Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arminian Details

Thought I'd preserve some thoughts here in dialog with "Once a Wesleyan." We've had this discussion before, but I put my thoughts here so I can find them later:

1. OAW: There is no mystery whatsoever in the Arminian system as to why some people respond and some don’t. The reason that some respond and others don’t is that some are better/wiser or smarter. In the Arminian system the difference lies totally in the individual’s choice. (This is in contrast to the Biblical system where the difference lies totally in God’s choice.) Hence, in Arminianism, salvation is all to the individual’s glory for distinguishing themselves from those who were to stupid to choose correctly.

Ken: If God can create the world out of nothing, then He is certainly able to empower a person, by his prevenient grace, to reach the smallest point of volition ex nihilo, a point of the barest will either to remain depraved as they are or to signify ever so slightly a desire for more grace... leading to God's empowerment to signify a desire for more grace still. Would you suggest that God is not clever enough to figure out how to do this, to empower totally depraved humanity to begin to make a choice?

Surely not. Surely you would suggest only that God does not wish to empower humanity to begin to make such a choice because you believe it would contradict His sovereignty. But if He could in theory, then it is not in any way absurd to suggest that a person might, under God's power, be able to reach the barest point of volition ex nihilo. Why some respond and others don't is a mystery, but so is creatio ex nihilo.

2. OAW: Now add to this that God knew before-hand that this was going to be the distinguishing factor between two people. And w/that observation we now have the mystery as to how the Arminians could say “God is love.” How can a loving God, know in advance all the evil decisions that will occur and still determine to create a world where all those evil decisions will come to pass?

Ken: The question of why God created the world knowing the world would rebel is a hard one, but the alternative that God orchestrates evil is not a better one. Indeed, that alternative results in such a heightened problem of evil that the better alternative would be that there simply is no God. If God orchestrates evil then He is as much an evil god as a good one and the basic categories of Christendom become meaningless. Christ on the cross becomes a game God is playing with himself.

The best alternative that keeps the fundamentals of Christianity intact is the suggestion that a world in which humans can choose, now by God's power after the Fall, between good and evil is a better world than one in which they are forced (predestined) to do one or the other. But if humans can make such choices, some will choose evil and evil will result.

2 comments:

npmccallum said...

The problem with prevenient grace is that it is essentially the immaculate conception of free will: a magical touch which heals humanity apart from the incarnation. Of course classical Christianity knows of no way to be healed apart from the incarnation. One could perhaps create an "incarnational" prevenient grace, but such would be only a post hoc justification to give a modern metaphysic a classical spin: it would still be unable to answer the question of how it is that Mary, of her own free choice, says , "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." So far, Augustine's monergistic school provides only three solutions: Rome's immaculate conception, Calvin's divine rape of the unsuspecting will by a sadist God, and Wesley's prevenient grace. The second is heresy by attributing gross evil to God and the others fail the incarnational test. Perhaps it is best to simply abandon monergisim as the majority of the Christian tradition did and in particular the councils of Orange and Calcedon require of us.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

What has been "formed" in the Church in doctrine/dogma, isn't any different than what is prescribed today, with physicalism/incarnation/experiential theology. It is a way for the Church leaders to maintain power over other individuals. And this power is intellectual and behavioral, which I believe is immoral itself.

Individuality, Bill of Rights, and art itself, demands a liberty that does not subscribe itself to "order", without difference/diversity.

Quantum theory is just as valid, even though Einstein didn't believe that "God played dice with the universe". Quantum theory is suspect because it is difficult to understand in our experience as humans. Therefore, since we can't test it through human experience, then it is false??? I don't believe so.

Humans like to control their environments, and science and religion have understood that this is what humans are "to do". One understands this "duty" as "under God", as "stewards", while the other understands it as the foundations of scientific investigation/discovery. But, when science and religion disrespect human boundaries, then there is something "suspect" in their ethical thinking.