Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Reading Salvation and Sovereignty #4

indexThis is the fourth post as we continue to read in Salvation and Sovereignty, by Ken Keathley, a faculty member at Southeastern Seminary. In the book, Ken introduces, explains and defends the Molinist view of the interaction between God’s sovereignty and human choice in salvation. I am reading chapters 5 to 7 today. Chapter 5 discusses the first “S” of the acronym “ROSES” (the Molinist response to TULIP) with a section on “Sovereign Election,”  chapter 6, “Eternal Life,” which refines “Perseverance of the Saints” and “Singular Redemption” the response to “Limited Atonement.” I found myself again pretty much in agreement with Ken in these three chapters, though I would counter that scriptures quoted may not really be answering exactly the questions we are asking. I would urge you to buy the book (I am reading the Kindle edition) and join the discussion on my Facebook page.

The issue in election is to have a balance between God’s sovereignty and his permission so that one does not make God the author of sin. Though the supralapsarian position talks about God’s permissive will it still makes God the cause of the reprobation of the unbeliever. Keathley maintains that the infralapsarian position is inconsistent logically. He proposes that the solution is to see election based on God’s knowledge rather than decree. That is God knew that the Fall would happen by human free will, yet still created the universe as it is. Now God elects from humans his people who will respond to him. The only issue I would have is that it still seems to leave God in the position of knowing what it would take to save someone and not doing it.

If God knows that a certain man will freely accept the gospel while that man’s brother freely will not, and yet God decides to create both of them anyway, then this is a mysterious, sovereign, and unconditional determination on the part of God.  154

The distinctive difference between Calvinism and Molinism is that Calvinism sees God accomplishing His will through His omnipotent power while Molinism understands God’s using His omniscient knowledge. 155

The issue of assurance of salvation has two components: 1) How do we know we are genuinely saved and 2) How can we be assured we will continue to be saved. Keathley answers the first question that salvation is based on justification, not sanctification and God declares the believer to be saved. The second question he answers with the “genuineness of salvation” view that the true believer continues to believe. This keeps assurance based on the person of Christ and encourages growth in sanctification. This avoids the excesses of “once saved always saved “ position.

A variant of the Evidence-of-Genuineness view: This position has four points: (1) the only basis for assurance is the objective work of Christ; (2) assurance is the essence of saving faith; (3) saving faith perseveres; and (4) God offers rewards available to the believer subsequent to salvation. 187.

In the end, assurance comes from depending on Christ alone. 190

The S in ROSES stands for singular redemption. Limited Atonement is the most rejected element of the TULIP acronym. In fact one can make the case that Calvin himself did not teach it. (actually when I read Calvin’s commentaries I see him contradicting unconditional election and irresistible grace too). The biblical text is full of statements that the scope of Christ’s death for sin was eternal, but the remedy is only applied when responded to in faith.

The singular redemption view, held by moderate Calvinists and Reformed Arminians, agrees with the limited view that Christ paid a propitiatory atonement but argues that this payment was made for all humanity. This view holds that the atonement was unlimited and universal. Christ provided salvation for all, but the benefits of the atonement are applied only to those who believe. 196

Christ provided a particular redemption that is universal in scope. 202 

Keathley concludes…

Two biblical principles come through clearly: certainty and contingency. This, in turn, respectively provides two great motivations: confidence and urgency. We have confidence because of the certainty of God accomplishing His sovereign plan (Rom 9). Human rebellion and wickedness cannot and does not thwart His will. We can have confidence “that He who started a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). At the same time, because of the genuine contingency of events and situations in our lives, we are to conduct our service for the Lord with real urgency. 209

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