The nature of faith – Part 1

This is a series outlining my position in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. Sparked by a perusal of Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views from InterVarsity Press, I wanted to take the opportunity to re-assess and articulate my view. More ink has been spilt on this than just about any other theological topic in my lifetime. I do not mean to muddy the waters any more than is necessary, but I think that whatever view one has on this issue belies much of what one believes about God, humanity, creation, and agency.

I have framed my position around the truth of faith. I will make my introduction to the series and my first post about what I consider to be at stake in this debate and discussion, connected to the chief virtue of those who fear God: faith. I will make a tentative list of what is at stake and add to it or modify as I work through my argument. These are paramount issues; I was going to make a rhetorical point about the orthodox doctrines of Christianity and the other positions a believer might take according to a certain theology, but really, faith is at the heart of Christianity. These are the things I consider to be most at stake in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, from most broad to most specific:

  • What is God’s message to humanity through the Scriptures? Why does the Bible exist?
  • How are we to understand God’s commands to us, contained in the Law or given through His word? What obligation are we under? What is obedience to God’s command (particularly relevant are warnings which come through God’s prophets and apostles)? How are we to understand conditional statements made by God? Further, what are we to understand as our options in response to God’s commands? The garden of Eden situation will be my paradigm.
  • Why are all not saved from death?
  • Why do some believe God and live?

So you see, faith is at the heart of the discussion.

My argument will contain mainly exegetical propositions. I will appeal to the Scripture, though my proposition is my own. I submit my arguments here for correction and refinement from other readers. Full disclosure, this treatment will also serve as my entree onto what I consider to be my contribution to orthodox doctrine and theology: a theology of person, undergirded by a rhetoric of threat. My main point will be to argue how faith, life, and the relationship to and pursuit of God cannot be reduced to impersonal formulas of cause and effect (once saved, always saved) nor can these be seen in any way to dim the glory of God or steal His prerogative (God helps those who help themselves).