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Arminius on the Lordship or Dominion of God

Just today I saw a Calvinist blogger who posted a piece against Arminianism.  His chief argument: Calvinism exalts God while Arminianism exalts Man.  He is convinced from reading John Owen that Arminianism is nothing more than idolatry.  He is also convinced that Arminianism is all about Mankind first and foremost.  Whereas his Calvinism exalts God and destroys man’s pride (so he reasons).  

In reality, Arminius had much to say about the Lordship or Dominion of God.  From his writings it is clear that Arminius wanted to praise God above all else.  He wants to exalt the love of God along with the holiness of God.  How could God lovingly reconcile people while not ignoring sin nor His justice in regard to sin.  For Arminius, the answer was clear: Jesus Christ was the embodiment of both the love of God and the holiness of God.  

To show you that Arminius sought to exalt the Lordship of God, read the following remarks from his Works on the subject.

DISPUTATION XXVII

ON THE LORDSHIP OR DOMINION OF GOD

I. Through creation, dominion over all things which have been created by himself, belongs to the Creator. It is, therefore, primary, being dependent on no other dominion or on that of no other person; and it is, on this account, chief because there is none greater; and it is absolute, because it is over the entire creature, according to the whole, and according to all and each of its parts, and to all the relations which subsist between the Creator and the creature. It is, consequently, perpetual, that is, so long as the creature itself exists.

II. But the dominion of God is the right of the Creator, and his power over the creatures; according to which he has them as his own property, and can command and use them, and do about them, whatever the relation of creation and the equity which rests upon it, permit.

III. For the right cannot extend further than is allowed by that cause from which the whole of it arises, and on which it is dependent. For this reason, it is not agreeable to this right of God, either that he delivers up his creature to another who may domineer over such creature, at his arbitrary pleasure, so that he be not compelled to render to God an account of the exercise of his sovereignty, and be able, without any demerit on the part of the creature, to inflict every evil on a creature capable of injury, or, at least, not for any good of this creature; or that he [God] command an act to be done by the creature, for the performance of which he neither has, nor can have, sufficient and necessary powers; or that he employ the creature to introduce sin into the world, that he may, by punishing or by forgiving it, promote his own glory; or, lastly, to do concerning the creature whatever he is able, according to his absolute power, to do concerning him, that is eternally to punish or to afflict him, without [his having committed] sin.

IV. As this is a power over rational creatures, (in reference to whom chiefly we treat on the dominion and power of God,) it may be considered in two views, either as despotic, or as kingly, or patriarchal. The former is that which he employs without any intention of good which may be useful or saving to the creature; that latter is that which he employs when he also intends the good of the creature itself. And this last is used by God through the abundance of his own goodness and sufficiency, until he considers the creature to be unworthy, on account of his perverseness, to have God presiding over him in his kingly and paternal authority.

V. Hence, it is, that, when God is about to command some thing to his rational creature, he does not exact every thing which he justly might do, and he employs persuasions through arguments which have regard to the utility and necessity of those persuasions.

VI. In addition to this, God enters into a contract or covenant with his creature; and he does this for the purpose that the creature may serve him, not so much “of debt,” as from a spontaneous, free and liberal obedience, according to the nature of confederations which consist of stipulations and promises. On this account, God frequently distinguishes his law by the title of a COVENANT.

VII. Yet this condition is always annexed to the confederation, that if man be unmindful of the covenant and a contemner of its pleasant rule, he may always be impelled or governed by that domination which is really lordly, strict and rigid, and into which, he who refuses to obey the other [species of rule], justly falls.

VIII. Hence, arises a two-fold right of God over his rational creature. The First, which belongs to him through creation; the Second, through contract. The former rests on the good which the creature has received from his Creator; the latter rests on the still greater benefit which the creature will receive from God, his preserver, promoter and glorifier.

IX. If the creature happen to sin against this two-fold right, by that very act, he gives to God, his Lord, King and Father, the right of treating him as a sinning creature, and of inflicting on him due punishment; and this is a THIRD right, which rests on the wicked act of the creature against God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/19/2013 at 3:01 PM

Arminius on God’s Permission For Sin

Arminius makes the following interesting comments concerning sin and the fact that God permits evil.  Arminius is clear that God does not cause evil nor does He create evil but He does permit evil in His divine providence and His infinite wisdom.  We humans will never comprehend the wisdom of God nor His ability to take free decisions that are sinful and use them for His glory and honor such as in the case of Judas’ betrayal of Christ or the crucifixion itself as an act of indescribable love (Acts 2:22-24).  That God permits evil is the view of the Arminian.  That God causes evil must be the view of Calvinism.

Arminius writes,

X. The permission of sin succeeds, which is opposed to hindering. Yet it is not opposed to hindering, as the latter is an act which is taken away from the power of a rational creature by legislation; for, in that case, the same act would be a sin, and not a sin. It would be a sin in reference to its being a forbidden act; and it would be no sin in reference to its being permitted in this manner, that is, not forbidden. But permission is opposed to hindrance, in reference to the latter being an impediment placed on the capability and will of an intelligent creature. But permission is the suspension, not of one impediment or two, which may be presented to the capability or the will, but of all impediments at once, which, God knows, if they were all employed, would effectually hinder sin. Such necessarily would be the result, because sin might be hindered by a single impediment of that kind.

(1.) Sin therefore is permitted to the capability of the creature, when God employs none of those hindrances of which we have already made mention in the 8th Thesis: for this reason, this permission consists of the following acts of God who permits, the continuation of life and essence to the creature, the conservation of his capability, a cautiousness against its being opposed by a greater capability, or at least by one that is equal, and the exhibition of an object on which sin is committed.

(2.) Sin is also permitted to the will; not because no such impediments are presented by God to the will, as are calculated to deter the will from sinning; but because God, seeing that these hindrances which are propounded will produce no effect, does not employ others which He possesses in the treasures of his wisdom and power. (John xviii, 6; Mark xiv, 56.) This appears most evidently in the passion of Christ, with regard not only to the power but also to the will of those who demanded his death. (John xix, 6.) Nor does it follow from these premises, that those impediments are employed in vain: for though such results do not follow as are in accordance with these hindrances, yet God in a manner the most powerful gains his own purposes, because the results are not such as ought to have followed. (Rom. x, 20, 21.)

XI. The foundation of this permission is

(1.) The liberty of choosing, with which God formed his rational creature, and which his constancy does not suffer to be abolished, lest he should be accused of mutability.

(2.) The infinite wisdom and power of God, by which he knows and is able out of darkness to bring light, and to produce good out of evil. (Gen. i, 2, 3; 2 Cor. iv, 6.) God therefore permits that which He does permit, not in ignorance of the powers and the inclination of rational creatures, for he knows them all, not with reluctance, for he could have refrained from producing a creature that might possess freedom of choice, not as being incapable of hindering, for we have already seen by how many methods he is able to hinder both the capability and the will of a rational creature; not as if at ease, indifferent, or negligent of that which is transacted, because before anything is done he already [“has gone through”] has looked over the various actions which concern it, and, as we shall subsequently see, [§ 15-22,] he presents arguments and occasions, determines, directs, punishes and pardons sin. But whatever God permits, He permits it designedly and willingly, His will being immediately occupied about its permission, but His permission itself is occupied about sin; and this order cannot be inverted without great peril.

You Can’t Kill John Piper

Here is a great post from William Birch called, “You Can’t Kill John Piper” on the issue of divine determinism.  Great read.  I also recommend his follow up post as well.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/30/2013 at 2:49 PM

Praising God In Trials

True praise doesn’t flow just when everything is going the way we think it should go.  Often we are all guilty of praising God when times are good but do you praise God even when times are hard?  Do you praise God when life seems to be coming against you from every side?  True praise flows at all times and not just when we feel like praising God.

James 1:2-4 reminds me of that fact.  Trials come (v.2) but God allows trails to come to test our faith and to produce steadfastness (v.3).  Steadfastness in turn leads to us being perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (v.4).  How can this be?  Because praise breaks us into the presence of God and we realize that He is faithful and He is sufficient no matter what we face.  We choose to see God in our trials and we learn to praise Him in the midst of them and this leads us to see the sovereignty of God and trust completely in Him.  Verse 4 is not speaking about money or about sinlessness.  That is not even James’ point here.  He is speaking about a trust in God that does not waver in the midst of trials (v.6).  A trust in God that leads to us standing firm in our faith in the wisdom of God and the power of God (v.5).

Trails are not fun.  They often hurt.  But God is faithful and we can praise Him in the midst of the storms of life.  Praise has a way of focusing on what really matters and that is God Himself (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  God is our delight.  God is our reward.  To be with Jesus is our aim (Philippians 1:20-21).  Praise has a way of showing us that this world and its pains are insignificant to the reality and glory of heaven (Revelation 21:1-4).  Come what may: cancer, debt, loss of freedoms, corruption of our bodies and decay, etc. – we can trust God and praise Him.  He is good.  He is faithful.  He is sovereign.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/30/2012 at 8:16 PM

Arminius on the Providence of God

DISPUTATION XXVIII

ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

I. Not only does the very nature of God, and of things themselves, but likewise the Scriptures and experience do, evidently, show that providence belongs to God.

II. But providence denotes some property of God, not a quality, or a capability, or a habit; but it is an act, which is not ad intra nor internal, but which is ad extra and external, and which is about an object different from God, and that is not united to him from all eternity, in his understanding, but as separate and really existing.

III. And it is an act of the practical understanding, or of the will employing the understanding, not completed in a single moment, but continued through the moments of the duration of things.

IV. And it may be defined the solicitous, everywhere powerful, and continued inspection and oversight of God, according to which he exercises a general care over the whole world, and over each of the creatures and their actions and passions, in a manner that is befitting himself, and suitable for his creatures, for their benefit, especially for that of pious men, and for a declaration of the divine perfection.

V. We have represented the object of it to be both the whole world as it is a single thing consisting of many parts which have a certain relation among themselves, and possessing order between each other, and each our the creatures, with its actions and passions. We preserve the distinction of the goodness which is in them, (1.) According to their nature, through creation; (2.) According to grace, through the communication of supernatural gifts, and elevation to dignities; (3.) According to the right use both of nature and grace; yet we ascribe the last two, also, to the act of providence.

VI. The rule of providence, according to which it produces its acts, is the wisdom of God, demonstrating what is worthy of God, according to his goodness, His severity, or his love for justice or for the creature, but always according to equity.

VII. The acts of providence which belong to its execution, are — preservation, which appears to be occupied about essences, qualities and quantities — and government, which presides over actions and passions, and of which the principal acts are motion, assistance, concurrence and permission. The three former of these acts extend themselves to good, whether natural or moral; and the last of them appertains to evil alone.

VIII. The power of God serves universally, and at all times, to execute these acts, with the exception of permission; specially, and sometimes, these acts are executed by the creatures themselves. Hence, an act of providence is called either immediate or mediate. When it employs [the agency of] the creatures, then it permits them to conduct their motions agreeably to their own nature, unless it be his pleasure to do any thing out of the ordinary way.

IX. Then, those acts which are performed according to some certain course of nature or of grace, are called ordinary; those which are employed either beyond, above, or also contrary to this order, are styled extraordinary; yet they are always concluded by the terms due fitness and suitableness, of which we have treated in the definition. (Thesis 4.)

X. Degrees are laid down in providence, not according to intuition or oversight itself, neither according to presence or continuity, but according to solicitude and care, which yet are free from anxiety, but which are greater concerning a man than concerning bullocks, also greater concerning believers and pious persons, than concerning those who are impious.

XI. The end of providence and of all its acts, is the declaration of the divine perfections, of wisdom, goodness, justice, severity and power, and the good of the whole, especially of those men who are chosen or elected.

XII. But since God does nothing, or permits it to be done in time, which he has not decreed from all eternity, either to do or to permit that decree, therefore, is placed before providence and its acts as an internal act is before one that is external.

XIII. The effect, or, rather, the consequence, which belongs to God himself, is his prescience; and it is partly called natural and necessary, and partly free — FREE, because it follows the act of the divine free will, without which it would not be the object of it — Natural and Necessary, so far as, (when this object is laid down by the act of the divine will,) it cannot be unknown by the divine understanding.

XIV. Prediction sometimes follows this prescience, when it pleases God to give intimations to his creatures of the issues of things, before they come to pass. But neither prediction nor any prescience induces a necessity of any thing that is afterwards to be, since they are [in the divine mind.] posterior in nature and order to the thing that is future. For a thing does not come to pass because it has been foreknown or foretold; but it is foreknown and foretold because it is yet to come to pass.

XV. Neither does the decree itself, by which the Lord administers providence and its acts, induce any necessity on things future; for, since it, the decree, (§ 12) is an internal act of God, it lays down nothing in the thing itself. But things come to pass and happen either necessarily or contingently, according to the mode of power, which it has pleased God. to employ in the administration of affairs.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/06/2011 at 11:25 AM

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