Saturday, February 14, 2009

Confused Arminians

Well, I noticed this comment under one of my posts just a week or two ago and decided not to respond to it since had been awhile since Ben posted it. I thought that he probably wouldn't return since it had been so long.

Then I saw that one of Ben's fellow bloggers posted on the same verse, here. So, I thought that I'd respond first to Ben's comment and then give a brief response to kangaroodort's post:


arminianperspectives said:
"So you do not believe that there were ever any "tribes" or "people groups" that existed and eventually ceased to exist that were not reached with the gospel?"

You're importing your 21st century American definition of "tribe" or "people groups" into the 1st century term "tribe." The 1st century term was more general than that.

Also, you have the same problem since the text (Revelation 5:9-10) states: "...and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

The "them" who have been made "a kingdom and priests to our God" and who "shall reign on the earth" are the same group that Christ has ransomed for God in verse 9. To say that they are not coterminous would require you to insert the term "some of" before the "them" in verse 10.

If you decide that the "people for God" (v.9) is not every single last human being, then you too are forced to admit that not all tribes (assuming your 21st century definition) are in view here since some were destroyed before the gospel reached them.

arminianperspectives said:
"And do you not see how much further you are forced to qualify "all" and "world" here?"

I don't have to qualify the term "all" or "world." That simply IS what they meant in their historical contexts. You, however, are reading your 21st century American cultural assumptions into a 1st century Jewish context.

arminianperspectives said:
"So when Scripture says that God desires all men to be saved it is really saying "God desires some men to be saved from among all people groups at some point in history.""

The term "all" must be interpreted in light of its immediate context. No, I don't give that interpretation every time I see the word, "all," especially in the case of 2 Peter 3:9 (which I don't want to get into here). But in the other contexts, you are again confounding quality and quantity. (More on that below.)

arminianperspectives said:
"All men without distinction fits nicely with all men without exception so you must further qualify "all" to "some"."

Let me illustrate:

Zoologist: "Look Dr. Peterson, every kind of bird can be found in that tree!"
Peterson: "Yes, isn't that amazing?!"
[An Arminian walks up to them.]
Arminian: "Well, since every single last bird fits into every kind of bird, then you must mean that every single last bird is up in that tree."
Zoologist: "Um...what?"
Peterson: "No, sir, you don't understand. We don't mean that every single last bird is up there but only that there are some from every category of bird that are up in the tree."
Arminian: "Ah ha! Now you have to qualify the term "all." But that's not what all means since all means all all the time. What you should have said is, 'Some of every kind of bird are in the tree.'"
Zoologist: "No. But that would mean that not one of every kind of bird could be found in this tree. But as you can see, there is one crow, one peacock, one raven, one bluebird, one..."
Arminian: "But that's not what 'all' means!!!!!!!!!!!"
Peterson: "Why does this man just not get it?"
Zoologist: "He must be an Arminian..."
Peterson: "Oh."


Now, I will move on to kangaroodort's post. He quotes one, Robert Picirilli:

"Instead, they mean that God wills for the elect among all peoples and classes and ethnic groups in society be saved: God loves and saves the elect whether Jew or Gentile, whether in one nation or another, whether rich or poor, old or young.I think that such attempts fail to grapple seriously with those verses, and in conclusion I want to emphasize 1 Jn. 2:2.1 John 2:2, “This verse is one good example of the final reason, above, for universal atonement: “And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”What does John mean by “world”? He uses this word 23 times in this short letter, consistently indicating the very opposite of the people of God. Consider 2:15-17; 3:1, 13; 4:1-5; 5:4,5, 19. The people of God and “the world” are two different peoples, hostile to each other. Surely John uses “world” in 2:2 in the same way, and not as a reference to the rest of the elect in the world.The other places in this letter where “we” or “us” stands in comparison to “the world,” as here in 2:2, also make this clear. There are four such places: 3:1; 4:5,6; 5:4,5; and 5:19: “We are of God, and the whole world lies in the evil one.” This seals the point beyond argument. “We” and “the world” are two different realms. But we must not be proud: Jesus died not only for us, but for those who hate us, not only for us but for those who are in the grip of the evil one. Not only for us, but for the wicked world that has rejected Him."

Well, Picirilli starts off well, but still fumbles the ball in the same place that Arminians do quite frequently, by confusing quality and quantity (or by trying to have the term mean both referents at the same time).

Picirilli is correct that in John, the term "world" frequently refers to the world-system or people characterized by that world-system opposed to God (in terms of worldview), and this term can vary with a few nuances. [Of course, the term 'world' does not always have that meaning (e.g. John 21:25 where it refers to the space on the earth between the surface and outer space). I would assert that 1 John 2:2 has the same meaning as its parallel in John 11:51-52 which would make 'world' in 1 John 2:2 refer to some from every people group.]

The problem comes when he tries to make 'world' refer to *everyone in* that world system. For example, how can such a definition reconcile 1 John 2:15 with the Sermon on the Mount?

Or what does John 1:10 mean? Every single last person did not know Jesus?! That obviously contradicts John 1:12.

No, the Arminian is committing basic logical fallacies in order to come up with his proof texts.