Choosing a Theology
Help for Baptists Torn Between Calvinism and OSAS Arminian
There are only three systems of theology that can pass the acid test of non-contradiction and self-consistency. These are pure Calvinism, pure non-OSAS Arminian and OSAS Arminian. All other forms of theology are not consistent within themselves which give undeniable evidence that they could not have come from God.
To produce a system that picks and chooses as the Baptist scheme does, seems admirable, but destroys the self-consistency and cannot support itself, and thus, must be dismissed as error.
Based on the law of non-contradiction, we are left with only three systems that can possibly come from God Himself. This leaves the student with the question, "which should I choose?" This question may be answered, not by just looking at their self-consistency, but by looking to see which of these three theologies are consistent with the Word of God, since a theology that is not in harmony with the Scriptures is of no use to the believer who desires the truth over denomination or wishful speculation.
It is important for us to see what this system is and how it is consistent within itself. The foundation of Calvinism has its own version of predestination which is not Biblical predestination. They believe that God is all powerful, and in His Sovereignty, he has decreed whatever is to come to pass throughout history and eternity from the foundation of the world. God decreed what will happen, so it must happen without fail. God will bring everything to pass as He wills because he has already determined that it will be that way.
This decree applies to individuals and salvation. It is clear that the Scriptures teach that not all shall be saved, so in Calvin's mind this must be the will of God to only save some (the Elect) and not all: Unconditional Election. No one or any created thing can resist the will of God whether it be to salvation, or condemnation. If only the chosen ones of God can or will be saved, then God has determined that Christ would only atone for those that He has willed that He will save. This is what is meant by a Limited Atonement . As you can see, a theory of a limited atonement rests on the assumption that the Calvinistic interpretation of predestination to salvation or damnation is true. There is no Bible proof that the atonement is limited, but this is the nature of theology that it has to support its original premise.
If a man is predestined to be saved, and the atonement is limited to only those who shall be saved, how does God ensure that those that he chose will actually decide to follow Him? This is answered by the next step in this theological system, which is the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. This means that God will draw those he pleases to save, and only those, with a calling that they will find themselves unable to resist.
How does a holy God fellowship with those who are predestined to salvation apart from any ethical consideration? If it is based upon God's good pleasure and decree, and all our actions are already predestined, then how can God be one with a "saved" but sinful creature? Calvin solves this with the theory of Imputed Righteousness. Since according to this system, God is 100% responsible for everything including the choice of who will be saved. Mans' cooperation or cessation from sin is not required because, if man had any input or power to do anything, then God would not be Sovereign and all powerful (so Calvinists believe). In their minds, if man had a free will then God would be at the mercy of man in salvation.
Imputed Righteousness claims that the holiness of Christ is transferred to the believer and counted as the believers own. Regardless of the true nature of the believer, God sees him as pure as the wind-driven snow. Now, if one is predestined to salvation, irresistibly drawn to God, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer, then he must persevere to the end and be infallibly saved. This is so because God has decreed it to be. Since man has nothing to do with this process, then he cannot undo his predestination, thus he would be what is called in this day and age, "eternally secure." If God can no longer see the predestined sinners sin because of imputed righteousness, then this makes the Elect person's salvation irrevocable, non-negotiable, and inevitable.
If we remove any part of this system because we feel it is untrue, then the entire system falls with it. If there is no decree of God to salvation or hell, then there is no cause or support for fatalistic predestination. If there is no Calvinistic predestination (saving first before the person can believe) to heaven or hell, then there is no need to distort the Scriptures to support a limited atonement to a select few. If the atonement is not limited, there is no need to invent a forced grace by a payment for the "elect" alone, or a need to create a fictional imputed righteousness to make up for the ethical shortfall of a doctrine of salvation by fate instead of a conversion of the individual and salvation from sin.
Calvin's system meets the need of self-consistency in a superb manner, but is it Biblical?
Arminian (OSAS or Non-OSAS?)
Contrary to Calvinism, Arminians believe the Scriptures which declare that whosoever will may receive the grace of God and be saved: Conditional Election.
Arminians believe God when He said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," and that the Atonement of Jesus "is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2.2).
A salvation that is offered "for all" must by nature be attainable for "all." This is called Unlimited Atonement.
Instead of the Calvinistic predestination to eternal life or death, we believe that God's grace is offered to the whole world as the Scriptures say, and not just to a lucky few. We believe God's sincerity when he said that whosoever will believe (Resistible Grace), shall be saved, and not the whosoever must of Calvinism. If God's offer is to all the
world, then his atonement must be unlimited, encompassing all.
Since God's provision for salvation is unlimited, and we also know from the Bible that not all shall be saved, then we must conclude that God's grace is resistible: Resistible Grace. Not that we can stop grace from being offered, but that we can obey or disobey, receive or reject the offer of grace for new birth. It is never God's will that any should perish (2 Peter 3.9), and God's will does not lock anyone into or out of salvation as the fatalistic decreed fate of Calvinism does. To be locked positively into salvation only occurs if there has been an authentic choice to be preserved forever: Free-choice.
What does the Arminian belief teach about God's dealing with the sin in believers? God makes the believer holy (not by Calvinistic imputation – calling that which is sinful holy, for God cannot lie), but by impartation of holiness: Imparted Righteousness. Through the new birth, called regeneration, we have been given a new nature that enables us not to sin. Prior to regeneration, our sinful nature made desire or compliance to holiness impossible, yet we were still made in God's image. Through justification, all our past sins were erased from the record that was against us, leaving us judicially free from any charge of sin or wrongdoing. With the slate of offenses that stood against us being cleared, we are judicially righteous (justified); this is why the believer can rightfully be called holy: Sanctified by Faith through God's grace of the gift of eternal life given by the Holy Spirit. Concomitant with justification and regeneration, the New Birth changes our nature so we do not gravitate towards sin, but toward God. This change in direction is called Initial Sanctification.
After this, the believer is everywhere exhorted by the Scriptures to holiness and purity, which is called Sanctification. This is not by a gnostic mysticism, (declaring that which is sinful as holy,) but is an actual change that is wrought within the believer as God molds them into His image by actually making them holy. Jesus came into this world to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1.21), and to free us from the power of sin according to John, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (v.36). See also 1 John 3.8 (a condition is given that "ye might destroy") and Rom. 6.14-18 (by free-choice "ye have obeyed" to be "servants of righteousness").
We also believe that only "he that overcometh" shall be saved as the Scriptures teach to fullest unto rewards to reign in the millennial kingdom. True Saints will persevere and be preserved, but not all overcometh while in the body of flesh and blood. We do not question the security of the one who is and remains a believer. Our difficulty is not with the Preservation of the Saints, but with the doctrine of the perseverance of the Sinners who need not fulfill God's condition election for salvation.
OSAS Arminian bears the marks of theological and Biblical consistency, and is therefore, the theology of the Bible.
As has been shown, you cannot pick and choose from different theologies and still have a system that could have possibly come from God. Many Baptist's are three point Arminian, and two point Calvinist.
The problem is that you cannot justify a Calvinistic eternal security without a mystical imputed righteousness, and you cannot justify both imputed righteousness and eternal security without absolute unconditional predestination (like making the person a robot to be saved) of limited atonement!
If by grace God does not hinder man's freedom to choose, then there cannot be any guarantees of eternal security (before new birth) because man would still be free to choose death. The Calvinistic Man does not have freedom before salvation, and somehow loses it after salvation. This is what a doctrine of Eternal Security suggests if the election is unconditional (taught by Baptists): a doctrine that would be much more at home with Calvinistic predestination than it would with Biblical freedom.
The theory of an ethical transfer of character, so-called Imputed righteousness (Baptist Calvinism), is totally without any Scriptural support. This theological fiction is an invention that has been created just to prop up and support another unbiblical doctrine, the Calvinist Perseverance of the Saints of Eternal Security as opposed to Arminian Preservation of the Saints of Eternal Security. For without the doctrine of fatalistic determinism, called predestination by Calvinism, there is no basis for this transfer called imputation, nor for an unconditional eternal security.
But, predestination by God foreknowing (Rom. 8.29) our free-choice (John 3.16) for eternal security (at new birth) fits perfectly with God's Word. There would be no fatalistic determinism and no imputed righteousness, but imparted righteousness. And election would be secure only after the authentic choice, not before. These are the ones God wants to be with and walk with in the new city in the new earth after He walks with His overcomer believers in the millennial reign.
The false doctrine of unconditional assurance (Unconditional Election) which is the cornerstone of Baptist doctrine is without non-contradictory theological support, and thereby, must be discarded as a viable option for the Bible believer. The origin of this false teaching in both Calvinists (called Reformers) and Baptists is due to non other than the false teaching of Total Depravity.
Total Depravity ultimately is Pelagian, denying the original fall of man (original sin). Changing the fall of man to a fall of robot man requires a robotic recovery by Baptists and Calvinists which is without life.
Choosing a theology is an extremely important issue which should not be put on the back-burner. If our theology is wrong, our Biblical interpretation will be wrong. There is no way around this! To ignore this truth is a sign of complacency or a cover-up for sin! Corrections to our thinking must take place if we need to bring our doctrine into line with the Scriptures and consistency! We are accountable for any refusal to conform our thinking to the light God has given us. God knows if we are avoiding truth and will hold each one of us accountable before the Great White Throne of Judgment. God help us in our search for truth!
Also see to Unsaved Calvinism and Deliverance for Calvinists.