A Free Grace Critique of Irresistible Grace -- By: Timothy R. Nichols
CTSJ 11:2 (Fall 2005) p. 52
A Free Grace Critique of Irresistible Grace1
Timothy R. Nichols received his most significant biblical education from his father, Rev. Edd Nichols. He went on to spend three years at Florida Bible College, and completed his B.S. at Southeastern Bible College in 1997. After a brief interlude, Tim continued his education at Chafer Theological Seminary, graduating with a Th.M. in 2004. Tim presently ministers in Hemet, CA, and is an instructor at Chafer Theological Seminary in Orange, CA. His email address is [email protected].
Calvinism has a demonstrated tendency to take an extra step beyond the biblical evidence. The Bible says the unregenerate are unable to please God; Calvinists infer from this that the unregenerate are unable to believe. The biblical evidence shows that believers are selected for glorification and deliverance from Tribulation wrath; Calvinists infer that unbelievers are selected for regeneration. The Scripture says that believers ought to walk worthy of their high calling; Calvinists infer that believers will inevitably do so.
One defense against the Calvinist position is the simple fact that the biblical evidence does not go far enough to support the system fully. Since Scripture is sufficient for both faith and practice, one should not accept a system that has insufficient support from Scripture. Another defense is the argument that the passages adduced to support Calvinism do not say what Calvinists suppose they say. Both of these defenses are essentially negative in character. They do not necessarily prove any position; they are designed only to disprove a Calvinist position. This article will focus on a third type of defense: an affirmative case for a different view, framed in its own—not Calvinist—terms.
As long as Free-Grace theologians continue to frame their position as non-Arminian anti-Calvinism, they will be a step behind. Scripture does not frame its discussion of soteriology in terms of the five points of Calvinism; thus, there is no reason why we ought to, if our presentation is to mirror Scripture. At best, TULIP2 presents Free Grace with a useful foil, a heuristic for communicating where we stand in relation to other beliefs. However, we need to make a positive case as well as a negative case. While TULIP may be a perfect foil for the negative case, there is no reason to prefer it for the positive one.
A Third Position, Not a Mediate Position
The idea of not framing the Free Grace position in terms of Arminianism and Calvinism only makes sense, of course, if the following propositions are true:
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