Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Enjoying The Good News Of Christ's Birth From An Arminian Perspective

Calvinists often argue that God’s love has failed if Christ’s atonement was made for all and yet not all are saved. I find it strange that Calvinists, who are so quick to criticize Arminians for holding to a man centered religion, argue that unless man responds to God’s love in saving faith, then His love for them has somehow failed. How is it that they feel comfortable equating the success or failure of God’s love with man’s response to that love? Is the nature or validity of God’s love dependant on man’s response? Doesn’t that seem a little man centered?

I personally believe that God loves and gives according to the goodness of His nature and that His love for mankind would in no way be diminished if every single person on the planet rejected that love. The cross is so much more beautiful to me when I consider that Christ willingly laid down His life even for those who would forever reject Him. I cannot think of a more powerful demonstration of perfect love. That most of mankind rejects that love and provision cannot diminish its significance in the slightest.

In the same way the incarnation demonstrates the love and humility of an amazing God.

As Paul so beautifully wrote:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!” [Philippians 2:5-8]

What an amazing story that God would leave His throne and become a man out of love for a fallen race. Paul tells us that our attitude should reflect Christ’s humility and love. Does that mean that if someone does not return our love that we have somehow failed to emulate our Redeemer? Of course not! And neither is Christ’s love rendered void when a sinner rejects His gracious and loving provision.

An angel of the Lord appeared to some lowly shepherds on that greatest of days and said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

Did you hear that? Good news of great joy for all people! What does that mean to you? How could such a message be true in light of Calvinism? How could Christ’s coming possibly be good news of great joy to one who has been denied any part in Christ’s atoning work by way of an irrevocable decree? Does it really make sense to suggest that the angel only meant, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for relatively few unconditionally elect people from among all the people of the world”?

I am so glad that I don’t have to understand the angel’s proclamation in such a strange way. How good it is to remember at this holiday season that Christ’s coming was intended to bring joy to all of mankind because all of mankind was loved by God in Christ. The Lord came not for a few but for all just as His love extends to all. That so many reject that love is a tragedy, but they forfeit the joy that could be theirs of their own accord. That so many reject that good news takes nothing from the joy and goodness of the message. If, however, that message of good news and great joy was not intended for them, then the joyous message of the Lord’s angel rings hollow at best.

How good it is this Christmas season to rejoice in Christ’s birth from an Arminian perspective. May God use us to share the good news with someone this Christmas season. I hope you will feel the freedom to say to any sinner, without constraint, that Christ’s coming is truly good news for them.

God Bless and Merry Christmas!

30 comments:

Rachael said...

Kangaroodort,

I must admit that I never have understood that of Calvinism either about how the word world and all men and such get retranslated into "the elect".

Maybe it sounds weird, but that's not really why I wrote, I really just wanted to say that I just love all of your kangaroo pictures.

While I'm chatting, I would also like to say that I appreciate the Christian spirit that I've seen you display when addressing the comments left. Keep it up, God bless, and Merry Christmas!

kangeroodort said...

Hi Racael,

Thanks for the kind comments. Do you mind if I ask how you found the blog? I hope you will stop by again sometime.

God Bless,
Ben

Rachael said...

Kangaroodort,

Maybe it was the kangaroos, maybe it was predestined...or maybe I was referred to your site by someone who has been studying soteriology and the Calvinist debate. :-) Anyway, great site! God bless!
Rachael

kangeroodort said...

Rachael,

I think I will opt for "predestined" :)

Merry Christmas,
Ben

jeffn said...

I stumbled onto this site linked from another and must say I really like it as well. I appreciated immediately the kind spirit I saw which has a sort of holding power towards those who wish to gently and lovingly explore sometimes difficult if not brain-sizzling topics of genuine import.

Pizza Man said...

I suspect the Calvinist would focus on the angels singing in Luke 2:14

Interestingly, the NIV and the ESV have an interpretation that seems on first glance to be different than the KJV, and more friendly to a Calvinistic interpretation. Any thoughts on that?

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.(NIV)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!(ESV)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (KJV)

-Kevin

Anonymous said...

Simple, Calvinism is true.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

We can rejoice in the confidence that everyone we share Crist with at Christmas, and everyone missionaries all over the world will share Jesus with at this time, will all have the story of the incarnation and His sacrifice as a bone fide offer to them personally.

Oh the limitless love of Jesus Christ expressed in His limitless atonement!

Jnorm888 said...

I really enjoyed this post. Great stuff Kangeroodort.


ICXC JNORM888

Paul G said...

If Gods love was for every person in the world, and He really want to save them all, if He only lost one of them, then He is an impotent savior and untrustworthy.
His love has no depth and no strength!
The Bible says “love never fails” (NEVER) 1 Cor. 13:8

Your savior looks like a water-shy Father of which his little girl whom he loves, fell into a raging river. He was standing on the embankment and throwing a hoop to the girl and said, grab it and you will be safe.
However the little girl could not grab the hoop and died.

Then the Father said, I loved you so much and I did all I could, but you would not grab the hoop!

Sounds pathetic! Doesn’t it?

Pizza Man said...

Thanks for clanging the cymbal Paul.

Paul G said...

I must admit, that I do not yet fully understand ‘Prevenient Grace’.
I can’t help to see that the ‘Prevenient’ of the Grace is just like the hoop of the drowning child.
Perhaps there might also be a thing called ‘Prevenient Love’?

Nick Norelli said...

C'mon guys... Paul is right... We all know that a real savior shows forth real love when the Father so lovingly hits his little girl in her head and then tosses her unconscious body into the white water of a roaring river only to watch her as she struggles against the current being beaten and battered by the rocks beneath the surface and then when he finally decides to, he reaches in and saves her only to tell her that had he decided not to save her she would have gotten what she deserved, because even though he hit her in the head and tossed her in and she could make no decision whatsoever to reach out and accept his saving hand, it was still her fault for drowning in the first place because her will was free with only one decision to choose from.

Sounds un-pathetic, doesn't it?

:^P

Nick

Paul G said...

Nick;
Not bad!
You seemingly don’t know that there are two Fathers, one is the devil the other the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus is the omnipotent Father who throws ALL, His and the devils children into the raging river and all will die.
But to confound the wise, Jesus the all powerful savior leapt into the raging river and searches only for HIS children, lifts them out of the water and sets them on solid ground, gives them a new life (born again) and cares for them for ever and ever and they shall never perish.

Remember, Jesus loves (His children) with an everlasting love!
Just like Grace, ‘Unconditional’.
With no attachment to love or grace!

Whether they had a free will or the power to choose is not relevant.
We all know the answer to that.

kangeroodort said...

Pizza man,

I suspect the Calvinist would focus on the angels singing in Luke 2:14

Perhaps they would focus on this verse, but that does not change what was said in verse 10. I believe that Luke 2:14 compliments verse 10 and does nothing to help the Calvinist position. I am not sure why you think it would.

Are you concerned about the "on whom his favor rests" part? It seems to me that the angels are merely expressing that Christ has come as an expression of love toward a fallen race [e.g. John 3:16]. There is no contextual reason to think that this statement could only apply to the elect. Even if we prefer the translation: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"(ESV-emphasis mine), there is no support for the Calvinist here.

The elect are sinners under God's wrath until they put faith in Jesus Christ. It would be out of harmony with Scripture to believe that God is speaking of the elect as those in whom He is well pleased in such a manner.

It makes better sense to understand this passage as a declaration of love and favor towards a sinful race in need of a Savior.

Young's literal translates the passage:

'Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will.'

The Son's coming was an act of love and good will towards a sinful race in desperate need of a Savior. There is nothing in these passages that would limit that act of love to an unconditionally elect few.

God Bless,
Ben

Jnorm888 said...

Paul g,

You can find God's universal love in the 145 Pslam.


Pslam chapter 145:8-13 NIV


"8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. 11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom."
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made."

and verse 17

"17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made."



But even if you don't want to use the NIV. The NASB says

"9The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works."

and

"15The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time. 16You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds."



JNORM888

Anonymous said...

JNORM,

Are you a universalist?

Pizza Man said...

Thanks for your thoughts Ben. I found a link with some background on the interpretation of Luke 2:14. The author agrees with your view.

http://members.aol.com/basfawlty/luke2_14.htm

-Kevin

Anonymous said...

the only one that can draw comfort from these verses are universalists.

Paul G said...

Jnorm888;
Gods love is not a universal love.
Gods love is an elected agape love and the power of His love is in election!
Think of it like the love of a woman who loves every other man just like you! That love means not much to you, but if she loves you alone by the exclusion of all other men, that would mean that you are special to her, and that love has power, you know what I mean!

In Psalm 145:8-13
In all those verses I can see election or (elected agape love).

Perhaps because I am wearing
election glasses!
You should try them once! With them you can see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

As it is with every doctrine, ‘Election must stand’. Rom. 9:11
If election is not present in a doctrine, then that doctrine is wrong.

Paul G said...

Ben;
Luke 2:10 Do you think that King Herod had great joy to hear that a King and savior was born?
I doubt that all without exception would have great joy.

Verse 14 Then I can conclude that “on whom his favor rests”, that there are two groups, on the one His favor rests (elect) and the other not (non elect).
There again election stands!

Or do I miss something here?
I know you wear different glasses than I, and seemingly they do not fit my head.

kangeroodort said...

Paulg,

You wrote:

Luke 2:10 Do you think that King Herod had great joy to hear that a King and savior was born?
I doubt that all without exception would have great joy.

No he did not, but that was due to his own rejection and not some eternal decree. Did you read the post? Maybe you missed it when I wrote:

That so many reject that love is a tragedy, but they forfeit the joy that could be theirs of their own accord. That so many reject that good news takes nothing from the joy and goodness of the message. If, however, that message of good news and great joy was not intended for them, then the joyous message of the Lord’s angel rings hollow at best.

You wrote:

Verse 14 Then I can conclude that “on whom his favor rests”, that there are two groups, on the one His favor rests (elect) and the other not (non elect).
There again election stands!


That would be a case of reading your theology into the text.

Or do I miss something here?
I know you wear different glasses than I, and seemingly they do not fit my head.


You have missed a lot. At least you admit that you interpret these texts according to your theological "glasses".

God Bless,
Ben

kangeroodort said...

Anonymous,

You wrote:

the only one that can draw comfort from these verses are universalists.

Care to defend that statement?

kangeroodort said...

Pizzaman,

Thanks for the link. It was very helpful.

Dawn said...

Paul said, "Gods love is not a universal love."

Yes, it is, according to John 3:16. Psalm 145 given by JNorm is another great one. There are more examples, but these are enough for now.

Paul said, "Gods love is an elected agape love and the power of His love is in election!"

It's that, too, but there is a universal love for all men. That is not to say that all men will be saved. The power comes through belief. One is elected upon belief.

Paul said, "Think of it like the love of a woman who loves every other man just like you! That love means not much to you, but if she loves you alone by the exclusion of all other men, that would mean that you are special to her, and that love has power, you know what I mean!"

It's not that that love means not much to me; rather, it means that my acceptance of that love allows the love to BE powerful and special from everlasting to everlasting.

Paul said, "Perhaps because I am wearing election glasses! You should try them once! With them you can see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ."

I've tried them, but realized that I had to overlook the vast majority of scripture to hold to the Calvinist view and I'm not willing to throw out ONE jot or tittle. I see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ just fine by taking God at His word.

Dawn said...

Anonymous said, "the only one that can draw comfort from these verses are universalists."

Like Kangaroodort, I would love to hear your defense of that statement.

kangeroodort said...

I've tried them, but realized that I had to overlook the vast majority of scripture to hold to the Calvinist view and I'm not willing to throw out ONE jot or tittle. I see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ just fine by taking God at His word.

Amen!!! Well said!

Jnorm888 said...

No, I am not a universalist, but I know that God's love is for everything He has made.

I'm a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy so I can't be a universalist. That was declared a heresy around the 6th century. ...or a century close to that.



INLOVE JNORM888

Jnorm888 said...

Paul g,


Psalm 145 includes

""15The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time. 16You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds."


This love is a generic love for all He has made.

Mathew talks about God allowing the Sun shine on both the wicked and righteous.

God lets it rain on both the righteous and wicked.


There is a "Universal" Love of God or else God is not OMNI-Benevolent.



JNORM888

casebo said...

I suggest this entire blog read "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God," by D.A. Carson.

Quick read.
Good theology.