Apollos or Paul?


Realizing I’m setting myself to take shots from both sides, I nevertheless have to say, I think the Calvinist/Arminian argument is silly, maybe even harmful. It corresponds to the first century argument Paul quashed in I Corinthians 3. I am of Apollos, some said. I’m of Paul, came the reply. Who cares? Paul cried. He shot down the divisive cliquishness, stating clearly that God causes growth, no matter who plants and who waters.

So I look at today’s “Protestant debates” in much the same light. Who cares if Calvin is strong on predestination. The key is, What does the Bible have to say about predestination? Who cares if Arminius was strong on God’s foreknowledge of man’s choices. The key is, What does the Bible have to say about God’s foreknowledge and man’s choices?

Since it is God who is over all, how much more important is it for us to look at the whole counsel of Scripture and accept what He says, even when some statements seem in contradiction.

Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd and the Spotless Lamb, who is the Door and the Way, the Suffering Servant and the Reigning King seems to have no trouble with contradictions. Why then, must we?

Both Calvinists and Arminians can quote appropriate proof texts from the Bible. Many of them. Why, then, doesn’t it seem plausible God intended it that way? That He not only foreknew man’s choices but predestined the outcome, that salvation is through faith a person must confess and by election—the exercise of God’s will?

There are a few places where the two sides of the coin show themselves together. One is John 3:18.

He who believes [man’s choice] in Him is not judged; he who does not believe [man’s choice] has heen judged already, [predestination] because he has not believed [man’s choice] in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Here’s another one from John 6:44.

No one can come to Me [man’s choice] unless the Father who sent Me draws him [God’s election]

Or this from I Peter 2:8.

“A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word [man’s choice] and to this doom they were also appointed [God’s appointment].

How about this from Matthew 22.

For many are called [with the implication they must answer the call or reject it—see the preceding parable] but few are chosen [God’s sovereign decision]. (v. 14)

Then there’s Romans 8:29-30.

For whom he foreknew, he also predestined … and these whom He predestined, He also called…

I could list out many more, and some better, if I had the time to search through my notes. Of course there are clear verses that seem to support one position, such as Luke 13:33 (for free will):

How often I [Jesus] wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it.

And Romans 9:11-13 (for predestination):

for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, … “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Mind you, I know neither side will be convinced by anything I say. Calvin’s system has a way to explain all the verses the Araminians use, and the Araminians have answers to all the verses the Calvinists use. Undoubtedly they both have a way of interpreting the verses that contain both parts of the “free will”/predestination arguments.

But I stand with Paul:

For when one says, “I am of [Calvin]”; and another, “I am of [Arminius],” are you not mere men? What then is [Arminius]? And what is [Calvin]? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one … So then neither … is anything, but God who causes the growth …

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