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The Providence Debate:

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THE PROVIDENCE DEBATE:
10/08/2013

201340 FALL 2013

THEO 350-B05

INSTRUCTOR: DR. RICHARD LUMADUE

STUDENT: CAROL J MOZEE

THE PROVIDENCE DEBATE:
10/08/2013

201340 FALL 2013

THEO 350-B05

INSTRUCTOR: DR. RICHARD LUMADUE

STUDENT: CAROL J MOZEE

The Providence Debate:
Personally why should there be a debate about God, and his where about and how and what he can and can’t do? Who is in control? God is! I know to some people this may not be an appropriate way to start this research paper, but it is what it is and I feel sad that this is how the world thinks and appreciate our God, our Father and Friend. It’s all in defining everything, and not just seeing God’s work and taking, God’s word and believing in God for whom he is. Defining God’s Providence, all things happens according to God’s Sovereign Will, “ God is in control. Romans 8:28 “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.
When one defines God’s providence it is referring to the way God governs the world. Does God really sit on His throne and dictate or rule the world? It is not surprising that there is some disagreement in the evangelical world concerning the control of God, His dealing with salvation especially as affected by Jesus and the freewill of mankind. Some theologians think that the three are in contradictory of each other. Are they really in conflict with each other’s or can all three exist in full scriptural belief without doing any injustice to the other two?
When one talks about the sovereignty of God the actual word is not used in the bible but He is there throughout scripture instructing and directing. Although God is omnipotent and a lot of people constantly states that He is in control and has complete power over all that He created. In essence He can do whatever He determines is justice. Not everyone agrees with God being sovereign and all-powerful. Can one say that God is governing the evil in this world also? “Is our eternal destiny determined by God’s sovereignty, making meaningless our assumption that we have some choice in the matters that concern our existence”?
There are people who believe in God but cannot understand the Christian perception of Gods providence. The natural man wants to be in control of His destiny and is forever reasoning why the things and plans of God cannot be possible. At least the Christian view acknowledge that God is the creator of the world and that He is all powerful, a God who interact and knows His people. There is a scripture in the Old Testament that states that, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”.

The Five Points of Calvinism: These have been set forth in the form of an acrostic, forming the word TULIP. Even though I have been in church all my life and taught right from wrong, this was something that really caught my attention, because I had never heard of Calvinism and Arminianism views. I guess what I’m trying to say is I did not know there was a name for the beliefs I was taught. So it blows my mind to know, these things and I thank God for being able to attend college and get an understanding of such things, other than saying it’s the Christian view.

"Five Points" of Calvinism: 1. T - Total Depravity or Total Inability 2. U - Unconditional Election 3. L - Limited Atonement 4. I - Irresistible Grace 5. P - Perseverance of the Saints
These present the fundamentals of the theological system known as Calvinism. They form a coherent and logically consistent system of theology. Given the acceptance of the first point, “Total Depravity or Total Inability, the other "Points" follow logically and necessarily. Since all men are unable to save themselves because of their sinful nature (Total Inability), then God must sovereignly choose who will be saved and who will not be saved (Unconditional Election). And since only the ones chosen (the Elect) must have their sins atoned for, if they are to be saved, Christ need die only for the sins of the Elect (Limited Atonement). And since the Elect can do nothing because of their sinful nature to turn to Christ and receive His atonement for their sins, God alone in His grace can overcome the resistance of their wills and give them a new nature by which they will willingly receive Christ's atonement (Irresistible Grace). In order to guarantee that all the Elect will finally be saved, God sovereignly keeps the Elect from doing anything by which their salvation may be lost (Perseverance of the Saints or The Eternal Security of the Believer”).
Arminius rejected the Unconditional Election of the Five Points as unscriptural. He argued that God chooses those to be saved whom he foreknew would believe in Christ. According to Arminius, election is conditional; God's choice is conditioned by His foreknowledge of whom will believe. Calvinists reject this conditional election arguing that God foreknows only what He has sovereignly willed to take place. They argue that everything that takes place including the choices of man was immutably determined and fixed by God in eternity, and that all that happens is nothing but what He had ordained to be before anything was created. God's foreknowledge then depends upon the purpose and the plan of God and that God foreknows only what he has willed to take place. Arminians reject this determinism arguing that it leaves no place for man's free will which God gave to man when He created him, and also it makes God the cause of sin and evil in the world. The Calvinist attempts to counter this argument by replying that sin is caused directly by man and the evil in the world is caused by Satan and his fallen angels; God is therefore not responsible for sin and evil. God wills only the good, because His nature is good, not evil nor sinful. "But," the Arminians asks, "where did the evil and sin come from? If God wills everything, then God must have willed the evil and sin." The Arminians argue that man and the angels must have free will and that sin and evil are caused by the wrong choices which they make by the exercise of their free wills. Thus sin and evil is not caused by God but by those beings that God has created with free will. But the Calvinist reply that by the fall man has lost his free will and his nature has become corrupt or sinful. Man thus is totally unable to do anything to merit salvation.
Arminius himself did not reject the Total Inability of the Five Points. He believed profoundly in original sin, understanding that the will of natural fallen man is not only maimed and wounded, but that it is entirely unable, apart from prevenient grace, to do any good thing. He held that by the fall man has lost his free will and his nature has become corrupt or sinful. Man is totally unable to do anything to merit salvation. His followers have not always agreed with him on this point, and have modified the doctrine of original sin to teach that man since the fall is partially unable to do any good thing. In order to allow for man's free will, they teach that man's sinful nature does not determine his choices, but it is only a tendency to sin. The sinful nature only hinders man from doing the good.
Arminius also rejected the Limited Atonement of the Five Points as unscriptural. Christ's atonement is unlimited. He understood such scriptures that say "he died for all" (II Cor. 5:15; compare II Cor. 5:14; Titus 2:11; I John 2:2) to mean what they say. Some Calvinists, such as the Puritan John Owens, argue that the "all" means only all of those who have been elected to be saved. Arminius also rejected the Irresistible Grace of the Five Points, arguing that saving grace can be resisted and rejected. Since some men have resisted God's saving grace and rejected it, these men are lost and not saved. They are not saved, not because God did not choose them, but because they did not choose God; they resisted and rejected the saving grace of God. Arminius also rejected the Perseverance of the Saints of the Five Points arguing that since the believer still has free will after conversion, he could reverse his decision of faith in Christ and reject Christ, and thus lose his salvation and be eternally lost. Then there are the “Five Points” of Arminiianism.
"Five Points" of Arminianism: 1. Partial Depravity or Tendency to Sin 2. Conditional Election 3. Unlimited Atonement 4. Resistible Grace 5. Conditional Security of the Believer
It may seem from the above discussion that Arminianism is defined by way of negation of Calvinism. And in some cases this may be true. But the Arminian view is based on a positive affirmation that all men are free moral agents both before and after conversion. This conviction has been called Pelagian by the Calvinists. Arminianism is not Pelagian; it does not teach salvation by works any more than Calvinism does. Although it does not reject salvation by works in the same way as Calvinism does, Arminianism still does reject salvation by works. It rejects salvation by works because man's works fall short of the divine standard of holiness and therefore man cannot be saved by them. Calvinism, on the other hand, rejects salvation by works on a different basis: because of his sinful nature, man is not able to earn salvation.
EVALUATION OF CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM
“Both Arminianism and Calvinism see the need for salvation in legalistic terms. Man needs to be saved because he is a guilty sinner and a sinner by nature. Although disagreeing over the doctrine of Total Depravity, they both hold to a doctrine of the sinful nature. But even here they understand the sinful nature differently. Calvinism defines it in such a way that man cannot do anything to save himself and thus God must sovereignly choose who will be saved and who will be lost (Unconditional Election”). Arminianism defines the sinful nature in such a way to allow for man's free will and thus as only a tendency to sin and a hindrance to doing good. In order to allow for man's free will, they teach that man's sinful nature does not determine his choices, but it is only a tendency to sin. The sinful nature only hinders man from doing the good; thus man falls short of divine perfection, the holiness of God. But in spite of these differences they both see that man needs to be saved because he is a guilty sinner, a sinner by nature.
Although Arminianism rejects and modifies all of the Five Points of Calvinism, it does not reject the legalistic assumptions of the Calvinistic theological system. Arminianism, like Calvinism, defines sin and righteousness in terms of law. They both understand sin to be basically a transgression of the law, the breaking of the rules and a falling short of the universal divine standard of perfection. Sin is considered to be a crime against God, and the penalty for these crimes is spiritual, physical and eternal death. Until this penalty is executed at the last judgment, man is under the burden of an objective guilt or condemnation which must be punished. Thus man needs to be saved because he is a guilty sinner. But man also needs to be saved because he does not have a righteousness which God can reward with eternal life. This righteousness is conceived legalistically as merits, that is, that quantity of righteousness which entitles its owner to a reward of eternal life. Thus man needs to be saved, not only because he is a guilty sinner liable to eternal death, but also because he does not have this legal righteousness which entitles him to eternal life.
Calvinism is based on two basic assumptions which are legalistic in character. The first assumption is about man and the second is about God. Calvinism assumes that man cannot save himself because he is not able to do the good works necessary to earn salvation. This assumption is clearly legalistic. It assumes that salvation is by meritorious works but man is not able to do those works. The truth is that salvation is not something that is earned by merits, but a personal relationship to God that God offers to man by the grace of God as a gift and man enters into by faith in God, receiving eternal life as a gift. Man cannot save himself by works, not because he cannot do the works, but because salvation is not by meritorious works; it is a gift of life, a personal relationship given by God in His love and grace and entered into through faith ( Eph. 2:8-9).
The second assumption is about God and follows from the first. Since man cannot earn salvation himself because of sinful nature, God must earn it for him. “Augustine believed that God gives His grace to enable man to earn the meritorious works which would save him. The Calvinist deny this view of grace and sees grace as the unmerited favor of God in which God gives to the elect the righteousness or merits earned for them by Christ's active obedience”. That is, God in Christ has earned for them eternal life that they themselves cannot earn because of their sinful nature. But the Calvinist is wrong; the righteousness from God (Phil. 3:9) is not the merits earned by Christ's active obedience but is a right personal relationship to God through faith: faith reckoned as righteousness, the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:4-6, 13). And God puts man into this right personal relationship to Himself by His grace, not by vicarious meritorious works earned for them by another. The grace of God is not just the unmerited favor of God, but it is the love of God in action to save man from death to life ( Eph. 2:4-5).
Calvinism's view of salvation is monergistic, that is, “God alone is active in salvation, because it believes that since man's nature is sinful and man does what his nature is, then all the acts of man are sinful and he cannot do any righteous act to earn salvation. Therefore, God alone must do it for him. Calvinism, denying the Augustinian view that God does these meritorious acts by the grace of God that man receives from God through the sacraments, asserts that God alone does these meritorious acts through the active obedience of Christ; Christ has earned salvation for us. God alone is active in man's salvation. Not only is the grace of God the work of God but so is faith, since salvation is "by grace through faith" (Eph. 2:8). According to the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistible Grace, the faith that receives the grace of God is also the work of God. But the phrase in Eph. 2:8, "and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God", refers to salvation and not to faith. In the Greek of this verse, the demonstrative pronoun translated "this" agrees in gender (masculine) with the verbal participle translated "have been saved", and not with the noun translated "faith" which is feminine. On God's side, God gives ("by grace") salvation and on man's side ("through faith") man chooses to receive that gift. Salvation is the gift which is received by faith, not earned by meritorious works. Even though faith is the act or choice of man, it is not a meritorious work which can earn salvation.
Calvinism's view of salvation is legalistic, because it assumes that all the acts of man are meritorious, either earning merit by his righteous acts or losing it by the demerit of his sinful acts. This view of man is thoroughly legalistic. It views the relationship of man to God as based on merit that the justice of God demands and requires. The righteousness of God is misinterpreted as the justice of God. On this view, the justice of God rewards the merit of righteous acts and punishes the demerit of sinful acts. Because man does what his nature is and because of his nature is sinful, all the acts of man are sinful and cannot earn any merit. Therefore, no man can save himself. If he could do any righteous or good acts or works, then he could earn salvation and save himself. But since all men have sinned, no man can save himself and all men are condemned to eternal punishment for all their sins or demerits.
Even though this view sounds biblical, it is not. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that salvation is earned by righteous or good works, even in the Old Testament. On the contrary, it teaches just the opposite: man is saved by grace through faith and not by works ( Eph. 2:8-9). Righteousness is right personal relationship to God through faith (Gen. 15:6; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 4:4-6). The righteousness of God is not justice in the Greek-Roman sense of rendering to each what is due to them according to merit, but God acting to put right the wrong and to set man into right personal relationship to Himself, that is, it is a synonym for salvation (Psa. 98:2; Isa. 56:1). The basic sin is not just breaking the law earning demerit, but faith and trust in something other than the true God (Ex. 20:3-4; Deut. 6:4, 14-15; Rom. 1:22-25; 14:23); it is idolatry, trust in a false god. And man does not sin because of a inherited sinful nature, but because of spiritual death received from Adam.
"5:12 Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed unto all men, because of which all sinned: --
5:13 for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.
5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is the type of him who was to come." (Rom. 5:12-14 ERS).
Man's nature is not sinful or good, but is what he choose it to be; if he chooses a false god as his ultimate criterion of his choices, his choices will be sinful. Since men are spiritually dead, that is, not spiritually alive in a personal relationship to God, they will choose a false god as their ultimate criterion of their choices of how they will think or act. God opposes man's basic sin of idolatry and the sins that follow from it; this opposition is the wrath of God. And if a man continues to serve his false god, refusing the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, he will receive eternal death, the wages of this slavemaster. This has nothing to do with merit or demerit, nor with the execution of justice in paying the penalty for law breaking. Romans 6:23 is about the slavery of sin and its consequences; the word "sin" in the singular there refers not to the sinful nature but to sin as a slavemaster, who pays the wages of eternal death. And this eternal death is not the penalty of sin, but is the wages paid by sin as a slavemaster.
"The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Rom. 6:23).
Sin as a slave master is the false god that a man chooses as his ultimate criterion of all his choices. Thus all men sin in choosing a false god and from this false god as their slavemaster they receive the wages of this slavemaster, eternal death. God does not choose just some to be saved, leaving the rest to live in eternal damnation. But each man chooses his god and lord; if he chooses a false god that becomes his slavemaster, then he will receive the consequence of that choice, eternal death. But if he chooses to receive the true God as his God and His gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, His Son, acknowledging Him as his Lord, he is saved. God has chosen to save all men, if they will receive that salvation. But not all men will be saved, not because God has not chosen them, but they have not chosen Him. Each man must make his own choice of which god he will have as his ultimate criterion of choice, to be his god and lord. God does not make that choice for him. In the preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the spiritually blind and sets their wills free from the slavery of sin to their false god, so that they can choose the true God. Then if they refuse to choose the true God and to receive His gift of life, they are left in spiritual death and in their sin.

My Conclusion: A Choreographed Life
Someone was sharing with a friend of mine; a few weeks ago about how afraid she was of not following God's plan for her life. "What if I take the wrong job, move to the wrong house, or send the kids to the wrong school? What if I do something wrong that alters God's perfect plan? How can things ever be set right again?" She seemed convinced that there was one God-ordained path for her life, and she was terrified to take a step for fear it might forever lead her down a different road and therefore, out of God's perfect will for her life. He tried to console her, encourage her to just run with her passions in Christ, but it was very hard for her to grasp it all and find peace. Around that time, He reluctantly bought tickets to a high school friend's dance recital. His daughters wanted to see Amanda perform, and Brian was happy to support her, but a dance recital -honestly!?
Anyway, when the day eventually arrived, Keen had spent the night with a friend, and Heidi had gone to Worlds-of-Fun. It was just Brian and Kendra. It seemed like a healthy father-daughter date, but when they got there, Kendra wouldn't sit with Him. So there He was, a 35 year-old-man, sitting alone, watching young girls dancing -awkward.
Brian admitted he enjoyed the recital and, Amanda was incredible! Her confidant smile, unexpected skill and perfect form were astounding. The next day the experience hit him at a deeper level. That silly little dance recital was like our "walk" with God. When the little preschoolers filed onto the stage, people giggled and cheered. There was no trouble with the director coming out and helping the little ones with the basics. And everyone was pleased to watch them sit in a row and slowly raise their arms like blooming flowers or trot around in circles like butterflies. The occasional wave to mom just added flavor. Yet, when the high school dancers came out, there was much more expectation. The dancers not only needed to know where they were to be at every step of the performance, they were also expected to use proper form and technique with each move. The audience didn't mock or criticize when there was a stumble or a miss, but they often cheered when a tough move was made or some unexpected step was beautifully timed. I think of God's "plan" a lot like that dance recital. God is not just the spectator, He is the director. There are times when He needs to come out and give specific direction, and there are times when a wave to the crowd might be cute, but mostly, He just wants us to stay focused, smile and dance. Yes, there is a plan, and yes, you will stumble and miss a move here and there, but just keep your mind on the task and move as best you know how, and remember God is always in control The picture I prefer is when the crowd is all gone, and you are just dancing for the joy of it and to make your instructor proud. He may stop you occasionally to show you a new move, or to improve your style, and put you back on course, but then; He steps aside and lets you just do what you love to do. Dance for Him.

Bibliography: Across the Spectrum Boyd and Eddy, KJV, NIV, Ray Shelton, Brian Menefee,

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