Saturday, October 18, 2008

Am I Predestined To Be An Arminian?

It's a relevant question to ask. Those who are predisposed to a determinist viewpoint seem to have trouble with this inquiry. It strikes them as odd or perhaps insincere, even hypocritical in some manner. Now, for those who find no shortage of opportunity to denigrate non-Calvinists and deny their position in Christ, it's an easy question to find an answer to. "Of course you were predestined to be an Arminian" they would state. "It's part and parcel of the reprobate life!". Such souls have no real place in the discussion for their minds are predisposed to attacking the body of Christ in any event without realizing the grievous harm they cause themselves and others. For those who profess a fellowship with their Arminian brethren, there is another quandary unrelated to the hatred and avarice of their hyper-Calvinistic fellows.

I began this inquiry after seeing the question stated by another Christian in an on-line fellowship recently. It seemed that the Calvinists he encountered struggled to answer the question directly and instead avoided a commitment to addressing what strikes me as almost an overly simplistic examination. For those who profess a love for Arminian brethren and hold tenaciously to hard determinism or it's very close cousin, compatibalism, the LORD ordains or purposes every action in this world, either through primary or secondary causes. As such the LORD places souls in the circumstances we find ourselves, each of us serving to bring greater glory to God either through the love of Christ or the travails of reprobation. Of course I find such thoughts to be near reprehensible, at best a spiritually poor understanding of the character of God who is Love, Justice. It brings the stench of sin into Glory were it ever true. Even still, the moderate Calvinist, as he must be termed, struggles to answer the question with a great deal of heartfelt forwardness. If I am deemed to be predestined to the Arminian faith and still held as a saint in Christ, there must be a tiered fellowship in the Calvinist mindset.

Calvinist Elitism

A rather contentious young Calvinist addressed my inquiry by responding with the following comment.

It's the rebellious nature within us all ... we're all natively Pelagian, and then Arminian ... and then we are shown the sovereingty of God in all things. So yes, you are predestined to be an Arminian, for that is where God has you -- at least for now.

This raises a rather serious concern regarding sanctification and the relationship some Calvinists believe they have with the LORD. I followed the young Calvinist's comment with a further inquiry asking if he was not "setting the stage for an elitist hierarchy not supported in scripture by suggesting that Arminians and non-Calvinists are left in this rebellious state (within the body of Christ) while Calvinists have been gifted with a greater intellectual and spiritual understanding?". Without drawing upon all the exchange, his defense was principally one of a renewal of the mind suggesting that the Apostle Paul was instructing a doctrine of gifted intellect with Calvinists being the recipients of such gifts as evidenced by their unique teachings. The renewing of the mind argument strikes me as quite odd in that the teaching by Paul really has nothing to do with intellectual grasp. The renewing of the mind has nothing to do with intellectualism and everything to do with changing and keeping the focus of our entire being on Christ rather than the wiles of the world. You only grow in Christ by being one with Him, your faith focused entirely on Him and your desires shaped by a mind that loves Christ. It is a contrast between a worldly focus and one that is dedicated to serving the LORD. That takes a new and continuing mindset on the things of Christ. Nonetheless, it remains striking that Calvinists can be taught in their churches and fellowships the startling falsehood that growth in Christ and sanctification as lovers of the LORD is found rooted in the numerically superior creases of the cerebrum.

Rebellion Against the Ordinations of God

Curiously, the same group of Calvinists offers another response to the question, one that suggests a contrast with one of their cherished doctrines. If Arminians and non-Calvinists are in a state of rebellion and I am rebelling against the predestining of God or His ordaining what I am, then how do Calvinists reconcile that with their refusal of a freed will in man to pursue a course different than that desired by God? Aside from wishing to, in the words of an old cliché, have their cake and eat it too by stating we are both in rebellion and less gifted then they (one cancels the other logically), the ability of redeemed man to rebel against the desires of God comes against several Calvinist thoughts, irresistible grace, deterministic ordination being the two principles. It strikes me as more important to the discussion that this latter issue is avoided than having the original question addressed. Stating that non-Calvinists are in rebellion to the LORD while hoisting themselves as more intellectually gifted than most of the body of Christ is the epitome of haughty arrogance rather than a demonstration of a mind renewed in Christ and prepared for the meek and humble service of Christ.

For now the question is answered. The LORD has predestined that I remain Arminian and in the state of the Calvinist mind, He has ordained my rebellion and smoothed the crevasses of my cerebrum and kept humble the growth of my hippocampus. If only now in my growing age as an Arminian, the LORD would reverse the growth of my prostate, I could be the complete piss and vinegar Arminian man.

4 comments:

Pizza Man said...

Hi Travelah,

You make some good points. I have wondered about this same question you ask. If determinism is true, God has indeed determined for us to be Arminians. :)

I want to comment on the "renewing of the mind" that the young Calvinist referred to. This is from Romans 12, and the context of Paul's argument very clearly contradicts what C says is true.

Here are the verses, including a little bit of Romans 11, because it is contextual(bold mine).

Romans 11:32
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all
.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


First, the transforming comes about because of the mercy God gives to all. It is in view of God's mercy that Paul urges us.

Second, the transforming is not unconditional, it comes after submission on our part. We are to "offer our bodies". This is "a spiritual act of worship".

Third, our submission pleases God. "...holy and pleasing to God"

So the renewing of the mind described is not at all friendly to Calvinism. It comes through God's universal mercy, through our submission, and this submission pleases God.

travelah said...

Kevin,
A hearty amen to your comments. I noticed this question posed rhetorically on the SEA discussion board and as with the brother in that case, I find the question intriguing. It is a quandary the Calvinist has no room for maneuver.

Blessings in Christ,
Trav

Jc_Freak: said...

Often when I have made that statement, or seen others try it, the Calvinist refers to the argument as a straw man, and then moves on. Note that: he refers to it as a straw man and then moves on. He doesn't explain how it is a straw man, he just claims it as a dodge. Rather frustrating.

travelah said...

JC, I haven't encountered the straw man yet but I've had inferences to being intellectually and spiritually lesser to the Calvinists, insincere, rebellious and a hypocrite for asking the question. It is astounding to observe the degree of wrenching convoluted logic some of these fellows pace themselves through.

Blessings in Christ
Trav