Sunday, May 27, 2007

A fascinating afternoon

Here is how I spent my time this arvo. Some would see it as a waste of time, but I'm pleased I had the time available to do it. From time to time, I read Mandy's Musings, having got there via a post from Mandy at Your Sydney Anglicans forum.
This afternoon, I took the bait, and clicked through to Mandy's self-described controversial post on Definite Atonement, and the 130 replies, which is an exchange between Moore College students and Oak Hill College, who are divided over whether Christ's death was for all [mainly Moore], but only effective for those whom God has chosen, or whether it was intended only for those for whom Christ died [mainly Oak Hill].

There was some valuable discussion in this long list of posts, which I have not yet finished.

It seems to me that most Christians are firstly Arminians, as Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon remarked more than a century ago. This means that they believe that Christ died for all, but not specifically for any particular people. So it is possible that no one will be saved, as it is entirely up to us to choose to accept God's offer.

This is the view I was taught in the Baptist Church I grew up in, and would appear to be the majority view of Christians today. There are many bible verses that could be cited in support of it, such as
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
But, if you read the whole bible, and read bible passages, not just isolated verses, I don't see how you can hold this view for long.

Throughout the bible we read about God choosing people and rejecting others. We read that all of us deserve to suffer God's anger for turning away from him, but that God in his mercy, has chosen to
save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

At many times the bible speaks of Christ as having died for the sins of the whole world. I don't think I need to cite those verses. But at many other times we are told Jesus died for those God has chosen. For example
we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

And in John we are told
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day... All whom the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. John 6:37-39,44.
So Jesus welcomes everyone who comes to him, but because of our sin, we can only come to him by God's gracious enabling.

It seems clear from reading through the whole bible that Jesus died for those God gave to him, and only them. His death is sufficient for all, and everyone is called to turn from living for themselves, and to give their lives in service to God. But we don't want to do this, because of our own evil natures.

So God chooses people whom he will save through Jesus' death. They are not chosen on the basis of their own goodness, because we are all wicked and deserving God's anger and punishment forever.

The discussion between the Moore and Oak Hill people was over whether Christ's death is potentially for all, but eventually for those whom God has chosen [known as Amyraldianism], or whether Jesus died for the specific people whom God has chosen, and only them [properly called Definite Atonement. The latter view is an aspect of Reformed theology which may sound harsh, but does seem to be clearly taught in the bible: I don't understand why minds much greater than mine don't see it.

In coming to an acceptance of Reformed Theology, many people seem to firstly be Amyraldians, but later realise that belief in Definite Atonement is more consistent with the whoel of the bible's teaching.

Well-spent arvo, or waste of time? Gotta admit, I had other jobs to do!

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