Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Reading Salvation and Sovereignty #3

indexThis is the third 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 3 and 4 today. Chapter 3 begins the discussion of the acronym “ROSES” (the Molinist response to TULIP) with a section on “Radical Depravity”  and chapter 4, “Overcoming “Grace,” provides a more balanced view than the “I” of Calvinism, “Irresistible Grace.” I found myself pretty much in agreement with Ken in these two chapters. I would urge you to buy the book (I am reading the Kindle edition) and join the discussion on my Facebook page.

“Radical Depravity” proposes a “soft libertarian” view of how depravity affects the human ability to make choices. It rejects determinism in both its “soft” and “hard” expressions but also rejects the “hard libertarianism” of open theism. It makes the person cause of his/her real choices with real alternative possibilities and thus also bear the responsibility for sinful choices. It distinguishes between freedom of responsibility and freedom of integrity (the ability to do the right thing). Even for regenerated people, wrong choices can impair one’s freedom of integrity. People are sinners and in need of God’s grace to restore freedom of integrity and the ability to respond to God but are not bound to  choose sin in any instance. I like this approach because it maintains the biblical picture of the image of God in humanity even while we are all bound in sin.

God created human beings with free moral agency, and He does not violate this even in the supernatural work of regeneration. Christ does not rudely bludgeon His way into the human heart. He does not abrogate our creaturely freedom. No, He beckons and woos, He pleads and pursues, He waits and wins. 94

Concurrence holds that humanity is condemned before God for its sinful unbelief. Humans are ultimately responsible for their moral decisions in a way the other creatures of the earth are not. This is because, as causal agents, they are in a limited, derived way, the originators of their respective choices. This ability is a gift bestowed by God and is a way in which humans reflect the divine image. At certain significant will-setting moments, persons possess the real ability to choose or refrain from choosing. However, even though we retain the freedom of responsibility as causal agents, our choices affect our freedom of integrity. 99

“Overcoming Grace” maintains the balance between salvation being entirely a work of God (monergism) while also maintaining the real need for the believer’s response of faith. It protects the character of a loving God who does not desire that anyone suffer for eternity apart from Him. It proposes an “ambulatory model” of how a sinner comes to faith. Grace is represented as an ambulance taking the injured patient to the hospital. The patient can reject the treatment (and die) but can do nothing to save him/herself. This also removes the objection of faith being a “work.” It also maintains a real universal offer of salvation and is more true to our experience of how people are saved.

The only solution that I can see is to hold that God’s grace is simultaneously monergistic and resistible. This way faith is entirely of God; unbelief is entirely of man…The overcoming grace model does not embrace determinism, but it does hold to monergism. Saving faith is indeed a virtue, but it is a quality and disposition given to us by the Holy Spirit. So the Christian cannot boast because he believes. However, this grace is resistible, so the unbeliever is justly damned for his unbelief. 125

The simplicity of the Calvinist paradigm of irresistible grace is its greatest attraction—and its flaw. It simply does not fit the testimony of Scripture or what we witness occurring in evangelistic work. The overcoming grace model posits that God’s convicting but resistible grace works mightily in every hearer, and therefore this model better accounts for the wide range of responses. 133

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