Turning “TULIP”s into “FACTS” – Acronym Re-education Camp

February 7, 2015

john calvin Calvinists have come up with a rather clever acronym to describe their “Doctrines of Grace” called TULIP.   TULIP stands for:

T  Total Depravity

U  Unconditional Election

L  Limited Atonement

I  Irresistible Grace

P  Perseverance of the Saints.

  Not to be outdone, Arminians created FACTS to refute TULIP:

F  Freed by Grace to Believe

A  Atonement for All

C  Conditional Election

T  Total Depravity (one doctrine the two camps agree on)

S  Security in Christ

Today I would like to examine the “L” in TULIP, Limited Atonement, relative to scripture and hope to convince you it really ought to be an “A”, Atonement for All.  In a nutshell, Calvinists believe Christ died only for the “chosen”, while Arminians believe scripture teaches He died for everyone’s sins, making salvation available to anyone who believes.

Of course we could go into a lot more depth, but let’s look at just a few New Testament verses:

1 John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world“. (the Greek reads “the entire cosmos”)

Luke 19:9-10, “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (How was he a “son of Abraham”?  By faith.  Who did Jesus come to save?  That which was lost.  Who is lost?  Everybody.  Oops, now we’re chipping away at the “I”, but we’ll leave that for another time)

2 Cor 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died”  (“All” is a word that gets reinterpreted in Calvinism.  Its a rather simple word in real life.)

Heb 2:9, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  (“Everyone”, another easily understood concept that can’t be taken at face value in Calvinism.)

John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  (I guess that could exclude those on the ISS, but the Greek is “kosmos” so you would think even they were included!)

Mark 16:15-16, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  (Jesus and Calvin will just have to “agree to disagree” on this one–Jesus says anyone who believes will be saved, Calvin says only the saved will be believe, and oh, by the way, those who aren’t saved, their sins aren’t paid for.)

Rom 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  (Because of Limited Atonement, staunch Calvinists must add a “yes, but…” to this verse.)

Last but not least we have:

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

So its in Jesus, the “crucified God”, where we find the entirety of God’s wrath poured out.  Any sinner who goes to Hell goes there because he or she rejects God’s provision for sin–God does not send anyone to Hell in order to glorify Himself; the atonement is complete, His wrath is fully satisfied by Christ who died for any and all.  There is no “L”, Limited Atonement in the Bible, its actually an “A”, Atonement for All.


The Corporate View of Election and Predestination

January 28, 2012

I found a great article on the Society of Evangelical Arminians website here that explains quite brilliantly, along with supporting scriptures, the biblical notions of Election and Predestination.  Here are some excerpts: 

Concerning election and predestination, we might use the analogy of a great ship on its way to heaven. The ship (the church) is chosen by God to be his very own vessel. Christ is the Captain and Pilot of this ship. All who desire to be a part of this elect ship and its Captain can do so through a living faith in Christ, by which they come on board the ship. As long as they are on the ship, in company with the ship’s Captain, they are among the elect. If they choose to abandon the ship and Captain, they cease to be part of the elect. Election is always only in union with the Captain and his ship. Predestination tells us about the ship’s destination and what God has prepared for those remaining on it. God invites everyone to come aboard the elect ship through faith in Jesus Christ. [Life in the Spirit Study Bible, pp. 1854-1855]

Election (Gk eklego) refers to God choosing in Christ a people whom he destines to be holy and blameless in his sight (cf. 2 Th 2:13).  Paul’s teaching about election involves the following truths:

(1) Election is Christocentric, i.e., election of humans occurs only in union with Jesus Christ. “He chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4; see 1:1, note). Jesus himself is first of all the elect of God. Concerning Jesus, God states, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen” (Mt 12:18; cf. Isa 42:1, 6; 1 Pet 2:4). Christ, as the elect, is the foundation of our election. Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect (Eph 1:4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-13). No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.

(2) Election is “in him…through his blood” (Eph 1:7). God purposed before creation (Eph. 1:4) to form a people through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross.

(3) Election in Christ is primarily corporate, i.e., an election of a people (Eph 1:4-5, 7, 9). The elect are called “the body of Christ” (4:12), “my church” (Mt 16:18), “a people belonging to God” (1 Pe 2:9), and the “bride” of Christ (Rev 19:7). Therefore, election is corporate and embraces individual persons only as they identify and associate themselves with the body of Christ, the true church (Eph 1:22-23)

(4) The election to salvation and holiness of the body of Christ is always certain. But the certainty of election for individuals remains conditional on their personal living faith in Jesus Christ and perseverance in union with him. Christ will “present you holy in his sight without blemish…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col 1:22-23).

(5) Election to salvation in Christ is offered to all (Jn 3:16-17; 1Ti 2:4-6; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9) but becomes actual for particular persons contingent on their repentance and faith as they accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ (Eph 2:8; 3:17; cf. Ac 20:21; Ro 1:16; 4:16). At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body (the church) by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:13), thereby becoming one of the elect. Thus, there is both God’s initiative and our response in election (see Ro 8:29, note; 2 Pet 1:1-11).

Predestination (Gk prooizo) means “to decide beforehand” and applies to God’s purposes comprehended in election.

(1) God predestines his elect to be: (a) called (Rom. 8:30); (b) justified (Ro 3:24, 8:30); (c) glorified (Ro 8:30); (d) conformed to the likeness of his Son (Ro 8:29); (e) holy and blameless (Eph 1:4); (f) adopted as God’s children (1:5); (g) redeemed (1:7); (h) recipients of an inheritance (1:14); (i) for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:2; 1 Pe 2:9); (j) recipients of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; Gal 3:14); and (k) created to do good works (Eph 2:10).

(2) Predestination, like election, refers to the corporate body of Christ (i.e., the true spiritual church), and comprehends individuals only in association with that body through a living faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5, 7, 13; cf. Ac 2:38-41; 16:31).

Romans 9 – Clearest Example of the Reformed Doctrine?

January 5, 2012

I found this clearly articulated Arminian argument that Romans 9 needs to be understood in the wider context of the entire book.  In this chapter Paul begins answering the Jewish charge that the new Christian sect was changing the conditions of inclusion in God’s covenant with Israel, which in their view depended on descent from Abraham and keeping the LawPaul of course made the case in the first 8 chapters of Romans that the children of Abraham are those who walk by faith, and that keeping the Law can never result in justification “for all have sinned…”   In Chapter 9 Paul explains that ‘No, it is not through Abraham, but through the child of promise, his son Isaac, that his descendants would be reckoned’, and from there further unravels their misunderstandings and presents the actual basis of God’s election. 

Please read the article, I’m sure it will help you see this passage in an entirely new, but biblical, light.

–    –    –

Romans 9 is often cited as one of the clearest examples in Scripture of the Reformed doctrine of individual election: It discusses God’s sovereign choice of Isaac in preference to Ishmael and Jacob rather than Esau, without regard to any merit of the chosen or demerit of those who were not chosen. It counters what would later be the Arminian objection that unconditional election appears unjust to our human sense of justice, and uses Pharaoh as an example of someone whom God ‘raised up’ for the express purpose of becoming a demonstration of God’s power. God bears with great patience these ‘objects of wrath,’ in order to glorify himself before the ‘objects of his mercy,’ that is, the elect (see Augustine, “To Prosper and Hilary” 14; Calvin, Institutes 3.22.4-6).

I would contend that this interpretation ignores the larger context of Romans 9-11, whose main theme is struggling with the implications of the Gospel for the nation of Israel. It also ignores the Old Testament contexts of Paul’s quotations, which when viewed in proper perspective shed a distinctly different light on Paul’s argument. Paul is struggling with the fact that God had made certain promises in the scriptures concerning Israel, many of which he sees as fulfilled in and through Christ. Yet Israel as a whole has not come to Christ. What does this mean for Israel, for the veracity of the Scriptures, and for Paul’s gospel? These questions dominate Paul’s mind in Romans 9-11, and his statements about election in Romans 9 must be evaluated in terms of them.  Continue reading here

The Society of Evangelical Arminians website is a great resource if you are wondering about predestination vs. free will, particularly if you have a Reform/Calvinism background and are questioning the “party line”.

%d bloggers like this: