Grace for All: Elect in Christ or into Christ, that is the Question

“Jacobus Arminius: Reformed and Always Reforming” is the next essay in Grace for All. It is written by J. Matthew Pinson, the President of Welch College and the author of the book Arminian and Baptist (reviewed here). The focus is on presenting Jacob Arminius as a Reformed theologian who held to the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism.415xXkjORGL

In order to defend Arminus as a Reformed theologian, Pinson examines Arminius’ writings showing where his views either fit or strayed from Reformed confessions.

the primary doctrinal difference between Arminius and his strict Calvinist interlocuters [was] how one comes to be in a state of grace or not, that is the doctrine of predestination.

Since the primary area of disagreement is predestination, and that has been the focus of the last two essays in Grace for All, we will briefly look at that aspect of Arminius’ theology.

The problem, as Arminus describes it in Declaration of Sentiments (link), was that Calvinist views on “predestination are considered, by some of those who advocate them, to be the foundation of Christianity”, yet this doctrine “comprises within it neither the whole nor any part of the Gospel”. Continue reading

What if: Could Anakin Skywalker have chosen not to become Darth Vader?

In Star Wars Episode III, The Revenge of the Sith, Jedi Master Mace Windu and Sith Lord Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) are engaged in battle when Anakin Skywalker enters the room. As Anakin watches on, Palpatine fires force lightning which Windu deflects with his light saber. Locked in this struggle, the Sith looks at Anakin and cries out that he must choose whom he will help.

The young Jedi is faced with a decision.

  1. Help Mace Windu defeat Palpatine.
  2. Help Palpatine defeat Mace Windu.

In choosing to help Mace Windu, Anakin can reject the Dark Side and fulfill the prophecy that, as the Chosen One, he would bring balance to the Force. However, Anakin is fearful of losing Padme and wants Palpatine’s help. In helping the Sith Lord, Anakin would be completing his journey to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader.

It appears that Anakin has an important choice to make. Or does he? Continue reading

Grace for All: Predestination in the New Testament (Is it one big script?)

In the last post blogging through the book, Grace for All, we saw David Clines present to us the big picture of how one might understand predestination in the Old Testament. In this post I. Howard Marshall gives us a view of “predestinarian thought” in the New.

Marshall is a NT415xXkjORGL scholar and Professor Emeritus at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He has authored numerous commentaries and works of theology including the 2005 ECPA Gold Medallion winner New Testament Theology.

Marshall reminds us of the challenge that everyone who reads Scripture and studies theology has regardless of the views one holds.

it is one thing to state what Scripture says; it is another to understand it and to bring it into relation with the rest of what Scripture says.

In debates over soteriology, often a verse like Ephesians 1:4-5 is presented as a proof text for unconditional election because it states that we are chosen and predestined. Continue reading