Nov 20, 2010

Debate Review 7

Why the Difference?

"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Cor. 4: 7)

The Arminian view of election represents the Father as choosing those who have made themselves different from others by an independent act of their free wills. They differ from another, not because God has made them different, but because they have made themselves different. But Paul, in this passage, represents saving differences as the result of God's giving.

Paul argues that this gracious system or paradigm of conversion, eliminates all boasting, or crediting oneself. The opposite system, where the creature is credited with making the difference, does in fact promote creature boasting. If I am the one who has made myself different, then I may take credit for that difference. But, Paul argues that sinners cannot credit themselves for their being different.

If they have faith, and therefore differ from others who are without faith, then they can only give God the credit for it, he being the one who made them different by giving to them what he did not give to another.

Why was one part of the lump of clay chosen for becoming a vessel of mercy and the other part not? Was one part of the clay different from the other part and God selects the better part? Does not the apostle say that the vessels of mercy come from "the same lump" as the vessels of wrath? If all parts of the lump are the same, then he is not choosing to make part of it into vessels of mercy because it is different from the other part. A difference does come to the clay, but it is not a difference naturally, but a difference that results from the choice and work of the Potter.

Barnes, in Barnes notes, said "That proud Arminian, Grevinchovius (17th century Dutch theologian), in answer to this text, said,

"I make myself to differ; since I could resist God, and divine predetermination, but have not resisted, why may not I glory in it as of my own?'"

My opponent could only respond to this by saying that the verse in I Cor. 4:7 only concerned differences in spiritual gifts, and nothing more. I countered that the language was broader than this. My opponent, in opposing the idea that I Cor. 4: 7 could be applied to salvation, or to any other context than spiritual gifts, demonstrated how he believed that the application of the verse to every aspect of life and salvation went against his Arminian position. He also never denied the statement of the Arminian Dutch theologian about who makes who to differ.

I later enlarged upon this by showing that the scriptures teach that all the good a man possesses is owing to God's gift. Notices these passages.

"John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3: 27)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1: 17)

"Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." (Acts 17: 25)

Thus, I Cor. 4: 7 is saying the same thing as these verses. No one can boast because of his excellence or superiority because it is all owing to God's gracious giving. He makes men to differ by his giving to one what he withholds from another.

I later developed this even further by referring to these words of God to Moses.

"And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?" (Exo. 4: 11)

I showed how my opponent had no place in his theology for God being the cause of men being born blind or deaf, or lame, or what have you. I showed that God makes men blind by not giving them the gift of sight, etc. Why would God do this? I then cited these words in answer to this question.

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9: 1-3)

I then stated that I believed that this passage presents a paradigm to explain why God has willed that men be born spiritually blind. Bruce never responded to this.

1 comment:

FolloweroftheLamb said...

This is an excellent argument. To me, your best set forth of all of them (not that any are not good.) Praise the Lord!