Predestination and Romans 9-11

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by Jenkins, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Active Member Anglican

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  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    That was interesting and informative. To your list of Calvinist, Arminian and Lutheran, you might add Molinist. William Lane Craig does a splendid job (much better than I can) of explaining this viewpoint in depth, but I'll roughly summarize it: God, before the creation of the world, knew all the permutations of possible events and possible freely-made choices of all humans under these various permutations; God then chose to create the world in the manner which would produce the most pleasing (to Him) result in terms of humans choosing to believe in Him and come into His Kingdom. Under this idea, all people have libertarian free will to accept or reject God, even while God knew how they would choose and on that basis foreordained everything before the creation. This foreknowledge God had of how things would play out in any given set of circumstances is sometimes called "middle knowledge." Molinism is viewed by some as a branch of Arminian viewpoint and by others as a distinct view, from what I gather.

    I don't know much about the Lutheran view per se; I once had it explained to me by a lay Lutheran as: God has extended salvation (sort of by default) to everyone, and the only people who do not wind up with salvation are those who either consciously reject God's grace or are gross sinners (murderers and the like). I guess that wasn't too accurate, then? It certainly never sounded like a doctrinally correct viewpoint to me.

    I really would like to discuss the following paragraph you wrote, which I quote:
    One Arminian teaching on Predestination that does not fit into Anglican doctrine is the claim that human free will is sufficiently free to choose Christ. Sometimes called “Decisionism,” this is a view popular among Methodists and Revivalists, claiming that we are saved according to our own decision to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Article 10, On Free-Will, upholds the classical reformation teaching that the human will is so tainted by sin that it is unable to choose the good – to put faith in Christ – without God’s grace preceding us. Thus, the Arminian doctrine of Predestination based on God’s foreknowledge of human faith must maintain a doctrine of God’s Prevenient (that is, preceeding) Grace enabling that faith to come about, in order to fit into Anglican teaching.

    Your paragraph makes "Methodists and Revivalists" sound like they are flat-out in error for promoting the idea that people need to make a decision to trust in Christ. Yet I would venture to guess that the vast majority, if not virtually all, of them are including the concept of prevenient grace in their doctrinal beliefs (please correct me if you have evidence to the contrary). Romans 12:3 says that God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith; thus every human has been given a sufficient ability to believe in God and in Jesus Christ if he so chooses. Choosing to believe in Christ is something Jesus told hearers to do as well as something the apostles exhorted people to do.

    Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
    Joh 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

    Act 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
    Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
    Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.


    Most certainly, we should distinguish true belief from mere mental assent. One can decide to take an umbrella because it might rain, and then change one's mind and leave it home; but if one truly believes that rain is virtually assured, that belief will affect what one thinks and does. Likewise, deciding to say a 'sinner's prayer' just because it feels like the thing to do at the moment, perhaps to 'hedge one's bets' in life, is not the same thing as genuine faith and trust in Christ's redemption. Yet when one comes to genuinely believe in Jesus Christ, there is a mental component (a mental adjustment?) that takes place and it could reasonably be termed a 'decision.' Faith necessarily interfaces with the intellect (the brain, the thought process and decision-making process).

    The anti-decisionism mindset "throws the baby out with the bath" in my opinion. It leads people to be unfairly critical of certain other denominations' evangelistic practices. Just last Sunday, in our "Sharing the Faith" class in between masses, one of the attendees openly criticized 'leading people in a sinner's prayer' as a detrimental and misleading practice. He expressed his feeling that the practice simply leads those who say such a prayer to a vain and inaccurate belief that they have become children of God, although they actually remain unredeemed and ungodly. I did not speak, but it was plain to me that the individual who spoke this way had never actually been present in such a situation and was therefore speaking about something he knew little about. The minister who leads people in a 'sinner's prayer' will first spend time expounding upon scriptures which the Holy Spirit can use to cause faith to rise up in the hearers; then he will invite any, who have never before believed in Christ but who now are inclined to so act, to approach the altar and to pray a prayer in which they (1) ask Jesus for salvation and (2) subsequently confess before God and man what they believe. They are then assured that God has heard their prayer and has granted their request if they are sincere in their belief (note the qualifier). Following this, every effort is usually made to counsel with them concerning God's will concerning their lives and actions as a new believer (i.e., seek to be baptized, begin reading the Bible, avoid sin from now on, etc.... the beginnings of discipleship) and inviting them to attend 'new believer's classes' if they are available.

    Could a church attendee become convicted of his need for a Savior and become a child of God without this sort of practice? Yes, possibly. But the practice is meant to help people along in this process and to give them a concrete starting point for spiritual growth. The new Christian also can look back later and say, "that's the day the Lord led me to faith in Jesus, the day I became a Christian," and this can be very meaningful both to that person and to how he shares his faith with others.

    Will there be some people who misinterpret what they hear, or who 'go through the motions' without really believing? Certainly! Is that a good reason to discount the entire 'sinner's prayer' practice? No, because a countless number of people have been led to become genuine Christians via the practice. The fact that it does not have a 100% success rate (humans being the way they are) is neither here nor there. This really is no different from the evangelical who might criticize the Anglicans by pointing out the obvious fact that it's entirely possible for someone to attend Anglican services faithfully, receive Eucharist each Sunday, and participate regularly as an active member, yet be an unbeliever lost in sin because no one ever delivered a homily designed to convict him of his erroneous beliefs. There is a grain of truth, mixed with much misunderstanding, in either viewpoint.
     
  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Active Member

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    But every Anglican Eucharist starts with a statement to all attending that nothing in our hearts is hid from God and that God alone can lead us to true and effective repentance. This followed by confession of sin and announcement of 'the message of reconciliation', in that God pardons the offences of all who are repentant and intend leading a new life.

    Effectively this format includes the sinner, along with the believers in the congregation, in an appeal 'unto the throne of the heavenly grace', to 'confess our manifold sins and wickedness'. It seems 'meet and right' to me that we as a 'faithful flock', should not set ourselves above those we might designate 'sinners' who are 'strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world', for such were each of us ourselves until God 'called and chose us'.

    After confession, (a sinners prayer), and absolution, (a pronouncement of the message of reconciliation with which the church has been entrusted. 2 Cor.5:19), all present will be exposed to The Word of God in both scripture, prophetic pronouncement, (sermon), and sacrament (communion), and salvation will be attributed entirely to God, in Christ. Rev. 7:10, Rev. 12:10, Rev. 19:1.

    It therefore seems to me that every Eucharist is an opportunity for people to be 'saved' by God. They need do nothing to obtain that 'salvation', it has already been done for them, all they need to do is 'receive' what has been offered by God through Christ.
    .
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    Well stated, Tiffy. And it is received through faith. No argument here. This is why I ended my post by saying there's truth mixed with misunderstanding in either of the viewpoints I pointed out.
     
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  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Active Member

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    I think some of the difference between the liturgicals and the evangelicals is, the latter present the gospel in a very obvious and overt manner (which the former find off-putting) while the liturgicals have the gospel presentation packed into a ritual that is more subtle and non-threatening (which the evangelicals think makes it too easy to miss by attendees who might become inured to the content). I think God knows what He's doing in allowing a variety of styles of the Gospel presentation, because people are so diverse and some respond well to one thing while others respond better to something different. Our Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
     
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  6. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Active Member Anglican

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    The problem I have with "decisionism" is its populist form: "we are saved because we chose to be saved." I would never disparage a sincere "decision for Christ," but I would never, ever, allow anyone under my pastoral care to believe that they're saved because of that good decision. It is the grace of God (prevenient, elective, regenerating, justifying, whatever) that saves us, and not we ourselves.

    Thus I'm in agreement with what Tiffy said too - the contour of our liturgy (both Office and Communion!) is an opportunity to discover and receive the salvation of God.

    As for Molinism, that's just the inevitable problem of writing things down. Hardly a few months after writing that, a friend of mine introduced me to Molinism. It was (and still is) difficult for me understand the differences between it and Arminianism or Lutheranism, but I'm vaguely aware of it now.
     
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  7. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    So I take it, Fr. Bench, that you are a monergist then, like Calvin and Luther?

    I do believe that we choose; we choose to accept the offer of salvation extended to use by God through Christ. Of course this necessitates prevenient grace, but we still have to either accept or reject the offer of salvation. That is in keeping with the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and the Arminian positions.
     
  8. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Active Member Anglican

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    I'm not 100% committed to a specific line here, to be honest. I once heard it put, concerning Lutheran doctrine, that God wrote a check (or cheque) for our salvation on the Cross and hands it to us, all we have to do is deposit it. Assuming that's a fair representation of Luther's theology, I think that's the best meeting-place of monergism and faithful consent / free will.

    Or, put another way, I'm monergist, and teach it, with regards to justification, but the rest of the salvation process is participatory and consensual.
     

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