So, in studying the Canons of Dort, I’m reminded of the statements of dear friends and mentors like Dr. Radmacher who have said (to the effect), “I’m a O.O Calvinst and a O.O Arminian.” I mention Dr. Radmacher because he has been very vocal about this issue in recent years, but it doesn’t diminish my love or appreciation for him. We all must learn to disagree graciously…and on this one, I just disagree. Of course, I regularly have disagreements with myself as well (so, I’m very in-discriminant in the matter!). The idea is that if you buy one part of the “5 Points” of Calvinism, you must necessarily buy them all. I’ve addressed this elsewhere. While I find some of the points in Dort untenable , I find other points quite wonderful.
ARTICLE 11 (under the First Head of Doctrine) And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.
ARTICLE 5 (under the Second Head of Doctrine) Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.
Article 11 is basically saying that the saved / justified / elect cannot, for any reason, lose their salvation. This was a huge point the Reformers recovered (thought there is some muddling in the matter as they invite an over-dependence on works/fruit as proof of faith…to be discussed later…or see www.backtofaith.com). Surely, those of us who believe in eternal security have to agree with Dort on this one.
Article 5 is a plain statement of the gospel…whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life…how clear would I want it? I know there are some who question if faith in Christ’s crucifixion should be included (see GES Gospel: Lybrand Open Letter), but I certainly find this statement to resonate with my own soul and the forgiveness I have found through faith in the Savior and His finished work.
The point is that as one works through the system of Dort (or Westminster, or the Remonstrance, or Augsburg, etc.), one will find point on which he agrees and points on which he differs. Taken as a ‘whole’ system, one can be forced to reject or accept…and yet, is that really an accurate description of the view?
The challenge is in the logic of the system, and in theology, it tends to come down to a couple of errors we consistently see:
1. Bad premise, bad conclusion
2. Good premise, non sequitur conclusion
These are oversimplified, but just because something seems logical, it nowise means it is logical. Certain points are often pushed along until the absurd becomes the nauseating. Please know, all sides fall into this from time to time. Theology is too often built on the shaky cliffs of inference, conjecture, and speculation. What might happen if we ever dared to just affirm what the Scriptures say and leave the rest to class-time in eternity?