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.


elderchild said...

“Love Not The World”

”For the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one”(I John 5:19)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.” (I John 2:15-17)

“If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:19-20)

“Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

“The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James 4:4)

The “earth and it's life forms” are The Creation of The Only True GOD, Father of ALL! The “worldly” systems are the creation of, and under the dominion of “the god of this world”, he who is “the father of lies”, he who “has blinded the minds of those who believe not The Messiah”! All the nations of this world are under the dominion of, and serve, the evil one for he provides the fuel that feeds mankind’s “imag”ination, and mankind’s “imagination is destroying and perverting Creation(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures, Light, Truth, Life, Love, Peace, Faith, Simplicity, .etc.) ;-(

Once again, the “earth and it's life forms” are The Creation of The Only True GOD, Father of ALL! The current “worldly” systems are the creation of, and under the dominion of “the god of this world”.

Those who “love this world” all serve “the god of this world”, and play their part in the processes that seek to destroy The Creation of The Only True GOD. “And The Only True GOD will destroy them who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:18c)

Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease ,,,etc,,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life”.

The Truth Is Alive in those who have been born of The Spirit for “they no longer love this wicked, evil world and it’s things, nor do they love their own lives in this world”.

They but seek and desire The Will of GOD, their Father and Creator, as they await their final transformation. “Corruptible to Incorruptible" ndeed and Truth!

Now “the ground was cursed for Adam’s sake” because he “hearkened unto the woman”.

Adam listened to a woman rather than obeying The Only True GOD. Yet because of Faithful Noah, The Only True GOD “no longer would curse the ground for man’s sake” because Noah obeyed The Only True GOD! (Genesis 8:21-22)

And the Faithful today are exhorted to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”

Be not of those who deny and defy “The One GOD, Father of All”. Be not of those who are destroying and perverting HIS Creation(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures, Light, Truth, Life, Love, Peace, Hope, Mercy, Faith, .etc.)!

“Set your affections on things above”. Desire heavenly, eternal things. Quit serving ‘time’ in the prison that is this world and take heed unto The Call of "The Only True GOD" to ”Come Out of her, MY people!”

“Come out” from among those who are destroying and perverting Creation and be of those who follow The Messiah on “The Way to The Truth of The Life”.

“Come out” of the worldly systems, which are the product of mankind’s “imag”ination, especially the systems of religion. "Pure religion and undefiled before GOD The Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world." (James 1:27)

Simply, all other religions are impure, defiled and of this wicked, evil world!

Faith will not create a system of religion!

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it's systems of religion, for "the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one" indeed and Truth.......

Truth is never ending.......

Anonymous said...


Kangaroodort is my screne name so I’m the same guy who posted the Picirilli post.

I really don't have time for a long back and forth with you, but I thought I would address a few things.

The main point is that the context does not suggest the limitation you seem to think is required in the contested passages. You often seem to run to other passages where "all" or "world" is being used in order to cast doubt on these passages. Whenever, world or all is limited, that is rather obvious from the context. And that is exactly the point. The contexts of the contested passages do not support any such limitation.

Now you can say that, "Well that is just how they would understand it, and you are just an American, and so import your Americanizations onto the text" etc., etc., but you have not demonstrated that from the context, nor can you.

You wrote,

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.

So general as to include “all men without exception” perhaps?

And here is where you have really missed the point when I said that "all men without distinction" fits nicely into "all men without exception". The point is that if Christ died for all men without exception (as the texts suggest), then surely He died for all men without distinction as well. Correct? So the appeal to "all men without distinction" cannot be used to limit the text since that truth would still be included in "all men without exception." Do you see that? Appeals to "all men without distinction" or "all kinds of men" just don't help you since they do not give you the "some among all" that you want and need.

And let us assume that you claim "some among all" is the proper interp. (though it cannot be shown from context, nor from cultural considerations alone as explained above). How are you using "all" in the phrase "some among all"? Are you not using it in a universal sense? You are saying some men among all men without distinction. But how is that different from saying some men among all men without exception? You don't mean some among some, do you? So you are using “all” universally when you say "some among all". And that is how you are qualifying "all men without distinction" which is a qualification of "all men" in the text. So you are borrowing "all" directly from the text when you say "some among all" and by doing so inadvertently admit the universal use of "all" in the very text you try to limit!

So your little zoologist conversation is inapplicable and demonstrates “confusion” on your part, especially since you start with “all kinds” and try to extend it to “all everywhere”, which is the opposite of what I was saying, “all everywhere” includes “all kinds”- so it would be like a zoologist saying that all marine animals are contained in the ocean, and a Calvinist saying, “you mean all kinds of marine animals are found in the ocean?” and the zoologist, puzzled, responding, “No, I meant all marine animals without exception, but of course that would include every kind as well.”

Now, as for Picirilli, he was looking at the immediate context of the epistle and drawing conclusions based on the way the word is specifically being used there. Especially relevant is the use of “whole world” in 5:19. So the context of the epistle just supports the natural reading of the text that it is “not only us who are believers, but everyone else in the world as well”. But you go jumping to “world” in other contexts and then try to import those contexts into this text where it doesn’t belong. And this is the common and completely unjustified eisegetical error that is so common among Calvinists. And why do they do this? Because the context of the contested passages do not limit all!

So what do you do? Borrow another context from somewhere else and pretend this is a valid hermeneutic. So yeah, Arminians like me are confused. We are confused as to how you think such tactics represent a valid method of interpretation, and we are confused as to how you think such arguments are suppose to be convincing.

My initial point regarding “tribes” was that when Calvinists suggest that tribes who are never reached with the gospel are full of reprobates and chide Arminians for claiming God wants to save all when considering these unreached tribes, that the Calvinist puts himself in the same boat when claiming that such passages mean “all kinds, tribes, groups” etc.

So I agree that we have the “same problem.” That was my point. So how do you solve the “problem”? Do you handle it like an Arminian, or do you abandon the “all tribes” argument? Or do you stop pointing to unreached tribesman as an indictment against Arminian soteriology? The choice is yours.

The Revelation passage poses no problem for Arminianism since it is both true that Christ died for the church and that He died for all. The particular fits in with the universal without any problem. It is just a matter of focus. As far as being “purchased” that is probably only appropriately used of believers since only believers actually benefit from the atonement (1 Tim. 4:10).

Much more could be said, but I am out of time for now. I hope that I have at least cleared up some “confusion”.

God Bless,

Persiflage said...

look, basically we all get that both interpretations for the word "all" are sometimes correct in different contexts

"all" can and often means "every"

"all" can and often means only "every kind"

In the context of different Scripture passages, sometimes the apostle Paul is speaking in terms of Jews and Gentiles, and sometimes he is speaking in terms of man universally.

The hundred dollar question is where in Scripture does it demand that "all" means "every" or that "all" only means "every kind"?

As far as I can tell, the context of different passages demand both meanings from the word "all" in different verses. Some of these verses are talking about Christ's death, the offer of salvation, and the call to repent. Thus, my denial of the idea of Christ's "limited atonement" without necessarily agreeing to the rest of the implications of Arminianism.

John I. said...

The problem identified by kangaroodort / Ben would, I think, come within the type of error called "illegitimate totality transfer", or transfering the total possible meanings of a word into every occurence of that word.

That is, each word (e.g. "all")has a range of meaning (a.k.a. semantic field). However, not every occurence of that word brings with it every meaning that the word may possibly have. A very obvious example would be the English word "grill" which has meanings that include "grill meat", "car grill" and "grill a suspect". To say that a sentence "the detective grilled the thief" includes some sense of cooking meat would be to commit the semantic fallacy of illegitimate totality transfer.

Applying it to the discussion above, it is not enough to establish that the meaning of "all" can included the meaning "all kinds of" as well as the meaning "every single exemplar of". One must establish the appropriate field of meaning in the context. To say that "all" in one book of the Bible means "all kinds of" and then simply import the meaning of "all kinds of" into the use of "all" in a different book of the Bible would be an illegitimate totality transfer--unless of course the meaning "all kinds of" could be established independently from the context of the use of "all" in the second book. And if the latter is the case, then what "all" meant in the first book is irrelevant.

Contra Gentes has not established that, in the context in question, "all" means "all kinds of". On the other hand, Picirilli and Kangaroodort have made a substantial argument that the context of "all" as used in that passage in John does indeed have only the meaning of "every exemplar of" or "exhaustively all", and not the other possible meanings of "all".

John C.T.