At this stage in my life I have moved from a Calvinistic system (I didnt’ call it that) through an Arminian system (didn’t call it that either), back to a Calvinistic position (I still didn’t call it that though I knew I wasn’t Arminian which I didn’t call it that either) towards something else that I don’t know what to call but I know it’s not Calvinistic and some may even say it’s Arminian though I don’t know for sure at this point. I wanted to state with broad strokes what I think about TULIPPS (7 Point Calvinism) in particular without citing the verses (for now since they’re often the same verses that both Calvinists and Arminians cite but usually embedded in their broader context) while positively stating what I believe at this point of my development (I use the acronym DAFFODIL). This might make me a Big Hairy Tick but at this point this is what I think is generally closer to the teaching of Scripture. I will state the Calvinist position first, the Arminian position second and then my own position. I’ll reserve the WHY or the HOW for any discussion that might flow from this. I will also link to discussion threads where I’ve dealt with these issues as well.
First though I do want to say a few things to get some comments out of the way.
- Pelagianism teaches that man was not tainted by evil and that he is free to choose both good and evil having none of Adam’s sin imputed on himself. The individual can save himself but is stuck with Adam’s bad example and needed Christ to set a good example. Christ is helpful then to salvation but not (ultimately) necessary.
- Augustinianism teaches that human beings are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace. It was in direct opposition to Pelagianism by taking the opposite extreme.
- Semi-Pelagianism/Semi-Augustinianism teaches that God and Man both work together but in the matters of salvation Man must make the first move to show that he is leaning towards God and therefore God can do the rest.
- I know Man can’t save Himself, I know God made the first move but I deny that people are incapable to respond to the will of God.
Total Depravity to the Calvinist means that individuals are so under the bondage of sin that not only are they in active rebellion against God they are incapable of hearing the Gospel and believing God (conjunction, not two statements). Faith, they say is a gift of God and no Sinners can have Faith in God without the Holy Spirit’s regenerative work and thus being given Spiritual Understanding. The Arminian says basically the same thing except that the work of God isn’t regeneration; it’s His prevenient grace working in the individual. I say that the reason people are in rebellion against God is because they are not under the purview of God (via Adam’s choice): they are their Own Selves As God. As such, this is active rebellion against God and every slight of moral imperfection counts against man as well as man’s inability to be eternal (not infinite). The fact man thinks wrong pits Him against God’s perfection and thus damns him. Man falls short of God’s perfection and actively works against God because each and every revelation of God for people to live morally or Like God (if you allow the term) is just another marker that points out to people that they are Not God. God’s grace is always at work exposing people to Himself so people can become illuminated, enlightened, understand and subsequently still reject God. So we are Depraved but we’re not deaf; we’re dead by judicial decision but not rotting corpses that are incapable of hearing God’s words. Although the actions of people before God are worthless in a salvific sense (because Man is not God and incapable of saving Himself by any temporal good-work) God does acknowledge that some actions are good (like Cornelius’ almsgiving and good works). Man’s belief or faith is not a Good Work. It’s something stupid that we often rebel against but if we take the lessons that God has taught and trust Him God decides to credit it as Good by divine fiat. This is how He has decided to work. Why believe this? Because man must be knowingly morally responsible for his active rebellion otherwise. I’ll call this Devotedly Depraved. Threads here and here and here.
Unconditional Election to the Calvinist is that God chooses the elect individuals by his own choice before time for salvation and (finally) glorification. The Arminian says that God chooses the elect based on seeing who would believe and then specifying what He will do with these people. I say that the only individual who was unconditionally Elect was Christ (the God Man). Therefore, the individuals who later unite themselves to Christ by believing in Him and identifying in his burial and resurrection are In Christ and called The Elect. The Elect is Christ—and by extension the group In Christ. Christ was unconditionally Elect, the group (even if that group contained only 1 individual) was unconditionally Elect but individuals are not unconditionally elect. I’ll call this Altogether Christ. Threads here here and here.
Limited Atonement to the Calvinist is that God decided beforehand to shed Christ’s blood and apply it specifically to the elect individuals. Arminians say the Atonement is limited in application but not in scope. I say that the Atonement was for the sin of the sinful world allowing Man to be reconciled to God and that occurred with Christ being raised from the dead and seated in the heavenlies. Christ got up but God also raised Him. This does not mean that every individual is saved but it does mean that the Second Adam has already become the victor and has been reconciled to God. So then those who believe become a group no longer identified under the system of Adam 1.0 but under Adam 2.0. If they remained under Adam 1.0 they remain under the same mandate of being judged on an eternal scale next to God. I’ll call this For The Father’s Faithful One or in Favor of the Father’s Faithful One. Thread here.
Irresistible Grace to a Calvinist is that since no one willingly turns to God on their own accord, they must be changed by the Holy Spirit to become a new creature and then believe the message of God willingly, joyfully, and “freely”. To an Arminian they would say that God’s grace is resistible and explains why some people don’t believe. I say that God’s grace for all was made evident by His sending of His Son but that there is no special magical grace that attacks specific individuals to recreate them to allow them to do the good work of Faith. Faith is not a work . God has exposed Humanity to Himself from the getgo and has of these last days spoken by His Son. People can either believe what He says and trust that He will save them—no matter how stupid or weak their faith is—or they can stand on their own, identifying under no other name but themselves and face the full repercussions of their decision. I’ll call this Forever Gracious. Thread here.
Perseverance of the Saints taught by the Calvinist is that those who persist until the end prove to be the elect of God—even if that position is known by no one but God and perhaps the individual. Some Arminians are unsure about this. I think that those who have believed in Christ are legally removed from the purview of Adam 1.0 and somehow (I don’t know how) joined In Christ and therefore will be preserved by God until the end. They are secured because God said they are secured. I’ll call this Only Kept By God. (no threads on this yet…sorry)
Predestination of Saints to Salvation to a Calvinist means that the individuals have been predestined by God to salvation. This is normally included in Unconditional Election but I wanted to make a distinction. I don’t believe that anyone is predestined to Salvation. They’re predestined for specific roles in redemptive history, and they may even be predestined to complete specific tasks but their individual salvation is not underneath that header. I think predestination is towards the end-goal of the Elect. So Christ as Elect was to be glorified, seated in the heavenlies and given a right over humanity. The group within Christ is seated with Him as co-heirs and glorified and given a right over humanity: they are conformed in the image of the Son. So predestination to me is the End Goal, Election is the choosing by God. I’ll call this Destination Endpoint Secured.Thread here.
Sovereignty of God to some Calvinists means that God is in charge of every single decision and action by divine fiat. Other Calvinists believe that God’s choices and our responsibility are compatible. Some Arminians believe likewise and others believe that God takes advantage of Evil. I think that God’s sovereignty means that He takes advantage of evil as well as being compatible with our decisions via working in all possible worlds. He’s active with our timeline so some things occur because He actively causes an occurrence but He knows how they would’ve occurred if he acted otherwise. Why He chose this time-world is because this one ultimately results in the greater Glory by saving within Christ an even greater number than all other possible worlds. It’s the one possible world of all the possible worlds while still maintaining his character (any world He chooses that’s not perfect can still be better…so its not the best possible world…it’s the one He chose to work with that ultimately results in the results that God desires). I don’t know how it works.I’ll call this Inconceivable unLimited Worlds so I can work the I and the L in there. Threads here.