Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brief Summaries of Calvinism, Arminianism and Molinism

The following summaries were compiled by Truthbomb team member Roger Aldon:

Calvinism

Reformed theology emphasizes the doctrines of grace, best known by the acronym TULIP, though this does not correspond to the best possible names for the five doctrines.

T stands for total depravity.
 
This does not mean that all persons are as bad as they could possibly be. It means rather that all human beings are affected by sin in every area of thought and conduct so that nothing that comes out of anyone apart from the regenerating grace of God can please God. As far as our relationships to God are concerned, we are all so ruined by sin that no one can properly understand either God or God's ways. Nor do we seek God, unless He is first at work within us to lead us to do so.
 

U stands for unconditional election. An emphasis on election bothers many people, but the problem they feel is not actually with election; it is with depravity. If sinners are as helpless in their depravity as the Bible says they are, unable to know and unwilling to seek God, then the only way they could possibly be saved is for God to take the initiative to change and save them. This is what election means. It is God choosing to save those who, apart from His sovereign choice and subsequent action, certainly would perish.
 


L stands for limited atonement. The name is potentially misleading, for it seems to suggest that reformed people want somehow to restrict the value of Christ's death. This is not the case. The value of Jesus' death is infinite. The question rather is what is the purpose of Christ's death, and what He accomplished in it. Did Christ intend to make salvation no more than possible? Or did He actually save those for whom He died? Reformed theology stresses that Jesus actually atoned for the sins of those the Father had chosen. He actually propitiated the wrath of God toward His people by taking their judgment upon Himself, actually redeemed them, and actually reconciled those specific persons to God. A better name for "limited" atonement would be "particular" or "specific" redemption. 
 


I stands for irresistible grace. Left to ourselves we resist the grace of God. But when God works in our hearts, regenerating us and creating a renewed will within, then what was undesirable before becomes highly desirable, and we run to Jesus just as previously we ran away from Him. Fallen sinners do resist God's grace, but His regenerating grace is effectual. It overcomes sin and accomplishes God's purpose.
 


P stands for perseverance of the saints. A better name might be "the perseverance of God with the saints," but both ideas are actually involved. God perseveres with us, keeping us from falling away, as we would certainly do if He were not with us. But because He perseveres we also persevere. In fact, perseverance is the ultimate proof of election. We persevere because God preserves us from full and final falling away from Him.
 Arminianism
Universal prevenient grace

This grace purportedly restores man's free will which was impaired by the effects of original sin and enables him to choose or refuse the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ. Some would say that freedom of will is man's natural state, not a spiritual gift — and thus free will was not lost in the Fall, but cannot be exercised toward good apart from the grace of God. In either case, God's universal prevenient grace works upon all alike to influence them for good, but only those who freely choose to cooperate with grace through faith and repentance are given new spiritual power to make effectual the good they otherwise impotently intend. As John Wesley stated more forcefully, humans were in fact totally corrupted by original sin, but God's prevenient grace allowed free will to operate. Universal prevenient grace is the "hair's breadth" that separates Wesley from the Calvinist view of total depravity.
Conditional election

This point holds that man is the final arbiter of his election, and that God elects him on the basis of foreseen faith which is exercised by libertarian free will, thus making man ultimately decisive.
God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ, out of fallen and sinful mankind, those foreknown by Him who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Christ; but God leaves in sin those foreseen, who are incorrigible and unbelieving. This is in contrast to the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election.
Unlimited (or universal) atonement

Christ's death was suffered on behalf of all men and benefits all men alike. God then elects for salvation those whom he foresees will believe in Christ of their own free will. This is in contrast to the Calvinist doctrine of Limited atonement.
Arminians believe that whatever the atonement accomplished, it did so universally for all alike, not just the elect. This point rejects that the atonement has any component which is decisive or effectual in gathering of the elect. Rather, the atonement is seen as a universally effective propitiation and the basis for a universal offer of salvation. The key verse used for this position is 1 John 2:2.
Resistible grace

This point holds that God never overcomes the resistance of man to His saving grace. While both Calvinists and Arminians hold that men often resist God's grace, Arminianism teaches that this resistance is rarely conquered by God because this would be a violation of man's libertarian free will. The grace of God works for good in all men, and brings about newness of life through faith. But saving grace can be resisted, even by the regenerate. This is in contrast to the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible grace.
Uncertainty of perseverance

Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit, sufficient to enable them to persevere in the faith. However, it may be possible for a believer to fall from grace. This is in contrast to the Calvinist's Perseverance of the saints.
Not all Arminians have historically embraced this fifth point as stated. Some have embraced a form of eternal security which does not require perseverance in the faith and an attitude of repentance for final salvation. The majority of Arminians, regardless of their position on this point, still affirm that man retains libertarian free will throughout the entirety of earthly life.

The following are also distinctive doctrines and emphases of Arminianism:

Libertarian free will

A key tenet of Arminianism is libertarian free will. This means that our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God. All "free will theists" hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called a free choice.
Equal, impartial, and undifferentiated love

Arminianism emphasizes God's equal, impartial, and undifferentiated love for all individuals and denies that God has any sort of electing, particular love that secures one's redemption from the foundation of the world. It infers from this universal love that God would never predestine anyone to hell or hate anyone without reference to their wickedness.  John 3:162 Peter 3:91 Timothy 2:3-6Romans 9:13
The universal call of salvation
Arminians hold that God calls all people to Himself through Christ, whether or not this call is effectual depends upon the individual’s libertarian free will.


Molinism

Moment 1
: God's knowledge of all possible and necessary truths. Natural Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of all necessary and all possible truths. In this “moment” God knows every possible combination of causes and effects. He also knows all the truths of logic and all moral truths. God knows all possible worlds, what could be.

Moment 2
: God's knowledge of all feasible worlds. Middle Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of what any free creature would do in any given circumstance, also known as counterfactual knowledge. It is also sometimes stated as God's knowledge of the truth of subjunctive conditionals. What would happen through free choices under certain circumstances, including counterfactuals, what would be.

God’s divine decree to create His selected world.

Moment 3
: God's Foreknowledge set through His selected decree.  Free Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of what He freely decided to create. God’s free knowledge is His knowledge of the actual world as it is. What will come to pass, God knows the actual world, what will be.


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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