My wife, the Dutchwoman, asked me a question last night: What is the real harm in having an Arminian view of scripture? As a recent convert to reformed theology that was an interesting question to have to answer. What is the real harm in having an Arminian Biblical view? Is there in fact any harm in having an Arminian view of scripture?
The Dutchwoman’s point was that from an Arminian perspective you have to dance around too many scriptures. For example, Romans 9:9-24
9 For example, this is what the promise said, “I will come back at the right time, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 The same thing happened to Rebekah. Rebekah became pregnant by our ancestor Isaac. 11 Before the children had been born or had done anything good or bad, Rebekah was told that the older child would serve the younger one. This was said to Rebekah so that God’s plan would remain a matter of his choice, 12 a choice based on God’s call and not on anything people do. 13The Scriptures say, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”
14 What can we say—that God is unfair? That’s unthinkable! 15 For example, God said to Moses, “I will be kind to anyone I want to. I will be merciful to anyone I want to.” 16 Therefore, God’s choice does not depend on a person’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
17 For example, Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I put you here for this reason: to demonstrate my power through you and to spread my name throughout the earth.” 18 Therefore, if God wants to be kind to anyone, he will be. If he wants to make someone stubborn, he will.
19 You may ask me, “Why does God still find fault with anyone? Who can resist whatever God wants to do?”
20 Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay.
22 If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can’t he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? 23 Can’t God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory? 24 This is what God did for us whom he called—whether we are Jews or not.
What is the Arminian view of this scripture? That God picks some people but everyone else has to choose God? And who are those that God called? Only the aplostles? Messianic Jews? All Christians? Who are the people of whom this scripture speaks?
How about Matthew 24:31
31He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and from every direction under the sky, they will gather those whom God has chosen.
This scripture speaks of how we will know that the Son of Man is returning in His Glory. Jesus speaks of angels gathering up God’s chosen as a sign of His impending return. Who are the chosen? Did God choose those who chose Him first?
A few more for effect.
- Col 3:12 – As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient.
- 1Th 1:4 – Brothers and sisters, we never forget this because we know that God loves you and has chosen you.
- 1 Ti 5:21 – I solemnly call on you in the sight of God, Christ Jesus, and the chosen angels to be impartial when you follow what I’ve told you. Never play favorites.
- 2 Ti 2:10 – For that reason, I endure everything for the sake of those who have been chosen so that they, too, may receive salvation from Christ Jesus with glory that lasts forever.
- Tit 1:1 – From Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I was sent to lead God’s chosen people to faith and to the knowledge of the truth that leads to a godly life.
What do these verses mean when they say chosen?
When I read scripture using the Arminian paradigm I litterally had to tap dance through these scriptures. Especially Romans. My take on these scriptures back then was that God has chosen everyone to receive salvation, we just have to accept the gift. But that’s not really what these scriptures are saying. I don’t think that people were so different back then that we today are simply not capable of understanding what they wrote. We can understand what Greek philosophers wrote long before the New Testament was written. It is clear as crystal. Since the scriptures are inspired by God would He not ensure that the scriptures were written precisely as He intended? I have to believe that what is written in the scriptures are to be taken at face value. That God chose us before we chose Him.
Look at it this way, say we have two equally educated men. Both are of reasonable intelligence, both successful, bothe good moral men. There is only one singular difference between the two: one has wholeheartedly accepted what is written in scripture and has declared his faith in Jesus Christ, the other refuses to believe what is written in scripture and declares that he has no room for such superstitions. Why would one man accept the Gospel, and the other reject it? Why did you accept the Gospel and yet you have family and friends that reject it? What enabled your belief and cut off theirs?
To me the answer is simple: God enabled my belief through His sovereign selection before all time.
One thought on “Dancing through the scriptures”
For me, in a discussion like this, the starting point is: If one believes (and states such) that God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient then He has all knowedge, past, present and future. Therefore, based on the scriptures you quote and more, He has had and will have all knowledge of those He elected, period. To think we have a say so, is putting us in the same realm as God. I don’t think so. End of the Dance.
Is there any harm in Arminian thinking? You bet and I think Satan wants us to believe we have an input in these matters and soften God’s soverignty…make it not as binding as scripture says it is. Scripture does a wonderful job in this area…we need only accept and believe what it says.