This issue has been hotly debated for centuries.
Here is what Paul has to say about it:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” – The Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
I have a simpler mind than Paul, but here’s my version; “When Jesus’ fishermen don’t fish, they fight, but we usually call it a theological debate.’
Paul warned us not to do this over two thousand years ago, but we can’t seem to quit.
Is there any difference between saying, “I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos,” and saying, “I am of Calvin, and I am of Arminius?”
The last time I listened to a debate between Calvinists and Arminianists, I purposed not to take sides, to keep an open mind, and just listen carefully. I could tell they were describing the same thing from different world views, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find a way to solve this problem by using my triangle paradox formula.
I have some new Facebook friends who are Universalists, so I was wondering why the Universalists never get invited to these debates. I know they have just as many bible verses to support their view as the Calvinists and Arminianists.
Then with a three sided debate going on in my head, I imagined this three sided pyramid.
I noticed that both teams were placing extra emphasis on their favorite verses and minimizing or discounting the other teams verses, but the most frustrating thing was when both sides would use the same exact verses with a completely different spin.
Anyway I decided to study this for myself, as you can see by my diagram I placed Calvinism on one side, Arminianism on the second side, and Univeralism on the third side, then I collected all three lists of bible verses, and was determined to give every single verse from each of the lists equal consideration.
Here is what I have so far, if we take predestination and irresistible grace from the Calvinists, add the word ‘all’ to the concept of predestination, then modify the concept of irresistible grace slightly, and call it infinite persistence, then take the concept of man’s free will from the Arminianists, and from the Universalists I would choose a God with a heart like the Prodigal’s father, and the Shepherd that leaves the 99 to find the one lost sheep, A God who will never force or violate anyone’s freewill in any way, but also a God who is a Universalist at heart, that will never ever give up, or settle for a partial victory.
All of this kinda leaves us close to the hopeful Universalists.
I like this Brian Zahnd quote; “Dare we hope, yes, we dare hope, dare we say, no we dare not say.”
For now I intend to hang my hat on the top of the pyramid, while continuing my search for a whole Bible balanced truth; meanwhile I will just say I believe all ‘ISM’s are man made.
I could go on and on, by asking why God resurrects the wicked, about how the wicked are still deceived by Satan, until the books are opened, and the verses about every knee bowing, and every tongue confessing; that I believe God’s Justice is restorative, not punitive, how I believe God is a God of second chances, and that placing hot coals on a person’s head is symbolic for coals of conviction, which is what I think the lake of fire is made of.
But I guess I will just stop right here for now, and say;- – – I am of Jesus.
Next; “The Sovereignty of God vs. the Free Will of Man”