Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Bitter Orange

Re-post from Dec 30, 2010 ...

We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.

The 2nd Council of Orange met to stir the pot of contention. Well, perhaps they didn't think of it like that but looking back at the canon pronouncements that came out of that council in 529 AD, they covered considerable controversial ground. Prevenient grace, total depravity, semi-Augustinianism, semi-Pelagianism, strict determinism, baptism, free will and all the questions swirling around these topics continue to generate a lot of controversy today. Perhaps the most notable contribution of 2nd Orange was its affirmation of the total depravity of man in his natural state and the necessity of prevenient grace to give any impetus to natural man to accomplish or perform any good. The council determined that faith itself and every aspect of salvation is by grace and not through any innate capability of men. These decisions form the basis for western orthodox understandings of total depravity as it regards fallen man and present the case against the predilections of the Pelagians or semi-Pelagians. As orthodox Arminians, we can be grateful for the distinctions made by this council and turn to the document to refute misplaced allegations made against us by the Neo-Reformed in accusing us of the errors of Pelagius and his close follower, Caelestius.

It is the allegations made by Neo-Reformed polemicists that raise the hackles of non-Calvinists and give cause to question their knowledge of the document they brandish. Along with the challenges to the doctrines of man's fallen condition via the semi-Pelagians, 2nd Orange also addressed the aberrant teachings of some who took Augustine's predestination teachings to infer that the LORD predestined all men, some to salvation and others to eternal reprobation. Such teachings were regarded by the elders of the church to have God foreordaining or predestining men to sin and were abhorred as such. Essentially, double predestination was deemed to be anathema and equivalent of making God to be the effecter or author of sin. Today's moderate Calvinists strenuously object to the implication made by this examination while some of their harsher advocates make little effort to distance themselves from the hard determinism that brought about this anathematizing. None of this would really matter were it not for the abuse of 2nd Orange against non-Calvinists through the accusation of Pelagianism. These accusations have always rung hollow but they continue even to this day, among those that intellectually know better than to repeat the charges. Oddly, every time the Calvinist swings his accusing club relying on Orange, he receives a doubly disabling return blow by his own hand. Every instance of shouting "free will Pelagian" gives the retort of "damnable heretic" if the canons of 2nd Orange are his weapon of choice. Eventually, the Calvinist clubs himself senseless, rhetorically speaking. The following provide further links and information on this matter.