Calvinism and Christianity - incompatible?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by MatthewOlson, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    I believe there are some Calvinists on this forum, so could someone (Calvinist or not) help me with this?
    Calvinism makes no sense to me. Calvinists believe in predestination, which basically means fate. Well, Christianity is based on the concepts of free will and sin. If you believe in fate, then you can't believe in free will. If your life is already planned out, you have no free will. You might have the illusion of free will, but you would not have actual free will.
    Fate and free will are incompatible, so aren't Calvinism and Christianity also incompatible?
    (Note: I'm not trying to offend any Calvinists. I'm just trying to figure this out, because I've been wondering about it for a while now.)
     
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  2. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    Well, first, all Christians believe in predestination, consider just one example:

    The question is in how predestination is understood, if that is more foreknowledge or foreordained. Most Christians have historically agreed that this is the act of God fore-ordaining the elect, starting with St. Augustine going through the Middle Ages to Aquinas and the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, etc.). The Greek Orthodox and Arminians are the notable exceptions in believing this is foreknowledge.

    Second, Christianity is not "based on the concepts of free will and sin" it is based on Christ's one, perfect, sacrifice for our sin and the ability to receive that by faith alone through God's grace alone. None of us have free-will, we are all depraved and fallen short of the glory of God, all Christian traditions affirm this. The question is to what extent has sin plagued us? Calvinists (and Lutherans, and Roman Catholics) follow Scripture and note that man is fully sick by sin and incapable of saving himself.
     
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  3. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    What I don't understand is how Calvinism doesn't conflict with the fact that Scripture clearly demands that faith in God is essential for salvation. If someone is truly predestined, then faith is not necessary. There would be no need to believe.
     
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  4. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    Calvinism absolutely believes that faith alone is necessary for salvation. The Christian religion takes that a step further in the belief that faith itself is a gift from God, not something we possess in ourselves. You are also presuming that predestination somehow limits human responsibility, which is not true. There is a simple mystery to all of this and the Christian traditions opting for fore-ordination are only assembling the best evidence we have to construct a paradigm as to how we come to know God, by his Word written.
     
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  5. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    But Calvinism appears (if I am understanding it correctly) to basically say that some are predestined for Heaven and some are predestined for Hell. Why would God create someone that had absolutely no chance (not even a tiny chance) of salvation? It seems to be in conflict with God's Nature and His Word. God always gives people a chance. If people are truly predestined, then they have no chance to change their outcome.
     
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  6. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    Well, you're conflating many different issues here. First, there are different types of predestination, single vs. double, most Anglicans and Lutherans tend to accept single predestination, meaning that they accept the fact that God elects believers to salvation but do not accept the fact that He damns the reprobate. Within Calvinism proper, there are multiple understandings, supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, Amyraldism, etc. It's really not possible to conflate this to a sentence and and if/then argument. The typical Reformation response to your question would be that if God did not elect believers to salvation then no one would be saved because we don't have the ability in ourselves to do anything to contribute to our salvation much less the desire to do so without the direct intervention of God in our lives.
     
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  7. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    I am not a Calvinist, so on views of sin, I stand with the EOC, the Arminians, and the Anabaptists.

    However, some of my best friends are Calvinists, so even though I disavow every petal in the Calvinist TULIP, I do not disavow Calvinists. :)
     
  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Romans 9 is often used by the Calvinist party, and it is strong indeed. Many individual verses from across the Bible are used by the Arminian ("free will") party, and they are strong indeed. Each side claims that the Scriptures give credit to their theories alone. Calvinism is suspicious, however, in its insistence that Christ only died for the elect (Limited Atonement), not for the whole world. 1 John 2:2 & 1 Timothy 2:5-6 contradict this.

    I happen to agree with the Roman Church for once, in that grace, providence, and the sovereignty of God are all-in-all, and yet He mercifully grants free will. It is a mystery as solemn as the Holy Communion or Baptism. I don't feign to understand how we may choose while He yet Chooses. His Son, our Messiah, tells us to have strong faith in Him, so that is what I do.
     
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  9. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    There's a lot of confusion over the term "free will" and it doesn't help different theologians define it differently. Please watch this video by R C Sproul as he explains very clearly the Calvinist position on free will
    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/chosen_by_god/what-is-free-will/

    It's also very important to know that Calvinism and fatalism are radically different. Fatalism says it doesn't matter what we do everything has been decided already. Calvinism say it really does matter what we do and our decisions have a real effect. God works through secondary causes and yet everything is ordained according to God's purpose. Hope that is clear
     
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  10. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Bravo!...............A simple but misunderstood concept. As a father, I have a destination in mind for my children and it doesn't involve violence, prison, or an early death. God very simply has a goal or destination in mind for us, and it's a matter of our free will accepting it or not. If a 5 star Calvinist really believed their doctrine, they would not waste time on Sunday School or evangelism.:think:

    Jeff
     
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  11. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    Jeff, I think you misunderstand Calvinist belief.. God chooses to work through us. It's a beautiful thought, that though God doesn't need us ,and yet He involves us in His work
     
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  12. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The most important thing to establish is that 'predestination' is not a Calvinistic concept. Aquinas taught it, as did the Fathers, and as did the Reformers. Pretty much the whole Christian world, when you get into the gritty details of theology, teaches it.

    The distinctive of Calvinism is Monergistic grace, which is to say, that God is the only free agent in the universe. Everyone else besides Calvinists at the Reformation have taught Synergistic grace, namely, that God works with us, where we have a range of free activity to make our choices. On the basis of our choices, using his foreknowledge, God knows 'his people', and before the foundations of the world elected them unto salvation.

    Romans 8:29: Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son

    1 Corinthians 8:3: If one loves God, one is known by him
     
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  13. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, Stalwart, you can't just will away the monergism of the English Reformers because you don't like it.
     
  14. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I don't have to wish away anything :) The case simply has never been proven in the first place.
     
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  15. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    I'll send you a copy of Hughes' "Theology of the English Reformers". Really, monergism is basic and fundamental to the English Reformation, without it, Anglicanism falls apart.
     
  16. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It may not be philosophically consistent, but the Lutheran view is the only that is completely scriptural. Philosophy does not save souls, only the Word of God has that power. So if consistency is the key, I'd rather be biblically consistent than philosophically consistent any day. Our salvation is the soul act of God, but we have the freedom to reject it. Any other version of soteriology is unbiblical and thus incompatible with Christianity. Calvinists sacrifice the plain meaning of the scripture so that they can uphold their manmade paradigm, that is their greatest problem. What you see as inconsistency is what the church has always, with humility, respected and embraced as mystery...of which there are a great many in our faith
     
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  17. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    Disclosure: I struggle with this topic a lot and don't think that there is any easy answer. I do however lean in the direction of Calvinism.

    I believe that Calvinists still wish to proclaim the gospel because 1) Christ commands Christians to when he says go out and preach the good news and 2) they do so because of their love for Christ and his commandment. To Calvinists, being used by God even when he doesn't need to use us is a very (as SK stated) beautiful work. This is quite similar to Noah. Before the flood, Noah told the people to repent. In the end, they didn't. Was Noah's work in vain? Does it mean that Noah wasted his time by preaching?


    By the way, very interesting discussion here and will look forward to more :) I hope this doesn't erupt into a uncivil brawl as it always seems to do on online forums pertaining to this topic...
     
  18. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    But free will and sin came to Earth before Christ did. If there was no sin, there would have been no need for Christ to sacrifice Himself for us. What I was saying was that the concepts of free will and sin are the foundation for the need for Christ, and therefore, part of the foundation of Christianity.

    Well, Calvinists and Lutherans and Roman Catholics have differing views on the specifics of that.
    "In contrast to the Protestant views indicated above, these churches [Roman Catholic & Eastern Orthodox] reject the notion of total depravity: they hold that, even after the Fall, man remains free, and human nature, though wounded in the natural powers proper to it, has not been totally corrupted." (quote from Wikipedia)
     
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  19. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    Well, no Protestants deny free will and sin. They are part of the equations. :) But as Hackney Hub stated, the sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross is the essence of the Gospel.

    I guess the question is how far corrupt is our free will. For Protestants, by nature, we are totally depraved. That means without God's grace first moving us towards him, we would never be able to accept him. They do disagree and debate, however, on whether we can reject God's grace and stuff like that.



    There is an interesting article that I read:
    http://www.oldjamestownchurch.com/b...tional-anglicanism-calvinist-or-arminian.html

    Might be an interesting read for others :)
     
  20. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    It would be helpful if you define what you mean when you talk about free will or we'll likely be talking past each other.

    What parts did you agree and disagree with in the video I posted?
     

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