Arminianism is a system of belief that attempts to explain the relationship between God's sovereignty and mankind's free will, especially in relation to salvation. Arminianism is named after Jacob Arminius (1560—1609), a Dutch theologian.

Foreseen Faith and the Unbiblical Circular Reasoning of Arminians

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  • Foreseen Faith and the Unbiblical Circular Reasoning of Arminians

    Almost without exception when I present John 6:37 (and 6:63, 65) to a professing Arminian they simply ignore it and change the subject, but the other day I encountered one of those rare exceptions. As you know in the passage Jesus declares, "All those the Father gives to me will come to me." The Arminian claimed the meaning was that all those the Father FORESAW would come to faith in Jesus, the Father gave to Jesus that they might come to faith in him. Ummm! Not only is this meaning not there and arbitrarily imported into the text but you can, perhaps, find no better example of circular reasoning.

    How is this circular reasoning? All those the Father gives to Jesus will infallibly come to faith in him . God's giving them to Jesus precedes their coming to faith in him and yet the Arminian says it is based on something that happens after God gives them to Jesus. God is giving them to Jesus now based on something that will infallibly happen in the future? Consider that if election is based on foreseen faith then he already knew who would and would not believe even before God created us and it could not be otherwise. Why would God create people he knew with certainty would go to hell? Contradicts the Arminian teaching on free will ... So if the future is certain before it happens then isn't based on foreseen faith at all but something more like fate.

    One other interpretation I have run into from an Arminian on John 6:37 was that "come to me" is not referring to faith at all but is the universal prevenient grace given to all people ... of course this ignores the immediate context of the entire passage which is faith ... and even more fatal to this interpretation is that is fails to take into account the rest of the verse which states that these people who come to him are the same people who Jesus will raise up at the last day. "...and those who come to me I will raise up on the last day."

  • #2
    While I don't think Armineanism has it correct for a variety of reasons, let me take a stab at defending their interpretation from their view.

    "All those that the Father gives to me, will come to me."

    This is the starting point.
    Let's make it simpler and more worldly so simple minds like mine can understand it.

    ALL THOSE THAT I GIVE A TICKET TO WILL COME TO THE MOVIE THEATRE.

    This is something easy to imagine.
    Now there are thousands of people in my town and only 100 seats in my movie theatre. So giving a ticket to the first 100 people I meet might result in 10 showing up and an almost empty movie theatre. Remember that Armineans believe that you have every right to accept or reject the offer to come to the movie theatre (salvation) completely on your own. Only God can provide the "ticket" but only I can decide to use it or not.

    Since I am a clever and benevolent theatre owner who wants a full house, I decide to invite everyone and see who will show up. Then I make a list of who showed up and climb into my DeLorean Time Machine and go back in time to give a ticket to 100 of the people that I knew were going to show up. I climb back into my car and drive back to the future where my son is waiting to collect the tickets at the front gate. I hand him the list and tell him "These are the guests that I have invited, please show them in and don't let any goats sneak into the theatre, you know what a mess they make."

    You are standing there talking with my son, before the doors open about his list. "All those that my father has given a ticket to, will show up and I will not turn any of them away, but show them to their seat."

    You are asking me, 'how can my father have already given them a ticket, if only those who will show up get a ticket? Isn't that classic circular reasoning?'

    You just forgot that Dad owns a DeLorean.


    In more theological terms, God exists outside of the normal flow of time, thus results can precede their cause. From one perspective, God chose in eternity past, and from the opposite side, it appears that man chose and God responded.

    Like I said, not my view, but I get it.
    Personally, I think it fails more on the Total Depravity front ... where is the evidence of innate goodness able to seek God in the natural man.
    Comment>

    • #3
      And from a Calvinist perspective. How many here think when they receive a pay check, wow, my boss is really nice to give me all this money? Do we think that? No, we think about our actions in time, the last week, two weeks, month etc and acknowledge how we worked our tails off and earned our money. Or how we are working our way towards the bonus. We don't think about our money as a gift, because it was earned. Salvation becomes the wages due us rather than a free gift from God.

      I believe the Arminian view emphasizes God's omniscience rather than Sovereignty. For example, lets play pool and call the white ball God. God moves across the pool table into other balls which are moveable objects. God is enacting his sovereignty over the pool table. But, if the white ball hits an immovable ball (one that rejects God's sovereignty) God becomes the movable object and the other colored ball becomes the Sovereign force on the pool table.

      Back to my original analogy. Our faith is NOT OF OURSELVES. It is the object of our Faith that saves us (white ball). The Arminian makes themselves the object of faith (colored balls), an object that reacted in time that earns an Election.

      Soli Deo Gloria!

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        There's lots of differing Arminian points of view to begin with. Most Arminians I have met would simply respond that John 6:37 speaks of those already given the gift of faith by the Father. In other words, the Father has already given faith and those who receive it come to Christ and are never cast out.

        Here's another version:

        "All that the Father giveth me - All that feel themselves lost, and follow the drawings of the Father, he in a peculiar manner giveth to the Son: will come to me - By faith. And him that thus cometh to me, I will in nowise cast out - I will give him pardon, holiness, and heaven, if he endure to the end - to rejoice in his light." (Wesley's commentary)

        and another...

        "Shall come to me - All that are drawn by the Father, Joh_6:44, i.e. all those who are influenced by his Spirit, and yield to those influences: for as many as are Led (not driven or dragged) by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God, Rom_8:14. God sent his prophets to proclaim his salvation to this people; and he accompanied their preaching with the influence of his Spirit. Those who yielded were saved: those who did not yield to these drawings were lost. This Spirit still continued to work and to allure; but the people being uncircumcised both in heart and ears, they always resisted the Holy Ghost; as their fathers did, so did they; Act_7:51. And though Christ would have gathered them together, as a hen would her chickens under her wings, yet they would not. See the note on Mat_23:37. Those who come at the call of God, he is represented here as giving to Christ, because it is through his blood alone that they can be saved. God, by his Spirit, convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment; those who acknowledge their iniquity, and their need of salvation, he gives to Christ, i.e. points out unto them the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Our Lord may here also refer to the calling of the Gentiles; for these, according to the ancient promise, Psa_2:8, were given to Christ: and they, on the preaching of the Gospel, gladly came unto him. See ample proofs of this in the Acts of the Apostles. (Adam Clarke' commentary)


        But a modern Arminian is another creature altogether! Most of them are useless- but there are three authors I have read that give a good account for their theology- Roger Olson, Robert Shank and Vic Reasoner. They all would tend to put prevenient grace as what this verse speaks about- God drawing men to Christ and those who receive Him by faith are never cast out.


        Edited to add: the idea that foreseen faith is the cause of election is one of the least tenable theologies currently in the modern world. Even with the caveat of prevenient grace it still doesn't add up. And I forgot to add W.T. Purkiser to the list of good Arminian authors. He was very good, actually.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by atpollard View Post
          While I don't think Armineanism has it correct for a variety of reasons, let me take a stab at defending their interpretation from their view.

          "All those that the Father gives to me, will come to me."

          This is the starting point.
          Let's make it simpler and more worldly so simple minds like mine can understand it.

          ALL THOSE THAT I GIVE A TICKET TO WILL COME TO THE MOVIE THEATRE.

          This is something easy to imagine.
          Now there are thousands of people in my town and only 100 seats in my movie theatre. So giving a ticket to the first 100 people I meet might result in 10 showing up and an almost empty movie theatre. Remember that Armineans believe that you have every right to accept or reject the offer to come to the movie theatre (salvation) completely on your own. Only God can provide the "ticket" but only I can decide to use it or not.

          Since I am a clever and benevolent theatre owner who wants a full house, I decide to invite everyone and see who will show up. Then I make a list of who showed up and climb into my DeLorean Time Machine and go back in time to give a ticket to 100 of the people that I knew were going to show up. I climb back into my car and drive back to the future where my son is waiting to collect the tickets at the front gate. I hand him the list and tell him "These are the guests that I have invited, please show them in and don't let any goats sneak into the theatre, you know what a mess they make."

          You are standing there talking with my son, before the doors open about his list. "All those that my father has given a ticket to, will show up and I will not turn any of them away, but show them to their seat."

          You are asking me, 'how can my father have already given them a ticket, if only those who will show up get a ticket? Isn't that classic circular reasoning?'

          You just forgot that Dad owns a DeLorean.


          In more theological terms, God exists outside of the normal flow of time, thus results can precede their cause. From one perspective, God chose in eternity past, and from the opposite side, it appears that man chose and God responded.

          Like I said, not my view, but I get it.
          Personally, I think it fails more on the Total Depravity front ... where is the evidence of innate goodness able to seek God in the natural man.
          Only problem with the movie theater example is that no one wants the ticket. :p

          You'd have to go to the local cemetery and dig up those you want to have the ticket, bring them to life, and then give them the ticket, for that example to work. I am sure you posited that through the eyes of Arminians, but that is how you'd give away those 100 tickets.
          Comment>
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