Most difficult of the 5 points?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by ColdSilverMoon, Mar 27, 2008.

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  1. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    When talking with non-Calvinists (Arminians, or whatever you prefer to call them), what do you find is the most difficult of the 5 points for them to accept? I find most solid Baptists and Methodists agree with total depravity and to a certain extent perseverance of the saints. But the other 3 points tend to be much harder. The one that seems to turn off most non-Calvinists is limited atonement. Most people like to believe God died for "everyone" rather than the elect.

    I'm interested to hear what others of you have found to be the biggest stumbling block to other people accepting the 5 points...
  2. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    No question in my mind the most difficult is Limited Atonement, then irresistible Grace .

    On the other hand the easiest would be Total Depravity I would think.
  3. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll


    Particular atonement was the one I had most difficulty with. G .I . Williamson in the Confession of Faith Study Guide helped me the most at the time I needed work through it.

    Surprisingly I had no problem with any of the other four.
  4. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Hi CSM,
    L - is the point least accepted. The main reason it is not understood is that in reality the person who resists does not really understand the T- total depravity.
    If you question them you find that they do not believe Adam died in the fall.They think he was slightly wounded, believing the lie of Satan, thou shall not die. God said dying thou shall surely die.
    Natural men cannot understand divine truth savingly 1Cor2.
    Proud spirited religious men, or immature believer's who will not come humbly to the word of God will not see the necessity of a definate atonement as they will trumpet the full ability of Adam to save himself by his own ability.:book2:
  5. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    They seem to and should reject the first four equally as they are neccessarily logically wound together. I find those who mostly agree to the doctrines struggle with atonement in favor of an Amyraldian slant. And of course almost no one has a problem with having the will that was free not being free anymore and bound to Christ in perseverance.
  6. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    How many words are their for Limited Atonement?

    C'mon Tupip and Tudip do not make any sense!!! :smug:
  7. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    Limited Atonement was the hardest one for me too.

    I come from a Baptist background and I'd agree; T. and P. were the easiest, since I already believed them. :)
  8. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

  9. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I have a different take on this. Limited atonement is supposedly the most difficult of the five points to accept. Actually it is the entire five points itself! None of the five points exists independently. They are symbiotic. Reject one and by default you are rejecting the others.
  10. Timothy William

    Timothy William Puritan Board Junior

    I accepted the last 3 points (having previously accepted the first two, and part of the fourth) about 5 years ago. Actually it was Perseverance of the Saints that I had real difficulty with. I had previously been a strong denier of Once Saved Always Saved, yet I had had problems with agreeing to Universal Atonement, and while I didn't derive Limited Atonement for myself, as soon as I heard the concept I accepted it fairly quickly.
  11. Justified!

    Justified! Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed, at least that is what I have found.
  12. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member


    I have found the most difficult is irresistible Grace. It seems to be so ingrained in the mind of the modern church that Jesus is some wimp in the distance, calling people with a still small voice. They believe that Jesus is a disappointed God because the wills of His created people are to strong for Him to overcome.

    "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling..." but most believe that their is only one call, the gospel call. They could never conceive of a call with power!
  13. danmpem

    danmpem Puritan Board Junior

    While I agree with you for the most part, I also think about people like Bunyan and Ryle who did not affirm L.M., but were highly God-centered in their theology. The question of L.M. is a fairly new one, compared to the other four points anyway. From what I understand of it, there is evidence that Calvin would have defended L.M. if asked about it, but he never explicitly wrote on the topic.
  14. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    You make a really good point. And I agree with Iconoclast as well: if you really believe the doctrine of total depravity, the rest naturally follow philosophically. If we are truly DEAD in our sins, then only irresistible grace will save us, and He only gives that grace to the elect, etc.
  15. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    I agree with you 100%, Bill. Generally speaking the claim is that L is the hardest, but then when you look at it carefully, if L is rejected, it's usually because they don't really believe T, and if they don't really believe T, then they don't really believe U or I, and we all know they really don't believe P either (in part because of their rejection of I).
  16. dwayne

    dwayne Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree if you want have one of them really you want have none of them.
  17. Sonoftheday

    Sonoftheday Puritan Board Sophomore

    (EDIT: Actually My post isnt really worth reading I just said the same thing as Todd only in alot more words.)

    :ditto: There is no such thing as someone who believes in 4 of the doctrines of Grace, because without all five it is no longer grace alone. To deny L is to change the very nature of the atonement. The sacrifice is most often then made into a potential sacrifice that is "only accepted by the elect" and that acceptance makes it actual. If this were the case then we are (in some way) the cause of our own salvation, because as I was pridefully raised my whole life, we accepted. "God gives us a gift, but you must open it." Ohh the pride of the one who opens the gift, they say thier is no pride in opening a gift "after all who is prideful on xmas day whenever they open thier gifts?" I'll tell you who's prideful on xmas when they open thier gifts, the one who looks around the room and sees many many people who have not opened thier gifts and thier burning in hell for it.

    Everyone I have ever talked to that denies L does so because they believe Christ is somehow obligated by his character to give every sinner an equal chance at salvation. This is a denial of T (as Iconoclast pointed out) and also a denial of UIP. (T)If they understood the depth of our depravity then they would see there is no good in us that makes us deserve a chance. (U)They do not truly believe then that God chose a group based on his choice alone. (I)They do not believe that it is only the by regeneration that we recieve faith. (P) Thier perseverance is not based on the atonement in that Christ literally accepted the wrath for thier sins on the cross, because this would mean Christ did not accept the sins of others on the cross, thus meaning Christ did not give everyone "an equal chance".

    Sorry to rant a bit but Calvinism is something I have been forced to defend among family and friends of recent days. It started as showing the ignorance of the age old "calvinist dont witness" argument, but turned into a point by point teaching of how it is the only biblical and Logical doctrine of sotierology, and how if "God gives everyone an equal chance" is true then we are, at least in part, responsible for our own salvation, and should be the most prideful of all beings.
  18. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    Just like a table with a leg missing, missing any one of the 5 points makes for wobbly theology at best.

    From what I hear out there though, the one they least like is election and reprobation. The one they believe least is limited atonement, coupled with irrisistable grace.
  19. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Given the logical interrelatedness of the five, you might as well separate a cake into flour, milk, eggs, sugar, and butter as try to claim one without the other. However, L is the one most people fixate on as the toughest. After all, Moïse Amyraut didn't make it into the history books for believing in ULIP, TLIP, TULI, or TULP. The L has gone down in the annals of historical theology as the staw the breakes the Arminian camel's back.

    Or, if you are Ergun Caner, believing such a doctrine will do nothing except "kill your churches with sermons expounding the Westminster Confession . . . "justify your laziness" . . . as you adopt "semi-Presbyterianism" . . . and run the church like an "oligarchy." As Caner says, "You do the math. And just because you cannot answer the questions concerning your views of predetermined fatalism does not make his arguments 'straw men.'"
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2008
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Perseverance (Preservation) of the saints is hardest for me.

    When talking with others it is the system itself. Most very quickly see that Calvinism is a system--but systems have this stigma, whether rightly or wrongly, of being cold and austere. Men do not commit to systems. I can very quickly get people to see that Calvinism is utterly logical. But that is often the stumbling block. Cold logic turns into existential despair.

    That is what I noticed in college.
  21. danmpem

    danmpem Puritan Board Junior

    One of my closest friends is a devout Arminian/open-theist/inclusivist/non-theologian, but he believes in "L". He denies T, P, especially I, and most of U, but this guy loves his Limited Atonement (He's also been seen around town with A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y :lol:).

    But seriously, Somehow I get the feeling that this represents the theology of a lot of Christians today (ones raised in churches without expository preaching; churches run by soccer mom's and fans of Rick Warren); they believe that everyone has to "make a decision for God" and they are completely free to do whatever they want, but once they are a Christian, they are secured by Christ because of His sacrifice. As much as I want my brothers and sister to cling to the cross in their sanctification, they can't have their cake and eat it too.
  22. Vonnie Dee

    Vonnie Dee Puritan Board Freshman

    You might think that most people agree with total depravity. However, what many believe is 95 to 99 percent depravity. If you push they will often state that you are not dead dead in your sins. You are very, very gravely ill. If you were dead dead then you would not have the spark or means to reach out to grab the lifeline of salvation. I'm new to this board and I don't want to threaten with the Choice song, but dead men don't make choices.
  23. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

    Too many times we focus on the individual points. As it has been said, already, they are interconnected such that to doubt one is to deny them all.

    It seems to me that what people have the most difficulty with is accepting the underlying truth of God's Sovereignty.

    The depraved human heart will accept a god after their own design and choosing, but by nature we are at emnity with the Sovereign God of Scripture.

    So, to me it is not so much the particular points that are hard for people to accept, but it is the Sovereign God that people by nature refuse to bow down to.
  24. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    A lot of great answers in this thread. Especially the "might as well separate a cake into parts" . Great Stuff.
  25. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    Although each of the 5 pt's are resisted the reason some who we believe are christians stumble with the L is to understand it correctly you must have a good grasp on the High priestly work. Both the Ot type and the Nt reality.
    Without a substantial grasp on who the High Priest was interceding for, the intent ,and application of the redemptive work, a person is not equipped to have real meaningful instruction benefit them. They are more like those who were dull of hearing in Hebrews 5.:rolleyes:
  26. Barnpreacher

    Barnpreacher Puritan Board Junior

    I agree with those that put the emphasis on total depravity. Don't let non-Calvinists fool you into believing that they are serious when they say they believe in total depravity. If they REALLY believe in the TOTAL depravity of man then the rest of the points will naturally follow.
  27. BlackCalvinist

    BlackCalvinist Puritan Board Senior

    Such a good thread. Hope you don't mind, I'm linking here from the board I'm an admin at.....
  28. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    I agree that the five points are interconnected. But to answer the OP, I would say most difficult (in my experience with non-Calvinists) is unconditional election. Actually the difficulty seems to be the distinguishing nature of God's sovereign grace.

    What seems to be the real stumbling block is our contention that God does not provide equal grace to all alike.
  29. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    I can explain to a grown person that they are a sinner who deserves the just wrath of God and to be "fair" God would punish them on the cross for their sin. They can generally understand that. But mention Psalm 51 and infants and they quickly become Pelagian with their claims that man is born neutral. So in this case Total Depravity is very difficult to accept for many.

    Personally TD and LA were easier for me to accept than the other three points.
  30. christianyouth

    christianyouth Puritan Board Senior

    In my experience the hardest point for Arminians to accept is Total Depravity. They think if man doesn't have a free will to accept or reject the Gospel, then God is not just in damning him. Also, they think that the Gospel call would then become mechanical if only the elect had the ability to respond to the Gospel invitation.

    I find the best way to get over this boundary with Arminians is to explain to them the doctrine of Original Sin. Once they see that we are all justly condemned because of Adam their objections to Total Depravity fall apart.

    Since the 5 points are all dependent on each other, you would think that they would have problems with each of the five points. Actually, if each of the 5 points are explained properly, I bet that Arminians would have problems with them all since each point in some way insults their libertarian concept of free will.
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