Jun 28, 2012

Effectual Conviction?

Arminians greatly object to the doctrine of effectual calling (or "irresistible grace") because they think that this amounts to coercion, to forcing a man to be saved against his will.  Sometimes the equivocation is simply stated as though the equating of calling with coercion is enough to dispute it.  But, such an argument assumes that all coercion is evil and unethical.  But, all compulsion is not so.  Jesus himself said that sinners are to be "compelled."  (Luke 14: 23)  It matters not that the kind of "compelling" be special, of a certain kind, as done with words only, in overthrowing the supposition that all coercion is unethical.  Parents daily compel their children.  Generals daily compel soldiers. 

To compel is to force.  Thus, when Arminians decry the idea of conversion being "forced," they are decrying sinners being "compelled."  But, Jesus said - "compel (or force) them to come."  Further, Paul says - "For the love of Christ constraineth us."  (II Cor. 5: 14) 

I once heard an Arminian preacher condemning effectual calling by grabbing his shirt collar and pulling it and saying - "God does not grab and pull us like this."  But, I thought to myself - "does he not believe that the shepherd's crook is designed to do this very thing?"  Does the shepherd not coerce and force the sheep back into the safety of the fold?  Would a parent not force a child to save the child?

I once heard another Arminian preacher saying that God was like a magnet and sinners were like nails.  The magnet was "drawing" and pulling, exerting force against force, on sinners.  But, said he, some sinners have hardened their hearts so that they have become like big railroad spikes, while other sinners, those who have not been sinners long, are like small tacks, and therefore easier for God to "draw" and pull to himself.  So, though God was drawing all, some men's resistance is greater than the power pulling them, and this is the reason why they are not effectually drawn.  The Calvininst sees the problem with the Arminian's making the magnet too small and insufficient in power. 

Is the magnet "forcing" the thing it draws?  Who can deny it?  Who can deny that the thing being drawn is resisting by the force of its weight?  Who can deny that the thing drawn will be effectually drawn if enough force is exerted by the magnet?

Some Arminians, seeing the "force" of the argument from the word "draw" (John 6: 44; 12: 32), how it denotes a dragging, or compelling, resort to saying - "but it may not always mean that."  They never deny that it is a forcing or compelling when the word is used for "drawing" water or fish, but they insist that when it is used of the drawing power of love, then it does not mean to compel or force. 

But, who can deny that when "attraction" is superior to resistance, even in the case of "falling in love," a compelling has taken place?  How many spouses have exclaimed of this experience - "I found him/her irresistibile"? 

Is God not able to successfully "woo" a heart?  Does he lack the necessary attraction?  Does he lack knowledge of what the object of his attraction will find irresistible?  By the Arminian scheme God lacks the power and wisdom to win a heart that he is determined to win.

Arminians often speak of how conviction of sin is that preparation of heart that precedes faith and salvation, and rightly so.  But, I have never heard one of them affirm that the experience of conviction may not be effectual and irresistible.  Does God ask the sinner for his permission to bring him under conviction of sin?  Does he not do this without such permission?  Further, can the sinner resist being convicted?  Can he say, "God has convicted me, but I will stop him"? 

As God works powerfully, and sometimes irresistibly, in convicting of sin, so he does in also convicting of righteousness and judgment.  (John 16: 8)

1 comment:

Michael White said...

Effectual calling is God giving the man a glimpse of His glory in the face of Jesus. God is so wonderful, the cross so humble and powerful both striking down pride and uplifting esteem that any and every man with such a glimpse desires God.