Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kicking and Screaming into the Kingdom of God: His Irresistible Grace

One remark that I often hear from Arminians when they criticize (their caricature of) Calvinism is that God "doesn't force anyone into the kingdom." I have heard it asserted over and over again throughout my thirty-some years as a Calvinist. Yet, I have never heard even one of those theologizers refer to a Scripture in support of that statement.

I would suggest, on the contrary, that Scripture explicitly states the opposite. Consider the prophecies of Hosea 11:1-4 (emphasis added):

"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
     and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
     the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
     and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
     I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
     I led them with cords of kindness,with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
     and I bent down to them and fed them."

There is a progression here: Jehovah deals with Israel in a cajoling voice, like a mother encouraging her toddler to eat (an anthropomorphism; I certainly do not believe that God is in any way impotent in dealing with us). Yet, Israel continues his devotion to idolatry. In contrast, while Israel is faithless, God continues faithful (II Timothy 2:13). So, what does He do? He draws them (and us, as well) with "cords of kindness" and "bands of love." Those words represent force, but not aggression, not violence. It is out of love and kindness that He curbs our penchant for idolatry and all sin, and draws us - unfailingly - to Himself (John 6:44).

Here is the Word of God on the matter, not the self-serving speculations of the Arminian. To my mind, that settles the argument.

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