Yes, Virginia, There Really is a Middle View

Ken Hamrick

Active member
I'm a Centrist --in between two erroneous extremes (Arminianism & Calvinism) whose errors are repugnant to each other, but who each share part of the biblical truth. When fallen men are faced with truth, they have often veered to either side, causing unending division but obscuring the truth in between them. Most of us in the middle just call it Biblicism :)--like the myriad Baptist saints before me who, although not making a name for themselves in theological debates, held to the truths they found affirmed in Scripture regardless of what Calvinists or Arminians thought. I venture to say that there are probably more of us in the middle than there are C's and A's together. But I'm talking about people in the pews and pulpits, and not those in debate forums or seminaries. Like A. W. Tozer, for example, who was a C&MA preacher in the 50's & 60's, famous for his book, The Pursuit of God. Not holding regeneration prior to faith and not identifying with Calvinists, he beautifully wrote of God as being the "master of destinies" and how sinful man will often bow to God, acknowledging Him as God, but while having a crown upon their own head and wanting to master their own destiny.

He was right, of course. God is the Master of destinies and the Bible affirms that election is individual and unconditional. But there are very many of us who hold to that truth who also see--quite clearly--that the Bible affirms that the gospel has both a universal call and a universal warrant that all men can and should repent and would find salvation if they did. For such middlers, unconditional election is not some limiting factor on who or how many may be saved, but is instead, a mysterious correlate to how much labor we are willing to apply to the "fields white with harvest."

One of Calvinism's errors is taking what is literal and treating it as a figure, analogy or metaphor. Spiritual death is a literal condition, and not an analogy to an inanimate body in a grave. Spiritual death is not about being inanimate--it's about being separated from God. "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead." And a spirit without God is dead. There is also the condition of being "dead in sins," in which you are not only spiritually separated from God, but also a dead man walking, as it were, regarding the coming judgment. But neither way of expressing the condition of spiritual death contains within its meaning the idea of being inanimate.

Calvinists tend to object that the Bible says that sinners are deaf and blind, like dead bodies in a way. But if you consider the totality of texts that speak in this way, you can't avoid that the Bible deems men culpable for such inabilities. In other words, they are not blind like Bartimaeus, who wanted with all his heart to see; but rather, they are blind like rebellious children, holding their hands over their eyes so that they might not have to see. It's the same with stopping their ears. And this is confirmed by such things as their running from and hating the light that truly blind men cannot see.

In actuality, we as sinners sit in our dark tombs in "chains of bondage" that only Christ can break. His Spirit bears witness to the truth as it is preached, and if we respond by embracing Him, He will break the chains and pull us out of that place of darkness and death and into His light and love and life. Many will hear the truth, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to that truth. But only some will come. And in every case, it was God alone who decided whether to bring to bear enough gracious influences (internal and external) to bring that man to genuine, repentant faith in Christ, or to not bring to bear that level of influences that He knew would have resulted in successful conversion. It is all according to God's eternal plan, which has as its ultimate goal the glorification of Himself.

Calvinists will balk at how much the will of man is involved in such a scheme, but a fair assessment will acknowledge that the sovereignty of God and the interests of "by grace alone" are preserved. Arminians will balk at not having the so-called freedom to control their own destinies, but they must acknowledge that, in such a scheme, they have far less to balk at than the usual Calvinist scheme. Besides, the demand to control your own destiny is a demand to be equal to God--to be your own God, in effect. Only God is God, and man must bow to that.

So the next time someone here claims that this forum is not for any who disagree with both sides, inform them that the Arminianism & Calvinism Spectrum contains a lot of people in the middle who have a legitimate reason to critically discuss the perceived errors of both--and to do so in this forum.

Ken Hamrick
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
Andrew Fuller stated it well:

"If I find two doctrines affirmed or implied in the Scriptures, which, to my feeble understanding, may seem to clash, I ought not to embrace the one and to reject the other because of their supposed inconsistency; for, on the same ground, another person might embrace that which I reject, and reject that which I embrace, and have equal Scriptural authority for his faith as I have for mine. Yet in this manner many have acted on both sides: some, taking the general precepts and invitations of Scripture for their standard, have rejected the doctrine of discriminating grace; others, taking the declarations of salvation as being a fruit of electing love for their standard, deny that sinners without distinction are called upon to believe for the salvation of their souls. Hence it is that we hear of Calvinistic and Arminian texts; as though these leaders had agreed to divide the Scriptures between them. The truth is, there are but two ways for us to take: one is to reject them both, and the Bible with them, on account of its inconsistencies; the other is to embrace them both, concluding that, as they are both revealed in the Scriptures, they are both true, and both consistent, and that it is owing to the darkness of our understandings that they do not appear so to us."
 

Dizerner

Well-known member
I venture to say that there are probably more of us in the middle than there are C's and A's together

Statistically, this seems very untrue, but we shouldn't go be numbers.

Like A. W. Tozer, for example

No, you can't claim Tozer in your camp. A. W. Tozer clearly rejected Calvinism and aligned with Classical Arminianism, embracing both the need for grace and the freedom to respond:

“Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.”

Calvinists will balk at how much the will of man is involved in such a scheme

No, they won't, they love "compatibilism" and using fake free will language.

Arminians will balk at not having the so-called freedom to control their own destinies, but they must acknowledge that, in such a scheme, they have far less to balk at than the usual Calvinist scheme.

Again not true. Any true Arminian will not allow compatibilism fake free will speech because it denies true actual autonomous freedom.

And in every case, it was God alone who decided

This is determinism with compatibilistic speech, extremely common among Calvinists. Not some special "middle" idea.

Now previously you have claimed that humans are able to perfectly keep the law, this is self-righteous works salvation completely denied by Scripture and incompatible with having a sin nature.

You have not found a "middle" you have taken the worst from both sides and combined them. This is falling into ditches on both sides of the road, not finding a true middle, by denying both true free will and the sin nature simultaneously.

The true middle is to embrace the sin nature and autonomous will simultaneously, as does the language of Scripture.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
So why is a Centrist and a Calvinist any different? I think Ken is talking about Hyper Arminians and Calvinists, when he says they are repugnant because they go to the extremes. So let's say, an Evangelical Calvinist/New Calvinist, is also some kind of a Centrist; right?
 

Dizerner

Well-known member
So why is a Centrist and a Calvinist any different? I think Ken is talking about Hyper Arminians and Calvinists when he says they are repugnant because they go to the extremes. So let's say, an Evangelical Calvinist, is also a Centrist; right?

Ken does not understand what a "centrist" really is.

Ken is just a compatiblist, which most Calvinists already are.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
Yea, it's really exciting to hear the same thing pasted over again.
Would you say that some Arminians are also Centrists then? Most every Arminian I've spoken with have differences with Arminius; right? One of my favorite Arminians to listen in debates says he's a Classical Arminian; but due to some differences, maybe he's closer to Ken...

Are you more a Centrist than Arminius, due to variating from any of his Beliefs?
 
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Ken Hamrick

Active member
So why is a Centrist and a Calvinist any different? I think Ken is talking about Hyper Arminians and Calvinists, when he says they are repugnant because they go to the extremes. So let's say, an Evangelical Calvinist/New Calvinist, is also some kind of a Centrist; right?
I was meaning that the Calvinists and Arminians are repugnant to each other. Of course, the hyper-C's and hyper-A's (open theists) are repugnant to everyone.

Just yesterday, Carbon called me a modified Arminian. So no, a Centrist is not a Calvinist. As the Calvinists point out, the two ends of the spectrum, C & A, are self-contained systems that are either taken as a whole or rejected. And yet... they keep losing members to aberrations such as those calling themselves 4-point Calvinists. So then, if you look at it as a spectrum, I'm in the middle because I only hold to U and a modified T and modified I without the L or the P (eternal security is not POS), and I reject regeneration prior to faith. And as they say, a 3-pointer is no Calvinist.

Also, it's important to note that the Calvinist kind of compatibilism is not a true compatibilism, but is only one-sided. Men are not free to choose against their nature. I'm a true compatibilist because I hold that men can indeed choose against their nature (they just universally refuse to do so).
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
Also, it's important to note that the Calvinist kind of compatibilism is not a true compatibilism, but is only one-sided. Men are not free to choose against their nature. I'm a true compatibilist because I hold that men can indeed choose against their nature (they just universally refuse to do so).
Your last paragraph is probably the most significant. Dizerner will probably argue that you can't draw a distinction between your Compatibilism and mine. I will always be a 5-Point Calvinist though. I think I'll lust Lurk your discussion with Dizerner for a while...
 

Dizerner

Well-known member
Would you say that some Arminians are also Centrists then? Most every Arminian I've spoken with have differences with Arminius; right? One of my favorite Arminians to listen in debates says he's a Classical Arminian; but due to some differences, maybe he's closer to Ken...

Are you more a Centrist than Arminius, due to variating from any of his Beliefs?

There's no "central" between determinism and autonomy anymore than God being both good and evil.

All compatibilitism reduces to determinism in the end.
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I was meaning that the Calvinists and Arminians are repugnant to each other.

According to who?!

Just yesterday, Carbon called me a modified Arminian. So no, a Centrist is not a Calvinist. As the Calvinists point out, the two ends of the spectrum, C & A, are self-contained systems that are either taken as a whole or rejected. And yet... they keep losing members to aberrations such as those calling themselves 4-point Calvinists. So then, if you look at it as a spectrum, I'm in the middle because I only hold to U and a modified T and modified I without the L or the P (eternal security is not POS), and I reject regeneration prior to faith. And as they say, a 3-pointer is no Calvinist.

I see... So you DEFINE Calvinism as "extreme", and go from there.
Doesn't that seem rather arbitrary and self-serving?

And you use the common tactic of giving yourself the positive label, "moderate", and give others who disagree with you the negative label, "extreme". That seems rather arbitrary and self-serving as well.

Why don't we call proponents of "TULIP" as having "complete" doctrine, and those who only hold to "TU" as "INCOMPLETE"?

Yes, that sounds more accurate....
Do you see how you're simply playing stupid word games?

Also, it's important to note that the Calvinist kind of compatibilism is not a true compatibilism,

Of course not.
"Calvinism" = "wrong", right?
Yeah, no bias here...

Who gets to define what "true compatibilism" is?

Men are not free to choose against their nature.

So what?
Why is that relevant to ANYTHING, other than the fact that you disagree with it?

I'm a true compatibilist because I hold that men can indeed choose against their nature (they just universally refuse to do so).

And why do you get to ARBITRARILY proclaim that THAT is needed, in order to be "true compatibilism"?

Arbitrary and self-serving again...
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I'm a Centrist --in between two erroneous extremes (Arminianism & Calvinism) whose errors are repugnant to each other, but who each share part of the biblical truth. When fallen men are faced with truth, they have often veered to either side, causing unending division but obscuring the truth in between them. Most of us in the middle just call it Biblicism :)--

So A's and C's only have "part of the biblical truth", but you are that amazing person (oh so much better than anyone else) who is a "Biblicist", and figured it ALL out.

But I'm talking about people in the pews and pulpits, and not those in debate forums or seminaries.

In my experience, pastors and those in seminaries do a GREAT deal of Bible study, and in superior conditions (eg.dealing directly with the Hebrew and Greek), and those "in the pews in pulpits" quite frequently never read the Bible outside of what they hear taught in church, believe Bible teachings such as, "God helps those who help themselves", or "God loves the sinner but hates the sin". Remember the poll that showed that many Christians deny the deity of Christ.

He was right, of course. God is the Master of destinies and the Bible affirms that election is individual and unconditional. But there are very many of us who hold to that truth who also see--quite clearly--that the Bible affirms that the gospel has both a universal call and a universal warrant that all men can and should repent and would find salvation if they did.

Well, in my 30 years of studying the Bible, nobody has ever been able to show me this "ability" in the Bible. I see the Bible only speaking of INABILITY (John 6:44, Rom. 8:7-8, 1 Cor. 2:14, Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13, Rom. 6:16-22, etc. etc.)

For such middlers, unconditional election is not some limiting factor on who or how many may be saved, but is instead, a mysterious correlate to how much labor we are willing to apply to the "fields white with harvest."

So I should praise Christians (for their "labour" in the "fields") for my salvation, rather than praising God?!

And why should we prefer an unnecessary "mystery", rather than accepting a clear Biblical truth?

One of Calvinism's errors is taking what is literal and treating it as a figure, analogy or metaphor.

I see... So since we disagree with YOU, we are in "error".
The Bible is no longer the standard of truth.
YOU have become the standard of truth?

Spiritual death is a literal condition, and not an analogy to an inanimate body in a grave. Spiritual death is not about being inanimate--it's about being separated from God.

Calvinism doesn't teach that spiritual death means "being inanimate".
Do you know what a "straw-man" argument is?

If you don't know what Calvinism teaches (and clearly you don't), then maybe you should't be so quick to condemn it?

Calvinists tend to object that the Bible says that sinners are deaf and blind, like dead bodies in a way.

Calvinists don't "object" to that at all!
Again, you demonstrate that you have no clue what Calvinism teaches.

But if you consider the totality of texts that speak in this way, you can't avoid that the Bible deems men culpable for such inabilities.

Again, you don't even understand what Calvinism teaches.
Calvinism teaches we are CERTAINLY culpable, despite our inability.

In other words, they are not blind like Bartimaeus, who wanted with all his heart to see; but rather, they are blind like rebellious children, holding their hands over their eyes so that they might not have to see. It's the same with stopping their ears. And this is confirmed by such things as their running from and hating the light that truly blind men cannot see.

And that's what Calvinism teaches.
So who are you arguing with?!

In actuality, we as sinners sit in our dark tombs in "chains of bondage" that only Christ can break. His Spirit bears witness to the truth as it is preached, and if we respond by embracing Him, He will break the chains and pull us out of that place of darkness and death and into His light and love and life.

"In actuality", none of that is Biblically true. (And I noted that no Scripture verses were "harmed" in your philosophical rationalization, since you didn't use any.)

Many will hear the truth, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to that truth. But only some will come.

That's because only some are drawn by the Father.
When unregenerated people hear the truth, they react as you wrote above, "running from and hating the light that truly blind men cannot see".

And in every case, it was God alone who decided whether to bring to bear enough gracious influences (internal and external) to bring that man to genuine, repentant faith in Christ,

Yet it is GOD who must give us that faith.
And GOD who must give us that repentance.

Calvinists will balk at how much the will of man is involved in such a scheme, but a fair assessment will acknowledge that the sovereignty of God and the interests of "by grace alone" are preserved.

I don't care if you invent a false theology that you think is consistent with "grace alone".
Your theology needs to be BIBLICAL. And so far, I haven't seen you bring up ONE single verse to support all your false claims.

So the next time someone here claims that this forum is not for any who disagree with both sides, inform them that the Arminianism & Calvinism Spectrum contains a lot of people in the middle who have a legitimate reason to critically discuss the perceived errors of both--and to do so in this forum.

When you say it can't be only "A" or "C" and that there's a "spectrum" in the middle, why am I suddenly reminded of people who claim there's not only "male" and "female", but an entire "spectrum" in the middle?
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
Andrew Fuller stated it well:

"If I find two doctrines affirmed or implied in the Scriptures, which, to my feeble understanding, may seem to clash, I ought not to embrace the one and to reject the other because of their supposed inconsistency; for, on the same ground, another person might embrace that which I reject, and reject that which I embrace, and have equal Scriptural authority for his faith as I have for mine.

That's a good quote.
But it is misapplied, IMO.

I don't see libertarian free will "affirmed or implied in the Scriptures".
I don't see universal prevenient grace "affirmed or implied in the Scriptures".
I don't see command implies ability "affirmed or implied in the Scriptures".
I don't see conditional election "affirmed or implied in the Scriptures".
I don't see unlimited atonement "affirmed or implied in the Scriptures".
I don't see resistible grace "affirmed or implied in the Scriptures".

So there's nothing that "clashes".


Hence it is that we hear of Calvinistic and Arminian texts; as though these leaders had agreed to divide the Scriptures between them.

In my 30 years of experience, Arminianism is not based on Scripture, it's based on rationalization, and inventing a god they WANT Him to be (such as "being fair"), and inventing man the way they WANT him to be ("in control over his destiny").

They will quote half verses, or a phrase, and insert a meaning into it, when a study of the entire passage in context often shows the OPPOSITE meaning.

The truth is, there are but two ways for us to take: one is to reject them both, and the Bible with them, on account of its inconsistencies;

I don't find any "inconsistencies" in the Bible.
Only Calvinism.

the other is to embrace them both, concluding that, as they are both revealed in the Scriptures, they are both true, and both consistent, and that it is owing to the darkness of our understandings that they do not appear so to us."

So let's think about this...

We have one person who studies the entire Bible, and sees it being 100% consistent in teaching ONE theology.

And we have one person who studies the entire Bible, and sees TWO positions, which APPEAR to be inconsistent, but accepts both anyway.

Who do you think has the better understanding of the Bible?
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
There's no "central" between determinism and autonomy anymore than God being both good and evil.

All compatibilitism reduces to determinism in the end.
Calvinist are, most of them, necessitarians. Necessity says that all you do is so determined that there are no real possibilities of doing otherwise--no alternative courses of action are possible. But certainty, as opposed to necessity, says that there are innumerable alternative courses possible--that it is possible for a man to do otherwise, so that he cannot blame God for what he freely chooses to do. The latter is real compatibilism.

Although you may claim that you are not really "free" unless you get to decide things on the same level with God, you cannot establish that it is the purview of men to decide what influences come their way. It is no evil on God's part to decide what influences come to whom, or who will be saved and who will not.

God has a right to create as He chooses. And He chose to permit sin to enter the world... for one reason. The entire reason for all of creation was so that the Son of God could become a man and die a substitutionary death to redeem a people for God. This would not be possible without sin. God is able to carry out His plan without infringing on the free will of men, and still have every decision be in accord with His plan. Every sinful act is responsibly caused by the sinner, while every good act has God's intervention as its source.
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
The ultimate purpose of God in creating is to glorify Himself. To glorify God is to reveal Him as He is. But our finite minds can't comprehend Him in all His greatness. So anything that increases our knowledge of Him or reveals Him more closely or more greatly glorifies Him. We speak of magnifying God, but in this case what is magnified is not made greater than it really is, but simply allows us to better see how great He is. God in His qualities and attributes and personality is so beyond our comprehending that it will take an entire history of all of mankind--all the stories put together and revealed on Judgment Day--to properly glorify God as He is.

This is why sin is part of His plan. Without evil, good would not be understood.
 

Dizerner

Well-known member
This is why sin is part of His plan. Without evil, good would not be understood.

Yep, that's straight up error that puts evil into God's character.

These ideas are deep waters that affect our heart subconsciously in the way it's sinful motivations give an impulse for what we deem should be valued or not, and we never give the right value to God by default. Our sinful nature gravitates towards a hypocritical and self-righteous stand that makes God's "Sovereignty" just an excuse to import our own evil values into him, so we feel better about his allowing victimization, instead of acknowledging that God is the primary value and thus true free will is what values God above our own offense at victimization.

I pray we all come to see the depths of our own hearts deceptions and embrace the truth we naturally dislike.

Peace in Christ.
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
Yep, that's straight up error that puts evil into God's character.

These ideas are deep waters that affect our heart subconsciously in the way it's sinful motivations give an impulse for what we deem should be valued or not, and we never give the right value to God by default. Our sinful nature gravitates towards a hypocritical and self-righteous stand that makes God's "Sovereignty" just an excuse to import our own evil values into him, so we feel better about his allowing victimization, instead of acknowledging that God is the primary value and thus true free will is what values God above our own offense at victimization.

I pray we all come to see the depths of our own hearts deceptions and embrace the truth we naturally dislike.

Peace in Christ.
No it does not put evil into God's character. Obviously, these are truths that you dislike. You're clearly not interested in a reasonable exchange. Consider yourself ignored.
 
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