Archive for the ‘Theology’ category

Sovereignty vs. Free Will

June 4, 2008

Stumbling through the blogosphere brought me to this interesting post and, subsequently, this oft-repeated dilemma:

So, the question remains… are we ultimately self-determining, meaning that we have the free moral ability to choose Him and based upon this choice of Him, God “elects” us? (It doesn’t seem to me like God is choosing anything here, but that He is just acknowledging our choice to come to Him.)

Or, is God ultimately self-determining… meaning that according to His sovereign election He chooses some to salvation according to His electing Grace?

First off, I would like to point out that even this apparently Calvinist notices the deep-seated connection between freedom and moral responsibility- …we have the free moral ability…. That, to me, is a fairly stunning and refreshing admission (whether or not the author views it as an admission is another issue). Second, I really have no idea what the word sovereignty means anymore. I hear it used all the time, and when I confront divine-determinists about it they usually retort that it means that God is in control. Thank goodness we aren’t ambiguous. For me, it comes down to this: does God cause all that happens? If not, then what does He cause? Does He cause calamity, faith, sin? Does he micromanage or does He sit back unconcerned? Is there a possible middle route?

I tend to think that God does not cause everything in the truest sense of the word cause, though He does often contribute to “causes” and provides the necessary conditions for us to do things. Take salvation for example. We certainly aren’t searching for God prior to salvation. God uses his drawing power and grace to put us in a salvific situation. Does God cause us to be saved? Doubt it. If so, then I have some questions:

*Why not save everyone? God appears to want all to be saved.
*Why the show? Let’s just end all this pain and suffering and take the elect the heaven and send the un-elect to hell.
*Why tease the unelect? Doesn’t appear to be much use in badgering those He never elected with offers of salvation.

Anyway, I think that words like “sovereignty” and “control” are more or less useless, and should be left out of this particular debate.


Foreknowledge and election

May 20, 2008

Theological juggernaut Jaltus recently provided a link to this amazing study of prognosis in the NT:

Click here

In an influential essay, S. M. Baugh has attempted to rescue Rom 8:29 and similar texts for Reformed theology by arguing that the meaning of foreknowledge in the NT renders “impossible” the “Arminian notion of ‘foreseen faith’ … as an interpretation of God’s knowledge” when foreknowledge concerns predestination.1 He vigorously objects to the common Arminian interpretation-to Baugh such readings of Scripture import theology into the meaning of the sacred texts in a way that does unconscionable violence to them.2

Aware that his basic position appears to enjoy widespread support among recent and contemporary Calvinist theologians,3 we challenge Baugh’s conclusions. In this essay, we look first at Baugh’s word studies and the conclusions he draws from them. We then focus attention on the work that these conclusions are called to do for his theology, and we argue that he has not made a convincing case that the Arminian interpretation is “impossible.” Noting that Baugh tends to conflate exegetical and logical issues, we find Baugh’s arguments to be both unclear and unpersuasive; we conclude that he has not closed the door to the Arminian view of foreknowledge and predestination.