1. Historically, Calvinism has upheld the free offer of the gospel. So both Calvinism and Arminianism would have God visiting every house, as it were. But this analogy does reveal a different asymmetry between C and A, which is that God doesn't actually visit every house at all. Plenty of people never hear the gospel. That seems problematic under A, since God wants to save everyone, and certainly could have arranged it so everyone at least got a visit. But under C, there is no need for God to visit those whom he has not elected.Before addressing these questions I need to point out that my goal in the post was not a defence of Arminianism in general but rather a refutation, by use of analogy, of the false claim that Arminians save themselves. Arminians never claim to save themselves, they say that salvation is a gift, and they differ from Calvinists by saying that man is able to refuse the gift of salvation. This position is logical, that is internally coherent. It also seems to Arminians to be Biblical.
2. One very serious philosophical question Arminians need to give account for is why Christians choose faith while others don't. There seems to be a trilemma here. It can't be (i) because God gives Christians more grace than others, because we know God wants to save everyone equally. It can't be (ii) that Christians are just naturally better somehow than other people, because then we could boast in our salvation (it also seems to collapse into the same problem as [i], since God makes us the way we are). And it can't be (iii) that there is some external influence unrelated to either our choosing or God's grace, since that would basically make faith a matter of luck, or something else unrelated to the actual mechanics of salvation.
3. On the theological side, I don't see how Arminians can remain Arminians in light of John 6:44-45: "No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who hears from the Father and learns comes to me."
The logic of the passage reveals 3 propositions:
i. No one comes to Jesus unless drawn by the Father
ii. Everyone drawn by the Father comes to Jesus
iii. Everyone who comes to Jesus is raised up on the last day
Now, (i) and (iii) are consistent with Arminianism, since you can just say that the set of people in (iii) is a subset of the universal set in (i). But (ii) makes it clear the sets are actually identical. So Arminianism in conjunction with (ii) entails universalism. If God draws everyone, then Jesus raises up everyone on the last day. The context of the passage precludes universalism, however, because Jesus is clearly talking about people who come to him in this life...which demonstrably not everyone does. So the only way to read this passage is that the Father draws only those who come to Jesus, and no one else. But... that's Calvinism!
As to my takes on various aspects that relate to Calvinism and Arminianism; these can be found under my labels of determinism and freewill.
Addressing Bnonn's questions.
1. If we extend the analogy and say that God does not visit every household the analogy still works; the point is one can still reject the offer of his gate being fixed.
But I did not equate the visit to every house with the preaching of the gospel but with God's desire to save. Thus the Calvinist position that if God desires someone to be saved he will be amongst the elect (some houses); and the Arminian position that God desires all men to be saved (every house), regardless of whether they hear the gospel.
As to my position on salvation, it is about who we follow. Christianity is a centred set, not a bounded set.
2. As I have said elsewhere I don't think there is an answer to why some people choose faith and others do not, beyond our capacity to make choices. We choose because we have a nature that can choose. Yes other things sway us, but we make decisions based on the fact we are agents that can do such things.
Say I have 2 options, one that brings a degree of pleasure, and I desire it, but it does not please God. The other option would please God but I don't desire it. Do I subvert my desire to my will, or do I suppress my conscience for the sake of pleasure?
Our desires compete between long term pleasure and short term pleasure. Sin and righteousness. Yielding to temptation depends on degree of perceived pleasure, previous yielding, our resistance, our requests to God to help us, tiredness, knowledge of consequences, past experiences. All these feed into our decision to obey God, or not. But because men love wickedness, many choose to reject God.
What is it specifically within our spirit that means 2 men with similar inputs choose opposite paths? I see nothing deeper than our will. Our choice to obey righteousness or wickedness. Nothing compels us. Ultimately one person chooses one way and one person the other because they do. Do they decide to love righteousness more than wickedness? This ability to choose is part of the imago Dei in us. In the same kind of way that God can make free, non-necessary choices, so can we. God can create, or not create. And he could have created a variety of worlds, all of which are good. This freedom that exists within God he imparts to us.
Bnonn's trilemma does not pose significant difficulties. He says the reason Christians have faith and others do not cannot be (from an Arminian perspective)
- because God gives Christians more grace than others, because we know God wants to save everyone equally;
- that Christians are just naturally better somehow than other people, because then we could boast in our salvation; or
- that there is some external influence unrelated to either our choosing or God's grace, since that would basically make faith a matter of luck, or something else unrelated to the actual mechanics of salvation.
Though the crux of the issue is 1. The unstated assumption is that God can increase the amount of grace to a level which will ensure salvation for each person. My position is that the amount of grace given by God is qualitatively different to our choice to follow God or resist him. The nature of love (and the grace by which it comes) is such that no amount of it can prevent the possibility of resistance.
3. I am familiar with the Calvinist approach to John 6. One Arminian response is to deny ii.
Everyone drawn by the Father comes to JesusI am not certain that John 6 insists on this. John 6 is saying that one cannot come to Jesus of his own accord, that the Father must draw him. But an Arminian would argue that such drawing is still resistible.
Yet there is another possible understanding of John 6. It is not so much saying that the Father will draw specific people to Jesus a la Calvinism, rather that the Father will draw those who are his people to his son Jesus. In my post on John 6 I wrote,
those who recognise who Jesus is do so because they already know the Father. If they do not recognise Jesus, they do not really know the Father. They may know the story about the manna in the desert, but this story points to Jesus; if they really know the Father who sent manna they will see the true manna.