Brother August, I would like to clarify,
I was concerned, given his arguments, and the definitions from earlier, that neo-x was indeed advocating Pelagianism, and I still am to some extent.
**Edit: Just to be clear, I also include Finney and semi-Pelagianism as part of the same question.
Pelagianism says that salvation is by Man's effort alone and God's grace is only present through giving us an example to follow. I definitely never said that. I don't know how you understand Pelagianism, but that right here is something I didn't claim.
Semi-Pelagianism says grace is not necessary for the initial stage of salvation and will be imparted after the person has come to faith in Christ.
This again is something I didn't claim.
Of course no-one will claim to be pelagian, and I don't for one minute here think that anyone really is. So while I acknowledge and agree with your statements and definitions, my question was different to what you answered.
In fact I said the direct opposite, with God calling us first through his grace in Christ on the cross - he enables us to receive his grace, now those who believe are saved.
No one can come to me unless the father draws him. In Christ God draws all who respond to his message. The only difference here is that my definition of grace is not of what you call "effectual grace/irresistible grace". Grace has to be responded by faith. Faith comes by hearing the gospel, so in fact it is God who institutes faith in us when we are willing to come to God in response to his message which he started.
This is where we part ways, obviously. Where do you read that "God draws all who responds to His message"? That is not drawing at all then. You cannot pull what is already coming towards you. Grace and faith cannot be separated (Eph 2:8,9). In fact your last sentence here is correct, but not consistent with the rest of your paragraph.
If your definition of grace is is different, then my original contention stands. If you can resist it, and despite having been infused with grace, you decline the gospel, then how is that not semi-pelagianism? Semi-pelagianism states that the beginning of faith is a free will act, with grace as a supplementary element. So either prevenient grace in your scheme is of no consequence, and has no influence, because you end up making a free will decision anyway, or the grace is irresistible. By virtue of declining the gospel as a free will act, that is semi-pelagianism, as grace has no influence and is of no consequence if you can resist it by your free will.
So just to clarify, Calvinists also believe that coming to God is a free will act. In fact, it is the first truly free will act a man can do, because through the grace of God, he has been freed from the slavery of sin. For the first time his being is in such a state that he has a heart of flesh that can discern the spiritual, and he can respond joyfully and willingly to the call of the gospel. But just as Lazarus could not deice to come out of the room where he was lying already starting to smell a little, can no man free himself for the deathly wages of sin, or perform a heart transplant on himself. That is why Christ is both the founder and perfecter of our faith, and He assigns it (Rom 12:3).
Under your scheme though, man, while still in his blind, dead, fallen state, has the ability to generate from within himself some faith that demands God draw him. It goes: "Hey God, look at me, I have some faith over here. Now come hand over those keys to heaven.". One should remember that faith is not mere belief (and I may have misstated that in an earlier answer as well). Saving faith is total surrender, it is the giving up of the old self in favor of a new creation in Christ. It is being enveloped in the complete and utter unconditional love of God, as a result of the blood of Christ that appeased the anger of God for our sins. None of that has anything to do with what is in us in our dead sinful state. It has to do with what Christ accomplished on the cross.
Now the term Semi-Pelagianism becomes often vague especially when you are accusing someone outside of Calvinism. My understanding is that most argue this position through "anything which imparts to man a role in salvation greater than Calvinism teaches" is bound to be a heretic. But does the Bibles say the same? The error arises only when you use the definition of effectual grace. Since it is irresistible it cannot be resisted hence everything starts with God, sure, but this moves within the boundary of monergism, and camps a case for absolute determinism. Further more it denies the part where the Bible CLEARLY teaches something else.
Please don't insert red herrings here. The definition of semi-pelagianism is clear...it is that the start of faith is a free will act. For your objection to stand, you need to show from Scripture that prevenient grace 1. exists, and 2. that it can be resisted. Even point 4. of the remonstrance is self-contradictory on that. I know that the standard text trotted out here is Acts 7:51. That is however nothing to do with resisting the internal working of the Spirit, but how Israel resisted the work of the Spirit seen in the prophets, as 7:52 and 53 clearly show. This address is to those who deny Christ, even though it was foretold by prophets who were inspired by the Spirit, and is consistent with how Israel had acted from the time of Moses.
I already discussed what Calvinism believes on determinism, so please don't try and poison the well here.
See Romans 10
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]
No problems here. Of course we agree. This says nothing about how people come to believe in their heart in the first place though. In other places we expressly read that no man can believe unless he has been reborn. John3:3,7, and we see that being born again is the work of Christ alone 1 Pe 1:3, 23.
Don't forget to read this in context, speaking about Israel, so that we can complete this narrative:
Rom 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
Rom 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Rom 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
Rom 11:8 as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day."
Rom 11:9 And David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
Rom 11:10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever."
We read here clearly that some in Israel received salvation(v11) because they were so chosen, by grace and grace alone, even though they tried by works, by obeying the law. God acted against them, and made it impossible for them to respond in any way because they refuse to accept that Christ is the Messiah, even if it was prophesied. So even though they confessed their adherence to the law, seen as works, because it was not through grace, they did not obtain salvation. Good thing we know how the story ends, with God having mercy on His people.
There are clearly something that fall on man as a response to God's call, like having faith. Note, Semipelagian thought teaches that the latter half - growing in faith - is the work of God, while the beginning of faith is an act of free will, with grace supervening only later. I am saying that it is grace that started the whole thing. So no Pelagianism/Semi-Pelagianism is being advocated here by me. If what I am saying is to be termed as Semi-Pelagianism or heretical because we are using a vague definition of Semi-Pelagianism as most Calvinists do, then it is wrong.
Neo, I take your statement in good faith brother, and I believe that you don't regard yourself as pelagian in any way, so please don't accuse me of having a vague definition of semi-pelagiansim because I want to fit things into a box. Throughout this thread I have contended very little for Calvinism as a theological system, trying instead to stay true to the whole of Scripture, as you are. I am truly just trying to understand why the logic you are using doesn't translate to semi-pelagianism.
As I said earlier, if you want to contend for both grace starting something in you, and your ability to resist it by free will, then you need to show how that is not contradictory. Or how it doesn't translate to semi-pelagianism. I know, and I already contended for, the fact that unregenerate man can and does resist the Spirit. Until he doesn't any more. But your position leaves man in some semi-regenerate or half-born position, where he may, for some reason or other, accept or decline the gospel. I just don't see such a state in Scripture. In Scripture, man is either fallen and dead in sin, or he is regenerate, has faith and is continuing to work out his faith together with the Spirit.
I agree man can not come to God on his own merit or effort unless God calls him first. But there are secondary causes which clearly do not contradict the bible, rather Calvinism. In such it is a case against Calvinism, not God or the scripture.
Can you elaborate on those secondary causes, that are not also from God? If you truly hold to your first sentence, then we have much less to disagree about. I also think that your view of Calvinism may be slightly warped (Hey, if you say I misdefine semi-pelagiansim, then I can say you misdefine Calvinism
Believe and you shall be saved. You gotta believe, if you want to be saved. You have free will (limited as it is), not irresistible grace, and it can respond to God's call, which has enabled you through Christ's work on the cross. If you say I am wrong then I am only contradicting TULIP, not the scriptures. Hope it helps.
Not really no, it doesn't help. Calvinists agree with you, even the free will bit, up to the point where you want to put a tension between free will and grace. If grace was not the cause of the atonement that was produced on the cross through the work of Christ, then what was, exactly? This is nothing to do with TULIP, bother, it has to do with salvation through grace or by works. I don't particularly like TULIP, I think it is a distraction.
Ok, now just to continue the whole 1 John 2:2 discussion, as we have now been told repeatedly that this passage proves universal atonement, and we have not responded. You may or may not agree with my exegesis below, and accuse me of misreading, or making it too complicated. So be it. We cannot just make assertions about Scripture, we have to study and meditate and pray on it, and try to understand the full meaning of it in the context of the whole counsel of Scripture. If that means going past a superficial reading, then we must do so, since we are to handle the Word of God with care and reverence, and not as some newspaper comic strip.
There are a few things at work here, and you want to continuously appeal to a "simple reading" of the text. We believe we are rendering a simple reading of the text, and we should also agree that it cannot say something different or contradictory to what is mentioned in the direct context, the context of NT soteriology, the work and offices of Christ and what John says elsewhere.
Neo, now to be honest, and you may very well have a small stroke here, you don't believe either that "world" here means "world". Because you keep adding a qualifier, and that qualifier is "faith". So really what you are saying is that Jesus was the propitiation of the sins of the world, but by world you mean "those who have heard the gospel and believe, and have faith". If that is not the case, and I am misrepresenting you, then we are left with the options that you are either saying that propitiation doesn't really mean propitiation, or you are a universalist. Having interacted with you a lot over the last few days, I would say that my first characterization of your position is right, and my latter two completely wrong.
To understand what propitiation means, we need to see where it comes from. It means, from the Greek, "to appease anger". What anger is being appeased? The anger of God against sin, as seen from the time of the fall. To understand the role of Jesus in appeasing this anger, we need to look to where there is a very complete description of the whole history of atonement, which includes appeasing God by blood. The role of Jesus as a High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, is found here, and directly relates to propitiation as established through the eternal decree of God. We find that whole description in Hebrews 7-10. I can get into more detail about that if needed, but I would ask that people go and read that for themselves, since it is too long to quote here. What is abundantly clear from that section of Scripture is that God was fully appeased by the blood that Christ shed. He is no longer angry, and Christ stands between us and God as the offering that appeased God. Jesus completely satisfied and appeased God, nothing else is needed, no more blood, no more priests. Jesus is the last one, and He still holds the office of High Priest, and will do so eternally.
In there we find that the propitiation was done once, and there is no need to do it again.
Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Note that the plain reading here says "the sins of many", and since this is directly relevant to the propitiation, this sets some context for how we should read "world" in 1 John 2:2. This rendering would agree with yours, which is "those who believed", the "many" for which Christ poured out His blood (Matt 26:28), which of course, takes us back to Hebrews 7-10 and the required blood offering for appeasement and atonement.
We may then read "world" here as is the case in some other places where "world" is used, as something other than "every person in the human race", as we see from the context of the determinant, which is propitiation, the blood offer to appease the anger of God.
When I said earlier that the text said "our sins", you accused me of reading a Calvinist presupposition into it. I did not, as the text clearly says "1Jn 2:2 He is the propitiation forour
sins,". Who is John talking to here? The specific audience is not known, but we can easily see that it is a group of Christians, from the early part of 1 John 1. He is arguing here against docetism, a belief that denied that Christ came in the flesh, and held by some gnostic groups in Asia Minor. With that understanding, and given his use of propitiation which John would not have misunderstood, he is saying that Jesus, having come in the flesh, and through that has fully satisfied the anger of God, is the ONLY such propitiation in the world. Those who want to be "cleansed from unrighteousness" (1:9) have nowhere else in the world to go, they must go to God through Jesus, as He is the appeasement, and that the very nature of propitiation made it necessary that Jesus come in the flesh. That God is available to do this for any ethnic group on the planet, not just the "little children" that John is addressing here, prohibits John's own audience, not the docetists, from claiming Jesus as high priest as their exclusive property. Jesus is the High priest for all those who believe in Him.(Jo 10:14-16, 25-29).
Sorry for the long post, but there was a lot to clear up, some more questions, and I wanted to address 1 John 2:2.