All posts by administrator

Leroy Forlines and the Heidelberg Catechism on Sanctification

Matt Pinson

Recently I was reading through the Heidelberg Catechism again. This catechism is still in use by Reformed denominations such as the Christian Reformed Church, but it is not a Calvinistic confession in its doctrine of salvation. Jacobus Arminius, the forerunner of Arminianism, loved and affirmed the Catechism. It was one of his favorite documents to give people to read after the Bible.

When I was reading the Catechism recently, I came to “Lord’s Day 24,” and I was struck by how much Leroy Forlines’s teaching is spelled out in the teaching of the Catechism.

Lord’s Day 24 [1]

Q & A 62

Q. Why can’t our good works be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of our righteousness?

A. Because the righteousness which can pass God’s judgment must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law. But even our best works in this life are imperfect and stained with sin.

(Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10 [Deut. 27:26]; Isa. 64:6)

Q & A 63

Q. How can our good works be said to merit nothing when God promises to reward them in this life and the next?

A. This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.

(Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6; Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8)

Q & A 64

Q. But doesn’t this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?

A. No. It is impossible for those grafted into Christ through true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude.

(Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5)

Look particularly at Question & Answer 64. It says that it is impossible for Christians not to produce fruit. One older translation renders it this way:

Q. 64. But doth not this doctrine make men careless and ungodly?

A. By no means: for it is impossible that any, who by a true faith are ingrafted into Christ, should not bring forth the fruits of thankfulness and holiness. [2]

Sometimes Reformed theology is caricatured as having a light view of sin in the life of the believer, simply because of the teaching of sola fide, or faith alone. If the righteousness of Christ is what justifies us, not our own righteousness, then we don’t need to be righteous, the reasoning goes. But classic Reformed theology of all types—whether the Calvinist version prominent after the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), or the Arminian version allowed prior to Dort—always insists on a life of holiness. [3] While believers cannot live a lives of sinless perfection and do struggle with sin, their lives are not characterized by a pattern of unconfessed sin.

I was struck while reading this with Mr. Forlines’s oft-repeated maxim that justification always produces sanctification. While our justification is not by our own righteousness but by the righteousness of Christ alone imputed through faith, the Christian life is not characterized by a pattern of unconfessed sin. “To speak about continuing in salvation is to speak about continuing in both justification and sanctification,” Forlines says. “The package cannot be broken. We cannot have one without the other. . . . Holiness is not optional but is a guaranteed result of salvation” [4].

Forlines has taught us a balance like what we see in the above questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism. This balance keeps us from both antinomianism (literally, “against-the-lawism”) on one hand and legalism on the other. As Thomas Helwys, the founder of the English General Baptists, said:  “man is justified only by the righteousness off CHRIST, apprehended by faith, Roman. 3.28. Gal. 2.16. yet faith without works is dead. Jam. 2.17.” [5]

___________

[1] From the website of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/heidelberg-catechism?language_content_entity=en

[2] The Heidelberg Catechism allowed for both these expressions of soteriology.

[3] The Heidelberg Catechism with Proper Texts Annexed to Each Answer (London, 1773), 110.

[4] F. Leroy Forlines, Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salvation (Nashville: Randall House, 2011), 357.

[5] “A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland, 1611,” reprinted in J. Matthew Pinson, A Free Will Baptist Handbook (Nashville: Randall House, 1998), 125.

 

On C.S. Lewis and Denominational Survival

Matthew Pinson

(This post originally appeared at matthewpinson.com)

I recently read an address C. S. Lewis gave to a group of Anglican priests and youth leaders in 1945. It reminded me of what many of us in the Free Will Baptist Church have been thinking lately: Falling all over ourselves to de-emphasize our Free Will Baptist confessional beliefs and practices is probably the surest strategy for denominational extinction we could devise. Let me make a few general observations about denominational identity and survival, and then we’ll look more closely at what Lewis can teach us.

The First Strategy for Denominational Survival

There seem to be two competing strategies for denominational survival vying for prominence in the Free Will Baptist Church (as in all denominations). The first is this: If we want to keep from dying, we must become as much as possible like the non-denominational, consumer-oriented megachurch. This, among other things will mean de-emphasizing strange doctrinal beliefs and practices like the possibility of apostasy, the pedilavium, or requiring immersion for new members transferring from non-immersionist churches. It will mean not teaching distinctive Free Will Baptist doctrine from the pulpit. It will require making it as hard as possible for people to discover that our congregation is Free Will Baptist, based on its publications and communications.

The Second Strategy for Denominational Survival

The second is this: If we want to keep from dying, we must fulfill the Great Commission mandate of evangelizing people and teaching those we evangelize everything Jesus and his deputies, the inspired apostles, taught. This means we must teach and preach doctrine, like the apostles in the New Testament said to do, and we must practice what we believe the New Testament teaches, even if it seems strange to people outside our confessional tradition. This includes distinctive Free Will Baptist doctrine and practice. If we don’t carefully inculcate the scriptural doctrines our confessional tradition has affirmed, and if we don’t emphasize distinctive biblical practices our tradition has extolled, and if we do our dead-level best to cover up the fact that we’re Free Will Baptists, within a generation we will be assimilated into the non-denominational matrix and will go out of existence as a separate denomination.

These two strategies are mutually exclusive. If one is right, the other is dead wrong. You can’t have a hybrid of these two strategies.

The Last Thing We Need is Another Denomination

Please understand: I do not think, as I know C. S. Lewis did not think, that we need more denominations. That we need more schism. If it’s not necessary to have a separate Free Will Baptist denomination because it is our conviction that the Bible teaches what our Church affirms, then it’s really wrong to have another denomination. It’s schismatic. It’s divisive. And we need to join another denomination. I think Lewis, good Anglican that he was, would agree with me on this.

There’s something that breaks my heart—and I think breaks the heart of God—about the proliferation of all the different denominations out there that basically believe the same thing but are separated because of squabbles they have had that are not about the doctrine and practice they believe the Bible entails. A denomination is not a “network.” It is a fellowship of churches that believe that their affirmation of certain scriptural—apostolic—doctrines and practices necessitates having a separate denomination.

The last thing we need is another denomination. If there are other conservative Arminian Baptist denominations that believe that the washing of the saints’ feet is a divine ordinance that must be practiced liturgically—and other beliefs in our Treatise that we believe necessitate our Church’s existence—by all means let’s join up! Let’s not be schismatic because of our preferences, or because we’re used to seeing each other and going golfing or eating sushi together at the Annual Session of the National Association each July.

If we’re going to fall all over ourselves finding more efficient ways to bury our Free Will Baptist identity, doctrine, and practice, why go to the trouble of having a separate denomination? Why not just join the Southern Baptists or become non-denominational?

Are “Missional” and “Confessional” in Opposition?

These are things a lot of us have been talking about in the Free Will Baptist Church of late. We’re trying to figure out what it means to be who we are, with integrity, in a mission field in our secular age in the West.

We’re in a rapidly secularizing culture. We must be missional. And when new believers on the mission field in majority-world countries are converted, they want you to level with them about what’s true and what’s false. They’re hungering and thirsting for knowledge. They want to know what all these things they come across in the Bible really mean:

What does the Bible mean when it says that you will receive the crown of life only “if you continue”? What does it mean when it says you can fall away and not be renewed to repentance? Is affusion (sprinkling) okay in baptism, or is infant baptism okay? Or do I have to be immersed as a convert to follow Jesus in baptism? Do we—literally, physically—need to observe the Lord’s supper liturgically, or was that just a spiritual lesson? Do we—literally, physically—need to wash people’s feet liturgically, or was that just a spiritual lesson?

That’s why the people who are opposing Protestant liberalism most in the mainline denominations are from the global South and from the mission field. It’s people in the consumeristic modern West who want to de-emphasize theological precision and biblical doctrine and practice—who seem to want to do anything but teach and preach—and sing—doctrine.

These are the sorts of conversations that are happening among many Free Will Baptists—especially those in the ministry who are in their twenties. They are taking part in a new mentality to which David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, called them when he said, “After countless interviews and conversations, I am convinced that historic and traditional practices, and orthodox and wisdom-laden ways of believing, are what the next generation really needs.”

Now to What C. S. Lewis Said

So, in light of these exciting conversations that are taking place, especially among Free Will Baptists in their twenties, I loved what I read recently from C. S. Lewis. Again, remember he’s talking to Anglicans in England in the 1940s:

“Some of you are priests and some are leaders of youth organizations. . . . And here at the outset I must deal with an unpleasant business. It seems to the layman that in the Church of England we often hear from our priests doctrine which is not Anglican Christianity. . . . It is not, of course, for me to define to you what Anglican Christianity is—I am your pupil, not your teacher. But I insist that wherever you draw the lines, bounding lines must exist, beyond which your doctrine will cease either to be Anglican or to be Christian: and I suggest also that the lines come a great deal sooner than many modern priests think. I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession.

“This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. . . . Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held; what we complain of is your continuing your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of another.

“Even when we have thus ruled out teaching which is in direct contradiction to our profession, we must define our task still further. We are to defend Christianity itself—the faith preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers. . . .” [1]

Lewis and Denominations

C. S. Lewis was speaking here as an Anglican to Anglican clergy, and he was doing what he did in so many other places when he talks about confessional doctrine and not just “mere Christianity.” In his writings, Lewis talked about the virgin birth, but also about lesser doctrines such as the Anglican doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s supper. Some people only read Lewis’s wonderful book Mere Christianity, and they think that is all Lewis was interested in—a sort of amorphous, non-denominational Christianity.

But they forgot to read the preface to Mere Christianity, in which Lewis said that “mere Christianity” is like the central hall of a great house which leads to distinctive rooms, and he did not want his appropriate discussion of mere Christianity, which unites Christians in the different distinctive “rooms”—denominations or confessional traditions—to discourage people from going into those rooms and exploring them and enjoying them.

Lewis said that his silence in Mere Christianity about his Anglican distinctives of doctrine and practice should not be interpreted that he is “sitting on the fence” about doctrines and practices that distinguish one denomination from another, nor that he thinks them unimportant:

“I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions—as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. . . . When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and panelling. . . . When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong, they need your prayers the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.” [3]

Moving from Entry-Level Christianity to Unabridged Christianity

Oh what need we are in of this sort of time-honored wisdom in our own day of an evangelicalism that is so unsure of itself, so intimated by the spirit of the age. We need what we see throughout Lewis’s writings, and throughout the writings of the great saints and martyrs throughout the church’s past: We need to be ourselves.

We need to be, un-self-consciously, with integrity, what the Scriptures call us to be. We need to be teaching what the Scriptures teach, practicing the simple practices the Scriptures enjoin us to practice. We need to be zealously evangelizing the lost and then just as zealously teaching them to observe everything Jesus and his deputies, the inspired apostles, teach and command and enjoin in the New Testament—not just the core, not just what it takes to be saved, but everything.

Leroy Forlines says it this way: The part of the Great Commission that says we must teach people to observe everything Jesus teaches and commands means He won’t allow us just to teach “entry-level” Christianity. His Great Commission to us demands we teach “unabridged Christianity” [4].

This is what has, historically, happened on the mission field. New Christians rescued from the grip of sin and its devastation on their life, and fitted for glory, usually don’t want to stay at the “entry level”—in the hall. They want to know more. They want honest, direct answers to the questions that come to their minds when they’re reading the Bible.

That’s what we need to do. If we believe that the Free Will Baptist confession of faith and practice is biblical, we need to teach it and preach it and practice it with gusto—not to be ashamed of it. This, we’ll find, is not only a recipe for survival as a small, theologically distinctive denomination. It’s also just a common-sense playing out of the Great Commission—an honest, authentic attempt to teach people everything that Jesus and his apostles have put forward for his church. And it’s this kind of full-throated, confident discipleship in Christian truth that will lead mature disciples to make other disciples of Christ and bring growth and replication and renewal to our churches in our increasingly secular age.

_________________

[1] C. S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970).

[2] Ibid., 89–90.

[3] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1960), 6–12.

[4] See Forlines’s classic essay, “A Plea for Unabridged Christianity,” Integrity: A Journal of Christian Thought 2 (2003), 85–102, which can be downloaded here.

Addendum: More on Molinism

Robert E. Picirilli

(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of recent blog posts dealing with the subject of Molinism. For those late in coming to this discussion, they can read part one here and part two here).

I want to explain my reasons for rejecting Molinism in two key matters. I won’t take space to review the basic elements of Molinism.[1]

(1) Apparently some think I see more that’s unappealing in Molinism than may really be there. And of course that’s possible. But I am confident that its key ingredient lies in the way God uses his so-called “middle knowledge,” and I hope the following will at least show why I believe this is where a problem lies.

I realize that Molinism intends to protect both human freedom and God’s sovereign control and government of the created order (two things I’m in favor of!). Molinism presents “middle knowledge,” as God’s knowing what every free person would do in every conceivable set of circumstances. Then Molinism says God used that knowledge, when designing and creating the world, so as to preserve both God’s sovereign control and human freedom.

Then how did God use that knowledge (of what everyone would do in every circumstance) to do these two things? The answer is: since he knew how all of us would respond to various circumstances he designed the world he would actualize in a way that it would include the circumstances in which we would respond in the way that is in accord with his will. (I am satisfied I can cite Molinists of different persuasions to confirm this.)

As I see it, nothing less than that is Molinism. I am not a Molinist and I believe that God knew how every person would respond to every conceivable circumstance when he designed and created the world; that isn’t the issue. He knew how Adam and Eve would respond to the circumstances they were in, for example—as well as how they would have responded had the circumstances been different.

So it’s how God used that knowledge that makes Molinism Molinism. And Molinism offers that God, when he created this world, took that knowledge into account and created the circumstances in the world in which each person would (yes, freely) make the decision that would carry out his will.

To say the same thing in other words: before God made us, he determined to put us in circumstances designed to fit the responses he knew we would make. Again, knowing how we would respond led him to shape the circumstances he created us in. That’s the whole point of Molinism, the very reason for defining this middle knowledge. Logically, this can’t help but mean (whether stated or not) that these are the circumstances in which we would respond in accord with his will for us and the world.

To illustrate, when we say God knew in advance how Judas would respond to any conceivable circumstances, that would mean, say, that he knew (1) just how Judas would respond to the circumstances that actually took place; and (2) how he would respond if the circumstances were different in some way (say, his friends would advise him against it, for example); and (3) how he would respond if the circumstances were different in yet another way (say, the priests only offered him 15 pieces of silver, for example), etc. I don’t see how Molinism can avoid saying that God chose, as part of this world he actualized, the very circumstances in which he knew that Judas would betray Jesus—and for that very reason. Yes, Molinism insists that Judas’ decision was still a free and unforced one, and I appreciate that. But the point of Molinism, it seems clear to me, is that God chose Judas’s circumstances, not to directly cause him to betray Jesus, but for the very purpose of providing the circumstances in which he knew Judas would do so. That, to me, is the significant (and displeasing) thing.

Take Adam and Eve as another example. I (and Arminians) will readily acknowledge that when God created them and the “circumstances” of their existence (which included the garden, the tree, the serpent’s temptation, etc.) he knew they would sin. But I can’t believe that he provided that set of circumstances as a result of knowing that they would sin if he did. That is a very different theology of God’s use of his knowledge in creation, it seems to me.

Now, someone may suggest that both Molinism and my view (that God created them and their circumstances, knowing they would sin) are the same and in both God has the same relationship to their sin. If anyone says that, I will disagree. Adam and Eve (as all of us will agree) did not have to sin and God did not desire that they sin. Obviously he wanted them to be free to sin, and for reasons best known to him they needed to be tested. The circumstances they were in contributed to nothing more than their being tempted; their failure was all their own doing and the circumstances they were in made no contribution to their failure and were not constructed as a result of God’s knowing how they would respond.

Perhaps a human illustration would be helpful. I may know someone well enough to be confident as to how he will respond if I put him in a certain situation. I may then indeed put him in that situation. The question is, why do I do that? I could do it for a good or a bad reason. I could do it in order that he would respond that way, which would be manipulative. I could do it because it was the right thing for me to do regardless how he is expected to respond. That would not be manipulative. The difference is that in the first I would be constructing the circumstances to produce the response, while in the latter I would not take into account his response in deciding to construct the circumstances because that was the right thing for me to do to him.

This difference, I fully believe, is the difference between Molinism and Arminianism.  Molinism teaches that God took into account his knowledge of how people would respond when he decided on the circumstances to create for them. And the reason for this is that in Molinism God was constructing the circumstances not just as a way to maintain human freedom but also as a way to maintain his control and purpose for things. For me, and Arminianism I think, God conceived and created this world to be the arena in which he acts and interacts with human beings in an interpersonal way, providing circumstances that are both friendly to their freedom and designed to test them and give them opportunity, but not in a way that considers, in advance, how they will respond to his overtures.

Believe me, I have diligently tried to see how Molinism’s view (that God created things in accord with his knowledge of how people would respond) is “innocent” of manipulation.  But every time I think, “Well, maybe if we look at it this way it will be OK,” I start realizing the full implications of having God create circumstances in the world to fit how he knows people will respond. One reason is that it becomes very hard to apply this to the negative cases like Judas and Adam and Eve and those who reject Christ and go to Hell. But even if it weren’t for that, I still wouldn’t find appealing the idea that God knew before creation how each person would respond to all sets of circumstances (which he did) and then selected the sets that they would respond to in a way that accords with his exercise of sovereign control. If, knowing how all would respond, he chose circumstances that upheld everyone’s freedom, circumstances that served to enable them all to exercise that freedom, or things like that, I wouldn’t have a problem. But then I wouldn’t need Molinism, since Arminianism already justifies that sort of thing.

Let me give one more telling example. I’m aware that William Lane Craig is greatly respected—including by me. But Craig has given up one of the key elements of libertarian freedom: namely, the ability to make an alternative choice.  Lest you think I am misinterpreting him, I provide here a quotation from him, which can be found here.  I’m including the lengthy quote so that you can see both the context and his understanding of how God uses his “middle knowledge” to control what people “freely” do:

I’m a libertarian who thinks that causal determinism is incompatible with freedom. That doesn’t imply that I hold to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), which states that a free agent has in a set of circumstances the ability to choose A or not-A. I’m persuaded that so long as an agent’s choice is not causally determined, it doesn’t matter if he can actually make a choice contrary to how he does choose. Suppose that God has decided to create you in a set of circumstances because He knew that in those circumstances you would make an undetermined choice to do A. Suppose further that had God instead known that if you were in those circumstances you would have made an undetermined choice to do not-A, then God would not have created you in those circumstances (maybe it would have loused up His providential plan!). In that case you do not have the ability in those circumstances to make the choice of not-A, but nevertheless your choice of A is, I think, clearly free, for it is causally unconstrained—it [is] you who determines that A will be done. So the ability to do otherwise is not a necessary condition of free choice.

For him, then, “libertarian freedom” does not include the power of alternative choice, and so I wouldn’t call it libertarian freedom. And you can see from his illustration just how God uses middle knowledge. I trust you can also see why I reject Molinism, even in the hands of someone who is not a Calvinist.

(2) Now I move to my second part, to clarify what I said about there being no logical need for “middle” knowledge, taking it in logical steps.

First, consider that Molinists themselves believe that the first “moment” of God’s knowledge (necessary or natural knowledge) includes his knowing “all possible worlds.”

Second, understand exactly what is meant by a (possible) “world,” in this sense. It includes not just the physical cosmos (galaxies, stars/suns, planet earth with its natural elements and inhabitants, etc.) but all the “circumstances” in the existence and history of that “world,” which includes all the choices of agents and all the things that follow from those choices.

Third, then those possible worlds (possible only in God’s conceiving them) included this one we inhabit. Up until the point at which Adam and Eve disobeyed God, perhaps there were no other “possibilities.” (I tend to think that to whatever degree the concept of “possible worlds” is useful, it refers to the possibilities that result from the choices of free agents.)  At the time of their choice, there were (at least) four possible “worlds,” in which: (1) Adam and Eve would sin; (2) Adam and Eve would not sin; (3) Eve would sin but not Adam; (4) Eve would not sin but Adam would.  (If we think of billions of people making billions of free choices, there was an infinite number of “possible worlds” just for the one described in Genesis 1!)

Fourth, for God to fully know this possible world (the one in which Adam and Eve sinned, and in which JFK was shot in Dallas in 1963, and in which I enrolled at FWBBC in the fall of 1949, etc., etc., etc.) in his necessary knowledge (see “First,” above), means that he already knew what every being in it would do if he decided to actualize this world. And the moment he decided to actualize this one, at that moment his knowledge of it (omniscience, necessary knowledge) provided exhaustive/perfect foreknowledge of all that will be in this world.

Fifth, thus middle knowledge is both unneeded and in some ways illogical. God, by knowing perfectly this world (even if only as one of the possibilities) in moment 1, already knew what all its inhabitants would do and already knew all its circumstances. Consequently, he could not then, at another logical (“middle”) moment, design circumstances in this world by taking into account his knowledge of how people would respond. By already knowing this world, he already knew all the circumstances and all the responses.

Sixth, only two “moments” are needed, then: the moment of his necessary knowledge of all possible worlds and the moment of actualizing this world (out of all possibilities). To say that his knowledge (of this world) from the creation moment can be called “foreknowledge” is nothing more than a way of viewing God’s exhaustive knowledge in the temporal context of this world with its past, present, and future. (It is “fore”knowledge in that he knew yesterday what I will do today, and that is “before” from our perspective. The unchanging God himself is eternal.)

I hope all our readers can see better, now, why I say that middle knowledge is entirely unnecessary. Arminians don’t need that middle. We can go directly from God’s eternal knowledge to his decision to create a world that has free agents in his image, agents whom he loves and labors with equally to persuade them all to be saved. We don’t believe his sovereignty is in conflict with that. The only thing required for sovereignty to be fully intact is for the world to operate the way God designed it to operate.

Furthermore, we don’t believe foreknowledge itself “determines” things, or that the number of the saved has already been established by God’s decree or act of creation. We believe, for example, that if missionaries go to a given country and preach the gospel, some will be saved who will not be saved if someone doesn’t go; and this is a contingency, and God has constructed this universe to permit our obedience or disobedience. We don’t believe that God’s creation of this world, “made certain” the events of this world that come about by free, human choices.  A person’s choice to obey or disobey, in time and space, is what makes certain his act of obedience or disobedience (this is part of what is meant by “self-determinism”), even though God eternally knows it as certain. This involves the distinction I rely on, between certainty, necessity, and contingency.[2]

We Arminians believe God created this very world knowing what it would be, sin included.  We don’t believe his creating it as it is makes him the author of the sin. Determinists, including Calvinists, misunderstand sovereignty and all-inclusive providence. They misunderstand the implications of foreknowledge. Our calling in this world, I think, is to challenge them on the very points they are so strong about. We have a good case to make, I am firmly convinced. Our Arminianism, following the lead of Arminius himself, already explains Biblically how God is sovereign and achieves his purposes with full respect for the free agency of human beings.

I can speak only for myself, of course, but I don’t find any problem within our Arminianism that needs the help of Molinism to solve.

________________

[1] I apologize for the technical, logical terminology in all of this. I don’t like the language of “possible worlds” and don’t use it myself. But the issues involved in Molinism are logical constructs that the Bible does not deal with, and when I do discuss such matters I try to make them as clear as I can to readers who aren’t used to such discussions. I hope I’ve been able to do that here.

[2] See my Free Will Revisited: A Respectful Reply to Luther, Calvin, and Edwards (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 79-81. Certainty is anything that was, is, or will be, considered simply as a fact. Necessity is anything we have to do because of influences from outside ourselves. Contingency is anything we do when we could do otherwise.

Virtual Symposium Schedule: First Glance

Jackson Watts

After much planning and preparation, the Commission for Theological Integrity is pleased to announce the schedule for our presentations at our virtual Symposium next week:

Monday Evening

7:00–7:15   Welcome & Prayer

7:15–8:05 The Role of Spirituality in Sermon Preparation and Delivery (Ben Campbell)

Tuesday Morning

9:00–9:05   Welcome and Prayer

9:05–9:55  Exploring the Influence of Helwys’s Religious Liberty Ethic on the English Toleration Act and First Amendment (Matthew Steven Bracey)

9:55–10:05  Break

10:10–11:00 Paul’s Telos in Romans 10:4: Understanding the Unity of Jews and Gentiles (Jeffrey Cockrell)

11:00-11:05  Break

11:10–12:00 Jacobus Arminius and the Diversity of  Reformed Theology Prior to the Synod of Dort (Matthew Pinson)

12:00–1:15   Break

Tuesday Afternoon

1:15–2:05 Does Arminianism Lead to Legalism? (Matthew Honeycutt)

2:05–2:15   Break

2:20–3:10 Matthew Caffyn, Thomas Monck, and English General  Baptist Creedalism (Jesse Owens)

3:10–3:20  Break

3:25–4:15 A Free Will (Baptist) Defense: Reformed Arminianism and the Evidential Problem of Evil (Chris Talbot)

4:15–4:25   Break

4:25–5:15 Prevenient Grace and the Word of God: A Reformed Arminian Perspective (Joshua Colson)

A digital download of the paper digest is available for purchase. Paper digests can be ordered after the event by contacting fwbtheology@gmail.com or here. Our program can be accessed using Zoom. Log-in instructions can be found below. We hope to see you there!

Please click the link below to join the symposium:
https://zoom.us/j/95984188626?pwd=M0s2TzMxNERRV1k0dVpkMGZLSTYzQT09
Passcode: Symposium

Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +13017158592,,95984188626#  or +13126266799,,95984188626#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 436 2866  or +1 253 215     8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833  or 855 880 1246 (Toll Free) or       877 853 5257 (Toll Free)
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/adQcR3hR7H

Zoom ID: 959 8418 8626