Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Parable of the Boat (by Michael Patton): Illustrating Differences Between Pelagianism, Semi-Pelalgianism, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Arminianism, and Calvinism

Do find the following post by Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen to be very helpful?  Does anyone have any comments about which tradition best explains the Biblical world view?
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Here is the post:

First Most Popular Post of 2010: The Parable of the Boat: Illustrating Differences Between Pelagianism, Semi-Pelalgianism, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Arminianism, and Calvinism: "
by Michael Patton 
Here is a quick illustration that I hope you find helpful to distinguish between the various traditions with regard to divine sovereignty, free-will, and salvation. It is certainly not perfect, but I think it works sufficiently.
Pelagianism - All the people are on the boat with the God. At this point, in their natural condition, they don’t need to be saved as they are not in danger. However, most (if not all) people will eventually jump in the water (sin) and find themselves in need of God’s grace. The reason why they jump in the water is because they are following numerous example of those who jumped before them. This example goes all the way back to the first two who jumped into the water, setting the first bad example. God them offers them a life preserver when they call on him for help. If they respond they will be saved (synergism).
Semi-Pelagianism - All people are in the water drowning. They are born drowning. This is the natural habitation of all humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water. Their legs are cramping and they cannot swim to safety on their own. However, they may desire salvation on their own. Though they cannot attain it, they can call, with a wave of their arm, to God who is eagerly waiting on the edge of the boat. At the first sign of their initiative, God will then throw out the life preserver (grace). If they respond, they will be saved (synergism).
Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy - All people are in the water drowning. They are born drowning. This is the natural habitation of all humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water. Their legs are cramping and they cannot swim to safety on their own. God, standing on the edge of the boat, makes the first initiative by throwing a life preserver to them (prevenient grace). Upon seeing this act, they make a decision to grab a hold (faith) or to swim away. If they grab a hold, God will slowly pull the rope connected to the life preserver. But they must do their part by swimming along with God’s pull (grace plus works; synergism). If at any time they let go or quit swimming, they will not be saved.
Arminianism - All people are floating in the water dead in their natural condition (total depravity). They are born dead because that has been the condition of humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water and died (original sin). Death begets death. There must be intervention if they are to be saved. God uses his power to bring every one of them back to life (prevenient grace), but they are still in the water and in danger of drowning. With the regenerated ability to respond to God, now God throws the life preserver to them and calls on them all to grab hold of it. They then make the free-will decision on their own to grab a hold of the life preserver (faith) or to swim away. If they grab a hold, they must continue to hold as God pulls them in (synergism). They don’t need to do anything but hold on. Any effort to swim and aid God is superfluous (sola fide). They can let go of the preserver at any time and, as a consequence, lose their salvation.
Calvinism - All people are floating in the water dead in their natural condition (total depravity). They are born dead because that has been the condition of humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water and died (original sin). Death begets death. There must be radical intervention if they are to be saved. While God calls out to all of them (general call), due to his mysterious choice, he brings back to life (regeneration) only certain people (election) while passing by the rest (reprobation). He does not use a life preserver, but grabs a hold of the elect individually and immediately pulls them onto the boat (monergism). They naturally grab a hold of God as a consequence of their regeneration (irresistible grace; sola fide). They forever stay on the boat due to their perpetual ability to recognize God’s beauty (perseverance of the saints).
It seems to me that the only one that is consistent with salvation by grace alone is the Calvinist position because nothing in man is final determining factor of salvation.  What do you think?

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