or outlandish arguments ("all really means all elect") then we make our own position weak. The bad arguments give our theological opponents a place to stand.

This was brought home to me strongly last week, when my daughter returned from a weekend working at a Bible camp. The camp director led a Bible study in which he advocated limited atonement using John Owen's "trilemma." My daughter wondered what to think of it, and I gave her a brief tutorial on the assumptions at work in Owen's argument. She was quickly satisfied that Owen was talking through his hat.

But not everyone can see the problems so quickly. (It took me decades to figure out the problem in Owen's thinking.) In the meantime, some young people will be misled about Calvinism; and either they will embrace Reformed theology with the corrupting influence of Owen's bad assumptions, or they will reject the argument (as they ought to do) and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Calvin's theology is built on careful exegesis. His followers have, over the centuries, ruined a lot of it by careless exegesis and careless argumentation.


Steve said...

Good grief! I note that I haven't posted since Jan. 1. I have to try to do better. For one thing, I've got more to write about Roger Nicole. Stay tuned! :-)

Derek Ashton said...


I refused to even consider Calvinism for many years because the arguments seemed to bend so much Scripture. But when I discovered the Biblical balance in some of today's Reformed teachers, in many of the Puritans, and in Calvin himself, my tune changed quickly. Suddenly I found I could embrace everything in the Bible without having to resort to weird exegesis. It's a freedom I wouldn't trade for any "perfectly coherent system" in the world!


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the reciprocation and thanks for calling me thoughtful. Feel free to drop a comment at any of my posts that you disagree with. I enjoy the interaction.

God Bless,

Steve said...

I agree Derek. I came at the problem from the opposite direction. I had accepted Calvinism, but had lingering annoying doubts about the problems. Embracing the Biblical balance was liberating; I no longer have problem passages ... well, at least not too many. :-)

I am all for a "perfectly coherent system;" but as I've said before, the coherent system must give way to coherent exegesis.

Steve said...

Thanks, Ben. :-)

Steve said...
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YnottonY said...

Your blog post reminded me of this statement by James Ussher, yet again:

"Neither is there hope that the Arminians will be drawn to acknowledge the error of their position, as long as they are persuaded the contrary opinion cannot be maintained without admitting that an untruth must be believed, even by the commandment of him that is God of truth, and by the direction of that word, which is the word of truth."

Ussher is saying that fallacious argumentation and superficial "exegesis" will not persuade the Arminians (and it shouldn't). Some of the "Calvinistic" half-wits in his day were saying that Ussher was himself an Arminian. There's a fresh and abundant crop of these twits alive today who come from the same stock, and there is absolutely no teaching/correcting them, no matter how much primary source documentation you provide. If they can't be honest with the plain force of the scriptures, then neither will they be honest with lesser sources (even on a mere descriptive level). They may use the expression "semper reformanda," but they're not even open to considering the possibility that their doctrines are at least suspect, given a prima facie reading of scripture. And these are the same people who expect us to believe their testimony that they've been "so humbled by the 'doctrines of grace.'"

Ainigma said...

I would like to see what your objections is against John Owen's reasoning. Have you written them somewhere?