How Do Arminians Harmonize The OT And NT?

AllOfGrace

Member
Specifically, how do Arminians harmonize their NT understanding of a God who doesn’t choose individual Believers for salvation from eternity (because, allegedly, that would violate free will and show that God chooses some but passes by others etc...but God loves everyone and wants all to be saved etc)...with the OT declaration of God choosing Israel out of the the nations, and then commanding them to obliterate and destroy the tribes of Canaan...even the women and little children etc?

Simply put: How do Arminians grapple with that challenge? And honestly, IMO, it does seem to pose a challenge to the Arminian brethren who hold that God doesn’t choose some and pass by others, but wants all to be saved. The Arminian has to explain what appears to be a massive change from the OT God who (eg.) destroyed all but 8 people in the flood, and who commanded His people to destroy without mercy their enemies etc...to the NT God who doesn’t elect some and pass by others, but loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved.

IMO, the reformed (Calvinism) view can harmonize the OT and NT picture of God seamlessly, but the Arminian position has a massive hill to climb.
 

AllOfGrace

Member
I'm struggling to see your point a little here, it seems the objection is kind of muddled and just thrown out there.

It seems your main point is that in the OT God demonstrates overall less love for people universally and illustrates more of a particular election? I think many Calvinists would take issue with that as a false distinction, because they would argue the NT has just as much particular election and lack of universal love, and both OT and NT harmonize with their view of determinism.

If you are just bringing the objection that a Biblical God doesn't seem maximally loving overall because he only seems to demonstrate particular love this is a problem all Christians have to deal with on some level in both testaments.

Or if you are just bringing in the kind of atheistic objections that God seems less loving in the OT because he seems more violent, that is a different kind of problem to address than determinism.

The main issue that determinism seems to address just from my observation is a feeling of resolving the problem of evil, that is how can God be genuinely loving to all things and yet seem to allow what we deem as irresponsible or needless suffering to his creation, particularly keenly felt in the case of a soul not receiving the knowledge of saving grace for some reason. This produces offensive feelings to our sinful nature which puts the priorities of preventing suffering over glorifying God.

So there's a lot of things to address and your question is not even very clear.

I personally find a tremendous unity of theology between the testaments where God displays an equal amount of grace and judgment in both testaments. Both testaments have God seeming extraordinarily merciful at times, such as forgiving gross and extensive sin, and yet at other times, seeming less merciful, judging harshly what seems to us a very small sin. Both testaments proclaim God is loving and that he desires the well being of his creation, and yet proclaim clearly that God judges sin radically and harshly. Sometimes the Sermon on the Mount makes the OT look like a cake-walk; Jesus says just thought crimes will burn you in a hell that makes human torture pale in comparison. By that standard we could argue the OT is more loving and compassionate than the NT.

Both testaments fit in with a theology of true autonomous free will, prevenient grace, judicial hardening, shared judgment for sins of the heart, the sin nature, the universal desire of God for the well-being of all his creation, the principle of delegation, and special election of some without universal reprobation of all the rest. Calvinism as a whole is a difficult system to unravel with many variations; and, in actual fact, some compatibilistic versions of Calvinism that deny equal ultimacy, and propose autonomous will is compatible with divine determinism, are indistinguishable in any practical application or thought from Classical Arminianism.

So maybe you could make an attempt to clarify your objection and give some focus to what you might be after.
Fair enough. Yeah, I suppose upon reflection that the OP is a bit too broad and not specific enough. I thought I did put the topic of Election out there as an example, but perhaps it wasn't clear enough.

If understand the Arminian position rightly, it is that they hold that God did not Choose/Elect individuals for Salvation from Eternity and thus pass by others, for God loves every individual person born into the world and wants them to be eternally saved. My point was that the OT doesn't seem to portray such a picture. Not that I see anyway. In the OT, God chose Israel and passed by the other nations, and then ordered His people to annihilate many tribes of people who worshipped other gods...without mercy. There was no evangelism campaign. In other words...God has mercy on whom He wants to, and He passes by others.

And there are other things too, eg. The curse in Isaiah 6 that certain people even among Israel were blinded by God so that they would never hear or see the truth lest they turn to Him and He would heal them. ie. Only the Elect could see, the others were blinded...and GOD designed it that way. Or the fact that God intended to save NONE of the people in the flood except Noah and his family...or any of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah either (except Lot and his family). etc.

It seems like the Arminian position has a picture of God who in the NT had a total change of heart. Now He wants everyone to be saved. Hence, He doesn't choose some but pass by others. That doesn't appear to be the case in the OT, nor in the NT in view of the clear teaching of Election by Grace.

Anyhow, I'm not saying that Arminians CAN'T harmonize it all. I'm asking how they do so, because the idea that God loves every single individual born into the world and wants them to be saved doesn't appear to be in the OT.
 

zerinus

Well-known member
Fair enough. Yeah, I suppose upon reflection that the OP is a bit too broad and not specific enough. I thought I did put the topic of Election out there as an example, but perhaps it wasn't clear enough.

If understand the Arminian position rightly, it is that they hold that God did not Choose/Elect individuals for Salvation from Eternity and thus pass by others, for God loves every individual person born into the world and wants them to be eternally saved. My point was that the OT doesn't seem to portray such a picture. Not that I see anyway. In the OT, God chose Israel and passed by the other nations, and then ordered His people to annihilate many tribes of people who worshipped other gods...without mercy. There was no evangelism campaign. In other words...God has mercy on whom He wants to, and He passes by others.
In Leviticus and Deuteronomy God outlines all the evil practices of the Canaanites for which they were being destroyed, including the sacrifice of their children to the Canaanite gods; and in Deuteronomy 9:5 God clearly says that it was not for the righteousness of the Israelites that God is allowing them to occupy the Canaanite lands, but for the wickedness of those nations that God is allowing them to be destroyed. The same applies to the other arguments you have put forward. God destroys the wicked (after giving them a chance to repent), and spares the righteous. That rule applies to the NT as well as the OT, no difference (e.g. Matthew 23:38; Luke 13:35).
 
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