Friday, April 19, 2013

The Goodness of God ... The Root of Arminian Theology

The following passage is a concise summation of what could be the defining principle of Arminian theology. It is certainly representative of my embrace of classical or Reformation Arminianism.

... It is clear that Arminius holds to a so-called "classical" doctrine of God. Within the simplicity of the Triune life, God is infinite goodness. Arminius understands this conviction to be grounded in the biblical revelation and articulated in the Christian tradition with the use of scholastic categories. It is utterly bedrock for his theology, and as we will see, it is particularly important for his doctrines of providence and predestination. Within the simplicity of the divine life, there are no parts or pieces -- thus there can be no competing wills within God. Within the perfection of divine aseity, God can lack nothing and can have no need -- not even the need for glorification through the display of justice or wrath. It is, for Arminius, literally unthinkable that the God of perfect, simple goodness and holy, unalterable love might create humans in his image for the purpose of destruction. On the contrary, humans can begin to glorify God by understanding that the divine purposes and the divine actions are perfectly in accord with the pure and simple goodness of the divine nature... Jacob Arminius, Theologian of Grace, Keith D. Stanglin and Thomas H. McCall  Oxford University Press, NY, 2012, p. 81

This orthodox and ancient position is such a contrast to that of our Calvinist friends and their hyper-sovereignty and divine determinism doctrines. This exploration of Arminian theology is a must read in my opinion and I expect Stanglin and McCall's efforts will become a modern definitive work on the "root underpinnings" of classical Arminian theology.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Renowned Commentator Albert Barnes on the Extent of the Atonement

From the SEA website.

Albert Barnes (1798-1870), who was a graduate of Princeton Seminary and a long-time Presbyterian pastor (in New Jersey and then Philadelphia), is well known for his Notes: Explanatory and Practical, which covers the entire New Testament and portions of the Old Testament. Despite being from a Calvinist denomination, he was a proponent of unlimited atonement, which only underscores how obviously scriptural the doctrine is–even many Calvinists affirm it.
Here are some comments from Barnes in favor of unlimited atonement:
On 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ constraineth us
because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and
that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto
themselves but unto him which died for them and rose again.”–
“The phrase ‘for all’ (huper panton) obviously means for all
mankind; for every man. This is an exceedingly important expression in
regard to the extent of the atonement which the Lord Jesus made; and while
it proves that his death was vicarious, that is, in the place of others,
and for their sakes, it demonstrates also that the atonement was general,
and had, in itself considered, no limitation, and no particular reference
to any class or condition of men, and no particular applicability to one
class more than to another. There was nothing in the nature of the
atonement that limited it to any one class or condition; there was nothing
in the design that made it, in itself, any more applicable to one portion
of mankind than to another. And whatever be true in regard to the fact as
to its actual applicability, or in regard to the purpose of God to apply
it, it is demonstrated by this passage that his death had an original
applicability to all, and that the merits of that death were sufficient to
save all.

Read the rest here.