Face it, You are at Least a Little Bit of a 5 Point Calvinist!

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?

God bless,

Fred Lybrand

5 thoughts on “Face it, You are at Least a Little Bit of a 5 Point Calvinist!”

  1. What might happen if we ever dared to just affirm what the Scriptures say and leave the rest to class-time in eternity?…

    Theological controversies don’t stem from disagreements over what Scripture says but over what it means…

  2. Elijah,

    Hey…good to hear from you! Actually, there is a lot of disagreement about what the Scriptures say as well (just dip into the translation and text-critical world).

    I actually meant ‘say’ in the sense of “say AND mean”…like when we respond, “So what are you saying? or So, what you are saying is….” It carries the connection of the meaning along with the words. Our training makes us separate the statements from the meaning, but from a phenomenological viewpoint (human) meaning is actually included.

    Specifically, I’m talking about the matters the Scriptures speak to, and to stay away from the illusion of hypothetical arguments.

    Nonetheless, good point of clarification. I could see that using the word ‘communicate’ instead could be less misunderstandable:

    What might happen if we ever dared to just affirm what the Scriptures communicate and leave the rest to class-time in eternity?…

    Grace,

    Fred

  3. Agreed…

    Good work on these posts by the way… interesting and fun to follow! I need to foolow up with you sometime regarding the corporate view of election… I don’t think that position can be as easily dismissed as you seemed to imply awhile back.

    1. Thanks!

      The Corporate view was the first view I ever held (30 years ago), so it is still fond to me! The last time I worked through the commentaries, most folks had realized why it needed dismissing. I have noticed a professor at Baylor trying to resurrect it recently. I’m sure there are many clever guys with clever arguments (and maybe they are right)…however, on a simple level (where I live with arsenic-eating bacteria!) speaking of an omniscient God electing the whole while being blind to the parts is a hard pill to swallow. Also, the motive for the theology doesn’t arise easily from the text so much as it crawls on shore from the need.

      Peace,

      Fred

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