Monday, July 23, 2012

So What's Your Answer?

In part one, we looked at the numerous blessings that Jesus secured for his people through his death and resurrection.

Part two looked at the tremendous chain of rhetorical questions Paul asked at the apex of his greatest gospel presentation.

Now in part three, I want to issue a simple request. Romans 8:32 asks: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? In immediate context, "all things" refers to the blessings from 8:28 (that God orders the entire universe so that all things work for the ultimate benefit of his people) to 8:39 (that nothing can ever separate Christ's people from his love). In the broader Biblical context, "all things" includes all the blessings of part one - all the myriad graces Jesus promises for his people. If Jesus died for you, "all things" are surely yours.

But there are numerous Christians, notably Arminians and Amyraldians, who completely disagree with this interpretation. They assert that there are many - the vast majority - for whom Christ died, yet who will not receive "all things", or any of these blessings. I believe Paul is asking this rhetorically, stating that the notion of Christ dying for someone who will not be redeemed/glorified is utterly inconceivable. These brothers, on the other hand, would assert that the question is not rhetorical, and that there must be an answer. They assert that the notion is not inconceivable, but the normal course of things for the vast majority of humanity.

So my request is to Arminians, Amyraldians, TU?IPs, and the like. I have a few questions for you, if you wouldn't mind explaining your position.

1) How do you answer Paul's question?
2) Do you think the other questions in this chain also have answers, or is this the only non-rhetorical in the chain?
3) If it's the only non-rhetorical, how did you come to that determination? If it's not - if the others also have non-zero answers, how would you answer them - who can be against us, who can charge God's elect, who is to condemn, and what can separate us from the love of Christ?

There ya go. Have at it.


DJP said...

Sill rabbit.

Don't you know that "all things" is short for "all things except the one thing that would lead to your actual possession of all things"?

trogdor said...

Someone should have let Paul know how much God treasures our free will - more than anything, because he didn't want to be worshipped by robots, you know. I'm sure Paul would have realized his errors and revised his argument accordingly.

Phil said...

So since God didn't want to regenerate the non-elect they are in no way benefited by the death of Christ, nor does God in any way want to see them saved?
Or stated another way, since the elect are particularly beloved the non elect are only hated?
Or since the non-elect do not get the gift of salvation they get nothing?
That's why the TU?IP position. You have hung up a false dichotomy, the answer is to say that Christ is the savior of all men, but particularly of the elect.

DJP said...

Right. Because it makes perfect sense to say Paul meant that Christ saves everyone a little bit (but not from Hell), and saves the elect a whole lot.


Phil said...

If you don't accept that God is the savior of all men but especially of those who believe then you have no business being a pastor of a church.

DJP said...

Can you give me that verse? The one that requires that I believe that Paul is saying that God saves everyone a little bit (but not from Hell)?

And how much does He save all men, in your view? 1%? 14% 39%?

I would have thought the actual Biblical requirements for elders were sufficient. But you learn something every day.

Phil said...

If I do show you a verse will you admit you were wrong? Or will you double down and say something like "It doesn't mean that."

Nonetheless, the trap springs: 1 Timothy 4:10 "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

So whatever else is happening we have two groups, the believers, and the non-believers, and both together are saved by Christ. They are not both saved to the same extent (as indicated by the word especially) but clearly He is a savior to even the non-elect.
I'd even go so far as to use your trick: if Paul wanted to communicate that they are both saved by Christ, that He has made some kind of atonement on their behalf, what other way could Paul have said it to make it any clearer?

Therefore, since Christ is the savior to the non-elect, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that this means He has made an atonement on their behalf as well, to lower the legal barrier God in His wrath had to their salvation.

To answer your second point - the requirement for an elder is explicit that they must hold to the teaching of Scripture Titus 1:9.

DJP said...

Rhetorical win, substance-fail. In order for me to admit being wrong, you have to prove that I was wrong, not just repeat nonsense.

Again, how much does God save those who remain lost? Talk about bizarre rhetoric. God saves them, but they stay lost. No longer is God "Savior," He is now "Sorta-Savior." How much did He save Judas? I'm still waiting for your percentage.

Clearly, you're mistaken in your understanding of "Savior." If you read just even a tad more broadly, you'd already know that.

As to how Paul could have been clearer in expressing the nonsense view, child's play: hos estin sōtēr kai apistōn kai pistōn, all' malista pistōn. It still would be nonsense, but it would be unambiguous nonsense.

You now have an opportunity to do that "admitting I'm wrong" thing you so seem to desire in others.

trogdor said...

Be careful - citing 1 Tim 4:10 might actually prove too much. At the very least, it explicitly distinguishes between how Christ acts as "Savior" for the two groups. To the elect, he is Savior in such a way that they receive all the blessings of Romans 8, et al. To the rest, he is Savior in such a way that they remain condemned and receive not-a-one of those blessings, but eternal wrath.

Which is to say, there is a difference between what Christ accomplished on the cross for the elect and the reprobate. To the elect he secures eternal redemption, to the others he does not. So we could re-ask the question of the post: if Christ secured eternal redemption for all, how is it that they don't get it? Is it that he secured it for them, but really, really secured it for the elect?

So the big question remains, in what way is he "Savior" to those who do not believe? The answer has to be a reference to his providential care which blesses even his enemies (Mat 5:43ff, etc). The thrust of the passage is encouragement - if God is so good to his enemies, how incredible must the blessings for his people be! The difference is similar in scope to the comparison in the previous verse, between temporal bodily training and eternally-beneficial training in godliness.

I think this passage from Calvin's commentary captures it perfectly (it's in a footnote, not sure if it's Calvin or a later editor):

The word Savior is not here taken in what we call its proper and strict meaning, in regard to the eternal salvation which God promises to his elect, but it is taken for one who delivers and protects. Thus we see that even unbelievers are protected by God, as it is said (Matthew 5:46) that “he maketh his sun to shine on the good and the bad;” and we see that all are fed by his goodness, that all are delivered from many dangers. In this sense he is called “the Savior of all men,” not in regard to the spiritual salvation of their souls, but because he supports all his creatures. In this way, therefore, our Lord is the Savior of all men, that is, his goodness extends to the most wicked, who are estranged from him, and who do not deserve to have any intercourse with him, who ought to have been struck off from the number of the creatures of God and destroyed; and yet we see how God hitherto extends his grace to them; for the life which he gives to them is a testimony of his goodness. Since, therefore God shows such favor towards those who are strangers to him, how shall it be with us who are members of his household? Not that we are better or more excellent than those whom we see to be cast off by him, but the whole proceeds from his mercy and free grace, that he is reconciled to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, since he hath called us to the knowledge of the gospel, and then confirms us, and seals his bounty toward us, so that we ought to be convinced that he reckons us to be his children. Since, therefore, we see that he nourishes those who are estranged from him, let us go and hide ourselves under his wings; for, having taken us under his protection, he has declared that he will show himself to be a Father toward us.

Phil said...

Yeah that went down about like I thought it would: that verse doesn't exist, my reasoning skills and worldview have made it's existence impossible. It cannot mean what it says.

But Troggie did consider what it means for God to be savior to the non-elect, so now my question is for him: are all men savable now (since the death of Christ) if they believe, or are non-elect in the same category as the fallen angels, wherein no atonement has been provided on their behalf, such that even if they believe it would do them no good?

If you say that they are saveable, that the deficiency lies with them for their lost-ness and continued unbelief, then you have affirmed that Christ has made an atonement for them as well, to be received by faith, and that He is a savior to the non-elect, even if they deny the sovereign lord who bought them. Call it saving everyone in the Arminian sense if you like, and saving the elect in the Calvinistic sense. Dort did affirm that same idea.

You could of course say with Dan that no, it's impossible for the non-elect to be saved even if they believe (Judas had no atonement provided for him, therefore had he believed it would have been to no effect, he was damned by God's design regardless) but I trust you see the difficulty in that, namely that the universal offer of salvation must be grounded in an actual, sincere offer, or God becomes insincere and insane for offering something that He cannot give.
Without the cross no man is forgivable, with the cross all are, if they believe entails the cross was good for the non-elect.

Anyway, of course what you said is dead on, which is the thought of Romans 8 - if God loved the non-elect that much, then surely He loves us, the justified, more than we can understand.
But with that I think you understand my point, that we should not require God hate the reprobate in order to love the elect.