Friday, July 13, 2007

So, what about it?

So, what about this group of biblical texts? What can we learn from them? What is going on here?

The purpose of this series was to take a fair (as much as is possible) look at several of the biblical texts that are often cited by Arminians to support their theological positions.

What do we find?

In John 3:16, we see a simple, beautiful statement about the gospel message. "Whoever" believes in Christ will receive eternal life. This is true. However, no where does the term "whoever" indicate that all men have free-will to choose Christ. Clearly, mankind is given responsibility to repent and believe, but this does not imply freedom of the will.

Romans 10:9-10 is much like John 3:16 in that it makes a simple, albeit wonderful, statement about the gospel. It is an "if-then" statement. This statement is true for all people. However, much like John 3:16, the author is silent in these verses about who ultimately does the choosing (God or man). It is interesting to note, however, that in Romans 9 and 11 Paul makes it clear that God does the selecting.

As for I Timothy 2:3-4 and II Peter 3:9, we learn that it is God's desire that all men be saved. However, God's desire is different from his sovereign will. For example, on a much lighter note, right now my desire is to go get an ice cream cone, but my will is not to do this because I am on a diet (or trying to be). Anyway, God's will is clearly not that all men be saved because that would lead to Universalism.

In I John 2:2 and 4:14, the real issue is what the word "world" means. Is it referring to every individual on the earth, or is it talking about mankind in general? We saw that it must refer to mankind in general; otherwise, John would be indicating that all men will be saved, and this is clearly not the case.

II Peter 2:1 is an interesting verse. Does it imply general atonement, or is Peter not even talking about this? Upon looking at the scriptural context, we can see that Peter (when writing about false teachers, and saying of them, "even denying the Master who bought them,") is not talking about the specific redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

II Kings 20:1-6 is probably the easiest of these passages to deal with. Does God change His mind? Does God know the future? A fair reading makes it obvious that God does not change His mind (He is perfect, so why would He need to?), but does respond to prayer. Also, that He knows the future is clear because He gives Hezekiah exactly 15 more years to live.

Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-29 is a passage that is often cited by those who believe that a person, once saved, can lose (or at least reject) his salvation. After examination, we can see that the writer of Hebrews is not talking about saved people in these passages, but rather, is discussing those who have heard and understand the gospel at an intellectual level, but have not committed to Christ.

Well, that about sums up this summary. A key lesson to be learned here is the importance of interpretation. We must never read more into a bible verse than it actually says. Based on a fair reading of these texts, it seems that much of Arminian theology is based on a practice of deriving meaning from texts that simply is not there.

We find, then, that none of the above passages harm in any way the Doctrines of Grace. In fact, they are only supported by the bible. God's sovereignty still stands supreme.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Alan Knox said...


I think it would be helpful, for me at least, if instead of just giving labels you would explain the theological position that you are arguing against and the theological position that you are arguing for. How do they differ? How are they similar?



Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...


Thanks for reading this post and for commenting.

Last month, I addressed this issue (Calvinism and Arminianism) in a post entitled, "A Good 5 Point Comparison." It is actually more of a blog link than a post. I hope this is helpful.

If you have any more questions or comments, please let me know.

Alan Knox said...


Thanks for the link. I've read that site, and I understand the Arminianism vs. Calvinism. I guess I didn't ask my question very well.

You said: " seems that much of Arminian theology is based on a practice of deriving meaning from texts that simply is not there." However, I don't think you have attempted to disprove "Arminian theology". Perhaps, you were aiming at one particular part of "Arminian theology"? If so, what part? How does this differ from what you believe, and how is it similar?

As you know, I'm not Arminian. So, I'm not asking from that perspective. Instead, I'm hoping that we may be able to encourage a conversation that is more meaningful than Arminianism vs. Calvinism.

Thanks again,


Eric said...


I think the ultimate issue here is who is sovereign over salvation. I believe scripture is clear that it is God who does the choosing of those who will be saved. I also believe this is more than just an academic issue in our churches. We have lost site of the sovereignty of God, especially within most SBC churches. For some reason that I do not understand, most SBC churches still hold to perseverance of the saints but reject God's sovereignty over salvation.

I have no interest in stirring up the pot of any sort of acrimonious Arminianism vs. Calvinism debate. However, I do think the discussion is warranted because of the impact it has upon the gospel presentation in general. Most of today's presentations focus on man's choice of God.

As for this series of posts, my purpose was to take a long, hard look at these texts since many of them are verses that are often pointed to by Arminians. I grew up in a Wesleyan-Arminian heritage, so these verses often ring in my ears. What I have found in this study is that those verses were taught to me in a manner that stems from poor interpretation.

If a Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate leads to strife, then there is no reason to continue. However, if it leads to healthy discussion and good interpretation, then I believe it is warranted.