Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Debates

Oh Bother!

There is a medium sized KJV only Baptist church not too far from my home.  I enjoy visiting the church from time to time.  I have even considered attending there though there are several things that keep me from attending (and one will surprise you).  First, the church is KJV only.  I am not.  Far from it.  Secondly, the church is very premillennial, pre tribulation.  I am not.  Thirdly, the church is anti-Calvinistic.  I am not.  While I am not a Calvinist, I don’t teach that Calvinism is a heresy or that Calvinists are worshiping a false God.  That may surprise some folks.

That said, the church is a joy to me.  The preacher preaches the Word of God (albeit from the KJV Bible) and he is not ashamed to preach hard against sin.  The church does many out reaches to prisons, schools, etc. including street preaching.  They even have a men’s class devoted to theology on Saturday evenings and then they take the men to the streets to share the gospel.  The preacher strongly preaches that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and he preaches hard against works to save us (John 6:29).  I rejoice in that.  While the gospel presentation is not always to my liking (they often do the sinner’s prayer for salvation), they do preach against sin and preach repentance including the Lordship of Christ (which is debated in KJV only churches often times).

I visited there tonight and listened to an evangelist teach on Noah’s ark.  It was good.  Not earth shaking.  Not too technical but on an average Christian level, it was informative.  The brother was an older brother (71) and said he had a Ph.D.  He clearly taught a young earth creationist view which is my own as well.  Along the way in his teaching he made two remarks about the KJV being the only Bible and he said that Noah’s ark would be discovered by the act of God during the tribulation period to awaken the Jews to the truth of the Bible and point them to Jesus as the Messiah.  He did say that was his opinion but he preached it as gospel.  Again, his presentation was good.  I appreciated him much.  I wish more churches would tackled the issues of the flood, evolution, etc.  We need to know that Genesis is true.

At the end, I approached the brother to ask three questions about his presentation.  He answered them all but he made another comment about the KJV Bible being the only Bible and how he couldn’t recommend Answers in Genesis because of this issue.  I told him I disagreed with that view.  He looked at me like I had grown another head.  He begin to ask me why I denied the Bible?  I told him I didn’t come to debate him and as a visitor, I wanted to respect him.  He continued to ask me questions so basically the following conversation happened like this:

Me:  So which Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God?

Evangelist:  The 1611 is.

Me:  Do you use the 1611 edition?

E:  No.  I can’t read the old English.

Me:  So you use the 1769 edition?

E:  Well yes.

Me:  And why is the 1769 edition the Word of God compared to the 1611?

E:  They are the same.

Me:  If that is true why not use the 1611?

E:  The English is different but the Bible remains the same.

Me:  Which edition of the KJV is the Word of God?

E:  Mine is.

Me:  On what basis?  How do you know your Bible is the Word of God?

E:  Why do you want to cast doubt on the Word of God?

Me:  I’m not but if the KJV is the Word of God then which edition is the Word of God and who now publishes the inerrant and infallible Word of God?

E:  My KJV Bible is the Word of God.  Period.  As long as it is a KJV it is the same and is the Word of God.

Me:  Not true.  The Cambridge edition differs from the Oxford and the Oxford differs from the Trinitarian Bible Society and the TBS differs from the Zondervan.  They all differ.  So again, who is right and by what authority do you determine who is right?

E:  This is pointless.  I will not listen to you cast doubts on the Word of God.  You need to lay aside these arguments and do the work of the Kingdom.

The conversation ended with him doubting my salvation.  I told him that we are not saved by faith in a Bible translation but faith in Christ.  We also disagreed over the deity of Christ in the modern translations as I told him that the ESV was stronger on the deity of Jesus than the KJV.  He disagreed but had no answer.  I pointed him to one passage such as Romans 9:5 and told him to compare the modern “corrupt” translations with the KJV.  The ESV is stronger both there and in many other New Testament texts on the deity of Christ.

I admit that I was shaken leaving and so was he.  I didn’t mean to disrespect him.  The pastor of this church knows where I stand on this issue.  He knows that I don’t hold the KJV to be the only Bible to be used today.  I respect the KJV and praise God for the truth of the gospel found there.  I don’t deny that God used the KJV powerfully for His glory.  That said, I am not KJV only.  I love the KJV but I don’t hold that the KJV is the only Bible in the English speaking language.  That is a ridiculous claim.

Sadly, many will hear this brother teach on Genesis and tear him apart not because of his views on science or creationism but because he is dogmatic on the KJV Bible.

In closing, I highly recommend people to read Dr. James White’s book The King James Only Controversy for more information.  We can trust the modern translations.  While some are better than others, we can trust that God has preserved His Word.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/17/2016 at 9:52 PM

Must Hear Debate

I highly recommend you listen to Dr. James White debating a Hebrew Israelite.  This is a subject I have never encountered.  I once heard these guys “preaching” on the streets of New York City and when I walked by one of them pointed at me and called me “white devil.”  That was my brief encounter with these guys.  Their theology is radically off from biblical Christianity as Dr. White clearly shows.

My prayer is that the Church will rise up and answer the Hebrew Israelite movement.  They are racist, anti-Christ, and false teachers.  They need to be shown their errors and I pray that they repent.  As I listened to the above debate, I prayed for God to open this man’s eyes to his sins and that he would be brought to repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

I greatly appreciated the end of the debate where Dr. White clearly preaches the gospel.  He preaches that Jesus is calling all sinners to repent (Acts 17:30-31) and He will save people from every nation as He has promised (Revelation 5:9-10).  The gospel is not just for Jews but for all people (Acts 13:44-52; Ephesians 2).

How Should Arminians Respond to Attacks?

It is not uncommon for me to be attacked for my Arminianism.  I have been called a liberal, to holding man-centered theology, to not loving God, to not loving God’s grace, to denying God’s sovereignty, to believing that I earn my salvation, to hating God, to denying the gospel.  Often these attacks come from Calvinists and many of them are perhaps in their “cage stage” but they honestly believe that Calvinism is the pure gospel, that Calvinism is just what Jesus and His Apostles preached (I am not kidding there).  They love all things Calvinistic and any attacks on Calvinism are viewed as attacks on God Himself.

Now to be fair, this is not the case with all Calvinists.  I know many godly Calvinists who love the Lord and know that Calvinism is not the gospel nor the major issue.  I have sat with many Calvinist brethren in great fellowship.  One only needs to think of the great friendship of John Wesley and George Whitefield to know that people can be Arminians and Calvinists while being brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Nothing in the New Testament suggests that we have to be nothing more than disciples of Jesus (John 13:34-35) to love one another.  Love is one of the greatest evidences of our salvation (1 John 4:19-20).

So how do we respond to those who attack us?  Here is my response in brief.

1.  Answer With Love and Grace.

While I have had some say that I am lost because of my Arminianism, we should answer all people with love.  While they may despise me, I don’t despise them.  Love should flow from the disciple who has been forgiven (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).  Proverbs 15:1 reads, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  We should heed these wise words and answer with love and grace.  None of us are perfect in our knowledge and we all are seeking to know God through this glass (1 Corinthians 13:12).

2.  Answer Biblically.  

I have read many debates and they often turn to philosophy instead of Scripture.  Scripture is the final authority (and I pray that all agree on that fact).  Scripture alone speaks the truth for God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Scripture is what sanctifies us (John 17:17).  Scripture is our sword (Ephesians 6:17) but let us use our swords not out of hatred but love and grace.  Again, we are not perfect in our knowledge and all can learn from one another.  I would be the first to admit to a Calvinist that I don’t know all things perfectly but I love Jesus Christ and long to know Him truthfully (Philippians 3:8-11).  I pray that all of us would love the Word of God and long to know the truth of God from His holy Word.

3.  Be Godly.

It’s better to be godly than to be right (Hebrews 12:14-15).

4.  Never View Your Attacker As A Vile Enemy.

See the person as a person.  They may despise you, they may hate you, they may desire to kill you but see them as people made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  Recently I heard the story of a family being attacked by Muslims for their faith.  The mother told the children that if men ever came to their home to always answer them with, “God loves you and we forgive you.”  This family did face their Muslim attackers and had to endure their own beheadings but they did so with those words, “God loves you and we forgive you.”

While Calvinists are not our vile enemies, all people need to see that we are full of love. We love because of the love of God (John 3:16).  Our theology flows from the love of God (Romans 5:8-9).  We read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and we see the heart of God all in the text.  This same love should flow from us toward others.  We love people because they are people.  We long to see them saved because they are made in the image of God.

5.  Be Christ-centered In Your Talking.

Christ is the center of all things.  Christ is the center of the Bible.  Christ is the center of all creation (Colossians 1:15-20).  Christ should be the center of our biblical interpretation.  In other words, election doesn’t begin with man but with Christ.  Salvation doesn’t begin with man but with Christ.  Christ is the focus and He is the One that we should worship and adore (Revelation 5:9-10, 12).

The focus should not then be on our favorite preachers or Bible teachers.  The focus is not on Arminius or Calvin or Wesley or Spurgeon.  The focus should be on Christ and remain on Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5).  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that we preach Christ and Him crucified.  I pray I would do that.  I don’t want anyone (including me) to receive the glory that is due to Christ alone.

Conclusion

I pray that God would grant us peace among brethren.  We are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:26-27) and not into men.  Arminius nor Calvin will ever save a sinner.  Only Christ saves (Acts 4:12).  The focus of our theology must not be on Arminius or Calvin but Christ.  Christ is the only one who is worthy to be praised and adored and imitated.

May the Lord help both Arminians and Calvinists be godly in our talking.  May the Lord be the One that we worship and serve.

Short Thoughts on the Inclusive/Exclusive Debate

I have been enjoying the lively debate over at the Society of Evangelical Arminians site on the issue of inclusive and exclusive positions of the gospel.  Kevin Jackson from Wesleyan Arminian wrote a good piece defending the inclusive position and the response by Brendan Burnett.  You can find the first post here and the response here.

While I will not rehash the arguments Kevin gives nor the response that Brendan gives, I will add my own two cents worth.

First, I take serious the words of Christ in all four Gospels to take the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21).  Acts 1:8 likewise commands the disciples to take the gospel to all nations.  This is a serious command of our Lord and not to be taken lightly.  The fact is that the Church is to take the gospel out.  Sadly, in our day, many want to have the world come to us.  The reality is that the gospel is to be preached to all nations.  This command of Jesus is vital if in fact Jesus is the only way to the Father and the gospel must be heard and believed for people to saved.

Secondly, 1 Timothy 4:10 implies that Christ is the Savior of all men but especially of those who believe.  Adam Clarke writes, “[God] has provided salvation for the whole human race, and has freely offered it to them in His Word and by His Spirit.  What God intends for all He actually gives to them that believe in Christ.”  Christ shed His blood for all men but only those who appropriate His blood through faith are saved (Romans 3:24-25).

Thirdly, Romans 10:14-17 implies the necessity of the preaching of the gospel for people to be saved.  Romans 10:17 specifically calls for saving faith to be acted through the preaching of Christ.  As Clarke again writes, “Preaching the gospel is the ordinary means of salvation; faith in Christ is the result of hearing the word, the doctrine of God preached.”

Fourthly, 1 Timothy 2:4 implies that the will of God is for the salvation of all but 1 Timothy 2:5-6 is clear that Christ alone is our mediator before God.  Paul the Apostle goes on in verse 7 to say that this is why he was appointed to preach the gospel to the Gentiles thus implying that their only hope was Christ.

And lastly, I believe the Bible is serious about the issue of sin.  It is not merely ignorance about God that keeps people from Him.  It is our sins.  In fact, Romans 1:18 says that our sins bring the wrath of God and Romans 1:20 says that people are without excuse.  The fact is that we love our sins and we love our depravity.  Apart from the work of the Spirit, none of us would or could be saved.  We are simply too sinful to seek a holy God.  Instead, humanity seeks false gods of their own creations.  The gospel alone is able to break the power of our sins and bring peace with God (John 6:44).

I know these are short thoughts.  I hope I am not demeaning Kevin in this post.  He is a good brother.  I was pondering this issue this morning and just wanted to jot these downs.  Two books to read on this issue are: Faith Comes by Hearing and Eternity In Their Hearts.

Theological Cyber Bullies

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing as I get to meet disciples from all over the world and to be encouraged by what I read and see the Lord doing around the world.  For that, I am thankful for social media.

Yet the dark side of social media is the theological cyber bullies that I have met online.  These cyber bullies are relentless.  If you want to see this in action then go to Twitter and simply post something like “Calvinism does not save” and hash tag it with #Calvinism and watch what happens.  There are a group of Calvinists on Twitter who love this and will send you dozens upon dozens of replies.  They will not stop.  You will eventually just say, “I disagree” but they will continue to publish and publish and publish defenses of Calvinism along with attacks on you and your theology.  It doesn’t matter if you are an Arminian or not.  If you are not a Calvinist, you are wrong and they will not stop until you admit this or just stop posting on Twitter altogether (which is what I have done but not just for that reason alone).  

Recently, a notable internet Calvinist defender apologized for his attacks on a man whom he disagreed with.  This Calvinist had become so engrossed with personal attacks on the man that he begin to attack the son of the man.  Sadly, the son committed suicide just a few weeks later though the cyber bullying did not play a part in that.  I do wonder if something could have stopped this boy from killing himself had the Calvinist been praying for the family instead of attacking them relentlessly online?  What if the Calvinist was offering words of encouragement instead of criticism for everything the family did?  

Whether you are an Arminian or a Calvinist, please take to heart John 13:34-35.  I know that the guys on Twitter do not consider Arminians as Christians and this is how they justify their relentless attacks.  I know that the man above did not regard the man whom he was attacking as a brother in the Lord.  I have heard prominent Calvinist evangelists said that other non-Calvnist evangelists were not saved because they rejected Calvinism.  Even if you don’t believe that other people are Christians, 2 Timothy 2:24-26 should be taken to heart.  

My prayer is that I am not a cyber bully.  I don’t write much on any social sites.  For me, its such a waste of time to sit and debate online with people I can’t see or talk to in person.  I would gladly sit down with a Calvinist brother in a coffee shop and discuss theology but I will not waste my time going back and forth with 140 characters on Twitter or making a mockery of the name of Jesus in social media sites toward an unbelieving world who loves to watch Christians argue.  The world is gong to hell while we sit and argue over points that have been debated for 500 years.  While there is good that can come from good theological discussions, arguing does not produce these results.  

Frankly, I would rather go out and preach the gospel to the lost, read a good book, listen to some solid preaching, or just spend time with my family than to sit and have online debates.  Godly conversations seem to be lacking today.  May the Lord help us to be godly toward each other.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/13/2014 at 3:00 PM

Dr. Michael Brown vs. Bruce Bennett on Divine Election

Here is the video from the recent debate between Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian) versus Bruce Bennett (Calvinist) over the subject of, “Who Makes the Final Choice in Salvation – God or Man?”  I was blessed to see how this debate, as with Dr. James White, unfolds.  It is clear that we can debate each other will respecting each other in Christ.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/16/2013 at 8:12 PM

Dr. Michael Brown vs. Dr. James White

Here is the debate between Dr. Michael Brown (Arminian) and Dr. James White (Calvinist) at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/01/2013 at 12:05 PM

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