Etikettarkiv | beza

Why do calvinists erroneously call all Free-willers ARMINIANS?

All arminians are free-willers, but not all free-willers are arminians

Calvinists often reveal that they have studied too much calvinism and too little from non-calvinists, by making the mistake to automatically call us arminians as soon as we tell them that we are not calvinists (and the next step is to call us semi-pelagians). Since there may be issues within arminianism (which some people call ”calvinism light”) that we disagree with, it’s wrong to automatically assume that we are arminians – because that would be like ascribing views to us that we may not have.  It’s wrong to make a person who believes in synergism an arminian by default. Strangely enough, some calvinists are reluctant to rephrase themselves even when corrected!

I still remember the first time I heard the phrase ”arminian” (it’s a word not found in the Bible), and it was the first time someone assured me that I was one! (Funny to be an arminian your whole life without even knowing it…) I had not heard of James Arminius (1560-1609) either, and compared with all the books that I’d like to read, I feel no motivation to study up on what this particular person believed and to check whether I agree with him or not. I know loads of christians in real life and online, but I only know a couple who call themselves arminians.  This tells me that arminians are very rare. There are no arminians in Sweden which I’m aware of, but I can certainly see that people constantly make free will choices in the Bible and often act against the will of God, so it’s not hard to find the concept of free will.

I can understand if people would like to call themselves calvinists if they agree with John Calvin and also believe that he was first with his doctrines/theology (even if they don’t necessarily agree with everything he taught). Calvin was the one who started calvinism, even if he got many of his ideas from Augustine. It’s also a good way to show one’s basic principles by saying one single word ”calvinist”. Calling oneself an arminian on the other hand, doesn’t make much sense if you have the same views as people who lived several hundred years before he did. (I do respect those who prefer to call themselvesarminians” – maybe for the sake of convenience when having dialogues with calvinists, or for other reasons.)

ALL the early church fathers  the first 300 years AD believed in free will without exception (see quotes here) and none of them taught that man was born with a sinful nature. This means that Mr Arminius was hardly the first person with his theology views, and it would make more sense to call oneself  after Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, Origen, or some other church father who lived shortly after the death of Jesus.  The disadvantage with calling oneself after a person, is that you are then expected to study the views of this person, in case someone asks you why you call yourself the way you do. If your claim is ”I call myself an irenaeusian, because I believe in free will just like he did”, then the follow-up question is why you don’t call yourself after another theologian who also believes the same. This places an unnecessary burden on you to be forced to study books outside the Bible, and it takes valuable time from Bible reading. It’s of great value to study the views from the early church fathers (or reading books from other authors) and it’s sometimes I can recommend, but it’s wrong to make it a requirement.  I personally feel no obligation to study up on what arminians believe due to the expectations from others. 

If I have an uncle who believes in free will, would it make sense to call myself after him, instead of a person who lived in the end of the 1500’s? If I lived prior to the year 1590 (when James Arminius was 30 years old and still sided with the calvininist Theodore Beza) what would I call myself?

If a person doesn’t side with Mr Brown, does it follow that he absolutely HAS TO side with Mr Green? It’s one or the other and no other options?  Let’s say that in the future a Mr White becomes a well-known christian and a man who believes in free will and who also writes famous books about it. Must I know change labels and call myself after HIM? I’m not against the idea to label oneself after a person per se, if the views in question originated with him.   

The Synod of Dort

The synod of Dort was a Dutch regional conference (with a political context) which plays a big role for calvinists, but christians believed in free will long before this local meeting as well as afterwards. This synod was not a council of the Protestant churches of Europe, but a Dutch national synod to which some Reformed theologians were invited from various parts of Europe.  It was not a free assembly for the discussion of the Bible, but a national ecclesiastical court for the trial of alleged heretics. Theodore Beza was John Calvin’s direct successor and he sent his disciple Arminius to Holland in 1589 to put down the arguments against his theology views. Beza believed that if God was absolutely sovereign and man helpless in sin and that men are saved/damned by predestination, then it followed that God causes men to sin just as he causes men to be saved. This position existed also in various degrees in Augustine and Calvin’s theology. The opponents argued that if God causes sin then God is in point of fact the author of sin. Arminius changed his position (against Beza) when starting to research the topic deeper and comparing with the Bible.

Whenever Arminius was given a chance to publicly defend his theology, his sound scholarship won the argument and nobody wanted to publicly debate against him. Nobody suggested that the Remonstrants mishandled Scripture but only that they failed to use Scripture to defend a predetermined position. Ironically nearly all of those who opposed Arminius wanted him to quit preaching the Bible as the final authority, because they felt such a message undermined their own authority. To settle this, Arminius sought after a synod to publicly debate and settle the theological and political rift that had occurred in Holland about these issues but he was denied a synod during his lifetime. Instead a synod was made after his death under conditions all together different from what he and his followers expected.  Free debate was denied and the Remonstrants were treated as criminals. They were present only as defenders, and the calvinists were the accusers, and never the other way around. Four days after the Synod’s closure, those same leaders beheaded Johan van Oldenbarnevelt for the crime of general perturbation (treason) for his support of the Remonstrants. About the synod we can read:

“Whosoever casts his eye over the list of the foreign divines that composed this last of Protestant councils will find scarcely one man who had not distinguished himself by his decided opposition to the doctrine of conditional predestination, and who was not consequently disqualified from acting the part of an impartial judge of the existing religious differences, or that of a peace-maker.”

William Birch: ”Arminianism was condemned at the Synod of Dort (1618-19). And what of it? A group of supralapsarian Calvinists joined theological and political forces, calling on foreign political allies, to ruin the reputation, ministry, and systematic theology of some theologians who disagreed with their doctrines on soteriology. And this local phenomenon is supposed to carry weight in thwarting Arminianism? History itself is a witness to the sham of an operation under which the Calvinists instigated the hearings of the Synod of Dort.”

Read more about the unfair and horrible events concerning the Synod of Dort and the aftermath here

Annonser

Examples of KJV verses which could be better translated

The Bible only perfect in English?

I certainly couldnt be a ”KJV-onlyist” because I prefer to read the Bible in my own tongue which is Swedish.

If the KJV was ”perfect” then you would never have to go back to the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic at any time for references and to get a more clear view, because the KJV is supposed to stand on its own legs and fully able to solve all queries. Nevertheless also KJV-onlyists sometimes go back to the Greek when they want to see the more ”original” meaning of a passage, and this is evidence in itself that KJV is inferior to the original languages and and not ”perfect”. Sometimes it’s hard also for native English speakers to understand some of the words in the King James Bible. They may have to look up the meaning of words and some words have changed meanings over the years. If the KJV was ”perfect”, the language used should always be up to date, but this is an impossible demand for any Bible translation.

Some suggest that people who don’t have English as their native tongue could still use their own Bible version of ”Textus Receptus”, and be a ”onlyist” when it comes to this particular version, but not all languages have this type of translation. Since the year 2003, there is a Swedish translation (”Reformationsbibeln”) rather close to the ”KJV” because Textus Receptus is used as a source (or the main source), but only the New Testament is translated. Besides, I’ve seen examples of errors in this translation, like adding question marks where there are none in the original Greek. Neither can we conclude that ”the very first Bible translation” from the original language to another language is the superior one for that language. This simply isn’t always the case.

Why would God select the King James Bible of all versions to be supernaturally preserved? Because he likes English speakers the best? If KJV was superior over all other versions, then all those who are not English native speakers would have to sit down by the feet of those who are, to learn the ”real” truth. As soon as there is a difference of opinions concerning a Bible passage, then the person who is a native English speaker could claim to be more accurate since he is basing his understanding on the KJV.

There are many examples of where a particular expression can be better captured in Spanish, Swedish, or some other language, rather than in English. (In other cases it might be the other way around.) It makes better sense if it’s the original Greek, Hebrew and Arameic which should correct us and not a secondary translation. As soon as you translate a sentence from one language to another, there is always a risk that the perfect nuance of the original language gets lost.

Anyway, here are some examples where KJV has an inferior translation than other versions in English. (Note, that I still feel the KJV is the best translation overall in English.)

Titus 2:13 Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;
The New American Standard Bible 

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  
The King James Version 

In the NASB ”our great God and Savior” refers to one person, Jesus Christ Himself. This makes the deity of Christ clear, by calling Him ”our great God.” The KJV opens up for the possibility that ”the great God” and ”our Saviour Jesus Christ” may refer to two distinct persons.

Romans 9:5 
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!
The New International Version 

Romans 9:5 
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.
The King James Version 

Whereas the NIV proclaims that Christ ”is God over all,” the KJV avoids this claim to Christ’s deity, stating only that Christ is ”over all.”

John 5:18 
For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
The New American Standard Bible

John 5:18 
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 
The King James Version

The deity of Christ is better shown in the NASB, because only Jesus had a completely unique relationship with God, where God is His ”own” Father. God was no one else’s Father in this unique way. If we all had God as our Father in this unique way, then we would also be making ourselves equal to God.

Matthew 26:63-64 
But Jesus remained silent.  The high priest said to him, ”I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  64 ”Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
The New International Version 

Matthew 26:63-64 
But Jesus held his peace.  And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.  64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said.
The King James Version

The NIV makes it clear that Jesus’ response to the high priest, literally ”you say,” is a Greek idiom meaning ”yes, it is as you say,” (i.e. ”what you have said is true”).  Therefore, Jesus’ response is an indication of that He claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God. The KJV, fails to translate this idiom into its full meaning for modern readers, and consequently leaves doubt as to whether Jesus actually claimed to be the Son of God.

Revelation 1:8 
”I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God . . .
The New American Standard Bible

Revelation 1:8 
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord . . .
The King James Version

The KJV omits the word ”God” (Greek theos), supplying instead only the word ”Lord,” which by itself does not necessarily denote deity.

Hebrews 1:3 
And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;
The New American Standard Bible

Hebrews 1:3 
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;  
The King James Version

The NASB makes it clear that the nature of Jesus is precisely identical to the nature of God Himself (”the exact representation of His nature”). The KJV diminishes this expression to merely the ”image” of God.  Given that all human beings are said elsewhere to be made in the image of God (Genesis 2), it becomes difficult to establish from the KJV rendering of this passage anything more than the humanity of Jesus.

Another evidence that the KJV is not ”perfect” is the below verse.

Hebr. 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 

The word IF is not in the Greek in verse 6!

Yet, this word is what many theologians base their understanding of when it comes to this verse. Consider what Adam Clarke wrote about this and the aorist tense:

”And having fallen away” I can express my own mind on this translation nearly in the words of Dr. Macknight: ‘The participles who were enlightened, have tasted, and were made partakers, being aorists, are properly rendered by our translators in the past time; wherefore parapesontas, being an aorist, ought likewise to have been translated in the past time, ”HAVE fallen away”. Never­theless, our translators, following Beza, who with­out any authority from ancient MSS. has inserted in his version the word ”if” have rendered this clause, IF they fall away, that this text might not appear to contradict the doctrine of the perse­verance of the saints. But as no translator should take upon him to add to or alter the Scriptures, for the sake of any favourite doctrine, I have trans­lated parapesontas in the past time, ”have fallen away” according to the true import of the word, as standing in connection with the other aorists in the preceding verses.

(Theodore Beza is John Calvin’s successor.) Young’s literal translation reads:

”And having fallen away, again to renew them to reformation, having crucified again to themselves the Son of God, and exposed to public shame” (v. 6).

More articles concerning errors in the KJV can be read here and here.