CONCLUSION (FOR NOW) OF MY QUICK STUDY OF THE TULIP

I am writing this to wrap up my current series of posts of working through TULIP.  I have discussed, ever so briefly, the following:  Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.  I also discussed the Logical Progression of the TULIP

As I progressed through these I realized that I am closer to being Reformed than I am to being Arminian.  I also realized that I actually started closer to being Reformed.  I have been trying to study both sides and be fair and open minded and to let the Holy Spirit guide me to the truth.  I have been very disappointed in the Arminian side because there is not much in the way of exegetical presentation of their position out there.  While I was reading Arminian Theology:  Myths and Realities I emailed the author Roger Olson to ask if he could recommend any books that present a good exegetical defense of Arminianism.  I was very surprised when he responded and said that he did not know of any. 

The obvious question is:  Why is there apparently no exegetical defense of the Arminian position?  Does the text of God’s Word not support one?  If not, how can anyone hold the Arminian position?  I have heard Dr. James White state on a couple occasions that the Arminian position is philosophical while the Reformed position is exegetical.  In truth, both probably play a role but one has to be primary and the other secondary.  At this point it becomes an issue of how much weight do you want to assign to the text of the Bible.  Is God’s Word sole and final authority or not?  It is and must, therefore, be given the proper respect and attention that it’s position demands. 

Next, during my studies I began to look at what the position was of some of my favorite pastors, authors, and bible teachers.  After all these were people I respected and they are far more intelligent and educated in these matters than I am.  I was utterly amazed to find that almost all of them held the Reformed position.  Some of the people (all reformed) I looked at were Albert Mohler, John MacArthur, John Piper, James White, Wayne Grudem, RC Sproul et al.  To be fair I also looked at (all not reformed) Johnny Hunt, Norman Giesler, Dave Hunt, Roger Olson et al

The weight of the data was really leaning to the Reformed position.  The exegetical arguments for the Reformed position, the lack of any exegetical arguments for the Arminian position, and the sheer volume of authors, pastors, and Bible teachers who hold the Reformed position make an almost overwhelming avalanche of evidence that requires a change of belief to come into conformity with it.

Now, as to my own position, I am still working through a couple issues but I am a few steps closer to the Reformed position than I was before.  I know that God has the right to save some and not save others but I still have a problem with election to reprobation.  I also am still struggling with Limited Atonement.  These are basically the same issue.  The biggest breakthrough I have made was in changing my view of Irresistible Grace.  By this I mean viewing it as an act of God freeing a slave from slavery.  This new perspective (for me) has cleared up one of my previous difficulties with the Irresistible Grace. 

Where to from here?  For now I plan to continue to study and I may focus primarily (if possible) on the issues that are giving me the most concern.  I hope to resolve these one day…hopefully sooner rather than later so that I can move on to other areas of theology.  At this point I can see myself becoming Reformed and that has not always been the case, but I can also still see myself rejecting the Reformed position.  Where will I be on this journey a year from now…only the Holy Spirit knows and I pray the He will be my guide every step of the way.

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12 Responses to CONCLUSION (FOR NOW) OF MY QUICK STUDY OF THE TULIP

  1. Brother Tom – I am surprised by Olsen’s response indicating a paucity of Arminian defense. Why not begin with the volumes in his footnotes? Read the Works of James Arminius then go on to Picirilli, Grace, Faith, and Free Will. Read Why I am Not A Calvinist by Walls and Dongell and Wynkoop’s Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. As for James White’s suggestion that Arminian theology is philosophical (flight of fancy, fantasy, etc.) he proves himself once again to be nothing but a thug whose disdain for everyone who doesn’t agree with him is evident in everything he says. Obviously, the foundations of the entire Arminian-Wesleyian side of the Christian family were not built upon some fairy tale notion, they are rooted in scripture and sound exegetical work.

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  2. Tom says:

    Pastor Warren,

    I too was surprised and truthfully bothered by Olson’s response. In fairness to him, he did suggest reading Arminius and some of the authors he sited. I still have his email and reread it from time to time.

    Thank you for the suggestion of the books to read. I will take a look at them. I actually have Picirilli’s book and have seen Why I am not a Calvinist on Amazon and considered purchasing it but have not yet. Have not seen Wynkoop’s book yet but I will look it up.

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  3. rincrast says:

    Hey, Rhuiden. This is Dave Hewitt; just thought I’d drop in comment, especially given Pastor Warren’s comments.

    As for James White’s suggestion that Arminian theology is philosophical (flight of fancy, fantasy, etc.) he proves himself once again to be nothing but a thug whose disdain for everyone who doesn’t agree with him is evident in everything he says.

    First of all, starting off by insulting someone as a response is completely unhelpful, Pastor Warren. It doesn’t further an argument at all, nor does it seek to understand the position you are attempting to refute — assuming that was even your goal.

    I’m sure Dr. White doesn’t mean that Arminians use no Scripture to attempt to defend their position. However, what he is saying is that there is a philosophical presupposition that Arminians have (read: man’s “free will”) that is going to be a filter through which they read the Scriptures, no matter how exegetically careful they may otherwise be. I would maintain that man does NOT have a libertarian/autonomous free will, and the Arminian notion of “prevenient grace” is not an appropriate exegetically sound understanding of the Bible’s teaching.

    Obviously, the foundations of the entire Arminian-Wesleyian side of the Christian family were not built upon some fairy tale notion, they are rooted in scripture and sound exegetical work.

    No one is calling it “fairy tale.” No one is saying that Arminians do not work to arrive at a conclusion from Scripture. However, whether you are a Classic Arminian, or a modern day Semi-Pelagian, both are synergistic. I firmly believe that regeneration is monergistic, and thus affirm the biblical nature of the Calvinist (not hyper-Calvinist) position.

    I would love to continue in this thread on the issue in a civil, exegetical manner, if you are so willing (and Tom is willing to entertain it).

    SDG,
    David B. Hewitt
    (dbh)

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  4. rincrast says:

    Further, and I should have said this in my previous post, both positions cannot be correct. Since we agree (I presume) that the Bible is without error and therefore without contradiction, if we use the same hermeneutical principles, we should arrive at the same results. So, either one position is right or both are wrong, logically. 😀

    By the grace of the Holy Spirit we can indeed arrive at the correct interpretations. So, if you agree to discuss this, let’s lay out the hermeneutical groundrules, and we’ll get started. 😀

    SDG,
    dbh

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  5. droakley1689 says:

    Dear Pastor Warren:

    The Internet is such a fascinating “place,” don’t you think? What a person says on the ‘net goes all over the world, and is so easily documented, and…discovered.

    Given that you use the name “Pastor Warren,” I’m going to assume that you, like I, have been set aside by a congregation of Christ’s faithful people as an elder, and that as such, you are under the authority of God’s Word, just as I am. If I am in error as to your standing, please let me know.

    As a pastor, in the comments above, you referred to me, likewise a pastor and elder in Christ’s Church, as a “thug.” You likewise said that I show “disdain” for everyone who does not agree with me in “everything” I say. Now, those are serious charges, and I would like to invite you—or, if that term is too innocuous, challenge you—to back up what you have said. And I would love to give you an excellent grounds upon which to base your assertions, since, of course, you said this disdainful thuggery is found in everything I say. I wrote a book a number of years ago that has gained wide distribution, titled The Potter’s Freedom. As it is a response to Norman Geisler, then I would assume you can document, from the book (since, of course, you’ve read it, otherwise, you could not speak of “everything” I say), your accusations. This should be most easy to do, would it not? I look forward to your documentation. Thank you.

    James White
    http://www.aomin.org

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  6. Brother White – I believe that your missive here undergirds the point I made. Do you think that the way you are approaching me, in a note dripping with dismissive language, shows the grace of the Christian?

    You write: Given that you use the name “Pastor Warren,” I’m going to assume that you, like I, have been set aside by a congregation of Christ’s faithful people as an elder, and that as such, you are under the authority of God’s Word, just as I am. If I am in error as to your standing, please let me know.

    Given your earlier proclamation of the wonders of the internet, it seems odd to me that you could not verify for yourself my pastoral standing. I suspect that your words here were meant to dismiss me as either a fraud or as insiginificant. Can you argue otherwise? Wouldn’t you agree that you set a sarcastic tone by including this paragraph? It adds nothing to the authority that you want to establish, so why include it?

    Would you classify your treatment of Dave Hunt in ‘Debating Calvinist’ as gentle, understanding, and respectful? I won’t document page and paragraph but you respond ‘many’ times by exclaiming that Mr. Hunt simply doesn’t know what he is talking about in much more pernicious terms. Is that a respectful way of treating another man of God?

    As for my earlier comment to Tom. It was inappropriate and for that I apologize. I, of course, will not debate you on what you have written because you are the expert on those words and passage and I do not have the time to lay the books side by side and compare the passages. Perhaps instead, you would like to address what Tom wrote in his initial post regarding your comments that Arminianism is philosophical rather than exegetical. I notice that you didn’t address that.

    As Wesley said, we must avoid schism at all costs. Humbly Yours, Just Warren

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  7. To all who found my remarks regarding Mr. White offensive, I apologize and retract them. It was an exageration of course; not “everything” he says is disdainful. Nor is he a thug, in the classic sense of the word. Be at peace and my apologies to Tom for generating controversy in his domain.

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  8. David – perhaps we should just let Dr. White explain the correctness of Tom’s not-quite-quote. As to your reference of the lenses through which one exegetes the Scriptures, would that same statement not also be made about the Calvinist reader? Isn’t there also a philosophical filter through which Scripture explains the TULIP?

    BTW,when you said “whether you are a Classic Arminian, or a modern day Semi-Pelagian” you were not referring to me specifically were you?

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  9. rincrast says:

    Hello again, Pastor Warren; glad to see your responses. First, I wanted to say that I admire your humility. You saw that your previous comments were rude and insulting and apologized for them, retracting them. I can only hope that if and when I say such things, I would have the same humility. Thank you for your example in such things.

    In your last comment, you said:

    David – perhaps we should just let Dr. White explain the correctness of Tom’s not-quite-quote.

    We can certainly do that. Part of the reason I commented about it is because I had heard Dr. White say something along those lines, so, bearing some witness in the matter, I wanted to chime in.

    You further said:

    As to your reference of the lenses through which one exegetes the Scriptures, would that same statement not also be made about the Calvinist reader? Isn’t there also a philosophical filter through which Scripture explains the TULIP?

    Yes and no. I’ll be happy to admit that I have presuppositions, just as anyone else has. No one comes to the text of Scripture in neutral; to say otherwise would be to admit, though unwillingly, that one is a slave to one’s presuppositions. What we must do is identify what those foundational beliefs are, and then examine them in light of the Bible’s direct teachings on the matters. Does the Bible support or deny our presuppositions?

    One of mine is God is absolutely sovereign over all things. Now, the question is does the Scripture support such a belief? I do indeed think it does, and exegesis of passages that speak of God’s knowledge and plan and purpose would show this.

    It doesn’t necessarily mean that the TULIP is seen through merely a philosophical lens. I know that there are “Calvinists” that do this, but I don’t accept them as true Calvinists. What I mean is that though the points are consistent and line up logically, that alone cannot be the basis of one’s interpretation. We should expect that the Bible would speak consistently in what it says of course, and it does. THIS is why the points are logical — because the Scriptural teachings with regard to salvation do not contradict. If one comes to soteriology and demands a logical, consistent system or pattern, and without really examining Scripture sees one and accepts it, whether it be TULIP or something else, such a person hasn’t really embraced anything for a biblical reason. I hope I’m not muddling my words; I’m in a hurry. 😀

    Lastly, you said:

    BTW,when you said “whether you are a Classic Arminian, or a modern day Semi-Pelagian” you were not referring to me specifically were you?

    Not specifically, no. I suspect that you fall in to one of those categories, but there may well be others. At the same time, I do think you fall under the category of “synergist” since you have mentioned pretty clearly that you are not a monergist. 🙂

    SDG,
    dbh

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  10. droakley1689 says:

    Dear Pastor Warren:

    I am sorry I did not wish to invest the time in trying to track down who “Pastor Warren” is via Google when I posted my response. I am sorry you read every word of it in the worst possible light, and I am sorry you do not seem to be willing to read anything I say with a modicum of kindness. I will not waste anymore bandwidth here in this forum seeking an explanation of your personal insult of me as a “thug.”

    I will, however, point out that saying Dave Hunt doesn’t know what he is talking about is a statement of fact, and, I thought that as servants of the One who is the truth, we should be more concerned about His honor, and His truth, than anything else. Mr. Hunt admitted to me on a radio program in August of (as I recall) 2001 that he had never so much as read a single book by any of the Reformers; by February of the next year he was claiming to know more about Calvinism than most Calvinists. I’m sorry, but he has been caught in so many errors, so many falsehoods, that it is impossible to even grant him the benefit of the doubt. And since I have bent over backwards to document these errors truthfully, fully, and properly, I have to wonder, sir—have you even bothered to look into the documentation I have offered?

    James>>>

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  11. David – Good morning brother, a beautiful day for a ride up Waterton Canyon in the mud, wouldn’t you say? I too am interested in the response to the not-quite-quote as I don’t believe that it is historically borne out. In fact, one could look back into the pre-Calvin days and identify the seeds of his theology in another Church Father’s Neoplatonic dualism. But we’ll wait to see…

    In saying,

    One of mine is God is absolutely sovereign over all things. Now, the question is does the Scripture support such a belief? I do indeed think it does, and exegesis of passages that speak of God’s knowledge and plan and purpose would show this.

    I trust that you don’t have the impression that I believe anything different. I too am fervently jealous of God’s sovereignty over all things and, of course, the Scriptures bear this out. The Bible can be read to water the TULIP and yes, each of the petals of the TULIP logically proceed from one another. In your examination of Arminius and his theology, what points lack scriptural support? Calvinism relies on the acceptance of a series of decrees, the exact order of which I believe we find the Bible largely silent. Would you say this is true? The logical progression of these decrees leads to what Calvin called a horrible decree and that would be double-predestination.If some are elected to salvation, others are therefore elected to perdition. In other words, God, the Holy God of All Creation, the God of 1 John 4, creates some creatures specifically for destruction. That would be the danger in rooting a theology in a logical progression and thus coloring the lenses through which we read it.

    Now a couple of questions. What is that I’ve written (am I assuming you’ve read through the entries in my blog as well as these posts?) that leads you to the conclusion (regarding Arminian or Pelagian, etc) “I suspect that you fall in to one of those categories, but there may well be others.”? Also, would you mind reminding me of where I claimed to “fall under the category of “synergist” since you have mentioned pretty clearly that you are not a monergist.”? Is it solely based on the library recommendations that I gave to Tom? I trust not since you appear to me to be fair in your evaluations. What I often encounter in theological discussions is that a party will be well versed in one side of the debate but have little, or worse, caricatured information about the other side of the argument. For example, Arminians debate their theological positions without understanding Calvin, the socio-political roots of the division, or the system of decrees that plant the TULIP. Calvinists, on the other hand, decry Arminian theology without any knowledge of Pelagius, a misimpression that Arminius denied total depravity or they put up a caricature straw man that is a mashup of various ideas to knock down. Neither of these is God honoring.

    Grab your bike and be blessed.

    Warren

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  12. credulo says:

    Exegetical defense of Arminianism? Hey man! John Wesley and Adam Clarke made extensive commentaries on the Bible – Wesley’s being more light and Clarke’s being very complete (Clarke searches even the Syriac texts and external sources).

    Also, John Goodwin has very good commentaries – and the best book defending Unlimited Atonement and the Remonstrance beliefs.
    Saying that there is no exegetical foundation to Arminianism is very flawed – if even the Church Fathers, especially St. John Chrysosthom, made homilies and commentaries against the hard-predestinistic view contained in some Gnostic sects, it is at least an unfounded assumption.

    Well, certainly the Calvinistic exegeses are far widfespread and famous because de YRR movement. But I think Arminianism has very solid Philo and Exegetical grounds.

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